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Valentina Quintana

What are nootropics?

Table of Contents

Introduction

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: learning more things in a short amount of time, being so smart that it puts you on 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 how to harness the full potential and power of your brain.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this life-changing substance: Nootropics, what they are, how they work, and how effective they are. You will learn how to maximize this substance to improve your creativity, alertness, cognition, memory, and ability to remember.

What are nootropics?

The term nootropics derives from two Greek words,nous meaning “the mind” and “tropein ” which means “to double.” 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:

  • They improve memory and learning ability;
  • They help brain function, even under disturbing conditions;
  • They protect the brain from chemical and physical toxins;
  • They increase natural cognitive processes;
  • 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 plant-based nootropics;
  2. Synthetic nootropics.

Natural nootropics are usually obtained in the form of herbal extracts or food supplements. They have been shown to boost brain function while making the brain healthier. As they are 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 a laboratory to boost mental functions. They are often referred to as smart drugs. Some examples are Modafinil, Piracetam, Adrafinil, Racetams, etc. These drugs were created to help with diseases like ADHD, insomnia, Parkinson’s, etc. However, healthy humans take advantage of them to help boost their cognitive functions. Although these compounds are highly effective, they are often associated with side effects and potential long-term consequences. As a result, most require a valid doctor’s prescription to obtain them.

Nootropics offer a wide range of benefits. And people who don’t know how they work question their effectiveness. Understanding the human brain and the effect of nootropics on it ensures its effectiveness. 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, cerebrum, and 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 using 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 them with sophisticated cognitive abilities. So, 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 various pathways and the effect of nootropics on them:

Brain Energy

The brain, though small, has numerous functions and consumes an exceptional amount of energy. In fact, it is the body’s most energy-consuming organ 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, thinking, memory, vision, emotions, breathing, motor skills, hunger, etc. It works 24/7, calculating and regulating a number 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 large amount 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 boost brain energy by:

  • 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 poor 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 do their job by acting on receptors and are aided by other auxiliary chemicals: enzymes and hormones. In order for the brain to function properly, neurotransmitters, receptors, and other auxiliary factors must function optimally.

Nootropics help the good 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, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) play an important role in cellular activation, memory, learning, neuroregeneration, thinking, emotion, creativity, and concentration. Nootropics such as L-glutamine, tyrosine, turmeric, ginkgo biloba, vitamin B6, huperzine, and rhodiola all play a role in potentiating 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, contrary to the previous 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. Some 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 brain’s antioxidant level, eliminating neurotoxins.

Lion’s mane mushroom, vitamin B12, phosphatidylserine, panax ginseng, maritime pine bark extract, omega-3 fatty acid, and citicoline are nootropics that aid neurogenesis, reversing age-related changes in the brain.

A 2015 review found that omega-3 fatty acids protect against brain aging. Another study conducted in 2018 reported that Panax ginseng may help prevent certain brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. It can also help the brain recover after a stroke.

The Blood Supply to the Brain

The brain receives about 20% of the blood that flows from the heart with each beat. Healthy brain circulation is essential for optimal brain function, as it not only provides glucose, oxygen, and other nutrients, but also removes carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and other waste.

Nootropics Improve Brain Circulation

  • Acting as vasodilators, opening small vessels in the brain;
  • Reducing the effects of homocysteine and other pro-oxidant stressors;
  • Mitigating inflammatory responses in the brain.

Studies conducted have shown that increasing cerebral vascular blood flow, using nootropics, reduces the chances of brain degeneration and age-related cognitive diseases.

Brain Waves

Brain waves represent neural activity in the central nervous system. These waves change with the state of the brain and are measured using an electroencephalogram. There are about 5 waveforms, each with a different frequency and wavelength. Waveforms with higher frequencies represent a fast-paced, alert state of mind, while low frequencies represent tired, 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 to think;
  • Gamma (35-40 Hz): The highest frequency, concentration.

L-theanine increases alpha wave activity, improving alertness and promoting relaxation that 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. It is often said that some nootropics when combined have a synergistic effect for transcendent cognitive enhancement. However, improper stacking can reduce efficacy and increase side effects. To avoid this, there are highly effective compatible pre-made nootropic stacks 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’s best to start with a single substance and gradually add it. This way, you’ll be able to figure out exactly which nootropics are best for you in different scenarios and minimize side effects.

Getting Started with Nootropics

Like Bradley Cooper in the movie “Limitless,” many people have defeated mental laziness and lethargy and are unlocking their creativity, achieving daily superhuman intelligence. With nootropics, you can do the same too; It 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 problem, you don’t have to be discouraged or overwhelmed by the variety of nootropic supplements available online, their effectiveness and their safety. We’ve done all that and created a premium pre-made nootropic for you: Hemp daily focus, the first EU-notified hemp and Rhodiola food supplement.

By Happiness Arowosafe

Registered physician at the General Medical Council, United Kingdom, with a great interest in naturopathic medicine. I believe in the body’s ability to self-heal, aided by the use of natural therapies. I help people improve their 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.

References

  1. Finding 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 Universidad de 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 Great 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. Comprender la complejidad del cerebro humano https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170818/#:~:text=Complexity%20and%20multiscale%20organization&text=El%20cerebro%20es%20un%20complejo,y%20biológico%20base%20del%20conocimiento.
  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, Dosages, and Side Effects of Smart Drugs, Matěj Malík and Pavel Tlustoš. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36014874/.
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