What Are Adaptogens and Nootropics?
November 5, 2023
Adaptogens and nootropics are groups of ingredients that are thought to improve mood and mental health, among many other uses. As anti-anxiety supplements, both are believed to promote wellbeing and calm and alleviate stress.
While there are specific differences between these ingredient categories, many supplements are manufactured with adaptogenic and nootropic compounds, often extracted from plants and roots.
In this post, we’ll look at how these supplements compare, what sorts of effects they have, and discuss the respective pros and cons to help you make great choices about the best options for you.
Adaptogens Versus Nootropics: Which Is Better?
Used for hundreds of years in holistic, herbal, and plant-based medicine, adaptogens are natural compounds extracted from herbs, plants, and roots that reinforce or increase the concentration of chemicals within our bodies, such as cortisol. An adaptogen regulates those mood-affecting hormones and chemicals. Examples include holy basil, ashwagandha, and rhodiola.
Nootropics, in comparison, have similar impacts in terms of regulating and improving our moods and are thought to be effective ways to manage anxiety, sleep disorders, and other conditions that impact our recall, memory, and ability to relax. These substances also make our brains work productively, enhancing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and acting as a barrier to toxins.
Potential ingredients used in natural nootropics include B vitamins, lions’ mane, and some herbs that contain adaptogenic chemicals. What are natural nootropics? They are simply nootropics manufactured with naturally occurring ingredients rather than artificial compounds produced in a laboratory.
Neither is necessarily preferable to the other–but a nootropic can address a particular concern, whereas an adaptogen has a non-specific effect and is normally used in a general way to enhance wellbeing rather than to target insomnia, for example (1).
Do Nootropics and Adaptogens Do the Same Thing?
These supplements have multiple similarities and characteristics, especially when both are sourced from plants. It’s also important to clarify that a supplement isn’t always one or the other; most adaptogens are potentially classed as nootropics, and vice versa.
Although the terms can be used interchangeably, they aren’t quite identical. This is because the definition of an adaptogen is that it primarily aims to improve brain health and human cognition on a generalized basis. However, they are formulated to combat stress as a core aim.
Nootropics, on the other hand, can help to reduce stress but are also produced to address multiple other concerns, such as boosting cognition during intense study periods or enhancing energy and sleep quality when a person is going through a stressful time.
Are Nootropics and Adaptogens Safe?
A common misconception is that nootropics are at a higher risk than adaptogens, but both options carry comparable possible side effects, especially if misused. Many nootropics are designed and tested to evaluate their ability to manage the symptoms of depression, stress, and racing thoughts.
Can nootropics cause depression? Overuse and exceeding recommended dosages can possibly result in negative outcomes like increased anxiety. Because of this, it is essential for anybody being treated for depression to check with their physician before taking any supplement alongside prescribed medication.
Either a nootropic or adaptogen (or a supplement containing both types of ingredients) should be taken responsibly to ensure you achieve the benefits you are looking for–without disrupting your sleep patterns or the way your brain functions at its healthiest.
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