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Article: ASK THE EXPERT: Nootropics, Adaptogenics, Herbals, Oh My!

ASK THE EXPERT: Nootropics, Adaptogenics, Herbals, Oh My!

ASK THE EXPERT: Nootropics, Adaptogenics, Herbals, Oh My!

Our new Supercharged: Female Founder Series spotlights extraordinary women who are both experts in their field and are at the helm of successful businesses. With each spotlight, we dig deeper on a topic our founder + community is curious about while also gathering tips from travel and books to recipes and mindfulness.

Nootropics, Adaptogenics, Herbals, Oh My!

If you’re a fan of our brand, you already know of our intense love affair with adaptogens for healing and defense is the centerpiece of the Luxe Collection.  While adaptogens are finally gaining mainstream love and attention, I’ve been talking about their role in my own health journey with Lyme Disease for years, both topically and orally as part of an ever-changing immune boosting supplement routine.  

As the category expands, and my interest is piqued on other forms of adaptive plant power like Nootropics, I naturally wanted to learn more, so I went straight to the person I trust the most when it comes to herbal remedies, Rachelle Robinett, RH (AHG).  Rachelle is a leading industry expert, licensed herbalist and the founder of Pharmakon Supernatural, the maker of quite literally the best  (and tastiest) adaptogenic herbal supplements, called HRBLS, I’ve discovered. If you haven't already checked out her book, Well + Good content series or her products, you need to do that today.

Stephanie: What is a Nootropic? How is it different from an adaptogen?  

Rachelle: Nootropics are herbs that improve memory, focus, and cognition. They often increase cerebral circulation, may decrease neuro-inflammation, and they support neurogenesis or the protection of nerve health. Overall, nootropics are brain-health herbs, whereas adaptogens are working on our stress response and recovery systems in a more general, and less specific way. (“Non-specific” is actually part of the definition of adaptogens.)

Stephanie:  Can you blend adaptogens and nootropics?

Rachelle:  Absolutely! Most herbs can and should be combined. Historically, and globally, herbs are used in formulas not as “singles.” The use of single herbs is a more modern approach and misses out on a lot of opportunities for synergy and full-spectrum support. Blends also increase our likelihood of efficacy because we’re working on multiple angles and systems at once.

Stephanie:  What are some of your favorite Adaptogens + Nootropics and why?

Rachelle: I love lavender — a nootropic that’s also a nervine (an herb for the nervous system).  Lavender also supports digestion, mood and sleep — it’s everything. Ashwagandha, a popular adaptogen, is great for normalizing cortisol levels. Rosemary is a nootropic that I keep on my desk in essential oil form for waking up midday or if I’m sleepy. I also use a lot of Rhodiola, an adaptogen that’s especially helpful for physical performance and recovery, which is one of my favorites because I’m so active. I also cycle my herbs by the season or depending on my routine at any given time, which is a nice way to both be acquainted with them long term.


As an entrepreneur in full startup mode, I’m often turning to coffee to fuel my day in an attempt to gain quick energy and lessen the foggy brain that often accompanies both lack of sleep and Lyme Disease.  But I’ve recently learned that this is likely NOT the best option for my body. Coffee causes inflammation and increases chances of mold exposure, which for my personal healing journey is not ideal. Caffeine also causes the predictable and dramatic peaks and valleys of caffeine “injection” that disrupts other aspects of the brain / endocrine system and sleep cycle and can actually cause dehydration which is bad for both our bodies and our skin health.  In short: it’s one of the main reasons Nootropics caught my attention and why I reached out to Rachelle.  In an effort to slip away slowly from my coffee habit, I asked Rachelle to share one of her personal recipes for mood +  energy boosting caffeine-free Nootropic Herbal Tea!  Learn more and try it here.  If you are more of a smoothie person, I tried this adaptogenic stress reducing fruity blend from Rachelle today and it was divine. Short on time? I feel you.  So I want to also share the absolute best combination of adaptogens, herbs and nootropics I’ve tried: HRBLS, custom formulated by Rachelle, in a delicious chewable format. If you’re like me and need a quick and trusted way to incorporate plant power into your daily routine, I highly encourage you to check these out.  Everyday Endurance and Nerve Less are magical daily staples for me.

Rachelle, you are a successful herbal practitioner, brand founder and national media contributor – such an inspiration!  Can you please share one piece of founder advice with our community:  I have found that consistent self-inquiry — be that consults with community or, in my case, time in solitude and personal reflection — are invaluable in ensuring that we’re building the most successful business we can, where “successful” means fulfilling, inspired, authentic, and as reflective of our intentions as possible. If we know who we are, what we want, and what we’re capable of, it’s all achievable.


RACHELLE ROBINETT, RH (AHG), Founder of Pharmakon Supernatural

  • Favorite Wellness Practice or Beauty Ritual: Exercise. Followed by sleep, followed by tons of water. Surprise!
  • One Thing You Can't Live Without: Can I say exercise again? Light. Being outdoors, or even near a window (as I write this from an airplane seat that I traded someone specially for in order to be by the window).
  • What You're Reading Right Now: I'm reading all of the Sheila Heti I can get my hands on right now. Rachel Cusk is a close second. I don't really watch shows or movies, but I did get hooked on basketball during the pandemic so I'm watching the playoffs from this airplane!
  • Favorite Place You've Been: Costa Rica has stolen my heart. I have traveled all over Central and South America lightly looking for a home away from home and when I got there, it was clearly the place (I wept). Laos (Luang Prabang)  also made me weep (you know it's good when ...) and the most incredible place I've stayed was Phum Baitang in Cambodia. @jungleful in Ecuador is one of my favorite retreats. I'd tag Thea Retreat in Costa Rica and my friends in Peru for the deep healing. 
  • Favorite Restaurant/Cafe/Coffee Shop: The next one I collab with to create functional botanical food and bev. (Open call!)
  • Current Guilty Pleasure: Green juice from Erewhon (I was just in LA). I don't really consider any of my pleasures guilty. Part of my process is loving what loves me back, so the pleasures are really win-wins.
  • Favorite Solara Product: The whole Luxe collection, really. But if I have to choose, Time Traveler and Pout Protector!

Note: Rachelle Robinett is a licensed herbalist, entrepreneur, naturalist and national media contributor based in Brooklyn, New York. Ask the Expert tips are for informational purposes only and any product, supplement, medical or dietary recommendations are personal to those featured in this blog post only. Always consult your trusted medical, herbal or integrative practitioner to determine the best routine and supplements for you. 

- Author: Stephanie DiPisa, Founder + CEO, Solara Suncare

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