Nootropics 101: What Are Nootropics? Why Use Them?

4 Mins
Nootropics 101: What Are Nootropics? Why Use Them?

The first time I heard the word nootropics, I had absolutely no idea what it meant, what they did, or why I supposedly needed them. So, I did some digging. It turns out, I’d been using them… but without the fancy word. So, what exactly are nootropics? Why should you care? And if you choose to use them, how do you do so? It’s much simpler than the word sounds...

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics (pronounced nō-ə-trō-pics) is the word used to describe a class of supplements or ingredients that “turn” (trop) the “mind” (nous). The word was coined in 1972 by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian chemist who synthesized the first nootropic, piracetam. When Giurgea was developing his definition of nootropics, he established the following criteria, which is still widely adhered to. Nootropics must:

  • Enhance learning and memory
  • Enhance brain function during disruptive conditions
  • Protect the brain against chemical or physical assault
  • Facilitate communication between the two hemispheres of the brain
  • Have little-to-no negative side effects or toxicity

Sometimes referred to as “smart drugs,” even though they are supplements, nootropics may help promote better brain function in areas such as memory, processing speed, focus, and concentration. Some examples of nootropics include Sharp-PS, ALCAR, and Bacopa (though there are many).

Why Should I Use Nootropics?

While nootropics may be beneficial and safe, you must first decide if you need nootropics. Pause and take stock of your current state of well-being.

  • Do you experience brain fog?
  • Do you have a hard time concentrating?
  • Do you have low energy levels?
  • Do you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster at times?
  • Are you frequently forgetting where you’ve placed your car keys or glasses?
  • Can you not remember the last time you got 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep?

There’s a lot of information floating around in the news and online about a technique called “biohacking.”

Simply put, biohacking is the process of understanding your own body. Understand what works within your body, what your challenges are, and what hurts: when and why? Know yourself. It sounds trite, but this self-knowledge is critical. If you can understand how your body and brain function optimally (or not optimally), you’re in an excellent position to evaluate why you’re considering nootropics.

  • What mental or brain issues do you want to improve?
  • What do you expect to get out of a nootropic?
  • What is your measure of its success?

How Do I Use Nootropics?

First and foremost, talk to your doctor. Now, on to the practical...

Using nootropics could be compared to a workout routine. Stay with me here...

When you first start to run, half a mile could leave you out of breath with sore legs for days. As you push yourself further, you find greater and greater results. Three months later, you can bang out a three-mile run, and you’re getting great results. Fast forward three more months: you’re still running three miles at a time, but the results have seemed to plateau. You can’t understand why. Then you take a group fitness class or start lifting weights and your body is sore all over again. What gives?

Your body has built a tolerance and become comfortable with that three-mile run. In order to shock yourself out of that tolerance, out of complacency, you have to change things up a bit.

Using nootropics are similar. After performing your due diligence, choosing the right nootropic and understanding how it should benefit your brain, here are a few best practices to consider.

  • Start with the lowest dose. Give it the opportunity to work. Increase if needed. (Some nootropics have an almost-immediate effect, while some are cumulative and take days or weeks to reach full effectiveness.)
  • Keep notes. We’ve already discussed listening to your body before you start nootropics. But it’s equally important to listen to your body once you begin taking nootropics. Make note of what you’re taking, how much, when, and how you feel. Is it benefiting you? Are the results what you expected?
  • Take one at a time. Yes, there are a lot of nootropics out there. There are many potential brain benefits. However, if you have one or two issues you are hoping to affect and you start out taking numerous nootropics, it would be practically impossible to ascribe the benefits to one specific substance. On the other hand if you have multiple issues then you may need multiple nootropics. 
  • Cycle. When you take a break from caffeine, then drink a cup of coffee after not having it for a month, the caffeine seems more effective, more potent. Take one nootropic or group of nootropics for a specified time period, then give your brain a break from it. Let it rest for a while before beginning them again. This may actually provide better results than remaining on the same nootropics continually.

Nootropics May Provide Amazing Benefits

If you find yourself with foggy brain, lack of focus, or a memory that seems to get worse every week, nootropics may provide you with improved clarity and recall. It’s not just a placebo effect. Rather, these substances may change the physiology of the brain… just as the name suggests. If you’re interested in learning more about specific nootropics or finding out which ones could best benefit the brain challenges you’re experiencing, contact us at 888-549-5519 or open a chat on this page. One of our health and wellness professionals can guide you in making the right decison on which nootropic(s) may be best for you.