Boost your Brain Power with this Simple Trick
The fast-paced nature and high expectations of today’s society pressure us to stay focused, highly motivated, and perform our best at all times. Whether it’s for work, school, or personal life, we’re often trying to be better, faster, and more productive.
It’s no surprise, then, that many people turn to nootropics for an added brain boost. Also called “smart drugs”, nootropics are used to improve mental performance and have gained popularity in today’s society, where increased brain function can give us a distinct advantage.
But what are these brain enhancers and how do they work? Are they worth the investment or simply a gimmick that will cost you lots of wasted money?
What are Nootropics and How do they Work?
The word nootropic is from the Greek words “nous” which means mind, and “bend” which means turn. Nootropics simply means “mind bending”. While they don’t actually “bend” the mind, nootropics do influence the brain and how it performs.
Nootropics is a broad term used to describe substances that improve mental performance through increased creativity, motivation, learning, and attention. They were first invented in the 1970’s and their popularity has grown exponentially since that time.
Nootropics are thought to produce brain-boosting effects in a few different ways:
1. Increase blood flow. Blood flow is very important for brain function; it’s how oxygen and other important nutrients are delivered to the brain. Some neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, are even associated with decreased brain blood flow. Nootropics work by increasing blood flow, which helps the brain get what it needs to work at a high rate. This also supports the growth and repair of brain cells.
2. Protect brain cells. Nootropics are also believed to defend brain cells from toxins and other things that can cause damage. This is especially important during very stressful times when toxins can be even more damaging to brain cells.
3. Improve communication. Neurotransmitters are tiny chemicals that brain cells use to send messages to one another. Nootropics are thought to increase the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. This improves communication between cells and the ability for the brain to send messages. It also helps to strengthen connections between cells in the brain, which makes it easier for messages to travel along important pathways.
Common Types of Nootropics
There are many different types of nootropics, ranging from natural substances to prescription medications. Some natural nootropics are actually quite common and can likely be purchased at your local health food store.
Examples of common, natural nootropics include ginseng, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, and Bacopa Monnieri, among many others.
- Ginseng is an herb that is thought to improve brain function and decrease mental stress, among many other health benefits. It can be eaten as a root and is also sold in powder, pill, and oil forms.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid found in black, green, and white tea leaves. It is thought to increase creativity and decrease psychological stress. Try it in its natural form by drinking black, green, or white tea. It can also be purchased as a supplement in powder and pill forms.
- Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that grows in cold, mountainous areas, and is believed to decrease mental fatigue and decrease psychological stress. Rhodiola Rosea can be consumed as a tea or in pill and powder forms.
- Bacopa Monnieri, also known as brahmi, is an herb that was used in ancient Aruveydic medicine. It’s thought to boost brain function by increasing the number of neurotransmitters in the brain that contribute to thinking and learning.
These natural nootropics typically have weaker and slower acting effects than other types of nootropics. However, they are typically more affordable and have less side effects than some of the other synthetic nootropics.
Synthetic nootropics are often found in supplements that you can be purchased over the counter or as prescription medications. There are dozens of different types of over the counter nootropics. Some of the more common synthetic nootropic substances are nootropic, Phenotropil, Adrafinil, Phenibut, and Piracetam. Prescription nootropics include Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.
Do Nootropics Work?
Research and Markets reports that the brain-boosting supplement industry is growing; in fact, it’s projected to be worth $11.6 billion by 2024. If you haven’t seen them already, you’ll likely see more nootropics on the market in the immediate future, and it’s important to determine whether they actually work before incorporating these “smart drugs” into your daily routine.
Many people swear by nootropics’ ability to boost brain power and there’s some evidence to support these claims. A study in 2010, for example, found that taking 400 mg of ginseng was associated with improved ability to do arithmetic, and another study found that L-Theanine reduced psychological stress when compared to a placebo group. A third study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that 300 mg of Bacopa Monnieri a day improved performance on a memory task in older adults.
Despite these results, however, other studies report that nootropics may have little to no effect on cognitive function and may actually produce unwanted side effects. A study by the National Institute of Health, for example, found that nootropics are related to obsessive compulsive disorder and addictive behaviors. In general, more research is needed to demonstrate their effectiveness and to understand exactly how nootropics interact with our bodies.
It’s also important to keep in mind that nootropics work differently across different individuals and most take days or weeks before they’re effective. Furthermore, nootropics are not regulated by the FDA. Think twice before spending lots of money on supplements that guarantee quick, temporary results (as this is not how they normally work) and always talk to your doctor before taking them.
Other Ways to Boost Brain Power
Nootropics may be one way to enhance brain function but improving your overall health may be just as effective, or even more effective, as some of these substances. After all, if your body isn’t functioning at its best, your brain won’t either.
Healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals, for example, have been shown to support brain function and keep brain cells healthy. Try to include foods like fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and berries into your diet whenever possible.
Physical activity has also been shown to enhance focus, mood, and concentration (not to mention the many other health benefits of exercise!). Try to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, even if it’s a quick walk around the block or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Finally, we all know that getting enough sleep is important, but many of us still neglect to do so. Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can have drastic effects on our brain function. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, failure to get enough sleep has been shown to decrease attention and concentration. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night for good brain health.
Nootropics are substances that enhance brain function. Despite their popularity, research showing the effectiveness of these substances is limited and some may have harsh side effects. Improving overall health through diet, exercise, and sleep are great alternatives that have been shown to enhance brain function. If nootropics are something you are considering, be sure to consult a medical professional before taking them.
Have you tried nootropics before? Tell us in the comments below!
XO - Serena