Five Plant-Based Nootropics to Increase Your Cognitive Levels

Five Plant-Based Nootropics to Increase Your Cognitive Levels

When thinking of a capsule that can boost your thinking abilities, you’re probably imagining some laboratory-born synthetic chemical ingredients. It may come to your surprise then, that many smart pills, or as we call it nowadays, nootropics, are derived from plant-based ingredients.

To be absolutely fair, while modern medicine has only just caught up with the idea of using plants as a cognitive enhancer, traditional medicine figured this out centuries ago. It’s only just now that we’ve decided to return to nature to re-check what our ancestors have passed down for generations.

Though some of these plants are harder to find in the wild nowadays, others may be in abundance, depending on where you are.

But can eating some foraged plants really make you smarter?

Well, that depends on what kind of plants you stumbled upon. So, before you head outside with a garden shear and a basket in each hand, let’s take a look at the five plants that have been scientifically proven to increase your cognitive skills.

Ginkgo biloba

Also known as maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba is a plant that has been used for several centuries to treat a variety of ailments in China, from respiratory illnesses to cardiovascular diseases [1]. You can consume Ginkgo biloba by brewing its leaves into tea, but the best way to consume this plant is by drinking its extracts, which usually comes in capsule form.

Ginkgo biloba - Sprightly

What can you expect from taking Ginkgo biloba? As a cognitive enhancer, Ginkgo biloba has been proven to improve memory, increase positive feelings and reaction time [2, 3, 4]. In addition, research has shown that Ginkgo biloba can decrease age-related cognitive decline [5, 6]. One study even found that a person that took Ginkgo biloba for twenty years performed better in memory tests than those who took piracetam for the same period of time [7].

So, how much Ginkgo biloba should you take each day to get these effects? Research about this can vary. Generally, these beneficial effects start appearing when you consume around 100 to 300 mg of Ginkgo biloba extracts a day.

A good rule of thumb is to consider your age—the older you are, the more you should take. 

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri—also commonly called water hyssop—is a plant that has been used since the 6th century in traditional Indian medicine to enhance concentration and decrease anxiety [8]. Just like many other plants in this list, Bacopa monnieri is usually taken in its extracted form, which comes from its leaves. Its extract is then usually sold in the form of pills or capsules, although just like most leaf-based nootropics, it’s also possible to brew Bacopa monnieri into tea. 

Bacopa monnieri - Sprightly

Several research has found that Bacopa monnieri increases concentration and the ability to remember visual information [9] [10]. Furthermore, it also provides protective effects against age-related brain cell degeneration [11]. One research study that tested Bacopa monnieri on mice found that the plant extract can decrease depression levels, although this result has yet to be replicated in human subjects [12].

How much Bacopa monnieri should you consume daily? Well, if we use past research contexts as reference, the beneficial effects of Bacopa monnieri should be apparent if you consume at least 300 mg on a daily basis. However, you can also start at the minimum dosage for most plant-based nootropics: 100 mg. 

Rhodiola rosea

While most plants on this list are well-known for their usage in Asian traditional medicine, Rhodiola rosea is one plant that is more popularly used in Europe and North America. Since at least the late 17th century, Rhodiola rosea— or roseroot - has been used in folk medicine as a treatment for headaches, anxiety, and diarrhea [13]. As can be inferred from one of its names, Rhodiola rosea’s extract is taken from its root, which is also edible.

Rhodiola rosea - Sprightly

Recent research on Rhodiola rosea found that the plant can improve mood and enhance your cognitive and physical performance [14] [15]. If you’re suffering from some form of mild cognitive impairment, such as being easily distracted or forgetful, Rhodiola rosea can help improve your condition [16]. One research found that rhodiola rosea can also provide the same benefits even when you’re experiencing mental fatigue. Consuming Rhodiola rosea in these conditions may help you retain your normal levels of performance in less than optimal conditions [17].

When it comes to Rhodiola rosea dosage, it can be difficult to determine the most optimal amount to consume. However, at least one analysis found that if you desire the physical performance-enhancing effects of Rhodiola rosea, you may need to consume at least 200 mg per day. Whereas if you just need the cognitive performance-enhancing effects, a minimum dose of 100 mg per day may be enough [18].

Ginseng (Panax ginseng/quinquefolius/japonicus)

Panax ginseng, or more commonly known as ginseng, is a plant that has been in use for nearly two millennia in China. Although there are several variants of the ginseng species, the three most commonly known are Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng), Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng), and Panax japonicus (Japanese ginseng) [19]. Whether you choose to eat or drink it, the most beneficial part of ginseng is its root.

Ginseng - Sprightly

What type of cognitive enhancements can you expect from using ginseng? If you’ve ever felt some form of mental exhaustion from doing too many things or not getting enough sleep, then ginseng may be the right plant for you. Ginseng is well-known to increase focus and attention, as well as improve memory [20]. Interestingly, one study found that ginseng seems to have a specific effect on increasing the ability to perform mathematical tasks [21].

How much ginseng should you consume daily? Well, if you’re just starting to use ginseng, it is best to start small. You may start by taking 200 mg of ginseng per day before increasing your dosage. This amount has been used in clinical research settings and has been found to provide the beneficial cognitive effects that you may seek from ginseng [22].

Celastrus paniculatus

If Ginkgo biloba is the ultimate panacea for traditional Chinese medicine, Celastrus paniculatus is the holy grail of traditional Indian medicine. This plant is known by a variety of names - but its coolest one has got to be “the intellect tree”. Celastrus paniculatus is commonly used in the form of oil, which is extracted from the leaves and seeds of the plant and is meant to be digested orally.

Celastrus paniculatus - Sprightly

Unlike most of the plants on this list, little scientific research on Celastrus paniculatus has been done on human subjects. Research done in India on children with intellectual disabilities found that administration of celastrus oil increases performance on IQ tests and decreases imbalance of certain neurotransmitters [23]. It is unknown whether such effects can be seen in human subjects with baseline conditions. Nevertheless, in controlled laboratory settings with rodent subjects, Celastrus paniculatus has been found to increase memory acquisition and recall, decrease anxiety, and protect brain cells from damage [24].

From past research, the optimal dosage of Celastrus paniculatus may be determined by your weight. Taking 100 mg for every kilogram of your weight might be the best way to gain the benefits that Celastrus paniculatus can offer. Be sure to consult a doctor before you start consuming this plant.

Which Plant-Based Nootropic Is the Best?

Adding any of the plants in this list to your diet will definitely give you the cognitive performance boost you crave. But the best way to truly gain all the benefits they have to offer will be to consume them all. However, can you really get better cognitive skills by combining more than one plant-based nootropic?

One research study supports the combination of Nootropics. In this study Panax ginseng and  Ginkgo biloba were given together in more than 200 people in the age range of 38 to 66 years old. The result of the research found that when Panax ginseng and Ginkgo biloba were combined, they provided the best effects on memory tasks, such as remembering words, pictures, and numbers [25].

Another study tested Rhodiola rosea, Ginkgo biloba, and the combination of both plants in around 112 people in their twenties. This research found that when given both Ginkgo biloba and Rhodiola rosea at the same time, the research participants’ performance in tasks that challenge their short-term memory skills are better than when they take each nootropic separately. As a bonus, the research participants also reported better mood when the two nootropics were combined [26].

In conclusion, if you’re looking for the best plant-based nootropic, then the right option is to find a supplement that can provide you with more than one plant-based extract in a single capsule. 

Brain Supplement Nootropics Booster can provide you with what you need. Each capsule has been specifically designed to contain plant-based ingredients such as Bacopa monnieri, Rhodiola rosea, and Ginkgo biloba, in doses needed to enhance your cognitive abilities.

If you can boost your cognitive levels by taking one capsule per day—why bother choosing a more inefficient alternative?