The word nootropic (like “smart drug”) is trending pretty hard right now, in large part thanks to media hype and a certain Bulletproof Diet! There are plenty of synthetic nootropic products on the market, and that’s cool if that’s your jam, but at SuperFeast we’re a little more into the ‘erbs, rather than drugs or isolates. Therefore we decided to look into the best of the herbal nootropics, and we’ve created a blend that will (figuratively) blow your mind and (literally) ward off cognitive decline!
A nootropic is basically something that improves your cognitive performance. According to Wikipedia, “The word nootropic was coined in 1972 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea, from the Greek words νοῦς (nous), or "mind", and τρέπειν (trepein), meaning to bend or turn.”
means “acting on the mind.”
Brain health is pretty personal here at SuperFeast. We've even created a cool 21 days of Brain Gains - nerd alert! And not just cos we’re learning how to run a company and raise a child and keep up with our nerdy health-researching passions (talk about brain strain!), but also because Mason’s mum, Janesse, suffered an aneurysm about six years ago, and her healing journey has been super inspiring for our whole crew.
Mase was inspired to create a neural blend after witnessing first-hand how the tonic herbs we serve up at SuperFeast were helping his mum heal. A little bit of experimentation and tweaking (the first version of the blend was pretty wild!), and we’re all super stoked with the result.
I n t r o d u c i n g : N e u r a l N e c t a r !
Neural Nectar is a combination of ancient adaptogenic and nootropic herbs, specifically blended to enhance the longevity and performance of the brain in these modern times. Let's face it, the brain is pretty damn amazing. The use of nootropics is especially important these days due to the high levels of pressure being put on our minds through multiple stimuli.
Ancient Taoists, yogis and shamans would use these herbs specifically to promote cerebral circulation and function, as well as to enhance emotional and mental wellbeing. If they were recognising a need for them pre-industrial/technological revolution, imagine how much the brain is calling out for these herbs now!
L e t ’ s h a v e a c l o s e r l o o k
a t t h e n o o t r o p i c s a n d a d a p t o g e n s
t h a t m a k e u p o u r n e x t - l e v e l
N e u r a l N e c t a r b l e n d .
Bringing the medicinal mushroom vibes into the mix is possibly the most famous herbal nootropic in the world right now: Lion’s Mane. Lion’s Mane belongs to the tooth fungus group of mushies and looks like a mix between an albino lion’s mane and an icicle formation falling in a cluster from the trees upon which it grows.
Used for centuries in the Orient for its gut, brain and nervous system benefits, Lion’s Mane has recently been the subject of much scientific research which has confirmed its ability to enhance mental performance, increase memory, focus and concentration, lift cerebral stamina and prevent the onset of mental ageing. Much of the attribution regarding its benefits lies within the herb’s ability to stimulate nerve-growth-factor (NGF) production.
NGFs are basically a bunch of small proteins that support the growth and development of, and communication between, neurons. They’re also potentially important for our immune health, sexual function (they support ovulation in animals) and falling in LOVE!! Lion’s Mane is also a tonic for the digestive system and helps strengthen the gut-brain connection.
The leaf of Ginkgo biloba is an ancient herbal remedy and one of the oldest tree species on earth. This nootropic herb has been used as an overall health tonic for millennia, however its greatest gift is its cerebral-enhancing effects. Research has shown it to protect the body from mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress, a big factor in keeping the brain and cells young.
Gingko leaf extract is traditionally used as a tonic for those wishing to enhance brain function with increased focus and greater memory; it is such a beautiful herb for keeping the mind and cerebral cortex sharp. It does this through increased vascular dilation, improvement to the structure of blood vessels and increased antioxidant activity. The result is increased brain function and the tonification of immune and detox pathways through the brain and nervous system.
Mucuna is the prominent “velvet bean” that grows throughout the tropical regions of the world. The pods of this creeper vine contain a seed that has been used by ancient herbalists for over 2,000 years as a tonic for the nervous system, to manage stress and to build healthy motor skills and coordination. It is most famous for being a herbal source of levodopa (L-dopa) which is the precursor to dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is used by neurons to communicate with other cells. Dopamine is depleted by addictions and excessiveness in lifestyle, whether it be alcohol, social media, lust etc. It is the feel-good “hit” you get when you indulge in your favourite vice and when tapped out, it is linked with mood swings, constant shakes, poor memory and an inability to concentrate.
Mucuna is also a tonic for replenishing the kidneys (which govern the brain according to Taoist theory) and builds healthy hormones and libido; an essential aspect of any brain upgrading protocol.
Rhodiola, the legendary arctic root, is a potent adaptogen, nervine (calms and tones the nervous system) and neuro-protective tonic herb that has won its place in our hearts as one of the best full-body health tonics and brain-supporting herbs. It is an important herb in the traditional medicine of Eastern Europe, Asia and Scandinavia where it has been used to stimulate the nervous system, enhance physical and mental performance and improve resistance to high-altitude sickness. Rhodiola has been categorised as an ‘adaptogen’ in traditional systems due to its ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological and physical stressors, and is noted for its mood-enhancing properties.
We've added this potent herb to the Neural Nectar blend so that you're ready to get up and go, no matter what life throws at you. It has been suggested that rhodiola extract promotes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain stem, thus activating the cerebral cortex and limbic system (the emotional/memory creating part of the brain). As a result, cognitive function, attention, memory and learning may be enhanced. Animal experiments have demonstrated improvements in learning and retention after 24 hours following a single dose and long-term memory after 10 days treatment at the same dose.
The root of the white peony is a Yin and blood-building tonic that has been used as a nootropic to improve memory and reduce brain fog for thousands of years. As a blood-enhancing herb, white peony tones systemic circulation, especially to the brain. White peony is very effective at improving both chemical and age-related memory loss in low doses (tonic doses). It also helps to support cell nourishment and conductivity.
In this blend, the white peony brings a beautiful, grounding yin essence so that the energetics of the blend is balanced. Modern science has shown that white peony:
stimulates the hippocampus—which is in the brain’s temporal lobe, and is responsible for storing new information—to enhance learning and memory. (This is the first part of the brain to deteriorate in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.)
supports spatial awareness
exerts a protective effect on brain neurons in animals during epileptic seizures.
improves learning in animals with age-related learning deficits. (The scientists concluded that peony has the therapeutic potential to treat senile dementia and ageing-induced cognitive dysfunction.)
Traditionally white peony is used to help reduce the symptoms of neurological tension (headaches and migraines), reduce blood pressure and nerve pain, and to prevent Alzheimer's and dementia (especially when combined with ginko). It is our favourite tonic herb for nourishing the brain’s Yin essence and increasing cognitive function. White peony is especially helpful at reducing brain fog in women around menopause and postpartum.
We hope that by sharing our favourite tonic herbs for the brain we’re starting to inspire you to incorporate more herbal nutrition into your diet. Please note that this list is not an exclusive list of herbs suitable for supporting the brain - this is just OUR personal favourite combination of herbs that we find really serves our intention of nourishing our neurons.
We also love schizandra, eulethro, gotu kola, ashwaganda, bacopa, ginseng, brahmi...these are all beautiful herbs (and ones we hope to add to our range!) Neural Nectar (and this 21 day program) is our love song to your brain :)