With the demands to keep up with daily life, seemingly increasing every day, many individuals are looking for something to help get them through the day. Some turn to an extra cup of coffee and others are looking for a “magic pill” to get them by.
This “magic pill” concept has come quite a ways in the last decade, once only a figure of imagination now becoming a reality – they are called nootropics.
Nootropics are thought to bring incredible cognitive enhancing abilities to its users. So much so that the nootropic market size is predicted to reach $5.32 billion by 2026.
So what are nootropics? And how can they help you become the best version of yourself? Keep reading this guide to learn more.
What are Nootropics?
The term nootropic used to specifically refer to a group of synthetic substances developed to enhance cognitive function. Dr. Corneliu Giurgia, a Roman chemist, was the first to use the term referring to his substance that he called piracetam.
Piracetam was first developed in the early 1960s when looking for a sleep solution. Dr. Guirgia was the lead scientist and realized the compound’s potential went far beyond just sleep. He realized that the chemical affected different parts of the brain and had a more practical use.
Nowadays, the term nootropics is used to describe a broader set of substances that can increase attention, focus, memory, or learning abilities. Some of the common everyday substances we consume can be considered a nootropic – including caffeine.
However, nootropics are typically grouped into four categories:
- Dietary supplements
- Natural substances
- Synthetic compounds
- And Prescriptions
Individuals from all walks of life take these nootropic supplements – the college student looking for an added boost to study for their exams, the entrepreneur looking to squeeze a few more productive hours out of the day, and even the grandparent who needs it to function correctly.
Dietary supplements are used to “supplement” the diet or add in essential cofactors that might be missing. Many of these substances are natural and typically work with the body naturally to replace vital nutrients.
Many of the B-vitamins are considered nootropics because of their brain-boosting abilities, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12. Vitamin C is also essential because, without it, your body wouldn’t be able to synthesize the B vitamins.
One of the most popular nootropic supplements is CDP choline, which also goes by the name citicoline. Choline is an essential nutrient used by and produced in the brain. You can also find it in food sources such as eggs.
Due to cholines poor absorption and small production – it is considered an essential nutrient. CDP-choline is a specific form of the nutrient found in food sources and is better absorbed in the body. Choline is typically taken along with other nootropics and is considered one of the best nootropic stacks.
A review of studies on cognitive impairment and the effects citicoline has on it concluded that the nutrient “possesses beneficial physiological actions” and “plays an important role in neuronal repair'”
Natural substances, on the other hand, are found in nature and typically work with the body synergistically to produce beneficial effects. They could include plant extracts, herbs, amino acids, or even mushrooms.
Ginkgo biloba is widely considered one of the most popular natural nootropics on the market. The Ginkgo Biloba tree is actually one of the oldest tree species in the world. Fossils have been found dating back over 200 million years. Ginko seeds were traditionally thought to open energy channels to various parts of the body, including the organs.
The so-called energy channels were opened, it turns out, through blood flow. In over 40 double-blind studies, Ginkgo Biloba has been observed to increase blood flow to the brain. Ginkgo has not only been shown to increase blood flow but also reduces the friction or resistance of the blood elements – allowing for superior blood flow.
A popular ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa Monnieri, or Brahmi, also shows promise as a natural nootropic. Several studies have witnessed the herbs’ potential powerful brain-boosting abilities. Such as a 12-week study on the effects Brahmi had on numerous cognitive functions such as
- Processing speed
- And Memory
The study showed exceptional results. Participants were assessed every four weeks, and the researchers observed suppression of certain enzyme activity that breaks down acetylcholine – an important brain chemical. The study concluded suggesting bacopa may have the potential to increase cognitive function.
Synthetic compounds, such as the “original” nootropic piracetam, are sold over the counter and, in some other countries, require a prescription. These types of compounds are developed to influence neurotransmitters.
Tianeptine is a powerful mood-booster that is sold in other countries, such as France, as an antidepressant. With its potent effects on wellbeing, tianeptine helps its users achieve mental clarity and stability.
Another popular nootropic goes by the name noopept and is very similar to piracetam with one exception – it’s much more potent. When taken in small doses, nootpept provides a neuroprotective effect that gives users a boost in cognitive functions.
In a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science, researchers concluded that noopept does indeed have neuroprotective properties and can also protect cells from oxidative damage.
Individuals will turn to prescription drugs for a number of reasons – ADHD, Alzheimer’s, loss of cognitive abilities.
ADHD medication such as Adderall and Ritalin are classified as central nervous stimulants. They help increase the user’s attention span, control erratic behavior, and stay focused. Some users experience side effects from using these drugs, such as insomnia, upset stomach, loss of appetite, and elevated heart rate.
Another prescription drug called modafinil is prescribed to users who have narcolepsy or other sleep disorders. The drug is used to promote wakefulness – other studies have shown how it can also help memory and learning.
For More Information on Nootropics
What are nootropics? The question many are wondering. Nootropics are emerging as the next wave of “smart pills,” giving users capabilities beyond everyday life. Some are natural solutions that work holistically, and others have been developed for specific conditions.
For more information on nootropics and other health advice, check out the rest of our blog!