There is plenty to learn about nootropics, but there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Starting off by learning the basic facts of nootropics will put you on your way to increased cognitive function and healthier, more fulfilled life. Read more below about the questions we get most often about nootropics.
What are nootropics?
Nootropics are substances which have cognitive-enhancing effects. Many take the form of supplements aimed to enhance the user's mind.
The first use of the term nootropics was by Dr.Corneliu E. Giurgea nearly 50 years ago. He described something more of a miracle drug. Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea defined nootropics as a substance which:
Enhance memory and ability to learn.
Help the brain function under disruptive conditions.
Protect the brain from chemical and physical assaults.
Increase the efficacy of neuronal firing control mechanisms.
Possess few or no side effects and be virtually non-toxic.
You won't find any nootropics that fit all these criteria perfectly. Nootropics colloquially refers most often to cognitive-enhancing substances.
Are nootropics natural?
Nootropics can be both synthetic and natural. We can find natural nootropics in the food and beverages we consume everyday. From L-Theanine in green tea to the caffeine in our coffee, chemicals which can increase our cognitive function abound. Many nootropic supplements on the market are concentrated forms of these organic chemicals.
But, don't let the word "synthetic" turn you off. The compounds and chemicals found in these nootropics occur frequently in our natural world. Concentrating these into easy to take supplements makes it more convenient for you.
Where is the best place to buy nootropics?
There is no one place to buy nootropics. With so many different options, finding the right product is up to you. Here at Nootropics Secret we recommend comparing your options across different retailers and finding which option speaks to you. To help achieve this, we feature our recommended products and deals right on our homepage.
What are nootropic stacks?
Like with many things in life, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nootropic stacking is done by combining two or more supplements to benefit from both of the products. Some manufacturers offer preformulated nootropic stacks which target specific features as a combination of nootropics. Others cover all the bases by including a full range of nootropics to benefit you in all areas of life.
Nootropic stacking can also be done by you! As you find which nootropics work best for you, stacking these supplements will result in a regimen unique to you.
When should I take nootropics?
You should take nootropics whenever you are feeling like you are under-performing. If you ever notice that you are not feeling focused, awake, well-rested then nootropics may be able to help. Nootropics can help with all area of your life. They can aid in improving your cognitive functioning as well as your mood. Finding the perfect nootropics for you means doing your research and applying your knowledge of yourself.
Are nootropics safe?
Nootropics are safe when you have a good understanding of the supplement you are taking. Before trying any nootropics, make sure you consult a physician to know how they will interact with any preexisting conditions or medications you are taking. It is also important to stay within the recommended dosage of the nootropics you are taking.
Will nootropics increase my IQ?
While nothing is more sure to boost your performance on an IQ test than a good nights rest and a healthy diet, nootropics may help to increase your ability to maintain complicated cognitive tasks. Nootropics will not help you become a genius overnight, but they offer you the choice of enhancing yourself.
How do nootropics work?
Nootropics can effect your physiology in many different ways. In all cases though, nootropics seek to optimize your brain chemistry. This optimization may take the forms of improving your memory, enhancing your focus, boosting your mood, or refining your sleep schedule. Many nootropics are active compounds which operate in a variety of ways on your central nervous system. They work to increase or decrease certain chemicals within your brain which may result in improved function.
Which nootropics help promote weight loss?
Most all nootropics don't aim to help you lose weight. Other dietary supplements may aid in weight loss, but many of these would not be considered nootropics. While they may have an effect on your brain chemistry, weight loss supplements do not seek to primarily offer any cognitive benefits.
Certain supplements may have overlapping cognitive and fat-burning effects, and many cognitive effects of nootropics help the weight-loss process. Motivation is a key part of changing your habits and your diet.
Which nootropics may help with my memory?
Nootropics are a class of nutritional and herbal supplements designed to support optimal brain function.
There are hundreds of different mechanisms a nootropic may use to produce its effects on the body. Some are better for providing a boost in energy levels, others support focus and concentration, and some are more directed for protecting the brain from cognitive decline that can affect memory.
For the topic of this discussion, we’ll be looking at the nootropics that affect learning and memory.
We’ll discuss some of the mechanisms nootropics may use to enhance the process of memory, and talk about how and where memory originates in the first place.
Let’s get started.
WHERE DOES MEMORY COME FROM?
Researchers have been trying to identify the source and mechanism of memory for generations. Only recently have we made any progress in this arena.
Our brains are made up of trillions of nerve cells. These nerve cells transmit electrical signals around the brain to generate our thoughts, imagination, and memories. One of the key neurotransmitters involved with sending these signals is acetylcholine (we’ll cover this in more detail below).
There isn’t any “one place” where memory is stored — instead, the brain appears to store bits of information in the form of memories throughout the entire brain. This is why head injuries that involve a loss of neurons in specific regions in the brain result in seemingly random lapses in memory.
Much like cloud computing, our brain stores small fragments of memory around different areas of the brain.
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF MEMORY
The brain is constantly taking in information from your surroundings and compiling it together as memory. If we were to remember everything we take in, we’d quickly run out of capacity for storage — so the brain takes measures to keep only what’s important.
The first type of memory is short-term memory. This is the memories you gain during a single day — you remember what you ate for breakfast, some of the faces you passed on the way to work, and other trivial events from the day. This information isn’t always important in the long-term, so without repeating this information the brain will eventually lose these memories.
Long-term memory is different. This is the type of memory the brain forms to remember important things, like information related to your job, family and friends' faces, or other important bits of information. The brain saves this type of information through repetition. The more this information is repeated, the stronger the memory becomes.
USING NOOTROPICS TO SUPPORT MEMORY
Now that we’ve covered some of the fundamentals of memory, we can start discussing how nootropics may be used to support these processes.
There are three main ways to target the formation of memories with nootropics:
1. OPTIMIZING NEURONAL TRANSMISSION SPEED
Both the formation and retrieval of memory critically rely on nerve transmission speed. Have you ever noticed that when you’re tired your ability to remember things becomes much more difficult?
This is because when we’re tired, a compound in the brain known as adenosine builds up and causes a delay in our nerve transmission. Every signal the nerve sends is slowed down by the adenosine, making it more difficult to make decisions, and retrieve or create new memories.
This process is designed to make us feel tired to prepare us for sleep.
The best supplement for reversing this process is caffeine — one of the most popular nootropics known to humankind.
The caffeine molecule has the ability to kick adenosine off the neurons and prevent it from reattaching for about 6 hours. This can dramatically increase the rate of transmission of the nerve cells — therefore making it easier to both form and retrieve memories.
NOOTROPICS FOR IMPROVING NEURONAL TRANSMISSION
2. SUPPORTING THE HEALTH OF NEURONS
Similar to the point above, the neurons are the critical players in the function of memory — so keeping them in good working order is key for optimising the process of memory formation.
Alzheimer's disease is a condition involving a widespread loss of neurons in the brain — with the main side-effect being memory loss.
There are a lot of nootropics designed to support neuronal function. One of the best ones you’ll find is a fungus called lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus). This fungus protects the neurons through anti-inflammatory support, but even more so through its unique ability to increase nerve growth factor (NGF) — which is one of the main neurochemicals in the brain that drive the creation of new nerve cells.
When our neurons become damaged or lost over time, NGF is responsible for signaling the body to begin building new neurons in their place. Without it, our memory will gradually begin to decline.
NOOTROPICS FOR PROTECTING THE NEURONS:
Vitamins B6, B9, and B12
3. ENHANCING ACETYLCHOLINE LEVELS
The final mechanism we’re going to discuss for enhancing memory formation is through a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine. This compound serves as the primary neurotransmitter involved with the formation and retrieval of memories.
We can use Alzheimer's disease as a good example for this condition as well. Patients with this disorder are often found to have problems with the amount of acetylcholine in the brain — resulting in poor memory function.
A lot of nootropics marketed as “memory enhancers” use this mechanism to produce their effects on the body.
There are two ways a nootropic can support acetylcholine levels:
By providing an abundance of nutritional precursors like choline and B vitamins
By inhibiting the enzyme in the brain tasked with breaking down existing acetylcholine molecules (acetylcholinesterase)
There are a lot of nootropics that can exert their effects through each of these mechanisms.
NOOTROPICS FOR ENHANCING ACETYLCHOLINE LEVELS:
Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Piracetam
OTHER TECHNIQUES TO OPTIMISE MEMORY
Nootropics are great supplements for optimising memory formation — however, there are a ton of other methods you can employ as well from a behavioural standpoint to support the process of learning and memory.
The most important step is to ensure you’re getting a good night's sleep.
Being sleep deprived has a negative effect on nerve transmission speed, acetylcholine production, and nerve health. It’s wise to ensure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night to allow adenosine to be removed from the neurons (thus increasing nerve transmission), glial cells to repair damaged neurons, and regenerating lost acetylcholine molecules.
Overall, there are a ton of different techniques you can employ to optimise memory function. The best course of action is to do multiple different techniques at the same time instead of relying on just one or two.
Supplements like those discussed above can go a long way in supporting memory, but it’s even better to combine this with sleep hygiene practices and other methods like adequate hydration and nutrition, and daily exercise to truly optimise the process.