In broad term, nootropics are substances with the potential ability of enhancing the functionality of the brain in various capacities. The main aim of taking nootropics is to improve the functionality of the brain, and as such nootropics are considered “smart drugs” and the term cognitive enhancers is often used interchangeably in defining nootropics.
Although the above definition is very broad, this article would go into specifics about what nootropics are and what they are not.
Nootropics can come in various forms, either as a drug, as a supplement, herbs or in any other form you can possible think of. As long as the potential benefit of what you’re taking is to improve the functionality of the brain, then it falls into the category of what we call nootropics. Coffee is a nootropics substance as well.
Nootropics are known to improve seven (7) major functionalities of the brain; memory, executive function, attention span, motor skills, information processing, perception and language. However, most nootropics in the market are incapable of improving the brain in all these functionality. Most tend to focus on two or three functionality at a time.
With various rave and big pharmaceutical companies pushing smart pills adverts on the web and offline, it’s very easy to get confused on what the real nootropics mean, what they do and most importantly where to get them. This article would answer most of these questions.
Everybody wants to be smarter, everybody wants an edge ahead of others. As mentioned earlier, when I was defining nootropics; I defined it as “any substance” that is capable of improving the functionality of the brain. I also went further in listing out the seven (7) most important functionalities in which nootropics are known to affect.
This section of the article would pick those functionality one after the other and discuss them in relative to the benefits of nootropics.
We all want to remember stuffs in details. We want to remember things without struggling. We want to remember names, address, phone number, what we studied the other night, our dreams, name it! A larger percentage of the criteria used by the modern society in judging human intelligence is how memorable such an individual is.
The key to great memory is by increasing the connection between the neurons that stores the memory. Scientifically, this is called plasticity. The more frequent you retrieve the information from your brain, the easier it is to remember it every time you try to recall (tricky huh?). In fact, the science behind it is that, we recall things from the last time we remember them.
A larger percentage of nootropics work on the memory is by improving the connection between the neurons in the brain. This is done through the stimulation of brain cells to secrete more brain chemical known as neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters carry messages from one neuron to the other thus improving neuroplasticity.
One of our greatest undoing in this generation is our short attention span. The inability to focus on something for a very long time is the reason why we miss lots of opportunity, and more importantly why we make poor and uninformed decision.
Nootropics are known to greatly increase the attention span of the brain. This explains why physicians would usually prescribe such drugs to people with attention disorder. If you would like to increase your attention span, then popping a pill of nootropics wouldn’t be a bad idea.
This comes handy, especially for those that are into creative work, and students as well. Since the generally attention span for a average individual is twenty (20) minutes.
It’s easy to make perfect decision when you’re able to see the entire details from different perspective. When your visual and spatial processing ability is top notch, then making good decision would be as easy as it could get.
Nootropics are known to improve spatial working memory. Which is the ability to store an information temporarily until a certain task is completed. This ability gives room for various mental manipulation within the shortest time frame.
#4. Improved Motorskills
#5. Improved Executive functions of the brain
#6. Improved Learning abilities
#7. Reduced Brain Stress Hormone
Nootropics is define as “any” substance that is capable of improving the brain functionality in some certain capacity.
Nootropics can come in form of drugs or supplements. There are natural supplements as well, example of which includes, fish oil, gingko biloba extract, all naturally occurring antioxidant and a wide varieties of others.
There is a misconception I would like to clear out as far as the use of term is concerned. I mentioned earlier that the term nootropics and cognitive enhancers are often used interchangeably. However, there is a clear difference between the two, and this is the appropriate section to clear out this misconception.
All nootropics are known to perform cognitive enhancing function, but not all cognitive enhancers are nootropics. The difference between the two lies in the perceived side effect.
The term nootropics is generally reserved for cognitive enhancers with very minimal or no side effect whatsoever (at least that the initial definition of nootropics). This term has been abused over the years, and as such people now call cognitive enhancers nootropics as long as they can improve certain brain function, without giving consideration to possible side effects.
Nootropics generally have no side effect on the brain. But Cognitive enhancer does. However, there is no clear distinct between nootropics and cognitive enhancers as of today because the market is flooded with various products and no standard body is responsible for regulating them.
What this implies is that, new drugs called “nootropics” might have their own side effects, which is why it is very important to seek physician opinion or at the very least read other users review before committing to long term use of certain cognitive enhancers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.