Ever heard of Nootropics? If not, then you are about to be mind blown. Have you ever felt mentally overwhelmed such that it is hard to form simple sentences on some days? Or have you experienced days where you keep forgetting where you last dropped your car keys or can’t sit through a meeting without needing a mental break?
Or perhaps there are certain you keep getting stuck on some school assignment and can’t seem to find a way out? Well, it will appear that there are some set of wonder drugs that can engineer your brain to work seamlessly without any “glitches” or “mental fatigue”, and you can easily bid these mentally distressing days goodbye.
If you have seen that famous “pill that unlocks your brain movie” titled limitless where Bradley Cooper transforms from a struggling writer to a groundbreaking genius after taking some wonder pills, you may have an inkling of what these drugs are all about.
WHAT ARE NOOTROPICS?
Nootropics are neuroenhancers that work to improve a person’s cognitive function that cuts across mental areas like concentration, memory, stress perception, creativity, decision making, attention, mood, and motivation.
These drugs or supplements act by dilating the blood vessels of the brain so that it has enough blood supply and energy to carry out its functions perfectly. It also improves memory function by protecting the brain cells(neurons) against inflammation and other potential damages. However, different people have peculiar experiences with nootropics.
Some may wonder, are nootropics safe? Are nootropics legit? Can nootropics increase iq? And if it does, what nootropics actually work?
There is still a controversy on who uses nootropics and why nootropics are bad however, this is only specific for certain unhealthy mixtures such as nootropics and weed or the concomitant use of nootropics and alcohol. It is always advised to ask a doctor “what nootropics should I take?” especially if you do not fully understand how nootropics work.
The name nootropic first came into existence in the 1960s with the emergence of the pharmaceutical drug piracetam which was often prescribed to boost cognitive function. Piracetam was the first nootropic to be introduced to humanity and ever since other stronger and more effective nootropics have evolved. Today there are both natural nootropics and synthetic ones.
Piracetam is an example of a laboratory-made nootropic. However, there isn’t sufficient and credible scientific evidence to back the effectiveness of organic nootropics. So which nootropics actually work, and why take nootropics?
Nootropics are fast becoming popular for its use as a cognitive enhancer and are often used as brain supplements for students. Can nootropics cause psychosis? Nootropics like Ritalin pills and Adderall are used to treat patients with disease impaired brain functions like Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Supplements like citicoline and L-theanine are good nootropics for addiction recovery. They help to fight addiction and can be valuable for people going through addiction withdrawal symptoms. These supplements are also used by healthy individuals with or without a prescription to boost their cognitive abilities and make them smarter.
HOW DO NOOTROPICS WORK? (Nootropics where to start)
There are a ton of questions on the effectiveness and side effects of nootropics. Some often ask, can nootropics help with depression? Others want to know the relationship between nootropics and weight loss. Either way, it is important to know who takes nootropics, why, and as students often ask, “ which nootropics should I take?”
Nootropics without a doubt work by interfering with brain function. However, it is difficult to gauge the exact way they affect brain performance due to the complexity of the brain. The workings of the brain itself are yet to be fully understood by science, but multiple studies and research work support the effectiveness of nootropics in improving brain power and performance.
Researchers believe that these brain-boosting supplements penetrate the brain pathways and make optimum use of its structures and functions. Nootropics influence the brain pathways in the following ways :
They enhance brain energy: The brain makes use of a significant amount of the body’s total energy (about 20%) to carry out its mental functions. When the energy levels of the brain are lacking, brain fog and mental fatigue are likely to set in.
Nootropics improve brain energy by increasing the metabolic activity of the mitochondria which serves as the powerhouse of all cells including brain cells. It helps to transport fatty acids into the brain which powers the mitochondria. It also increases the brain’s uptake of oxygen and nutrients which in turn promotes energy production.
Enhances the function of brain chemicals: The brain’s neurons transmit chemicals to each other for communication purposes. These brain chemicals or neurotransmitters carry information that relates to cognitive function.
They may support the function of neurotransmitters by providing brain chemical precursors, improving their synthesis, preventing breakdown and by increasing the sensitivity of the receptors.
Promoting blood flow in the brain : A healthy blood circulation in the brain ensures that the appropriate nutrients are being taken in and harmful toxins that may damage neurons are washed out. Nootropics improve blood circulation in the brain by preventing the clumping of blood cells, activating nitric oxides which aids to relax blood vessels, and by preventing oxidative damage to blood vessels, especially when one takes nootropics when sick.
Promotes brain regeneration: As we age, our brain cells naturally deteriorate which may impair cognitive function. On the bright side, the brain is naturally designed to create new brain cells in place of the worn-out cells.
This process is known as neurogenesis. Nootropics promote brain regeneration by supplying the brain’s neurons with building block materials such as choline. They help in the maintenance of the cerebral cell membrane flexibility and plasticity. They also boost the brain’s growth factors.
They support neuroprotection: nootropics helps the brain cells to fight off free radicals and toxins that are implicated in neurodegeneration (deterioration of brain cells). They also help to protect the brain against inflammation, the formation of irregular protein clusters (amyloid), and other potential brain damages and defects.
They increase the antioxidant properties of the brain and get rid of neurotoxins from brain tissues.
They increase the function of brain waves: Brain waves which can be simply defined as the combined electrical activity of the brain, are associated with mental and cognitive function.
Brain waves control consciousness and cognition. Low brain wave frequencies usually mean a dreamy and tired mental state, while higher frequencies are associated with an alert and productive mental state. The mechanism of action of nootropics targets high frequencies that are linked with better cognitive function.
15 NOOTROPICS THAT MAKE YOU SMARTER
Adrafinil is the supplement form of modafinil and it is available over the counter. Modafinil is clinically prescribed for people suffering from narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder) and unlike adrafinil, it is not sold as an over the counter drug but requires a doctor’s prescription for use. But the question is “does modafinil make you smarter”?
Researchers answered yes to this question. A scientific review found that aside from preventing people from being extremely sleepy during the day (due to the effects of narcolepsy), it also enhances mental functions and promotes decision making and planning abilities in individuals. When the supplement adrafinil is taken into the body, it metabolizes into modafinil which delivers the same cognitive effects.
This is a natural phospholipid found in the brain. Studies have shown that healthy people who take phosphatidylserine supplements ( about 400 mg per day) noticed an improvement in their thinking and memory capabilities. Research suggests that taking these supplements can improve brain health and function. Phosphatidylserine is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in the skin of red and purple fruits like raspberries and grapes. It is also present in red wine, chocolates, and peanuts.
- GINKGO BILOBA
Ginkgo biloba is not just the oldest living tree species, but it is also a natural nootropic. Sometimes referred to as the brain herb, ginkgo Biloba is largely available in the form of supplements which when taken can serve to enhance memory, and promote thinking and learning abilities.
Scientists believe it works as a brain vasodilator to improve focus and memory. Research has also found that taking this herbal supplement can work to reduce brain decline associated with aging. However, studies remain conflicted with regard to its benefits.
4.L-THEANINE 10 and Addiction nootropics
L-theanine is an amino acid found in the leaves of green tea. Taking the supplements have been found to boost mental and cognitive function. It is also reported to help people going through addiction withdrawal symptoms.
It can alleviate symptoms of anxiety due to its effect on the serotonin and dopamine systems. It has a very calm and relaxing effect which is useful for patients going through drug detoxification. One study found that L-theanine helped with opiate recovery in the monkeys.
Your regular cup of coffee and tea might just be what you need to boost your cognitive abilities because of the caffeine they contain. The best part of using caffeine as a brain stimulant is that you don’t need to take it in the form of supplements (although this too is an option) .
A cup of coffee is estimated to contain about 50-400 mg of caffeine. Research has shown that caffeine can enhance brain function, increase the body’s energy levels, and improve memory. It will be worthy to note that excessive caffeine consumption is associated with adverse side effects like insomnia, nausea, and anxiety. The average person is believed to need just 200-400 mg per day of caffeine. However, will nootropics keep you awake? The answer is yes.
Creatine is popular for improving athletic performance in athletes, but aside this it has been found to have brain function enhancing benefits. Creatine is naturally found in the body particularly in muscles,and tiny amounts can be found in the brain too. One study found that taking creatine improved both memory and intelligence in the participants. Another study found that creatine supplements can enhance memory and thinking abilities in individuals who do not consume meat.
- ACETYL – L-CARNITINE
Acetyl-l-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body. It aids in the body’s energy production. Studies have found that taking supplements may help enhance memory functions. Acetyl-l-carnitine supplements may help reduce age-related decline in brain power and improve memory function in people with Alzheimer’s disease or mild dementia. Its memory-enhancing effects in healthy people are still scientifically unknown.
- RHODIOLA ROSEA
Rhodiola Rosea also is known as the golden root is a herbal Chinese medicine used to enhance brain function and improve general well being. It is believed to enhance mental function by decreasing fatigue. It helps the brain cells fight against inflammation by equilibrating. However, more research needs to be conducted to fully gauge it’s cognitive enhancement properties.
- BACOPA MONNIERI
Bacopa monnieri is a flowering plant or rice field weed that commonly grows in parts of India and in marshy regions. The ancient plant has been used in Ayurveda medicine to promote memory and cognitive functions for ages.
Research has shown that the herb improves mental and memory functions in healthy people, the elderly and those suffering from cognitive impairment. However, only repeated doses of this herb can induce these effects. The recommended dose is about 300 mg per day. It is also known to cause diarrhea and stomach discomfort in some cases. Hence it is strongly recommended that the supplement be taken along with food.
Vinpocetine supplement is derived from the periwinkle plant. It increases blood flow to the brain which aids brain function. Research has shown that vinpocetine can help promote concentration and memory functions particularly in people suffering from epilepsy and dementia.
- PANAX GINSENG
Panax ginseng is also known as Asian ginseng is a traditional Chinese herb used in the treatment of different ailments including cognitive impairment. It is said to help improve memory in healthy individuals and in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The herb is able to positively impact memory by increasing the brain’s neurotransmitters through the action of its acids; panaxadiol and panaxatriol. One particular study concluded that the consistent intake of ginseng (for more than 5 years) will enhance cognitive function in later life of healthy adults.A couple of studies have also supported its brain-boosting properties.
- LION’S MANE MUSHROOM
These special variety of mushrooms are not just pretty to look at, but they have amazing brain-boosting benefits as well. Studies have shown that they are great memory enhancers and can promote good cognitive function.
- FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS
Fish oil supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These acids have numerous health benefits including cognitive enhancement. DHA helps to maintain the structure of the brain. The brain is made up of 25% DHA related fat and 90% of omega-3-fat containing DHA.
EPA also has anti-inflammatory actions on the brain that protects the brain against damage and age-related decline. Multiple studies have shown that the intake of DHA supplements has been associated with excellent cognitive function in healthy people and in people suffering from mild cognitive impairment issues. The consumption of fish oil which has the two essential fats have been shown to help manage age-related cognitive decline.
- MACA ROOT
It will appear that the maca root supplement may not just boost libido and increase energy levels, but it can also enhance brainpower. One study conducted in 2016 found that the root improved cognitive function in mice.
- S- ADENOSYL METHIONINE
Here is one nootropic that is useful in treating depression and depression related to cognitive decline. S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) is also another naturally occurring substance found in the body. It plays a role in the synthesis of hormones, fats, and proteins.
Research suggests that this supplement can improve the effects of some antidepressants and can help to improve brain function in people with depression. In fact, one study found that SAMe may just be as effective as some antidepressants. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that it is beneficial for people who are not suffering from depression.