There are numerous aspects of Nootropics that are unknown to the general public. This article sheds light on all crucial elements related to Nootropic – what is it, what does it do, its variations, its side effects, and limitations.
Nootropic – what is it?
Nootropic is anything that instigates your brain concerning its functioning. Think of it as your mom (she being nootropic and you being the brain), continually reminding you and ensuring that you finish your homework before tomorrow’s class, but with a more hands-on approach. Nootropic itself is not a product; instead, it is a category of products which have a positive effect on the overall brain functioning, helping with cognitive and memory issues. Motivation, focus, stress, depression, and anxiety are some aspects of mental health that could benefit with nootropics.
That said, nootropic comes in a variety of forms. You have nootropic smart drugs, nootropic supplements along with some others that help in proper brain function.
These enhancing substances had always been present in the food or produced in our body. Research has helped us to pinpoint at the right cause and their effects of brain function. From there, it was the case of nootropics being either sourced from nature or artificially synthesized.
Source of Nootropic
Today, nootropics are derived from natural substances or prepared artificially. Thus, you have natural nootropic and synthetic nootropic.
Though both forms of nootropic benefit in a similar fashion, there are subtle differences between them.
Natural vs. Synthetic Nootropic
Both forms of nootropics aim at improving various aspects of brain functioning like memory and cognition; however, when we talk about immediate impact, synthetics have the edge over the naturals. The effects of synthetic nootropic supplementation are pronounced, and you can clearly distinguish the difference. Natural nootropics are restrained in this regard and take time to show their impact.
Natural and synthetic nootropics have the same result in the offering but have different propositions. While one assures of synergized enhancing of brain function albeit slow process; the other promises significant but short-lived effects and could be harmful to the body in the long run. The choice is yours to make.
Some common nootropics
So yes, there are products in the market that can alleviate your stress, reduce anxiety, calming you down and letting you focus and be motivated about things you do.
Here are some of the common natural and synthetic nootropics that are accessible to the consumer.
Bacopa Monnieri – The Brain Enhancing Indian Herb
Bacopa, also known as ‘Brahmi,’ is a traditional Indian medicinal plant. It is commonly used for treating Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, reducing anxiety, and improving memory. The memory enhancement aspect is related to either enhancing of neuronal transmission via dendritic proliferation or influence on acetylcholinergic transmission. Further, augmenting of neural transmission by Bacopa may improve memory map formation.
Bacopa can help fight against acute and chronic stress by reducing the biochemical effects of any perceived stress.
- Benefits: Reducing anxiety and stress, improve memory
- 300 mg/day if total bacoside content is 55 percent of the extract by weight
- 750 – 1500 mg/day if supplemented in powder form or leaf
(Bacopa should be taken with a meal as it is fat soluble and requires a lipoid transporter)
- Side Effects: Stomach upsets even at standard dosages
Where to Buy
Bacopa Monnieri | Starwest Botanicals
(Bacopa leaves for improving memory, reducing anxiety and stress)
Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) – The All-rounder Supplement
Gotu Kola is an herb that is used to treat a variety of ailments. Concerning brain and mental aspect, it is beneficial in treating fatigue, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease while also improving memory. The saponins (or asiatic acid) in Centella Asiatica promotes neuronal growth with reasonable dosage. The mechanism of inducing BDNF protein levels also helps Gotu Kola to show neuroprotective characteristics.
The saponin content also helps in reducing anxiety in humans when supplemented orally. Besides, supplementation of this nootropic also leads to increase in calmness, contentment, and alertness.
- Benefits: Improve memory, alertness, calmness, reduce depression and anxiety
- Dosage: 500 mg/day
- Side Effects: Can worsen the condition in case of liver problems
Where to Buy
(This herbal supplement contains certified organic Gotu Kola to improve memory and concentration in academic performance and study activities)
Lion’s Mane Mushroom – Helps To Get Rid Of Depression
The Lion’s Mane is highly beneficial for enhancing brain functions. It stimulates the growth and repair of nerve cells. A study shows that Lion’s Mane has two distinctive compounds, hericenones and erinacines that can encourage the growth of brain cells. Another study proves its effectiveness in reducing memory loss symptoms.
The nootropic extract has anti-inflammatory effects which can alleviate anxiety symptoms. Moreover, it helps in regenerating brain cells in the hippocampus which is directly related to our memories and emotion, thus, also helping with depression.
- Benefits: Reduce memory loss symptoms, alleviate anxiety
- Dosage: 500 – 1000 mg/day
- Side Effects: Skin irritation or rash, itchiness, breathing difficulty
Note: These symptoms are only visible if you are allergic to mushroom. In general, there are no side effects.
Where to Buy
Organifi Pure – 1 Box
(Meant for overall mental health, it has Lion’s Mane Mushroom as one of its key ingredients along with Ginger Root, Aloe Vera, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coffeeberry)
Ginkgo Biloba – The Ultimate Chinese Herb To Improve Cognition
Practiced in traditional Chinese medicine, Ginkgo Biloba helps to enhance memory and improve blood circulation. This improved blood circulation can protect against aging-related issues. Ginkgo can also be used to treat memory loss while studies also show its usefulness in improving cognitive function in healthy adults.
Further, Ginkgo Biloba regulates neurotransmission by improving the alpha-2 adrenoreceptor activity.
- Benefits: Treat memory loss, improve cognition
- Dosage: maximum 120 mg/day
- Side Effects: Skin reactions, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, nausea
Where to Buy
Getyuve Brain+ Vitamins
(The Brain+ from Getyuve containing Ginkgo Biloba promotes memory, mental sharpness, and focus)
L-Theanine – Helps You To Be More Focused!
Theatine, which is commonly found in tea and some mushrooms, is very effective in treating anxiety, stress, depression while improving mental performance and attention, and also treating ADHD. The theanine supplementation causes an increase in alpha wave production which is highly associated with relaxation and attention. This increase in alpha wave may only happen in people with high baseline anxiety. Moreover, the increase in alpha waves is also associated with mental alertness and selective attention mechanisms.
- Benefits: Alleviate stress, depression, anxiety; improve attention
- Dosage: 100 – 200 mg, usually alongside caffeine
- Side Effects: Risk of low blood pressure
Where to Buy
L-Theanine | AbsorbyourHealth
(Capsule supplement of L-Theanine for boosting mood)
Caffeine – Gets Rid Of Fatigue
Caffeine, a chemical compound found in tea and coffee, is used to improve the mental alertness of an individual. Concerning the mental aspect, its supplementation helps in cases of ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), while also helps with memory.
The primary mechanism of caffeine relies on the stimulation of the central nervous system.
- Benefits: Promote alertness, memory; treat ADHD, OCD
- Dosage: 250 mg/day
- Side Effects: Anxiety disorders, heart conditions, diarrhea (caused due to high caffeine intake)
Where to Buy
Caffeine | AbsorbyourHealth
(Caffeine supplement in capsule form for alertness)
Aniracetam – The Multi-Purpose Performance Drug
Aniracetam is considered as a powerful cognitive developer and mood booster. Belonging to the racetam family, it is a more potent version of piracetam. Aniracetam can improve aspects of memory, motor performance along with general brain function. The supplementing individual can have an increase in focus and concentration while also having reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.
Aniracetam, being a fat-soluble compound,aniracetam is metabolized and transported swiftly to the brain. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and regulates the production of various neurotransmitters responsible for controlling mood, memory, and cognition. It binds to acetylcholine receptors and promotes the release of acetylcholine. Additionally, it also links with dopamine and serotonin receptors, ensuring the optimum level of both for improving mood and anxiolytic properties. There is also a positive influence on the glutamate transmission, thus, helping in the storage of information and the creation of new memories.
- Benefits: Improve focus, mood, learning, creativity
- Dosage: 750 – 1500 mg/day
- Side Effects: Headaches, mild nausea, anxiety, digestive problems
Where to Buy
Aniracetam | AbsorbyourHealth
(Capsule supplement of Aniracetam for boosting memory)
Oxiracetam – One of The Most Powerful Nootropic
Oxiracetam influences almost all aspects of a healthy brain function. Its supplementation shows improvement of memory, learning, attention along with a wide range of mental processes. Then, it also acts as a stimulant to enhance the mental energy levels, along with motivation and alertness. Like aniracetam, it is also a more potent version of piracetam.
Oxiracetam relies on the same mechanism of stimulating certain neurotransmitters to modulate actions, just like other racetam members. It regulates the release of acetylcholine and glutamate neurotransmitters by influencing the cholinergic and glutamatergic systems. Both neurotransmitters are vital for learning, memory and overall cognitive function. Besides, it also enhances neuronal communication in the hippocampus, which is closely related to the emotional aspect and cognition.
- Benefits: Improve focus, learning, memory, energy
- Dosage: 400 – 2400 mg/day
- Side Effects: Headaches, sleep interference, nervousness
Where to Buy
Oxiracetam | AbsorbyourHealth
(Oxiracetam supplement in capsule form for memory boosting)
Alpha GPC – Most Effective Cognitive Enhancer
Alpha GPC is a primary source of choline. Choline is the originator for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is responsible for many brain functions like memory, mood, intelligence, and muscle control. In simple terms, it is a lecithin molecule with two less fatty acids, which helps maintain cell membranes, transmit nerve impulses, process fat, and cholesterol, and perform other tasks. Alpha GPC also contains a phospholipid that permits incorporation into neuronal cell membranes and utilization as a cholinergic neurotransmitter precursor.
Large observational studies link choline intake and blood levels to improved brain function, including better memory and processing.
- Benefits: Positive effect on mood, intelligence, memory
- Dosage: 300 – 1200 mg/day
- Side Effects: Headaches, fatigue, nervousness, nausea, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
With all benefits aside, there’s no significant effect of supplementation on healthy people.
Where to Buy
Alpha GPC | AbsorbyourHealth
(Choline supplement in the form of capsules for cognitive enhancement)
Sulbutiamine – The Ultimate Memory Boosting Supplement
Sulbutiamine is the synthetic form of thiamine, better known as vitamin B1. Though unlike vitamin B1, it can pass through the blood-brain barrier, thus, supplying the brain with essential vitamin B. Sulbutiamine is used as a memory-boosting supplement, and is beneficial in improving energy and mood. It helps in improving mood and energy by increasing dopamine and glutamate levels in the brain. Further, it increases the production of acetylcholine, hence, helping to boost memory and cognition.
There are also studies which show its potential for treating chronic fatigue.
- Benefits: Reduces fatigue, improves energy and mood
- Dosage: 200 – 1000 mg.
- Side Effects: Anxiety, negativity, mood swings, and skin rash.
Again, there’s no evidence of performance enhancement on sound individuals.
Where to Buy
Sulbutiamine | AbsorbyourHealth
(Capsule supplement of sulbutiamine for mood and cognitive boost)
Adrafinil – Maximizes Your Mental Focus
Adrafinil is a precursor to modafinil, meaning, it is metabolized to produce modafinil. Its supplementation increases alertness and wakefulness. It lacks anxiogenic (anxiety producing) effects. Studies also show a surge in physical activity as an after-effect, but this effect on movement is assumed to be secondary to promoting wakefulness. There’s, however, no concrete evidence available about memory benefits from adrafinil.
- Benefits: Improves alertness, reduces anxiety
- Dosage: 600 – 1200 mg
- Side Effects: Headaches, anxiety, stomach aches, skin itch, rash, nausea, appetite suppression
On a further note, extended dosages are not recommended as it doesn’t guarantee liver safety. Adrafinil gets metabolized in the liver, which can prove harmful in the long run.
Where to Buy
Adrafinil | AbsorbyourHealth
(Adrafinil capsule supplement for maintaining mental focus)
Noopept – The Brain Booster Supplement
Noopept is a bioavailable version of Piracetam. It provides a mild cognitive boost after supplementation and helps in learning. Apart from boosting cognitive function, it has a psychostimulatory effect, i.e., it stimulates the nervous system, enhancing its functioning. Further, it also provides a neuroprotective effect for cognitive trauma, including oxidative stress and physical trauma, but the results are mostly unproven in humans.
There are two possible mechanisms of action which enable Noopept in enhancing cognition – a sensitizing effect on acetylcholine processes or induction of neurotrophin production, both of which theoretically improve memory formation. It does not aid in memory recall whatsoever.
Its supplementation increases memory and attention span, reduces anxiety, and also improves mood.
Noopept has smaller side-effects compared to Piracetam, with reported 1.8-fold times fewer side-effects with 20 mg Noopept relative to 1200 mg Piracetam.
- Benefits: Stimulates nervous system, reduces anxiety; improves mood, memory, and attention
- Dosage: 10 – 30 mg
- Side Effects: Dizziness, sleep, and headaches. There are also cases of high blood pressure, brain fog, and insomnia
Then again, there are no proven benefits for people without any cognitive ailments.
Where to buy
Noopept | AbsorbyourHealth
(Noopept in capsules for overall brain health)
Alternatively, if you want a whole mental supplement, you can go for the Nootropic All-Star pack | AbsorbyourHealth
which is a nootropic stack of Alpha GPC, sulbutiamine, Adrafinil, and Noopept.
Limitations and other aspects
- There’s not much information is available on the nootropic use during pregnancy and breastfeeding; hence, it is better to be safe by preventing its use.
- Adrafinil has a long half-life. Meaning, the effects take time to show and remain sustained for a considerable time in the body. Thus, if taken in the afternoon or evening, it could impair your sleep.
- Metabolization of Adrafinil in the liver is harmful in the long run.
- In cases of excess acetylcholine, consumption of Sulbutiamine can cause headaches in people. You need to perform a body check for acetylcholine levels before you start this nootropic.
- Noopept might not be suitable for people with a severe mental health history. It can unearth feelings like anxiety and depression, affecting the individual to a greater extent.
- Though clinical tests show positive results, the exact functioning mechanism of some nootropics is not entirely understood.
- Stacking or simultaneous use of different nootropics for overall mental benefit should be carefully assessed for compatibility. Some nootropic pairings might cause dangerous side-effects and health deterioration.
- The above dosages for nootropics are standard ranges. You will have to test the supplementation amounts and find the sweet spot that works for you. That said, never consume more than the daily highest supplementation amount set for each nootropic.
The fast-paced lifestyle has put us on backfoot concerning our dietary and nutrient needs. The supplementation of nootropics allows for compensation of the missing essential nutrients from our diet, thus, helping us in maintaining appropriate mental health.