20 Herbs and Nootropics to Heal Your Brain and Improve its Performance

In a society that is constantly motivated by performance and output, keeping your energy levels up when you need it can be a struggle. Not to mention keeping your brain focused and alert! Giving ourselves a boost every now and again is sometimes what we need to get something done and using ancient herbs and nootropics, also known as botanicals, can help support your brain’s function.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and take action to keep your brain in tip-top shape. Here are  20  herbs and nootropics that you can consume to improve the performance of your brain:

5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF)

Vitamin B is a common type of folate used in the body to assist with the development of neurotransmitters and speed up the brain process. The 5-MTHF supplement, also known as Methlfolate is the preferred form of Vitamin B supplementation because it is the most active in improving brain health.  The 5-MTHF is responsible for the production of serotonin, melatonin, and the synthesis of DNA through the conversion of homocysteine to methionine.

Individuals with intestinal or liver dysfunction or have a genetic condition that makes converting folic acid into active 5-MTHF difficult do not receive sufficient 5-MTHF daily.

Pentadecylic acid

The first essential fatty acid to be discovered in 90 years, pentadecanoic acid is essential for daily consumption to improve brain health, growth, and metabolism.  This micronutrient has many additional benefits as well, including anti-aging properties, promoting cellular resilience, enhancing mitochondrial function, and stimulating the respective receptors that control immunity, metabolism, mood, sleep, and appetite.

Avena Sativa

The extract of an unripe Avena Sativa plant is said to contain psychoactive phytochemicals which can improve brain function and heart health in older adults.  The extracts contain phytochemicals that can improve mood, protect against stress, and reduce chronic inflammation. In addition, studies suggest that this extract inhibits an enzyme that is found in immune cells, which boosts the mood and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl Cysteine is a supplemental form of the semi-essential amino acid, cysteine.  NAC replenishes your glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in your body and helps to regulate your glutamate, both of which are crucial to improving your brain health, and will assist people with brain disorders, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As a very common addition to our herbs and nootropics. NAC is found in many high protein foods, like chicken, turkey, yogurt, eggs, and cheese, and can be taken as a direct supplement.

Zinc

Zinc  is an essential trace element required for optimal brain health and cognition. Zinc is integral to the synthesis of proteins, the regulation of signaling cascades, gene transcription and neurotransmitter transport. Also, it is involved in DNA repair and synthesis and methylation. Zinc improves alertness, cognition, focus, memory, learning, recall, reduces brain fog, is an antioxidant, helps neuroplasticity, and protects against glutamate-toxicity.

Uridine Monophosphate

Uridine Monophosphate is a pyrimidine nucleoside that is found in all living organisms as a component in RNA and DNA. Uridine is essential for optimized cognition and memory throughout your life. When taken as a nootropic supplement, uridine monophosphate easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.Uridine monophosphate has been shown to increase neuron and synapse density, dopamine and acetylcholine release, boost learning and memory, and decrease depression.  A combination of RNA, omega-3 fatty acids, and arginine, are often used in nutrition formulas.

 

Berberine

Berberine is a chemical compound found in various plants like the European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, philodendron, and tree turmeric.  This compound is found to have many neuroprotective effects, namely improving the survival, development, and function of neurons, as well as protecting brain cells and preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease.

Milk Thistle

One of the oldest additions to our list of herbs and nootropics is milk thistle. Milk thistle is a derivative of the milk thistle plant, Silybum Marianum, which has been an herbal remedy for over two thousand years.  Traditionally, milk thistle has commonly been used to treat liver and gallbladder disorders, promote breast milk production, prevent, and treat cancer, and even protect the liver from snake bites, and alcohol.

Recent studies have shown that milk thistle extract can protect hippocampal neurons against stress related cell death.  In the same study, milk thistle extract is found to positively impact the nervous system through the promotion of neuronal differentiation and survival.  It is now used as a treatment for neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  The neuroprotective nature helps prevent the aging effects of brain function decline.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a chemical compound found in the Chinese Club Moss (Huperzia Serrata) or Fir Club Moss (Huperzia Selago) and can also be synthetically created in a lab.  In the 1980’s, Huperzine A was identified for medicinal use by doctors at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Studies show that Huperzine A increases levels of acetylcholine and cholinesterase.  Acetylcholine helps with memory and cognitive ability, while cholinesterase increases the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies have found the Huperzine A might improve memory and nerve cells, preventing Alzheimer related cognitive decline.  Huperzine A is consumed to improve memory and brain function in people with neurocognitive illnesses.

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is a chemical that is highly beneficial to various body functions.  It primarily acts as the communicator between the neurons of the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.  Within the brain, acetylcholine affects neuronal excitability, influencing synaptic transmission, inducing synaptic plasticity, and coordinating the firing of neuron groups.

The function of Acetylcholine can be disrupted by disease and toxins, leading to several memory and muscle related health consequences like Alzheimer’s, Myasthenia Gravis, and Parkinson’s.  Acetylcholine is made of the chemicals Acetyl and Choline.  In recent years, studies have found that pesticides and toxins are a common contributor to decreased levels of Acetylcholine in the body.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical in the regulation of calcium homeostasis, the immune system, and maintains bone integrity. Severe vitamin D deficiency increases the cerebral soluble and insoluble amyloid peptides, while decreasing its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  This is linked to long term health disorders like dementia, depression, diabetes mellitus, increased brain infections.  Vitamin D deficiency in expecting mothers is linked to early childhood development of autism, schizophrenic-like disorders, hypoxic brain injury, and other mental illnesses.

L-Arginine

L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is widely present in the brain and is crucial for regulating normal brain function.  L-Arginine is made up of two molecules, lysine and arginine.  Within the brain, L-Arginine metabolises to produce various bioactive molecules, like Nitric Oxid, L-Citrulline by Nitric Oxide Synthase, L-Ornithine, Urea by Arginase, and Agmatine by Arginine Decarboxylase.  Many of these compounds are very important in promoting healthy brain function.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-Carnitine, also known as ALC, is often used by individuals with nerve pain, high blood sugar to assist with the management of cholesterol, cell damage, and constant fatigue.  It is derived from L-Carnitine, a compound composed of Lysine and Methionine but can move from the blood-brain barrier more effectively. This is done by converting fat into energy. In the maintenance of brain health, Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps treat Alzheimer’s, depression, memory loss, and cognitive decline.

Supplementing Acetyl-L-Carnitine can help older adults improve memory, mental function, and mental and physical tiredness.  Improvements in energy levels after exercise and appetite can be seen after the consumption of Acetyl-L-Carnitine.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is often used for the treatment of neurological disorders, like diabetic polyneuropathy and multiple sclerosis.  It is absorbed into the body through diets and crosses the brain-blood barrier to assist with brain health.  The antioxidant properties influence many cellular processes, including direct radical scavenging, recycling, metal chelation, regeneration of endogenous antioxidants, and modulation of transcription factor activity.  It can also reduce inflammation, reverse the effects of skin aging, promoting healthy nerve function, lower the risk of heart disease, and slow the progression of memory loss disorders.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a compound that is commonly found in plants like red grapes and peanuts, which have many great benefits to the human brain.  Resveratrol is most known to activate autophagy, a defense mechanism within the cells that targets old and damaged proteins to destroy and recycle. Resveratrol helps improve the cognitive ability in individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  The studies have also found resveratrol intake is associated with anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and brain protective effects.

Cat’s Claw

Cat’s Claw, also known as Uncaria Tomentosa, is found from a vine native to South and Central American rainforests.  In recent years, Cat’s Claw is becoming a highly sought-after nootropic assisting with the decline of neurofunction, brain fog, memory loss, depression, neurodegenerative disorders, diseases, and Lyme disease.  Because of its neuroprotective properties and cognitive benefits, it has been used to treat arthritic, inflammatory, and immune conditions.  Other benefits to Cat’s Claw include improving memory, learning, and mood, preventing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, inflammation, and protecting the brain and nervous system.

Desiccated Beef Brain

Desiccated Beef Brain is highly beneficial to the enhancement of cognitive decline in elderly populations.  This is because the phosphatidylserine compounds improve the efficiency of enzymes within the nerve cells to relay messages from the cells to the rest of the body.  Desiccated Beef Brain is often consumed to reduce memory loss, limit uncontrolled mental activity, and treat epilepsy.  Bovine brain is also said to be able to improve both behaviour, cognition, memory, and alleviate symptoms of depression. In addition to brain related benefits, beef brain can also reduce symptoms of cellular atrophy, cell degeneration, decrease in tissue elasticity, and prevent aspects of aging.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, are found in fish like salmon or sardines, or nuts like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.  These acids are the primary foundation for developing healthy brain, blood flow, and offers protection against brain cell damage to support memory and focus as well as reduce inflammation.  Omega-3 is often consumed to prevent depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo is a commonly consumed herb that assists with brain health, namely perceptual, cognitive, and motor functions.  Because of its highly beneficial anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, platelet-forming, and circulation improving proponents, individuals often ingest gingko to enhance positive mood, increase energy, improve memory, and reduce ADHD and Dementia related symptoms. Studies have shown that Gingko assists with memory enhancement in individuals diagnosed with Dementia.  Preliminary studies have also shown Gingko to be highly effective in treating ADHD.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri, also known as Brahmi, is a traditional herbal remedy used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India for hundreds of years.  It is used to help regulate dopamine, serotonin production, and alleviate stress by enhancing its antioxidant neuroprotective mechanisms, which enhance cerebral blood flow, improving the electro-neurons fired in the brain.

Studies have found that Bacopa Monnieri assisted in managing a wide range of mental and mood-related health concerns.  Because this traditional herb is non- addictive and has very few side effects, it is often recommended by many to improve memory, reduce anxiety, prevent depression, and enhance focus, attention, learning, and memory.

Remember, a healthy mind leads to a healthy life.  If you’re looking to boost your brainpower, intensify your focus, expand your creativity, or enhance your memory, nootropics can offer the perfect blend of benefits and targeted brain health support. Your health journey is your own to take, so use what works best for you and embrace the healing power of plants!

Meet Paul Wagner

Paul Wagner is an Intuitive Life & Business Coach, clairvoyant reader, and a five-time EMMY Award-winning writer. He created “THE PERSONALITY CARDS,” a powerful Oracle-Tarot deck that’s helpful in life, love, and relationships. Paul studied with Lakota elders in the Pecos Wilderness, who nurtured his empathic abilities and taught him the sacred rituals. He has lived at ashrams with enlightened masters, including Amma, the Hugging Saint, for whom he’s delivered keynotes at Her worldwide events.

Paul tours the world lecturing on spiritual liberation. He lovingly offers intuitive readings, inspirational coaching, and illuminating courses to help others with self-discovery, decision-making, healing, and forgiveness. Book a session with Paul: HERE