Nootropic supplements are most commonly sought out to enhance cognitive performance but many of these compounds are also associated with positively addressing some of the fundamental neurochemical processes that are involved in feelings of anxiety and stress.
While the stress response actually serves an important purpose in preparing the body and mind to react to danger at the moment, the problem occurs in its aftermath, when it is triggered daily by excessive worrying and anxiety which wears down the brain’s ability to function optimally.
Although there are many underlying factors that can cause anxiety, both stress and anxiety share similar emotional and physical symptoms and often overlap.
While serious anxiety disorders may require various types of medical treatment, certain Nootropics are known to respond well and fast to the effects of daily mild anxiety and stress, promoting more relaxed and calm states and may also help to keep your mind sharp.
Some Nootropics may address GABA levels in the brain, an inhibitory brain chemical that reduces stimulation in the central nervous system while others may modulate stress hormones or neurotransmitters involved in mood, relaxation and tranquility.
Below you will find the list of the top Nootropics for anxiety and stress relief we consider to be the most effective with their brief summaries and links to more extensive information, safety profiles and dosage guidelines.
Top Nootropics for Anxiety and Stress Relief
Type: Adaptogen/Natural Nootropic
Used For: Mood Enhancement, Stress Relief, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Cognitive Function, Focus, Anti-Aging, Arthritis and more.
Ashwagandha is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. It was used traditionally for centuries in folk and Ayurvedic medicine to treat a broad number of conditions. Today there are many benefits associated with this adaptogen, meaning that it can help improve the body’s reaction to stress.
As a Nootropic, its popularity continues to grow where it has shown to enhance several aspects of mental performance by reducing stress levels and boosting energy. It is also a highly regarded natural supplement to help fight against symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Ashwagandha is thought to help balance cortisol in the body (the stress hormone), stimulate important neurotransmitter receptors in the brain highly related to mood and the ability to relax and act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Type: Amino Acid
Used For: Mental Performance, Mood, Focus, Attention, Relaxation, Anxiety, Stress, Quality of Sleep, Cognitive Function
L-Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green tea leaves. A unique Nootropic, it is known to produce a relaxing and mind calming effect without causing sedative effects. It is also considered to be an excellent Nootropic to use on its own for its positive effects on managing stress and promoting a healthy quality of sleep.
It is thought to work by boosting levels of neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine in the brain that are involved in mood, memory, focus, sleep cycles and cognition. It is also known to promote the release of alpha brain waves, associated with states of relaxed mental alertness and concentration also considered the “meditative state”.
The most powerful cognitive effects of this Nootropic is best experienced when stacked or taken in combination with caffeine. While caffeine helps to increase alertness and attention, L-theanine may blunt the negative effects of caffeine such as jitteriness and anxiousness.
3. Lemon Balm
Type: Herbal Supplement
Used For: Stress Relief, Anxiety, Insomnia, Restlessness, Headaches, Toothaches, Cramps and more.
Lemon Balm Summary
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a plant belonging to the mint family. Its leaves have a long history of traditional use, dating back as far as the middle ages, where this perennial herb was used as a natural remedy to help heal wounds, battle insomnia, reduce anxiety and to promote longevity.
Today, Lemon Balm is most considered for its calming effects and used to promote relaxation, help fight against anxiety and to encourage restful sleep. According to recent studies, this supplement may even help improve processing speed and enhance memory.
Lemon Balm and its extract contain several chemical compounds which produce numerous effects. However, one ingredient, rosmarinic acid which increases GABA activity in the brain may be responsible for many of the most sought benefits of this supplement.
GABA is a natural chemical that inhibits overactivity in the brain which may lead to reducing feelings of anxiety. In addition, it is also thought to interact with receptors in the brain that respond to Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter playing a fundamental role in memory formation, logical thinking and basic cognition.
Type: Gabaergic Compound/Mood Supplement
Used For: Mood Enhancement, Relaxation, Stress, Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Sleep, Depression, Attention, Focus, Cognition
Phenibut is most commonly used to improve sleeping patterns, reduce anxiety and support mental performance. It is a modified version of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and feelings of calmness but unlike GABA itself, Phenibut is able to cross the blood-brain barrier due to an additional phenyl ring added to its structure.
GABA serves to calm down overly stimulated neurons which have been associated as a major cause of anxiety. Phenibut seems to mimic its effects and has a similar mechanism of action to alcohol which reduces stress, anxiety and provides a sedative effect but Phenibut does not appear to lead to lowered cognitive ability nor increased sleepiness, side effects that are typical to traditional tranquilizers but rather, it may be helpful in restoring natural sleep patterns via its relaxing effects.
As a Nootropic, it is also thought to stimulate Dopamine receptors, a major mood neurotransmitter and one involved in focus, attention and memory. When used appropriately and occasionally at low doses, individuals, especially those looking to reduce social anxiety may find Phenibut very useful.
Type: Adaptogen/Natural Nootropic
Used For: Mood Enhancement, Stress Relief, Anxiety, Relaxation, Depression, Memory, Learning, Focus, ADHD, Sexual Function and more.
Bacopa Monnieri Summary
Bacopa Monnieri extract is a natural Nootropic supplement derived from an ancient herb with a long history of traditional use as a powerful cognitive enhancer, stress and anxiety reliever and brain protectant.
Today, it is a highly regarded and popular Nootropic supplement used to enhance memory, recall, facilitate learning, boost mental clarity and as a general relaxant where it has shown to help fight the effects of anxiety and stress.
The herb contains bacosides and hersaponins which are believed to improve the electrical signaling between neurons, a key to cognitive enhancement and to promote relaxation and mood-boosting effects by modulating the activity of neurotransmitter receptor sites highly involved in the regulation of mood and anxiety. Bacopa has also shown to have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties that may have anti-aging potential, helping to protect neurons from accumulated damage.
Type: Amino Acid/Natural
Used For: Focus, Motivation, Mental Clarity, Mood, Stress, Energy, Alertness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and more.
L-Tyrosine (also known as Tyrosine) is one of many standard amino acids that are used by the cells in our body to build proteins and influence the production of neurotransmitters that are involved in cognition and mood.
Synthesized from another amino acid, Phenylalanine, it is a building block to several important brain chemicals such as Dopamine, Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, catecholamines that are highly related to mood, the brains ability to focus, resilience to stress and associated with mental drive and motivation.
Increasing levels of these neurotransmitters may influence a wide range of enhanced mental processes and aspects of mood, especially when under conditions such as lack of sleep, high stress and prolonged working schedules, where supplementing Tyrosine may be very helpful.
Users have reported experiencing significant boosts in energy levels, enhanced concentration and mental clarity. Since Tyrosine may increase the production of “feel good” or “sense of well-being” chemicals in the brain, this supplement is often used to help boost motivation, reduce anxiety, for low sex drive and other psychological and physical conditions that may be related to high-stress levels.
Type: Racetam Nootropic
Used For: Concentration, Cognitive Function, Memory Enhancement, Learning Capacity, Anxiety, Depression, Cognitive Decline and more.
Aniracetam is a popular Nootropic agent belonging to the Racetam family that is well known for its mood-boosting properties. The most significant reported effects from users are that it greatly helps to boost mental energy, enhance focus and concentration while promoting anxiolytic (reducing anxiety) and anti-depression inducing effects.
This powerful Nootropic seems to influence “feel good” neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin that are highly related to mood, attention and feelings of well being. It is also thought to modulate other neurochemicals including Acetylcholine and Glutamate that are involved in memory and learning.
There is also some speculation suggesting that Aniracetam may help increase communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, described by many users as experiencing a heightened sense of creativity.
Type: Nutrient Supplement/Mood
Used For: Panic Disorder, Anxiety, Insomnia, Depression, OCD, ADHD and more.
Inositol is a pseudo-vitamin naturally produced in the body and found in food sources such as grains, nuts and beans. It has a similar structure to the Vitamin B family although it is not a true vitamin since your body can make it. This natural Nootropic is believed to have several brain benefits and is used to boost focus and thought processing, as well as a natural remedy for anxiety and mood problems.
There are several varieties of this supplement but Myo-inositol is the most common form. Primarily acting in the process of fat transportation throughout the body, it also plays a crucial role in the firing of neurons, facilitating the effectiveness of communication of major neurotransmitters highly involved in mood, motivation, feelings of anxiousness and concentration.
Inositol has also demonstrated promising results for reducing the frequency of panic attacks and has also been studied for its effects on OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder) and depression.
Type: Brain Support Supplement/Mood
Used For: Cognitive Function, Alertness, Attention, Memory, Mood, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and more.
Phosphatidylserine (also known as PS) is a naturally occurring phospholipid found in every cell in the human body with half its total stored amount found in the brain, specifically, the cell membranes of neurons or the membrane that incases brain cells.
As this supplement is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, it appears to help maintain fluidity and permeability of brain cells, allowing for more efficiency in the process of transportation of nutrients and other materials into the cells and the discharge of waste out of the cells.
PS is also involved in neural signaling and plays an important role in the storing and production of neurotransmitters involved in several cognitive processes and aspects of mood such as memory, focus, overall cognition and motivation. There is also evidence that Phosphatidylserine is effective at reducing stress and anxiety and is thought to decrease the release of cortisol, the “stress hormone”.
Type: Peptide/Cognitive Enhancer
Used For: Memory Enhancement, Focus, Cognitive Performance, Mental Energy, Brain Fog, Mood, Anxiety, Depression, Brain Health
Noopept is considered to be one of the most effective and fastest acting Nootropics available on the market. The effects of this compound can typically be noticed within 15 minutes and it is most commonly used to enhance mental performance and boost cognition.
While a number of studies indicate that it can increase memory and learning abilities, users suggest that it also has positive mood-related effects, helping symptoms that are often associated with depression such as an anxiolytic effect (reducing anxiousness or anxiety), clearing brain fog and greatly boosting motivation.
This Nootropic is thought to stimulate receptors in the brain involved in several mental processes and mood. It also acts as a neuroprotectant, meaning it helps keep neurons in the brain healthy and may even contribute to increases connections within the brain that may encourage the experienced benefits to be more sustainable long-term.
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