Have you seen the movie titled “Limitless”? It’s a movie about the use of cognitive enhancers and how they can make people smarter and do more with their brain within the shortest time frame. Just like any other movie, the main purpose is to entertain viewers and not really educate them on the use of cognitive enhancers.
Nevertheless, movies like this have sparked various discussions about the possibility of such drugs in real life, what if everybody can be as smart as the lead character in that movie? What if we can all think in various perspectives simultaneously, what if there is a drug that can get us to be more alert, focused and calm? What is there is a drug that can really make us super smart?
… Well, there is! In fact, there are several drugs in the market, created specifically for such purpose; they are called cognitive enhancers, or nootropics. Although the two terms are used interchangeably, they have slightly different meaning, but for the sake of clarity, I would use the term “cognitive enhancers” all through this article.
Before we delve into what specific drug does and how you can take advantage of them to become smarter, let us look into what cognitive enhancement is all about.
How Do Cognitive Enhancer Work?
- Increasing Blood Supply To Brain:
The brain consumes about 20% of the total body energy, meaning it consumes more energy than other organs of the body. The higher the amount of energy reaching the brain, the faster it works.
You can liken this to the regular fuel consumption in a car, when you want to increase the speed at which you’re moving, you would have to shift to a higher gear, then pump more gas using the throttle.
Now, let’s imagine you have a full gas tank, and that your gear and other stuffs are functioning very well. However, the fuel pump is not doing well, or the fuel pipe from the tank to the engine is very narrow, you would agree with me that the speed of your car would not be high. No matter how hard you press the pump, the car won’t run fast, because the fuel is not just getting to the engine!
This is exactly what happens when the supply of blood to the brain is limited by one or more factor. Because the blood carries nutrient and oxygen throughout the body system, any area of the body that does not get enough blood will suffer malnutrition.
One of the ways in which cognitive enhancer works is by increasing the blood supply to the brain, and by so doing, the amount of energy and nutrient in the brain is high, and the neurons functions is at its peak.
- Getting Rid Of Free Radicals:
Some cognitive enhancer works by getting rid of free radicals and as such keeping the brain cells (neurons) healthy.
Free radicals are notorious waste products of the oxygen we breathe into our body. When air (which contains oxygen and other atmospheric element) is inhaled, the oxygen is metabolized and other waste product is exhaled. However, some ions such as O- and H+ remains in the body system. These ions are capable of combining with nitrogen or even other ions to form what is known as reactive species.
These reactive species have damaging effect on the cell structure. When there are numerous free radicals in the brain cell, it begins to affect their cell structure and consequently their functionality. Taking note that brain cells do not undergo mitosis (breakdown and renewal) like other cells of the body. What this means is that, any damage to the brain cell is long lasting.
Although the body has it’s own antioxidant system that automatically get rid of all the reactive species, in most cases, the antioxidant can only do so much, and further help is needed by the supplementing the available antioxidant in other to avoid stressing out the brain cell.
Some cognitive enhancers function as free radicals, they basically work as scavengers of free radicals. They move around in the brain cell to mop out free radicals. Other cognitive enhancers in this category work by stimulating the production of the body antioxidant enzymes, that way, the brain has enough antioxidative enzymes to get rid of the free radicals.
Caffeine is a good example of cognitive enhancers that falls into this category. They are known as antioxidative agent or antioxidant because they are capable of mopping up free radicals and as well stimulating the production of more antioxidant enzymes.
Some other naturally occurring nootropics contains amino acid that act as precursor for several neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that transmits messages from one neuron to the other. For effective brain functioning, there must be adequate supply of neurotransmitters within the brain cells.
Another means by which cognitive enhancers increase the functionality of the brain is by balancing the neurotransmitters in the brain and getting rid of stress hormones in the brain… Stress hormone such as cortisol amidst others.
Who Should Use Cognitive Enhancers?
Various Methods Of Achieving Cognitive Enhancement?
Earlier in this article, I noted that there are several means by which the cognitive functions of the brain can be enhanced. This section of the article would explore various methods by which cognitive enhancement can be achieved, towards the end, I would specifically state the best method of cognitive enhancement.
- Brain Training
Before the advent of smart pills, this is probably the most common means of enhancing the cognitive functions of the brain. Brain training involves taking up mentally strengthening activities such as planning Sudoku, chess and other type of games. Although this method usually have little impact on the brain cognitive functioning, but it’s considered more effective in younger children, once the game or activity is mastered, then such brain training serves no purpose than entertainment.
Exercise is arguably second most important thing (aside healthy eating) as far as healthy living is concerned. Exercise is generally known to increase the blood flow through the body system. Earlier in the article, I stated that; one of the ways in which cognitive enhancers work is by increasing the flow of blood to the brain tissue. This can also be achieved through exercise.
This has to do with increasing the brain’s ability to focus on a particular thing for a very long time. If you would train your brain to focus, then taking up the practice of meditation is one of the best ways to achieve that.
Sometimes, what our body lacks is a vitamin or minerals and not bunch of them. Supplementing the vitamins or minerals lacked might help improve the brain cognitive function. Not forgetting the fact that, several vitamins and amino acids are active precursor to the brain chemicals called neurotransmitter.
This is what the entire article is all about. Cognitive enhancers has been discussed from various perspective since the beginning of this article. They’re various drugs that has been proven to be very potent as far as cognitive enhancement is concerned.
List of cognitive enhancers
Although there are handful of cognitive enhancers in the market, only a fraction of them are known to be as effective as advertised. The reason being that, the market is not regulated, and there are no specified standard for the production of cognitive enhancers (I hope this changes in the nearest future).
This list consist of few specific product based on research conducted on amazon. It is not in any way the “holy grail” of cognitive enhancers. But I have done my possible best to careful select products with good reviews based on users comment, pricing and company’s reputation.
- Citicoline Supplements
- NeuroEnhance Natural Brain Function Booster Supplement for Memory, Focus, Mental Clarity & Cognitive Function Enhanced Ginkgo Biloba
- Himazol Natural Anxiety and Stress Supplement Promotes Mental Well-Being And Cognitive Support.
- Alpha GPC Choline Supplement.
- Memory & Thought Support - Cognitive Nutrition & Mental Performance Enhancer - w/ Ginkgo Biloba, Asian Ginseng, Gotu Kola, Vitamins B12 & E
- Nature's Wellness Memory Mind Matrix Dietary Supplement
- Nootropics Brain Function & Memory Booster.
- Ciltep Nootropic Stack
Best Cognitive Enhancers
I know this is the part most readers are interested in. Having considered everything that is to be known about cognitive enhancers, it’s only fair to give specific direction about which of the product is the best in market.
The selection of this product is based on their chemical constituents, users reviews, pricing, and overall effect. We are interested in supplements that is capable of improving all brain cognitive skills rather than ones with specific interest.
So here is our pick for the top 5 cognitive enhancement. Taking note that the list is not in any specific order.
#1. Neurolon - This supplement is known to improve mental sharpness, clarity, focus and memory.
#2. Neuro-Peak – It’s a natural based brain supplement, appraised for it’s potency as far as mental sharpness is concerned.
#3. Neuro-Enhance – It’s a natural herbal based supplement that aids recall, memory, concentration and focus.
#4. Ciltep Nootropic Stack – It’s potent for improving focus, memory and motivation.
#5. Vimerson Brain Health Supplement – Completely natural contents, and has great reviews for improving memory, focus and alertness.