Nootropic is a new word that can speak to any type of substance that enhances cognition or brain function. Some of its other names include smart drugs, brain boosters, memory boosters, neuroenhancers, and even drive drugs. There is a wide range of reasons people take nootropics from help with studying, increasing mental clarity, improving focus at work or to help with health conditions associated with the brain.
The great thing is you do not have to be a neuroscientist to understand nootropics or how they can help you and your brain. So, since nootropics have such a wide array of information to fully understand them it is important to take a look at all of the basics you need to know.
What are nootropics?
Nootropics are any type of supplement or drug that can increase your brain’s ability to function properly. This may include effects such as increasing memory, increasing concentration ability, balancing mood and even can reduce brain fog. Nootropics can be used by those who have cognitive impairments, as well as those who are healthy and functioning properly to help boost performance.
Also, while they are called “smart drugs,” they will not actually make you any smarter.
Instead, they will enhance your brain's ability to function and make it easier to utilize the knowledge and skills you already have. Because nootropics are working in the brain and with neurotransmitters they must be taken carefully.
Types of nootropics
Nootropics can come in a range of substances and purposes. Nootropics can range from being a drug for a diagnosed medical condition to being an over-the-counter supplement you can take and purchase at the grocery store.
The primary production of prescription drug nootropics is for diseases of the brain that impact memory, mood, and cognitive functioning. These prescription nootropics can be very helpful and life changing for those with these diseases.
Dietary supplements are a huge industry that typically provides natural and synthetic substances for health benefit. Some of the most common dietary supplements are a multivitamin, but there are some that are very specific in their purpose. This is the case for nootropics.
With various plant derived and synthetic ingredients, nootropics utilize the functions of the supplements to enhance your cognitive functioning. Each supplement is used for a different purpose. The great thing about supplements is that almost everyone can use them, even if you are a healthy individual. They are also affordable and accessible.
Do keep in mind that because they are not prescription it can take longer for you to feel the effects, so you will have to be consistent taking them for at least a few months.
Benefits of nootropics
You know that nootropics can help the brain, but how? Below are 3 main benefits that nootropics can give to you. Keep in mind that there are others that are unlisted as well.
Balance mood and stress
Balancing your mood and stress levels can be very difficult. For some people exercise and meditation is just not enough. Nootropics work in the brain to help adapt to stressors, whether internal or external. They can modify and balance neurotransmitter levels to help keep you more calm. Some can even play a role in moderating the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis or HPA which is involved in the stress response. While nootropics are not the perfect solution to take all of your worries away, when used with other lifestyle methods they can be helpful in reducing your stress response. If you are highly stressed or experience extreme mood swings you should meet with your healthcare provider to consider pathological causes.
Increase mental clarity
Have you ever found yourself going through the day and feel like you are in a fog or funk? This is commonly referred to as brain fog and is caused by a decrease in mental clarity. Brain fog can be caused by a variety of factors including neurotransmitter imbalance. Certain nootropics can be very helpful in improving mental clarity by supporting the structure and function of your brain. If you are looking for a supplement to help improve your ability to think clearly, then a nootropic may be right for you.
Increase alertness and focus
Feeling groggy throughout the day can be very frustrating, especially if you have something that requires your undivided time and attention. Focus is something that goes hand and hand with alertness. Being focused on one thing can significantly improve your productivity and satisfaction. There are several actions that can potentiate this effect including stimulants and those that affect neurotransmitters. Acetylcholine is helpful in both memory and focus, so cholinergics can be helpful in increasing alertness and focus as well. Even if you are just needing an extra boost for a day or study session, nootropics can be extremely helpful in this regard.
Common nootropic supplements
There are many nootropic supplements, but there are some that are more common or popular than others. CoQ10, ginkgo biloba, caffeine, and phosphatidylserine are just a few of the very popular nootropics. Below will provide you detail with what each supplement is and how it works as a nootropic.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or ubiquinone is a very important antioxidant and energy producing molecule, mainly found in the mitochondria. CoQ10 on its own is helpful for enhancing mental clarity, improving energy levels, and supporting overall neurological health.
Ginkgo biloba is a supplement made from the maidenhair tree. Ginkgo biloba is known for its ability to support cognitive functioning by increasing blood flow to the brain. With more oxygen and nutrients from the blood reaching the brain it can function at optimal capacity. There are some thoughts that ginkgo biloba could have an impact on memory, but the results are not yet conclusive. Ginkgo biloba should be taken with caution in those who take statins, antidepressants, and anticoagulants. This supplement has many drug interactions so always consult your health care provider first.
Chances are you have already had this nootropic and might not have even known it. Caffeine is one of the most popular and widespread nootropics available. Caffeine is a classic stimulant used to make you feel more awake, alert, and focused. As you may have experienced if you have too much caffeine it can result in feeling jittery and unable to concentrate, therefore you need to have the perfect amount for the effect you want. Caffeine can come from many different forms including from coffee, tea, soda, and even caffeine supplement pills. Any of these are acceptable ways to get caffeine and receive its brain stimulating effects.
Phosphatidylserine is a substance derived from soybeans that is naturally produced in the body as well. It plays roles in many of the brain’s functions. The supplement is a fat substance that commonly makes up the cell membranes each and every one of your cells, which makes it very important. Some of its brain related benefits include increased mental clarity, mood improvement, and stress reduction. With so many responsibilities and concerns in your daily life, phosphatidylserine is there to help reduce the effects it can have on your body. With your mind at ease and able to focus on the everyday things your quality of life can improve dramatically.
Nootropics have a large scale of features and functions. But, when it comes down to it they are any supplement or substance that can enhance your brain’s ability to work at its maximum capacity. Whether you need a little more help staying focused at work or you need a boost of energy to get your day started, there is most likely a nootropic that can work well for you. Dealing with the brain is important stuff, so if you feel that your feelings and symptoms are getting in the way of your life, in your occupation, social life, or daily activities, you should consider visiting your doctor to make sure everything is all right with your health. For most a simple nootropic supplement can do the trick and help you get your brain in tip top shape.
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