Most of us want to take Nootropics for the same basic reasons. We want better memory and recall, we want improved mental function, and we want better balanced moods. Some, or perhaps all of that, goes down the drain if the supplement we’re taking also give us anxiety.
So it’s a fair question to ask: Will Nootropics help with my anxiety, or make it worse? The fact is, this question has more to do with the ingredients in a given Nootropic than with the entire category of supplements.
We’ll break this down into two simple steps: discuss which ingredients are good for anxiety and which are bad; then we’ll talk about why you might want to take a Nootropic, so you can avoid the ones that increase your anxiety.
In my research, I’ve found a number of ingredients in trusted Nootropic products that have good science supporting them. But some of those ingredients are great for memory, but not for focus–you can remember anything, but you can’t seem to get anything done.
On the other hand, many ingredients that are good for focus and cognition are absolutely terrible for mood and anxiety.
So let’s get to it. The next two lists are ingredients that will help ease your anxiety and then a list of ones that might trigger worse anxiety.
- Lion’s Mane: it’s always nice when a popular ingredient has some clinical data to back it up. In the case of Lion’s Mane, not only is it great for focus and depressive disorders, but we found a meta-study indicating that Lion’s Mane eases anxiety in patients that have had trouble with other medications.
- L-Theanine: this amino acid has been a trendy inclusion in every kind of supplement, from diet pills to Nootropics. We were encouraged to find a study suggesting that it’s actually quite effective with regulating mood. Most of its benefits come from it’s influence on increased dopamine and serotonin.
- Rhodiola Rosea: this traditional herbal medicine is a great example of why Nootropic ingredients need to be researched. We found an in-depth study indicating that Rhodiola Rosea had a significant impact on anxiety–but no effect whatsoever on cognitive functionality. Great news if you’re taking this for mood. Not so much if you’re taking it for anything else.
- Bacopa Monnieri: commonly known as the water hyssop or Indian pennywort, this traditional herb has languished outside the notice of Western medicine and science. But no more. After a placebo-controlled, double blind, randomized trial, a study came out supporting the use of Bacopa for not only anxiety, but also for depression and cognitive disorders.
- Ginseng and Ginkgo: long used in traditional medicines, and a staple of the supplement worlds, both of these extracts have been linked in clinical studies to decreasing multiple stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms.
- Caffeine: long used in prescription ADHD medications, migraine relief medications, and in focus-enhancing supplements, caffeine has become ubiquitous in supplements, and in modern life. But according to the American Psychological Association, it’s also one of the worst things for anxiety. This includes the parasympathetic symptoms of anxiety. Coffee can increase blood pressure, hypter-tension, and even cause arrhythmia.
- Vitamin B-Complex: we know what you’re thinking. How can vitamins be bad for anxiety? Well, the answer is complicated. One study we found looked at nine areas of mood and cognitive function, and generally found no evidence that vitamin B decreases anxiety. Some other indications we saw suggested that because Vitamin B Complexes increase metabolism and heart rate, they may increase anxiety, as well. Overall, not a good ingredient to help reduce anxiety.
Picking a Nootropic for Anxiety
The bottom line, as I see it, is to make sure that you’re picking a Nootropic for the right reasons. Don’t just buy the first one on the search engine results page, and don’t just go with the one your friend at work is taking.
Shop around, do some research, look at the ingredients–and know thyself. Do you need help with memory or mood? Do you want to increase focus, or reduce stress? Once you know those answers, look at what you know can help your anxiety (the first list!), and avoid the ingredients that will increase your anxiety.