Nootropics: Smart Drugs

Nootropics is a class of substances that can boost brain performance, and so are sometimes called cognition/memory enhancers. Prescription nootropics have stimulant effects and can offset symptoms of medical conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s, or narcolepsy. Nonprescription substances like caffeine and creatine, which can enhance brain performance or focus, are also considered nootropics; however, they do not treat diseases, but could have some effects on mental functions like thinking and memory.

Prescription nootropics include Cephalon’s Provigil (modafinil), a stimulant to treat the sudden drowsiness of narcolepsy, Duramed Pharmaceuticals’ Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine combination) to treat ADHD, Novartis’s Ritalin (methylphenidate), a stimulant to manage symptoms of narcolepsy and ADHD, and Merz Pharmaceuticals’ Axura (memantine), which treats symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Like other drugs, prescription nootropics also have side effects, the most common being hypertension, fast heart rate, sleep disturbances, vision problems, and addiction.

Nonprescription nootropics refer to natural or synthetic supplements that boost mental performance, one example of which is caffeine, which can improve concentration; however, extremely large amounts may not be safe. The U.S. FDA recommends a limit of 400 mg per day (4–5 cups).

L-theanine, an amino acid present in black and green teas, is another example. It is claimed to increase the brain’s alpha waves, which could contribute to a state of alert relaxation. L-theanine may work well with caffeine in boosting cognitive performance and alertness. Generally, the dose of l-theanine is 100–400 mg per day.
One of the best known nonprescription nootropics is omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to fight against brain aging. Found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements, these polyunsaturated fats help build membranes around the body’s cells, including the neurons, and are essential for repairing and renewing brain cells.
Another nonprescription nootropic are racetams, a class of drugs that share a pyrrolidone nucleus. They are synthetic compounds that can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, and include piracetam, pramiracetam, phenylpiracetam, and aniracetam.

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China, Japan, and Korea; its leaves are available as an herbal supplement. It is claimed improve blood flow to the brain and also act as an antioxidant. It may be potentially beneficial in improving brain function, besides helping with dementia symptoms.

Some studies indicate that the roots of Panax ginseng (Korean red ginseng), a shrub found in Korea, China, and parts of Siberia, may help in treating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, and Huntington disease, besides helping the brain recover after a stroke.

Rhodiola rosea L (Roseroot), which is found in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia, may have neuroprotective effects that could help treat neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognitive ability. It has also been shown to help regulate brain neurotransmitters and bring about a positive effect on mood.

Creatine, an amino acid present naturally in muscle cells, helps the muscles to produce energy during high-intensity exercise. It is very popular as a sports supplement that increases muscle mass and strength, and enhances exercise performance .It is also believed to improve short term memory and reasoning.

Check Also


Postpartum Depression

A 35-year-old female gives birth to a healthy female child after trying to conceive for …

%d bloggers like this: