Nootropics: Brain Food Supplementation
Have a hard time staying focused? Feeling overwhelmed by work? If you’re too busy to give your brain some rest, consider taking a nootropic! This type of supplement boosts cognition and memory, enhances mental focus, and increases your energy. Caffeine, l-theanine, ginseng, and racetams are just a few examples. Nootropics can be found in most health stores and boast a low side effect profile when used properly. Some are made from all natural ingredients, while others contain brain-enhancing chemicals.
What Are Nootropics?
The power of nootropics is highly prized in the scientific community. Also known as smart drugs, these supplements are used by CEOs, researchers, students, physicians, soldiers, and top business professionals. Their name is derived from the Greek words “nous” (mind) and “trepin (bend). When used in the right dosage, nootropics enhance brain function, creativity, learning abilities, and alertness.
If you watched the movie Limitless, you probably remember NZT-48, the smart drug used by the leading character to gain superpowers. Real nootropics won’t turn you into a superhuman, but they can definitely help. Statistics show that about 25 percent of UK students at top universities have taken modafinil, a popular nootropic. These supplements are neurologically active and can boost brain power within minutes.
The first nootropic was developed in 1972 by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian scientist. He created piracetam, the “father of all nootropics.” In clinical trials this powerful drug has been shown to increase the lifespan of mice under conditions of hypoxia, improve circulation, and counteract Raynaud’s disease. Piracetam is medically used in the treatment of alcoholism, chronic fatigue, deep-vein thrombosis, vascular disorders, anxiety, depression, ADD, and dyslexia. It also boosts mental alertness and improves the quality of life in stroke patients.
According to Dr. Giurgea, a substance can be classified as a nootropic if:
It enhances memory and learning ability
It stimulates the neuronal firing control mechanisms in the brain
It protects the brain from barbiturates, anticholinergic drugs, and other chemicals
It keeps the brain functioning under electroconvulsive shock and hypoxia
It causes no stimulatory or sedative effects
Even though this definition rules out caffeine and other popular nootropics, it offers general guidelines on what smart drugs should look like. Other researchers suggest that nootropics must be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and improve brain metabolism without causing changes in the EEG rhythm. Additionally, smart drugs must be safe and have little or no side effects.
How Do Nootropics Work?
According to health experts, nootropics can directly or indirectly improve cognitive function, relieve anxiety, and enhance your brain’s ability to handle stress. Their properties depend on the ingredients used. Smart drugs work by modulating neurotransmitter availability, brain oxygenation, and neuronal metabolism. They also increase the levels of nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF), Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and other neurotrophic factors that play a key role in mental function.
The use of nootropics among the general population is controversial. However, their brain-enhancing properties are backed up by science. Some people take these supplements to treat anxiety and stress-related disorders. Others use them to push their limits and reach their peak potential. In general, nootropics are stacked together to enhance their effectiveness.
For example, taking caffeine and l-theanine together helps increase mental energy and attention span. A stack consisting of alpha GPC, caffeine, l-theanine, and aniracetam can boost your motivation, mood, memory, and focus. You can use take nootropic stacks that enhance your ability to learn and retain information, provide a sense of well-being, or deepen concentration.
From amino acids and herbal remedies to complex formulas created in the lab, there are hundreds of nootropics available. Choosing one depends entirely on your needs. This handy guide provides information on the best smart drugs available, so be sure to check it out. Some nootropics are so powerful that they can alter brain structure, allowing you to achieve a degree of higher intelligence. Others increase the levels of acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters, which helps improve your mood and behavior.
What Are the Best Nootropics Out There?
Now that you know how nootropics work, let’s take a quick look at the most common ingredients and their properties:
Along with l-theanine, caffeine is the most widely researched nootropic available. This ingredient occurs naturally in coffee and tea, but it’s also available in pill form. It increases catecholamine signaling in the brain, leading to an improved mood, greater energy, and enhanced memory. It’s effective even when used in low doses. Due to its performance-enhancing properties, caffeine is popular among athletes, students, and business professionals.
This amino acid reduces stress levels and improves sleep. It’s typically used along with caffeine to increase attention and cognition. L-theanine also boosts alpha brain waves and BDNF levels in the brain, which helps relieve anxiety.
Huperzine A enhances cognition and inhibits an enzyme that affects learning ability. When used regularly, it may prevent and slow cognitive decline, boost cognitive performance, and stimulate the growth of nerve cells.
This compound is the precursor to serotonin, a brain chemical that lifts your mood and promotes well-being. As a nootropic, 5-HTP improves sleep, suppresses appetite, and makes you feel better overall.
If you’re stressed and low on energy, l-tyrosine should be on your list. This amino acid increases the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in the body, which helps fight stress and boost memory. Basically, it protects your brain from the harmful effects of stress and stimulates cognitive activation.
There are many other nootropics with proven results. Oxiracetam, piracetam, adrafinil, yerba mate, ginkgo Biloba, and modafinil have been subject to extensive research. Surprisingly, fish oil is classified as a smart drug too due to its brain-boosting properties. These compounds can be safely used on long term without causing addiction. The right nootropic stack can improve your problem-solving skills, decrease mental turnover, reverse cognitive decline, and keep your brain sharp until late in life.