What are nootropics?
Nootropics are substances which improve mental performance and potentially reduce the risk of early onset neurodegeneration. They can be natural (e.g., occurring in herbs or plants, supplements) or synthetic (e.g., created in a lab setting, often times prescribed medication). Historically, humans have used minerals, amino acids, herbs and other plants to optimize various forms of performance and recovery, but recent discoveries indicate a wide potential for the use of substances to enhance cognitive health.
Potential uses for nootropics include: improving memory function, enhancing creativity, treating attention disorders like ADHD, aiding with symptoms of dyslexia, reducing social anxiety, and acting as a preventative for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s by improving brain cell communication between neurons (synaptic plasticity).
This is what makes nootropics also commonly known as “smart drugs”; they are becoming even more popular amongst scholars, professionals, athletes, and aging individuals to optimize cognitive health and function.
So, how do nootropics work? How can they be used in daily life? We address these commonly asked questions below!
The term nootropic was coined in 1972 by Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea after the Greek words νοῦς, or “mind,” and τρέπειν , meaning to “bend or turn”. The word’s original definition was as follows: “A compound designed to enhance learning and memory.” but recent interpretations of this concept would describe nootropics as any substance which enhances cognitive capability.
Piracetam was the first synthetic nootropic created and remains one of the most widely used medications for cognitive function today. Piracetam works by increasing oxygen supply to brain cells and boosting memory recall and learning ability. Other common synthetic nootropics include FDA approved medications like amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and methylphenidate.
What are the best natural nootropics?
Natural nootropics can be found in many different kinds of foods, including herbs and spices, but they are also available as dietary supplements. The best natural nootropics include caffeine, L-theanine, GABA, creatine, lion’s mane mushroom, CDP-choline, and C0Q10. Many of these can be used in a regimen with one another and in daily life!
Caffeine: This is one of the most commonly used nootropic substances throughout the world today. It is a naturally occurring stimulant found in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. It’s been shown to improve alertness, reaction time, mental endurance and short-term memory. It is dearly loved by many, and highly effective in moderate quantities.
L-theanine: This amino acid can be found in green tea leaves or as an isolated supplement extracted from mushrooms. It’s thought to work by boosting levels of serotonin and dopamine — neurotransmitters that affect mood — without causing anxiety or overstimulation. L-theanine is has also been demonstrated to promote the alpha brain waves which help promote relaxation without drowsiness.
GABA: One of the main inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain, which means it helps balance out the excitatory activity of glutamate. GABA is also a precursor to GABA-A receptors, making it a great supplement for reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality. GABA has also been demonstrated to improve cognition by increasing focus and attention spans, reducing anxiety, and improving the quality of sleep.
This nootropic can be taken as a standalone supplement or it can be stacked with other supplements that work synergistically with GABA to improve its effects on cognition.
Lion’s Mane: A medicinal mushroom that thrives in temperate forests across the world. It is one of the most well-studied mushrooms for cognitive benefits. Research has found it can help improve memory, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. It has been historically used as a tonic for longevity and vitality, but recent research suggests that it may have other beneficial effects as well. Specifically, it may provide neuroprotective effects by guarding nerve cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, which may help treat symptoms of or act as a preventative measure against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In addition to these benefits, lion’s mane has been shown to enhance nerve growth factor (NGF), which is a chemical that protects neurons from degeneration and promotes their survival, growth and regeneration.
Creatine: A naturally occurring acid that aids in supplying energy to every cell in the body, predominantly aiding in muscular growth and development. It is found in common foods like meat and fish, but it can also be supplemented. Creatine supplements are currently one of the most popular nootropics on the market for improving brain health and performance. Studies have shown that creatine can increase brain volume and improve memory, attention span, reaction time, mood and energy levels.
C0Q10: A highly reputable nootropic and fat-soluble antioxidant which helps protect the brain and other parts of the body from free-radical related damage. It also helps create ATP, which is necessary for energy production in every cell of the body. It is also one of the largest contributors to the mitochondrial membrane, which serves as a gatekeeper for cellular respiration (meaning that it’s critical to the process by which cells convert food into usable energy).
Where can I find safe, natural, nootropics?
The IV Lounge Supplement store carries many of the naturally occurring ingredients discussed above! You can find many of our products, like L-Theanine, within our “Brain Function” category.
Whether you are looking for nootropics to optimize your health, improve your healthspan, enhance your cognition, or try something new, these substances have many “total-body” benefits. Call an IV Lounge Wellness expert to inquire about our Brain Function supplements today.
Thank you for reading!