The word nootropics has been around since 1972, when Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea used it to describe a collection of experimental chemicals that were soon to be marketed as drugs and supplements that enhanced memory, improved alertness and wakefulness, guarded against long term, debilitating brain disease, as well as improved various other facets of our mental functioning.
The first of the nootropic families that was fully developed and marketed was piracetam, a member of the Racetam family of nootropics. Since then, more potent and effective racetams have been developed and continue to be developed as we as a human race look to improve our well-being and overall happiness. Alongside Racetam, there are various other kinds of ‘smart drugs’ that are now popular the world over. These include stimulants, nutraceuticals and various others, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Let’s take a brief look at a few of them.
The clue may be in the name with this one. Stimulants are engineered to arouse your central nervous system – in other words, they stimulate you into action by motivating brain activity. Caffeine is the most well-known stimulant, and estimates suggest that Americans alone drink up to 400 million cups of coffee each day, which roughly totals 146 billion a year. Some drink it for taste, but its potency as a nootropic lies in its ability to give us a mental jolt – in other words, it makes us more alert and keeps us awake. It does this by blocking important chemical signals in our brains that would otherwise make us feel drowsy.
Types of stimulants:
They’re nicknamed , which should immediately drop the hint that nutraceuticals are food-derived supplements that give us a boost of energy. Whilst they are described as a food, or food product or ingredient, they are often actually marketed and sold in medicinal form. The word is a combination of nutrition and pharmaceutical, which aptly describes their function – they are medicinal nutritional supplements.
Essentially, nutraceuticals are dietary supplements, processed foods and isolated nutrients that are used for their health benefits, which range from rebuilding damaged cells, producing new ones, lowering cholesterol, as well as improving the quality of our skin and hair. Their popularity is increasing, as more and more people look for nutritional supplements that are cost-effective, safe to use and which have reputable medical benefits.
Because nutraceuticals are found in food, scientists have now developed ways to maximize their potential and effectiveness. Essentially, processed food such as cereal and soup comes with added nutritional value, including omega-3 fatty acids and GLA, which means that you could be tucking into enhanced nutraceuticals daily without realizing it – but don’t worry, it’s a good thing!
Racetams are a large family of drugs, a lot of which are known to be effective nootropics. First marketed in 1971 as nootropics, some are stimulants and mostly all are constructive modulators of our central neurotransmitters, thus positively effecting our mood, as well as our physical and mental state. Because there are numerous different kinds of racetams with varying levels of potency, we’ll take a quick look at a few of them.
Pramiracetam: This nootropic is known to be a great memory consolidator and is more potent than a lot of the other racetams. Rather than effect our happy hormones in a bid to inject us with enthusiasm, energy and optimism, pramiracetam helps us to focus and concentrate, as well as cementing our reasoning ability. It is not a social drug, but is one that can leave the user feeling slightly withdrawn.
Oxiracetam: Oxiracetam is a stimulant that acutely sharpens our focus, making it the nootropic of choice for students. It works quickly and comes without the usual fuzziness and symptoms of withdrawal that other stimulants, such as coffee, bring with them.
Coluracetam: This nootropic is fairly new, and it only really came to the attention of the medical world in 2005, where its usefulness as a remedy for depression was tried successfully in 2010. Another noticeable benefit of coluracetam was its effectiveness in improving learning ability.
Aniracetam: Aniracetam is similar to pramiracetam in that it’s been widely recognized as being one of the most potent members of the Racetam family. Although some have referred to it as a stimulant, others have played such a comparison down due to its effects being fairly dissimilar. Instead, it has been found to instigate creativity and is also marketed as an antidepressant.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in food sources such as fish oil, egg oil and krill oil, omega-3’s are crucial to how well your body functions. They also help to reduce depression, asthma and ADHD.
Valporic acid: Valporic acid is a particularly volatile nootropic that comes with a few warnings, owing to its links to long term liver damage. But when prescribed for people who really need it, it is known to treat epilepsy and mania.
Tianeptine: Tianeptine is known to boost the production of serotonin, an important chemical that acts as a mood enhancer, improving our well-being and optimism.