Is it Smart to Take Nootropics?
We’ve all experienced a time when we see someone we haven’t seen for a long time and can’t remember their name.
Or, you’ve had a bad day because you were struggling with the fog in your brain, or you’ve had trouble remembering new information on a regular basis.
What if there’s a way to avoid all these unpleasant and awkward situations?
In this case, nootropics are worth taking a look at.
Although the term nootropics is not as common as anti-inflammatories or antioxidants, these substances have great potential to become as well-known.
Some nootropics have been studied and tested in trials since the 70’s with great success.
What are Nootropics?
The term nootropics describes a range of nutritional supplements and herbal ingredients that can optimize one’s mental abilities or enhance mood naturally.
However, not all nootropics function the same. Some can increase concentration, while others are mood enhancers.
Another type of nootropic can help you relax, meditate better, or fall asleep faster.
Who Can Take Nootropics?
Nootropics can help people better manage their illnesses, but healthy people can also benefit from these.
People who need natural brain boosters can perform better mentally and cognitively. They include lawyers, programmers, executives, entrepreneurs, and physicians.
Even athletes from various sports like skiing, golf, tennis can use nootropics.
For them, it is extremely important that nootropics are not contaminated with drug residues which would immediately stand out in doping tests.
Accordingly, you may have heard of nootropics before or have taken some of these substances without knowing they are called as such.
These include Bacopa Monnieri, omega-3 or ginkgo extract.
How Do Nootropics Work?
The mechanisms of action of each nootropic vary. Unfortunately, science is not yet ready to investigate the different types of nootropics and their effects.
One of the best–known nootropics is coffee and the caffeine it contains.
Caffeine has a stimulating effect that inhibits certain receptors that would normally decrease the brain’s performance.
It is a wake-up agent, and helps us concentrate and focus better.
Another type of nootropic is piracetam.
Studies have shown that piracetam improves cognitive function of children with ADHD or dyslexia.
Another substance is pyritinol, a semi-chemical substance consisting of two B-6 bound molecules associated with improved memory and faster reaction rate.
Because each nootropic acts differently, it’s important to know the various types, functions and effects of each before taking one.
Nootropics and their Effects
Nootropics are divided into three categories namely, for concentration and memory, stress and mood enhancement and sleep aid.
For Concentration & Memory
Below are nootropics that have a positive effect on memory, knowledge, focus and ability to concentrate:
An adequate supply of oxygen to the brain is needed to store and retrieve information and concentrate.
Piracetam is a nootropic agent that can improve these cognitive abilities.
It promotes creativity and logical thinking and influences the storage of knowledge in the long-term memory.
Synthesized over 50 years ago, piracetam is now used today for medical purposes in Europe, South America and the US.
Its effect is based on its ability to improve cerebral circulation and stimulate key neurotransmitters.
- Recommended daily dose: 4800 mg
- Effect: 4-5 hours
- Can be combined with: Alpha GPC, Oxiracetam, Aniracetam, CDP Choline
2) Bacopa Monnieri
This is one of the oldest and most effective nootropics.
Known as Brahmi in Ayurvedic medicine, it’s been used for centuries to increase concentration and memory.
It reduces stress and signs and symptoms of depression with the right dose.
Furthermore, the nootropic effect of bacopa monnieri is comparable to piracetam, but the main difference is that bacopa monnieri is a natural nootropic.
In addition, the effects of bacopa monnieri are caused by the phytochemicals that enhance neuronal communication and support the production of important neurotransmitters.
- Recommended daily dose: 300 mg
- Effect: 2-4 hours
| Related: 10 Ways How You Can Improve Your Brain Power
3) Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba comes from the leaves of the ginkgo tree and is considered one of the oldest remedies in Chinese medicine.
Today, it is associated with increased energy and better concentration.
Modern studies have shown that it increases the viscosity of the blood thus improving the supply of oxygen to the brain.
- Recommended daily dose: 400 to 600 mg
- Effect: 4-6 hours
- Can be combined with: Vinpocetine
4) Alpha GPC
For users, one of the most exciting benefits of Alpha GPC choline is it improves the effectiveness of other nootropics such as piracetam.
At the same time, it can repair neuronal membranes and increase the amount of dopamine in the central nervous system.
This mechanism of action has been extensively studied in the past and studies confirm the beneficial effects of Alpha GPC.
- Recommended daily dose: 250 to 600 mg
- Effect: 60-70 hours
- Can be combined with: Piracetam, Aniracetam, Pramiracetam
| Related: Brain Enhancers: Faster World, Faster Brain
5) Caffeine & L-Theanine
L-Theanine can have a dramatic effect on mental performance when taken with caffeine.
One of the reasons why the combination of caffeine and L-theanine is so popular is because of its affordability and effectiveness.
Caffeine improves energy and alertness by blocking receptors responsible for relaxation and soothing.
While L-Theanine bundles the effects of caffeine and makes you feel focused.
When these two are combined, they are very effective.
- Recommended daily dose: 100 mg caffeine + 200 mg L-theanine
- Effect: 5-7 hours
| Related: Common Cognitive Enhancers for the Workplace
For Stress Management and Enhanced Mood
The following medicinal herbs and plant compounds help improve mood, reduce stress and prevent symptoms of depression:
This herb has been used for thousands of years because of its beneficial effects on health and performance and is a key component in Ayurvedic medicine.
Today, ashwagandha is used as a nootropic to improve mood and counteract chronic stress.
It works by repairing damage caused by the stress hormone, cortisol, and prevents from causing any more damage.
This reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. When taken regularly, people feel happier.
In addition, ashwagandha increases the level of GABA in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and improves your sleep.
- Recommended daily dose: 300 to 500 mg
This small shrub is abundant in the Pacific islands of Fiji, Hawaii or Vanuatu.
It has positive effects on mood, sleep, relaxation and other cognitive functions.
Similar to ashwagandha, it works by increasing levels of GABA in the brain.
It also has a neuroprotective effect which is why it is also used in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
In addition to the positive effects on well-being and mood, this phytochemical also increases reaction rate and memory.
- Recommended daily dose: 100 mg, 3x a day
An amino acid produced by the body, 5-HTP is synthesized from the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is absorbed through diet.
It works because it is the direct precursor of serotonin, the happiness hormone, which improves mood and reduces stress levels.
This makes 5-HTP a popular nootropic drug to treat symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety.
- Recommended daily dose: 150 to 300 mg
- Can be combined with: L-Tryptophan, Ashwagandha
| Related: 7 Ways to Keep the Brain Healthy as You Age
For Sleep & Regeneration
Learn how melatonin can improve your sleep quality:
This is a hormone produced in the pineal gland where countless receptors and cells react to light and darkness.
When it gets dark, melatonin is released signaling the body that it’s time to go to sleep.
By taking melatonin in the form of capsules or drops, you can help your body relax, make you sleep faster and deeper.
Melatonin works by overcoming the blood-brain barrier easily.
- Recommended daily dose: 0.3 to 1 mg
- Can be combined with: L-Tryptophan, Ashwagandha
NOTE: If you’re taking nootropics for the first time, you may not feel or notice any changes.
But if a few weeks later, when you stop taking them, you’ll notice a decline in your cognitive abilities.
This has to do with the fact that at first, when the brain is working properly, it feels natural.
Consequently, it’s hard for people to notice a 10% increase in brain performance.
But a 10% decline is immediately noticeable.
Before you take nootropics, you need to make changes with your diet, too.
Avoid certain foods that can harm your cognitive and brain performance such as sugar or processed carbohydrates.
Once you’ve done that, you can decide which nootropic is suitable for you. Maintain a diet that will benefit the brain and stick with it.
When you’ve decided which nootropic to take, start from low dosages and work your way up.
Pay attention to the quality of the raw materials and the quality requirements of the manufacturers.
Listen to your body and find out which nootropics work best.