Nootropics are a special type of drugs, supplements or foods which enhance our cognitive functions such as memory, intelligence, and focus. The word was coined by a Romanian chemist and psychologist Corneliu E. Guirgea who managed to synthesize the first compound of this kind: piracetam. It is a combination of two Greek words: nous (mind) and trepein (to turn or bend). According to his definition, nootropics:
- Improve memory and learning
- Improve the resistance of learned behaviors or memories to certain conditions which usually tend to disrupt them
- Protect the brain from various chemical or physical injuries
- Increase the efficiency of the tonic cortical and subcortical control mechanisms
- Don’t have the usual pharmacology of many other psychotropic drugs such as motor stimulation or sedation, and have very few side-effects and possess very low toxicity.
It’s worth noting that the first nootropic ever discovered piracetam which is also known by its trade name Nootropil, is still regarded as one of the most potent nootropics and is still recommended as a good choice for those who are first-time users. Since the time piracetam was synthesized, many new nootropics have been synthesized which means that nowadays we have a lot more options to consider whilst considering which nootropic to take.
Even though nootropics aren’t some kind of a miracle drug which turns an average person into a superman overnight, they are still capable of increasing the power of the brain, especially the brain’s ability to learn and capacity for storing information, which actually makes people more intelligent. This also means you will still need to work hard while learning, however, the thing is that this time the improvement in the cognitive functions will allow you to learn new information and retain it at a more advanced rate.
These compounds are also considered beneficial because of their ability to improve your brain’s overall health in the long-term. The human brain and all of its functions are controlled by the billions of neurotransmitters and receptors, and by changing their behavior we can drastically improve its functioning. In addition to improving and enhancing learning ability, the neurotransmitters’ improved responses translate to increased resistance to the natural cognitive decline what comes with age, as well as various cognitive disorders like dementia and amnesia.
Some nootropics affect the brain by increasing the supply of blood rich with oxygen or by increasing the levels of acetylcholine, which is the neurotransmitter largely responsible for the brain’s learning, memory and mood functions. Other nootropics are even capable of stimulating the production of nerve growth factor where the protein synthesis ultimately results in brain cell growth, especially in the nerve cells’ dendrites which enable the communication of electric impulses throughout the central nervous system. Growth in the dendrites means an increased rate of communication, which in turn results in improved memory and learning. It should be noted that some nootropics need to be taken for days or weeks on end before you start seeing some positive effects.
Some nootropics like phenylpiracetam or Noopept cause immediate effects. This is why it is so important to do a thorough research beforehand and decide what the right nootropic is based on your needs. Nootropics are generally divided into 3 separate groups: racetams, stimulants, and nutraceuticals. Each one of these groups possesses a specific set of functions which contribute to the preservation and improvement of your brain’s functions and health.
- Racetams directly affect the acetylcholine in your brain, therefore affect mood, memory, focus and mental agility. The benefits of racetams usage include improved memory capacity, increased mental clarity, increased concentration, increased sense of calmness, improved recall of ideas, both real or hypothetical and increased pattern recognition and distinctions in chaotic data. Racetams have been reported to allow both creative and analytical work to be done simultaneously, which is the case when answering lengthy essays which require the knowledge of facts and the proper positioning of those facts in a sentence to optimally convey a certain message.
- Stimulants. Whilst racetams increase your brain’s ability to collect ideas and order them properly and understand them, stimulants increase your focus and alertness which makes concentrating on something much easier. They also increase your brain’s tolerance to stress by elevating energy levels, heart and respiration rates, blood pressure, however, the stimulants’ effects last a lot longer in comparison to the ones you get from cognitive enhancers.
- Nutraceuticals are quite simply foods or food products that have compounds in them that cause a combination of the effects of both stimulants and racetams but only to a certain extent. They can be safely consumed as frequently as racetams and stimulants, however, the effects are much less visible and not as potent. Even though they have already been proven to be effective in improving and preserving brain activity, they can also be used as supplements in treating some more severe brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s possible to mix different types of nootropics, also known as “stacking”, which results in a potent synergistic effect where the different components of the entire stack cause a greater effect than the sum of each nootropic’s individual effects. So, if you happen to be a student who’s facing difficulties studying for an exam, a working professional trying to get better at his job or an older person that wants to experience the benefits of having the mental agility of a young man, nootropics can be the answer you are looking for.