Can Nootropics Help with Mood Management?
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Nootropics are plant-derived, bioactive compounds used to treat cognitive difficulties by boosting brain performance. Similar to adaptogens, nootropics are thought to help the brain resist stress to perform at its best in a way that supports longevity. To be considered a nootropic, the compound must be able to easily pass through the blood-brain barrier. 


Nootropics are available in both prescription form and non-prescription form, like creatine powder or wellness drinks. Colloquially referred to as “cognitive enhancers”, the term “nootropics” wasn’t coined until 1972, when clinical trials revealed the first synthetic nootropic ever isolated had the ability to boost memory performance.


Since then, hundreds of preclinical and clinical trials over the last 50 years have resulted in the development of dozens of prescription nootropics, most often used to treat conditions involving neurological and age-related cognitive challenges. But what’s beginning to emerge, especially in the world of holistic drinks and supplements, is the indication nootropics may aid in mood management. New studies suggest nootropics can support sleep health, mood balance and management of emotions


Understanding the Mechanisms of Mood

Biologically, mood is regulated by an intricate system of neurotransmitters, hormones, amino acids, and associated neurochemicals that act on neurons both inside and out. This implies two things with regard to how affect problems are approached medically:


  1. One person may have similar indicators to another, but they may be caused by entirely different imbalances.
  2. A given treatment may help one person but fail and/or hurt another.


This makes treating psychological illnesses that include chronic despair particularly tricky, especially if there is comorbidity with other mental health challenges. The symptoms are varied and interconnected: bad feelings create distress, which result in problems getting quality sleep, which results in exhaustion and chronic unease, which create a volatile feedback loop of stress, lethargy, agitation, and those feelings of hopelessness and dissociation. In fact, nearly 25% of people who are subject to chronic stress develop a condition characterized by unshakable sadness and low mood.


Most clinical treatments for despair/anhedonia stop neurons from reabsorbing neurotransmitters important for mood health, especially those involved in brain structures involving memory, learning, reactivity, motivation, and reward. But there’s also evidence that treatments targeting cognition, neuronal activity levels and hormone imbalances can also help manage mood-related problems like decreased well-being, and this is where nootropics come in.


Nootropics, the Hippocampus & Your Mood

To understand the implications of nootropics’ abilities to support mood, we must understand how they interacts with the brain of someone suffering from a mood or affect syndrome. Clinical observations indicate that the hippocampus in people with depressed mood is, on average, around 10% smaller than in people without these type of challenges, and that’s a big deal.


The hippocampus is a main player in balancing hormones and neuronal activity, in turn regulating your mood and emotion. It’s also an integral part of your brain’s stress response system, known as the HPA axis. On top of that, it’s actually the main producer of those ever-important mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including those involved in:

  • Learning
  • Neuron and motor excitation
  • Neuron inhibition
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Pleasure

Since levels of and communication between these key neurotransmitters have been directly associated with a host of psychological ailments involving emotional dysregulation and cognitive deficits, it follows that augmenting underactive signaling and hampering overactive signaling can help get the brain back into a feel-good balance.



One such nootropic that the body produces naturally, but not enough of in people with chronic distress and low mood is GABA, the body's main calm-down chemical. GABA reduces the activity level of overexcited neurons, and is a useful tool in the treatment of conditions that result from dysfunctional communication in the brain. 


Other Nootropics Useful for Mood: The Evidence

There are dozens of compounds considered nootropics, and some of the best ones are easy to find in health drinks focused on stress resilience and mood support. MTE includes the nootropics GABA, l-theanine, and a saffron derivative, as well as several adaptogens with nootropic abilities, like ashwagandha, and superfoods with nootropic abilities, like amaranth. So, first, let’s talk about GABA’s role in depression for, like, one more minute:


GABA: A Calming Nootropic

It’s been shown in clinical studies that GABA deficits and irregularities in GABA expression are extremely common in psych conditions characterized by anhedonia and despair. As well, the chronic stress that comes with those difficulties hurts GABA’s ability to support mood even more.


Current clinical studies explore what GABA supplementation or other GABA-altering treatments can do for low mood, resulting in several data sets that show significant mood and behavioral improvements with healthy GABA function.


L-Theanine: A Stress-Busting Nootropic

A main actor in green tea, l-theanine is most often used to support stress and management, which makes this nootropic potentially useful for recovery, mood and cognitive performance.


People self-report l-theanine supplementation is able to calm them without making them drowsy. In one clinical study, after 8 weeks of l-theanine supplementation, all participants scored lower on a diagnostic scale used for chronic emotional distress.


Saffron: A Mysterious Nootropic

Saffron is well-documented as an holistic alternative to pharmaceuticals used for mood, and studies consistently observe increased mental health and treatment safety when using this nootropic for chronic melancholy. In fact, one study showed that not only was saffron more effective than placebo, but worked as well as therapeutic levels of a commonly-prescribed compound


A meta-analysis of the current literature on saffron supports the claim it’s an effective treatment for low mood in the short-term, and presents less adverse symptoms than pharmaceuticals. What we’re not so sure about with regards to saffron for mood support is the how or the why of it all. MTE’s formulation includes Affron®, a clean saffron extract with concentrated abilities.


Caffeine: Part Adaptogen, Part Nootropic

A major factor in chronic numbness and despair is inhibited motivation and low energy. Natural caffeine energy drinks may help fight these symptoms of tiredness, acting as a nootropic that supports energy and focus, possibly helping to prevent the development of a long-term struggle with low mood.


A longitudinal study over 10 years demonstrated that those who regularly consumed caffeine were at a lower risk for catastrophic self-destructive behavior. However, caffeine is not a good nootropic for sleep, so should be used carefully for those with comorbid mood challenges and frequent trouble getting rest at night.


Amaranth: A Superfood Nootropic

Amaranth is a superfood for a reason, with clinical data indicating it supports and protects almost every vital system in the human body, including our nervous system. An animal study demonstrated that amaranth was not toxic even at ridiculously-high doses, and that it reduced behavioral signs of low-affect conditions at equal levels to two common pharmaceutical chemicals.


Limitations on Our Understanding of Nootropics

Interestingly enough, the main shortcoming of clinical evidence on nootropics and mood is that there’s almost no clinical data to indicate that nootropics act on healthy individuals. However, it’s important to keep in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


The initial discovery of the first isolated nootropic’s abilities in the '70s happened on accident – solely because one scientist decided to look at involuntary eye movement. Had he not done that for no particular reason, we may never have known about that nootropic.


While, so far, nootropics look like safe and possibly-effective ways to change the way we look at the treatment of chronic conditions involving emotional dysregulation/dysfunction, we’re looking at quite a few years before clinical research can create a body of data big enough to confidently support their hypotheses about nootropics for mood.


How a Daily Nootropic Drink Helps to Support Your Mood

Medical research is turning towards natural and holistic treatment methods for physical and mental ailments we previously thought were only treatable via damaging methods like synthetic chemicals and surgical interventions. As a daily addition to diet, a wellness drink chocked full of adaptogens, nootropics and superfoods can act as a protective way to support your physical and mental health – something like MTE’s daily greens supplement. Other ingredients in MTE clinical research supports for mental health benefits include maca and spirulina.


To learn more about the science behind holistic energy supplementation, learn more about the compounds nature has provided us to support health and longevity.

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