When Popeye eats spinach he instantly becomes super strong in the classic cartoon Popeye the Sailor Man. What if you could do the same for your brain by popping a pill?
The concept of “smart drugs” that can, like magic, make you more intelligent when you take them has been around for a long time.
The good news is the idea is not complete fantasy. Nootropics promise everyday people like Popeye, you, and I increased cognitive ability.
We all wouldn’t mind a little mental boost to help us get through our day, but what are the true benefits of cognitive enhancers, which ones do what, and how do nootropics work? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Nootropics?
Type in the word nootropics in your word processing program and it will likely alert you that you must have misspelled the word because it isn’t in the software’s dictionary. Even so, nootropics are real and are a big trend in health and fitness circles as well as praised by professionals and students alike.
The term nootropics refers to any substance that when consumed by the body enhances brain functionality. Nootropics are often called brain drugs or cognitive enhancers because they improve mental capacity and performance.
History Of Smart Drugs
In 1972, Cornelia Guiurea a Romanian psychologist and chemist first used the word nootropic to classify molecules that targeted the brain and improved mental ability. Guiurea discovered and synthesized the compound Piracetam that he described as being a nootropic substance.
Piracetam is marketed as a treatment for Myoclonus which is the involuntary twitching of muscles. The drug found popularity among students as a way to improve focus and memory.
Cornelia Guiurea defined nootropics as substances that should enhance learning and memory, protect the brain from injury, lack the negative side effects of other psychotropic drugs, and have low toxicity. In other words, nootropics should be safe to use and have few negative side effects.
The term nootropics is a new label, but the use of nootropics to boost mental capacity and treat various mental conditions goes way back to ancient times. Ancient Indians and Chinese used herbs and plants as medicine for the mind as far back as 10,000 years ago.
Ginkgo biloba is the world’s oldest living tree species. It is also one of the oldest and most popular nootropics. Ginkgo biloba is an herbal medicine used by the ancient Chinese to improve memory.
What Nootropics Can Not Do
The human brain, how it functions, and its potential is still very much a mystery to scientists. As we learn more in the future, the science of nootropics may bring advances and benefits we don’t even know to be possible today.
Nootropics are not proven to cure brain damage or reverse the effects of brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Nootropics are limited to assisting and proactively enabling the cogitative potential you already process.
Dietary supplements, which most nootropics are classified as are largely unregulated and the FDA has warned manufacturers not to make false or exaggerated claims of the benefits of nootropics. Many nootropics have not been studied in human trails and the FDA has not approved them for specific uses.
How Do Nootropics Work?
The truth is we have a long way to go in understanding exactly how substances work on our brains. However, ongoing studies of nootropics have given us some idea of how nootropics work to improve mental performance.
Many nootropics work by increasing blood flow to the brain. The brain absorbs nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream. Blood is like fuel or energy for the brain. The more blood the better the ready supply of the nutrients the brain needs to concentrate, reason, and form memories.
Other Nootropics work on parts of the brain called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produce certain enzymes, proteins, hormones, and other biological chemicals. Increasing or decreasing the flow of these chemicals into the brain can affect mood, reaction time, and other mental functions.
Some nootropics are powerful antitoxins. They work to rid the brain of the toxins absorbed into or bodies from eating, drinking, and breathing. In this way, nootropics protect the brain from damage and help the nervous system perform at its best.
Are you ready to take you brain game and intellectual prowess to the next level? Consider “putting your money where your mouth is,” so to speak and check out this page of popular high-quality nootropics.
Brain Food and Drink
“You are what you eat,” they say. It is no myth that certain food and drinks can improve your physical and mental health. Many nootropics are extracted from plants, fruits, nuts, and herbs and therefore considered dietary supplements. Here are a few with proven cognitive enhancing abilities:
Fatty fish like salmon and trout are rich in omega-3 acids. These acids are residential in the creation of nerve cells in the brain which is a function of memory. Omega-3 has a long list of proven physical and mental benefits.
No need to feel guilty about that morning cup of coffee. Caffeine in moderate doses is good for alertness, improves mood, and sharpens concentration. Coffee also contains antioxidants that can help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Dark chocolate contains high concentrations of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is made from the seeds of the cocoa plant. Cocoa is an excellent source of antioxidants. Chocolate is also long thought to be a mood enhancer and an aphrodisiac.
Like coffee, green tea has caffeine to boost alertness. Green tea also contains L-theanine an amino acid that stimulates the neurotransmitter that produces the chemical GABA. GABA produces a calming effect by decreasing certain signals and activity in the brain responsible for anxiety, fear, and stress.
Types Of Nootropics
The main types of nootropics on the market are herbs and food extracts and synthetics. Stacks are combinations of many nootropics in one. Synthetics are drugs produced by synthesis in a lab where extracts come from natural sources.
Because the benefits of nootropics vary from one to another it stands to reason taking many of them will enhance the overall advantages. Stacking, as it is called, seeks to take advantage of many supplements at once for the most desirable effect.
Nootropics having dangerous side effects, high toxicity, or potential for dependence are often scheduled substances. Drugs such as LSD, mescaline, MDMA, psilocybin, are a few nootropics that fit this definition of too dangerous to use making them illegal in most countries.
Drugs that are used to treat personality or mood disorders also have significant risks if taken without a doctor’s guidance. Adderall and Ritalin are a couple of common strong nootropics that are illegal to use without a prescription.
Which Do What?
There are hundreds of known nootropics. Some are proven through clinical trials to be effective while others are newly discovered or not widely studied.
With so many choices deciding which nootropics to take or which to stack can be overwhelming. To help break it down a little, here are a few of the most popular nootropics on today’s market you can buy without a prescription.
Noopept is a fast-acting synthetic nootropic that is thought to improve memory by increasing production of the protein BDNF. BDNF promotes nerve growth in the brain. Unlike many brain drugs, the positive effects of noopept can be felt almost immediately.
Another synesthetic nootropic Pramiracetam is a nervous system stimulant. It is widely claimed to improve long term memory, reasoning ability, and creativity.
Creatine is a popular bodybuilding supplement because of its energy-boosting effect on the body. It has a similar energizing effect on the brain as well. Providing energy to the brain promotes concentration through long periods of mentally demanding activities.
This herbal supplement is known to improve memory, critical thought, and reduce reaction time. It takes several months of use to feel the effects of Bacopa Monnieri so don’t expect an immediate noticeable change.
Generally speaking, legal nootropics are safer than many prescription medicines and have fewer side effects. However, experts advise that before you add any supplement to your routine you should consult a physician.
Some nootropics have adverse reactions when taken with certain types of medicine or if you suffer from specific medical conditions. Everybody’s physiology is different making it impossible to predict individual experience with nootropics or any drug. Educate yourself and exercise caution.
Be The Best You Can Be
The benefits of nootropics are numerous and far reaching. Nootropics won’t see you become an intellectual superhero overnight. There is no magic pill to realizing the full potential of the mind, but nootropics may give you that mental edge that could make all the difference.
Now that you know the answer to “how do nootropics work”, take a look at other articles on the site to learn more about food and your health.