Best Nootropics For Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Dr. Harshi Dhingra — Written by Erik Levi, FNTP
Last Updated:
anxiety

Best Nootropics For Anxiety

Our society has glamorized “stress” and “busy,” making us think it’s normal.

A certain degree of “stress” and “anxiety” is indeed normal.

Anxiety is a normal response to a range of different situations. It allows us to be alert to threats and motivate us to react. However, it can impact your mental wellbeing when you feel anxious every day and can’t remember the last time you felt relaxed.

The following article breaks down anxiety and the best nootropics that help anxiety.
anxiety

What Are The Best Nootropics for Anxiety - Quick Answers

Blood Sugar BreakthroughStabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levelsLearn More
Mind Lab ProThe Nootropic MultivitaminLearn More
MagnesiumThe most underrated essential mineral for brain healthLearn More
Cordyceps MushroomThe Aphrodesiac MushroomLearn More
Lion's Mane
Powerful medicinal mushroom for brain healthLearn More
Testo Lab ProTestosterone support to decrease anxietyLearn More
L-TheanineThe all-natural "chill pill"Learn More
TaurineNot just for energy drinksLearn More
L-CarnitineThe Red Meat AminoLearn More
Reishi MushroomA staple in Eastern medicineLearn More
AshwagandhaTraditional herb with potent relaxing effectsLearn More
AniracetamOne of the most popular nootropics for focus and moodLearn More
N-acetylcysteine (NAC)Versatile and effective all-round cognitive supplementLearn More

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety can affect you both mentally and physically and can present itself with a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, agitated, and angry
  • Feeling powerless
  • Having a sense of unexplained impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Struggling to pay attention and focus
  • Sleep disturbances
anxiety

HPA Axis and Stress Response

Physiologically, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis mediates the stress response.1Mary Ann C. Stephens, Ph.D.,Gary Wand, M.D. Stress and the HPA Axis Role of Glucocorticoids in Alcohol Dependence Alcohol Res. 2012

Anxiety is characterized by a dysregulation of the HPA axis2Gustavo E. Tafet1 and Charles B. Nemeroff Pharmacological Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: The Role of the HPA Axis Front. Psychiatry. 2020.

Anxiety disorders are often found as a comorbidity with depression3Zhiguo WU and Yiru FANG, Comorbidity of depressive and anxiety disorders: challenges in diagnosis and assessment Shanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2014.

Both anxiety and depression are strictly connected to gut health.

70 % of dopamine and 90% of serotonin are produced in the gut4Philip Strandwitz, Neurotransmitter modulation by the gut microbiota Brain Res. 2019.

Dopamine and serotonin are both neurotransmitters and are both considered “happy neuro chemicals.” They are related to mood and happiness.

Dopamine and serotonin also play crucial roles in sleep, digestion, pain response, and other bodily functions.

This means that what is going on in your gut will affect your mood, anxiety, depression, and focus5Dr. Siri Carpenter, That gut feeling American Psychological Association. 2012.

Types of Anxiety

There are several different types of anxiety. Let’s look at the five most common ones.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

anxiety worries worry
A long-term condition that causes feelings of anxiety and exaggerated worry. These worries regard a wide range of issues and situations rather than one specific event6Rowa, Karen Antony, Martin M., Generalized anxiety disorder. American Psychological Association. 2008.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An anxiety disorder characterized by having repetitive thoughts, behaviors, and urges7Daniel A Drubach, Obsessive-compulsive disorder Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2015.

Panic Disorder


An anxiety disorder where unexpected and intense fear is accompanied by severe physical manifestations such as chest pain, sweat, and palpitations8Peter P Roy-Byrne , Michelle G Craske, Murray B Stein, Panic disorder Lancet. 2006.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD
An anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event9Heather A Kirkpatrick, Grant M Heller, Post-traumatic stress disorder: theory and treatment update Int J Psychiatry Med. 2014.

Social Anxiety Disorder


A condition where the subject experiences overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about social situations.10Falk Leichsenring, Frank Leweke, Social Anxiety Disorder N Engl J Med. 2017

Common Anxiety Prescriptions Medications

antidepressants
Treatment for anxiety usually consists of psychotherapy and medications. The most common prescription medications for anxiety include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressants

Benzodiazepines

A group of sedatives commonly used to treat anxiety disorder11Malcolm Lader, Benzodiazepines revisited–will we ever learn? Addiction. 2011.

They work by enhancing the neurotransmitter GABA activity, a chemical in the brain that helps the feeling of calmness.

They also help with sleep disturbances.

Some common benzo’s include:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Tranxene

Antidepressants:

Antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety, particularly Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

They work by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

This chemical affects mood, sleep, memory, sexual desire, and appetite12M Berk, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in mixed anxiety-depression Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000.

In comparison to benzodiazepines, they have less risk of developing dependence.

Therefore, they are a good option for chronic anxiety.

However, they take up to 4-5 weeks to begin relieving the symptoms, so they cannot be taken at need13M Berk, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in mixed anxiety-depression Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000.

antidepressants

Some common SSRI’s include:

  • Cymbalata
  • Effexor
  • Pristiq

Things That Make Anxiety Worse

Holistic Ways to Improve Anxiety

When anxiety becomes a daily struggle, even before turning to medications, there are many things you can do on your own to feel better. For example, you can try one of these holistic, drug-free remedies, from mind-body techniques to calming teas.

Improve your diet

Start with avoiding toxic foods that trigger anxiety. Eat more protein and good quality fats (e.g., red meat, organ meats, choline-rich foods, Omega 3 Rich Foods)

Exercise

Exercise is a powerful anxiety fighter for many reasons.

It leads to changes in the brain that promote feelings of calm and wellbeing20Brendon Stubbs , Davy Vancampfort , Simon Rosenbaum , Joseph Firth , Theodore Cosco , Nicola Veronese , Giovanni A Salum , Felipe B Schuch , An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis Psychiatry Res. 2017.

Good examples of exercise for anxiety include yoga and strength training.

Both release endorphins, chemicals in your brain that energize your mood and make you feel good (20).

Exercise also doubles as a distraction, allowing you to find some peaceful time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety21Aaron Kandola , Brendon Stubbs, Exercise and Anxiety Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020.

exercise anxiety

Breathing exercises

Examples of breathing exercises include meditation, alternate nostril breathing, and EFT tapping.

Several clinical studies have shown how mindfulness meditation, for example, is a promising therapeutic strategy for anxiety and can significantly improve stress reactivity22Sy Atezaz Saeed, Karlene Cunningham, Richard M Bloch, Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation Am Fam Physician. 2019.

yoga breathing exercise for anxiety

Calming Teas

Chamomille is one of the most commonly used calming tea. For example, more than 150 participants in a clinical study reported that long-term use of chamomille reduced generalized anxiety disorder23Jun J.MaoaSharon X.XiebJohn R.KeefecIreneSoellerdQing S.LidJay D.Amsterdam, Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial Phytomedicine. 2016.

Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is an Indian medical plant shown to decrease anxiety symptoms in several clinical and preclinical studies24D Bhattacharyya , T K Sur, U Jana, P K Debnath, Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders Nepal Med Coll J. 200825Manavi Chatterjee , Pinki Verma, Rakesh Maurya, Gautam Palit, Evaluation of ethanol leaf extract of Ocimum sanctum in experimental models of anxiety and depression Pharm Biol. 2011.

Hibiscus is another calming tea with significant anxiolytic effects26Cláudia Vanzella, Paula Bianchetti, Sabrina Sbaraini, Samanta Inês Vanzin, Maria Inês Soares Melecchi, Elina Bastos Caramão, and Ionara Rodrigues Siqueira, Antidepressant-like effects of methanol extract of Hibiscus tiliaceus flowers in mice BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012.

Hibiscus tea anxiety

Mind Your Gut Health

Now we know that the connection between gut health and mental health is loud and clear. Looking after the microbes living in your gut can be a great way to keep anxiety symptoms at bay. You can do so using probiotics and/or digestive enzymes.

Probiotics – for example, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have both been found to be good probiotics for anxiety and overall brain health27Michaël Messaoudi,Nicolas Violle,Jean-François Bisson,Didier Desor,Hervé Javelot &Catherine Rougeot, Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers Gut Microbes. 201128Michaël Messaoudi, Robert Lalonde,Nicolas Violle, Hervé Javelot,Didier Desor,Amine Nejdi,Jean-François Bisson,Catherine Rougeot,Matthieu Pichelin,Murielle Cazaubiel,Jean-Marc CazaubielAssessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects Cambridge University Press. 2010

. You can try MegaSporeBiotic from Microbiome Labs as a complete probiotics supplement.

Digestive Enzymes – life is better when digestion works at its best. For example, a digestive enzyme supplementation, lactase if you are lactose intolerant, improves anxiety29J Yang , M Fox, Y Cong, H Chu, X Zheng, Y Long, M Fried, N Dai, Lactose intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome patients with diarrhoea: the roles of anxiety, activation of the innate mucosal immune system and visceral sensitivity Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014.

Biohacks

Apollo Wearable – a novel science-backed up wearable device that encourages parasympathetic activity to help you relax and not feel overwhelmed by stress.
Apollo Neuro Wearable
Red Light/Infrared Light Therapy – a simple, all-natural modality that harness photobiomodulation to increase energy level and fight anxiety and depression30Michael R Hamblin, Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders BBA Clin. 2016.

Red Light Therapy For Mental Health

 

The Best Nootropics for Anxiety

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1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic for Brain Fog

The Nootropic Multivitamin

  • Boosts mental energy for better focus
  • Improves memory and recall
  • Gets rid of brain fog
  • No harmful ingredients

Mind Lab Pro is a top choice for improving brain fog.

The mix of nootropic and adaptogenic ingredients lower inflammation while boosting mental energy. 

You also get the added benefit of B vitamins and phosphatidylserine for added stress support. 

The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients. 

I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.


2. Magnesium

Involved in Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions in Your Body

  • Provides cognitive benefits to help with focus and clarity
  • Helps with mental “fog” to improve memory retention
  • Promotes an improved mood due to less brain fatigue
  • Reduces the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illness

Clouding of consciousness, also more commonly referred to as brain fog or mental fog is medically coined as a state of subsyndromal delirium and it is often characterized by a cluster of symptoms such as inattention, cognitive delays, and comprehension abnormalities.1Anna E. Kirkland, Gabrielle L. Sarlo,1 and Kathleen F. Holton, The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders, Nutrients. 2018

There is some recent data that suggest a positive effect of magnesium in the management of subsyndromal delirium, based on the clinical evidence that people with depleted levels of magnesium are more likely to experience symptoms of clouded consciousness.2Magdalena D. Cuciureanu and Robert Vink., Magnesium and stress, University of Adelaide Press. 2011

However, it is an emerging research topic and more prospective studies are required to clearly understand the use of magnesium in managing symptoms of brain fog. Magnesium Breakthrough contains an exclusive variant of magnesium, i.e., magnesium L-threonate, it has been found to have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and help manage symptoms of clouded consciousness.


3. Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels

  • Reduces brain fog by balancing glucose
  • Promotes mental clarity and focus
  • Stimulates energy levels for better concentration
  • Decreases cravings with reduced appetite

Understanding the connection between brain fog and metabolism is absolutely crucial.

A hyperglycemic state induces oxidative stress on the body which is associated with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, psychomotor slowing and reduced mental flexibility.3María Muriach, Miguel Flores-Bellver, Francisco J. Romero, and Jorge M. Barcia, Diabetes and the Brain: Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Autophagy, Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014

The early stages of cognitive impairment can be manifested as clouding of consciousness, otherwise known as brain fog.4Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016, Impact of diabetes on cognitive function and brain structure, A Moheet, S Mangia, and ER Seaquist5Seth Stoykovich , Kelly Gibas, APOE ε4, the door to insulin-resistant dyslipidemia and brain fog? A case study, Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2019

Blood Sugar Breakthrough is an effective formulation for managing blood glucose levels as it includes ingredients that reduce glucose-associated oxidative stress on the body.

This is especially important for neural cells, blood vessels and endocrine islets.


4. Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind For Brain Fog

Most advanced fully-loaded formula

  • Stimulation without the jitters
  • Increased mental clarity, focus, and mood
  • Supports memory by enhancing cholinergic pathways in the brain
  • Decaffeinated or caffeinated for all-day support

Breaking through brain fog is one of the top features of Qualia Mind’s comprehensive formula.

The included 28 ingredients, including nootropic compounds, neuro-vitamins, amino acids, choline donors, and herbal adaptogens, give your brain a jolt and increase mental clarity.

You can even choose between a caffeinated or decaffeinated version.

This stack is great for more experienced biohackers or anyone who needs a significant boost in brainpower.


5. Chaga

One of the most powerful antioxidants on Earth

  • A solution for foggy-headedness and brain fog
  • Helps to support mental health by boosting immunity and improving metabolic activity
  • Helps to combat cognitive impairment, psychomotor slackening, and reduced mental flexibility.

Chaga mushroom is highly recommended as a natural remedy to brain fog.6Honghai Hu Zhenya Zhang Zhongfang Lei Yingnan Yang Norio Sugiura, Comparative study of antioxidant activity and antiproliferative effect of hot water and ethanol extracts from the mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering. 2009

 This therapeutic mushroom has been found to be beneficial for optimizing the mind-body connection, by stabilizing innate immunity, which when left unchecked lead to the physical inflammation that causes brain fog..7Yoo Kyoung Park , Hyang Burm Lee, Eun-Jae Jeon, Hack Sung Jung, Myung-Hee Kang, Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay, Biofactors. 2004

Chaga also supports mental health by improving blood sugar metabolism.8Zhiguo Li, Junjie Mei, Liping Jiang, Chengyan Geng , Qiujuan Li, Xiaofeng Yao , Jun Cao , Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Agaricomycetes) Polysaccharides Suppress Tacrine-induced Apoptosis by ROS-scavenging and Mitochondrial Pathway in HepG2 Cells, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019

 Improving your metabolism can help lower oxidative stress that causes cognitive impairment, psychomotor slackening and reduced mental flexibility.9You-Min Ying , Lin-Yan Zhang , Xia Zhang , Hai-Bo Bai , Dong-E Liang , Lie-Feng Ma , Wei-Guang Shan , Zha-Jun Zhan, Terpenoids with alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity from the submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus, Phytochemistry. 2014

By boosting immunity and blood glucose metabolism, Chaga acts as a potent combatant against brain fog.10You-Min Ying , Lin-Yan Zhang , Xia Zhang , Hai-Bo Bai , Dong-E Liang , Lie-Feng Ma , Wei-Guang Shan , Zha-Jun Zhan, Terpenoids with alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity from the submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus, Phytochemistry. 2014

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Chaga.


6. Lion’s Mane

Powerful medicinal mushroom for brain health

  • Promotes higher cognitive function
  • Has benefits for both the body and mind
  • Reduces anxiety, depression, and reduces stress
  • Increases memory retention

Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a therapeutic mushroom which has been found to benefit all primary components of your central nervous system including the brain, nerve cells and also the immune system.11Vikineswary Sabaratnam , Wong Kah-Hui , Murali Naidu , Pamela Rosie David, Neuronal health – can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help?, J Tradit Complement Med. 2013

This mushroom also prevents nerve cell impairment and stimulates production of enzymes that release Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).12Pit Shan Chong , Man-Lung Fung , Kah Hui Wong, Lee Wei Lim, Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, Int J Mol Sci. 2019

This growth factor helps with neuronal regeneration and hence, memory retention.

Addition of this medicinal mushroom into your routine diet will not only help you to restore and recall old memories but it will also help you to promote mental alertness, improve focus, and eliminate brain fog.13Kah-Hui Wong , Gowri Kanagasabapathy , Murali Naidu , Pamela David , Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers., a medicinal mushroom, activates peripheral nerve regeneration, Chin J Integr Med. 2016

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Lion’s Mane.


7. Adrafinil

Adrafinil for Brain Fog

A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil

  • Improve mental clarity and a variety of intense situations
  • Increase focus
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost mood

Adrafinil is a prodrug for the legendary smart drug modafinil. What this means is that your body naturally turns adrafinil into modafinil, and you do not need a prescription to buy it.

When adrafinil metabolizes into modafinil in your body and starts to kick in, it has a mildly stimulating effect.

Although researchers are not totally sure how it works yet, we do know that it modulates several brain systems, such as dopamine, GABA, and histamines, to achieve its effects.

It was developed initially as an anti-narcolepsy drug and can keep you focused and engaged under adverse conditions. Militaries around the world use this drug during extended, stressful operations.

We think that adrafinil is one of the best bets for improving mental clarity, especially if your brain fog is due to lack of sleep, overwork, and stress. Although it’s not a long term substitute for getting proper rest, it can help you stay sharp short term during crunch time.

Many users report improved mood, more energy, and better ability to concentrate, even in less-than-ideal conditions. And there is significant clinical evidence it can improve performance while fatigued.14Ping Sheng, et al. Efficacy of Modafinil on Fatigue and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Associated with Neurological Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, PLoS One. 2013


8. L-Theanine

L-Theanine for Brain Fog

The all-natural “chill pill”

  • Increases focus, concentration, and cognitive ability without the grogginess that comes with other stimulants
  • Combines well with caffeine to promote mental clarity
  • Can be used as a natural way to fight stress and anxiety
  • Clinical trials show it can improve moods

L-theanine is an amino acid that comes from tea leaves. It’s largely responsible for tea’s relaxed-but-focused energy. And, you can buy it on its own as a supplement.

It stacks extremely well with caffeine, and this combo is one of the classic nootropic stacks for fighting brain fog.

There are clinical studies that show this nootropic can improve focus and concentration, as well as reduce stress.

It seems to work by promoting GABA production, which is considered a “calming” neurotransmitter.

It does this without causing sleepiness or grogginess, which you do not want if you are already suffering from brain fog.15Anna C Nobre, eta al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008 16Kenta Kimura, et al. l-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses, Biological Psychology, 2007 L-theanine and caffeine together are some of the go-to’s for cutting through mental fatigue.


9. Alpha-GPC

Alpha GPC for Brain Fog

Great source of choline that works well in nootropic stacks

  • Increases levels of acetylcholine, which increases the speed that your nervous system communicates
  • Improves brain fog faster than any other product
  • Superior to caffeine in mental performance
  • No side effects

This nootropic is a concentrated form of the nutrient choline, and it has proven benefits for brain fog.

Choline is the precursor to acetylcholine (ACh), which is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain.

By increasing ACh levels, you can improve the speed that your nervous system communicates.

This process can have big benefits for your mental performance. In both human and animal trials, the subjects that took Alpha GPC scored better on cognitive tests.17Schettini G, et al. Molecular mechanisms mediating the effects of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, a new cognition-enhancing drug, on behavioral and biochemical parameters in young and aged rats, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1992 18Parnetti L1, Amenta F, Gallai V. Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data, Mech Ageing Dev. 2001 19Canal N, et al. Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine, Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol. 1991

It also has virtually zero side-effects and is not a stimulant. If you are having trouble with memory or fuzzy thinking, Alpha GPC could help get you back in the game.


10. Huperzine A

Huperzine A for Brain Fog

Traditional Chinese herb for improving cognition

  • All-natural, herbal remedy for brain fog
  • Indirectly increases acetylcholine levels in the brain which improves memory and cognition
  • Many people report a boost in energy without the crash associated with stimulants

Huperzine A is an all-natural herbal remedy for brain fog that works similarly to Alpha GPC.

It inhibits acetylcholinesterase, which is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.

So, it indirectly increases ACh levels in the brain, which can improve overall cognition.

This process can help clear up your brain, as well as improve your memory.

Many people report a boost in energy after taking this nootropic, but without the crash associated with stimulants.20Sun Quing-qui, et al. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students, Acta Pharma Sun. 1999 21Wang BS, et al. Efficacy and safety of natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitor huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: an updated meta-analysis, J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009


11. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba for Brain Fog

Ancient herbal cognitive enhancer and energy supplement

  • Helps with brain fog
  • Improves mood and motivation
  • Increase mental energy
  • Keeps dopamine levels strong

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the most popular all-natural nootropics out there.

In use for millennia in some cultures, there is clinical evidence that it is effective for improving cognition. 22R. B. Silberstein, et al. Examining Brain-Cognition Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract: Brain Activation in the Left Temporal and Left Prefrontal Cortex in an Object Working Memory Task, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011

Ginkgo can improve blood flow, increase oxygen levels in the blood, and fight inflammation.

All of these benefits can have a rejuvenating effect if you are suffering from brain fog.

It can also prevent the breakdown of dopamine, which can improve mood and motivation.23Wu WR, Zhu XZ. Involvement of monoamine oxidase inhibition in neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of Ginkgo biloba extract against MPTP-induced nigrostriatal dopaminergic toxicity in C57 mice, Life Sci. 1999

All-in-all, ginkgo biloba is one of the best natural remedies if you are trying to cut through the “noise” in your head and focus on the task at hand.


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1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic

#1 Nootropic For Beginners

  • Ease depression symptoms
  • Optimize full potential of your brain
  • Mood boosting properties
  • 3rd party tested, toxin free

Mind Lab Pro is a preformulated Nootropic “stack” with mood-boosting properties.

This product includes 11 high-potency nootropic ingredients that work synergistically to optimize the full potential of your brain.

Anyone dealing with depression will find the N-acetyl-L-tyrosine and CDP-choline incredibly beneficial since both boost dopamine and parasympathetic activity.

The included adaptogens and L-theanine work to lower stress hormones and stabilize mood.

The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.

I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.


2. Cordyceps

The Aphrodesiac Mushroom

  • Provides relief for depression, anxiety and stress
  • Natural remedy without any age restriction
  • Increases immunity to help regulate disorders including PTSD

Cordyceps has been advocated as a traditional therapeutic approach for depression management since ancient times.24Jianyou Guo, ChangYu Li, Jie Wang, Yongmei Liu, and Jiahui Zhang, Vanadium-Enriched Cordyceps sinensis, a Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression in Rats, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011

Many studies have found Cordyceps able to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.25Jian-You Guo , Chun-Chao Han, Yong-Mei Liu, A Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression by Cordyceps sinensis, Rich in Vanadium, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010

Adding this mushroom to your diet will help you build up your immune system and manage neurological disorders including, PTSD, depression, stress, and anxiety.26Huai-Syuan Huang, Hsin-Yu Wu, Wan-Ting Chang, Yu-En Lin, Yun-Ju Huang, Kuan-Hung Lu, Yun-Sheng Lu, Mei-Hsing Chen, Lee-Yan Sheen, The Antidepressive and Anxiolytic Effects of Formula Consisted of Poria cocos and Cordyceps militaris Waster Medium Extract in Unpredictable Chronic Mild Stress Animal Model, Current Developments in Nutrition. 2020

It is a perfect natural remedy as it can be used by anyone with any co-morbidity and without any age restriction.

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Cordyceps.


3. Reishi

A staple in Eastern medicine

  • Aids in combating stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Enhances cognitive functioning
  • Promotes healthy nerve growth

Reishi mushroom contains calming and soothing properties which act on the central nervous system.

It’s been observed that this mushroom contains a vast variety of proteins that facilitates precursors of neurotransmitters and endorphins to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. 27Katarzyna Socala , Dorota Nieoczym , Krzysztof Grzywnowicz , Dawid Stefaniuk , Piotr Wlaz, Evaluation of Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant-, and Anxiolytic-like Effects of an Aqueous Extract from Cultured Mycelia of the Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) in Mice, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015

 The aqueous extract of reishi mushroom has been found to enhance cognitive functioning and manage signs of depression.28Jayanthi.K, Reishi Mushroom – Promising in treatment of Depression, Pondicherry Journal of Nursing. 2016

Regular intake of this reishi aids in building new nerve cells, developing better connections within your nervous system, supporting your immune system and managing other neurological disorders like stress, and anxiety.29Aslam Muhammad , Nasir Ali, Antidepressant-Like Activity of Ethanol Extract of Ganoderma lucidum

(Reishi) in Mice
, International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences. 2017

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Reishi.


4. Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels

  • Boosts mood and reduces stress
  • Helps fight anxiety and depression
  • Promotes blood sugar balance in your body
  • Promotes healthy circulation

Many studies are now finding the direct connection between blood sugar management and depression.

In fact, several ingredients in Blood Sugar Breakthrough, dihydroberberineand chromium specifically, have been shown to successfully treat mood disorders.30Kimberly A. Brownley, PhD, Charlotte A. Boettiger, PhD, Laura Young, MD, and William T. Cefalu, MD, Dietary Chromium Supplementation for Targeted Treatment of Diabetes Patients with Comorbid Depression and Binge Eating, Med Hypotheses. 201631Jie Fan, Kun Zhang, Yang Jin, Bingjini Li, Shuohui Gao, Jiaming Zhu,corresponding and Ranji Cui, Pharmacological effects of berberine on mood disorders, J Cell Mol Med. 2019

Research suggests that dihydroberberineand chromium may have modulatory effects on the neurotransmitters in the central nervous system which may play a role in the alleviation of depressive symptoms.32Anna Och, Rafał Podgórski, and Renata Nowak, Biological Activity of Berberine—A Summary Update, Toxins (Basel). 2020

These ingredients, along with other metabolism-boosting compounds like bitter melon, cinnamon, and alpha-lipoic acid, make Blood Sugar Breakthrough a potent formula for the improvement of depressive symptoms and mood disorders.


5. NALT

NALT for Depression

Effective, natural way to support dopamine

  • Increases dopamine (anti-depressive effect)
  • Even if it doesn’t fix depression, can alleviate symptoms.
  • Pills are more potent than straight tyrosine
  • May work for some types of depression

L-tyrosine is an amino acid.

It’s a building block for dopamine, which your body needs to regulate mood. Low dopamine is heavily associated with depression.

So, boosting l-tyrosine levels could have an anti-depressive effect.

You can purchase l-tyrosine straight or as NALT, a derivative of l-tyrosine.

We prefer NALT, as it does the same thing, but is more potent and bioavailable.

This nootropic may not work for all types of depression, but it could alleviate symptoms of dopamine-deficient variants.

The main characteristic of dopamine-deficient depression is lethargy and low motivation.

There is preliminary evidence it could work for this type.33Mouret J, Lemoine P, Minuit MP, Robelin N. L-tyrosine cures, immediate and long term, dopamine-dependent depressions. Clinical and polygraphic studies, C R Acad Sci III. 1988


6. Citicoline

Citicoline for Depression

Supercharged source of choline for your brain

  • Increases mental health by balancing brain chemicals
  • A potent source of choline for mental function
  • Helps with depression and anxiety
  • Works in combination with antidepressants to increase quality of life

Citicoline is a potent source of choline, which is crucial to proper mental function. It is a precursor to acetylcholine (ACh), which is the most abundant neurotransmitter in your body.

Keeping your choline levels up can help with depression.

Although it is unlikely to be the only solution, multiple studies suggest that it could work in combination with other treatments, such as SSRIs.34Roohi-Azizi M, et al. Citicoline Combination Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Clin Neuropharmacol. 2017 35Brown ES, Gabrielson B. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of citicoline for bipolar and unipolar depression and methamphetamine dependence, J Affect Disord. 2012

Learn More About Citicoline


7. L-theanine

L-Theanine for Depression

The all-natural “chill pill”

  • Helps ease you out of a depressive state
  • Can help naturally increase dopamine
  • Promotes relaxation and less anxiety
  • Shows multiple beneficial effects on depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairments

L-theanine is a compound in tea leaves that is famous for its relaxing qualities.

It can also naturally increase dopamine, which can help ease you out of a depressive state.

One study saw “multiple beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairments in patients with Major Depressive Disorder.”36Hidese S, et al. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study, Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017

L-theanine is also one of the best anti-anxiety nootropics out there, which often occurs alongside depression.

All-in-all, l-theanine is a good, side-effect free bet for raising your mood holistically.

Learn More About L-theanine


8. Taurine

Taurine for Depression

Not just for energy drinks

  • Taurine helps with stress-induced depression
  • Taurine aids in longevity
  • Taurine is found in energy drinks but also available on its own

Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks, but it also has clinically-backed antidepressant properties.

Taurine is an essential amino acid that is associated with longevity.

It may be especially useful for stress-induced depression.37Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 38Gao-Feng Wu, et al. Antidepressant effect of taurine in chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depressive rats, Sci Rep. 2017

However, you don’t need to drink energy drinks to enjoy its benefits. It is available on its own as a supplement.

Learn More About Taurine


9. NAC

NAC for Depression

Versatile and effective all-round cognitive supplement

    Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks, but it also has clinically-backed antidepressant properties.

    Taurine is an essential amino acid that is associated with longevity.

    It may be especially useful for stress-induced depression.39Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 40Gao-Feng Wu, et al. Antidepressant effect of taurine in chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depressive rats, Sci Rep. 2017

    However, you don’t need to drink energy drinks to enjoy its benefits. It is available on its own as a supplement.

    Learn More About Taurine


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                                  Photo of author

                                  Author

                                  Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner. As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life. Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews. Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible. You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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