Stress (specifically elevated levels of circulating corticosteroids) has been associated with the cognitive deficits seen in human aging. Depression and depressed mood negatively affect cognitive performance. It is reasoned that counteracting and preventing depression and stress may be an effective nootropic strategy. The term adaptogen applies to most herbal anti-stress claims.
The substances below may not have been mentioned earlier on the page:
Beta blockers—evidence from controlled trials spanning 25 years supports the claim that beta-blockers are effective for reducing anxiety, likely through peripheral blockade of beta-receptors; most data comes from studies of generalized anxiety and acute stress.
Lemon Balm—displays adaptogen properties; in rats it has been shown to possess GABA transaminase inhibitor activity and in homogenates of human cerebral cortical cell membranes possesses activity at acetylcholine receptors. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 18 healthy volunteers, 600 mg of ‘Melissa officinalis’ extract attenuated volunteers’ response to a laboratory-induced stress test 1 hour after administration; 300 mg significantly improved speed of mathematical processing 1 hour after administration.
Passion Flower—possible MAOI and neurotransmitter reuptake activity
Rhodiola Rosea—adaptogen; possible MAOI activity
St John’s Wort—herbal supplement approved (in Europe) to treat mild depression. Method of action is unproven but exhibits effects similar to both MAOIs and SSRIs. There is evidence that it may decrease the effectiveness of methylphenidate treatment.
Ginseng (including Siberian ginseng)—adaptogenic effects shown
Sutherlandia frutescens—possible anti-inflammatory, reducing pain from those illnesses
Tea—contains many different adaptogens
Theanine—GABAergic activity producing relaxation, also increases brain serotonin and dopamine levels
Grape seed extract—has shown some efficacy in reducing bodily stress
Adafenoxate—possible anxiolytic effect
Valerian—possible anxiolytic effect through agonism at GABA-A receptors
Butea frondosa—possible anxiolytic effect
Gotu Kola—adaptogen and anxiolytic
Foti—adaptogen; possible MAOI activity
Nootropics like phenibut
Panax ginseng—Multiple randomized, placebo-controlled studies in healthy volunteers have been performed, results include increases in accuracy of memory, speed in performing attention tasks and improvement in performing difficult mental arithmetic tasks, as well as reduction in fatigue and improvement in mood.
Many Chinese herbs such as Polygala tenuifolia, Acorus gramineus and Huperzia serrata.
Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum, sweet holy basil)