Now you can with nootropics.
This guide looks at all your frequently asked questions:
Table of Contents
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are supplements designed to enhance the brain’s ability to:
Nootropics also have the ability to increase an individual’s motivation and energy levels. And while they’re unable to improve IQ, they do have the ability to boost the skills that are required for learning.
Note that each Nootropic focuses on a specific aspect of mental improvement. No single one is designed to improve all of the areas mentioned above.
What Substances Are Classified As Nootropics?
Over 100 substances qualify as nootropics.
These include vitamins, minerals, herbal compounds, as well as prescription and non-prescription drugs.
The majority of nootropics freely available on the internet and in health food stores are natural herbal supplements. The active ingredients in herbal nootropics are lab isolated and presented in exact levels to enhance their potency.
What Are The Different Types Of Nootropics?
Synthetic (artificial) nootropic drugs are known as racetams.
However, herbal supplements are actually the most popular form. They contain ingredients focused on improving one particular aspect of brain function, such as improving memory recall or boosting concentration.
Adaptogens are a sub-class of herbal nootropics that are specifically designed to fight stress. This is done by neutralising stress hormones produced by the endocrine system.
Phospholipids are also a type of natural nootropic shown to enhance brain cell formation. They’re a an Omega-3 fatty acid that aids in the process of building and repairing brain cells, as well as supplying fluid to brain cell membranes. Popular phospholipids include:
Good natural food sources are egg yolks, soy, cold-water fish, sunflowers and the organs of animals.
What Are Racetams?
Racetams are synthetic (artificial) drugs designed to boost brain function.
There are 19 compounds that make up the different types of racetams, but they all share a similar chemical structure.
All types are considered safe, with the most popular called Piracetam.
However, in Australia and New Zealand racetams are prescription only medications.
How Do Nootropics Work?
Put simply, the majority of nootropics work by influencing the brain’s neurotransmitters.
The brain consists of neuron pathways that connect and interact together in order to function.
Neurotransmitters, as the name implies, ‘transmit’ signals between neuron pathways in the brain, which connect all the different lobes and parts into a well-functioning circuit.
The more neurotransmitters you have, the better the communication. Think of it like increasing the RAM on your computer; everything is faster and smoother.
The following are several bioactive pathways by which nootropics influence brain function:
- Brain Energy: Nootropics can deliver more oxygen to the brain cells, improve the efficiency of mitochondria and direct fatty acids to the brain for use as energy.
- Brain Chemicals: Nootropics provide the building blocks for synthesizing neurotransmitters, as well as triggering brain chemical release.
- Blood Flow: Nootropics boost blood flow to the brain by signaling nitric oxide to open blood vessels.
- Brain Cell Regeneration: Nootropics provide the building blocks, energy and nerve stimulation to promote neurogenesis, brain cell maintenance and brain plasticity.
- Brain Wave Tuning: Nootropics are believed to have the ability to promote ‘Alpha’ brain wave activity. This results in a feeling of alertness and clear thinking.
- Stress resistance: Adaptogens strengthen the brain’s resistance to the stress hormone cortisol.
- Free radical protection: Free radicals are unstable compounds that can cause damage to the brain. Some nootropics act as antioxidants, with the ability to neutralize free radicals.
Do Nootropics Have Any Side Effects?
In order to be classified as a nootropic, the formulation must be free of side effects.
As a result, nootropics are overwhelmingly safe to use. However, it remains largely unknown how long term use affects the critical stages of brain development.
Nootropics come with serving size recommendations for safe and effective use. You should never exceed these guidelines. The most common side effects of over-use are headaches, insomnia and fatigue.
Additionally, nootropics – especially synthetic versions – should not be mixed with alcohol. Doing so may heighten the effects of alcohol.
Are Nootropics Addictive?
Nootropics are considered to be non-addictive.
When you cycle off a course of nootropics, there is little likelihood that you will experience withdrawal symptoms.
However, there are many different types of nootropics on the market and we all react differently to certain substances. This makes it impossible to state definitively.
Are Nootropics The Same As Smart Drugs?
No. Smart drugs are prescription drugs used to treat a specific condition, such as ADHD.
Many have started misusing smart drugs, like Adderall and Ritalin, to improve concentration and performance in exams. This is why they are often mistaken as nootropics.
But smart drugs often come with significant side effects and dangerous risks, and we advise you to avoid them.
Can Nootropics Be Stacked?
Yes, it’s possible to combine different nootropics in a ‘stack’.
This will provide you with two or more different cognitive effects. In fact, some nootropics combine very effectively with others to boost the overall effect of the stack.
Nootropic stacks can be pre-purchased – which we review on this site – or you can create your own.
Which Nootropics Affect Different Areas Of Brain?
Nootropics have been extensively studied over recent years.
This has allowed us to identify the best compounds to produce specific effects:
- Memory retention: Bacopa monnieri
- Stress relief: L-Theanine, Rhodolia rosea
- Brain cell regeneration: Citicoline, Lion’s Mane
- Increased blood supply: Vinpocetine, Gingko biloba
- Brain Energy: Citicoline, PQQ, NADH
- Brian Chemicals: Citicoline, NADH, Tryptophan, L-Tyrosine
- Brain wave tuning: L-Theanine, Oatstraw
- Free radical protection: Curcumin, Pterostilbene, CoQ10.
Are Nootropics Legal In Australia and New Zealand?
Most nootropics are freely available in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and Europe, as well as elsewhere in the world.
But regulations is a bit inconsistent overall, which is a topic outside the scope of this article. But all you need to know is:
Racetams are classified as a Schedule IV drug and must be obtained with a prescription.
DHEA, a supplement made from wild yams or soy can only be obtained in Australia with a doctor’s prescription. All other natural nootropics are freely available.
Racetams can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription.
The majority of natural nootropics are freely available. However, those that are controlled include:
What Is The Best Nootropic?
The best nootropic for you depends on what area of cognition you are looking to improve.
By becoming familiar with how nootropics work, as well as which ingredients are best for specific outcomes, you’ll be able to select the product to meet your needs.
Our extensive nootropic ingredients review is the best place to start.