adaptogens for stress

Top 7 Nootropic Adaptogens to Conquer Anxiety and Stress

David Tomen
David Tomen
12 minute read

best adaptogens for stress

When something happens during your day, regardless of what that stressor is, your body responds the same way every time. Your HPA axis kicks in and sends a cascade of hormones into your system. Dominated by a flood of cortisol from your adrenals. To fight the effects of stress in your body.

This stress response can be caused by fear or anxiety set off by a remark from your spouse, someone cutting you off in traffic, not enough sleep, excess exercise, illness, or the ongoing threat of contracting COVID-19.

When the stress ends, your body is designed to return to normal. But the thing is, in our modern world, and for most of us, the stress often continues. The symptoms stay under the radar and we’re not aware of it.

The symptoms of chronic stress show up as brain fog, anxiety and depression, weight gain around your waist, not feeling rested after a night’s sleep, and catching every cold or flu bug that’s going around.

As a neurohacker working on optimizing cognitive performance, it’s important to realize that chronic stress and cortisol will damage your brain. And work against everything you’re trying to do with nootropics.

Fortunately, you have easy access to an elite-class of nootropics that help your body cope with stress. And avoid the damage it can cause. Bringing your body back into a balanced, healthy, optimized state. They are called “adaptogens”.

Stress causes brain damage

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley found that chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain structure and function.[i] Chronic stress changes neural networks.

Cortisol creates a domino effect that hard-wires pathways between the hippocampus and amygdala. (The amygdala (lizard brain) is the area responsible for your fight-or-flight response).

This hard-wiring caused by stress is not the way your brain was designed. But chronic, ongoing stress tricks the brain into rebuilding circuits and hunkering down for the long haul.

This re-wiring appears to be permanent. Unless you intervene with something like an adaptogen.

Chronic stress seems to ‘flip a switch’ in stem cells in the brain. And turns them into a type of cell that prevents connections to the prefrontal cortex. Preventing learning and memory.

And laying down the scaffolding linked to anxiety, depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

best adaptogen supplements

What is an adaptogen?

Humans have been using plants for food and medicine for thousands of years. Emperor Shen-Nung, the 2nd of China’s emperors (3500-2600 BC) catalogued over 365 species of medicinal plants. Many of which are still used in traditional Chinese medicine today.[ii]

Of those medicinal plants, a couple stand out as unique in their ability to help humans cope with physical and mental stress. Other cultures and ancient healing systems have since added to this short list. We now call these herbal remedies “adaptogens”.

The word adaptogen is derived from the Latin adaptare (to adjust or adapt). It was first used by Soviet physician and scientist Nikolai Lazarev in 1947. Lazarev was joined by Dr. Israel Brekham, and as a team began the search for botanicals with adaptogenic qualities.

The first plant the team studied was Panax Ginseng which has been in use for millennia. And was written about by Shen-Nung as a remedy over 5000 years ago.[iii]

The definition of “adaptogen” includes “metabolic regulators (of a natural origin) which increase the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors and to avoid damage from such factors.”

It turns out that many of these “metabolic regulators” are compounds found in certain plants that help them cope with growing in a stressful environment.

These compounds help plants adapt to extreme temperatures, resist insects that would otherwise do them harm, or cope with toxins drawn into the plant from the soil it’s growing in.

Ancient medical practitioners discovered that a few of these plants, or compounds derived by extraction, transferred their benefits to humans. And help us cope with various kinds of stress too.

How Adaptogens Work

Adding adaptogens to your stack can improve alertness, concentration, focus, learning, memory, mood and reduce brain fog. But the primary purpose of adding an adaptogen to your nootropic stack is to reduce physical and mental stress. And bring balance back to your life.adaptogen supplement reviews

Each herbal supplement classified as an adaptogen has a different mechanism of action in your brain and body. But overall, adaptogens work by:

Herbal adaptogens are known for increasing your resistance to both mental and physical stress. They offer the ability to adapt to stress more easily. No matter the cause. It could be a hectic calendar, extremes in hot or cold, noise, changes in altitude, exposure the toxins in food or the environment, illness, or physical exertion from exercise or work.

The beauty of using any of these nootropics is not only protecting you from stress. But they can also boost cognition, improve your reflexes, provide clearer thinking, and even improve your memory.

adaptogens list

Best Adaptogen Supplements

The best adaptogen supplements for nootropic use make up a short list. This elite class of herbs can have a profound effect on cognition and brain health.

Natural adaptogens are easy to find in local vitamin shops and health food stores. And most of the online retailers that sell dietary supplements carry the adaptogens listed below.

Each nootropic below features a live link to a full adaptogen supplement review. The detailed article on each includes the history and why it’s used as a nootropic, how it works in your brain, clinical studies, recommended dosage, possible side effects and the best form to buy.

  1. Ginseng – Instead of reaching for an energy drink, another cup of coffee or an Adderall to give yourself a boost – try Ginseng. One study with 30 healthy young volunteers demonstrated the power of Ginseng. Participants were given 200 mg or 400 mg of Panax Ginseng extract (G115) then asked to perform various tests.

The most noticeable effects were found at the lower 200 mg dose. An hour after supplementing with Ginseng extract both groups had lower blood glucose levels. But the biggest improvement in mental performance and reduction in fatigue during sustained mental activity were with the lower dose group.[iv]

Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been used for over 5,000 years as an herbal remedy.[v] Panax means “cure-all” in Greek. This potent adaptogen reduces adrenal fatigue, and boosts GABA. Providing an anti-stress effect.

Ginseng also stimulates the formation of new blood vessels in your brain which improves blood circulation. Ginsenosides increase protein synthesis and the activity of neurotransmitters. All of which improves alertness, reduces mental fatigue, boosts memory and overall cognition.

American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is preferred by many neurohackers over Asian Ginseng because it’s not as stimulating. And it’s produced under stricter conditions than any other ginseng. Studies show American Ginseng has a profound effect on enhancing memory after a single dose.[vi] And like Asian Ginseng, is a great choice for relieving anxiety.

  1. Gotu Kola – This adaptogen is often called “the student herb” in Bali. Because Gotu Kola increases dendrite and axon growth in brain cells which helps memory.[vii]

Gotu Kola also helps prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine which enhances cognition, learning, memory and mood.[viii] Some neurohackers report it as effective at reducing anxiety and relieving stress as Ashwagandha and Phenibut. As a bonus, Gotu Kola helps protect your brain from toxins and oxidative stress.

This ancient Ayurvedic herbal remedy, Gotu Kola was used just like a first-aid kit. It was used to treat mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, memory loss, insomnia, fever, syphilis, hepatitis, epilepsy, diarrhea and asthma.

  1. Ashwagandha – Native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, this potent herb is one of the most powerful in Ayurvedic medicine. And stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most potent prescription drugs used to treat depression and anxiety.

In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means “smell of horse”. Meaning this herb imparts the strength and vigor of a stallion. It helps relieve anxiety and depression by reducing the stress hormone cortisol. And by enhancing GABA and serotonin receptors in your brain.

Studies show that Ashwagandha helps regenerate axons, dendrites and synapses. Restoring neural networks needed for memory. The extract of this herb inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.[ix] Which keeps more acetylcholine available for cognition, learning and memory.

After a study at Asha Hospital in Hyderabad, India, researchers concluded that “a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life”.[x]

  1. Lemon Balm – As an adaptogen, Lemon Balm is most commonly used for stress relief, and to reduce panic attacks.adaptogen science

The rosmarinic acid in Lemon Balm provides anti-anxiety effects by inhibiting the GABA transaminase enzyme. Which helps maintain adequate levels of GABA in your brain needed for regulating mood.

Rosmarinic acid also provides an anti-depressant effect in your brain by downregulating mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (Mkp-1). And by upregulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), along with boosting dopamine synthesis.[xi]

Another active component in Lemon Balm called eugenol works as a powerful antioxidant. Naturally eliminating free radicals that would normally damage brain cells.

The bottom-line is Lemon Balm helps anxiety, concentration, depression, focus, irritability, learning and memory. Some reviewers say using Lemon Balm works as well as prescription Xanax. Without the side effects.

  1. Ginkgo Biloba – In the most ancient medical text we’ve found so far, the Chinese Materia Medica (2800 B.C.) lists Ginkgo Biloba for asthma, swelling of the hands and feet, coughs, vascular disorders, aging and for the brain.[xii]

Modern science tells us how Ginkgo works. It acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which reduces levels of monoamine oxidase (MAO) in your brain. MAO breaks down dopamine. Inhibiting MAO increases dopamine levels which helps reduce anxiety.[xiii]

Ginkgo also helps increase cerebral blood flow which improves oxygen and glucose delivery to fuel brain cells. Improving cognition, learning, memory and recall. And it reduces oxidative stress by eliminating free radicals. Keeping brain cells healthy.

One important thing to note if you decide to try Ginkgo. User reviews and studies have consistently shown that it may take several weeks of supplementing with Ginkgo before you realize any benefit. But once those benefits start to kick in, this adaptogen may become a permanent part of your nootropic stack.

  1. Bacopa MonnieriBacopa is considered by many to be the best nootropic available today. It’s an adaptogen because it helps prevent the chemical and physical effects of stress. Instead of simply suppressing them like many prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

The ancient Ayurvedic texts first recommended Bacopa to devotees as a way to help memorize long passages of text. The bacosides A and B in Bacopa improve signaling between neurons, and help rebuild damaged brain cells. It’s been shown in studies to boost word recall, attention and memory, improve focus, and lower anxiety and heart rate.[xiv]

Researchers at Banaras Hindu University in India showed Bacopa as effective for anxiety as the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam. One of the side effects of lorazepam is memory loss. Bacopa Monnieri on the other hand, reduced anxiety while boosting cognition.[xv]

If you’re thinking of trying Bacopa but need a little more convincing, I recommend reading the extended review here on Nootropics Expert. Particularly the section called “Bacopa Monnieri benefits”. It digs down into the molecular evidence on how this adaptogen works.

  1. Rhodiola Rosea – Rhodiola has an amazing ability to help you overcome fatigue and exhaustion caused by physical and mental stress. Rhodiola is known for improving alertness, energy, memory and mood, is anti-anxiety and anti-depressant, reduces fatigue, and boosts cognition and concentration.

The active components in Rhodiola collectively known as rosavins along with salidroside and tyrosol provide its benefits. It reverses damage to neurons caused by chronic stress. And it promotes key neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and beta-endorphins which help reduce stress.

Rhodiola also prevents and repairs damage caused by C-reactive protein and free radicals. It even helps regenerate neurons during periods of stress. In part by boosting the synthesis and re-synthesis of ATP. Your main cellular fuel source created in mitochondria.

Clinical studies and user experience show you get the full benefits of Rhodiola Rosea by supplementing with this adaptogen for 30 – 40 days.

Add Balance to Your Nootropic Stack

Some of the adaptogens reviewed in this post have thousands of years of science supporting their use. Some of the ‘newer’ adaptogens like Lemon Balm have dozens of clinical trials and hundreds of years of practical use proving their efficacy in treating stress.adaptogens for stress

When used according to dosage recommendations, side effects are few or non-existent with adaptogens. These natural herbs simply bring balance back to your body and brain.

Effectively treating stress often results in the added benefits of better memory and learning, less physical and mental fatigue, elimination of anxiety, and a better mood for a much more pleasant quality of life.

Living in this modern world makes it nearly impossible to bring balance back to our dysfunctional lives without the intervention of nootropics. And particularly an adaptogen or two.

Some of the higher quality, pre-made nootropic stacks like include adaptogens in their formula. For example, Mind Lab Pro® contains effective amounts of the anxiety-reducing adaptogens Bacopa Monnieri and Rhodiola Rosea. So read nootropic supplement labels carefully before making your selection.

You’ll find that selecting the right adaptogens for your nootropic stack will often improve the effectiveness of racetams, choline supplements, and other nootropic compounds.

If you’re dealing with chronic fatigue, low energy levels, poor memory or ongoing stress – do yourself a favor. Add an adaptogen to your daily supplement regimen. And start enjoying life again.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] “New evidence that chronic stress predisposes brain to mental illness” University of California, Berkeley Feb. 11, 2014, Retrieved Mar. 24, 2016 (source)

[ii] Lee K.H. et. Al. “Recent Progress of Research on Herbal Products Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine: the Herbs belonging to The Divine Husbandman’s Herbal Foundation Canon” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2012 Jan-Mar; 2(1): 6–26. (source)

[iii] Nair R., Sellaturay S., Sriprasad S. “The history of ginseng in the management of erectile dysfunction in ancient China (3500-2600 BCE)” Indian Journal of Urology 2012 Jan-Mar; 28(1): 15–20. (source)

[iv] Reay J.L., Kennedy D.O., Scholey A.B. “Single doses of Panax ginseng (G115) reduce blood glucose levels and improve cognitive performance during sustained mental activity.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 2005 Jul;19(4):357-65. (source)

[v] Nair R., Sellaturay S., Sriprasad S. “The history of ginseng in the management of erectile dysfunction in ancient China (3500-2600 BCE)” Indian Journal of Urology 2012 Jan-Mar; 28(1): 15–20. (source)

[vi] Scholey A., Ossoukhova A., Owen L., Ibarra A., Pipingas A., He K., Roller M., Stough C. “Effects of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) on neurocognitive function: an acute, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.” Psychopharmacology (Berlin). 2010 Oct;212(3):345-56. (source)

[vii] Wanakhachornkrai O., Pongrakhananon V., Chunhacha P., Wanasuntronwong A., Vattanajun A., Tantisira B., Chanvorachote P., Tantisira M.H. “Neuritogenic effect of standardized extract of Centella asiatica ECa233 on human neuroblastoma cells.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013 Aug 4;13:204. (source)

[viii] Wattanathorn J., Mator L., Muchimapura S., Tongun T., Pasuriwong O., Piyawatkul N., Yimtae K., Sripanidkulchai B., Singkhoraard J. “Positive modulation of cognition and mood in the healthy elderly volunteer following the administration of Centella asiatica.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2008 Mar 5;116(2):325-32 (source)

[ix] Choudhary M.I., Yousuf S., Nawaz S.A., Ahmed S., Atta-ur-Rahman. “Cholinesterase inhibiting withanolides from Withania somnifera.” Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin (Tokyo) 2004 Nov;52(11):1358-61. (source)

[x] Chandrasekhar K., Kapoor J., Anishetty S. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. (source)

[xi] Kondo S., Omri A.E., Han J., Isoda H. “Antidepressant-like effects of rosmarinic acid through mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulation” Journal of Functional Foods Volume 14, April 2015, Pages 758–766 (source)

[xii] Popa A. “Ginkgo Biloba and Memory” Pharmacotherapy Update – Cleveland Clinic Vol. V, No. V September/October 2002 (source)

[xiii] Wu W.R., Zhu X.Z. “Involvement of monoamine oxidase inhibition in neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of Ginkgo biloba extract against MPTP-induced nigrostriatal dopaminergic toxicity in C57 mice.” Life Sciences. 1999;65(2):157-64. (source)

[xiv] Calabrese N.D., Gregory W.L., Leo M., Kraemer D., Bone K., Oken B. “Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial” Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2008 Jul; 14(6): 707–713. (source)

[xv] Bhattacharya S.K., Ghosal S. “Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study.” Phytomedicine. 1998 Apr;5(2):77-82 (source)

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Join The Discussion - 93 comments

September 28, 2021

Another brilliant summary. I’m currently taking lions mane and ashwagandha ksm66 to help with stress.

In relation to your comment below

“This re-wiring appears to be permanent. Unless you intervene with something like an adaptogen”

Is this only an adaptogen that can help, or can amino acids/other suppliments also help reverse the damage on the brain caused by stress?

Ie I’m also taking NAC, which is very effective for me. Will this only work whilst I am taking it or can it help ‘heal’ the brain like an adaptogen?

Thanks for your brilliant work in education on nootropics

    David Tomen
    September 28, 2021

    JT, what I meant was intervene with nootropic supplements which can help set things back to ‘normal’. And you can do this with adaptogens, increasing BDNF, increase blood flow, etc.

    NAC will only work as long as you are using it. It is a precursor to the synthesis of glutathione and helps revive dysfunctional dopamine receptors.

    But anything you can do to assist with brain health is going to help with repair. The thing is brain repair never stops because continual maintenance is how we keep it healthy.

Robert L.
May 27, 2021

Hi David,
I sent a message to your Anxiety Video and wondered if this the same as “HPA Axis Dysfunction”?

Or is it more of a deeper science?

    David Tomen
    May 27, 2021

    Robert, HPA Axis Dysfunction can be a cause of anxiety which is explained in this clinical study:

    But anxiety can be caused by a host of other things as well including neurotransmitter dysfunction. If that, you need to figure out which neurotransmitter is causing you problems and support it.

May 1, 2021

Hi David, you only mentioned the recommended dosage for ginseng. What about the others?

    David Tomen
    May 2, 2021

    Daniele, each supplement I mentioned above includes a live link through to my review of that supplement. Which also has dosage recommendations.

    I only included the dosage for because of the included clinical study. I suppose I could have put dosages in but I would rather you read the full review for the supplement you are considering. So you have a clear understanding of what it does.

April 23, 2021

Hi David i have gad and i am on lexapro and it help me like 50% but i want to try nootropics i want to create a stack like this
Rhodiola rosea
Alpha gpc
Lions mane

What u think about it David

    David Tomen
    April 24, 2021

    Zamir, if Lexapro worked well for you it tells us that you could have problems with serotonin. So if all you want to do is improve the benefits you get from Lexapro you won’t need everything you mentioned in your stack above.

    You may just want to try adding inositol and see if that solves your GAD issues:

      July 1, 2021

      What about ssri alternatives ssri help me but also i have no emotions like i can’t cry easily recommend me a good stack iam 22 and have generalized anxiety disorder

        David Tomen
        July 1, 2021

        Zamir, adaptogens are not the way to figure this out. Please see this article: It walks you through how to determine which neurotransmitter you by be having problems with. If it is serotonin for example then you can increase serotonin levels by supplementing with L-Tryptophan.

April 7, 2021

Hi David me again,
i looked a bit deeper into fight and flight responses and have seen that lowering crh could have a good results at calming the whole hpa axis(hypothalamus->crh->acth->cortisol->epinephrine&norepinephrine). Unluckily the sympathetic nervous system has aswell a role into the whole process, but maybe lowering crh could do the trick already.

Do you know something to lower or keep crh at normal values ?

By the way i maybe have found a natural beta blocker, Kudzu root. Have to try it, but unluckily didnt got a standardized supplement this time. Lowering crh and calming sympathetic nervous system with gaba probably could replace beta blocker though.

Greetings, Dan.

    David Tomen
    April 9, 2021

    Dan, I am not aware of any way to naturally reduce Corticotropin-releasing hormone. Only reducing cortisol with either L-Theanine or Ashwagandha.

      April 9, 2021

      Hey David,
      thanks for your time.
      Unfortunate, it would have been great try something to keep crh under control.
      Studys very less report about crh, maybe some cortisol reducing supplements already reduce crh, who knows.

      I think in the comment section you adviced Lithium orotate a long time ago for my problem(fight and flight). May i gonna try that ?

      Or should i work towards fixing autonomic nervous system ? (There are a lot of other approaches in my mind… Fixing Amygdala, Hypothalamus, reduce crh, acth, cortisol, balance autonomic nervous system, natural beta blocker)
      With a bit of luck maybe kudzu root can help with my problem, should recieve that pretty soon.

      Greetings, Dan.

February 7, 2021

Hello, David! I’ve been following your work on this site for quite some time and it’s helped me tremendously so far.
Unfortunately, for the past few days I’ve been feeling super anxious/overwhelmed/doomed/panicky/depressed/can’t sleep well.
I started going to the psychologist again, but want to refresh my supplements stack! Please have a look at my stack at the moment.

– Ashwagandha KSM-66 – 300mg. In the morning and evening – I’ve been using it for more than a year already, do you think I should ditch it, as it’s stopped working apparently.
– Lemon Balm Extract – 300mg. In morning and evening – been using it for a month and a half and felt great at the beginning, but doesn’t seem to work for me now.
– Gaba (free form) 500mg. 30 min. before bed. – Been using it for 1.5 months now.
– Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate – 250mg. in the morning , 375mg in the evening.
– Omega 3’s 1g.
– Vitamin C + Rose Hips extract – 500mg. In the morning and in the evening.
– Vitamin E – 12mg.
– Vitamin D3 – 2000IU
– Vitamin K2 – 67% of daily req.
– Potent Vitamin B-Complex

I’m considering Rhodiola Rosea or Bacopa Monieri, what do you think? Should I remove something from my stack that could be causing my increased anxiety? Or add something new? Looking forward to your answer. Thanks.

    David Tomen
    February 7, 2021

    Tsvetan, drop the Ashwagandha because that could be causing your symptoms. And reduce your magnesium intake in half.

    What type of Vitamin E are you using? Because you need all 8 isomers and not just one that is in most Vitamin E supplements. Using only one isomer sabotages the rest of the E that is in your body already.

    I can’t recommend anything specifically because I don’t know what is causing your symptoms. I suggest looking back at the supplements you’ve already tried or are using. And identify which provided the most benefit. Look at the mechanism of action for those supplements that worked. Then choose nootropic that work on the same pathway.

    For example, if Lemon Balm works for you check to see how exactly it works in your brain. Then choose another one that works on the same pathway.

    You’re trying to figure out if you are low in a specific neurotransmitter like dopamine or serotonin. Or any of the others. And then start using a precursor that boosts that particular action. Such as L-Tyrosine for dopamine. Or L-Tryptophan for serotonin. Etc.

      February 8, 2021

      Hi again, David.

      I was actually wondering if Ashwagandha or Lemon Balm caused me those issues. For now I’ll no longer take Ashwagandha and see how I feel.

      When I firstly started taking Magnesium Bisglycinate (more than a year ago) before bed I felt really calm, so I thought increasing it from 200mg/night to around 600mg/overall for the day would just help me. Why is magnesium causing me issues then?

      On the other hand, I just researched my Vitamin E supplements and 100% from the ones I found contained the most common form. Could you recommend something will all isomers? Just now, I was told that Wheat Germ Oil is what I’m looking for, have you heard of it?

      I think I’m deficient in all feel-good hormones.. I can’t sleep well, feelings of impending doom were upon me yesterday, super-anxious.. So what do you think is a good starting point? I read your review here of L-Tryptophan and that it caused increased anxiety if depressed, so I just ditched mine.

      By the way, I forgot to mention that I’m also using
      – Zinc Picolinate 22mg.

      Thanks so much David. I feel like you’re saving my life.

        David Tomen
        February 8, 2021

        Tsvetan, it’s difficult to point to a specific cause of excess magnesium because it does so many things in your body and brain. It’s involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions for example. I’ve just found personally that using too much magnesium backfires on me. And it’s not just diarrhea. But getting the shakes and feeling really bad.

        This goes for any supplement. More is never better. Once you find the dose that works for you stay with it. You cannot improve things by taking more. You just can’t. And more often than not it’s dangerous.

        Lemon Balm may be a good example here. You say it once worked great for you but now it doesn’t. People don’t generally grow tolerant to Lemon Balm. I suggest just using the one dose before bed. It alone won’t solve your problems. But could be one piece of the puzzle you’re trying to solve.

        Life Extension makes a good Vitamin E supplement using all 8 isomers here: Don’t count on something like “wheat germ oil” unless you can get it tested somehow to find out exactly what’s in it.

        Feelings of unrelenting doom is a form of severe anxiety. And is often caused by a problem with one particular neurotransmitter. The challenge is figuring which one it is. See this article to learn how to test each one:

January 15, 2021

Hi, again! I’m hoping for some advice with my stack — from your articles I believe that I may have created a little bit of a norepinephrine imbalance. I get a bit jittery, anxious, and too energetic sometimes with what I’m taking. It’s like I can feel my heart beating sometimes! Although besides that, I am feeling very positive effects from the stack in terms of mood, motivation, memory, and energy.

Most days I’m taking:
1 MindLab Pro
1 alpha-GPC 300mg
1 DHA 500mg
2 PerformanceLab women’s multi-vitamins
1 NAC 500mg
1 PerformanceLab energy

I take this stack once per day, in the morning with bullet-proof coffee. There are a few days a week (now that my classes are back in session) that I switch out the NAC and PL energy in my stack for 750mg of aniracetam. At night I’m taking 1000mg of L-Tryptophan.

Do you think that adding an adaptogen might help with the jitteriness etc? If so, which would you recommend? Or is there another route you’d take?

Appreciate you!

    David Tomen
    January 16, 2021

    I would NOT “switch out the NAC and PL Energy” when using Aniracetam. Because NAC is supporting your immune system as well as dopamine receptors. And PL Energy contains ALCAR which is a required cofactor in the synthesis of acetylcholine. Alpha GPC can not make acetylcholine without the presence of ALCAR, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid).

    I suggest taking a look at each adaptogen in the above list. And avoid any that boost or support dopamine/norepinephrine. Lemon Balm may be a good choice for you.

    Is there any reason you are not using the full daily dose of 4 capsules of the Performance Lab Multi?

    And try increasing your daily DHA dose to 1,000 mg. That may help reduce the feelings of jitteriness as well.

      January 16, 2021

      Thank you!! I will give lemon balm a whirl. 🙂

      The reason I started to switch out those noots is because adding aniracetam to my everyday stack created a sedative effect. I felt extremely foggy and sluggish. I believe I asked you about it on another page somewhere on this site and you’d suggested that might mean too much dopamine, so I decided to go lighter on dopamine boosters on my aniracetam days, even dropping down from 2 MLPro’s to 1 — this seemed to fix the problem. Is there an alternative to this? Or should I avoid aniracetam altogether?

      I have also tried doing 1000mg of DHA rather than 500mg, but felt very strange. I wasn’t noticing any positive effects from it, just uncomfortable ones. When I went back down to 500 I felt better. Not sure what that could’ve been from.

      No reason for not taking the full 4 PL multi’s — I honestly just forget to take the other two later on in the day haha. And taking all 4 at once wasn’t recommended by PL. I’m normally swamped with school and my small business during the day so I don’t often take more than my morning stack. Also, when I was taking the stack twice a day, a while back, I felt a bit too “up” — had that strange jittery agitated thing going on. And once per day seems to carry me through.

        David Tomen
        January 16, 2021

        The main benefit of Aniracetam is its anti-anxiety and antidepressant benefits. So a “sedative” effect could fall under that category I suppose. Although I don’t experience that. Only the antidepressant benefits which is why I started it in the first place. If it doesn’t provide the benefit you like then drop it from your stack.

        BTW, the sedative effect is usually attributed to either too much, or too little acetylcholine. Which could happen with Aniracetam if you don’t use enough of a choline supplement. It will use up your acetylcholine by 200 -300%.

        Mind Lab Pro should not cause a sedative effect at all. And I like that way you alter your dosages depending on the way you feel. It’s exactly what experienced neurohackers do. Keep DHA at 500 mg if that’s what works for you.

        DHA regulates calcium oscillations which are involved in neurotransmitter release. And it stimulates an increase in glutamate, serotonin and acetylcholine receptors. Which is what you may be experiencing.

        And yes please. Do your body and brain the favor of using all 4 capsules daily of your multi. Here’s why:

        January 16, 2021

        Ah, thank you for those articles! They’re exactly what I needed. I’ll definitely go up to 4 PL multi’s. Maybe I’ve just been shorting myself on b+c vitamins/acetylcholine this whole time… Love figuring this stuff out. I do enjoy the benefits of aniracetam in the lighter stack, so hopefully I’ll figure out a way to work it back in.

        Another observation is that the benefits I’m experiencing from my stack significantly fluctuate with my hormone cycle. It’s possible that the negative effects I experienced coincided with a hormonal shift. Is there any literature on this? Are there any female neuro-hackers of note that you’d recommend looking up who might touch on this?

        Thanks again! 🙂

        David Tomen
        January 17, 2021

        Your hormones are definitely tied into how this all works. Our sex hormones are directly involved in everything going on in our brain. And I haven’t seen anyone write about this stuff yet from a layman’s perspective. It’s on my list of “things to write”. But is so complicated that it’s taking a while to put together. Please be patient. I’ll get it done just not sure when.

December 26, 2020

Dear David,

Thank you for all your work here. Your site proves to be a seemingly never-ending source of insight and knowledge. Every time I have to decide about purchasing something for my nootropic stack, I end up here. It’s easy to navigate, and once you’re familiar with how you’ve set everything up, it becomes an invaluable tool to compare and decide. It is by far my favorite nootropics site!

I once made a stack with Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Rhodiola, L-theanine, Alcar, Nalt, and Citicoline and Pine Bark Extract.

I took this every morning and then followed up at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. with an Alpha GPC, Alcar, and Nalt combo. I was thinking about putting it back together again. (I also use Vit-B and probiotics daily and Aniracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Sulbutiamine, etc. but more on a need to basis)

I just wondered if you saw anything wrong with the morning stack? I used the doses as said on your site or slightly less.

I’m starting to get a little worried about my memory lately. I have a splendid memory (but a slow processor:), and I kind of cherish it because I feel it enables me to see what other people miss. In eastern strategic thinking, there’s never any focus on a single event. Everything is seen in the broader context where patterns reveal motives. That’s kinda how my brain works. I’m not quick-witted and never will be, but I see patterns and can judge situations (or persons) based on all previous interactions. I’m afraid that if I lose my storage, my pattern recognizing abilities will fade.

    David Tomen
    December 27, 2020

    Anne, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with your morning stack. But you’ll get better results if you use it daily and consistently. Don’t fall out of the habit of using you your nootropics that you so carefully researched.

    I’ve been using almost the same nootropic stack for the last 13 years and every single day. And my memory is far better than it’s ever been. But consistency is key.

    I suggest you add 500 mg Lion’s Mane twice a day to your stack as well. It will work in synergy with what you are using and is great for ongoing brain maintenance and repair.

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