“Man is not going to wait passively for millions of years before evolution offers him a better brain.” These words were stated by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the Romanian psychologist/chemist who coined the term Nootropic.
Nootropics are a non-prescribed compound that enhances the cognitive ability of the brain with few to no side effects. It stacks natural/synthetic compounds, herbs, vitamins or other supplements together to leverage synergistic effects. The goal of Nootropics is to allow one to have consistent cognitive effort and flow, increase concentration, improve memory and learning, faster speed of processing, and make one’s brain healthier.
According to Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the following characteristics should …
1. Possess few or no side effects, be nearly non-toxic, and not have the pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs, such as motor stimulation and sedation.
2. Protect the brain against physical and chemical injuries, such as scopolamine, barbiturates, and anticholinergic drugs.
3. Aid the brain function under disruptive conditions, such as electroconvulsive shock and hypoxia (low oxygen).
4. Enhance memory and the ability to learn.
5. Increase the efficacy of neuronal firing control mechanisms in cortical and sub-cortical regions of the brain.
… to be considered a Nootropic.
Two General Types of Nootropics and Benefits
There are two different types of Nootropic: natural/herbal Nootropic (such as Ginkgo Biloba and American Ginseng), and synthetic Nootropic (a compound created in the lab, such as Piracetam).
Natural Nootropics are proven to make the brain healthier and improve the brain function. It acts as a vasodilator (initiates dilation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure) next to the small arteries and veins in the brain. This increases the blood circulation to the brain, which allows important nutrient and oxygen to flow to the brain. Therefore, the greater the supply of nutrient, oxygen, and glucose, the greater amount of energy with the brain generate. The energy is constantly used by the neuron cells to maintain the repair of the cell compartments which is crucial for neurotransmitter purposes. Natural Nootropics reduces the inflammation occurrence in the brain during the neuron maintenance process. Natural Nootropics also protects the brain from toxins, minimizes the effects of brain aging, and contributes to the stimulation of new neuron cells. With new neuron cells the brain activity increases which enhances memory and thinking abilities, thus increasing neuroplasticity.
Other than providing the mental functions including motivation, concentration, memory, and attention, Nootropic also treats mental conditions or pathology directly.
Synthetic Nootropic impacts the performance of the brain through a number of mechanisms and pathways. The mechanisms are within the structural connectivity of the brain, fortification of brain regions, and the optimization of blood flow and oxygenation; and the main pathways include dopaminergic and cholinergic system. Once the Synthetic Nootropic is in the system, pro-metabolism and neuroprotective effects the cells which positively impact the cell membranes. This keeps the fluidity of the membrane healthy which promote the cells ability to communicate. Researchers reported the influence of Synthetic Nootropics aiding the process of treating memory disorders, such as Huntington’s diseases, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Since the memory disorders impair the same pathways of the Nootropics, researchers establish Nootropic to be designed effectively and sensitively towards the pathways.
Difference between Nootropics and Smart Drugs
All Nootropics are cognitive enhancers, but not all cognitive enhancers are Nootropics. For example, Adderall is a cognitive enhancer but it is not a Nootropic. This is because Adderall is a smart drug.
Smart drugs are generally prescribed medication/off-label drug used to treat some kind of cognitive or mental disorder, have side effects, and are unsuitable for long-term use. The two most common smart drugs in the stimulant class are Adderall (dextroamphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate). Although both promotes energy and focus by producing spikes in dopamine and norepinephrine, one can also have dramatic side effects to the brain and body. These spikes can lead to tolerance and dependence formation. Other side effects include mood swings, unfavourable effects on appetite, sleep issues, anxiety, and other unwanted effects (particularly on teens and young adults).
If it gets you high, wired, sedate, or altered it is a smart drug and not a Nootropic. This is because Nootropic does not seem to have adverse body side effects, impaired brain function, neurotransmitter depletion, or tolerance/habit-forming potential. Nootropic is/should be sustainable and focuses on mild metabolic and nutritive for long term gains and protection.
Specific Types of Nootropics
Citicoline and Vinpocetine – Are supplements that are extracted/synthesized from natural plant compounds
Gingko and Ginseng – A traditional herbal remedy used to improve memory
L-Theanine – Is commonly found in green tea that allows one to go into a state of relaxed concentration
Taurine – An amino acid found in energy drinks and creatine, a supplement commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D – Are natural vitamins
Racetam – Is one of the most common group of Synthetic Nootropics that increases the levels of acetylcholine (the neurotransmitter correlated with learning and memory). This includes Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Aniracetam, and Onixracetam.
Who Takes Nootropics
Students – Nootropics allow students to study effectively and efficiently by providing them with concentration and the ability to stay awake
Entrepreneurs – Entrepreneurs need energy, focus, and a good memory to complete an important task and meet the demands of the customer. Nootropics provide them with the extra support that coffee just can’t do.
Seniors – Using Nootropics allows the elders to gain or keep their mental edge by keeping the fluidity of the membrane healthy.
Electronic game players – Gamers take Nootropic to sharpen their skills and concentration.
Anyone – Whoever wants to have consistent cognitive effort and flow, increase concentration, improve memory and learning, faster speed of processing, and cares about the health of his/her brain.
Nootropics is a great option if one want to enhance their mental performance, but it is very important to purchase supplement cautiously. The memory and brain supplements is a large industry with no regulation of the term “Nootropic”. Therefore, one must show diligence, read beyond the label, and choose carefully between Nootropics and smart drugs. There are still many Synthetic Nootropics that have limited studies done in humans, hence caution should be applied to a large agree when supplementing with some Nootropics. In short, Natural Nootropics are safe to consume and it improves the overall health of the brain.
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