These days, there’s certainly no shortage of supplements designed to improve your physical or mental health. Of these, nootropics are some of the least-known, but also some of the most powerful. What is a nootropic, and why should you be taking one? The answers are quite simple, and they might surprise you.
What Is a Nootropic?
Simply put, a nootropic is a substance taken exogenously that improves or enhances memory, intelligence, focus, and other cognitive functions. These substances are sometimes called “intelligence” or “brain-boosting” pills, and for good reason. The ingredients contained in the capsules have been clinically proven to improve cognizance, protect the brain, and in a few cases, slow the progression of certain conditions that affect the brain and memory. These include everything from dementia to Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Seven Types of Nootropics
Most experts will agree that there are seven different categories of nootropics. Each one presents its own unique set of advantages and downfalls.
Racetams – Racetams are some of the most popular and widely available nootropics and they stimulate acetylcholine receptors. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is directly related to memory, cognition, motivation, learning, focus, and more.
Ampakines – Ampakines are some of the newest types of nootropics, so they are being rigorously studied. They have not yet been proven safe for regular use, but they do offer more glutamic activity than even racetams, and this glutamic activity is vital for cognitive function.
Choline and Acetylcholine Intermediates – There are certain molecules and enzymes within your body that will break down acetylcholine, which can have an impact on the amount that actually makes it into the receptors in your brain. Acetylcholine and choline intermediates prevent that breakdown. While these don’t provide many nootropic benefits on their own, they work synergistically with other types of nootropics to potentiate their effects.
Modified Synthetic B-Vitamins – Molecularly-altered B-vitamins make up another category of nootropics. They are commonly used to boost mood and memory, and they may even help improve energy levels.
Natural Nootropics – Natural nootropics are typically extracted from common plants. There is some evidence to suggest that natural nootropics are the most potent of them all, simply because your body knows how to use them the moment they are ingested.
Peptide Nootropics – This is another relatively new category of nootropics, and while they are quite potent, the vast majority must be injected or inhaled through the nose in order to be effective.
“Smart” Drugs – Finally, there are some nootropics that are often referred to as “smart drugs” because they can significantly enhance your brain’s ability to take in and recall information. However, many of these are derived directly from amphetamines and other potent stimulants, which makes them not only controlled substances, but also very risky in terms of side effects.
What are nootropics? They are substances, either natural, modified, or manmade, that improve your brain’s ability to process information. Although nootropics are only now beginning to gain popularity with the general public, there is evidence to suggest that people have been using them – especially those that are plant-based – since the Middle Ages.