If you’ve ever struggled with your attention span, creativity, memory, or motivation, you are not alone. Our cognitive function is responsible for the most important things in our life, including our job, relationships, experiences, and general happiness. So, what do you do if you are struggling in this area? Some may recommend nootropics, a supplement that is said to help improve various aspects of our cognitive health. But what are nootropics? Let’s take a look.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics, also known as “smart drugs,” are various supplements that are believed to help boost mental performance in areas such as memory, focus, creativity, intelligence, and motivation. Nootropics typically referred to any substance, natural or synthetic, that elicits a positive impact on our mental functions and can range from a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, plant compound, or anything in between.
There are FDA-approved prescription nootropics available for those with cognitive conditions, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or Alzheimer’s that have shown some promise in treatment, but most common nootropics include over-the-counter supplements. In fact, many people take nootropics regularly and don’t even realize it.
For example, those who rely on their morning cup of Joe to give them a boost of energy to start their day. Caffeine from coffee or tea is a natural stimulant that also doubles as a Nootropic because of its ability to provide us with more energy and focus throughout the day.
There are many reported benefits of various nootropics, including:
Various nootropic supplements, such as Bacopa Monnieri and Ginko Biloba are believed to help boost memory if taken consistently.
Reduced anxiety and stress
Nootropic supplements, such as L-Theanine and Rhodiola Rosea can help to reduce anxiety and improve the human stress response. These supplements and many others that provide similar benefits have also been shown to improve sleep.
Boosting attention span and concentration
More common nootropic supplements, such as caffeine, can help boost mental clarity, attention span, and overall concentration. This works especially well in those who are suffering from fatigue.
Nootropic supplements, such as Ginseng, and many others can even help to improve our mood and treat symptoms of depression. Although more research is needed before this can be recommended as a treatment option.
Key Ingredients in Nootropics
For those who are interested in learning more about nootropics, or maybe even trying some out, below is a list of some key ingredients to look for in over-the-counter nootropic supplements that have shown promise in research.
- Caffeine – Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in various forms, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, supplements, and powders. Caffeine helps to increase energy levels by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain when you are tired. This helps to increase alertness and attention span to help fight fatigue.
- L-Theanine – L-Theanine is an amino acid that can be found in various supplements but is naturally available in tea. This amino acid is believed to help exhibit a calming effect and improve creativity without increasing drowsiness.
- Bacopa Monnieri – Bacopa Monnieri is an ancient herb believed to help improve memory however, its effects are not seen unless taken consistently for several months.
- Rhodiola Rosea – Another herb to look for in nootropics is Rhodiola Rosea, an adaptogen that is believed to help improve mood and decrease stress and anxiety. However, this herb is still poorly understood, and more research is needed.
- Ginko Biloba – Ginko Biloba is an extract from the leaves of the Ginko Biloba tree that research has shown to have positive benefits for memory and stress reduction. Although research has been promising and these supplements have been around for some time, more research is still needed.
- Lion’s Mane – Lion’s mane is commonly found in nootropic supplements in the form of an extract. Lion’s mane is a mushroom that is believed to help protocol against dementia and boost mental function by stimulating the growth of brain cells.
- N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine – N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, or simply Tyrosine, is found in many nootropic supplements to improve alertness, attention, and focus. You can also find this amino acid in high protein foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, and dairy products.
- Ginseng – A plant used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, Ginseng is believed to help improve many different brain functions, including memory, behavior, and mood. This plant is also believed to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
What to Look for in a Nootropic
When looking for a nootropic supplement, make sure it includes well-researched ingredients. Avoid supplements that contain a mixture of many different ingredients as these are more difficult to study the efficacy and can result in interactions with medication. Although many nootropics are effective based on various research studies, more research is still needed to learn more about these compounds and how they affect our health.
Always speak to your health care provider before adding a nootropic supplement to ensure it will not interact with any medications you might be taking or current conditions that you have.
Who Should Take Nootropics?
If you are wondering if you should start taking a nootropic, here are a few things to consider. Nootropic supplements work best for those who have difficulty concentrating, low energy levels, or fatigue.
Keep in mind that different types of nootropics provide different benefits. For those who are looking for an energy boost, caffeine is a common, natural nootropic that might provide you with some benefits. However, someone who is challenged with stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness will not benefit from the same nootropic.
Nootropics are best for healthy, adult individuals who have no known medical conditions. Always consult your health care provider before adding a supplemental nootropic to your routine.
For those who are suffering from medical conditions that result in poor memory or concentration, such as ADHD, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and more, speak to your health care provider about prescription nootropic options as these have shown more promise in these conditions than over-the-counter supplements.
Not all nootropics are the same. If you are considering purchasing a nootropic supplement, be sure the ingredients are well-researched and match the benefits you are looking for. Always be sure to purchase your nootropic supplement from a reputable source and choose one that is third-party tested if able. Browse some of our popular nootropic reviews below to get started.