Nootropics are substances that improve people’s cognitive abilities. A Nootropkium can help us to increase or improve our performance in Concentration, memory, mood, motivation, etc.
Nootropics are also known by the following terms:
- Smart Drugs,
- Neuro Enhancers,
- Neurotropic, and
They act or release their effect by:
- changing the transmission of messenger substances (neurotransmitters).
- forming nerve cells from certain stem cells, and
- generally speaking, nootropics results in positive changes in the brain.
For many hundreds of years, mind-expanding substances have been used in Chinese and Ayurveda healing, but the term “nootropic” was developed in 1972 by the Romanian scientist Dr. Corneliu Giurgea.
Most nootropics often have other benefits, such as better motivation, better wakefulness, reduced anxiety, calming effect, increased self-confidence, improved quality of sleep, and decreased symptoms of depression.
However, it is not because a molecule has nootropic properties, that it must be consumed every time. Take the example of nicotine: it has nootropic properties, but everyone knows that it is a poison for the body (as it is consumed in tobacco) and it is all but recommended to consume.
Dr. Corneliu E. Girguea, who is the inventor of Piracetam (the molecule considered to be the first nootropic to be discovered) has established certain standards that a compound should respect to be considered nootropic:
- The molecule must facilitate learning and improve memory;
- it should help the brain to function even when it is in conditions that disrupt its functioning, such as hypoxia (low oxygen levels);
- the compound protects the brain from physical or chemical damage, such as side effects while using certain drugs or drugs;
- it improves the efficiency of information transmission mechanisms across neurons in the cortical and subcortical regions of the brain;
- it must have very few, if any, side effects, and not be toxic, as well as have no stimulant or sedative effects in general
We are finally starting to apply complex systems science to psycho-neuro-pharmacology and a nootropic advance. The neural system is complex and old-school science has a really hard time with complexity.
Companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to separate the effects of just a single molecule from placebo, and nootropics customarily show up as “stacks” of many different ingredients.
That kind of complex, multi-pathway input requires a different methodology to understand well that goes on the background before the ingredients are put in capsules.
But, thanks to the efforts of a number of remarkable scientists and researchers, we are beginning to put together a “whole systems” model of how all the different parts of the human brain work together and how they interconnect with the complex regulatory structures of the body.
How did they Work?
Nootropics work by modulating neuronal metabolism, brain oxygenation, the availability of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine or serotonin), by increasing the secretion of neurotrophic factors or molecules that enhance brain plasticity (a process responsible for learning), as well as affecting various other cellular mechanisms.
They work by protecting the neurons in the brain from damage and strengthening neuroplasticity (the response to sensory information). That means there will be improvements to your attention span, memory, learning capacity, and overall cognitive health.
But the reality is that science is still foggy on Nootropics, but it has been proven effective among people who suffer from cognitive deficits, including Alzheimer’s disease. However, whether they provide brain-boosting effects to the average, healthy guy is still unclear.
The mechanism of action obviously depends on the nootropic used, and as for their duration of action, it also depends on the nootropic consumed. It can vary from a few hours to more than a dozen, in general.
The same goes for the time needed for them to take effect after being ingested, although some take several weeks to accumulate in the body, before showing their full potential.
While supplement companies often have an impressive list of references for their products, those references are usually studies of the individual ingredients or of the product, that is usually performed on rats, not human.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Certain nootropics may slow your heart rate and cause diarrhea, and in some cases, long-term use could cause the benefits of the drugs to backfire and instead lead to reduced functioning, irritability, insomnia, and anxiety.
Types of Nootropics
Nootropics are categorized in groups or classes, and there are many that may help you improve different thinking skills, enhance intelligence, memory or mood.
Piracetam was the first Nootropic ever created more than 50 years ago and some have just come out within the last few years, but the best way to choose which Nootropic will suit your needs is determining what result you would like to achieve and matching a Nootropic within these categories that address it.
The Nootropic types include Racetams, Cholines, Natural Nootropics, Vitamin B derivatives, Peptides Ampakines, and Smart Drugs, and the benefits and effects of each Nootropic are unique. In some cases, they can be taken in combination in Nootropic stacks (combined with other supplements) in different categories.
Depending on the results you wish to seek, you will need to know which groups of nootropics do what, and there is some overlap between nootropics from different groups. But they most certainly offer their own unique properties benefits and in some cases side-effects.
Here is a list of the Nootropic categories that may help you choose which group of Nootropics may work best for you.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.