So you’re interested in the world of Nootropics, huh?
Perhaps you want to get more work done… Or you want to “recall” facts and figures more quickly… Or perhaps you need a boost in motivation to stop procrastinating.
Nootropics are a class of “cognitive enhancing” supplements, suited to the man (or woman) who wants to improve certain functions of his mind.
Upgrading Your Mind
It’s no surprise that so many entrepreneurs are using Nootropics and many others are simply “giving it a go”. After all, who doesn’t wants to think faster, get more done and be motivated to work?
Of course, Nootropics aren’t medicines that you get prescribed. Most Nootropics users, I would guess, are probably otherwise healthy. While you can “address” things like brain fog with Choline supplements, most of the time, taking nootropics is to improve your existing mental faculties and performance.
Kind of like in a video game where you choose to upgrade your intelligence or charisma, choosing a Nootropic is about picking exactly what function you feel like you want to upgrade.
Facing exams? Probably a memory and learning supplement like Alpha GPC.
Struggling with intensive periods at work? Probably a focus enhancing supplement like Caffeine + L-Theanine.
Needing a lift in motivation? Possibly a mood supplement like 5-HTP.
In the main, natural nootropics (like the ones we sell on our website) are much safer than medicinal pharmaceuticals, with fewer ingredients likely to cause unwanted side effects. The most popular ones are supported not only by hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of scientific investigations, but also by vast amounts of anecdotal evidence from existing users. There’s no shortage of information about nootropics. They’re an open book.
Why Are They Called Nootropics?
The word “nootropic” comes from Greek by way of French. In Greek, “noos” means “mind” and “trepein” means to bend or turn. Writing in French, the Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea coined the word “nootrope” in 1972 while writing about neuropharmacology from a Pavlovian perspective, essentially: “take this (substance), get that (effect).”
Nearly fifty years have passed since Dr. Giurgea’s pioneering work, during which time millions of “research years” have been devoted to expanding our knowledge of nootropics and their effects. Yet arguably they have a much longer history and have been tested by more people than we can imagine. Chinese medicine has used naturally occuring substances for over 3,000 years, yet only recently have these preparations been tested by western science.
A good example is berberine, a naturally-occuring alkaloid compound obtained from plants such as Japanese and European barberry (Berberis vulgaris). Although used by the Chinese over millennia for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing properties, berberine didn’t become a serious subject for scientific study until recently. In the five years 2007-2012, the journal PubMed listed approximately 2,800 studies on berberine — and many more have since been added.
The studies of berberine, like those of many other compounds used for centuries, have revealed additional effects when taken as a supplement to a normal diet. In the case of berberine these effects include improving the body’s metabolism, increasing insulin sensitivity and blood flow to the brain, and lowering cholesterol. Those are real benefits which demonstrate how nootropics — far from being a passing fad — can have a positive impact on the lives of people who take them.
How Safe Are Nootropics?
If you’re new to nootropics you are right to be concerned about their safety. Taking any substance, however mild, that stimulates or calms the functioning of vital mental processes is something that requires investigation and good judgement.
The fact is: we’re each affected in different ways by nootropics, as we are by more powerful pharmaceuticals. There’s no one-size-fits-all policy which manufacturers can recommend. You have to make a judgement based on the evidence of scientific research and reported usage.
The one clear rule is this: if you’re taking any kind of medication, especially antibiotics or drugs for treating chronic medical problems, don’t take any nootropics without medical advice.
If you’re healthy and you stick with the most popular nootropics — or combinations of nootropic (a technique known as “stacking”) — you’ll be among the many thousands of people who are already taking them successfully.
Importantly, you should be able to detect whether the nootropic is acting beneficially, negatively, or without any noticeable effect. You’ll then be able to add your own anecdotal evidence to the vast literature on nootropics for the benefit of others.
What Are the Most Popular Nootropics?
Among the most widely taken nootropics are CDP Choline, Alpha GPC, 5-HTP, Uridine, LongJack Tongkat Ali, and Pterostilbene. They represent a good cross-section of popular, safe nootropics that cover a spectrum of mental and physical applications.
Cytidine-Diphosphate-Choline (CDP Choline) is known to be effective for enhancing memory and protecting the brain from memory loss. It restores neural membranes, accelerates the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and increases the level of dopamine in the central nervous system.
You can get choline naturally from various food sources, such as pan-fried beef liver, toasted wheat germ and steamed scallops, all of which yield high amounts of choline per serving. But of course we don’t all eat these choline-rich foods, leaving us with insufficient levels that are inadequate unless we take choline in supplement form.
For more information on CDP Choline:
Alpha Glyceryl-Phosphoryl-Choline (Alpha GPC) is a pure form of soy lecithin and another way to take choline as a supplement. The choline content in Alpha GPC is high, at 40 percent, relative to that of CDP Choline at just 18 percent. However, CDP Choline achieves a higher absorption rate, approaching 100 percent, which Alpha GPC doesn’t do — unless you stack it with another nootropic such as Uridine.
Alpha GPC improves cell membrane health, promotes memory enhancement, and helps to protect against brain ageing. It greatly increases the available amount of choline for making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, enabling faster memory recall — a key function of cognitive thought.
Although it’s all too easy to acquire a choline deficiency, it’s quite hard to overdose on it. The recommended adequate intake (AI) of choline is 425 milligrams (mg)/day for women and 550 mg/day for men. However, the official “tolerable upper intake level (UL) for adults is set at 3.5 grams (g)/day, beyond which you may experience symptoms such as sweating and body odour. This is several times the maximum dose recommended by responsible suppliers.
For more information on Alpha GPC:
By increasing your levels of serotonin, the so-called “happiness hormone,” 5-HTP can make an immediate and positive impact on your mood. It works even better if you take it along with some extra B-vitamins which are essential if you use 5-HTP for more than a week or two.
Working as a neurotransmitter, serotonin boosts our sense of wellbeing and happiness. Yet that’s not all: it also helps to regulate bodily functions, such as sleeping, eating, and digesting. If your serotonin levels are too low — perhaps because your body is not producing enough of it naturally — the deficiency leads directly to feelings of anxiety and depression.
It’s very important that you don’t take a serotonin-boosting nootropic like 5-HTP if you’re already taking any sort of antidepressant. But if you follow this rule, taking 5-HTP is an excellent way to counterbalance the lack of serotonin which results from an inadequate diet. Vegans, in particular, may suffer from serotonin deficiency because the body needs tryptophan to make 5-HTP — and tryptophan comes from eating such foods as turkey, lamb, chicken, eggs, and fish.
Like 5-HTP, Uridine is good for maintaining a positive outlook and a sense of wellbeing. However, it’s even more elusive than 5-HTP because the liver and gastrointestinal tract normally destroy the uridine we get from eating broccoli, offal, tomatoes and other foods which provide it.
There are only a few exceptions, notably: beer (yes, that’s one reason why “a pint of bitter” cheers us up!), mother’s milk, and nootropics supplements.
There are obvious downsides to drinking lots of beer, not least of which are “beer guts” and the probability of becoming alcoholic. Not so obvious is the increased retention of uric acid, which in turn leads to gout and arthritic pain. Fortunately, taking a supplement can give you the benefits of uridine — one of the precursor components of ribonucleic acid (RNA), used by the brain for synaptic formation and functioning — without the dangers of uric acid retention.
For more information on Uridine:
LongJack Tongkat Ali
One of the most effective natural aphrodisiacs, Longjack has been shown to have a three-in-one effect on male potency: increasing not only sexual desire but sperm production as well, while also acting as a proerectile agent.
LongJack Tongkat Ali is an extract of Malaysian Ginseng (Eurycoma Longifolia Jack), a shrub that grows in South-East Asia and Indonesia. Used in these areas for centuries as a traditional medicine, LongJack boosts energy and stamina and improves blood circulation, as well as having the potency benefits mentioned above.
Does LongJack Tongkat Ali contribute to the functioning of the brain, like most other nootropics? Yes, improved circulation is directly beneficial.
The main antioxidant component of blueberries, Pterostilbene is known to work as an anti-cancer agent that can be absorbed by the body when taken orally. In low doses, under 10mg, it works to improve cognition, while in higher doses, 250-500mg, it helps to reduce cholesterol and glucose.
Pterostilbene is similar in molecular structure to resveratrol, being one of the “phytoalexins,” compounds produced by plants to defend themselves against parasites. It’s also found in grapes — and adding an equivalent amount of grape seed extract to Pterostilbene is an excellent way to help keep cholesterol levels down.
Laboratory studies on rats have shown Pterostilbene to improve cognition and give some protection against aging. Because it’s a powerful antioxidant it destroys the “free radicals” — the oxygen-damaged molecules — that cause cells to degenerate. It has clear benefits with very few known side effects and may be taken safely over a long period.
Any of the six products discussed above can become a safe entry-point into the new and exciting world of nootropics supplementation.
You’ll need to make sure you obtain your supplements from a trusted supplier who produces them in a cGMP certified facility (conforming to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations), registered with the FDA.
As your knowledge of nootropics grows, so will your confidence in using them. Make no mistake: nootropics are here to stay.