For all the discussion about health and fitness, the primary driver of the human organism is often left out: the brain.
The application of these discoveries led to the birth of “nootropics,” a term coined by a Romanian doctor named Corneliu Giurgea in 1972 after discovering a family of “smart drugs.” Nootropics are natural and synthetic compounds that can improve your general cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention, focus, and motivation.
Despite the relatively new term, smart drugs have been used for thousands of years. In the absence of modern technology and scientific understanding, ancient cultures utilized herbs to improve cognitive function on all corners of the globe. Records of traditional Chinese medical doctrine date all the way back to 1100 BCE; and in Ayurvedic medicine on the Indian subcontinent, herbs were utilized as cognitive enhancers as early as 5000 BCE.
Caffeine in tea form was discovered between 1500 and 1000 BCE in China, while the more potent coffee beverage was popularized in the 13th and 14th centuries. The human love affair with brain boosting substances is ancient, but only recently has science caught up with our ambitions. What follows is a brief description of nootropic benefits, a list of recommendations, tips on customizing your usage, and a few words of caution.
Unfortunately, so far there has been no pill invented that will instantly transform you into a cognitive superman, a la the movie Limitless. There are no shortcuts to mental sharpness: the foundation of cognitive deftness and fortitude remains study, discipline, and regularly engaging in attention-strengthening exercises.
Rather than giving you mental strength, nootropics can simply enhance the mental strength that you’ve already built the old fashioned way. Approach them the very same way you do supplements for your physical workouts. Downing pre-workout drinks and whey protein isn’t magically going to turn you into a ripped strongman if you don’t use them in conjunction with hitting the gym. In the same way, nootropics won’t transform you into a genius, but they can give your brain a stronger “pump,” and help you hold on to the gains you make from your mental exercises.
Just as you might up the caffeine you take before going to the gym on a day where you’re feeling more fatigued than usual, or have a harder than usual workout planned, use nootropics for those occasions where you’re feeling mentally groggy and/or have an especially difficult cognitive task to complete.
Ancient medical practices recognized the different applications for various herbal remedies, and modern nootropics have a wide variety of uses as well. There are five main applications for nootropics, which all require specific supplementation. The specifics of the compounds I mention can be found below.
Memory – For young adults and the elderly alike, a better memory is always useful. Many nootropics are specifically designed to prevent the type of neurological degradation that causes Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, and Parkinson’s. Young individuals can retain material more efficiently when using memory-enhancing nootropics. Some smart drugs are better utilized for short-term/working memory, while others operate with longer-term effects. Piracetam, choline and creatine are common memory enhancers.
Focus – Anybody that has experience with coffee knows the advantage of enhanced focus and attention. Many of the smart drugs that improve focus or alertness are stimulatory in nature, but also create a sense of clarity. Caffeine is a nootropic when paired with L-theanine. Asian ginseng and CILTeP also improve focus.
Mood Enhancer – Some nootropics enhance cognitive function by improving mood and reducing anxiety. In numerous studies, reduced anxiety results in higher test performance for a variety of cognitive indicators (including short and long-term memory). Caffeine and L-theanine is a mood enhancer, along with bacopa Monnier and Asian ginseng.
Anti-Fatigue – Smart drugs that prevent fatigue work by blocking receptors in the brain or providing a more efficient synthesis of energy. By reducing fatigue, users can work longer and more efficiently. Creatine and Rhodiola Rosea are effective anti-fatigue agents.
Reasoning & Creativity – A smaller category of nootropics also influence general reasoning skills and improve creativity in problem-solving. Creatine and iodine are effective in enhancing these cognitive abilities.
Many nootropics have evidence to support these claims, but unfortunately, due to poor funding, long-term studies have not yet been done. Therefore, the long-term effects — whether for good or ill — of utilizing smart drugs on the brain is yet unknown. Though the studies that have been done are insanely promising. Brain nerd hopes to lead the curve on future research and be the example all other companies strive to emulate. If you have any questions about our products or what they can do for you please reach out to us! and as always be smart!
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