Laurence Lee

February 1, 2022 in Uncategorized

What Are Nootropics?

A lot of supplements can come and go, but some have withstood the test of time. Years ago no one was sure if creatine worked, now it’s hard to find a supplement brand that doesn’t carry it. 

Nootropics are another type of supplement whose popularity only seems to be increasing. Whether we’ve heard about it from a friend, colleague, or family member, it can seem like everyone knows someone who’s used them.

We did some research into nootropics to find out what the fuss was all about. Here we’ll share what we found about what nootropics are, what they’re made of, and if they work.

What Nootropics Actually Are

Nootropics began as medications for people with degenerative brain diseases, like dementia or Parkinson’s. They used to be only available with a prescription, and had to contain certain compounds.

But as research improved and more and more people started to look for an edge in their cognitive function, manufacturers started to study other non-prescription alternatives. Now the whole field of memory, focus, and mental energy supplements are called nootropics. 

In general, nootropics are not approved by the FDA, so you should do your research before buying the first one you see. Below we’ll get into what’s actually in nootropics so you can know what to look for.

What’s in Nootropics

There are a lot of ingredients that claim to improve your memory, clarity, brain function, or focus. But not all of them are worth the label they're printed on. We did a deep dive and found the key ingredients that seem to be in most of the effective nootropics on the market.

  • Caffeine: Whether as pure extract or from Green Tea or Green Coffee, this is a stimulant that can not only give you mental focus, but can unlock the use of other neurotransmitters.
  • L-Theanine: This amino acid helps balance hormones in the brain, and when combined with caffeine can help you focus on more tasks at one time.
  • Choline: Helps your body with nerve function by assisting in proper levels of acetylcholine (ACT), the trigger for all synaptic nerve function.
  • Red Ginseng: Or Panax Ginseng, has shown for decades to improve blood flow and help with oxygenation of the brain.
  • Rhodiola Rosea: A herb that can help with healthier hormone levels.

There are other well-researched ingredients, too, but those five are usually among the most studied nootropics, and all work independently and in concert to improve brain function.

Do Nootropics Actually Work?

The short answer is yes, they do. There is some argument in the scientific community as to why they work, or to what degree, but multiple studies have been done on the effectiveness of nootropics. 

Some doctors believe that positive results are from placebo effect or psychosomatic (in other words, all in our heads, no pun intended). Other scientists and doctors, however, are convinced that there’s real evidence to support the effects of nootropics, specifically the those with the ingredients we listed above.

The three most common reasons for nootropic effectiveness are: increased blood and oxygen in the brain; better ACT synapse response; and more level hormones. If any of those functions seem like they would benefit your cognitive function, then nootropics may be for you.


Do Nootropics Have Side Effects?

The most prevalent research says no, though it’s best to check with your doctor about the specific ingredients of the nootropic you’d like to try. The most common side effects are related to caffeine sensitivity.

Are Nootropics Legal?

They are 100% legal. They are not approved by the FDA, however, and are not intended to treat or cure any diseases.

Will I Form a Habit?

Nootropics do not contain any habit-forming substances, with the exception of caffeine, though generally in doses lower than coffee.

About the author 

Laurence Lee

Lee is a neuroscientist who has dedicated his career to understanding the inner workings of the brain. He has seen firsthand the power of these supplements in improving cognitive function and believes that more people should be aware of their benefits. In his articles, Lee shares his extensive knowledge on the subject and provides unbiased reviews of different products.

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