Welcome to the Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder. Our goal is to help you be your most healthy, confident, beautiful and happy! Our topics focus on health (physical, emotional/mental and spiritual), wellness, holistic nutrition, beauty, meditation, spirituality and personal empowerment.
Feeling Good means we tune in to our bodies and our intuition, including making food and lifestyle choices to feel energized and beautiful, what serves us and what doesn’t, and being in flow along our unique journeys. Feeling good naturally leads to also looking good, in a much more powerful way from glowing skin created from within, a beautifully strong body, radiant energy, and a level of peace and confidence in our perfectly imperfect lives.
Once a month, I do a Solocast with my insights, as well as current research on a trending topic from our community, to support you in living your most beautiful, inspired and joyful life.
I’m your host, Kimberly Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist. I’m so grateful and honored we found each other!
Today’s solocast topic is: Nootropics: Natural vs. Synthetic
You may be hearing a buzz around nootropics and be trying to understand what these smart drugs are all about. For those looking to learn more about these brain boosters I am here to unpack them for you. My goal with this solocast is to help you better understand what nootropics is all about and share with you the differences between natural nootropics and synthetic nootropics.
Nootropics, which can also be referenced as the “smart drug,” a “brain booster,” or “memory enhancing drug,” is the term used for a compound responsible for the enhancement of mental performance.
Topics Covered In Nootropics: Natural vs. Synthetic
#1. How nootropics work
#2. The differences between the two categories of nootropics
#3. Insights on the top natural nootropics
#4. Where we are at with synthetic nootropics
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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the “Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder”? My passion is to inspire and empower you to be your most authentic and beautiful self. We offer interviews with top experts, my personal philosophies and experiences, as well as answers to community-based questions around topics such as health, beauty, nutrition, yoga, spirituality and personal growth.
The intention of the Feel Good Podcast is to well…help you really Feel Good in your body, mind and spirit! Feeling Good means feeling peaceful, energized, whole, uniquely beautiful, confident and joyful, right in the midst of your perfectly imperfect life. This podcast is as informative and full of practical tips and take-aways as it is inspirational. I am here to support you in being your very best! I have so much love and gratitude for you. Thank you for tuning in and being part of the community :).
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Kimberly : Hi Beauties, welcome back to our Monday solocast, where today I’m going to be talking about nootropics, natural and synthetic forms. And this is a term that refers to these brain boosters, which are really popular right now. We always want to cover topics that are trending, that are buzzworthy, that are coming into your space through snippets of media. Maybe you’re wondering about them and how they fit into our Solluna lifestyle.
Kimberly : So I’m really excited to talk about this topic, because of course, we live in an age where our brains, all of our brains are very vulnerable right now to environmental toxins, and a lot of potentially damaging materials that are affecting us in major ways across society. We see the rise of all of these neurocognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s and dementia and Parkinson’s, and brain health is top of mind for all of us.
Kimberly : So this is a really important topic. It affects our day-to-day experience. It affects everything. Obviously, our brain affects everything. So I’m really excited to dive in today.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly : Before we get started, I want to give a shout out to our fan of the week. Her, his or her name, not sure which one, is Baker One, and he or she writes, “Love the information. The girls are so inspiring and an awesome pick-me-up podcast on yucky days, or just a great show to listen to any day.” Love it. Simple, to the point. It’s all it needs to be. So Baker One, thank you so much for being our fan of the week. Sending you lots and lots of love. I’m so grateful for our connection. I’m so grateful for our community. Thank you so much.
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Kimberly : And Beauties, for your chance to also get shouted out as the fan of the week, please go over to iTunes, take a minute out of your day. You can literally leave one sentence, like Baker One did, one or two sentences. It just takes a moment and leaving reviews is such a wonderful way to support the show. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you so much in advance.
Kimberly : Also, I want to give you a little reminder. If you haven’t yet subscribed to our podcast, please hit the subscribe button. It’s a really great way to make sure that you don’t miss any podcasts. We have our interview podcasts on Mondays, we have our Q&A podcasts on Thursdays, so there’s a lot of great information being pumped out every single week. So by subscribing, you make sure that you are in tune with everything.
Helping You Understand What a Nootropic Is
Kimberly : All right Beauties, so that being said, let’s go into our topic today, which is about nootropics. And my goal with this podcast is to help you understand what a nootropic is. As I mentioned, it’s a very trendy word right now. It’s something that you’ve probably heard of, maybe here or there. It’s one of those words that maybe you’re interested in, maybe you don’t know fully the background or what it means. So we’re going to dive in all that today. And we’re also going to talk about the difference between natural nootropics and synthetic ones. And there’s a lot available out there.
Kimberly : So nootropics, let’s start from the beginning, let’s get into this from a very top line perspective. Referenced as smart drug, a brain booster, a memory enhancing drug. And this is a term that is referring to a compound that is responsible for the enhancement of brain performance. Our brain is the centerpiece of our day-to-day experience. It’s connected to everything.
How Nootropics Work
Kimberly : It’s really interesting, because we talk about the gut, brain access. We talk about boosting our brain, boosting our experience from our guts, up, a lot in our community. And this topic is going to go even further into other compounds, other substances, other herbs and plants and so on, that also have that really positive effect on your brain.
Kimberly : So the term nootropic was actually coined quite a while ago back in 1972, by Romanian psychologist and chemist named Dr. Corneliu Giurgea. And it is derived from the Greek word, [Greek 00:04:40], which means mind and [Greek 00:04:43], which making means to bend.
Kimberly : And I love this term, to bend on. They talk about it in quantum physics to a degree. There are some physicists that talk about the bending of time, which quantum physicists do not believe is linear. So I love this idea of bending the mind.
Kimberly : Dr. Giurgea describes nootropics of having the characteristics of enhancing learning and memory. So we’ve all heard the fact that we don’t really use all of our brain’s capacity and our brains are so complex and incredible, scientists really don’t know that much about the brain.
Kimberly : I’m particularly fascinated about the brain from the perspective of yogic science as well. So Paramahansa Yogananda, who has created this whole very scientific system of yoga called Kriya Yoga, which is what I personally practice, talks a lot, very specifically about the brain. So it talks about, for instance, when you’re meditating and you’re focusing on the third eye, which is the point right between your eyebrows, you’re actually pulling in prana life force back here in the medulla oblongata in the back that little notch in the back of your head, your brain stem.
Insights on the top natural nootropics
Kimberly : So through yoga, it’s believed that meditation, we’re actually waking up parts of our brain and enhancing our brain function. And also, hemi coherence, which is where the left and the right part of our brains are firing off different alpha brainwaves, theta brain waves, so on and so forth at the same time. And basically what this means is we have a feeling of harmony, more peace. We’re not battling ourselves when our left and our right brain, the creative part of us and the analytical part of us, is fighting ourselves. That’s by definition, self-doubt.
Kimberly : I am really interested in the brain, from the Western perspective and the Eastern perspective. And so we could say, as we start off this idea that we’re enhancing the brain, enhancing learning and memory. I just want to say that natural nootropic, as far as a practice is getting into a really solid meditation technique.
Kimberly : I was talking about Kriya Yoga. It is my lifeline. I’ve been practicing it for over a decade. I will just say that when I started practicing Kriya Yoga is when I started writing books. I’ve written five books now in eight years. What it did was it helped me focus in my life force and my creativity and get really centered within myself. And I stopped needing as much outward stimulation.
Kimberly : If you’re interested, I think meditation is really personal. I think it should be whatever resonates with you. We have free meditations as well here at Solluna, mysolluna.com, you can get them whenever. But if you’re interested in Kriya Yoga, which is a very systematic, very specific, highly powerful technique, you can check it out. You can do the lessons. There’s home study lessons. And that is at, I believe it’s yogananda-srf.org, or you can just google Yogananda’s lessons. A little tangent there, but as always when we’re talking about these topics, I want to always share with you my personal perspective and how these topics have affected me and resonated with me and what I teach to our circle and readers as well.
Kimberly : So Dr. Giurgea, I’m probably butchering this Italian name, beautifully spelled Giurgea, says the nootropic should protect the brain while increasing natural cognitive processes and they should not be toxic, nor stimulate or depress the brain. So I think this is of course, a really important distinction because we live in age where there’s a lot of different enhancements and pharmaceuticals, which may have not beneficial effects to the brain, in lieu of giving a temporary boost.
Kimberly : So we want to make sure whatever we’re using is also non-toxic over time, because our brains can take in deposits. Our brains are very fatty. And we say this about any parts of the body that are very vulnerable in this time. Our livers, our joints, we see that with gout, we see that with certain issues that arise in the body where things get deposited in the soft tissues, like the joints. Things can get deposited into the brain. And we live in a world right now where there’s so many chemicals and pesticides and pollutants in the air and in the earth and in the water supply. So again, our brains are very, very vulnerable right now.
Kimberly : So nootropics are exciting because they are compounds that can increase mental functions, including memory, motivation, concentration and attention. So this is basically how they work. They are proven to boost brain function, at the same time they’re helping to make the brain healthier. They act as a vasodilator against the small arteries and veins in the brain.
Kimberly : So basically, everything in our body to function its best, needs flow. It needs movement. We talk about this a lot in terms of digestion. We talk about this in terms of circulation. When the circulation pathways are opened up in the body, it means that there is more oxygen, there’s more nutrients getting to your skin, to your hair follicles. So you experience healthier skin, healthier hair, more glow, more vitality, more blood flow and oxygen getting to your heart. The pumping of your whole life force throughout the body.
Kimberly : Same thing with circulation. When there is a better flow, it means that you’re taking in nutrients and you’re expelling wastes and there isn’t any stagnation. So there’s this beautiful feedback loop. There’s this beautiful process that’s going throughout your system.
Kimberly : And when it comes to nootropics, they’re opening up the arteries, they’re opening up the pathways to your brain, to make sure there’s that constant flow of prana, chi, oxygen, energy, to keep you feeling amazing. Because your brain has all that new energy that is being connected to it.
Kimberly : And the blood circulation to the brain is being increased, again, at the same time energy, oxygen flow is going in. So this is a very powerful thing that you can do to better your day-to-day life experience. This is an amazing way to protect against stagnation, which can damage your brain and damage your memory and your creativity and your ability to feel your best.
Kimberly : So you can think about nootropics as altering the concentration of your existing neuro-transmitters. They have been disclosed to do everything as far as stimulate the release of dopamine, to help reduce anxiety, increase the uptake of choline in your brain, improve your cognition, and strengthen your ability to focus.
Kimberly : So think about the power of all these things. Yogananda, going back to tying it in with the East, talks about our ability, our willpower and ability to focus, as really the crux of being able to accomplish anything in our life. Anything we put our mind to, any goal, anything we want to manifest. It could be that new job, it could be boosting self-love, attracting love into our life, building a beautiful home, having beautiful friendships, whatever it is. We have to focus, we have to be discerning. We need to discard what doesn’t serve us, and we need to stay aligned to our goals.
Kimberly : We all fall off track. We talk about 80/20 in our lifestyle. We’re not striving for 100%, but this ability to stay aligned to our purpose and what resonates deep inside us to our essence is peace, joy, satisfaction, power, true beauty. So we really want our brains to be our ally in this, and we want to support our brains as much as possible.
The Differences Between the Two Categories of Nootropics
Kimberly : So there are two types of nootropics. The first are natural nootropics, which are made from plants. Plant extracts, amino acids, other nutrients sourced from nature. And those of us that have been here in the community for any length of time, can know that obviously we are of course, supportive of natural nootropics. We believe in the power of nature. We believe in the power of plant intelligence and all the nuances of nature, which are mysterious and we don’t fully understand. And we believe in a Creator, a higher life force and intelligence, the universe, whatever term you want to use, God, that runs through and understands things in a way that we don’t.
Kimberly : We don’t fully understand our brains. We don’t fully understand the power, the energy, the bioenergetics of plants and nature. But we do know that herbalists, shamans, medicine women and men and pharmaceuticals are pulling from these plants. Something crazy, like 89% of pharmaceuticals comes naturally derived from plants and herbs. So there’s a great power in natural nootropics, and we’re going to get into some specific ones in a moment.
Kimberly : There are also synthetic nootropics, which are lab created compounds that are not found in nature. So the first natural nootropic I want to talk about is Ginkgo Biloba. And this is really a wonderful plant. I feel very close to Ginkgo Biloba.
Kimberly : When I came back to New York from my around the world trip, I moved to New York City and this is where everything started, this is where a whole community started. I started this free WordPress blog and I was writing, I was channeling all of this amazing information I had learned and gleaned from teachers all around the world and from introspection in hundreds of hours of writing in journals and meditation. And I was really sharing my thoughts in a very unfiltered way.
Kimberly : And Ginkgo Biloba was a tree that actually grew in my neighborhood in the West Village, and it was all around, it was around Washington Square Park. And the leaves would fall down and they were this beautiful, beautiful shape. And I became fascinated with everything I was seeing. So I was looking at the properties of Ginkgo Biloba. And I had my first skincare product back in the day, and Ginkgo Biloba was one of the ingredients in it. So I feel this connection with Ginkgo Biloba.
Kimberly : It turns out that has been native in China and has been used for thousands of years to boost mental alertness, improve cerebral circulation, and improve our overall brain function. So we’re talking about a tree that has thousands of years of tuning in its life force, its intelligence and its energy and its ability to work with our nervous system to such a degree that it’s been shown to be helpful in reducing anxiety and stress and boosting mood.
Kimberly : I want to call out a specific study. This was from England, where 1,570 men and women participated in a study using 120 micrograms of Ginkgo Biloba extract, daily, for four, six and 10 months. They found that those that used Ginkgo the longest experienced the most improvements in ratings for anxiety, depression, energy, drowsiness, sadness, and boosting happiness.
Kimberly : So there is something to be said, I believe. We have a very holistic approach here in Solluna, which is the sun and the moon, and there’s space for everything. There is space for Western science and there’s space for Eastern practices and Eastern medicinal systems, like Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.
Kimberly : I respect both. I love to talk about both. Those that have read my latest book, Recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life, which is so personal and has all these amazing food recipes and life recipes. I talk about the birth of my son, little Bob, and I tried everything to have a home birth. I was in labor for 50 hours. My water broke before contractions came, and basically it manifested all the way in a C-section.
Kimberly : And he was two weeks late. He was nine pounds. He wasn’t fitting, he was in distress. You know what? I’ve never had greater respect for Western medicine as in that moment. So I use this example to say we love the West. We love the East approach, Eastern approach. We love Western medicine. We love Eastern medicine. We don’t think it has to be all or nothing. We demonize nothing.
Kimberly : Just like we say even with food, with all aspects of the lifestyle, it’s not all or nothing. It’s not, oh, you’re vegan plant-based or you’re not. Most people in the community, there is a mix. My partner is largely plant-based, but yesterday we went to our favorite sushi restaurant and we love sushi, we wanted to eat fish and I ate a bunch of… Bobby and I ate avocado rolls and seaweed salad and mushrooms.
Kimberly : So we believe in wholeness. We believe in oneness. We believe in the and principle, we can be this and we can be that. We can live a natural lifestyle and use herbs and plants and sometimes we need to take synthetics. Sometimes we need to get C-sections and it’s all okay. It’s all part of the mix. We never need to beat ourselves up or judge, because there is no right or wrong.
Kimberly : So Ginkgo Biloba, back to this, is a wonderful plant. I have a high level of respect. I love it. I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s a beautiful energy. You can get it as an extract. You can get it in a supplement form, if you’re interested in using it. There’s many different reputable brands you can research, you can get online or at your local health market.
Kimberly : The next natural nootropic I want mention is CDP choline, also known as citicoline. Some of these words are difficult to pronounce. You read them all the time and then you say them out loud and you’re like, tongue twister. This is a naturally occurring nootropic source that is present naturally in every cell in your body already. The choline in CDP cholinate and the synthesis of acetylcholine and the release of dopamine in your brain.
Kimberly : So it’s working with the neuro transmitters. It’s working with these natural chemical messengers in your brain, which is critical to quicker thinking. It’s like firing and release, connecting, making connections, finding spacial relationships and more connections in this web, this matrix, the field, we would call in quantum physics, and the world. And of course, this is very, very helpful. This is very useful.
Kimberly : So again, if you’re interested, we have all this listed in the show notes as well, if you want to see some direct links, if you want to see spelling, but basically it’s CDP choline is another amazing natural nootropic that you could dive deeper into, if you’re interested.
Kimberly : Next, let’s talk about lion’s mane. And this is a medicinal mushroom. I love the term as well, the name. This is said to be used by Buddhist monks for thousands of years. Again, I love the ancient, the sacred, the ancestral lines, all our forefathers, the great ones, the masters, teaching us the way. And this has been used by monks for thousands of years to enhance brain power and strengthen the ability to focus during meditation.
Kimberly : So in Eastern medicine, we say that the goal, the fourth level beyond treating medicine, preventing medicine, living a long, healthy life is for spiritual growth. It is to progress in our wisdom, in our understanding, in our connection with our essential essence.
Kimberly : At Solluna, we have four cornerstones in our lifestyle of wellbeing and beauty, true beauty. We have food, body care, which includes exercise, skincare, sleep, so on. Emotional wellbeing, which is very important to our day-to-day calmness, equanimity, tapping into our true power. And our fourth cornerstone is spiritual growth. Everything around mindfulness, meditation, sitting within ourselves.
Kimberly : So this whole idea that the Buddhist monks were using lion’s mane to help them in their meditation shows the connection between the brain and the body and spiritual growth, and how everything is oneness. I started off my work, my journey, so food focused as a nutritionist, as a recovering perfectionist, as someone with eating disorders and obsessed with dieting and trying to be skinny. It was like my life goal. I really understand the obsession with food.
Kimberly : And when I got that under control, it was like, this is amazing, but now what? What else? It wasn’t the end all be all. It’s like when you master these asanas, these yoga poses and you’re like, oh, that’s cool. Now what? We go deeper and deeper and you realize that this is a lifestyle. To be our most energetic, to feel our most joyful and happy, to be our most truly beautiful, where we connect with ourselves, and each and every single one of us is beautiful in our own way.
Kimberly : We have to tap into the deeper parts of ourselves. We have to just connect. It’s not about doing anything, achieving more, learning more necessarily. Although it’s nice to learn and add wisdom. But there are parts of the lifestyle, the spiritual where it’s not about doing, it’s actually undoing. It’s undoing the walls and all the self-doubt and the body shame and the guilt and everything we hold. It is undoing it and tapping into this is perfect part of us.
Kimberly : So lion’s mane, going back to this for a minute, it’s been used to help with meditation. How beautiful is that? There is a 2013 journal published by the National Institutes of Health that shows that lion’s mane stimulates the repair and the creation or the neurogenesis of neurons in your brain. This increases enzyme production, that releases nerve growth factor, NGF. This affects memory, learning recall and mood, leaning to quicker thinking and decision-making.
Kimberly : So lion’s mane is a wonderful, wonderful medicinal mushroom. You can look for it in a powdered form. You can look at your tincture form. We love medicinal mushrooms here. We actually have another one called turkey tail, which is used as part of our prebiotic mix in our SBO probiotics.
Kimberly : So our SBO probiotics are, in a sense, a nootropic in the way that they are really enhancing your gut and your microbiome and balance. And we believe in fullness across any process. So we add a prebiotic, which again, includes the medicinal mushroom of turkey tail, to help feed the probiotics. We’ve clinically researched strains, based in the type of probiotics that come from the soil. So they’re hardy, they survive. Again, ancestral lineage. It’s how our ancestors got probiotics. They’re incredibly effective. They’re in the right ratio and harmony, and there’s harmony between the strains.
Kimberly : So there isn’t one that’s so filled to get some high culture count that it takes over the formula. There’s a synergy, there’s proper ratios, and then there’s postbiotics to help ensure the colonization. So check it out. It’s a wonderful way to support your gut and support your brain health in a deep, deep way. Beautiful, as well.
Where We Are At with Synthetic Nootropics
Kimberly : So synthetic nootropics, let’s talk about this for a moment, because they’re definitely on the market. They’re the stimulants prescribed for conditions like ADHD, methylphenidate. They are stimulants prescribed for the treatment of sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, including Modafinil.
Kimberly : And these drugs can of course enhance attention in healthy individuals, but their prescriptions and their effects have controversy, for sure. Let’s see, the FDA approval is difficult and long for synthetic nootropics. Reading from the 2015 Frontiers Journal in Systems Neuroscience, getting synthetic nootropics created and approved in healthy populations brings up ethical and philosophical debate. Even drugs approved for therapeutic uses have side effects, trade-offs, loss of authenticity and therefore, have large differences by users.
Kimberly : So there’s a lot of synthetic nootropics, but research and especially with long-term effects is lacking. So we want to be careful. We want to go into this with our eyes wide open. You can, of course, find synthetic nootropics through Western doctors, through just different ways that you source prescriptions. Again, we’re not saying it’s bad, we’re not saying this is good. we’re saying that it’s a case by case basis. I think all our bodies are different. We go through waves in our lives where we need different things. So I just want to point out that there may be potentially detrimental long-term effects to your brain.
Kimberly : Whereas with natural nootropics, they may be more subtle, they may be slower acting, they may be used in combination with different ones, but they are effective. There’s an intelligence in them and it may not be as dramatic, but we know that it’s really working with your natural biology, overall. It’s working with your body and there aren’t going to be the potentially toxic effects, which can bioaccumulate in your brain over time. That’s what we know of it right now.
Kimberly : So nootropics are rising in our society today, there’s definitely more research that’s needed to better understand their benefits. But if you’re interested in plunging in and experimenting with some nootropics right now, you could definitely go into the gentler natural forms that we talked about today in the podcast. We have the all listed in the show notes. If you’re interested in links and sourcing them as well, check it out over at mysolluna.com.
Kimberly : I want to close out here by thanking you so much for being part of our community. I send you a lot of love. This podcast, our community, what we’re building together, which is about support and love and evolvement, our spiritual growth, our connection with ourself. To me, it’s very, very sacred and I feel so connected to you, the fact that we’re here together.
Kimberly : So I wanted to express my gratitude. I wanted to express my love. I hope you have an amazing day. I hope you enjoyed our solo cast. Please again, take a moment to make sure you subscribe to our podcast and please take a moment to leave us a review. It’s a wonderful energy exchange, we’re all about love, we’re all about supporting each other.
Kimberly : So from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. Remember that we have a very vibrant online community, not only on mysolluna.com, but social on Instagram. We are @_kimberlysnyder. We are going to be putting out, in an effort to put out more tips and useful information and really important snippets for our community on our Instagram. So you definitely want to tune into that, and get that daily boost, those little tips, those little tools, those things that keep you going throughout the day.
Kimberly : So sending you so much love, Beauty. I love you. I’m always here. Remember, you can ask your questions, the podcast link over in the website for our Q&A podcast. I’ll see you back here Thursday. Till then, lots of love and take great care.