What are Nootropics?
Want to improve your memory and concentration and memory? Most people do, which is why recently nootropics have become such a popular choice for entrepreneurs and students alike. The benefits of nootropics runs deep, improving learning speed and efficiency, increasing the creative though process, and preventing the onset of cognitive diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Lets's discuss the many ways nootropics can work.
What does nootropic mean?
Nootropics are a supplement that improves brain health, and thus cognitive function without any toxic effects. They are similar to adaptogens but are more specific to the brain.
There are many forms of these substances, from nutraceuticals (isolated nutrients aimed to exert a preventive, or improvement on a specific function in the body), synthesized amino acids, and plant extracts.
What Makes a Substance a Nootropic?
The key here is that nootropics must exert a beneficial effect on the brain without any side effects or negative impacts. Most pharmaceutical ADD or ADHD drugs do not fall into this category since they do in fact exert significant damage on the brain despite improving cognitive performance while under the influence of the drug. Nootropics are often akin to nutraceuticals, or supplements rather than an actual drug. Their effect is best felt over a long period of time and generally have lasting effects (compared to many ADD drugs which need to be taken continuously and may instead damage brain health over long periods of time).
One of the greatest aspects of nootropics is that since they promote the optimal health of various aspects of human brain function, without negative side effects. They also have a lasting effect on cognitive performance, even after the immediate effects of the compounds wear off. This is simply to due improved brain health.
Herbs can offer nootropic benefit as well, since many of them have actions on cognitive function that act to normalize, balance, or regulate various actions in the brain, or offer the building blocks needed to make many of the neurotransmitters that are needed to function.
Some common uses for Nootropics include:
- For Athletic performance and recovery
- As a Study aid
- Improve Work focus
- To improve Language learning
- Stimulating creativity
- To manage mental stress
- Prevent the onset of cognitive disorders such as Dementia and Alzheimer's
There are several different ways a compound may have nootropic benefit:
1. Increase cerebral blood flow
By increasing the blood flow to the brain, your brain cells will have a better supply of energy in the form of glucose and ketones, as well as oxygen. This also allows the damaging byproducts that occur naturally from the processes of your brain to wash away. The buildup of these byproducts are associated with Alzheimers and dementia, as well as general cognitive decline if allowed to persist long enough. Increasing the blood flow to the cerebral arteries can greatly improve your thinking power, and reduce the chances of cognitive disease later in life.
Examples that help include: Ginkgo, and vinpocetine.
2. Replenish or modulate neurotransmitters such as:
Acetylcholine is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the whole body. It is responsible for muscle contractions outside of the brain, but inside the brain it acts in the prefrontal cortex to generate higher thought. It acts as the mind-muscle connection and also helps us to store and retrieve memories from deep within the brain.
Examples that help include: Muira puama, Alpha-GPC, Huperzine-A, Acetyl L-Camitine, Phosphatidylcholine
Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters when it comes to emotion. It works in careful balance with serotonin and other neurotransmitters to communicate messages all throughout the brain and body. Dopamine is one of the key players in old memory retrieval, and new memory storage.
Examples that help include: Catuaba, Centella asiatica, Sulbutiamine, phenylalanine, tyrosine
GABA plays a role in pain transmission, as well as sleep patterns. It is used as a popular treatment for young children suffering from ADHD. It also plays a role in memory and concentration.
Examples that help include: Magnesium, Inositol, L-theanine, Hypericum perforatum (St John's Wort), Kava kava, Passiflor spp. (Passionflower), Glycine, 5HT (through serotonin), potassium, L-glutamine
Serotonin is one of the best known neurotransmitters. Most people see serotonin as the happy chemical within our brains. This is true, as serotonin does play a role in the sensation of euphoria and happiness, but it also plays a role in gut health, the immune response, and memory retrieval and storage. People with serotonin tend to have a harder time concentrating and storing new memories.
Examples that help include: 5HT, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (such as passiflora spp.),
3. Improve neuronal function and structure.
Improving neuronal structure basically means giving the body all of the building blocks necessary to keep the brain structures functioning optinmally. Like the rest of the cells in the body, their is a lot of maintenance needed to keep the system working optimally. there are countless supportve cells located throghout the blood stream and the brain that have the sole purpose of cleaning out, protecting, or repairing the brain tissue. By providing these cells with the building blcls they need to function (such as omega fatty acids and B vitamins), your brain can maintain its optimal functioning levels.
Examples include: Saturated fat, omega-3 (especially DHA), other polyunsaturated fatty acids, B-vitamins, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Phosphatidylserine
4. Reduce oxidative neuronal damage in the brain
We need oxygen to live. All of our cells use oxygen to facilitate the production of energy that powers our cells. The problem, however, is that oxygen is also slowly killing us...
The oxygen molecule has special characteristics that make it perfect for energy production, but also perfect for damaging other molecules. It does this by tearing electrons away from the surface of other atoms to keep them for itself. This renders the other atoms useless and can eventually kill the cell they are part of. If enough cells die, the tissue dies. This is easy to see in aging skin. As the cells oxidise, the skin loses its rigidity and flexibility. This same thing can happen to the cells of your brain if subjected to too much oxidants or free radicals.
Many of the byproducts released from normal cellular activity also have these characteristics, which if not neutralised or cleared out can cause damage to the neurones of the brain. By consuming foods high in antioxidants, we can reduce the damage caused by these chemicals and protect our precious neurons from damage.
Examples include: Muira puama, Passiflora spp, vinpocetine, resveratrol, tocopherol, selenium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, curcumin, plant polyphenols and other antioxidants.
5. Provide an energy source for the brain
This one may seem like a bit of a "duh" but obviously if we can give our brain cells a boost of energy, we can improve its efficiency with things like memory storage and retrieval, concentration, endurance, and even creativity.
Examples include: L-Glutamine, Co Q10
As you can see, nootropics have a very wide range of uses, and by definition are a safe and useful supplement to take. Check this out to find some for yourself.
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