Best Nootropics for Mood & Stress: The #1 Tool Isn’t What You Think
For all the wealth that exists in the western world, it has come at a cost. The skyscrapers, constant access to information, and social media may all be perks of the first world, but they do not tell the story of how mood issues have become so prevalent in our society.A landmark study in Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe showed that despite poverty conditions, people in Nigeria were less stressed than wealthy suburban mothers living in the United States. It’s clear that we are missing something when it comes to feelings of uneasiness.As usual, people search for the best nootropics for stress relief and mood to try and find a pill that will end the discomfort and provide relief. While there are certainly situations where this is helpful and for some it can be life changing, there are many non-supplement ways we can alter our mood.

How Does a Bad Mood Show Up?

Everything in our brain leaves a biochemical signature. If you are aroused, hungry, or irritated, there will be a clear chemical sign in the brain -- if only you were strapped to an fMRI machine to take a look.anxietyEven without fMRI brain scans, it is possible to see how unique each brain is and the variety of reasons one develops a bad mood. For some people, a poor mood is a result of too little GABA (a brain chemical utilized for relaxation and feelings of calmness). For other people a bad mood is simply a byproduct of overstimulation (perhaps from stimulants and smart enhancers!)Yet others have a constant state of poor mood due to childhood or early trauma, which creates a constant underlying state of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Environments of Poor Mood

We have evolved in a completely different environment than the one where we currently exist. The Paleo movement has illuminated these dietary shortcomings, but the same holds true for all aspects of our lifestyle.Whereas we used to be highly tribal, social creatures, who spent lots of time in the sun and nature, we are now cubicle bound, individualistic, and generally living in concrete minefields.The best nootropics for mood and stress relief cannot replace many of the things we are lacking in our environment. For example, there is clear evidence that vitamin D (a vitamin from sun exposure specifically) helps to regulate the synthesis of serotonin, which is a brain chemical associated with our state of mind and mood.Social interaction is key for certain brain chemicals. Oxytocin, a bonding chemical only found in humans and bonobos, results in improved feelings of mood and wellbeing. Without this bonding chemical, social isolation quickly turns to a poor mood and other mental health problems.Even if we don’t feel isolated because we are constantly connected via our phone, the level of connection we experience is much less (with less depth) than we used to.The types of relationships in our life matter too. Ensuring that the people we spend time with are generative and not draining has a huge impact on our mood.Before diving into nootropics as a tool to improve mood, try to look more deeply at the habits and environment where you are living. We may not have the ability to make it perfect, but we can make it a heck of a lot better.

Best Nootropics for Mood: Getting Started

The human brain is a complex system, which means it is ever changing with fluctuating variables. It’s nearly impossible to assume that any one thing will do the trick, but there is solid science that in general terms, these are some of the best nootropics for mood enhancement.ashwagandhaAshwagandhaNative to India, this Ayurvedic herb is a common mood enhancer and potent nootropic. In one 8 week trial of ashwagandha, participants found an improvement in mood compared to placebo. A deeper study looking at biochemical signatures found a 27.9% reduction in cortisol (a stress hormone). Pick up KSM-66 ashwagandha here, which is a controlled, extracted product that avoids heavy metal concerns from many Ayurvedic options. L-TheanineAn amino acid found in green tea, L-theanine is a basic nootropic that has many benefits and primarily for improved mood and relaxation. It had significant relaxation and calming effects. This is generally one of the most popular nootropics in combination with caffeine to reduce the feelings of persistent worry and fear that come from use of that popular stimulant.
lemon balm Lemon Balm
Lemon BalmUsed by Romans and Greeks for thousands of years, lemon balm is a plant that has a GABA transaminase inhibitor called rosmarinic acid. In short, lemon balm helps increase GABA in the brain, which is associated with calmness and improvement mood for some people. Those who suffer from feelings of worry or fear from a lack of GABA (or foods that turn into GABA) can benefit greatly from lemon balm.Kava RootAnother natural resource, kava is exploding in popularity in kava bars around the world. The supplement extract can be a powerful mood-boosting tool especially for women. One study found that kava could improve mood during sex and thus increase orgasm and enjoyment of the experience!Magnesium GlycinateA great way to start improving mood is simply by getting enough of the minerals and nutrients that we need. Often over-excited neurons in the brain create feelings of worry or fear and especially without certain minerals like magnesium. Magnesium can help to reduce cortisol (a factor of stress) and there is an inverse relationship between magnesium and mood issues.

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