Building the Ultimate Mental Stack: Which Nootropic Supplements Really Work - Lucid™

Building the Ultimate Mental Stack: Which Nootropic Supplements Really Work

Written by: Kat Austin

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Time to read 13 min

Optimizing cognitive function is paramount for success in today's busy world. Enter the realm of nootropic stacking, where combining natural supplements creates a powerful "mental stack" to enhance focus, mood, energy levels, and more.


If you're looking to design your own mental stack and just aren't sure which nootropics are the best or which ones work together in harmony, we’ve got you covered. Below, we're going to explore the science behind building an effective mental stack, offering insights into key nootropics, stacking strategies, and safety considerations.


Let's start with some basics:

Key Takeaways

Nootropic stacks blend multiple supplements to provide comprehensive cognitive support, targeting focus, memory, mood, and stress management.

Knowing how different nootropics work helps in creating potent mental stacks tailored to individual needs, ensuring each component complements the others.

Incorporating well-studied nootropics like Lion’s Mane, Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa Monnieri, and Alpha-GPC into your stack can provide significant cognitive benefits and overall mental well-being.

Understanding Nootropics

Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are compounds that target neurotransmitter systems and neural pathways to improve cognitive performance. There are many different natural and synthetic substances with the ability to positively affect cognitive performance, each in unique ways.


Nootropic stacks , or blends of nootropics compounds designed to provide synergistic cognitive support, are used to offer more full coverage support than any one compound can on its own. While some nootropics may lend more focus support, others can improve memory, protect against age-related damage, improve learning ability, help calm your mood, and much more.


Understanding the mechanisms of action of different nootropics is essential for crafting a potent mental stack. Then, you'll be able to design a mental stack that targets the areas where you feel you need the most support.


Let's look at some of the different roles natural nootropics may play, and then we'll give you our top picks for the most effective natural nootropics in each category:

Types of Nootropics & Target Effects

Focus and Concentration

Enhancing focus and concentration is crucial for productivity and task completion. Nootropics like caffeine, L-theanine, and bacopa monnieri are known for their ability to sharpen focus and increase alertness, making them valuable additions to your mental stack.

Anxiety and Stress Management

Chronic stress and anxiety can impair cognitive function and overall well-being. Incorporating nootropics such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola rosea, and magnesium into your mental stack can help manage stress levels, promote relaxation, and improve resilience to daily stressors. Some nootropics that help in this category may also be adaptogens, meaning they help to up-regulate or down-regulate the stress response, depending on what the body needs, to bring it back to homeostasis.

Mood Enhancement and Depression Relief

Maintaining a positive mood is essential for mental health and cognitive performance. Nootropics like St. John's Wort, SAM-e, creatine, and omega-3 fatty acids are known for their mood-stabilizing effects, making them valuable components of a mood-enhancing mental stack.

Energy and Alertness

Sustained energy levels are key to maintaining productivity and mental clarity throughout the day. Nootropics such as cordyceps mushroom, ginseng, and creatine boost energy levels, improve stamina, and enhance mental alertness, making them essential additions to your energy-boosting mental stack.

Best Research-Backed Nootropic Supplements

In the ever-expanding landscape of nootropic supplements, certain compounds have garnered extensive scientific research supporting their cognitive-enhancing properties. Incorporating these research-backed nootropics into your mental stack can provide reliable benefits for cognitive function and overall well-being.


Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane may enhance memory by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes neuron growth and improves brain communication pathways, potentially boosting processing speed.


It also shows promise for older adults with mild cognitive impairments, with studies indicating cognitive improvements while taking the mushroom.


Additionally, Lion’s Mane is rich in prebiotics, positively altering the gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in mental health through the gut-brain axis. Thus, maintaining healthy gut flora is essential for good mental health and preventing cognitive issues like brain fog.

Ginkgo Biloba

Traditionally, ginkgo was used for kidney health, respiratory conditions, and managing memory loss in the elderly. Researchers now believe ginkgo’s benefits stem from its ability to improve blood flow , particularly to the brain.


Studies using the standardized ginkgo extract EGb 761 showed it effectively managed dementia, improved cognitive function, and enhanced social behavior in adults with dementia. Additionally, ginkgo promotes neuron growth in animal models and test-tube models and may reduce cortisol and blood pressure during stress, potentially preventing tissue damage and enhancing overall performance.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is another ancient remedy we’ve added to the list thanks to continual research that proves it may have a multitude of benefits.


For instance, bacopa monnieri has been linked to improved processing speed and reduced reaction times, as well as memory enhancement and the prevention of age-related cognitive decline . Researchers believe that it has powerful antioxidant properties that can help prevent oxidative stress, a primary cause of neurodegeneration as we age.

Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC boosts acetylcholine , a neurotransmitter crucial for learning and memory, making it a powerful nootropic. It is used as a prescription medication for Alzheimer’s in some countries but is available as a natural supplement in the U.S.


Studies suggest alpha-GPC may enhance verbal and visual memory, verbal learning, and executive function. Additionally, it has been shown to increase mental performance speed in young adults by 18%, outperforming caffeine.


L-Theanine

L-theanine , an amino acid in tea leaves, acts as both a nootropic and adaptogen. It mimics glutamine, impacting the production of neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, thus promoting relaxation and improving focus .


L-theanine's calming effect complements caffeine, potentially reducing side effects like anxiety and high blood pressure. By calming the brain, it helps prevent distractions and enhances focus. Studies show L-theanine improves attention and reaction time in anxious adults and is safe for improving mental conditions, reducing stress-related symptoms , and boosting cognition, including verbal fluency and executive function.

Read " How Much L-Theanine to Take With Coffee " to learn more.

L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine is one of the most common forms of supplemental tyrosine, an essential nutrient that helps the body make dopamine (for motivation), norepinephrine (for muscle recovery and blood flow), and adrenaline (for focus). Stress can cause tyrosine levels to become depleted, which is why stress can prevent you from being able to focus, even when you need to the most.


Luckily, L-tyrosine may help to improve your ability to focus by providing building blocks for these crucial neurochemicals. In fact, one study shows us exactly this–tyrosine supplementation can help the brain perform well at various cognitive tasks even while under stress. In fact, L-tyrosine is one of the most common natural nootropics chosen by those hoping to manage ADHD and related conditions.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the most well known natural nootropic in the world, and it has undeniable benefits for boosting energy and focus. It works by blocking the production of adenosine which can help you feel less tired and more alert.


Caffeine doses range from 20-400 milligrams per day, with larger doses leaning towards more severe side effects. In fact, regular doses of caffeine can lead to dependence or other unwanted side effects, like adrenal fatigue, which is the opposite effect from what most people are trying to accomplish when taking natural nootropics.


This is where stacking comes in–caffeine can be even more powerful at smaller doses (and may have fewer side effects) when paired with some other nootropic supplements. L-theanine is a perfect example of a nootropic that pairs well with caffeine, and it’s next up on the list.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a more popular functional mushroom with an age-old reputation. It was first used by herdsmen to combat the effects of low oxygen levels while working at high altitudes, and researchers now believe that it can improve many aspects of both mental and physical health by improving blood flow.


In fact, it was once given credit for helping the Chinese Olympic women’s running team break several work records. Cordyceps is most often linked to increased endurance, though research has also found it to have possible benefits for improving memory and learning in animal models thanks to extraordinary antioxidant properties.

Rosea Rhodiola

Rhodiola Rosea is another natural herb that's often penned as a nootropic thanks to its potential ability to improve memory and learning , and an adaptogen, or a compound that improves the body's stress response.


Most research agrees that Rhodiola Rosea counteracts the stress response , though sources disagree on the exact mechanism that makes stress relief possible. Some resources suggest that rosea rhodiola can help by increasing endurance and therefore lowering fatigue levels.


Other sources suggest that it alters the release of stress hormones while boosting energy metabolism and that it may help to treat stress symptoms and prevent chronic stress-related complications. It may also improve oxygen flow throughout the body, which is frequently associated with improved health and lower stress levels.

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

GABA is naturally the antidote for stress and anxiety. It’s naturally produced by the body but can also be taken in supplement form. A number of studies have shown that the level of GABA in the brain directly corresponds to feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and general symptoms related to stress.


Additionally, GABA may help influence the production of new neurons and the proliferation of existing ones. Plus, some evidence suggests that GABA may help to lower blood pressure which may help to mediate some of the effects of high stress environments.

Creatine

Creatine is a natural compound found in muscle cells that plays a key role in energy production. While traditionally known for its benefits in athletic performance, emerging research suggests that creatine supplementation may also support cognitive function.


A study at the University of Sydney examined the effects of creatine on 45 young adult vegetarians, who typically have lower levels of creatine due to a lack of red meat in their diet. The results showed significant improvements in working memory and intelligence, suggesting that creatine plays a key role in brain energy capacity.


Another study conducted by the University of Sunderland in the UK involved 34 healthy non-vegetarians with a mean age of 21 years. After 2 weeks of taking either 5 grams of creatine or a placebo daily, the creatine group showed improved results in memory, attention, and IQ tests, indicating a reduction in mental fatigue and enhanced cognitive function.


According to limited evidence , creatine also has the potential to provide protective effects against neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, although further research is needed to confirm these benefits.


Building Your Mental Stack

Creating an effective mental stack requires careful consideration of individual needs, goals, and potential interactions between nootropics.


When assembling your stack, focus on combining complementary nootropics that target different aspects of cognitive function. Experimentation and personalized adjustments are key to finding the optimal combination for your mental stack.


Here are some example stacks that you can start with and build on to create a mental stack that meets your needs:

Example Nootropic Stacks

  • The Focus Booster Stack : Caffeine + L-theanine + Lion’s Mane

  • Memory Enhancer Stack : Lion's Mane + Alpha GPC + Bacopa Monnieri

  • The Stress Buster Stack: Ashwagandha + Rhodiola rosea + Magnesium

  • The Mood Lifter Stack: Creatine + L-Theanine + Omega-3 fatty acids

  • The Energy Enhancer Stack: Cordyceps + Ginseng + Creatine

Things to Consider When Creating a Nootropic Stack

While the stacks above may give you a starting point, you'll likely want to put some consideration into building your own nootropic stack. There are a few things to consider as you mix and match supplements, including:


  • Compatibility: Many natural supplements are safe to combine, but you should consider the potential interactions of supplements with similar effects. For instance, taking two supplements that think blood, lower blood pressure, or heavily impact the liver could result in adverse effects.

    Some supplements don’t mix well with some pharmaceuticals, either. For instance, Lion’s Mane may have interactions with some drugs. St. John’s Wort may not be safe to take with SSRIs. Many supplements are known to interact with blood pressure medications.

    Always talk to your doctor before combining supplements and medications, especially if you take one or more prescription medications daily.

  • Dosage: You need to consider both the individual and combined dosage of supplements. The amount you would take of a single supplement may decrease when combined with other nootropic or adaptogenic compounds. 

    For instance, creatine is taken in larger doses when used alone for athletic support, but microdoses can be combined with caffeine and other nootropics for cognition-enhancing benefits. 

    Medicinal mushrooms work the same way–you can take smaller doses of each mushroom when combining multiple because many bioactive compounds overlap across different mushroom species. 

  • Hydration: Most supplements and medications require adequate hydration to work properly, and some may even change the way your body uses water. 

    It’s important to stay hydrated when starting a new supplement routine. Aim for half your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water each day. 

  • Pre-Made Supplements: Although hand-picking your nootropic stack has benefits, choosing a premade one does too. Choosing a nootropic supplement from a high-quality manufacturer takes the footwork out of determining the best dosage or the compatibility of supplements. 

    Our Lucid Mushroom + Nootropic  instant beverages include many of these brain-boosting nootropics alongside small amounts of caffeine from coffee, matcha, or chai tea. Unlike other nootropic stacks that are encapsulated and limited in dosage, Lucid is an instant drink that’s not only tasty, but incredibly potent and effective. 


Other Risks, Side Effects, and Safety Considerations

While natural nootropics are generally considered safe, it's important to be aware of potential side effects and interactions, especially when combining multiple supplements in a mental stack. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Conclusion

Building the ultimate mental stack is a journey of discovery and optimization. By understanding the science behind nootropic stacking, selecting the right combination of supplements, and prioritizing safety, you can unlock your cognitive potential and achieve peak mental performance.


Whether you're striving for laser-like focus, inner peace, or boundless energy, a well-crafted mental stack can help you reach your goals and thrive in today's demanding world.


Lucid™ is made to replace your daily “get up and go” beverage–and to provide a complete mental stack that supports cognition, clarity, energy, and more. Our unique mushroom+nootropic blend is made to deliver the boost you need at the moment while supporting the body’s growth, healing, and vitality over time.


To best support cognition, endurance, mood, energy, focus, and more, the Lucid mental stack contains the perfect dose of:

  • Lion’s Mane

  • Cordyceps

  • Turkey Tail

  • Tremella

  • Alpha-GPC

  • L-Theanine

  • L-Tyrosine

  • Creatine

  • Ginkgo Biloba


To learn more, read about why we chose our unique ingredient blend .





Lucid beverages contain a blend of brain-boosting nootropics + powerful mushrooms designed to unlock your brain's full potential so you can zone in on what's important. 


Ready to become lucid?  Check out our starter kit. 

Resources


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