In this regular Yoga Journal column, we take a close look at what's trending in our community and what feels evidence-based, sustainable, and worth backing (for karma), and what feels like a stretch (for cash). In this installment, nootropics are put to the test. Here, one we loved, and one we have some serious questions about.
The work nootropic is derived from the Greek words noos, meaning mind, and tropos, meaning turned or changed, explains Julie Morris, chef and bestselling author of Smart Plants: Power Foods & Natural Nootropics for Optimized Thinking, Focus & Memory. "Nootropics are indeed mind-changing, cognition-enhancing substances that can improve the way you think, feel, and function," she says, adding that she thinks of them as the superfoods of the cognition world. Natural nootropics—such as cacao, matcha, reishi mushrooms, goji berries, ashwagandha, and turmeric—not only maintain and protect neurological function, but research shows they can also improve your mental performance.
Alpha Brain By Onnit: The Good To Back Up The Bravado
A caffeine-free supplement claiming to boost focus and memory, Alpha Brain by Onnit is hailed by athletes and celebrities—and the research-backed ingredients perform. The blend includes Alpha-GPC, which converts to choline, beneficial for certain physical and mental tasks; club moss extract, which contains a learning aid; and an anionic phospholipid—all of which have shown promise in Alzheimer's studies for improving cognitive function. But at two capsules per day, the 30- and 90-count bottles (for $35 and $80) go fast.
Nerd Alert By Goop: Just Buy Yourself A Matcha Latte
Meant to minimize brain fog, Nerd Alert is a blend of caffeine, sugar, and L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea that can reduce tension and anxiety. Sold in 15- and 30-day supplies (for $30 and $55 per bag), each serving of two café-aulait-flavored chews contains 200 milligrams of L-theanine and 100 milligrams of caffeine—only slightly more kick than you'll find in a Starbucks Grande Matcha Latte, meaning you may as well hit the drive-through.