Nootropics Guide

nootropicNootropics – “drugs that make you smart” —  have been garnering a lot of media over the past couple of years as usage increases and becomes more prevalent among all walks of life.

As is the case with many cutting edge drugs that are designed to significantly improve your life, there are a lot of questions surrounding nootropics – and a lot of misinformation.

For instance, not all nootropics are drugs.

This is a complete guide to nootropics – what they are, where they came from, and how they work, and which one is best.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are referred to by many names – smart drugs, neurological enhancers, cognitive boosters, among them – but they’re known chiefly as supplements or foods that you ingest in order to improve mental function. In other words, they are products designed to make you smarter.

Nootropics can come in a variety of forms, from pharmaceuticals like adderrall, to supplements like Nootrobrain, or even foods and traditional herbs like Ginkgo and Ginseng.

The man who coined the term nootropic, Romanian chemist Corneliu E. Giurgea, laid 5 characteristics out that define nootropic substances. He said they should:

– Enhance learning and memory

– Enhance the resitance of learned behaviors/memories to conidtions which tend to disrupt them

– They should protect the brain against physical or chemical injury

– They should increase the efficacy of cortical/subcorticol control mechanisms

– They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic substances and possess few side effects and extremely low toxicity.

Although the definition of nootropichas changed quite a bit, in general, a nootropic is any non-pharmaceutical substance that is supposed to improve any of these brain functions: cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention and concentration.

The History of Nootropics

The history of nootropics is quite a long one indeed, although the recent medical obsession with the term is certainly a modern advancement.

There’s evidence that usage of nootropics like Ginseng and Gingko reaches back thousands of years amongst Asian and South American cultures like the Chinese and Mayans.

The first modern nootropic is Piracetam, a synthetic molecule first synthesized by Dr. Giurgea. Since then, there has been a slow increase in the number and validity of nootropics, with a huge surge in the interest and production of nootropics growing in the last few years.

This surge in demand is due to a number of factors, largely caused by the prevalence of the Internet: increasing knowledge of nootropics and how they work, compression of free time and the unstoppable onslaught of information processing that the mind is required to do every day, both in a career environment and in a leisure environment.

As such, the demand for nootropics has grown, as the desire for a smarter, enhanced brain to filter information more efficiently has become a need for many people. A super charged brain is a powerful tool in a world that requires the loads of critical thinking and analysis that today’s world involves.

How Do Nootropics Work?

How nootropics work depend on the exact compound that you’re ingesting, but the main mechanisms that nootropics use to improve your cognitive function are these:

–          Increase metabolism

–          Improve cerebral oxygenation

–          Multiply the number of neurotransmitters in the brain

–          Heighten bloodflow to and in the brain

–          Promote the health and maintenance of neurons in the brain

Types of Nootropics

 As of right now, there’s a few main kinds of nootropics.

Dopaminergics/Stimulants – The most common of the current crop of Nootropics, dopaminergics work by affecting the dopamine synthesis in the brain. There appears to be a positive relationship between increased dopamine levels and working memory, and that’s what dopaminergics affect.

By raising the levels of dopamine in your brain, this increases your working memory, allowing you to remember things more clearly and efficiently.

Although all the effects of dopamine production on mental processes aren’t fully understood, there’s evidence that dopaminergics can improve concentration levels and focus, allowing for more “executive functions”(essentially higher level thinking).

These stimulants, as with any stimulant, can have negative addictive effects. They can also cause anxiety and jitteriness, as anyone who has drank too much coffee can identify with.

However, not all dopaminergics, such as N-acetyle L-tyrosine, are stimulants, so they are often chosen over stimulants as they can produce the positive effects of stimulants without the negative side effects.

Some popular dopaminergics:

–          Modafinil

–          Ritalin, Concerta

–          Caffeine

–          Adderall

–          N-acetyle L-tyrosine.

That’s right. Caffeine has nootropic affects. So if you are already a coffee or tea drinker, you’re already taking a nootropic.

Racetams – As noted earlier, Racetams were the first nootropics to be synthesized in a lab. Racetams have been shown as cognitive enhancers, improving concentration, memory, enhanced mood and overall thought process increases.

Though they’re not fully understood, the evidence points to a few different mechanisms of action, such as improvement of central neurotransmitter function, and increased fluid flow between the brain membrane and the brain fluid. They’ve also been shown to inhibit the absorption of acetylcholinesterase, which can cause forgetfulness and mental opacity.

The downside of racetams is that they are still largely unknown. Though they may boost mental function, there’s still a lot of studying to be done to completely quantify what the potential harms could be when taking racetams.

Some popular racetams include:

–          Aniracetam

–          Piracetam

–          Oxiracetam

Herbal/Natural Remedies – Probably the most safe of the nootropic categories, herbal and natural remedies have been around for ages. Many herbal remedies have been shown to address the whole suite of mental deficiencies, improving memory, cognitive function, attention, focus and executive functions.

There’s a wide array of different mechanisms of action that herbal remedies operate through. The main pathways that they take are: increased blood flow to the brain, inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, increasing the number of neurotransmitters in the brain, stress reduction and anxiety and dopamine delivery.

Some of the most popular natural remedies are:

–          Bacopa Monnieri Extract

–          Huperzine A Extract

–          Resveratrol and Trans-Resveratrol Extract

–          Vinpocetine Extract

–          Phosphatidylserine Extract

The State of the Nootropic Industry

One of the most interesting things about nootropics is that there is no catch-all product that will work best for everyone. Since nootropics is still a novel field of study, there’s a large amount of information that needs to be obtained before there’s a specific, best nootropic.

Furthermore, nootropics interact with everyone’s biology differently, so there’s no perfect cure for everyone’s neurological health.

That’s the problem with the current nootropic industry – the majority of them only offer one or two specific nootropics. For instance, one product might just offer a racetam, while another might just be a Huperzine A supplement.

The problem with that is that those nootropics might not be effective for each person. Even worse, with the lack of solid information on the side effects of some nootropics, there’s the possibility of harm to those experimenting with them.

The solution to this problem is to offer a blend of proven nootropics. By offering a combination of nootropic ingredients, it not only offers a greater chance that the nootropic will be effective, but it also decreases the possibility of side effects that come with concentrated doses of a single nootropic.

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Categories: Supplements
Tags: nootropics