Living in the age of electronically distributed mass media definitely has both its perks and its downfalls.
An obvious perk is that we are constantly deluged in easily accessible information about a wide variety of topics.
On the other hand, this is also one of the chief downfalls, as it all too often results in a persistent, widespread sense of information overload. However, there is hope!
Thanks to the Internet, the public has become more aware of the existence and benefits of a possible remedy to some of these informational ills of modern life: nootropics.
What are nootropics?
Also known as “smart drugs,” these substances are claimed to improve attention, motivation, intelligence, memory, and mood.
Equally importantly, these substances are reportedly very safe.
Within the community of nootropics researchers and enthusiasts, there is considerable debate over just which drugs, supplements, and nutraceuticals fall into this coveted category.
Remember the drugs depicted in the 2011 thriller “Limitless?
” The main character Eddie is given a mysterious nootropic drug.
In some ways, the comparison is fair; after all, nootropics have been shown to enhance attention, concentration, memory, and more – Eddie experienced quite a bit of financial success as a result of this in the film.
At the same time, the mental and physical effects the main character undergoes are over-exaggerated if the directors has piracetam or aniracetam in mind.
It’s not likely that the average individual taking a nootropic will find him- or herself suddenly involved in disturbing situation after the next.
Take note: “going off the deep end” is not a common consequence of taking nootropics as far as the information shows (and we encourage you to check out the studies referenced for yourself).
The term “nootropic” was coined by the Romanian chemist and psychologist Dr. Corneliu Giurgea in 1972 to describe the effects of piracetam, a compound that he discovered in 1964 while working for the Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB.
The term itself means “mind-turning” due to the observed positive effects of piracetam and related compounds on the brain and on mental function in both non-human animals and humans.
Piracetam is, thus, the prototypical nootropic compound.
In addition to having discovered and developed piracetam, Dr. Giurgea is among those responsible for the dissemination of information on it.
In turn, this has led to the research, discovery, and popularization of many other –racetams and other kinds of nootropics.
In order to clarify research on and discussion of the –racetam compounds, Dr. Giurgea came up with a set of criteria that any given substance must meet in order for it to be classified as a nootropic.
Giurgea’s Nootropic Criteria
According to Giurgea, a nootropic substance:
1. should enhance memory and learning
2. should enhance resistance of learned behaviors/memories to conditions which tend to disrupt them (e. g.
electroconvulsive shock, hypoxia)
3. should protect the brain against various physical/chemical injuries (e. g.
4. should increase the efficacy of tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
5. should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e. g.
sedation, motor stimulation), and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity (Giurgea C. , 1972, p. 108).
The issue of what qualifies as a nootropic, however, wasn’t so simply settled.
As is usually the case in science, once the field was established other learned commentators weighed in with their own observations and proposals.
In addition to Giurgea’s efforts to sum up his thoughts on the matter, the pharmacologist V.
Skondia was responsible for coming up with an even more detailed set of criteria, which he published in 1979.
Skondia chose to look in more detail at the metabolic effects of these compounds.
According to Skondia’s criteria for nootropics, a nootropic should display:
- 1. No direct vasoactivity
(a) No vasodilation
(b) No vasoconstriction
- 2. No change in basic EEG rhythm
(a) Quantitative EEG: increased power spectrum (beta 2 and alpha)
(b) Qualitative EEG: decreased delta waves and cerebral suffering
- 3. Must pass blood-brain barrier
(a) Under normal conditions
(b) Under pathological conditions
- 4. Must show metabolic activity in:
(a) Animal brain metabolism
- i. Molecular
(b) Human brain metabolism
- A. Increased extraction quotients of O2
Increased extraction quotients of glucose
Reduced lactate pyruvate ratio
Regional cerebral metabolic rates (rCMR)
- A. Increased ICMR of O2
Increased rCMR of glucose
Regional cerebral blood flow: normalization
- 5. Minimal side effects
Clinical trials must be conducted with several rating scales designed to objectify metabolic cerebral improvement. (Skondia V.
As you can readily see, Skondia’s requirements are more extensive and go much more in-depth than Giurgea’s.
One point that was agreed upon by both researchers was that nootropics should have a well-established safety profile and display little to no toxicity.
Putting this information together, we can see that some of the essential aspects of the definition of a nootropic are: that (a) a given chemical is (b) a drug with (c) little to no side effects that (d) enhances cognition.
It is apt that nootropics are often referred to in the media as “smart drugs.”Q They are “smart drugs” not only in the sense of enhancing various aspects of intellectual performance (a la, for example, stimulant medications such as the amphetamines, which are commonly used in the treatment of ADD/ADHD), they are also “smart drugs” in the sense of being healthy choices for the enhancement of intellectual performance (quite unlike the amphetamines).
Who takes nootropics?
Not only do nootropics help the elderly and those suffering from brain trauma, but they also provide beneficial results to the young and healthy.
Nootropics enthusiasts love to use them for studying and learning.
Russian cosmonauts use them to sharpen their physical and mental skills in space (Malykh & Sadaie, 2010, p. 290).
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User Questions and Answers
User Questions and Answers
I have already a high IQ and I'm curious about brain boosters to further increase my brain-functionality. I would like a brain booster which helps my brainpower develop healthily overtime instead of a temporary boost for a short time. Which products would you recommend and is there any information I want as a newbie? -Hannes Nordström
The best for long term, slower acting improvement would be MindBoost.- Rob
2 out of 2 people found this question helpful.
Can you test nootropics - https://www.nowtropic.com/? -Marek
Sure. I'll put it on the list and get a review up soon. Thanks for the suggestion.- Rob
1 out of 1 people found this question helpful.
Hello rob, Have you ever tried AdderRx ? Couldn't find a review. -Sean
I haven't reviewed it yet, but I'll put it on the list and get something up in the next few weeks.- Rob
What is your critique of Phosphatidylserine? -Jeffrey
It's included in a lot of nootropic supplements, but I haven't actually tested it or researched it much as an individual nootropic ingredient yet.- Rob
I have been using Optimind almost two weeks and find it hard to find that it's doing anything. According to dailyhealthanswers.com, they did not even list Optimind. Of 10 nootropics, they rated best: Provasil, Neuroflexyn, Addium to name a few. Have you reviewed any of these? -Gerald
We have reviews of Neuroflexyn and Addium you can check out. But have you tried Phenibut with Optimind? Check out my review of this great stack here. Just make sure you only use Phenibut no more than twice a week.- Rob
1 out of 3 people found this question helpful.
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