What are Nootropics?
Hollywood is no stranger to starting trends. People suddenly became interested in brain supplements after the movie Limitless was released in 2011. We saw a struggling writer played by Bradley Cooper go from broke and unmotivated to arguably the most intelligent person on earth. And all of this from a magic capsule referred to as NZT-48. Since then, several sources have debunked the mythology behind the limitless pill. However, that hasn’t stopped the curiosity of entrepreneurs, students, and working professionals looking for quick ways to boost cognitive function. Some of them wanted to see for themselves what taking brain supplements felt like, while others truly believed that brain supplements would make them limitless.
If you haven’t seen the movie, we’re not going to spoil it for you. But, thinking that a pill can enhance your brainpower to a superhuman capacity is not only puerile, but it’s also an unhealthy way to think about supplements. In the following article, we will discuss how brain supplements and nootropics work, realistic expectations from taking them, and we present a list of the different types of nootropic supplements.
Separating Fact from Fiction
First of all, the limitless pill that Bradley Cooper’s character takes does not exist. NZT-48 pill is a fictional drug that makes the plot possible. Searching for it in real life will yield similar results as looking for a pill that helps you shed 50 pounds in a week. In other words, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Many people compare NZT-48 to prescription ADHD medications Modafinil and Adderall. Again, don’t be fooled. While these are about as close as you’ll get an NZT pill in real life, we advise against using prescription drugs for off-label use. There are plenty of all natural alternatives that can enhance cognition without such ferocity and with far fewer side effects than prescription medications.
What Are Nootropics?
Simply put, nootropics are substances that improve your cognitive function. Think of nootropics as food and nutrition for your brain. When our brains are deprived of the proper nutrients, we may experience brain fog, lack of focus, mental fatigue, and poor memory. In the same way that low-grade fuel can affect a sports car’s performance, low-quality food and nutrition can make our bodies and brains sluggish. With proper diet and exercise and an all-natural brain supplement to provide an additional kick, peak mental performance becomes possible.
People often believe that nootropics are only synthetic substances. The truth is, the best nootropics are derived from various plants and herbs that have been used by our ancestors for centuries. Technically, anything that enhances cognitive abilities can be classified as a nootropic, but for safety and longevity reasons, we only recommend all-natural supplements.
How Do Nootropics Work?
Unlike NZT-48 that offers a superhuman capacity to learn and calculate, real nootropics improve your cognitive function over time through continual use. Dietary supplementation of certain foods and substances can significantly improve your brain health and mental function.
Every nootropic works in a slightly different way, but they all produce similar results. Some work to enhance your mood or memory. Others improve your brain’s blood flow which boosts focus and mental energy. Some of them don’t improve your brain function at all, but they protect it against age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative illnesses. Regardless of your goals, there’s a nootropic out there that can suit your needs.
Types of Nootropic Supplements
Although we always prefer all-natural supplements, there are several different types of nootropics and smart drugs to be aware of. We’ve outlined them below.
- Amphetamines such as Adderall can help people suffering from ADHD increase their cognitive function. Adderall is arguably the most abused smart drug on college campuses. It’s highly capable of improving cognition in healthy individuals, but it has several adverse side effects. With excessive off-label Adderall use, tolerance can develop, which may lead to addiction and greater potential for other forms of drug abuse. We suggest avoiding Adderall unless taken under a doctor’s supervision for the treatment of ADHD.
- Methylphenidates such as Ritalin can improve your working and episodic memory. These drugs can also be used to improve your performance in tasks that require a high degree of mental effort, boosting stamina and precision in the process. Similar to amphetamines, we don’t recommend using prescription drugs for off-label use due to the high likelihood of adverse side effects.
- Eugeroics such as Modafinil can promote wakefulness, and they are better suited for sleep deprived individuals. They seem to have a positive impact on the problem-solving capacity, and they’re often prescribed for narcolepsy. Modafinil is known to be the safest prescription stimulant to take, but that does not mean it is side effect free. Most individuals still prefer all-natural nootropics.
- Xanthines such as caffeine increase your alertness and in some cases your physical performance and memory. A lower dose is needed to increase mental alertness than for enhancing physical performance. However, people develop caffeine tolerance easily, which makes it less useful over time. As is the case with any stimulant, prescription or non-prescription, use them sparingly and with caution.
- Racetams and Synthetic nootropics such as Oxiracetam, Piracetam, or the powerful noopept can improve your cognitive capacity, but their mechanism of action is not entirely understood. They seem to improve your brain’s blood flow, oxygen consumption, and neuronal communication, which would naturally make your brain more efficient. With that said, most of the studies conducted with racetams and synthetic nootropics are on While the results of some studies may seem promising, use synthetic nootropics and racetams with caution and accept the possible risks associated with the unknown.
- All Natural nootropics such as Huperzine A or Phosphatidylserine can enhance cognitive function with little to no risk of adverse side effects. In this group, there are a wide variety of herbal substances that can improve memory, mood, focus, mental energy, and more. Cholinergic like Alpha GPC help raise the levels of learning neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in the brain. Healthy fats like MCT oil or fish oil provide boosted energy levels and long-term brain support. And herbs such as St. John’s Wort can significantly enhance your mood and sense of well-being. This is the safest and arguably the most capable group of nootropics for long-term use.
Boosting Brain Power The All Natural Way
Taking a pill that drastically improves your cognitive abilities looks great in the movies. Unfortunately, such a pill doesn’t exist. If you want to enhance your brain power, you have to commit and be consistent with it. Providing your brain with high-quality fuel will make it perform better, and it will improve your memory and attention over time. But supplements alone are never the answer. Regular exercise, a proper diet, and high-quality sleep will always be the best way to improve physical and mental energy levels. Supplements are an excellent way to take an already high-performing body and push it just a little bit further.