Brain enhancement drugs have been around for quite some time. In fact, natural ones, like ginseng and gingko biloba, have long been used to help boost memory and enhance cognition. Do these new supplements, often called nootropics, really work? According to science and research, they do.
Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, or Alpha GPC, is thought to boost the amount of a very important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the brain. This makes it one of the most potent and prevalent brain enhancement drugs. These transmitters are responsible for accurately carrying signals between neurons and synapses, which improves mental function.
Back in 1993, a study published in Clinical Therapeutics showed that Alzheimer’s patients who received Alpha GPC three times per day over the course of 180 days scored higher on cognitive function tests than patients who received a placebo. A separate study conducted in 1991 and published in the Journal of International Medical Research showed similar results. Patients with vascular dementia who received Alpha GPC for 90 days showed significant improvements in their symptoms.
Huperzine A is an all-natural extract derived from the Chinese club moss. It inhibits an enzyme called AChE, or acetylcholinesterase, which has been shown to break down acetylcholine. This allows for more acetylcholine to bind to its proper receptors, thus improving mental function. It’s a common ingredient in many of today’s brain enhancement drugs, and for good reason.
A 1999 study published in Acta Pharmacologica Sinica focused on a group of adolescents. Researchers gave half the group Huperzine A and the other half of the group a placebo. Those who took Huperzine A showed improvements in learning and memory while those who took the placebo did not. Another study on patients with Alzheimer’s, which was conducted in 1995 by the same group of researchers and published in the same journal, showed that 58% of patients who received Huperzine A had improvements in their symptoms.
Cat’s claw is taken from a vine that grows exclusively in the Amazon rainforest. Unlike certain other types of nootropics, this one is designed to prevent environmental damage, particularly from free radicals. By preventing this DNA damage, it is possible to also prevent memory loss and cognitive decline that is often associated with aging.
A 2013 study published in Neurochemistry International proved that Cat’s claw does, in fact, have the ability to protect neurons by binding with free radicals and escorting them from the body safely. In this same study, the researchers mentioned that Cat’s claw should be examined as a potential prevention measure against Parkinson’s disease, which many researchers believe is exacerbated by environmental factors.
L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine
L-theanine and L-tyrosine are both amino acids that your body needs to function, particularly when it comes to cognition. It stimulates the production and function of neurotransmitters which can help relieve stress all while providing a feeling of alertness.
These are perhaps two of the most widely researched and best understood ingredients found in today’s brain enhancing drugs. In these studies, volunteers who chose to use them showed significant improvements in mood and mental function. In fact, a study focused solely on L-tyrosine found that it improved the brain’s ability to switch from thinking about one thing to the next.
All of these are common ingredients in brain enhancement drugs, and they’ve all been clinically proven effective. Do these drugs really work? According to science, extensive research, and the people who use them every day, they certainly do. In fact, many of these ingredients are being studied and/or considered as viable treatment options for many of today’s most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases.