New to Nootropics? Here’s What You Need to Know
Is your health and wellness journey solely centered on optimizing your physical well-being? Have you ever stopped to consider the impact that eating well and exercising could have on your cognitive health?
You already know that consuming superfoods and working out outdoors can lower your stress levels and improve your mood. Yet, what if there were a supplement you could take that would boost your brainpower even more?
Categorized as supplements designed to enhance your cognitive skills, these substances can help boost your memory retention, enhance mental clarity, and give your brain the energy it needs to power through the day.
Interested in learning more? Today, we’re sharing a beginner’s guide to nootropics. Let’s dive into the details you need to know.
What Are Nootropics?
Before we explain how they work or what they do, let’s answer a very basic question: What exactly are nootropics?
In short, this is any type of supplement or substance that you can ingest to improve your mental function. Even the healthiest of us can admit to entering into a “brain fog” every now and then, where it’s difficult to focus or make quick decisions.
If you feel this way on a regular basis, nootropics can help deliver powerful nutrients straight to your brain, helping you retain and recall information, think more clearly and perform complex mental tasks with ease.
In fact, the very name “nootropic” tells you what it does. This unique word actually comes from two separate Greek words: nous and tropein. The former means “mind” while the latter means “bend or turn”. In other words, nootropics help your brain churn more easily!
When nootropics first arrived on the health scene, the term was reserved specifically for synthetic substances that claimed to enhance mental capabilities. Now, however, it has expanded to include other nutrients and botantcals, including those available in dietary supplements.
The History of Nootropics
Thousands of years ago, people were already using plants, such as Ginko trees, to help influence and improve their cognitive abilities. The oldest living trees in the world, Ginkos have supposedly been around since the dinosaurs. The active ingredients in its leaves are known to improve blood flow rate and sharpen memory and retention.
Yet, this herb isn’t the only substance of its kind. How did we begin to call such supplements “nootropics” and when did it begin?
It might be the latest buzzword today, but use of the word “nootropics” dates all the way back to the mid-to-late 1960s.
In that time, it’s told that a Romanian chemist, Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, was attempting to develop a sleeping pill in his lab. Instead, he created a different substance: an early nootropic called piracetam.
To help control and categorize this new finding, Dr. Giurgea outlined a few parameters that distinguished nootropics from other substances on the market. He explained that to be labeled a nootropic, the substance must act as a:
- Memory enhancer
- Behavior modifier
- Brain protector
- Brain enhancer (cortical/subcortical controls)
He also explained that any supplement in this category should have a low toxicity, as well as minimal side effects.
In 1983, psychopharmacologists at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Biomedical Problems developed a phenylated analog of piracetam, known as phenylpiracetam. It was designed to help Soviet Cosmonauts manage the stressors of working in space.
Today, you can also purchase the same Phenylpiracetam Powder for yourself!
Can I Use Nootropics?
Until recently, you may have associated brain-boosting supplements with the over-the-counter herbal substances you’ve seen on television. Senior members of your family may have also raved about their benefits.
Yet, the emerging popularity of nootropics has revealed their universal appeal.
Whether you’re powering through an all-nighter before a big exam, trying to deliver a sharp presentation at work, or simply looking to improve your mental aptitude, there’s a nootropic that can help.
Common Types of Nootropics
While Dr. Giurgea developed a fairly strict definition for what does and does not constitute a nootropic, most health experts today take a broader perspective. Now, any supplement that supports mental function in any way can be considered a nootropic.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones you can find.
Adaptogens and Botanical Extracts
These are the plant-based substances traditionally linked with cognitive enhancement. The aforementioned Ginko biloba falls into this category, as does Panax ginseng, Bacopa monnieri, and others. There are also many different species of mushrooms that are included in this category, such as Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
The active compounds in these plants can deliver proven and powerful health benefits. For instance, ginseng can help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. It can also boost your memory, mood and behavior.
If you struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you may already know about another class of nootropics: prescription medications.
These are doctor-prescribed substances designed to help improve focus, attention and behavioral control. While they can be effective when controlled, it’s important to note that the use of these medications must be carefully monitored by a physician. Not only are they susceptible to abuse, but they can have adverse side effects when taken in too-high doses.
Now, it’s easier and more common than ever before to find nootropics as dietary ingredients. Blending seamlessly into a smoothie or edible, these are usually sold as powders. Common ones include creatine and L-theanine.
Research shows that creatine alone offers excellent benefits for both your body and your brain.
Not only can it help prevent and ward off neurological diseases, but it can also help you think more clearly. This is because your body stores phosphocreatine in your main organs, including your brain. Greater stores of this substance can help it function at top capacity, especially as you age.
You can take dietary supplements on their own, or combine multiple ones into a stack.
Not only do these feature a low side-effect profile, but they also pose a lower risk of dependency and withdrawal symptoms. For these reasons, combining multiple ones is generally considered safe. You can find and create stacks that focus on a specific aspect of cognitive function, such as memory or focus.
Racetams are another category of cognitive enhancers.
These are the supplements that Dr. Giurgea first created in his laboratory, decades ago. Recognized as artificial “smart substances”, all racetams share a common pyrrolidone nucleus.
This chemical backbone may unite them, but not all racetams are created the same. In fact, since the emergence of piracetam in the 1960s, there have been more than 20 different derivatives synthesized.
Although each one is slightly different than the next, all racetams boast similar functions. These chemicals are designed to boost and strengthen the amount of oxygen, nutrients and glucose that travels through your blood. When the brain has a more steady and adequate supply of these nutrients, it can perform at peak capacity.
As a result, you’ll find that you can focus better, and for a longer period of time. in addition, your focus and concentration will likewise improve. Over time, racetams can also help reduce the amount of brain cells lost to natural degeneration, allowing you to stay mentally sharp even as you get older.
Other common nootropic agents that belong to the racetam family include Coluracetam and Pramiracetam. You can find both of these in a powdered form, including Coluracetam Powder Nootropic.
Understanding Nootropic Effects
Most healthy people can enjoy some form of mental benefits from consuming nootropics. However, your reaction will hinge on a few different factors, including:
- The exact substance you ingest
- The amount you ingest
- Your physical makeup
Then, there’s the fact that some nootropics require daily consumption to deliver the short-term stamina you need.
This is the case with caffeine supplements, which many people take each morning for energy and brainpower. On the other hand, other nootropics, such as bacopa (water hyssop), may not deliver the immediate effects you expect. Instead, these become more powerful and beneficial with long-term use.
To help understand what you can expect when taking a nootropic, it helps to examine the findings from one recent study. In this study, researchers analyzed the effects of two different botanical nootropics: ginseng and bacopa. They wanted to compare those effects to those of another nootropic: a chemical, prescription-based supplement, modafinil (used to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders).
To characterize the output of each substance, they used a method known as Cohen’s D. This is a scale used to indicate standardized differences between various means. Its outputs fall between 0 and 1 as follows:
- 0: No effect
- .2: Small effect
- .5: Medium effect
- .8: Large effect
Analyzing the use of each supplement by following several human studies, the researchers found that modafinil had an effect of 0.77 for visuospatial memory accuracy. At the same time, ginseng ranked at 0.86 for improving simple reaction times and bacopa came in at 0.95 for assisting delayed word recall.
This reveals that both ginseng and bacopa may have large effects when taken as nootropic supplements. Modafinil had an effect that was very close to large but was still within the medium range. Yet, keep in mind that each is designed to support a specific brain function, and cannot be interchanged to improve the same shortcomings.
How to Find and Buy Nootropics
Since the first emerged in the market, it’s become even easier to find the nootropics you want to try. Today, these supplements are available in a few different forms, including:
- Capsules and caplets
In addition, natural nootropics are also available in many foods. If you want optimal control over your dosage, along with an economical price point, powders are often the preferred way to go. This is especially the case with dietary supplements like creatine, which require specific doses, often measured in grams.
To make the shopping experience as easy as possible, you can even purchase nootropics online from the comfort of your home! This is a discreet and convenient way to get the supplements you need.
If you go this route, it’s important to do your due diligence, first. Only shop from solid, reputable brand names that you can trust to make sure your product is pure. You can also reach out to the manufacturer or distributor to learn more about the quality assurance processes they follow in their production.
In many cases, you can even download a Certificate of Analysis for the product, which includes several important details that can verify its legitimacy. These include:
- The quality of the nootropic
- The potency of the nootropic
- The toxicity level of the nootropic
Most of the time, you can bring up a Certificate of Analysis by scanning the QR code located on your supplement bottle.
What Is the Ideal Dosage?
There is not a one-size-fits-all dosage for nootropics. It’s always best to start with the lowest dose possible and work your way up from there. This way, you can understand how your system tolerates the supplement and what your comfort level is.
While many nootropics will include dosing guidelines on their labels, these are not the only guidelines to consider. Instead, do your research and understand the perceived effects of each one. In addition to clinical trials, you can also look at user reviews and testimonials to gauge what kind of reaction you can expect.
Find the Nootropics You Need Today
The world of nootropics has been around in some form for thousands of years. Whether you’re looking to nature or synthetic substances to help improve your cognitive abilities, it’s smart to take advantage of the resources at your disposal.
These supplements can help boost your mood, improve your memory and help you stay focused and concentrated throughout the day. As we get older, these natural abilities tend to decline, making the right nootropic that much more beneficial.
Wondering if these substances can make you more creative and artistic? We’ve got the answers you need!