The use of nootropics also known as smart drugs is on the rise. Officially, nootropics are prescribed by doctors as a treatment for people with neuronal disorders, for example for older adults suffering from Alzheimer’s.
However, in recent years, the use of nootropics has spread to university communities (they are used by students to pass their exams) and even by professionals or others who seek to increase their intellectual capacity.
While health experts generally agree that taking a prescribed nootropic for a justified medical purpose, the use of cognitive enhancers in healthy people is more than controversial.
This article describes what nootropics are, some examples, and what their effects are. They’re safe?
What are nootropics?
The word nootropics derives from the Greek words NOOS – mind and TROPEIN – spin. In some way, the term nootropics refers to any natural or synthetic substance that can have a positive impact on mental abilities.
Scientifically it is a heterogeneous group of drugs developed for dementia and other brain disorders. Nootropics produce pharmacological effects, whose mechanisms of action are very different.
Nootropics are capable of increasing cognitive executive functions, memory, creativity or motivation. As cognition is one of the superior activities of the human brain, the concept of nootropic seems quite attractive to many people who aspire to better and longer mental activity.
Examples of nootropics
There are a large number of drugs and natural substances that can be used as cognitive and memory enhancement agents. Some examples of nootropics are:
The modafinil a psychostimulant drug with properties eugeroicas (promoter alertness) and neuroprotective different stimulants amphetamine stimulants type and other central nervous system (CNS).
It was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift sleep disorders. Today, it is one of the most widely used and most powerful nootropics.
Modafinil significantly reduces feelings of fatigue and improves memory in sleep-deprived adults. It also improves executive functioning or the ability to properly manage your time and resources to achieve your goals.
Although modafinil is generally considered non-addictive, dependency has been reported at high doses. (3) Therefore, while Modafinil appears to have strong nootropic effects, it is only available by prescription in most countries.
Even when Modafinil is prescribed, it is important to use this drug responsibly.
Piracetam is considered the first nootropic drug of its kind.
It is a synthetic derivative of the neurotransmitter GABA, a chemical messenger that helps slow down the activity of the nervous system. However, piracetam does not seem to affect your body in the same way as GABA.
While researchers are still not entirely sure how it works, some studies link the drug to several benefits, including better brain function, a reduction in dyslexia symptoms, and fewer myoclonic seizures.
Although piracetam is widely available in online stores as a supplement and promoted as a smart drug, research on its effectiveness is still lacking.
The caffeine is the most consumed nootropic in the world. It is found naturally in coffee, cocoa, tea, guarana, maté among others. It is also added to many sodas, energy drinks, and medications.
Caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain, making you feel less tired. A low to moderate caffeine intake of 40 to 300 mg is considered safe and significantly increases alertness and attention.
Noopept is a synthetic smart drug developed at the Institute of Pharmacology of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.
It is one of several nootropics developed based on the structure of piracetam. Its advantage over piracetam is that it can be taken at a lower dose.
Its mechanism of action is based on providing a general neuroprotective effect, increasing acetylcholine signaling, and increasing the inhibition of neurotransmission in the brain. (6)
Like piracetam, its clinical results have shown good results as a treatment for certain diseases. However, more research is still needed to confirm its effectiveness.
Citicoline is a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. As a nootropic drug, it is taken orally or given as injections.
Citicoline appears to increase a brain chemical called phosphatidylcholine. This brain chemical is important for brain function. Citicoline may also increase the amount of other chemicals that send messages to the brain.
In Japan and Europe, citicoline was originally used as a prescription drug to help improve memory and brain function in people recovering from stroke.
Additionally, citicoline can help memory loss due to aging, improve vision in people with glaucoma, and is also used for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder, lazy eye, and other brain conditions.
Nicotine is a naturally occurring chemical found in many plants, especially tobacco. It is one of the compounds that make cigarettes so addictive.
It can also be consumed through nicotine gum or absorbed through the skin using a nicotine patch.
Studies show that nicotine can have nootropic effects, such as improved alertness and attention, especially in people with naturally low attention spans.
It has also been found to improve motor function. Also, chewing nicotine gum is linked to better handwriting speed and fluency.
However, this substance can be addictive and lethal in high doses, so caution should be exercised with its consumption.
Ritalin is a nootropic that was introduced during the 1950s to treat chronic fatigue, depression, and psychosis associated with depression.
It is a stimulant nootropic that increases the concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain.
It was widely used in the 1990s to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is now the most common psychotropic medication prescribed to children to treat restlessness and inattention.
New research has explored the possible side effects of ritalin use by people without ADHD, such as students using it as a study enhancer.
This research showed changes in brain chemistry associated with risky behaviors, sleep disruptions, and other effects such as weight loss.
It can also cause hallucinations, psychosis, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, and high blood pressure , particularly when taken in high doses. Ritalin is a powerful stimulant that should only be taken as prescribed and closely monitored for abuse.
The creatine is a compound formed by three amino acids your body used to produce proteins. It is a sports supplement that promotes muscle growth, but it is also beneficial for your brain.
Creatine can enter your brain where it binds with phosphate, creating a molecule that your brain uses to rapidly feed your cells.
This increased availability of energy to brain cells is related to improved short-term memory and reasoning skills, especially in vegetarians and highly stressed people.
Studies show that taking up to 5 grams of creatine daily and cyclically is safe. Larger doses can cause long-term negative effects. (5)
What are they for? – Applications
Nootropics have several uses, the most important of which are as a treatment for diseases of the nervous system. In addition, nootropics serve to improve performance or mental fitness in the short term, that is, to force your brain to work more efficiently.
This use of nootropics could be considered as an analogue to a bodybuilder taking steroids for the muscles, but for the mind. That is, they allow an individual to overcome their natural genetic limitations.
Here are the main uses of nootropics:
1. Neurodegenerative disorders
Nootropics are used to treat various diseases of the brain, for example Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, dementia, and the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. (1)
2. Sleep disorders
People with sleep disorders such as: narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness, and shift work disorder often benefit from stimulant medications, many of which are considered nootropics.
3. Chronic fatigue syndrome
People with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) need medication in order to function. The energy drinks only help these people to some extent. Therefore, a psychostimulant or nootropic drug such as Nuvigil is often prescribed.
4. Treatment resistant depression
Some people may get a prescription for multiple nootropics as a result of having depression resistant to classic treatment. For example, some psychiatrists may consider prescribing Adderall for depression as an antidepressant augmentation strategy.
5. Academic advantage
In academia, students use nootropics to help them remember more, increase concentration, and study more efficiently. Students are taking these medications to help improve test scores.
Some people use nootropics as a means of biohacking . In general, the people who are attracted to this use are people who seek to alter their natural biological state of functioning. Many people undergo nootropic “tests” to determine what the effects are on their mental functioning as a result.
Many nootropics are known to enhance the performance of athletes. They can increase focus, spatial orientation, and allow an athlete to outperform.
8. Rehabilitation of addictions to drugs of abuse
Due to their tolerability and broad mode of action, some notropics such as modafinil are used as therapeutic agents for cocaine dependence. (2)
Nootropics or smart drugs is a broad term that refers to all synthetic and natural substances capable of increasing mental function.
Examples of strong nototropics are prescription drugs such as modafinil or ritalin; And while they are capable of improving memory and attention, they can have side effects.
Examples of milder and safer nootropics are noopept and piracetam, the effectiveness of which is not entirely clear yet.
The use of nootropics and smart drugs is increasing, although more research is still needed to better understand their effects and benefits on the brain.