You may have heard the word Nootropics being bandied about online, or perhaps you have a friend who has mentioned them. Nootropics are a range of smart drugs that are designed to enhance your cognitive ability (decision making, memory, concentration, focus etc) and help with creativity. The supplement industry has recently embraced these smart drugs, and the public is responding.

Many people think that Nootropics are a specialized type of drug, but any drug can be a Nootropic if it improves your cognitive ability. The term Nootropic is purely a name meaning “mind bending” in Greek.

What sort of Nootropics are there?

Depending on your definition of what a Nootropic is (a long and confusing subject [1]) there can be hundreds of different Nootropics out there. Technically caffeine could be seen as a Nootropic as it can improve memory [2].

Another unlikely Nootropic is nicotine, which has been conclusively proven to improve “motor abilities, attention, and memory” [3]. Other unusual Nootropics include amphetamines! Technically low doses of meth could help you improve mood, focus, and memory.

Obviously taking methamphetamines (even in micro doses) is a) illegal, and b) dangerous, but it is a great example of the broad range of Nootropics that fit under the same umbrella term. The problem with the three Nootropics we have mentioned so far is that although they have all been proven to be effective, they come with pretty severe downsides.

High doses of caffeine can increase cortisol, cause insomnia, and affect blood pressure. Nicotine and methamphetamines are highly addictive, and may cause premature death. Luckily there are also a large amount of safe Nootropics out there, L-Theanine is a great example.

This is often taken alongside caffeine as the two have a synergistic relationship (in other words the combined effects are greater than the two ingredients could produce separately). It also helps remove many of the side effects of caffeine. It can help improve alertness, increase attention, improve mood, and also relax you.

There are also natural Nootropics such as Ginseng and Ginkgo which both have a cognitive enhancing effect. But these are just a few examples to give you an idea of the diverse range of supplements that you can take. There are hundreds of different ones to consider.

What are the benefits of Nootropics?

As we found out in the last section, Nootropics are a varied bunch of natural and synthetic ingredients. That means that alongside the usual benefits of a Nootropic, the ingredient can also offer many unique benefits.

Let’s use caffeine as an example again, not only does it have all of the regular cognitive enhancing benefits of a Nootropic, it can also increase your metabolism, help improve physical performance, oxidize fat for energy, and many other benefits.

But the benefits that all Nootropics share are: improved mood, improved memory, better decision making, and alertness. Because of this they are fantastic for people trying to study, or to avoid procrastinating.

They can also help improve performance in sporting events too, and many pre workouts and intra workouts contain Nootropics. There’s also a growing trend for Nootropic supplements to be aimed at gamers. This may sound crazy, but now that e-gaming is becoming more and more popular, you’ll probably see a huge increase in Nootropic supplements aimed at them.

Are Nootropics safe?

Natural Nootropic supplements are perfectly safe, as are a large amount of synthetic supplements. Obviously the stimulant based supplements can have side effects (particularly the illegal ones). But you already knew that!

Final Thoughts

Nootropics have been recently growing in popularity and people are really loving them. The natural sources are safe to use and there are a wide range of benefits that you get from using them.

References

[2] Angelucci, M., Cesario, C., Hiroi, R., Rosalen, P., Da Cunha, C. (2002) Effects of caffeine on learning and memory in rats tested in the Morris water maze. Brazilian Journal of Medical & Biological Research 35(10): 1201-1208

(link) http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=s0100-879×2002001000013&script=sci_arttext

[3] Heishman, S., Kleykamp, B., Singleton, E. (2010) Meta-analysis of the acute effects of nicotine and smoking on human performance. Psychopharmacology 210(4): 453-469

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151730/