February 12, 2021
These “smart drugs” may just be the key to better mental performance.
In this day and age, it seems that there’s a lot of new supplements floating around with supposed health benefits. It can be tough to discern which ones work and which ones are just a hoax. Do those “weight loss” pills really make a difference? Is turmeric actually the cure-all people claim it to be?
One thing is for certain: nootropics can actually provide the boost you’re looking for. These “smart drugs” are the latest in health and wellness. The best part? They’re mostly derived from natural sources, making them safe to use for most people.
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are supplements that can improve brain performance and function. They are also called smart drugs, cognition enhancers, or memory-enhancing substances. They typically have stimulant effects and are used to boost memory, focus, creativity, intelligence, and motivation.
To actually be considered a nootropic, a substance needs to include one of the following properties: enhancing memory and ability to learn, helping the brain function under disruptive circumstances, protecting the brain from both physical and chemical assaults, or improving and facilitating neuronal firing control mechanisms. Additionally, nootropics need to produce few or no side effects and be virtually non-toxic.
So what’s going on in your body when you take a nootropic? You’ll feel a cognitive boost—here’s why:
- Nootropics increase metabolic activity in brain cells to help them get more oxygen, nutrients, and fatty acids
- They help produce neurotransmitters and prevent them from breaking down over time
- Nootropics help dilate blood vessels for improved blood flow to the brain
- They also flush toxins from the brain to increase its capacity to absorb antioxidants
- Nootropics can help repair the body’s nervous tissues by supporting cell membrane health
When Should You Take Nootropics?
Every nootropic is different, so knowing when and how to take them depends on which one you use. Make sure to always check the instructions before administering a nootropic.
Although dosage is different for each nootropic, you usually take 1 or 2 doses over the course of the day to have a continual boost of mental awareness and energy. Take nootropics whenever you feel a lull in cognitive performance. Typically, nootropics work best if you take them at the start of your day and about halfway through the day. Some nootropic supplements can make it difficult to sleep, so it might be helpful to avoid taking them later in the day.
Is CBD a Nootropic?
CBD has a wide range of cognitive health benefits, categorizing it as a nootropic. Research has indicated that CBD has the potential to help with common mental challenges like anxiety, depression, and stress. It interacts with receptors in the brain to help curb these challenges. Additionally, it helps regulate mood through serotonin receptors. Studies have also suggested that CBD has anti-neuroinflammation properties—which is promising when considering CBD as a supplement to help boost focus and improve memory.
Most-Recommended Nootropics to Take
From caffeine to creatine, there is a myriad of nootropics to choose from. Here is a compiled list of the top 5 nootropics to add to your routine:
- Caffeine. To stay alert and have faster reaction times, drink a cup of coffee or tea.
- Creatine. Often used by gym-goers, creatine can help you improve short-term memory and reasoning.
- Ginkgo Biloba. This ancient Chinese supplement helps improve mental processing, memory, brain aging, and promotes a sense of calm in stressful situations.
- L-Theanine. This substance is found in tea and helps produce alpha waves in the brain which are associated with restful alertness.
- CBD. In low doses, CBD keeps you alert and stress-free. In higher quantities, it can help promote sleep and relaxation, making it a versatile, useful nootropic.
Combine caffeine and L-theanine for the strongest nootropic effect. When used together, you get all the benefits of both, but the L-theanine can counteract any adverse side effects of caffeine, such as jitters and anxiety.