Benefits of Nootropics?
What are nootropics?
Nootropics, also known as neuroenhancers, smart drugs, memory enhancers, or cognitive/intelligence enhancers, are drugs, supplements, or functional foods that improve mental function in some way, such as aiding in motivation, attention, or working memory. The word nootropic was first coined in 1972 by Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea. There are currently only a few drugs that have been proven to actually aid in mental function, although there are many in various stages of development. The most commonly used class of nootropics is stimulants, especially the omnipresent caffeine. Other commonly used nootropics include powders or pills like Adrafinil Aniracetam, Piracetam, or the Neuro line of supplement waters. This nootropic, and others like it are the most potent available.
Different Dosages of Nootropics
Dosage depends very much on the type of nootropic being used. For powder supplements, it is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s dosage. For supplements with a longer half-life, meaning they last longer, generally it is advisable to take two slightly larger doses in the morning and at night, whereas those with shorter half-lives it might be best to take three or four smaller doses throughout the day. For most healthy adults without any other complicating health concerns, about 300-400 mg of caffeine can be consumed daily without any adverse side effects such as twitchiness, nervousness, or anxiety.
The side effects of nootropics again greatly depend on what type you happen to be taking. However, since most commonly used nootropics are stimulants, the side effects of those include restlessness and jitters, nausea, heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, among others. However, when used safely and as recommended, there are little to no negative side effects.
The potential benefits of nootropics over the long-term are very much still being studied, but in short term, real change and improvements on brain function are very readily apparent. Proponents claim that it improves mental clarity and focus, and there is hope that some drugs in the future may even increase intelligence to the point where nearly all students and workers need them. At the moment, we do have access to drugs that help keep us alert and clear-eyed; most of us can’t make it through the morning without our cup of coffee to help wake us up, which is a clear demonstration of the benefits of incorporating nootropics into our daily lives. Other benefits include appetite suppression, which is helpful for those of us with a few extra pounds, and because it keeps the user awake, we can work or play for longer than we would have been able to otherwise. Nutraceuticals like ginkgo biloba, a common ingredient in nootropic supplements, increase blood flow to the brain, which has been shown to increase learning ability and alertness.
Long Term Effects
The long term effects of stimulants have been intensely studied and as they are the most commonly used supplements, this article will mainly focus on those. Dependence can occur over the long term, as can reduction in control of fine motor skills (resulting in shaky hands), insomnia, or increased blood pressure. Over time, stimulants can even increase the metabolic rate, which aids in weight control.
Short Term Effects
The effects greatly depend on what exactly you’ve taken, but they can range from improved cognition or alertness to increased focus and attention span. Taking a lot of anything in a short span of time can overload your system and make you feel very sick as well as jittery, “wired”, and can even have the opposite effect of making you “crash” and feel very tired.
There is extensive research into the field of nootropics, in order to get a supplement or drug approved. The most promising compound so far is acetylcholine, which has been shown to improve mental cognition and clarity, but as yet, there are no drugs containing this compound that have been approved for use. If it were possible to use this compound in a supplement, it would likely be a very powerful nootropic that might actually increase perceived intelligence. Whoever could produce the first nootropic for cognition improvement specifically would likely corner the market, and achieve widespread market penetration.
People have been searching to improve their mental powers since time immemorial. Although officially invented in the 1970s, anything we might call a “mind-altering substance” was likely used at some point as a nootropic. An ascetic who meditates for 8 hours a day, an ancient philosopher soaking in wine and smoke, and a tired writer trying to break through the mental fog of every day life share the same goal – mental clarity and the ability to think on a higher plane.
Stacking is common practice in the world of nutritional supplements and performance enhancers, and this has carried over into nootropic cognitive enhancements. It is commonly believed that taking two or more nootropic drugs could help increase or enhance the effects of both, and possibly even offset side effects. Of course, there is also the possibility that taking more supplements or drugs could have the opposite effect – namely, that neither would work as well and the side effects would be worse. However, as long as you are careful, the range of benefits that you receive can be well worth taking a few extra pills; for example, you could achieve mood enhancement benefits as well as concentration and focus benefits. The most common nootropic is taking Piracetam and choline together, which is popular because it helps jump start the effects of Piracetam (a common nootropic) and alleviate the common side effects of headaches.
Ultimately, the goal of nootropics is noble and deserves to be explored further. The benefits can be tremendous, and could possibly have implications for things as diverse as personal growth or helping astronauts while living under increased stress and pressure. It’s an intriguing idea, the idea of being able to take a pill that turns us into a superhuman, but stranger things have happened. An average smartphone has more computing power than Apollo 11, so nothing is impossible. It will be intriguing to note where the field progresses, and within the next 10-20 years it’s completely possible that there will be supplements available on the market that are proven to increase cognition. The possibilities are endless and the sky is the only limit.
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