The Best Nootropics For Creativity
A potent nootropic supplement may be just the ticket if you’re looking for a boost to get those creative juices flowing.
As someone who has to produce interesting content constantly, I know the struggle of the creative process.
Some creative ideas come out of nowhere, while others take more work.
Over the years, I’ve tried many methods to enhance cognition to get more of those effortless creative thoughts flowing.
The following article details some of the best nootropics, wellness products, and lifestyle methods that I believe deliver the best creative benefits.
How Nootropics Boost Mental Performance?
Nootropics enhance neural functions, mental health, and cognitive abilities.
They modulate biochemical activities like intracellular signaling and the release of neurotransmitters at synaptic terminals in neurons.
They also enhance brain function by increasing the production of specific proteins required for neural protection.
Many nootropics boost the cholinergic system, thus promoting the neurotransmitter acetylcholine’s formation, release, and uptake at synaptic terminals.2Luisa Colucci, Massimiliano Bosco,Antonio Rosario Ziello, Raffaele Rea, Francesco Amenta, and Angiola Maria Fasanaro Effectiveness of nootropic drugs with cholinergic activity in treatment of cognitive deficit: a review J Exp Pharmacol. 2012
For example, one of the top cholinergic nootropics for creativity is Citicoline, which has massive cognitive benefits.
Our body immediately breaks down this dietary supplement into choline (a precursor for acetylcholine)
Modafinil, a popular smart drug, is a putative cognitive enhancer that can increase overall enjoyment for creative work and improve creative abilities without causing any effect on mood.
Results from randomized controlled trials on non-sleep-deprived healthy individuals showed that Modafinil enhanced creative ability and increased task enjoyment.3U Müller, J B Rowe, T Rittman, C Lewis, T W Robbins, B J Sahakian Effects of modafinil on non-verbal cognition, task enjoyment and creative thinking in healthy volunteers Neuropharmacology. 2013
It is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, i.e., it binds with the dopamine transporter itself and thus does not let dopamine leave the site.
This enhancement of dopamine ends up boosting creativity.4Renee A Rotolo , Predrag Kalaba , Vladimir Dragacevic ,Rose E Presby , Julia Neri, Emily Robertson Jen-Hau Yang, Merce Correa , Vasiliy Bakulev , Natalia N Volkova , Christian Pifl, Gert Lubec , John D Salamone Behavioral and dopamine transporter binding properties of the modafinil analog (S, S)-CE-158: reversal of the motivational effects of tetrabenazine and enhancement of progressive ratio responding Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropic supplements are chemicals known to enhance mental productivity, energy levels, artistic thinking, and visual-spatial ability.
The research concludes that they also improve neural performance, enhance long-term memory, and amplify motivation and creative abilities.5Noor Azuin Suliman, Che Norma Mat Taib, Mohamad Aris Mohd Moklas, Mohd Ilham Adenan, Mohamad Taufik Hidayat Baharuldin, and Rusliza Basir Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016
Sometimes referred to as “smart drugs”, nootropics have ubiquitous stimulant activity on brain circuits.
Initially, nootropic drug usage was limited to countering symptoms of mental diseases like ADHD, schizophrenia, stroke, aging, and Alzheimer’s.6Wolfgang Froestl, Andreas Muhs, Andrea Pfeifer Cognitive enhancers (nootropics). Part 1: drugs interacting with receptors J Alzheimers Dis. 2012
These days millions of people are using these supplements to enhance creativity and get a mental edge.
Nootropics like Armodafinil, the prodrug of Modafinil, can also treat excessive daytime sleepiness; thus, you can be productive all day. 7Thomas Roth, Gregory A. Rippon, and Sanjay Arora Armodafinil improves wakefulness and long-term episodic memory in nCPAP-adherent patients with excessive sleepiness associated with obstructive sleep apnea Sleep Breath. 2008
According to a study done on rats, certain nootropics have the following effects:8Sebastian Aguiar and Thomas Borowski Neuropharmacological Review of the Nootropic Herb Bacopa monnieri Rejuvenation Res. 2013
- Antioxidant Action
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibition
- Choline acetyltransferase activation
- Increased cerebral blood flow
- Increase in cerebral ATP
Some nootropics also function by preventing age-related degeneration of neurons and myelin sheaths.
Nootropics can also help regulate levels of other neurotransmitters like GABA, dopamine, and serotonin to prevent problems like Alzheimer’s disease, treat anxiety, and influence certain hormones’ function.
Popular Types of Nootropics
There are 19 different categories of nootropics; however, we can classify them into two distinct categories; synthetic and natural.9Wolfgang Froestl, Andreas Muhs, Andrea Pfeifer Cognitive enhancers (nootropics). Part 1: drugs interacting with receptors J Alzheimers Dis. 2012
They can also be characterized based on whether a prescription is required or not.
Synthetics vs. Natural
Synthetic nootropics, as indicated by the term, are manufactured in laboratories and available as dietary supplements and prescription drugs.
On the other hand, natural nootropics include herbs, mushrooms, amino acids, and other edibles like oils and parts of plants.
Synthetic nootropics are tested extensively in labs to prove their effectiveness in enhancing human creativity and cognitive enhancers.
Natural nootropics are also known to have better effects on brain activity paired with zero serious side effects than synthetic pharmaceutical ones.
Many nootropics are referred to as “smart drugs,” which are drugs typically prescribed that increase creativity quite impressively.
Smart drugs include synthetic drugs like Adderall, which works as a stimulant nervous system.
Adderall is a psychostimulant drug brand composed of two combined drugs: Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine.
The FDA has approved it to treat mental disorders like ADHD and sleep disorders like narcolepsy.
It provides an excitatory effect lasting for up to 6 hours.
It’s important to only take these sorts of pharmaceutical products under the supervision of a doctor or healthcare professional.
While these compounds can be helpful in the short run, long-term use can lead to dependence and side effects.
Racetams are a class of synthetic nootropics that boost long-term memory and hinder the degenerative process in Alzheimer’s and dementia.
These benefits of course help with creativity memory as well, making Racetams some of the best nootropics for creativity.
A popular type of Racetam, Piracetam, has proved effective in boosting cerebral blood flow, especially in aged individuals.
Piracetam’s most important characteristic perhaps is its anticonvulsant and neuroprotective nature.
Mushrooms are a source of medicines and have actual nootropic results that include uplifting cognitive abilities and impressive creative benefits.
Lion’s Mane, a widely known mushroom nootropic, has quite significant effects on augmenting the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).
This way, it improves axon growth in nerve cells and magnifies neuroplasticity.10Bing-Ji Ma, Hai-You Yu, Jin-Wen Shen, Yuan Ruan, Hericenones and erinacines: Stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus Mycology. 2010
Herbs are natural nootropics usually overlooked but contribute significantly to elevating neural functions.
Ashwagandha, a herbal nootropic, is one of the most common stress relievers.11Jaysing Salve, Sucheta Pate, Khokan Debnath, and Deepak Langade Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study Cureus. 2019
It reverses the negative effects of anxiety on the brain and even helps repair damage to axons of nerve cells.
Amino acids can also be classified as nootropics since they are the basic foundation of building neurotransmitters.
In fact, many amino acids act as potent nootropics.
L-Carnitine, for example, offers countless cognitive benefits and is even given as a prescription medication to patients who suffer from degenerate cognitive functions due to increasing age.
The Neuroscience of The Creative Process
The human brain relies on multiple brain pathways to form the creative center for productive thinking.
According to several brain injury studies, the brain regions involved in the creative process include the Frontal Cortex, left ventral thalamus, anterior hippocampus, basal ganglia, inferior temporal gyrus, left amygdala, and the white matter.12Baoguo Shi, Xiaoqing Cao, Qunlin Chen, Kaixiang Zhuang, and Jiang Qiu Different brain structures associated with artistic and scientific creativity: a voxel-based morphometry study Sci Rep. 2017
Creative thought generation and enhanced imagination depend on the interconnections between various brain parts.
Synchronized activity among these parts leads to the generation of creative thoughts.
How To Generate More Creative Ideas?
Creative ideas are catalyzed by many activities that we do daily.
These include meditation, coming in contact with nature, communicating with various people, and even as simple a task as walking!
Boosting Cognitive Function For A More Creative Brain
Cognitive functions are perhaps the most important role of the brain and are directly related to improving lifestyle and creative thinking.
These functions are enhanced by the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, and the frontal lobe.
Increased excitatory neurotransmitter production will lead to increased activity in the circuits connecting them, stimulating cognitive enhancement.
You can increase cognitive performance through various methods like intaking food with antioxidants, fish oil supplements, regular physical activity, and mental games.
All of these boost creativity!
Best Nootropic For Creativity
Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is a versatile nootropic supplement that simultaneously focuses on augmenting memory and mood and declining anxiety and stress levels.
It’s a preformulated nootropic stack that includes choline, amino acids, vitamins, and herbs.
In fact, I refer to Mind Lab Pro as a nootropic multivitamin because of its comprehensive nutrient profile.
This simple, yet potent formula has all the necessary ingredients to light up your mind and enhance your creative process.
What I particularly love about Mind Lab Pro is that it includes Citicoline, phosphatidylserine, and Lion’s Mane which are too potent nootropics known for their ability to increase creativity.
Qualia Mind is one of the most advanced cognitive boosters available in the market.
It’s actually a top recommended nootropic dietary supplement amongst many health professionals and influencers.
With 28 brain-boosting nootropics, choline-enhancers, herbs, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, this product brings out your inner creative beast and can even outperform the most popular prescription drug.
Another advantage is that Qualia is sold as different products with various ingredients including caffeinated and decaffeinated.
Thesis Nootropics is widely acclaimed due to its customizable nootropic sources for each user.
You simply follow the instructions on the Thesis site that includes a simple test and coaching consult and they pair you with the best nootropics for your needs.
They even send you a sample kit to see which products you vibe best with.
Alpha Brain is another nootropic formulation with an impressive ingredient profile.
In fact, Alpha Brain may be the most popular nootropic product on the market due to its endorsement from big names like Joe Rogan.
This formula includes some really great compounds like phosphatidylserine, l-theanine, l-tyrosine, and Alpha-GPC.
My biggest critique is that the blend is mostly proprietary which can be kind of sketchy since you don’t know how much of each compound you’re getting.
As a precursor for acetylcholine, Citicoline and Alpha GPC boost cell repair, mental activity, cognitive function, and improve mood stability too.
Increased acetylcholine leads to a direct increase in brain performance and more creativity.
Mushrooms: Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane is a natural nootropic supplement that improves mental clarity and focus.
Most importantly is involved in the production of the Neural Growth Factor, responsible for neuroplasticity which is fundamental in building a creative brain.
L-Theanine is a particularly effective nootropic since it increases dopamine production and, as a result, has a major antidepressant effect along with augmenting cognitive brain processes.
Even though it has a considerable effect on its own, when combined with caffeine, L-Theanine has a major synergistic reaction that leads to immensely heightened focus, concentration, and energy.
It is because of the L-Theanine that recreational beverage consumption results in mood enhancement.13Emma Childs Influence of energy drink ingredients on mood and cognitive performance Nutrition Reviews. 2014
Delta 8 THC/CBD
The Delta 8 THC is a cannabinoid that has a euphoric effect on the CNS and supports bodily pain relief mechanisms.
It also works with an entourage effect with CBD, suggesting that its productivity can be enhanced when combined with substances like terpenes and other structurally related nootropics, e.g., other cannabinoids.
Piracetam’s activity has proven effective for patients with mental impairments or issues like dyslexia. It was the first synthetic nootropic, so you can call it the mother of nootropics.14NBCI, Piracetam, PubChem
It also works as a cognitive enhancer for normal individuals and may mildly increase dopamine production.
It is ideal to combine it with a choline source like Alpha GPC, Citicoline for best results.
According to independent research, the efficacy and safety of Piracetam are ideal for long-term use, that is why it is one of the best nootropics for creativity.15M Koskiniemi, B Van Vleymen, L Hakamies, S Lamusuo, J Taalas Piracetam relieves symptoms in progressive myoclonus epilepsy: a multicentre, randomised, double blind, crossover study comparing the efficacy and safety of three dosages of oral piracetam with placebo J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1998
L-Carnitine is the ideal nootropic for those on a high-fat diet. It results in the beta-oxidation of fats and is great for synthesizing energy from lipids for brain fuel.
Other Methods To Boost Creativity
Exercise, Movement, Walking
Studies prove that increased physical activity, i.e., walking and exercise, directly boosts creativity and cognition.16Carlo Maria Di Liegro, Gabriella Schiera, Patrizia Proia, and Italia Di Liegro Physical Activity and Brain Health Genes (Basel). 2019
Exercise and movements promote blood flow throughout the body and catalyze chemical processes that influence mood and enhance creativity.
Neorythm is an effective therapy that influences specific brain waves transcranial magnetic stimulation.17E M Wassermann, S H Lisanby Therapeutic application of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: a review Clin Neurophysiol. 2001
Specifically, the Enhance Mental Capacity setting can boost neural connections for creativity benefits.
Also, the sleep settings that enhance deep and REM sleep will subsequently improve focus and, thus, creativity.
Red lights and saunas result in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and, as a domino effect, allow the human body to slip into a state of relaxation.
According to studies done on mice, the mice exposed to NIR light showed enhanced cognitive capacity.18Michael R. Hamblin Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders BBA Clin. 2016
The Apollo Neuro is a wearable that activates parasympathetic activity and causes significant stress relief.
It also promotes stress reduction, sleep, and a better mood.
Neural Retraining Programs
Neural retraining programs work wonders in retraining the brain for a better flow and creativity.
These retraining programs work on the principle of neuroplasticity.
Neural plasticity refers to a positive adaptive change in the brain.
Dynamic Neural Retraining System DNRS
- The DNRS works to improve a particular incorrect response leading to stress and directs brain function to correct this maladaptation.
- A holistic program specially adapted to patients suffering from chronic illness, Gupta is a retraining approach that specifically boosts neuroplasticity.
In the article above, I discussed some of the best nootropics for creativity.
Be sure to do your research before buying a nootropic for the enhancement of creative work.
While most are safe and effective, there are some nootropics that can have harmful effects on your body like Phenibut.20Tania Ahuja, Ofole Mgbako, Caroline Katzman, and Allison Grossman Phenibut (β-Phenyl-γ-aminobutyric Acid) Dependence and Management of Withdrawal: Emerging Nootropics of Abuse Case Rep Psychiatry. 2018
Along with nootropics lifestyle activities and biohacks can also help!