Consider the substances we take to improve our mental and emotional capacities on a daily basis.
Then there are the Big Pharma options: modafinil, adderall, ritalin, etc. They’re not without their upsides (increased alertness and concentration), but if recreationally abusing medications is unwise for long-term health and longevity.
And even in the world of legal, non-prescription nootropics, the true all-star ingredients, like noopept, are synthetic, just like said prescription drugs. While this is generally not a problem (natural is not always “healthy”), for some people it is a cause for alarm.
Could there be lesser-known natural substance with powerful intellectual and emotional enhancements that has been used for thousands of years, below the radar of Western culture?
Just because traditional Ayurvedic practices and traditional Chinese medicine have provided a panacea of well-known nootropics like bacopa monnieri, ashwagandha, panax ginseng and ginkgo biloba doesn't mean there are some that have gone overlooked.
The plant’s scientific name is celastrus paniculatus, which grows in the remote Himalayan highlands of northern India. In ayurvedic tradition it is more commonly known as “the intellect tree”.
Modern Research of Celastrus Paniculatus
While celastrus paniculatus has flown below the radar of mind enhancement culture, it has not flown below the radar of scientific research. There is considerable evidence that use of celastrus paniculatus has nootropic,  anxiolytic  neuroprotective  and antioxidant properties .
Celastrus paniculatus seems to act on multiple neurotransmitter systems to affect multiple mechanisms of cellular protection.
Research is fairly young as to how it achieves these results, but studies underway suggest celastrus paniculatus may work via the same neurochemical pathways and a same or similar mechanism of action as noopept.
In one animal study from 1995, scientists concluded that celastrus paniculatus could provide “significant improvement… in the retention ability of the drug treated rats…” . Interestingly, the study also showed decreased levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Another 2010 study in Pharmaceutical Biology found this substance could increase memory processes by reducing acetylcholinesterase activity (an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine) .
The neuroprotective and anti-stress effects are quite strong as well. In one 2016 study, researchers found that using celastrus paniculatus could reduce behavior associated with chronic anxiety thereby enhancing their cognitive performance . This is a common treat of cognitive enhancement research; reduce anxiety and that brings cognition levels up.
Even more valuable for protecting the brain is evidence from a 1997 study in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. In this study, taking 14 days of celastrus paniculatus reversed the memory defects / damage in animal models . This is some of the strongest evidence in favor of the plant because reversing memory deficits caused by damage is rare (and only common to synthetic drugs like aforementioned noopept, but also piracetam, aniracetam, and oxiracetam).
An interesting series of studies have found value in celastrus paniculatus for other purposes, some of which are relatively unique. In a landmark 2001 study in Phytomedicine, researchers found this substance prevented DNA cleavage common to many toxins . The scientists concluded that the prevention in DNA damage was caused by anti-oxidant benefits, which could help with downstream effects as well.
Their analysis included support with anti-stress, immune boosting, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging effects. Of course, all of these assertions are formed based on animal models, but it is compelling evidence that celastrus paniculatus has significant cognitive advantages (especially when it's considered how relatively unknown it is).
Where to Find Celastrus Paniculatus
Despite our knowledge and understanding of nootropics, this natural nootropic was unknown to us before recently (within the last 3 months). Therefore, it is too challenging to vet the celastrus paniculatus products on the market individually as we do not have the experience. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of the Ayurvedic herbs produced in India (and other places in Asia) are found to have elevated levels of certain heavy metals .
The only brand we know of, which is a trusted vendor, is Neurohacker Collective. They have crafted a replacement to their Qualia formula called Qualia Mind, which is a nootropic stack of 28 ingredients that includes celastrus paniculatus.
They have also increased their discount to 15% if you use the code “NOOTROPEDIA” for a limited time. If this blend or the specific ingredient from Ayurvedic medicine resonates, it might be worthwhile to spend some time investigating the product to see if it is right for you.
- References (Click to Expand)