Nootropics For Brain Fog
“Brain fog” is usually the result of some underlying condition
There are several nootropics that can help cut through the haze if you are feeling foggy
There are both synthetic and natural options for dealing with brain fog
Brain Fog Symptoms
“Brain fog” is something that pretty much everyone will deal with in their life at some point.
It’s not a medical condition itself, but usually a result of some underlying issue. It’s a type of mental fatigue characterized by:
- Slow thinking
- Poor memory
- Inability to focus
- General lack of mental clarity
Causes of brain fog include too much stress, poor diet, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, inflammation, mental disorder, medication side effect, or physical disease.
It’s a pretty broad term, but everyone who has experienced it knows what it is.
In many cases, brain fog will only lift after addressing the underlying cost.
For people without underlying medical conditions, this means getting more sleep, improving nutrition, and exercising more.
Living a healthier life overall can help to clear away the cobwebs.
Supplements For Brain Fog
That said, there are also nootropic supplements that can improve your mental clarity.
If you sometimes have trouble getting in the flow and feel like you are trying to fight through mental clutter, these nootropics may help get you back on point.
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.1Ping 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
Where to buy Adrafinil:
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.2Anna C Nobre, eta al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on
mental state, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008 3Kenta 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.
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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.4Schettini 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 5Parnetti 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 6Canal 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.
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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.7Sun Quing-qui, et al. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students, Acta Pharma Sun. 1999 8Wang 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
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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. 9R. 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.10Wu 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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About the 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.