Everything You Need to Know About Nootropics
If you're new to Nootropics then you probably have some questions, and that's completely normal. Here we answer some key questions around why people are taking Nootropics, how they work, and the difference between Nootropics and smart drugs.
Why are people taking Nootropics?
Every day the modern environment demands more and more of our time, energy, and attention. People are using Nootropics to free up extra mental resources for themselves - to keep going for longer, suffer less in stressful situations, and get the competitive edge when it counts
Who are Nootropics for?
Nootropics are for anyone who wants to get more out of their day, who has a lot to achieve or knows what they want but can’t get over the hurdles of brain fog and procrastination. There’s also a growing interest from users who are more interested in the prevention of cognitive decline (supporting the brain is supporting the brain, so the same things that enhance cognitive function also slow or prevent cognitive decline).
Entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives take Nootropics because they know what they want to create in the world, and they need all the extra mental resources they can get to bring their vision to life. Protection and support for the brain are added benefits for young creators and younger generations who are particularly health conscious.
Where did Nootropics come from?
Some natural Nootropics have been used for thousands of years as medicines and supplements to diet. Newer synthetic Nootropics are still being created and developed by chemists and pharmaceutical companies.
How do Nootropics work?
There are three key areas that Nootropics effect in the brain:
Let’s look at each in detail.
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers in our brains. When our brains are firing, these neurotransmitters bind with their relevant receptors to relay a message. Feelings of fatigue, irritability, brain fog, and lack of alertness or concentration (usually felt as procrastination) all stem from insufficient neurotransmitters in the brain. Nootropics help to top up the levels of neurotransmitters, as well as to control their re-uptake by making receptors in the brain more sensitive, so you feel less depleted and more alert.
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to our brains, and these substances are used to fuel brain activity. More blood flow means more fuel for the brain to use and a feeling of more energy for you. When your brain has the fuel it needs to keep working optimally, you’re more driven and motivated. An added benefit to increased blood flow is toxins and waste can be cleared more quickly, leaving you feeling fresh, alert, and healthy.
Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to grow new neurons and adapt to changing circumstances. Until recently scientists believed the brain was fixed by the time we reach adulthood, but this has now been proven not to be the case. Eleanor Maguire from University College London and colleagues studied London taxi drivers using MRI scans, and in 2006 they published their findings - in the subjects, with years of navigating London and plotting complex routes in their heads, the hippocampus had grown. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for spatial awareness. This is how Nootropics support learning and memory - they help your brain to grow and adapt using the extra resources available.
What are the benefits of Nootropics?
Nootropics work by giving your brain more of what it needs to thrive. In your life you’ll feel this as:
Less brain fog and fatigue
More energy and focus
Increased concentration and reduced desire to procrastinate
Better performance under stress - physical and mental
The ability to go harder for longer
Are Nootropics smart drugs?
Smart drugs are man-made pharmaceuticals and Nootropics, in general, are natural or less potent than modern synthetics. That being said a man-made substance can still be classed as a Nootropic, and in 1972 when Dr. Corneliu Giurgea created the term Nootropic he did so to classify piracetam, which he had just developed.
To be classed as a Nootropic a substance must:
Enhance learning and memory
Help the brain function under disruptive conditions
Protect the brain from chemical and physical damage
Increase efficacy of neuronal firing control mechanisms
Have few or no side effects and be non-toxic
The grey area for smart drugs is side effects - we just don’t know what some of them will do with long term use. Whereas we do know for natural Nootropics where we have thousands of years of use and experience to back up the results.
When pharmaceutical companies develop a drug it’s usually to address an illness or disease, and for that reason side effects are balanced with the positive potential outcome of curing the disease. For healthy people it's much better to stick to substances with low risk and little or no side effects like Nootropics.
To find out more about the differences between Nootropics and smart drugs read Nootropics vs. Smart Drugs. What's the difference?
Are Nootropics banned?
In the UK the psychoactive substances act covers synthetic smart drugs and related legal highs as of May 2016. The legality of smart drugs varies in the rest of the world. Natural Nootropics aren’t covered by such bans and laws, and are sold freely as health supplements, remedies, and alternative medicines in health stores and online.
What situations will Nootropics be helpful in?
Expecting a stressful situation? Nootropics will help to beat the stress. Planning a long session of work or studying, where concentration and focus are key? Nootropics will keep you going for longer. Need a competitive edge, physically or mentally? Nootropics will give you the extra resources you need to win. Or maybe you’re just having an average Tuesday with nothing special going on? Nootropics will give you a mood boost and a positive outlook.
That just about covers the initial questions we had when we first started learning about Nootropics. If you want to know more then take a look around in the Project Better Academy for more of the science behind Nootropics.