Everything You Need to Know About How Nootropics Work
Have you ever struggled with a big project and a tight deadline? Imagine if you could take a pill that would help you crush that project in no time. While the myth that we don’t use our whole brain has been debunked – we don’t use it efficiently.
Nootropics optimize our brain for a particular type of task that we need to complete. With more and more emphasis on productivity and performance, nootropics are gaining popularity.
In this article, we’ll break down the basics of how nootropics work – and how you can benefit. Let’s get straight into it.
What Is a Nootropic?
Nootropics are often referred to as ‘smart drugs.’ Often a somewhat misleading title, nootropics don’t raise our IQ. But they do improve focus, memory, learning, and other cognitive factors.
Nootropics aren’t just a fad. To be classified as a nootropic, drugs must:
- Benefit the brain in a way that is clinically proven.
- Be safe for use (especially not toxic or contain harmful side effects).
- Undergo human clinical research to assess both points above.
Often, any supplement that improves brain cognition is referred to as a nootropic. However, the clinical definition requires fulfilling the above criteria.
Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea is considered the pioneer of nootropics. He accidentally invented the famous nootropic ‘piracetam’ while experimenting with sleeping medication.
He provides a narrow definition of nootropics. In his recommendation, nootropics should:
- Enhance learning and memory
- Improve brain cognition, even under stress
- Aid interactions and communication between cells
- Protect the brain cells (sometimes referred to as neuro-protective)
- Be rid of the pharmacological effects of psychotropic drugs
- All the above backed by brain bioactivity research on humans
This definition is most widely known, but not most adhered to. By this definition, only a few true nootropics exist. The term nootropic is now used to describe just about anything that helps the brain.
By this definition, there are more than 80 nootropics.
How Are Nootropics Made?
Not all nootropics are synthetic drugs. Many are extracts from plants, herbs, animals, or other compounds that occur in nature.
You’ve probably already consumed nootropics without even knowing it. The spice ‘turmeric’ is an excellent antioxidant and promotes brain cell protection. Rosemary has also been used since ancient Greece to sharpen focus.
Caffeine, while not strictly a nootropic, boosts alertness – despite being followed by a consecutive ‘crash.’ Almost all B-vitamins are neuro-enhancers. Vitamin B12 helps maintain brain size during aging. While B9 regulates an amino acid in the blood, boosting blood flow to the brain.
CBD is also rising in popularity as a nootropic. Its neuroprotective effects and aid to treat anxiety are, so far, well received. Even artichokes contain luteolin, which may help to regulate memory and cognitive performance.
What Do Nootropics Do?
Now that we laid out some definitions for what Nootropics are let’s unravel what they do.
Nootropics are neuro-enhancers. That means they boost our brain functions beyond typical capacities. For a temporary period of time, nootropics let us tune up specific cognitive attributes.
Different types of nootropics have different functions. Nootropics can boost memory through increased capability in recall, retention, storage, and learning. Your brain can download, store, and find old information faster than ever before.
Productivity can also benefit, with heightened abilities to focus. Nootropics narrow the brain’s awareness onto whatever it’s working on. It’s almost like tunnel vision for your work.
Some nootropics help with anxiety in social situations, and others can aid relaxation. Happiness and motivation are also notable benefits of certain nootropics. Not all nootropics are for productivity; some help to improve your quality of life.
Creativity often feels genetic. While some are ‘blessed’ with artistic talent, others struggle to draw a proportional circle. But nootropics can help with that too.
Certain nootropics can change your brain waves to facilitate more creative thinking. By changing brain waves to more relaxed frequencies, you can be more open to artistic thought.
Similarly, other forms of nootropics are a great help to relieve stress. When we are stressed, we tend to struggle to perform well in high stakes environments.
Nootropics can also function as a sort of pre-workout. They can increase motivation, focus, and intensity at the gym or during training.
Basics of How Nootropics Work
Different nootropics have different benefits, the same as any ‘drug.’ Although, the category of nootropics generally has a few standard functions:
- Nootropics amplify the production of brain cell energy, aiding brain fatigue and boosting focus
- Some nootropics prevent aging by neutralizing free radicals while preserving the structure
- Nootropics increase Alpha waves in the brain, to increase clarity and wakefulness
- By repairing and maintaining brain cells, nootropics supplement memory and brain health
- Nootropics optimize chemicals in the brain associated with mood, focus, memory, cognition, and motivation.
The Categories of Nootropics
Nootropics are categorized into approximately three different primary groups. Each group has different trends of function for raising or maintaining brain health.
Racetams are nootropics that affect acetylcholine in the brain. Memory, focus, and mood changes are all traits of racetams. Expected results from racetams are an increased memory, feelings of calmness, and improved recall.
The hoped change in taking racetams is that the brain can use both analytical and creative thinking simultaneously. Racetams might benefit your writing capabilities and creative output but are less likely to help with learning.
Stimulants are forms of nootropics that enhance the brain’s ability to understand ideas. Attention and alertness are heightened. Stimulants also increase blood pressure, heart rate, and energy levels. Stimulants are a lot like caffeine, but longer-lasting.
Nutraceuticals are food products that boast the same effects as both racetams and stimulants. However, as their formulas are not synthesized, nutraceuticals are not as potent.
Nutraceuticals are common supplements for mental health conditions. Especially those dealing with declining cognitive capacities like Alzheimer’s.
Some consumers choose to ‘stack’ different nootropics from all three categories. Stacking combines the benefits of multiple different nootropics.
It’s imperative to understand that nootropics cannot replace a healthy lifestyle. Abusing alcohol, drugs, or a poor diet cannot be mitigated by regularly consuming nootropics.
Equally, while nootropics can boost performance, doing the hard work is still a requirement. Nootropics enhance, they do not create.
Some nootropics have to be taken for weeks before benefits begin to show. Other’s are immediate. Make sure you experiment in moderation.
Just like drugs, nootropics, in combination, can have adverse side effects. Mixing multiple supplements at the same time also makes it difficult to determine what is working.
It is also noteworthy that some nootropics do not work in the same way for everyone. Depending on your brain chemistry, health, and genetics – nootropics can vary in effect.
Always conduct thorough research by reading scientific research or summaries of such. Ordering nootropics based on a ‘best XX nootropics’ blog list is not recommended. Remember, nootropics can have powerful physical and psychological effects.
On the other hand, many nootropics have subtle effects that build up over time. Treat nootropics as a supplementary process to your improvement.
Benefits of Nootropics
The way your brain functions creates your reality. Everything that you see, know, remember, and experience happens through your brain. Regardless of your profession or goals, nootropics can enhance some elements of them.
Nootropics have both short-term and long-term benefits. Over the short-term, nootropics can improve performance. Increased focus, better memory, reduced stress can help you accomplish tasks and meet deadlines.
Long-term consumption of nootropics promotes healthy brain structures and slow aging of the brain. For those that are prone to age-related cognitive decomposition, nootropics can help. They can be vital to maintain clarity as you age.
Your First Neuro-Enhancer?
We hope this article answered most of your questions about how nootropics work. There are many possible benefits to nootropics, but also many potential dangers.
Many nootropics are not fully tested, and combinations of nootropics are not researched. If you are going to experiment, make sure you try one at a time. Wait to see what effects it has on you, and note down how you feel each day.
If you’re happy with its benefits after a few weeks, then you may have found something that works for your brain!
Like all drugs or supplements, the placebo effect can have a strong influence on the impact of nootropics. Make sure, before you supplement, that you are getting the basics right. Get enough sleep, eat a nutritious diet, get moving, and take time to manage stress.
If you’re interested in trying your first nootropic, contact a high-quality vendor first!