Nootropics

Are you looking to sharpen your mental skills and take your cognitive performance to the next level? Enter the world of nootropics, “smart drugs”, or “cognitive enhancers” that aim to boost memory, focus, and overall brain health. These include natural nootropics like herbal and plant extracts, synthetic nootropics like ‘Modafinil’ or ‘Adderall’, and various manufactured dietary supplements.

The word “nootropic” was initially defined in 1972 by Dr Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist, who described nootropics as compounds that promote learning and memory and safeguard the brain from chemical and biological damage. The usage of nootropics to improve one’s mental performance has since spread widely amongst academics, working professionals, and the general public.

Nootropics may offer a promising solution, whether you’re a student hoping to boost your academic performance, a professional looking to gain a competitive edge, or an older person worried about maintaining cognitive health. Before getting on the nootropic bandwagon, you must understand their varieties, advantages, safety, and potential concerns.

This article will cover all aspects of nootropics, from current studies on their effects on brain function and cognitive impairment to their prospective usage in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll also discuss the practical considerations of nootropic use, such as dosage, side effects, and potential drug interactions.

Keep reading to learn more about the intriguing world of nootropics and determine if these cognitive enhancers work for you. We have all the data you need to make an educated choice and unlock the highest potential of your intellect!

Types of Nootropics: Natural vs Synthetic compounds

There are two primary types of nootropics: synthetic compounds and natural nootropics. Plant extracts, herbs, and other dietary supplements that enhance cognitive performance and mental function are all examples of natural nootropics. These are nature’s own nootropics which have been used in traditional medicine for millennia and are generally considered safe and well-tolerated.

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance classified as a natural nootropic. Many cultures have been utilising caffeine for its cognitive benefits for centuries. We ingest it through coffee, tea, and various energy drinks. Because of its well-documented effects to enhance cognition, caffeine is the most popular go-to supplement for improving mental alertness.

Omega-3 fatty acids, Ginkgo biloba, and Bacopa monnieri are other natural nootropics that have shown strong potential in recent research for treating neurodegenerative diseases like mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurological conditions. But, we need more research to thoroughly understand their effects on the human brain.

On the other hand, synthetic compounds are nootropics developed in a laboratory. They include prescription medications such as Modafinil and Adderall (more commonly known as ‘smart drugs’) and over-the-counter (in certain countries) drugs like Racetams. These synthetic nootropics can improve mental function significantly but also have many possible hazards and adverse side effects.

Synthetic Compounds As Nootropics

Prescription Medications

Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, and Daytrana) and amphetamine (Adderall and Dexedrine), two prescription medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are considered viable cognitive and memory enhancing substances because they can increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. That is how they got their street name, “smart drugs”.

These synthetic nootropics have been administered for decades to help patients with ADHD improve mental focus and reduce impulsivity. But, their off-label usage as nootropics or ‘smart drugs’ in healthy individuals remains contentious.

Effects on cognitive performance

According to Dr Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “There is evidence that suggests that these drugs can improve cognitive performance in healthy individuals, but there are also potential risks, such as addiction, cardiovascular problems, and psychiatric disorders.” She stresses the significance of exercising extreme caution when considering these prescription medications for purposes other than their approved medical uses. “These drugs are not benign. They are psychoactive substances, and there are risks associated with taking them inappropriately.”

Dr Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist from the University of Pennsylvania, points out, “The evidence suggests that there may be some small benefits to using these drugs as cognitive enhancers, but the risks and ethical concerns associated with their use are substantial and cannot be ignored.” She emphasises that further studies are needed to determine the long-term consequences of utilising these prescription medications as nootropics or cognitive enhancers for healthy people. Correspondingly, behavioural paediatrician Dr Lawrence Diller warns against using ADHD drugs as nootropics or cognitive enhancers, noting, “When people try to use these drugs for something they’re not intended for, there can be consequences.”

Even for patients with ADHD, current research indicates that long-term use of prescription medicine may permanently affect brain chemicals and structure. According to a study published in the Journal of Child Neurology, children with ADHD who were on stimulant medication for at least three years had smaller caudate nuclei than untreated children. The caudate nucleus is an area in the brain that regulates attention and movement (1).

Another study published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal discovered a connection between the long-term use of ADHD prescription medication and lower levels of dopamine transporters in the brain, which could reduce the ability to perceive pleasure and motivation (2). A 2017 study published in JAMA Pediatrics discovered a link between the long-term use of ADHD prescription medication and reduced brain sizes in certain regions, including the basal ganglia, which aids in motor function, and the amygdala, which helps regulate emotion (3).

While such prescription medication can improve brain function and relieve symptoms of ADHD in affected individuals, long-term use of ADHD drugs, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine (Adderall) as “smart drugs”, can have substantial negative repercussions for both physical and mental health in healthy individuals. It is critical to utilise these medications only under a healthcare expert’s supervision and for the prescribed purposes.

Racetams

Racetams are a class of synthetic compounds with a molecular structure similar to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian scientist, developed piracetam, the first Racetam, in the 1960s. Primarily created to cure motion sickness, Giurgea found that piracetam also increases brain performance in healthy individuals in other ways. Scientists have researched these chemicals for their potential to improve brain function and enhance learning and memory.

Researchers have yet to discover the complete mechanics of racetam use. But, they believe it boosts cognitive performance by increasing the availability of acetylcholine in the brain, facilitating communication between brain cells, and increasing cerebral blood flow. Neuroscientist and Peak Brain Institute founder Dr Andrew Hill states, “Racetams may help support cognitive function in healthy individuals, particularly in memory, learning, and focus. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s brain chemistry is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.”

A 2016 clinical trial demonstrated that Aniracetam improved cognitive function in older people with mild cognitive impairment (4). Another 1990 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology showed that Piracetam boosted memory in healthy human subjects (5).

It is also crucial to highlight that the long-term effects of racetam use still need to be fully understood and that there is fear that regular usage may adversely impact brain function. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology revealed a patient developed aplastic anaemia, a rare and possibly fatal blood condition, after using Piracetam for several months (6). Another study on long-term Piracetam use in murine models found that it decreased the number of synapses in specific brain regions and diminished the activity of the enzyme choline acetyltransferase, which is essential for manufacturing acetylcholine (7).

As Dr Hill mentioned, “It’s important to approach the use of racetams with caution and always consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new supplement regimen.”

Please be cautious and only use medications for their prescribed purpose.

Natural Nootropics

Nootropics

Many powerful nootropics are natural and readily available as dietary supplements or whole foods. Natural nootropic supplements such as Bacopa monnieri, Ginkgo biloba, omega three fatty acids and green tea extract are gaining prominence due to their ability to effectively enhance cognitive performance without the adverse side effects of synthetic nootropics. Some of these nootropics include:

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is a traditional Ayurvedic herb used to boost cognitive function. It has been used for millennia to improve memory, mental focus, and general brain function. It is now widely used in nootropic supplements and is gaining recognition as a powerful cognitive enhancer.

Effects On Brain Function As a Cognitive Enhancer

In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, healthy participants who consumed Bacopa monnieri for 12 weeks substantially improved their cognitive functions compared to the placebo group (8). The Bacopa monnieri group exhibited more robust working memory performance, enhanced attention, and faster mental processing rates.

In another study published in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal, Bacopa monnieri significantly aided healthy people with memory retention and reduced anxiety symptoms (9). The Bacopa monnieri group better recalled previously learned details and was less stressed and anxious throughout memory testing.

Research indicates that the cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri are owing to its capacity to alter neurotransmitter systems in the brain, such as increasing acetylcholine release, which improves cognitive ability, such as working memory and attention (10). Furthermore, Bacopa monnieri is a rich source of antioxidants that may safeguard the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, which can lead to cognitive decline (11).

Another powerful benefit of Bacopa monnieri is its ability to enhance brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that is essential for the growth, survival, and development of brain cells. Supplementing with Bacopa monnieri for 12 weeks led to a considerable rise in serum BDNF levels in healthy people, according to a study published in the Phytotherapy Research journal (15). Enhancing BDNF production is one of the key ways Bacopa monnieri boosts cognitive function and overall brain health.

A potent herbal supplement deeply rooted in Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa monnieri is a powerful cognitive enhancer, with multiple studies demonstrating its effectiveness. Natural nootropics like Bacopa monnieri are generally safe and well-tolerated when used correctly. Please consult your licensed physician before using any dietary supplements.

Learn more about the cognitive effects of nootropics like Bacopa monnieri and how they improve mental ability in patients with cognitive impairment and enhance mental performance in healthy people! 4 Powerful Natural Nootropics For Students

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba, or ginkgo, is a famous natural supplement traditional healers have used for millennia due to its exceptional medicinal value. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long employed ginkgo leaf extract to boost mental performance and brain function. In modern times, Ginkgo biloba and its extracts are popular ingredients in nootropic supplements to improve memory, focus, and overall brain health.

Effects On Cognitive Function

Ginkgo biloba is reputed to boost blood flow to the brain, which is a vital mechanism in its function as a cognitive enhancer. This powerful plant enhances mental performance by increasing blood flow, oxygenation, and glucose metabolism in several key brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus (12,13). Improved memory, focus, and mental processing rate are just a few cognitive benefits of increased blood flow and oxygenation to the brain (14).

In the world of nootropics, Ginkgo biloba has a long history of use by traditional healers. Recent research proves its ability to improve cognitive function naturally. Natural supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated when used correctly. Please consult your licensed physician before starting any dietary supplements.

Learn more about how Ginkgo supplementation can improve brain health and enhance cognitive function here! 4 Powerful Natural Nootropics For Students

Omega Three Fatty Acids

As recognized nootropics, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fatty acids crucial for brain health and cognitive function (16). These fatty acids are significant structural elements of membranes of brain cells and play an essential role in preserving the brain’s neuronal network (17). Omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated in numerous studies to have beneficial effects on cognitive function, mental focus, learning and memory (18,19).

Omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory attributes, shielding the brain from age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s (20). There are many natural food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, tuna), nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, walnuts), and even some vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale) (21). Still, many individuals opt to take fish oil supplements instead. It’s crucial to realize that not all fish oil supplements are the same and that some may even be harmful to your health. Studies show that taking large amounts of fish oil supplements increases oxidative stress, which can harm cells and have a role in developing chronic diseases (22).

Furthermore, some fish oil capsules may contain high levels of mercury and other chemicals that are hazardous to one’s health. The journal Environmental Research published an analysis of 54 different fish oil supplements, finding that some included mercury levels and other pollutants over the standards set by international regulatory bodies (23). The study emphasizes the need to select high-quality Omega 3 supplements thoroughly evaluated for purity.

In contrast, getting your omega-3s from whole foods has not been demonstrated to have any detrimental health impacts and supply certain additional nutrients that are good for your overall health. Generally, eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is preferable to taking fish oil capsules. Adding omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods into your diet, such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, is a simple and effective strategy to boost brain function and general health.

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea, also known as Golden Root, is a potent herb with a long history of usage in traditional medicine. It is gaining appeal as an essential ingredient in nootropic supplements due to its ability to improve cognitive function and brain performance.

Rhodiola rosea has been demonstrated in studies to boost mental performance and attention span in healthy people, making it a viable choice for students, professionals and anyone looking to enhance their cognitive functioning. It raises your brain’s concentrations of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are essential for modulating mood, motivation, and focus (24,25).

But that’s only part of what Rhodiola rosea can do for you. This robust plant also has adaptogenic characteristics, which can enhance the body’s ability to deal with stress and mental fatigue. Incidentally, Soviet cosmonauts also took Rhodiola rosea to assist them in dealing with the strains and exhaustion of space travel (26).

Rhodiola rosea is a must-have in your stack of nootropics to effectively combat mental fatigue and boost brain function. As always, please consult a licensed physician before starting any dietary supplements.

Read more about the effects of this incredible herbal supplement ! 4 Powerful Natural Nootropics For Students

Green Tea

Nootropic supplements containing green tea extract have been utilized for millennia in traditional Chinese medicine for their purported cognitive benefits. It has a class of compounds known as catechins, the most notable of which is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has substantial mental benefits. EGCG has been shown in studies to improve memory and cognitive function, and it could potentially treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms (28,29).

In addition to its cognitive benefits, green tea extract can significantly boost mental health. Studies show it can lessen signs of anxiety and depression and elevate your overall sense of well-being (30). This is likely owing to its capacity to raise levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters involved in mood and behaviour regulation.

One of the fantastic things about using green tea extract in your stack of nootropics is that it is entirely natural, generally safe, and well-tolerated when used correctly. Unlike certain synthetic nootropics or’ smart drugs’ used for cognitive function, it has no serious adverse side effects or hazards associated with long-term use (31). Its established benefits for recollection, cognitive function, mental health, safety, and lack of adverse side effects make it one of the top nootropics on the market today.

While nootropics like green tea extract are generally safe and well-tolerated, we recommend you consult a licensed physician before beginning this or any dietary supplements.

Uses For Nootropics

Throughout history, humanity has employed various herbs and memory enhancing substances as nootropics. We use them for a range of purposes. Some of their potential uses include to:

Enhance Creativity

As a result of their effects on the brain’s connectivity and ability to generate novel ideas, research shows nootropics can foster more creative output. For example, studies link certain nootropics like Bacopa consumption to increased alpha brain wave activity.

There is a strong association between higher alpha wave activity and creativity (27). Some famous ‘smart drugs’ used for creativity include modafinil and racetams, but as discussed above their use comes with risk.

Please read our article 5 simple hacks to increase brain waves for more information on brain waves and their association with cognitive functions.

Improve Focus

Increasing mental clarity and concentration is a common reason people take nootropics. These brain supplements can help you stay awake and focused for extended periods without the nervousness and ‘crashes’ associated with high doses of caffeine.

Some of the most effective nootropics to improve focus and combat mental fatigue are Rhodiola rosea and Ginkgo biloba.

Read more here 4 Powerful Natural Nootropics for Students

Preserve Brain Health

Our brain function gradually degrades as we age, which can result in memory loss and cognitive impairment. Certain nootropics can benefit brain performance by protecting it from oxidative stress, strengthening certain connections, and lowering the risk of age-related cognitive decline and certain brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

Herbs like Bacopa Monnieri, Ginkgo Biloba, and Rhodiola Rosea are top nootropics for preserving brain health and preventing cognitive impairment.

Who Should Consider Taking Nootropics?

Do you want to avoid misplacing your keys and missing essential appointments? Want to maintain your mental acuity and concentrate no matter how hectic your day gets? If so, nootropics may be the answer. Generally, nootropics will benefit anyone looking to improve their mental skills and prevent cognitive decline. While nootropics aren’t a magical cure for life’s difficulties, they can give you that additional push when needed. Nootropic supplements are worth it whether you’re a busy professional, student, or someone wishing to stay mentally sharp far into your golden years.

While everyone can benefit from increased brain power, specific groups may find nootropic supplements especially beneficial.

Those experiencing cognitive decline or memory impairment are one group that may reap the benefits of nootropic supplements. Memory, attention, and processing speed are common mental skills that decline as we age. Nootropics like Bacopa monnieri or Rhodiola rosea can potentially halt this deterioration and possibly boost cognitive performance in the elderly.

The use of nootropic supplements is also advantageous for people who work jobs with high levels of stress or have careers that involve extended periods of focused effort. These supplements can help boost focus and mental endurance, increasing productivity and decreasing mental fatigue.

Students may also find great value in nootropics. There is a lot of pressure to do well in school, and it’s crucial to remember a lot of material, so nootropics could provide students who pursue academic excellence with a competitive edge.

Nootropics may also benefit people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. While nootropic supplements cannot cure certain conditions, they can assist in delaying the rate of cognitive decline and improving dementia symptoms.

While most nootropic supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated when used correctly. It is always recommended to consult a licensed physician before starting any dietary supplements.

Bottomline

Nootropics, cognitive enhancers, or ‘smart drugs’ have become immensely popular recently because of their purported mental benefits. Life in contemporary society is getting increasingly stressful and competitive. As we strive to improve our cognitive performance and stay ahead, nootropics can provide immense help, and most healthy people would see significant improvement when using them correctly.

However, our choice of nootropics is crucial. At BesaPure® Superfoods, we believe the lifelong benefits of natural nootropics far outweigh the temporary results and adverse side effects of ‘smart drugs’ or synthetic nootropics.

Daily supplements like Brain Focus by BesaPure® are all about unlocking the highest potential of your cognitive abilities with potent extracts of nature’s best nootropics. If you are looking for a natural way to enhance your mental performance and preserve brain health, this will be a valuable addition to your nootropic stack.

It is recommended to consult a licensed physician before beginning this or any dietary supplement.

Stay thriving Puresters!

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