For someone that’s first heard about nootropics, it is a term that’s hard enough to pronounce, let alone understand exactly what it means. We have put together a simple overview and guide to introduce users to the concept of nootropics and how they can be used in every day life. This article will take you through Nootropics as a definition, any associated risks, the concept of ‘stacking’ nootropics together and the best way to take them.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are pharmaceutical compounds used to enhance cognitive function and were first discovered in the 1960s. There is extensive research behind many nootropics showing they enhance many key areas of cognitive learning. The spectrum of nootropics is very broad so we’ll only cover those with the most research behind them and those which have shown significant improvements in cognitive ability. As well as improvements in healthy individuals, there has been extensive research with nootropics used for relieving symptoms of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Nootropics help protect the brain and the central nervous system from damage.
Some examples of substances that also affect the central nervous system, but are not classed as nootropics are caffeine, nicotine, Cannabis or Ritalin. True nootropics meet a set of criteria that are seen more as nutrients than as drugs. These include:
Aniracetam – This is a stimulant and cognitive enhancer acting in as fast as 20 minutes
L-Theanine – Naturally found in Green Tea, this reduces anxiety and improves learning
Piracetam – One of the most extensively studied nootropics for cognitive enhancement
Pramiracetam – A more potent variation of Piracetam enhancing memory and learning capacity.
All of the above have no side effects or dangers to the body.
How to take them?
It’s important to understand that nootropics are not a magical fix for optimal cognitive function, but instead should be used synergistically with all other areas of life to achieve the best results. These include obvious areas such as having a healthy diet rich in essential fatty acids and foods such as vegetables, proteins and whole-grains, ensuring a good amount of sleep and exercise, maintaining levels of B Vitamins in the diet for energy production and keeping hydrated through consistent consumption of water throughout the day.
Nootropics can also be ‘stacked’ together to improve the results. A common stack addition is a Choline source. Choline is naturally found in foods like eggs and nuts and is the precursor to Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain. This means the choline converts to Acetylcholine acting as the fuel of mental energy and cognitive potential. Levels of choline become depleted in the brain because we are increasing the level of mental function with the use of nootropics, and this should therefore be replenished by introducing a choline source into your nootropics stack. (We’ll be covering the types of Choline in more detail in a future article.)
Although there are no known side effects or risks to the body surrounding nootropics, it’s important to understand that, as with anything, taking in excess of the recommended daily dosage can result in issues such as an upset stomach (as it may cause absorption issues in the GI tract) or headaches (due to cholinergic depletion from increased brain function). It’s important to know how much you should be taking of a particular nootropic as it varies from one to another.
Nootropics appear to have a host of benefits in a multitude of different areas of life. However, it is advisable to undertake your own due diligence before introducing your body to the various types of nootropics available. It is also clear that nootropics must be used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle to achieve optimum effects. Nootropics can be seen to elevate our levels of mental function by improving and optimising processes that already naturally occur in the brain and body and are a great way to maintain brain health.