Do nootropics work? Everyone is looking for a way to keep their brains sharp, especially as they age. Even younger people want an edge. They want to be more alert and sharper because it is often a benefit in business to have a mental advantage. Many people also fight with daily fatigue which can slow down mental processes, so they want something to give them energy and help them get through the day. Whatever the reason you are looking for something to give you boost, you might want to take a look at nootropics.
These chemicals are said to provide many physical benefits. They are taken by people of all ages who want to improve their mental processes. Read our guide to find out more about what nootropics are, how they work and how they can be used to improve your life.
What Are Nootropics?
The term nootropics do not refer to one specific item. Rather it is a collective term for a range of compounds that provide brain health benefits. Nootropics can be synthetic or natural. The term was created by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea. He also set the standards for what classifies a compound as a nootropic. Here is a look at those standards:
- Increase neuronal firing control mechanism efficacy
- Has few or no side effects
- Help make memory and learning ability better
- Aids brain function when something is disrupting normal patterns
- Protects the brain against physical or chemical damage
A compound must possess all these qualities to be considered a nootropic. Some examples include the following:
Some people consider stimulants to fit into this category, but others argue they violate the standard of having few or no side effects. It is a matter of personal opinion whether you include stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine to the nootropics list.
Do Nootropics work?
Your biggest question is probably do nootropics work, and the answer is difficult because the actual scientific research on these compounds is not as clear as the claims. Some of the compounds are not well tested, such as herbal supplements, while others have been tested quite a bit with varying results, such as piracetam. So, asking if nootropics work is a broad sort of a question because of the variances between each compound. Here is a look at the different types of nootropics and what the claims are about them.
Racetams, which include piracetam, are considered cognitive enhancers. While it is known that this class of drugs does have a positive mental impact, how they enhance mental ability is currently unknown. More research is needed, especially to determine if these compounds actually help people who are not suffering from a neurological disease. They are classified by the FDA as drugs, so they should be administered by a healthcare professional and their use should be monitored. In addition, dosage instructions should be followed exactly. The FDA considers them a new drug, so the safety of using them has not been proven.
Dietary supplements, which are generally herbal compounds, can include both natural and synthetic ingredients. Some of these include ginkgo biloba, which is said to enhance brain function and bacopa monnieri, which has claims that it enhances memory. Panax ginseng is also part of this group and claims that it improves memory ability, advances brain function, boosts mood and eliminates fatigue. Other nootropics include:
- Levodopa: Said to improve memory
- L-theanine: Said to increase alertness
- Atomoxetine: Said to improve memory
- Tolcapone: Said to improve memory
Treating some of Neurological Diseases
The good news is that some nootropics have seen great success in certain areas. For example, piracetam is often used to treat Alzheimer's patients. The drugs have been shown to help improve cognitive function for these particular patients. This drug has also been used to treat other neurological diseases that are similar to Alzheimer's, such as Huntington's disease, ADHD patterns, and Parkinson's disease.
The bad news is that while nootropics are well studied in medical use situations, they have not been sufficiently reviewed when it comes to boosting the brain functions of an average, healthy person. There have not been enough studies, or enough consistency within the studies that have been done, to show that taking nootropics can be beneficial for everyone.
How Do They Work?
To begin with, since nootropics is a term that describes a range of different chemicals, drugs, and herbal remedies, they can all work differently. However, the basic idea behind nootropics is that anything categorized under this label will help protect neurons, strengthen brain responses and improve the way the brain functions.
What Are the Side Effects?
You may be thinking back to what you learned earlier about the standards for classifying nootropics and wonder why we are talking about side effects when one standard says little to no side effects. Well, that one word "little" allows room for some active side effects. The assumption is that they will be minor and may not affect everyone. Again, because there are many different types of nootropics, the side effects can vary greatly. Some possible general side effects include:
- Slowing of your heart rate
- Stomach upset
Long-term side effects for most nootropics are unknown as research has not reached the point where such results can be determined.
Why You Might Use Them
Now that you know quite a bit about nootropics, you may wonder why you would even need to use them. Well, despite the inconclusive research about the effects of nootropics on healthy individuals, there are plenty of people who swear by them. Users say that they do boost mental clarity and function. Many young business professionals credit nootropics with helping them stay sharp and giving them the mental prowess they need to rise to the top of their respective industries.
Nootropics helps People Function Better
People from all walks of life have used nootropics and credited them with everything from helping them to get through the day to help them function better overall.
So, even though science hasn't quite gotten to the point where it is singing the praises of nootropics for general use, there is still plenty of recognition for these compounds from average people. This may be enough to make you seriously consider adding them to your daily routine.
How To Start Using Them
The first step you should take if you decide to start using nootropics is to discuss it with your healthcare provider. This is important even if you are otherwise healthy, but it is especially important if you are currently on medication or have a health condition. Even if nootropics are relatively safe, they can still lead to drug interactions or even cause allergic reactions. If you have an existing health condition, then some nootropics might have a negative effect on you, making your condition worse. Regardless, you should always keep your doctor informed when you start taking anything, including supplements, so he or she can offer you the best possible health care.
Better Diet Choices and Exercise
Experts in nootropics recommend starting your regimen with piracetam. You should also supplement that with choline. They also suggest improving your health by making better diet choices and adding in some exercise. You should also consider taking a multi-vitamin. Getting your body healthier will help the nootropics work better and provide a better overall environment in which the compounds can get to work.
Read the Labels First
You can find nootropics fairly easily. However, you need to be aware of quality. Always read labels and make sure harmful fillers are not used; in fact, try to buy the purest form of the nootropic you can with the fewest fillers. All nootropics are available over the counter, but that does not mean you can use them with abandon. Always follow the label instructions for dosage and usage unless you have been otherwise instructed by your doctor.
Do your Research
Do your research on the companies offering these products. Learn more about their standards and commitment to quality. If you are buying in a store, this should be fairly easy, but if you buy online be extra diligent. Pay attention to the seller's names and try to buy straight from the manufacturer instead of a third-party vendor. You will be less likely to get a knock-off product, or an inferior quality product if you stick to buying direct.
Nootropics are a fairly new idea in the medical field. They are not well researched yet, and there is still a lot of mystery surrounding how they work and even if they do work. There are some nootropics being prescribed right now to people for serious health conditions by doctors. Despite this, the medical field as a whole does not recognize nootropics as a drug recommended for healthy individuals.
Nootropics Pose Little to No Risk
On the other side, most nootropics pose little to no risk, so people have taken a chance on them. They have started taking them and have been very happy with the results. You can find reviews and testimonials about nootropics all over the internet.
Do nootropics work? If you are someone who relies heavily on scientific research when deciding whether to use something like nootropics, then they probably are not the thing for you. If you are someone who trusts the reviews and opinions of others over scientific proof, then you might find using nootropics is just what you needed.