What are nootropics?

As I grow older I’m very aware that my cognitive abilities are declining. I’m not as good with names. I find myself using scratch paper or a calculator to do simple math problems that I used to be able to do in my head. These are just a few examples that have motivated me to make life changes in the hopes of overcoming the cognitive decline.

I know that I’m not the only one that is experiencing a cognitive decline as the research out there agrees with me. In fact, with the advancement of technology, there’s a surge in research about brain health including ways to improve working memory, cognitive flexibility, motivation, attention and much more. It’s very exciting.

One vein of research I’ve spent considerable time in  involves the use of cognitive enhancers or nootropics to be specific. The overall idea is that there are certain amino acids, essential nutrients and other supplements that can aid cognitive decline, even give you an edge over others. Who wouldn’t want to be smarter, have superb recall and be able to grasp all concepts they encounter on a daily basis?

The answer to that question can be found with a few Google searches. Software, tutoring, secret tricks, pills, potions, all available to anyone willing to part with their cash. As an example, while nootropics are a small part, the overall supplement market is a 32 billion dollar industry . Keep in mind that with that potential comes a dark side full of charlatans, unfounded claims and abuse. DO YOUR DUE DILLIGECE!

Before we move further I want to make one point crystal clear. Nobody should be putting anything into their body without weighing both the risks and benefits first. What I share on this site is only skimming the surface of nootropics. Nothing I share should be construed as advice. Do your own due diligence and educate yourself.

To begin, let’s create a working definition of a nootropic. The term was first coined in 1972 by a Romanian chemist and psychologist named Dr. Giurgea. His criteria for a nootropic include:

  • A boost to memory and overall learning ability
  • Provide protection to the brain from injuries, either chemical or physical
  • Aid in controlling the cortex more effective
  • Have no sedative or stimulant effects
  • Possess negligible side effects and no detectable toxicity

There are others who’ve contributed research and requirements to an always debatable definition of nootropic, but I’m using the above. Keep in mind I’m not after a euphoric high or a buzz here. That’s not what nootropics are designed to do, at least the ones I want to use. I’m looking for that mental clarity, the ability to recall data when needed. To instatnly find the right word to use while making my point to others. I want my brain to work the way it did when I was younger.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more of what I’ve found in my time spent studying nootropics. Here’s a quick example. If you’ve ever taken a 5-hour energy shot you’ve used nootropics. I’m not talking about the caffeine, as that has a stimulating effect which doesn’t fit our working definition, but citicoline.

Caffeine is great as a stimulant but is often accompanied by jitters and the inevitable crash. However, if caffeine is taken with the common amino acid L-theanine the result is very different.  The combination has a longer lasting and more beneficial effect which boosts working memory, while reducing distractibility. Who wouldn’t enjoy that from time-to-time?