Nootropics and 3 Nutrition Myths (I’ve Fallen For)
Nootropics: What are they and do they work?
Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are substances that claim to improve mental function, including memory, creativity, and focus. The use of these substances has been on the rise in recent years, with many people turning to them as a way to boost their productivity and mental performance.
But do they actually work? And are they safe? In this post, we’ll explore the world of nootropics and try to answer these questions.
What are Nootropics?
The term “nootropic” was coined in 1972 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist named Corneliu E. Giurgea. He defined nootropics as substances that enhance brain function without causing harm or side effects. Since then, the term has been used to describe a wide range of substances, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter supplements, and herbal remedies.
Some of the most popular nootropics include:
Caffeine: a stimulant that can improve alertness and concentration
Modafinil: a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, also used off-label as a cognitive enhancer
Piracetam: a synthetic nootropic that has been used to treat cognitive impairment and dementia
Bacopa Monnieri: an herbal supplement that is believed to improve memory and cognitive function
Do Nootropics Work?
The answer to this question is not simple. Some studies have shown that certain nootropics can improve cognitive function in healthy individuals. For example, a study published in Psychopharmacology found that caffeine improved cognitive performance in sleep-deprived individuals. Another study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that a combination of caffeine and L-theanine (an amino acid found in tea) improved cognitive performance and mood in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
However, many of these studies have been small and have not been replicated in larger trials. Furthermore, the effects of nootropics may vary depending on the individual and the specific substance being used. Some people may experience significant benefits, while others may not notice any difference at all.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Again, the answer to this question is not simple. While some nootropics, such as caffeine, are generally considered safe when used in moderation, others may have more serious side effects. For example, modafinil can cause headaches, nausea, and anxiety, and may also be addictive. Piracetam has been associated with a range of side effects, including insomnia, agitation, and depression.
It’s also important to note that many nootropics have not been extensively studied for long-term safety. As a result, the long-term effects of these substances are not well understood.
While nootropics may offer some benefits in terms of cognitive function, their effects are not well understood, and their safety is not guaranteed. If you are considering using nootropics, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a qualified healthcare professional first. They can help you determine if these substances are right for you and provide guidance on how to use them safely.
Smith, A. P. (2002). Caffeine, cognitive failures and health in a non-working population. Psychopharmacology, 159(3), 320-6.
Kelly, S. P., Gomez-Ramirez, M., & Montesi, J. L. (2008). L-Theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20(1), 275-81.