Nootropics are compounds that enhance brain function.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a nootropic is a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning.
Some bloggers refer to them as “smart drugs” but not all nootropics are “drugs.” Nootropics can include vitamins, supplements and both prescription and ‘street’ drugs. Like a lot of parents, I like to keep it clean and while I’m curious about the clinical outcomes for those experimenting with illegal substances, I’m not trying those myself.
A good starting point is to visit our continually expanding our reference guide:
History of Nootropics
Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian chemist and psychologist, originally coined the term “nootropic” several decades ago. According to his guidelines a nootropic needed to:
- Enhance memory
- Improve behavior under adverse conditions
- Shield the brain from injury by physical or chemical means
- Improve tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
- Demonstrate a low toxicity and side-effect profile
Although modern nootropics have been discussed for about 50 years, plants have been used to influence mood and cognition, such as Ginkgo and coca leaves, for more than 10,000 years.
Who uses nootropics?
Students and professionals in high-pressure jobs have been the primary audience using nootropics so far. However, as the trend continues, people of all ages and situations are discovering that a little help to keep their mental edge is something that they want.
What substances are considered nootropics?
Different experts and voices in the conversation use the term to describe different things. Some consider anything that might support any aspect of cognitive function to be a nootropic. Some common substances include:
- Botanical extracts (e.g., Panax ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Bacopa monnieri, and Rhodiola rosea)
- Unique dietary ingredients (e.g., creatine, L-theanine (particularly when combined with a little caffeine), acetyl-L-carnitine, phosphatidylserine, and resveratrol)
- Prescription drugs (Adderall, Ritalin)
- Unregulated substances (e.g., the racetams – piracetam being the most widely used)
What about “smart drugs”?
Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall: It’s popular for individuals, particularly younger people who want to improve their mental focus to use prescription medications normally prescribed for ADHD.
These medications have a large potential for abuse and are not without side effects, particularly when taken in higher-than-recommended doses.
Adderall is an amphetamine, and Ritalin is a powerful stimulant. Side effects can include insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and loss of appetite. When used in high doses, both can cause high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, hallucinations, and seizures.
What supplements are nootropics?
There are so many, we’re going to be trying them out and publishing results here on this blog for years. Many botanicals and nutrients have large volumes of clinical information validating their efficacy for supporting cognitive function, memory, focus, productivity, creativity, and neurological health.
Supplements generally have a low side-effect profile and lack of dependency and withdrawal symptoms, so they’re much safer to try without the concerns that stronger drugs bring.
As you explore nootropics yourself, you’re going to be assembling your own custom “stack”, your unique mix of doses and times of day to take various things, to optimize your brain and body’s energy and functionality.
Follow us on social media and join our facebook group to ask your questions. Nootropics Family is product agnostic and we aren’t selling supplements. Our goal is to create an unbiased platform to truly help amazing families live their best lives.
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson