Few markets are more fond of hyping up their gimmicky products than the health and wellness space, so it’s natural for consumers to be skeptical. Every once in a while, though, a genuinely helpful product cuts through all of the pop-up ads and infomercials.
Consider nootropics, for example. Available in natural and synthetic forms, nootropics are compounds known to boost one or more of the brain’s primary functions. Among the countless overhyped and fake “genius pills” promoted over the Internet, there are numerous genuine nootropic compounds that have been shown to be helpful for some people under certain circumstances.
Let’s take a look at what exactly these compounds can do and explore some examples of popular nootropics.
Nootropics for Memory
Memory isn’t just an aging problem. Dozens of environmental and genetic factors can affect both long-term and short-term memory recall. Thankfully, certain nootropics can potentially sharpen memory and lessen memory loss issues.
The mechanism involved in boosting memory is dependent on each specific compound. Some nootropics facilitate the creation and uptake of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that helps the brain to create and recall memories. Other nootropics help cell membranes to more readily accept chemical messengers like acetylcholine that are involved in memory and thinking processes.
The following are three nootropics commonly taken as memory enhancers:
Bacopa Monnieri – This herb has been used for ages in traditional Indian medicine to boost brain functions. It has been clinically shown to improve memory acquisition and retention in healthy older people. It also has antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, which make it a potentially helpful natural remedy for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Citicoline – Elderly populations especially benefit from citicoline supplementation, which helps to protect the brain against degeneration and senility, both of which compromise memory.
Piracetam – Discovered in the 1950s, piracetam is one of the oldest synthetic nootropics that are still widely used today. There is limited research suggesting that piracetam may improve memory and other cognitive functions in people with mild cognitive impairment. In some countries, piracetam is sold as a prescription medication, while in the USA it is available over the counter, although not approved by the FDA.
Nootropics for Cognition
It’s a fairly general term, considering how many functions the brain has, so consider the word “cognition” to mean any thinking process other than memory recall. Cognition involves learning, applying concepts, creatively solving problems, communicating with others, finding discrepancies between similar items, multitasking, and much, much more.
To address cognitive decline, or to boost cognitive performance for brains under heavy workloads, nootropics target several traits, including focus, attention span and creativity. As such, cognition-boosting nootropics are sought after by students and busy professionals.
Here are a few example of well-liked cognitive enhancers:
L-Theanine – This natural amino acid is found in green tea and other herbs. It’s used to induce relaxation and sleep, and it has shown neuroprotective and pro-cognition effects. L-theanine can be found in many formulas of brain-enhancing supplements and other consumables.
Adrafinil – This stimulant compound was developed in France as a treatment for some symptoms of sleep disorders, such as daytime sleepiness, fatigue and impaired cognitive function. Adrafinil has lately become very popular as an OTC nootropic supplement, which consumers purchase online at about $1 a capsule, according to morris-health.com. Adrafinil is used to boost focus, cognitive performance and wakefulness. It’s often used as a replacement for caffeine, and it’s particularly popular among night shift workers.
Rhodiola Rosea – An adaptogenic herb that can help improve mental and physical performance, especially when the body is subjected to prolonged periods of stress.
Nootropics for Mood
More than just a peppy “pick-me-up,” as caffeine would provide, some nootropics used for mood can actually mitigate depression and anxiety symptoms. Oftentimes, mood irregularity can be attributed to simple circulation issues. Other instances of depression, anxiety, anger and other problems may result from pathological hormone shifts or overstimulation.
Many nootropic substances are used to boost mood and reduce factors that may lead to poor mood, here are a couple of examples of these:
Ashwagandha – This adaptogenic herb is used for a myriad of purposes, and particularly revered for its ability to reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. People who work under stressful circumstances may get a significant mood boost from supplementing with ashwagandha. It’s available in most nutrition stores in powder and capsules form, with organic ashwagandha having higher quality and better efficacy.
Aniracetam – A synthetic nootropic from the racetams family. Research suggests that aniracetam causes an increase in the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, both of which are neurotransmitters closely related to mood and feelings of well-being. Additionally, aniracetam may help improve memory and other mental abilities.
Though many of them are generally considered safe and free of significant side effects, it’s still wise to consult a physician before starting nootropic supplementation. With a little research and safe experimentation, you can find the right regimen for de-fogging your brain and improving your overall mental well-being.