Can You Take Nootropics with CBD?

Published January 19, 2023

Can You Take Nootropics with CBD?

Over the last few years, the term “nootropic” has become something of a buzzword within the natural health community. Though nootropics can be either natural or synthetic substances, there’s no arguing that improving cognitive performance is an overall goal of personal health, and even natural nootropics promise to boost your brain to at least some degree.

As substances that considerably alter your neurochemistry, though, it’s natural to be curious about how nootropics might interact with CBD in your body. Is it safe to use nootropics and CBD at the same time? Learn the answer for eight different nootropics in this guide.

What are nootropics?

These days, “nootropic” generally refers to any substance that improves brain health or cognitive performance. The natural health movement has essentially “reclaimed” the term, which used to refer quite specifically to a certain class of drugs. First used in 1972 to classify the drug piracetam, nootropic went on to be used to classify hundreds of different pharmaceutical drugs before the term was widened to refer to cognitive boosters generally.

Most people who are enthusiastic about nootropics these days are not interested in prescription options like modafinil, methylphenidate, or amphetamine. That’s right — even amphetamines like the prescription drug Adderall and the illicit drug methamphetamine are technically nootropics from a pharmacological standpoint if you still use the old, scientific definition of the term.

Especially given the bad reputation Adderall and methamphetamine have accumulated, consumers are now clamoring for the nootropics nature has to offer them, not those pushed by Big Pharma. Nothing in nature will get you jacked like Addys or meth (thank your deity of choice), but they might provide the wholesome versions of the feelings people are looking for when they use or abuse those dangerous drugs. 

What do nootropics do?

Natural nootropics like theanine, lion’s mane, or ashwagandha gently stimulate your nervous system to take on levels of activity that it usually wouldn’t achieve. Far from being a “Limitless pill,” a nootropic is more like nature’s answer to those inevitable lulls and exhaustion points that we encounter in life’s journey. When your brain needs a little pick-me-up to get through the day, nootropics are there.

Can you take CBD with nootropics?

Given the lack of evidence on the subject, it is difficult to say whether it is safe or advisable to use CBD and nootropics at the same time. What we can say for sure is that CBD and certain nootropics seem to be dependent on the same enzymes for metabolism, potentially causing unwantedly intense synergies. Below, we’ll examine everything we know about the safety of using CBD with eight popular nootropics: 

1. Can you take L-theanine and CBD together?

There appears to be no particular danger associated with using L-theanine and CBD together. Studies have found that the nootropic L-theanine (usually shortened to just “theanine”) does not have any effect on CYP enzyme levels, the primary enzymes your body uses to process CBD.

2. Can you take L-tyrosine and CBD together?

Like theanine, tyrosine is an amino acid, but these two acids appear to have considerably different properties. We don’t know much about the effects of tyrosine in the body, but anti-cancer drugs made from tyrosine are known to interact with your CYP enzymes, making it wise to be cautious with using tyrosine and CBD together until we know more — at least in large quantities.

3. Can you take lion’s mane and CBD together?

There’s no indication that using lion’s mane mushroom extract and CBD together should cause any negative interactions, but since lion’s mane has been known to cause considerable side effects on its own, it pays to be cautious when using this nootropic under any circumstances.

4. Can you take ginseng and CBD together?

Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, ginseng is now recognized as having potent nootropic properties. Any qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner will be the first to let you know, however, that ginseng should always be used with caution, and this nootropic’s impact on your CYP enzymes is even more reason to think carefully before using it with CBD.

5. Can you take ginkgo biloba and CBD together?

There is very limited medical evidence that using ginkgo biloba in conjunction with certain cannabis compounds could be dangerous. It’s unclear if CBD presents the same potential for negative interaction, however, as THC.

6. Can you take ashwagandha and CBD together?

Yes, there appears to be no reason not to use ashwagandha and CBD at the same time. The active components in ashwagandha might interact with your CYP enzymes to some degree, but it does not appear that there is any potential of negative interaction between ashwagandha and CBD.

7. Can you take bacopa monnieri and CBD together?

You should proceed with caution when using CBD and the nootropic bacopa monnieri together. Limited research indicates that bacopa monnieri might make your CYP enzymes less available to process CBD, but the potential of a dangerous interaction seems low.

8. Can you take NAC and CBD together?

So far, Semantic Scholar’s AI has identified two studies indicating that using NAC and CBD together might be at least somewhat dangerous. As one of the riskiest nootropics on its own, it’s always good to be cautious around NAC.

Potential benefits of taking CBD and nootropics together

As you may have started to notice over the course of this guide, CBD and nootropics don’t have much direct overlap despite both being natural substances commonly used as supplements. In some cases, that can cause CBD and nootropics to compete over vital metabolic enzymes, but in others, it might open opportunities for synergy.

One way in which CBD is often criticized, for instance, is for its lack of energizing effects. Combined, CBD and nootropics might provide the deep relaxation characteristic of CBD but the mental acuity associated with nootropics. Tread carefully, but recognize that there’s plenty of potential to explore in the relationship between nootropics and CBD.

Summary: Is it safe to take nootropics with CBD?

Since even the safety of CBD alone remains an unsettled subject, it’s hard to render judgment on the safety of using CBD and nootropics together. What we can comment on, however, are the potential dangers — it certainly seems, for example, that some nootropics might compete with CBD for metabolic enzymes, a type of conflict for digestive power that can cause overdose with more dangerous drugs.

You never want to strain your body’s ability to process the substances you consume, so for that reason alone, practice caution when you take CBD and nootropics together. Better yet, consult with your doctor before you proceed.

Nootropics & CBD FAQ

Learn more about when and when not to use CBD and nootropics together below:

— Which supplements does CBD interfere with?

CBD can interfere with a wide variety of different supplements and drugs. In particular, look out for any substances that come with “grapefruit warnings” or labels indicating that they should not be combined with grapefruit. Otherwise, consult your doctor regarding any potential drug interactions that may have drawn your concern.

— Does CBD affect your focus?

Some people indicate that CBD increases their ability to focus, but others say that this cannabinoid relaxes them or even makes them sleepy. One factor that seems to be at play here is terpene profiles, which can considerably alter the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids.

— Does CBD affect your memory?

Limited research indicates that CBD should be studied in depth for its potential ability to help your brain form and store memories more effectively. We’ll need to wait for further research to be conducted, however, before we draw any conclusions regarding the impact of CBD on memory.

— Does CBD increase GABA?

While it seems that CBD has some sort of impact on the activity of your brain’s GABA neurotransmitters, the exact nature of the interaction between these two substances remains unknown. Research into the impact of CBD on neurotransmitters in general is ongoing, so we’ll soon know more about whether CBD increases or decreases GABA levels.

— Can I take GABA and CBD together?

There does not appear to be any reason to abstain from using CBD and GABA together in moderation, but keep in mind that caution should be observed even when using GABA on its own. Your brain is a delicate organism, and flooding it with unreasonably high concentrations of neurotransmitters could lead to imbalance.

— Does CBD deplete dopamine?

There’s some indication that CBD might reduce the effects of dopamine, but there’s no reason to believe that using CBD can lead to a state of dopamine depletion. Your body becomes depleted of dopamine when substances like THC lead to unreasonably high dopamine production for extended periods, an issue that simply does not exist with CBD.

— Does CBD deplete serotonin?

We don’t know enough about CBD yet to say whether it depletes serotonin. Plenty of research seems to indicate, though, that CBD has at least some impact on serotonin production in your brain — that’s part of how scientists believe this cannabinoid exerts its effects.

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