What's The Difference Between Nootropics And Adaptogens?

During the 1960s, a lot of work took place, looking at creating cognition-enhancing compounds. A lot of the early work was looking at the use of B vitamins, which, as we may know, are a commonly used supplement for individuals looking to improve mood and cognition.

The term 'nootropic' was generated to describe these compounds and stems from the Greek words' nous' and 'terapin' meaning 'mind' and 'to turn.' Nootropics can be surmised as being a safe way to enhance certain aspects of brain function, for example, mood, focus, and memory as well.

Most of us take a nootropic every day but may not have realised.

That's right; caffeine is an example of a nootropic. Most of us will drink a cup of coffee or a can of caffeinated soda at some stage during the day. It's the world's most popular stimulant and has been proven to improve both mental and physical performance. 

Other examples of Nootropics are CDP-Choline and Alpha-GPC. Both are prodrugs (something that is metabolised into something else in the body): CDP-Choline gives the body choline and uridine, while Alpha-GPC provides the body with choline and glycerophosphate. Choline is an essential nutrient for optimal functioning of the brain.


People seem to talk about Nootropics and Adaptogens as though they are the same thing. Adaptogens are compounds that help the body adapt to stress. Often derived from herbs and are non-toxic.

Popular examples of Adaptogens


Native to North Africa

· Can reduce cortisol levels

· Can reduce blood sugar levels

· May help reduce stress and anxiety

Panax ginseng

Ginseng can come from America or Asia (with each type having varying properties)

· Lower inflammation levels

· Protects the brain from free radicals

· May increase energy levels

Bacopa monnieri

Grows in wet tropical environments.

·  Used to boost brain function

· Alleviates anxiety and stress


Grown in the cold mountains of Europe and Asia

· Decreases stress

· Fights fatigue

· Reduce symptoms of depression

· Improves brain function




· Can increase brain growth factor (BDNF)

· Fights symptoms of depression



One of the most popular areas of research and also supplement product development is combining adaptogens with nootropics. This creates a more synergistic pairing with some awe-inspiring beneficial effects.

The best example is combining caffeine with L-Theanine. This combination has been shown to improve concentration as well as alertness. The presence of L-Theanine also reduces some of the adverse effects typically associated with caffeine like jitteriness.