Nootropics can help you improve your memory, mood, focus, and learning abilities. What makes nootropics so beautiful and unique is that they are largely derived from natural ingredients and come in an extensive range of types.
Each group of nootropic is unique, yielding its own set of benefits and method of action. Some affect mood, while others increase cognitive functioning, and due to the variety of benefits, many users will stack supplements to achieve the best results.
In general, nootropics are broken down into the following seven categories of compounds: Racetams, Natural Nootropics, Choline, Ampakines, Vitamin B Derivatives, Peptides and “Smart Drugs”.
This group is the most common and tends to be the most popular of Nootropics. The drugs within this group share a similar structure, and the most common and oldest racetam is Piracetam (the first discovered nootropic), having a long history.
Piracetam, along with others in this group, like Pramiracetam, Oxiracetam, and Aniracetam, all are composed of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen. The Russian-developed Noopept is similar in potency to pramiracetam.
Racetams are known to improve memory, focus, mood, learning abilities, and improve energy levels. Most of the drugs work with the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, while others improve the re-uptake of glutamate. Acetylcholine is central, as it aids in the signals sent across synapses.
Racetams are also known to be neuroprotective, as they can increase the rate of cell regrowth, as well as decrease the rate of deterioration.
Racetams are used for medical purposes in different countries and have a long history as a cognition-enhancing agent used to treat impaired intellectual function in Europe.
Most racetams are not approved in the United States for medical use, with the exception of levetiracetam (brand name Keppra), that has received the honor. Levetiracetam is an anticonvulsant used to control epileptic seizures.
A 2004 report by the National Institute of Health reveals that levetiracetam has proven to be well tolerated and safe, with the most common side effects being dizziness, asthenia, and sleepiness, which typically appear at the onset of levetiracetam treatment. These effects usually disappear without medication withdrawal.
Choline Nootropics or Cholinergic
(Lecithin, choline, DMAE, alpha-GPC, CDP choline, galantamine, donepezil and huperzine A)
Cholinergic is a precursor to acetylcholine, which is one of the most important neurotransmitters for memory function.
The body naturally produces acetylcholine, but it’s often not enough, and this is where cholinergic supplements come in.
Choline is a water-soluble nutrient that is essential for brain function and health and is naturally found in our bodies. Unfortunately, most people are deficient. As said earlier, it is a precursor to acetylcholine, which is one of the most common methods of action regarding nootropics.
Choline supplements have the ability to positively affect cognition, as they have shown positive results regarding both memory and learning. Although they are beneficial on their own, they are often taken with other nootropics, to enhance function ability.
Cholinergic block acetylcholinesterase, which is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine and decreases the level and duration of action of the acetylcholine neurotransmitter.
Specific types of cholinergic – such as galantamine, huperzine A and donepezil – inhibit acetylcholinesterase while replenishing acetylcholine levels, and choline supplements are generally stacked with racetams, as they provide the best results together.
Without choline, acetylcholine will not be synthesized, and since racetams stimulate acetylcholine receptor sites, its vital that there’s enough acetylcholine available.
There are various choline nootropics, such as Citicoline, Centrophenoxine, and Alpha GPC, and choosing the right choline nootropic depends on what is right for you. Alpha GPC tends to be fairly potent, as it has yielded many positive results, including increased memory and learning in Alzheimer’s patients. Citicoline is also efficient. It tends to increase dopamine levels.
Vitamin B Derivatives
This is a fairly limited, but important group. Vitamin B Derivatives nootropics have been derived from B Vitamins, mimicking beneficial effects. Sulbutiamine is a derivative of Thiamine which is Vitamin B1 and falls into this category.
It is commonly used to treated low energy levels and fatigue while making users more ready to act.
Sulbutiamine is also known for improving memory, as it affects choline, glutamate, and dopamine. It has been used to help treat degenerative cognitive disorders.
There a number of peptide nootropics on the market, but the most common is Noopept, which is actually closely related to the racetam family. It is, however, said to be 1000 times more potent than Piracetam, as it is extremely effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier, with a high bioavailability.
Noopept has an effect on both glutamate and acetylcholine and is known to improve learning capabilities, memory, motivation, brain energy, and alertness.
Ampakines are newer in comparison to other nootropics but are known to be some of the strongest. They have a direct effect on glutamate receptors, increasing levels of glutamate, which is crucial regarding learning and memory, as it plays a role in synaptic plasticity.
Ampakines are known to be powerful AMPA and NDMA Glutamate receptor agonists. This means that they increase levels of glutamate in the blood.
These supplements are known to yield positive effects, without the side-effects associated with other substances (as found in caffeine).
There is a slight overlap of ampakines with some racetams, as they can stimulate glutamate receptors. However, the stimulation achieved through the use of ampakines is greater.
These supplements are nootropics that are plant-based. They are natural or herbal in nature and yields natural benefits. They have been shown to increase brain health as well as its ability to function.
Herbal or Natural Nootropic is any type of plant-based or plant-derived substances that have been shown to improve brain health and ability.
Being natural, these supplements are obviously highly safe but tend to be less effective than synthetic nootropics.
Some of the natural nootropics are; Valorcine, Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa Monneri, etc…
Ginkgo Biloba, for instance, is used as a memory and concentration enhancer, and also being used in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Nootropics are generally called ‘smart drugs’ and smart drugs are often mistaken for nootropics, but the truth is that smart drugs are not entirely considered nootropics. Some of these supplements are just stimulants, and not technically nootropics.
However, there are some supplements that are considered nootropics, yielding similar benefits. Modafinil is in this group and is used to treat chronic fatigue.
Modafinil is regulated and is thought to increase the neurotransmitter hypocretin, which boosts levels of energy and motivation. An alternative to Modafinil is Adrafinil. This is generally used in a stack, with other nootropics, and once it is consumed, it tends to turn into Modafinil within the body.
It is commonly used by students to increase wakefulness while studying and has also been used to promote concentration in individuals with ADHD.
However, there are more side-effects associated with these smart drugs. Adrafinil, for example, is not recommended for those that are taking other medications or have heart complications.
Like all substances that are ingested into the body, speak with your doctor about any concerns or questions, before using any of the nootropics.