What Are Nootropics?
Before 1972, we were not familiar with the term ‘nootropic’. In 1972, Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist, invented the term by combining two Greek words, and in the English Language, the nootropic literally means ‘mind-tuner’.
It will be now easy for you to understand that what nootropics really are? These are drugs and supplements to enhance brain performance like memory, creativity, and other mental processes. Nootropics are also often referred to as smart drugs and cognitive enhancers.
According to Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist, who is also considered as ‘father of nootropics’, a substance may be categorized as a nootropic if it exhibits the following properties.
- Memory and learning enhancer
- Improve cognition functions
- Protect brain cells
- Facilitate information exchange between neurons
- Possess brain bioactivity
Nootropics work with no psychological side effects
From the above detailed and descriptive definition of nootropics, we can conclude that any substance can be identified as a nootropic if it contributes to brain health without any side effects.
Like creatine and caffeine-also classed as nootropics- these smart drugs positively impact your brain functions. They are no medications in a strict sense of the term because they can’t treat any disease but these smart drugs get you smarter by enhancing your mental faculties.
Where most performance enhancing substances, such as cocaine or amphetamines, have very extreme negative psychological side effects, and as such should be avoided at all costs, Nootropics seem to show zero psychological when used correctly.
Are Nootropics Just High Dose Caffeine?
A nootropic usually gets you high and therefore many of us believe that nootropics are nothing but high dose caffeine. But this assumption is wrong as nootropics are more than caffeine. Although, almost every nootropic contains caffeine as an ingredient nootropics also contain many of the other brain-friendly chemicals.
Besides caffeine, a nootropic may contain Alpha-lipoic acid, GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), DMAE, Choline, vitamin B-3, B-6, B-12, Tyrosine, L-theanine, Vinpocetine, and Taurine among other brain-friendly substances. Therefore nootropics are not just high doses of caffeine; these are brain supplements that contain caffeine as an ingredient.
As nootropics are not just high doses of caffeine so they help improve a wide range of brain functions besides getting you high for a while. Below are some of the powerful impacts of nootropics on various mental functions.
Attention: These smart drugs help you to focus and concentrate and thus associated with enhanced productivity.
Memory: Almost all aspects of the memory are enhanced by nootropics like information storage, retention, and recall.
Learning: Nootropics help you focus and enhance your memory so these cognition enhancers boost learning and academic performance.
Mood: Nootropics have a soothing effect on your brain so you feel relaxed.
Relaxed mind helps you to think freely and contemplate deeply, thus help you to come up with creative ideas. These smart drugs have also proven effective in building confidence, inducing sociability, and raising motivation and happiness.
Physical work-out: Stress-resistant and mood-enhancing properties of these smart drugs have added them to the buying carts of sportsmen. Now, these are also used in sports nutrition because of their mood and motivational properties.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Nootropics are nutritional supplements that mainly benefit brain health; they do so by improving brain pathways. First of all, nootropics help increase the availability of energy for the brain. The brain is the most energy-hungry organ of our body-consuming nearly 20% of the whole bodily energy.
Another positive effect of the cognition enhancers on the brain processes is that they help increase blood flow to the brain. As the brain is the most energy-demanding body organ so it needs more blood for nutrient and oxygen supply and continuous removal of metabolic wastes from the brain.
Then, these smart supplements improve the functions of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals produced in the brain and they play a critical role in transmitting messages through neurons.
Nootropics increase the brains natural abilities
The brain works on the mechanism of electrical transmission. In the brain, messages are processed through ionic current. Therefore certain waves are produced in the brain. Nootropics enhance some of these brainwaves to help improve cognitive functions.
Our brain is an energy-intensive organ; it means that a lot of metabolic processes are occurring in our brain at any time. Huge metabolic activities result in the creation of metabolic waste. Hazardous free radicals are also produced as metabolic waste which may damage brain cells if not removed or oxidized quickly. Anti-oxidative properties of nootropics help oxidize these potent free radicals quickly and in consequence, your brain performance is boosted.
Finally, our brain cells-neurons- are the most specialized cells of the human body. The more a cell specializes for a certain task lesser are its regenerative and repairing properties. So neurons have the least of the repairing and regenerative capabilities. Nootropics have shown neurogenesis properties and these help in neuron repair and maintenance and thus enhances the brain’s plasticity.
In conclusion should you be utilising nootropics?
The very definition of nootropics by its founding father, Corneliu Giurgea, indicates that nootropics are without any side effects that are they are safe. Nootropics are safe because they are not medicines rather they are nutritional supplements. But however, nootropics may sometimes contain suspected ingredients like artificial colors and preservatives which may have potential health risks. Because of these doubtful ingredients, nootropics may have side effects like a fast heart rate, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and probably addiction.
So it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking nootropics.