Regain Your Brain With Cognitive Enhancers

by Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD January 21, 2019 2 min read

 woman with lightbulbs over head

Do you find yourself doing things like misplacing keys, struggling to focus at work and wondering if your brain is losing the ability to function properly? If so, you may benefit from nutrients called “cognitive enhancers” that can help your brain and memory work better. Our two favorites are L-theanine and Bacopa monnieri, whose research-backed benefits can help you regain your brain.


L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves. Research has found that it can directly impact brain function, creating a calm alertness. It does so by increasing alpha frequency waves in the brain that help the mind relax. A 2008 study evaluated the impact of 50 mg of L-theanine, about the amount in a cup of tea, on brain waves. Participants who received L-theanine had an increase in alpha activity when compared with a placebo. Researchers concluded that just a small amount of L-theanine can increase alertness, attention and mental arousal.

L-theanine can also help you manage stress, which can impact our ability to think clearly; it helps people with apprehension become more focused. It has also been found to improve attention and reduce stress during strenuous cognitive tasks. Caffeine seems to enhance this ability. Knowing this, a cup of black tea might be the perfect beverage if you need to complete a demanding mental task and are feeling stressed about getting it done.

Another benefit of L-theanine is improved sleep. It helps boost relaxation before bedtime. If you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, try decaffeinated tea instead for the relaxation benefit.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to improve cognitive function. A meta-analysis of 9 studies on Bacopa monnieri and brain health found that it significantly improved cognitive ability and attention speed. It boosts verbal learning abilities and memory recall, and improves cognition by promoting communication between neurons — helping the nervous system send signals to the body more effectively.

This herb has adaptogenic properties, meaning it can help modulate the body’s reaction to stress. Reducing the body’s stress reaction can also improve brain function.

Bacopa monnieri has been evaluated as a way to improve brain health by acting as an antioxidant. It can target oxidative damage in the brain and improve blood flow, two of the potential causes of memory loss.

How to Use Cognitive Enhancers

Cognitive enhancers can be added to your daily regimen in many different ways — by adding a cup of black or green tea to your day (as mentioned above), adding bacopa leaf extract to a beverage, or by mixing up one of our Superfood Shakes, which contain both of these brain-boosting supplements. Research has not identified any negative side effects to either of these enhancers, although bacopa may cause stomach discomfort, cramping, bloating and diarrhea if taken on an empty stomach, and is absorbed better when taken along with a bit of fat.

Try adding L-theanine and Bacopa monnieri to your daily diet, and you may just find yourself reminding your significant other where those keys are…

About the Author

 Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

Ana Reisdorf has 12 years of experience as a registered dietitian. She has a passion for creating health and nutrition content. She is the author of two books, the “Lupus Cookbook” and “The Anti-inflammatory Diet One-Pot Meals.” Find her at

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