What are nootropics?
Fytocina Blog

What are nootropics?

by Valentina Quintana at May 18, 2023

Let's face it. At some point in our lives, we've all had thoughts of how phenomenal it would be to be among the smartest people on earth: to learn the most things in the shortest amount of time, to be so smart that it puts you at the top at work or school. This doesn't have to remain a dream; it can be real. With Nootropics, you can turn these dreams into reality by learning to harness the full potential and power of your brain.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about this life-changing substance: Nootropics, what they are, how they work and their effectiveness. You will learn how to maximize this substance to improve your creativity, alertness, cognition, memory and recall.

What are nootropics?

The term Nootropics derives from two Greek words,"nous" meaning "the mind" and"tropein" meaning "to bend". This term was coined by C.E. Giurgea, a renowned chemist and psychologist, in the late 1990s. According to him, nootropics have the following characteristics:
  • Improve memory and learning capacity;
  • They help brain function, even under disturbing conditions;
  • They protect the brain from chemical and physical toxins;
  • Natural cognitive processes are enhanced;
  • Safety: Nootropics have extremely low toxicity and are safe for humans.
Nootropics, also known as brain enhancers, are a class of substances that improve brain functions such as motivation, concentration, memory and attention.
They can be grouped into two different types:
  1. Natural and herbal nootropics;
  2. Synthetic nootropics.
Natural nootropics are usually obtained in the form of herbal extracts or food supplements. They have been shown to enhance brain function while making the brain healthier. Being of natural origin, they are not usually associated with side effects or addiction. Some examples are Rhodiola, Ginkgo biloba, Panax quinquefolium, etc.
Synthetic nootropics are compounds created in the laboratory to enhance mental functions. They are often referred to as smart drugs. Examples include Modafinil, Piracetam, Adrafinil, Racetams, etc. These drugs were created to help with illnesses such as ADHD, insomnia, Parkinson's, etc. However, healthy humans take advantage of them to help boost their cognitive functions. While these compounds are very effective, they are often associated with side effects and possible long-term consequences. Therefore, most require a valid prescription to obtain them.
Nootropics offer a wide range of benefits. And people who don't know how they work question their efficacy. Understanding the human brain and the effect of nootropics on it ensures their efficacy. Researchers have proposed that nootropics act through multiple brain pathways that will be discussed in detail in this article.

The Brain and its Complexity

The brain is the most complex structure in the human body, with about 86 billion neurons. It consists of three parts: the cerebellum, the cerebrum and the brainstem, with the cerebral cortex accounting for about 80% of its total structure. It accounts for about 3% of the body's weight and receives about 15% of the body's blood and 20% of the total oxygen supply. Neurons communicate with each other by means of neurotransmitters, forming a circuit to share information.
Science, with all its advances and research, has not been able to fully understand how the brain works. The uniqueness in size and complexity of the human brain endows it with sophisticated cognitive capabilities. Therefore, while the mechanisms of action of some nootropics have been linked to various pathways in the brain, which we will consider, others remain a mystery.
Let's take a quick look at the different pathways and the effect of nootropics on them:

Brain Energy

The brain, although small, has numerous functions and consumes an exceptional amount of energy. In fact, it is the most energy-consuming organ in the body and burns about 20% of the body's total energy reserve. The main source of energy used by brain cells is ATP, adenosine triphosphate, obtained through glucose metabolism. This ATP is mainly used for 2 functions:

Management of the Agency

The brain controls all the processes that regulate our body, such as temperature, touch, thought, memory, vision, emotions, respiration, motor skills, hunger, etc. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, calculating and regulating a series of neurochemical signals, processing and receiving reactions through the body's neural network.

Brain Maintenance

Neurons are constantly being injured and dying, so they need a great deal of energy to repair, regenerate and grow.
Nootropics that increase brain ATP supply include Rhodiola Rosea, vitamin B1 (thiamine), ginseng, cordyceps mushrooms and sulbutiamine. These nootropics increase brain energy by:
  • They improve mitochondrial function and efficiency;
  • They increase cerebral circulation and the uptake of nutrients and oxygen necessary for energy generation.
Nootropics increase brain energy, preventing mental fatigue and brain fog, which are manifestations of deficient brain energy.

Brain Chemicals

Brain cells transmit impulses to each other through chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals act as messengers that carry signals or information across synapses throughout the central nervous system. Neurotransmitters perform their function by acting on receptors and are assisted by other auxiliary chemicals: enzymes and hormones. For the brain to function properly, neurotransmitters, receptors and other auxiliary factors must work optimally.
Nootropics support the proper function of neurotransmitters:
  • Stimulating the synthesis and release of chemicals and their precursors;
  • Helping the sensitivity of the receptors;
  • Reducing the degradation of neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters such as glutamine, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) play an important role in cell activation, memory, learning, neuroregeneration, thinking, emotion, creativity and concentration. Nootropics such as L-glutamine, tyrosine, turmeric, ginkgo biloba, vitamin B6, huperzine and rhodiola play a role in enhancing the actions of brain chemicals. A 2016 research study highlighted rhodiola's effect on neurotransmitter regulation.

Neuroregeneration and Repair

Aging not only splinters the brain, leaving dents, but also modifies it, altering cognitive abilities.
Fortunately, in contrast to the earlier theory that brain cells never recover, research has shown that neurogenesis is possible in adulthood. Since this discovery, neuroscientists have been exploring new ways to increase and maintain a healthy brain cell count. A number of substances, including nootropics, have been discovered to help in this regard.
Nootropics help neuroregeneration:
  • Increasing Nerve Growth Factors (NGF) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factors (BNDF), which are brain regenerators;
  • Protecting the brain against the negative effects of stress;
  • Increase the level of antioxidants in the brain, eliminating neurotoxins.
Lion's mane mushroom, vitamin B12, phosphatidylserine, panax ginseng, maritime pine bark extract, omega-3 fatty acid and citicoline are nootropics that support neurogenesis, reversing age-related changes in the brain.
A 2015 review found that omega-3 fatty acids protect against brain aging. Another 2018 study reported that Panax ginseng may help prevent certain brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. It may also help brain recovery after a stroke.

Blood Supply to the Brain

The brain receives approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart with each heartbeat. Healthy cerebral circulation is essential for optimal brain function, as it not only supplies glucose, oxygen and other nutrients, but also removes carbon dioxide, lactic acid and other waste products.
Nootropics improve cerebral circulation
  • Acting as vasodilators, opening small vessels in the brain;
  • Reducing the effects of homocysteine and other prooxidant stressors;
  • Mitigating inflammatory responses in the brain.
Studies have shown that increasing cerebral vascular blood flow, using nootropics, reduces the chances of brain degeneration and age-related cognitive diseases.


Brain waves represent neuronal activity in the central nervous system. These waves change with the state of the brain and are measured by an electroencephalogram. There are about 5 waveforms, each with a different frequency and wavelength. Waveforms with higher frequencies represent a fast and alert state of mind, while lower frequencies represent tired and dreamy states of mind. The five main brain waves and their characteristics are:
  • Delta (0.5-4Hz): Deep sleep and advanced meditation;
  • Theta (4-8Hz): Deep meditation and relaxation;
  • Alpha (8-12 Hz): very relaxed and meditative state for creativity;
  • Beta (12-35 Hz): Active, medium working mental state for thinking;
  • Gamma (35-40 Hz): The highest frequency, concentration.
L-theanine increases alpha wave activity, improving alertness and promoting relaxation which aids creativity and productivity.

Single Product or Stacking Which is more effective?

Nootropics can be taken individually, as a single brain ingredient, or in combination with two or more nootropics, which is called Stacking. Some nootropics when combined are often said to have a synergistic effect for transcendent cognitive enhancement. However, improper stacking can reduce efficacy and increase side effects. To avoid this, there are premade stacks of highly effective compatible nootropics that can be purchased. This is particularly good if you want to improve your cognitive performance conveniently, in a short period of time.
On the other hand, if you prefer long-term use and would like to experiment on your own, it is best to start with a single substance and add it gradually. This way, you can find out exactly which nootropics are best for you in different scenarios and minimize side effects.

First steps with Nootropics

Like Bradley Cooper in the movie "Limitless" many people have defeated mental laziness and lethargy and are unlocking their creativity, achieving superhuman intelligence on a daily basis. With nootropics, you too can do the same; you can help your brain work faster, smarter and more efficiently legally and safely.
Choosing the right nootropic can change your life. Making your choice no longer has to be a hassle, you don't have to be discouraged or overwhelmed by the variety of nootropic supplements available online, their efficacy and their safety. We have done all that and created for you a premium pre-made nootropic: Hemp daily focus, the first EU-notified hemp and Rhodiola food supplement.

By Happiness Arowosafe

A registered medical practitioner with the General Medical Council, UK, with a keen interest in naturopathic medicine. I believe in the body's capacity for self-healing, aided by the use of natural therapies. I help people to improve their state of health through lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits.
I am also a passionate and professional direct response writer, specializing in the field of health and nutrition. I enjoy putting my knowledge in writing and sharing it through my articles.


  1. Search for a perfect combination of nootropic supplements - Can we increase human intelligence through nutritional supplements? Shah Faisal Ahmed Sarfarosh, Ufaq Tromboo and Faizan Bhat. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology. https://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2017.v6.i5.1777/search-for-a-perfect-nootropic-supplement-combination-aeur-can-we-increase-human-intelligence-by-nutritional-supplements.
  2. Beginner's Guide to Nootropics by Nootropics Depot. https://nootropicsdepot.com/articles/a-beginners-guide-to-nootropics/.
  3. 8 Natural Nootropics to Improve Intelligence, Memory, and Focus. https://biostrap.com/academy/natural-nootropics/
  4. Nootropics: Phytochemicals with neuroprotective and neurocognitive properties. NeuroPsyche integrative Healthcare institute, Bayamón, Puerto Rico. EDP University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337029443_Nootropics_Phytochemicals_with_Neuroprotective_and_Neurocognitive_Enhancing_Properties/link/6198df0807be5f31b79fa46e/download.
  5. The Big List of Nootropics BY David Tomen https://nootropicsexpert.com/nootropics-list/.
  6. Establishment of Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Improvement Influenced by Natural Nootropics: Noor Azuin Suliman, Che Norma Mat Taib. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021479/.
  7. Nootropics- an overview: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/nootropic#:~:text=Nootropics%20can%20either%20synthetic,simultaneous%20improvement%20in%20brain%20health.
  8. How do nootropics work? BY David Tomen: https://nootropicsexpert.com/how-do-nootropics-work/.
  9. Understanding the complexity of the human brain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170818/#:~:text=Complexity%20and%20multiscale%20organization&text=The%20brain%20is%20a%20complex,y%20biological%20basis%20of%20knowledge.
  10. What are nootropics (smart drugs)? Medically Reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm.D. - By Jennifer Berry on September 18, 2019. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326379.
  11. Nootropics as cognitive enhancers: types, doses and side effects of smart drugs, Matěj Malík and Pavel Tlustoš. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36014874/.
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