How Do Adaptogens And Nootropics Compare?

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What Are Adaptogens And Nootropics? What’s The Difference

Adaptogens and Nootropics are the terms that are coined when it comes to wellness and health. Whether you want to cope up with stress and adapt to the chemical, biological and physical changes or you want to enhance your brain functioning and improve your performance in your working field, these two terms are for you. 

Generally, adaptogens are used to control stress, and nootropics are known for improving cognitive function. 

In this article, you’ll know “What Are Adaptogens And Nootropics?” in detail and discuss “What is the difference” between them. 

So without any further wasting of time, let’s start!  

The History

The biological response of stress was popularized in the 1950s and has since, been given the proper importance it requires. In 2020, the APA published an annual survey about Americans’ stress levels that showed an abnormally high-stress level. 

But what did come as a shock to many was WHO reporting that Gen Z was the generation suffering the most from nervous tension caused by the pandemic. It is no surprise then that stress-relieving drugs and supplements became more common. And thus, the rise of the infamous conflict, “Adaptogens or Nootropics?”

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are ingredients in certain plants and are thought to provide several health benefits. They are known to impact your body on how you deal with anxiety, stress, and fatigue. They can be taken by adding them in our meals or drinks in the form of capsules and tinctures. 

What are Adaptogens?

Different adaptogens are known to have different effects, however, mainly, they aim to help your body to adapt according to physical, chemical, and biological changes. 

How do Adaptogens Work on Our Body? 

Adaptogens are substances or herbal pharmaceuticals that work by reducing cortisol levels (also known as the stress hormone), therefore reducing stress symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety. They have been used since 3000 BCE in the early beginnings of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine.

How do Adaptogens Work on Our Body? 

The primary function of adaptogen is to make your body return in the form of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the balance maintained by the body to cope up with external physical and chemical changes for survival. For example, body temperature. 

An adaptogen will either increase or decrease chemical reactions in your body to achieve homeostasis. For example, if there is an excess of a hormone in your body which causes several issues to your body. Taking adaptogen will reduce the amount of hormone, providing you a balanced state. 

Note- Adaptpgen is a temporary remedy for the stress, not a permanent cure. 

Some Commonly Used Adaptogens

Here is a list of some commonly used adaptogens that will help you deal with various illnesses. 

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Tulsi mainly grows in India and other parts of Asia. This plant is often called “Queen of Herbs”. It is traditionally used for several health benefits, such as curing cough or cold. 

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)

Ashwagandha makes you feel relaxed by helping your brain deal with stress. Ashwagandha controls metabolism by improving your nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems. 

Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea) 

Rhodiola is very useful for those who have a stressful life as a student or an employee as it helps elevate their performance. Rhodiola reduces any symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. 


There are two types of ginseng, Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). These popular adaptogens are known for boosting the immune system of our body. 

What are Nootropics? 

Nootropics are extensive collections of natural or synthetic substances that are known for enhancing mental health, memory, and creativity. These are also called cognitive enhancers or smart drugs. 

What are Nootropics? 

Prescribed nootropics are helpful for those who have some mental issues like Alzheimer’s. But improving mental capability, as they are supposed to do, in a healthy person is controversial. Experts say that the system of human cognition is very complicated yet not understood by us. So, whether nootropics is safe or should be used for increasing mental capability is not confirmed. 

How do Nootropics Work on Our Body? 

Yet there is much controversy about whether nootropics help healthy people to improve their mental skills. Many experts believe that a person with nootropics has an edge over others. 

Nootropics simply give you access to some chemicals like acetylcholine (a type of neurotransmitter) in the brain to improve learning, memory and creativity on a short-term basis. 

Some Commonly Used Nootropics

Below is a list of some famous nootropics. However, we suggest you consult your doctor before trying any nootropics, as everyone’s brain chemistry is different and unique. 


Caffeine is the most popular nootropic. It is usually consumed in coffee, guarana, cocoa, kola nuts or tea. It is also available in many energy drinks and sodas. 

30-300 mg intake of caffeine is more than enough. Consumption of caffeine makes you feel less tired as it blocks adenosine receptors in your brain. It also decreases your reaction time and improves your alertness. 

Bacopa Monnieri

It is an ancient herb that is used for enhancing brain function. It can level up the information processing in the brain, improve memory and decrease reaction time. 

Unlike caffeine, bacopa monnieri doesn’t show its effect immediately. For maximum gain, it should be taken for a few months. 300-550mg of bacopa monnieri is the right amount for each dose. 


L-Theanine is known for its calming effect. It may also help you to improve your creativity. L-Theanine is naturally found in tea. 


Taking its doses in 200 mg is enough to feel its effect without causing sleepiness. Taking L-Theanine with caffeine is more effective. 

What is the Difference Between Adaptogens and Nootropics? 

Although adaptogens and nootropics might seem very similar to many people. Since both have a common field of action, health and well-being, there is still a difference between them. 

  • Adaptogens are natural substances found in herbs and mushrooms. Nootropics are found both naturally as well as in synthetic form. 
  • Adaptogens are related to your entire body adaptation, while nootropics aim to your mental health. 
  • In simple words, adaptogens help you to cope up with physical and mental stress, whereas nootropics help you with enhancing your cognitive function. 

Taking Everything into Account

Adaptogens and Nootropics may seem like fascinating ways to get rid of daily stress and level up our performance in our working life by enhancing our cognitive function. But things aren’t always the same as they look. These methods may be helpful for someone but are not helpful for everyone. 

The best thing is that we should consult medical experts for any issues related to our bodies. They would suggest the best way to cure our problems. 

I hope this article was helpful for you. 

Thanks for reading! 

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