Thinking about getting started with nootropics? You are at the right place.
Many people struggle with specific difficulties like lack of focus, low attention span, slow learning, and many others. Even for those without these difficulties, there is always the need to be more efficient. Sadly we cannot get the cutting-edge ‘smart drug’ that grants superhuman intelligence, like Bradley Cooper in ‘Limitless.’
However, we can make do with our magic pills: Nootropics. These drugs have proven to be very effective in boosting cognitive performance, reducing stress, and improving the brain’s efficiency. However, with the number of nootropics out in the market, many of which are dangerous and some ineffective, one needs to be cautious of what you get and how you use them.
This guide is designed to help you understand nootropics and the easiest ways to get the best results from them.
What are Nootropics?
Considering the complexity of the brain, Nootropics can be very confusing. Nootropics, also called ‘smart drugs,’ are brain boosters normally taken as nutritional supplements to enhance brain power, improve cognition, and facilitate learning, creativity, and motivation. They come in stacks, a combination of various nootropics in one capsule.
Flickr Image by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
These supplements enhance certain brain functions leading to results that can be felt. There are some which take effect in the long run. That is, you don’t feel immediate results, but they improve the overall brain health to promote healthy memory and mental health for a very long time.
Nowadays, ‘nootropics’ refers to any supplement that helps with brain health. However, for a supplement to be regarded as a true nootropic, it:
- Must enhance memory and ability to learn
- Must be non-toxic to humans
- Must be safe to use with very few side effects
- Must not stimulate the brain or cause depression
- Must protect the brain from chemical and physical toxins and
- Must be supported by human clinical research studies.
Popular Nootropics and How to Use them
Nootropics are majorly divided into two categories, natural and man-made. Here’s a detailed list of them:
Natural nootropics include brain boosters that are extracted from natural sources. They come in the form of whole plants, extracts of plants, or nutrients in foods. Most of these can be purchased over the counter and don’t require prescriptions.
Reports have shown that caffeine is currently the most popular nootropic in consumption. It can be found naturally in cocoa, coffee, tea, guarana, and others. This supplement can be taken independently or combined with other boosters like L-Theanine.
Action: Caffeine acts as a stimulant and works by blocking the adenosine receptors in your brain. This helps keep you alert and makes you less tired.
Dosage: According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people should consume a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine in a day. This is about 4-5 cups of coffee.
It is better to avoid caffeine pills and powders. They contain higher amounts of simulant, and taking them can cause an overdose. For expecting mothers, you must reduce your caffeine intake. High intake during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy loss.
These amino acids are naturally obtained from tea and can be taken as a brain supplement. L-theanine’s efficiency increases when combined with caffeine. As a result, they are usually used together to formulate high-performance supplements.
Flickr Image by The Focal Project
Action: according to the MDPI 2016 report, L-theanine works by increasing alpha waves in the brain, which results in a relaxed yet alert mental state.
Dosage: There is no recommended dosage for this. However, many supplements recommend taking about 100 – 400 mg per day.
When taking L-theanine, ensure that you follow the FDA caffeine guidelines.
The Panax ginseng is an ancient perennial plant grown in China and some parts of Siberia. The roots of these plants often serve medicinal purposes as they help to boost brain functions.
Action: Its anti-inflammatory solid effect works to protect your brain from oxidation stress. It has proven to reduce brain fatigue and improve performance on difficult tasks. Panax ginseng also helps to prevent certain brain diseases like; Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. It also may help with brain recovery after a stroke.
Dosage: The recommended dosage for a mental function is about 100-600 mg once or twice a day.
Synthetic or man-made nootropics are those formulated in the lab. They are highly regulated, unlike natural nootropics and designed to work for a particular cognitive benefit. These nootropics often require intense trials and tests to ensure their safety and efficiency. They include:
Noopept is a man-made nootropic that acts as a supplement. Noopept is a high-performance supplement, its effects can be seen within minutes, unlike natural nootropic, which takes longer.
Action: It stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and Nerve growth factor (NGF), which helps to promote the growth of brain cells. It helps to improve cognition performance, logical thinking, reflexes, and mood. Research shows that noopept helps people recover from brain injuries and protects the brain against the development of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.
Dosage: Recommended dosage for noopept is 10 – 30 mg per day. They should be stacked with a good choline source like Alpha GPC or CDP Choline.
This synthetic nootropic is quite similar to noopept. It helps to improve glutamate neurotransmitters’ function and protect and promote neurons’ growth.
Action: By influencing the AMPA and NMDA receptors, piracetam affects the learning and memory process of the brain. As a nootropic, it boosts focus, learning, and memory and acts as a neuroprotectant.
Dosage: The average dosage of Piracetam is about 1-4.4 grams per day. For beginners, it is recommended that you start on a lower range and move up.
This is a prescription drug with amphetamines, which are quite stimulating. Although it is most frequently prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, healthy folks are increasingly using it to sharpen their focus and attention.
Flickr Image by The Focal Project
Action: It improves attention and focus, and reduces impulsive behaviors.
Dosage: The dosage depends on that prescribed by your doctor.
Note that to get the best out of your nootropics, you should combine its use with certain habits like:
- Sleeping healthy- about 7-9 hours daily
- Work in a calm area free from interruptions
- Stay hydrated
- Eat low carbs and high protein meals
- To help your memory, take organized notes and maintain a calendar
Nootropics are quite amazing, however, you don’t want to dive into them all at once. As a beginner start with the safe and well-tested supplements listed above. Follow the guidelines and make sure to take the recommended dosage. In addition, maintain good habits to get the maximum effects of these nootropics.
Thanks for reading!