What Are Nootropics? Seeking the Mental Edge
What are nootropics? If you’re on the hunt for a mental edge, want to get better mental performance for a side project you’re working on, or just want to get rid of some of the brain fog you experience, you may have looked at a class of nutrients known as nootropics.
While nootropics have only recently hit mainstream consciousness, they have been around since 1972 when Dr. Corneliu Giurgea first coined the term.
Related - Mental Jewels - The Ultimate Nootropic
In fact, Giurgea developed one of the first nootropics, a substance called piracetam. It is not available in the US as a dietary supplement but is sold under the name Nootropil. Piracetam is popular in Europe, Asia, and South America under a variety of other names. Interestingly enough, it is manufactured in Argentina by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline and sold under the trade name Noostan.
The word nootropic is a combination of the Greek noo, which means mind, and the French word trope, meaning change.
Over the last couple decades, nootropics have emerged from fringe groups of neurohackers to become the supplement du jour of high-profile entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
By 2024, Americans are projected to spend $11.6 billion on brain enhancing supplements, which means that nootropics will soon be found in cabinets and cupboards everywhere next to vitamins and prescriptions drugs.
But what are nootropics? What are they made of? What do they do (if anything)? Are they harmful? Are they addictive?
Before more Americans start investing in nootropics, we need to understand them and look at the science behind how and why they work.
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What Are Nootropics?
When he invented the word nootropic, Dr. Corneliu Giurgea created a very strict definition of what a nootropic is. It makes it very easy to answer the question, what are nootropics?
Here are the 5 criteria a compound must meet in order to a true nootropic:
- Improve your memory and your learning capacity.
- Support your function under suboptimal scenarios like low oxygen.
- Shield your brain from harmful substances and damage.
- Improve neuronal firing.
- Be safe, non-toxic, and have little to no side effects.
To boil it down, a nootropic is a substance that increases mental performance, protects your brain from damage and disease, is non-addictive, safe, and has zero side effects.
You can see that this definition is incredibly difficult to meet. Compounds and nutrients that are actually able to meet these criteria would be remarkable, to say the least.
This is why Ambrosia’s nootropic, Mental Jewels, is so interesting and profound.
Brands that sell nootropics usually go one of two routes.
First, they find a natural compound in a plant that produces these effects and then they include in their product.
Second, they can synthesize an ingredient in a lab that delivers these effects (like Giurgea’s product piracetam).
Now, there are obviously products out there that are marketed as nootropics or “smart drugs” that do not meet these criteria.
But there are some very exciting nootropics out there that should be given serious consideration by anyone who wants to develop their brain health and improve their cognitive performance.
Let’s take a look at some of them and how they work.
The Most Popular Nootropics
One of the reasons it’s so hard to know exactly what are nootropics is because most of the products on the market are a combination of multiple ingredients.
Usually, the ingredients are strategically chosen to provide a synergistic effect on the brain and performance.
For example, in Mental Jewels, Ambrosia deploys a combination of choline and Siberian ginseng to help increase resistance to stress.
But there are endless combinations of ingredients available. So let’s just look at a few of the most popular nootropic ingredients.
86% of all plants and animals on earth have not even been named or cataloged yet, let alone studied by modern science.
We are always uncovering new and exciting plants and ingredients that have incredible potential for human health.
One of those plants is a form of fir clubmoss called huperzia serrata. It’s a small, fern-like plant native to India and Asia.
But the unique thing about this plant is that it has a highly active compound in it called Huperzine A.
For nootropics, Huperzine A has demonstrated the ability to block a destabilizing enzyme called acetylcholinesterase that degrades the neurotransmitters in our brains.
Not only does Huperzine A block this troublesome enzyme, but it also has been shown to improve memory and attention.
Phosphatidylserine is phospholipid, which is a family of fatty acids. Usually, phosphatidylserine is harvested from soybeans or cabbage.
Phosphatidylserine is found in the cell membranes of your brain cells where it helps carry signals between the cells.
In several studies, people taking phosphatidylserine scored higher on tests for concentration, mood, and information recall.
Other studies have shown that it could also be a unique treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s, but more research is needed.
Glucuronolactone is one of the most popular ingredients in energy drinks and nootropics.
It is incredibly safe and produces well-studied benefits for attention, memory, and mood.
Glucuronolactone is found in all connective tissue and in plant gums.
Another benefit of glucuronolactone is that it binds to toxic molecules in the body and allows you to excrete them in urine.
Mushrooms are booming right now in the nootropic and supplement space, and for good reason.
One variety, in particular, the cordyceps mushroom, has shown amazing potential as a performance and cognitive booster.
Cordyceps mushroom extract has been tested in humans and is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging nutrient, and can improve heart health.
As a nootropic, cordyceps mushrooms are prized because they fight off fatigue and stress. In one mouse study, the animals using cordyceps extract took 12.5% longer to get fatigued.
While Siberian ginseng is closely related to the popular ginseng ingredient we’ve all heard about. However, Siberian ginseng is not true ginseng because it does not contain the necessary ginsenosides.
Nevertheless, Siberian ginseng has a long list of proven effects, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
When it comes to nootropics, Siberian ginseng promotes stress and fatigue resistance, which is perfect for anyone working late nights or trying to exercise after a long day of work.
Bacopa monnieri is a non-aromatic herb native to Eastern India that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
Bacopa monnieri has been shown in human tests to reduce reaction time and increase the speed of processing. It improves multitasking speed.
On top of that, bacopa monnieri has demonstrated powerful neuroprotective properties. It shields the brain from damage by boosting levels of antioxidants in the brain.
What Are Nootropics: The Bottom Line
So what are nootropics? Well, as we’ve learned, they are a lot of different things. If you’re a young person looking to boost your creativity, mental processing speed, and memory, they could be exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re noticing your memory recall isn’t as sharp as it used to be or if you want to get that “spark” back, nootropics could absolutely help.
One of the most important things to remember is that a healthy diet and exercise are two of the best ways to improve your cognitive health.
But if you are looking for a premium and proven nootropic blend, take a look at Mental Jewels. It has all of the above ingredients (and a couple others) and uses patented, tested ingredients to deliver the mental and cognitive boost you’re probably looking for.