Walking around my block, I turn a corner and bright orange sunlight splashes my face. Not too bright, the light gently warms my face as iconic songs pass through my earbuds. Nootropic mood enhancers racing through my veins, I momentarily dance with the music with a sense of accomplishment.
This isn’t an everyday occurrence, but it explains a sense of euphoria and fulfillment I often experience as a result of nootropic supplementation and lifestyle practices.
When we have an improved mood not only does it feel good, but we can perform our best as well. As our mood brightens, colors are enhanced, everything is sweeter, and life is better.
While there is no mood enhancer magic pill, there are nootropics and smart drugs that can uplift your day and lead to a better life.
First, we’ll help you understand the brain chemicals involved, then we will provide some nootropic solutions, and finally we’ll offer some mood enhancers you might not expect.
Mood Enhancers: Happy Time Chemicals
When it comes to improving mood and feelings of happiness, everybody has unique needs and brain chemistries to match. For some anxious people, simply reducing anxiety could provide useful.
However, the following three chemicals are generally considered the most important for mood enhancement:
Dopamine – this is the reward brain chemical, which makes us feel happy. It’s associated with many things (such as eating certain foods) and many illicit drugs (like methamphetamine) produce feelings of euphoria and happiness via dopaminergic methods.
Serotonin – the other part of the mood puzzle is often serotonin. This brain chemical is arguably the more important for mood, which is why depressed individuals take SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor).
Oxytocin – while not as well known or correlated with mood, this chemical is linked to touch, interpersonal connection, and community. Mammals are highly touch-oriented creatures and oxytocin is the most important chemical involved with that process .
Nootropic Mood Enhancers
Our ancestors were no stranger to feeling down. Although their response to hardship or poor mood would have been vastly different than our own, we can still learn a thing or two about supplementation from them.
Here are some of the natural mood enhancers, which may be able to improve your mood and feeling of satisfaction.
Caffeine – this is one of the most ubiquitous mood enhancers available and, like any good drug, you can find it on any corner! The only problem with caffeine is how quickly one can become tolerant to the drug. It isn’t something to be taken everyday. Adding L-theanine might make you feel less jittery, but the mood enhancement effects wear off quickly.
St. John’s Wort – nature produced an SSRI long before we created the scientific term. St. John’s wort has been well-studied and primarily functions on symptoms of depression via serotonin.
In one meta-analysis looking at 29 trials and 5,000 patients, researchers concluded there was almost no difference between prescription SSRI medication and St. John’s wort . This substance does create sensitivity to light so ensure eyes are protected before using it .
Mucuna pruriens – while mucuna pruriens is an effective dopamine-producing drug, which can induce happiness in many users, there are some drawbacks. Namely, mucuna pruriens uses L-DOPA to bypass an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase, which isn’t recommended.
While not natural, one alternative to mucuna pruriens is N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT), which has many of the dopamine mood enhancing upsides without the same drawbacks.
Kratom – Not for the feint of heart, kratom is a natural painkiller that interacts with opioid receptors. Although many people use it to relieve pain and combat addiction, it is powerful enough to create addiction itself.
Advanced Mood Enhancers
Moving on up! If the nootropic mood enhancers above aren’t enough for you, here are some of the more advanced options.
Please note that we aren’t necessarily recommending any of these drugs, only showing their efficacy and some plausible reasons why.
If you feel depressed or have a poor mood, it might seem like a good idea to take whatever nootropic mood enhancers remove the pain, but proceed with caution.
Modafinil – it is no surprise that one of the most famous and highly consumed nootropics is also a mood enhancer. The primary mechanism that makes modafinil one of the most powerful mood enhancers is dopamine stimulation.
Although studies suggest modafinil doesn’t have strong enough properties to induce euphoria and addiction , it will improve most people's’ mood through dopamine alone.
Phenibut – especially for the anxious crowd, phenibut is a potent synthetic drug, which can anecdotally boost mood. Using phenibut recklessly (i.e: too often) can be severely damaging, but here is one Redditor’s description of the drug:
“I remembered about Phenibut so I ordered some and it does EXACTLY what I want to feel like. I take it and I am happy to get up in the morning, to go through the day and want to be doing stuff all day, have little to no anxiety when talking with people I normally am slightly more uncomfortable with, I am confident, I will say things I normally would be hesitant to say or do and I just will talk about a ton of things. It makes me feel like how I think I should feel, happier, not anxious, energized , etc.” 
Tianeptine – invented in France, tianeptine is commonly used as a mood enhancer to reduce anxiety and even treat symptoms of PTSD . In fact, according to some studies, people suffering PTSD had a response rate of 75.6 – 76.7% . That being said, there are many potential side effects and drawbacks of using tianeptine.
Oxytocin – although we believe in taking an ancestral approach to oxytocin, it is possible to administer this drug directly into your brain with a nasal spray. For some people who don’t spend enough time with friends, family, or community, this could be an option.
There isn’t much scientific research on humans, but plenty of anecdotes for you to review online .
Mood Enhancers You Wouldn’t Expect
It seems relatively straightforward. If we feel our mood is low or not where we want it to be, we take a nootropic or drug in order to fix it.
The problem with this simplistic view is that many people treat a symptom of the problem as opposed to the problem itself. In this section, we’ll walk through a few options that target the root causes of poor moods so that you can recover, enjoy life, and perform your best.
Psychedelics – while hippies may have the reputation of introducing psychedelic drugs, traditional cultures have used them for thousands of years.
Psilocybin, DMT (the active ingredient in ayahuasca), and LSD all interact with serotonergic receptors, which influence mood. However, the greatest benefits of psychedelic trips are the mystical experiences that come with them .
These mystical experiences transcend the mood enhancement of the moment and help people to overcome existential questions over many months and years. A 2008 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology explained that 64% of participants experienced higher well-being and life satisfaction 14 months after taking one dose of psilocybin .
Gut health – within your digestive tract, there is more going on than you know. Our gut is partially responsible for producing serotonin (a mood enhancing chemical if you’ll remember from earlier) .
As odd as it sounds, having healthy gut flora can impact your mood and brain health quite radically. That doesn’t mean race out and find the next probiotic supplement, but keep it in mind when taking antibiotics, for example.
Sunlight – there are many reasons to love the sun and the rays (namely, we wouldn’t be around if they weren’t coming to earth), but none more than vitamin D. Recent studies from Dr. Rhonda Patrick have showed how vitamin D (the “sunlight” vitamin) can influence serotonin synthesis .
Color and music – our immediate surroundings (such as color) can play a role in our mood as well . One of the main reasons listening to music is so enjoyable is because it can drastically influence mood without any of the side effects of drugs .
Practices and Emotions
One common misconception is that we should feel happy all the time. Not only would this just become the “normal” if that were the case, but it discounts the large range of human emotions.
If you lose a loved one or have trouble with something in your life, instantly seeking nootropics and smart drugs may be no different than finding a bottle of alcohol.
Finding ways to boost our mood is useful and can greatly impact many lives, but it must be done responsibly.
If you’ll notice, one of the main chemicals related to mood, oxytocin, has largely been overlooked through this piece. That’s because oxytocin is released through interaction with other humans. With family, friends, our community, and our tribe, it is much easier to enhance our mood and live fulfilling lives.
Nootropics and smart drugs are undoubtedly useful as mood enhancers, but they may not be the first place that you start.
- References (Click to Expand)