What are Nootropics and what are their Benefits?

What are Nootropics and what are their Benefits?


Nootropics. You have probably come across or at least heard about them. Although they have been around for the better part of 4 decades, they were made famous by Bradley Cooper’s movie Limitless. The movie depicts Nootropics as smart drugs that transform a failing writer’s life from obscurity to unprecedented success both financial, socially and physically. Essentially, the ‘limitless’ pills make him a totally different individual; brilliant, focused, confident, physically strong and hands down a creative genius. So is all this true? Can Nootropics really achieve all that is shown in the movie Limitless? Or is it just exaggerated imagination and wishful thinking? In this article you will get an in-depth definition of what Nootropics are.

To say that the field of Nootropics is exciting and intriguing is an understatement. This is because as human beings the possibility that any drug or supplement can make you smarter is fascinating. It is for this reason that scientists have been researching the possibility of Nootropics fro as early as the 1960s.  The word Nootropics was coined in 1972 by a Romanian scientist known as Cornelia Giarrgiea. He came up with the name by combining the Greek words ‘bending’ and ‘mind’. According to experts, even simple even simple everyday products that many people are dependent on such as nicotine and caffeine are mild Nootropics because they have an influence on cognitive thinking. In a nutshell, Nootropics commonly known as smart drugs are supplements that are specifically designed to help enhance cognitive function.

With so many brands in the market, each brand makes different set of promises when it comes to the benefits. The main functions of these cognitive enhancers include boosting memory, increasing ability to focus and concentrate, boosting mood and also jumpstarting your creativity. Rise in popularity Thanks to the benefits they promise using Nootropics became extremely popular in the last decade. Long before the movie Limitless many college students especially in the United States started relying on Nootropics to complete school. Even in corporate America especially in Silicon Valley; Nootropics are the order of the day.

It is not a secret anymore, an article written by Sarah Soloritch for the Washington Post delves into the popularity of these supplements in the technological capital of the world (Silicon Valley) where the brightest and most creative in the world work. This is a clear demonstration that no matter how smart and successful someone is they always jump at the opportunity to do better. For instance George Burke who is the mega successful cofounder of -a food service geared towards athletic types terms- Nootropics as a great investment that has come in handy in helping him keep up with the rigorous work schedule especially the long hours.

Scientific Research Concerning Nootropics

Unlike a few decades ago, researchers, experts and medical doctors are beginning to get a better understanding of how to apply the complex systems of science to psycho-neuro-pharmacology and a nootropic approach. As you can probably imagine the human neural system is quite complicated. Big research companies send millions of dollars to develop drugs that can safely enhance cognitive functioning without causing any negative side effects. Thanks to the hard work and effort of a number of remarkable scientists and researchers, companies have been able to put together whole systems that affect how the human brain operates.

What are the most popular Nootropics today?

The current market is crowded with Nootropics brands promising miraculous results within a short period of time. It can be challenging to ascertain which particular one will work for you. When it comes to selecting the right nootropic for you, it is all about how your body responds to them. Here we will only mention the most popular and extensively reviewed Nootropics. What is fascinating about the 3 brands we mention here and other in the market is that they are made up of similar ingredients.

Bacopa Monniera

This is a popular nootropic that happens to be one of the oldest brands in the market. It is a general cognitive enhancer that according to the packaging can not only boost memory but also significantly improve spatial learning. Additionally, Bacopa Monniear has been proven to lower stress, reduce vulnerability to depression, anxiety and also ensure that a user has more mental clarity to achieve unprecedented success.


This brand of Nootropics is commonly used to help boost the efficiency of how user’s mind makes connections. A Harvard study conducted on this particular brand ascertained that users who consistently consume 400 milligram. Persons who took a consistent dose were able to increase the speed of calculations by a whopping 20% as well as a general improvement in overall accuracy.


This brand is an incredibly powerful nootropic because it also an extremely potent vasodilator. This comes in handy in causing your blood vessels to expand making it much easy for the supplement to get into the bloodstream and act fast. Vinpocetene has anti-inflammation properties that work to help lower that much dreaded ‘brain fog’.

What is the best way to take Nootropics?

As a rule of thumb before taking any supplement whether herbal or chemical, it is advisable to take time and research exhaustively to ascertain the immediate side effects and long-tem consequences. For instance in the movie Limitless, the pills make the lead actor an overnight genius but have devastating effects on hi health. He becomes dependant on them and cannot even be his regular self when off them.

When the brilliant Dr. Corneliu Giurgea first came up with the term Nootropics in 1972, he also outlined the characteristics that define these cognitive enhancers. Besides the ability to boost cognitive processes and benefit memory, this committed doctor believed that Nootropics should be non-toxic and safe. He also strongly believed that when it comes to Nootropics the focus should not be short term effects but the long term consequences. Although most are safe to use, there are a few issues that a user needs to address before consuming these supplements. One of the most important questions you must ask before purchasing any brand is whether with long term use you will develop tolerance to the supplement. Tolerance simply means that with time you will use more of it and effects will reduce.

What is the future of Nootropics?

The truth is that Limitless the movie depicts the possible future of Nootropics and not where the industry is now. You can say, we are still in the Nokia 1100 phase of taking these cognitive enhancers, and as more research is done, leading thinkers in this generation see an incredibly powerful and promising future.


The fascinating and exciting field on Nootropics is rapidly expanding. More and more people are becoming open to the idea of taking cognitive enhancers to help them with their everyday life. While it a once a reserve for students and tech experts in Silicon Valley, it is now becoming mainstream and accepted by the masses. The benefits range from enhancing athletic performance to substantially improving cognitive functioning.

Let us begin with who should be taking Nootropics…

To shorten the long answer, every single person can benefit from taking these cognitive enhancers in one way or another. That said there is no doubt that not every nootropic is right for everyone. For instance an athlete must ensure they only consume a product that does not contain ingredients that are restricted by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) or USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) such as phenylpiracetam. It is also extremely important that expectant mothers and breastfeeding women avoid taking Nootropics, in layman terms it is like taking extremely high doses of caffeine.

A look at how Nootropics work…

The human brain works similar to how a central processing unit of a computer operates. The CPU is made up of a series of logic gates, transistors, circuits and memory arrays that are interconnected via electrical wiring. In comparison the neurons in the human brain have a similar interconnectivity.

The only difference is that instead of neuron to neuron communication happening electrically, it takes place chemically. These chemicals are what scientists refer to as chemical neurotransmitters. For instance Glutamate is a non-essential amino acid that is the most prominent in the brain. It is excitatory which means that it helps to stimulate other neurons. Additionally, it also a critical component that helps in the formation of the neurotransmitter GABA which is largely inhibitory. The first ever synthetic nootropic was known as Piracetam and has a structure that is very similar to the all-natural GABA. There are some neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphin that have an extremely specific target. It works by binding to the human being’s opioid receptors.

All Nootropics work by helping to modulate a series of neurotransmitters including what is largely referred to as monoamines (adrenaline, dopamine, and noradrenalin), ATP, acetylcholine and adenosine. These artificial cognitive enhancers are able to boost the production of particular neurotransmitters by simply binding to specific neurotransmitter receiving sites that help block the effect of the neurotransmitter or by simply helping to regulate the entire system. Since these product works through stimulating the neurotransmitters in the brain, their effects can vary. There are actually many Nootropics in what we eat daily.

Think about it for a second…

With a mix of the right set of ingredients, we can be able to stimulate the human brain and also improve its function from a range of perspectives.

Benefits of Nootropics…

Help to enhance cognition

So what exactly is cognition? In simple terms it is the conscious intellectual process of acquiring knowledge and then comprehending it and implementing it appropriately. According to knowledgeable and experienced neuro scientists, cognition entails the use of different facets of brain power such as:







The reason that Nootropics are called smart drugs is that their most sought after effect is cognition. That is the reason why drugs such as Adderall have become so popular in college campuses in the United States and United Kingdom. It works by helping to block the re-uptake of serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine into the presynaptic neuron. Additionally, it also works by boosting the release of neurotransmitters into the space that connects two individual nerve cells.

While Adderall is not a nootropic, most produce the same cognitive effect. Improved cognition that is affected by Nootropics can also come in handy in performing daily tasks. Most business people in corporate America will use these cognitive enhancers when making presentations, focusing for long periods of time and public speaking. Others just find them effective in staying alert when carrying out their day to day tasks. Numerous natural Nootropics have demonstrated cognitive benefits including Choline which is used to make acetylcholine in the human brain, Bacopa, L-tryosine, pterostilbine and L-carnitine.

Stimulates Creativity

Nootropics are extremely popular among brilliant tech say professionals in Silicon Valley because they help to boost creativity. Additionally, this is the reason why these cognitive enhancers are becoming a staple for creators and artists. If you are in a profession that heavily relies on your ability to be creative, I am sure you are aware that finding your creative streak on a daily basis is fleeting. Sometimes you are incredibly creative while other times the creative spark is not only dull but sometimes completely nonexistent. Nootropics will help aid in the creative process; they will achieve this by providing the central nervous system with the energy needed to get your creative juices flowing.

Most of the Nootropics in the market fall into the creative genre

Acetyl L-carnitine is derived from the Amino acid L-carnitine. It helps to boost the level of dopamine and acetylcholine in the brain. Many scientists have suggested that Acetyl L-carnitine helps to stimulate creativity and also enhance left and right brain communication.

Boosts mood and lowers anxiety and stress

We live in a generation that is extremely vulnerable to anxiety related conditions such as depression, anxiety and nervousness. While for a large percentage of the population these are fleeting states of mood, for other it can be lifelong predicament that can have devastating consequences if not managed appropriately. What researchers and medical doctors are sure about is that the state of the mind is chemically modulated by particular neurotransmitters and certain nutritional deficiencies.

How will Nootropics improve anxiety and mood?

The neurotransmitters that specifically affect the mood of an individual are noradrenaline, GABA, dopamine and serotonin. When the levels of GABA are low it will lead to anxiety. On the other hand serotonin is associated with eating, mood, aggressiveness and sleep. When the levels of serotonin are low, it can cause depression. Most of the anti-depressive pharmaceuticals affect the serotonin pathway.

Promotes Athletic Performance

According to reliable studies and statistics, it is clear that it can have benefits to an athlete and can aid in helping them ‘get into the zone’. Playing sports is all about reaction time, facilitating what is practised through ingraining the neuromuscular connections of the body and mind. Focus, memory and learning are processes that are tightly intertwined with each other to affect serial reaction time. Most Nootropics will work by improving concentration; signal processing and mindset by enhancing neurotransmission which is most of the time diminishes as a person becomes more fatigued. There is no doubt that Nootropics are helpful. They are more than just smart drugs!

Factors to take into consideration before using Nootropics

Nootropics also known as smart drugs are supplements that are specifically formulated to help boost cognitive functioning. When taken appropriately, they are able to boost performance, maximise productivity and help users achieve their full potential. When Nootropics are properly formulated they serve as neuro-protective agents meaning they play an important role in preserving cognition and brain function. Reliable studies and statistics have shown that there are Nootropics that can actually help to prevent neurodegenerative ailments and cognitive decline that is related to aging.

Although smart drugs get mostly positive attention, many users fail to take a critical look at the potential dangers especially when planning to use them long term. While most studies generally term them as ‘safe’, they have still have not been extensively studied to establish how they affect the user in the long-term. When thinking about the dangers of Nootropics, it is important to keep in mind that there are many different types and each has a varying mechanism of action.

What factors influence the potential dangers of taking Nootropics

Brain development

This specifically concerns the age. As a matter of principle, it is always not advisable to use Nootropics or any drug that affects how the brain works before it is fully developed because this may affect development, stagger it and in extreme cases prevent it. The critical stages of brain development are between teenage hood and when a person turns 25 when the scientifically the brain is now fully develop. The interesting thing about the human brain is that although scientists estimate that it is fully grown when a person is 25, this is not a fact that has unequivocally been established. More research is still being done. Experts fear that taking Nootropics before the brain is fully developed can create a dependency such that the brain will not be able to change functionally so as to adapt to new   changes as it naturally does. Additionally, if Nootropics are used before the brain fully develops there is a legitimate fear that this will impair connections that would have been beneficial from being formed. When your brain is fully formed there is a lesser risk that Nootropics will induce any major functional changes.


As the saying goes even too much of a good thing can be dangerous, this is very true when it comes to taking Nootropics. Taking these cognitive enhancers at extremely high doses can actually have the contradictory effect to cognitive function and brain health. The problem when it comes to taking Nootropics is that once you use it and experience its great effects is that you might find it effective and end up increasing the dosage.

What users need to keep in mind is that ‘upping the ante’ is essentially giving a chemical more control over how your brain and nervous system functions. Taking high doses consistently will cause dependency causing a user to have a problem functioning normally in the absence of Nootropics. There are many people who falsely believe that tolerance cannot be established when it comes to Nootropics. The fact remains that if you feel the need to up the dosage after using a drug/chemical for sometime then you are developing tolerance.

The specific nootropic in use

Thanks to their popularity, the market is crowded with Nootropics in the form of supplements and drugs or drug. Each brand has a unique mechanism of action and this is an important factor to take into consideration before making a purchase. According to numerous studies, while some Nootropics are extremely effective when taken for a long period of time, others may inhibit cognitive function and brain health. For instance, many knowledgeable and experienced experts believe that the nootropic Provigil will gradually deplete dopamine when used long-term. On the other hand, other Nootropics such as Racetams (Piracetam) may actually be beneficial when used longer. The bottom-line when it comes to choosing a nootropic is find out the mechanism of action and consider how it will influence brain function when taken for a long period of time.


The longer a person uses a nootropic, the greater the chance that it will interfere with normal brain function. After using these cognitive enhancers for a long period of time, most people realise that they cannot function normally without them. The human body learns to adapt meaning that with time using Nootropics on a daily basis will teach your nervous system and brain to become dependent.

While there is evidence to suggest that these cognitive enhancers can have neuro-protective benefits, it is not the case with all the Nootropics available in the current market. Again it all comes back to the mechanism of action. To minimise potential detrimental side effects, it is advisable to keep the duration of use brief.

The Frequency of Use

Experts advise only using Nootropics when you really need them. For instance these cognitive enhancers can come in handy when trying to maximise productivity to complete projects before a tight deadline. Another ideal way to use these cognitive enhancers is when you desperately require a cognitive boost after a bad night’s sleep or jet lag. The best way to avoid the potential dangers that come with the excessive use of Nootropics is using them infrequently. Self medicating with Nootropics which is sadly becoming a trend inhibits how the nervous systems and brain works.


The bottom-line is that any foreign chemical that you put into your body must have side effects whether positive or negative. The brain is what defines who you are so you need to ensure that whatever supplement or drug you take does not end up doing more harm than good. The mistake that most people make is focusing on the short term great effects without considering how the nootropic that they are using will influence brain health and cognitive function in the long term. Taking all these factors into consideration will ensure you know exactly what to choose and how you use it appropriately. Before taking cognitive enhancers; research, research and research again!