Many of us wish there was a special pill we could take that would make us smarter, more awake, and more alert, like in the movie Limitless. In the 2011 film, Bradley Cooper took a substance called NZT-48 that allowed him to unlock all of his brain’s potential. But while NZT may be a fictional substance, we can get pretty close with nootropics.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics, also sometimes referred to as “smart drugs,” are pills that can help us to unlock more of our brain’s potential. Depending on the drugs you take, nootropics can help you improve your memory, feel more awake and focused, or even make it easier to focus on work or studying.
The History of Nootropics
While NZT may seem like a pill from the future, nootropics have actually been around for centuries. Many components of nootropics are substances that can be found naturally in plants, including caffeine from the coffee bean. However, the “nootropic” classification didn’t really come around until about the 1970s.
Piracetam, the first drug to be labeled a nootropic, was originally created to help with motion sickness but it was also discovered that it could help improve the memory of people who took it. After deciding to continue focusing on the memory enhancing components of piracetam, Dr. Corneliu Giurgea coined the term nootropic, which is a combination of the words “nous” and “trepein” which mean “mind” and “to bend” respectively.
Although many drugs like piracetam have been created since discovering its memory enhancing effects, naturally occurring nootropics are still widely used. Some of the oldest and most popular nootropics around include green tea, fenugreek, St. John’s Wort, Ashwagandha, and Gingko Bilboa.
Today, nootropics fall into seven different categories: racetams, ampakines, choline and acetylcholine intermediates, synthetic b-vitamin derived nootropics, natural nootropics, peptide nootropics, and smart drugs.
What do Different Kinds of Nootropics Do?
All nootropics will not deliver the same outcomes. The supplements that you will want to take depends on what areas of the brain you are looking to unlock. If you’re looking to increase your memory, you may not want to take the same supplement as someone looking to have more energy.
Most individuals who take nootropics will take a few different supplements all aimed at unlocking a different aspect of the brain or they will choose one supplement comprised of different nootropic components. Here is a breakdown of some of the post popular nootropic kinds and what they can do for you:
- Natural Nootropics – Natural nootropics are usually less effective than their synthetic counterparts, but are excellent options for someone looking to increase their brain function naturally.
- Racetams – Racetams are what many of us think of when we think about nootropics. Similar the NZT, racetams are used to improve memory, concentration, and motivation.
- Choline & Acetylcholine – These kinds of nootropics are frequently paired with racetams for even better results.
- Ampakines – Ampakines are similar to racetams and other stimulants, including caffeine, but they will not give the same negative side effects, such as anxiety or insomnia. Ampakines are newer to the market and still have not been widely studied.
- Vitamin-B Derivatives – Vitamin-B derivatives are frequently used to promote increased energy levels and help you feel more alert.
- Peptides – A peptide works by combining the benefits of racetams and ampakines. Taking a peptide can help you feel more alert and motivated and help you process and remember more efficiently.
- Smart Drugs – Although all nootropics are commonly referred to as “smart drugs,” the category smart drugs usually refer to prescription drugs like Modafinil or Adderall. Smart drugs increase alertness and motivation levels.
Nootropic Case Studies
With so many different kinds of nootropics out there, it isn’t uncommon for individuals to test how well a “stack” will work for them. If you’re interested in learning more about how nootropics can work for you and what benefits they may be able to bring you, there are dozens of stories all over the web about individuals who have spent a week or two trying to hack their brains for NZT-like results.