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What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are possibly one of the most interesting and fascinating topics of interest, at present. In the past decade, there has been an exponential rise in the spotlight of nootropics and cognitive enhancement – with the ever-so rapidly evolving world surrounding us, it's to no surprise people are turning to methods of “upgrading themselves”, otherwise referred to as “Biohacking”, in hope of keeping up.
It all starts with the brain. There should be no doubt about it, the brain is one powerful and impressive organ. Simply put - A mass of tissue filled with little neurons and pathways, solely responsible for sending and receiving information from both within and outside our biological eco-system. The brain and a computer are one in the same, they both generate, store, and transfer information – enabling you to read this right now. Just like a computer, the brain essentially has an operating system and additional programs responsible for our ability to breathe, move, think, and make decisions.
So what if I told you, you could upgrade your brain? What if you could install a new operating system and boost the output power or processing speed of the supercomputer we commonly refer to as “the brain”?Well, that’s not as far-fetched as you might think! The same way millions of people turn to vitamins and health supplements for an immune boost or an edge on the sports field – there are products/methods available for cognitive optimization.
Nootropics - is an umbrella term for a class of substances, both natural and/or synthetic, that have cognitive enhancing properties.Nootropics are generally known to:
- Maximize Concentration
- Improve Brain Health
- Boost Energy
- Enhance Memory
- Improve Mood
Dr. Cornelius E. Giurgea, the individual who holds claim to developing the term “nootropics” originally outlined a set of criteria that a substance must meeting in order to be classified as a “nootropic”.
- Enhance memory & learning
- Help the brain to resist any disruption to learned behavior and memory
- Shield the brain against injury, physical or chemical
- Boost efficiency of the cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
- Lack the interaction of psychotropic drugs
- Be extremely low in toxicity and have very few side effects
Nootropics are a powerful tool and are commonly used by those who wish to enhance their cognitive potential, improve their productivity, and optimize their biological system – these “people” range from top-level CEO’s to athletes to students to even your “average Joe” – in short, their uses and benefits reach far and wide.
WHO USES NOOTROPICS?
The history of nootropics dates back more than half a century. In the 1960s, Romanian scientist Corneliu E. Giurgea discovered that a substance called “piracetam” activated the brain rather than quieting it. He declared that this new drug should fit into a new category called “nootropics,” which derives from the Greek word for “mind.”
In the years since Giurgea’s discovery, many highly motivated individuals have tried all kinds of substances to gain an advantage. Overnight workers have leaned heavily on coffee, tea, and soda — and the loads of caffeine present in each. Students looking for an edge in their studies have abused prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin. Wall Street bankers and others have used narcotics like cocaine to fuel long hours. But these substances all come with a significant crash after they deliver an initial boost, not to mention the side effects and possibility of addiction.
Today, smarter professionals are turning to the best nootropics — many decades after Giurgea first discovered and named this new category of supplement. Who is using nootropic supplements? Many of the same individuals who once turned to caffeine for a boost. You’ll find nootropics on college campuses where students are hoping to get the most out of their education. You’ll find nootropics among Wall Street interns who are working long hours and hoping to maximize them. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2015 on young start-up entrepreneurs who once tried Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy — but who are now loyal to nootropics as a safer, more effective brain enhancer that won’t leave users with jitters.
ARE NOOTROPICS SAFE?
That’s the first question that many ask. Industrialized nations around the world have government agencies whose job it is to test new products and ensure they will cause no harm to consumers. The United States Food and Drug Administration is one of these agencies. It treats many nootropics as a dietary supplement, which means individual products do not need approval before heading to the open market. Why? Because, while the concept of nootropics may be new to the mass market, the ingredients in most nootropic formulations have been around for a long time. Exceptions to this are obviously present, with many compounds not being regulated by the FDA or MCC. However, by a general rule of thumb, in order for a substance to be referred to as a nootropic, it is required to meet a set of guidelines set out by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea:
- Enhance Memory & Learning
- Enhance learned behaviors under conditions known to disrupt them
- Boost Energy
- Protect the brain from physical & chemical injury
- Enhance the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
- Exhibit few side effects and extremely low toxicity, while lacking the pharmacology of typical psychotropic drugs(motor stimulation, sedation etc.)
Many nootropics enthusiasts try to create the best possible combinations. A specific combination is known as a “nootropic stack.” As more and more nootropics companies enter the market, they are essentially aiming to create the best nootropic stacks. While nootropics are certainly in need of further study and research, early indications are that this new category offers a huge opportunity for those searching for a cognitive edge.