EINSTEINS FOCUS: IMPROVE YOUR BRAIN WITH NOOTROPICS
An Enhanced Brain: The Best Place to Buy Nootropics
You may have heard the term “nootropic” from the hit CBS drama “Limitless.” The plot involves a man whose brain is enhanced to genius levels by a single daily pill. While nootropics are not yet this effective, the idea of brain enhancement has piqued the curiosity of many. What are the best nootropics for studying? Where is the best place to buy nootropics? Do they really work? Are they safe? Are there side effects? Below are some answers and considerations for the “nootropically” curious.
Nootropics: The Facts
The term “nootropic” was coined in the early 1970s by Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist who invented the drug Piracetam. Nootropics run the gamut from prescription medications to vitamin supplements to foods. When in medication or supplement form, they are also called “cognitive enhancers” or “smart drugs.” They are purported to improve memory, enhance reasoning skills, and increase attention span. Giurgea said they should produce all of the following five results.
- Improved memory and learning.
- Better, longer attention span.
- Chemical protection of the brain cells.
- Increased activity in the cortical and subcortical regions of the brain.
- Few side effects and low toxicity.
While modern nootropics do not fulfill all of these criteria (particularly number 3), the above helps the newcomer derive the best understanding of what nootropics are meant to do.
The Current State of Nootropics
Nootropics have received little attention from the FDA, in part because they are not easily categorized within current FDA guidelines. Legislation and research protocols for them are few and far between, meaning they have also received limited attention from the pharmaceutical industry. As a result of these factors, drugs such as Adderall, supplements like L-theanine, and even caffeine are each often categorized as nootropics.
How Effective Are Nootropics?
This means the effectiveness of some nootropics, like Adderall, Dexedrine, Evekeo, Focalin, Piracetam, Ritalin, and Vyvanese are well-understood, while supplements like L-theanine, 5-HTP, and vinpotecine have had little to no rigorous analysis. Naturally-occurring molecules in foods, such as choline, DHA, and tryptophan have been studied, but for other uses and not in the same way as pharmaceutical nootripics. People looking for the best nootropic supplements or the best nootropics for studying are often armed with little more than hearsay when shopping for nootropics online or in health food stores.
Reddit’s Online Nootropic “Lab”
Some “redditors” have resorted to testing natural and over-the-counter nootropics on themselves. They then report the evidence online. (For a helpful nootropics list, see their original thread, found here.) There are some holes in the “scientific process” of reddit-based experiments: no way to ensure regular doses, no control group, and observation bias.
However, there are also benefits to the information one can glean from the threads. For example, many redditors experiment to find the best nootropic stack. A stack involves taking at least two supplements to increase overall effectiveness.
A person may take Supplement A, which is said to work in the subcortical area of the brain, along with supplement B, which works in the hippocampus. They may also take Supplement C, which purportedly dilates blood vessels in the brain, allowing for better oxygenation and cell health. These three substances each work in different parts of the brain, thus affecting different types of cognitive function. This has one clear advantage over traditional lab testing, which tends to work with one supplement at a time.
Are They Crazy?
Redditors are just the same as online forum contributors who talk about their experiences with prescribed medications. They will tell about their own experiences and make recommendations. Following those suggestions is entirely up to the reader. After all, it is their experience with the nootropics, not the laboratory tests, that are most important to them.
The main thread also encourages a healthy debate about the safety of self-experimentation. While some will readily link you to the best place to buy nootropics right away, others are far more cautious. Some redditors will provide some very helpful safety considerations, information on allergic reactions, and even sway you away from the shadier parts of the largely unregulated supplement industry.
Putting It All Together: Some Guidelines
If you have assessed the risk, done your research, and still want to try a nootropic supplement or stack, there are still many things to consider. Just as the vitamin labels say, you should always check with a physician before starting a new supplement. A doctor will be able to tell you if a supplement has dangerous side effects (yes, some do), or if they will interfere with your medications. Visiting a doctor is a good idea, even when considering changes in diet to boost brain function.
An example is the grapefruit. It is high in trytophan, an amino acid considered by many to have nootropic properties. However, according to WebMD.com, the tart and tasty fruit can render a host of pharmaceuticals, from antidepressants to heart disease medications, completely ineffective! Once you have eliminated the obvious risk factors, start with the smallest recommended dosage of a supplement. If you’re stacking, what a while before adding other supplements. You may find something that works for you, and you may not. Just remember, no supplement or advertised “miracle pill” can replace a doctor’s expertise and care.