Have you gone from memory of steel to forgetting why you walked into a room? Does your child have ADHD or your parent have Alzheimer’s? Whether it’s from aging, traumatic brain injury, menopause, chemotherapy, or a host of other diseases, our brain is the hub of our being. When it doesn’t work correctly, you can look to nootropics to help enhance your brain’s function. Here’s the 101 on nootropics to learn more…
For purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the basic introductory information on nootropics, and only focusing on those nootropics which are more common, legal in the United States, and “safe”. Although substances such as nicotine, ephedra, and LSD are technically nootropics, they are not recommended for use. As in any situation, always consult a licensed medical professional before introducing any new substance to your health protocol.
What are Nootropics?
A nootropic is any substance that enhances cognition. They can be supplements, medicine, herbs, amino extracts, or drugs. They affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, boost brain chemicals, balance hormones, and aid in the growth and regrowth of neurons, but they are not a miracle pill.
Caffeine is a nootropic that most people are familiar with. This is the best way to describe the feeling of some nootropics – it gives you a little edge to feel more alert and focused. Other nootropics are designed for more long term brain health. Combine these two, and the results can be life-changing.
According to biohacker Arvin Khamseh of Hack My Biology, “Nootropics are not new to us, as most people are already using nootropics on a daily basis with caffeine. We automatically think it’s safe, but you still have to be careful. Too much can interfere with your sleep.”
Evan Brand, author of The Everything Guide to Nootropics: Boost Your Brain Function with Smart Drugs and Memory Supplements, states, “with the right nootropics, you can:
- Enhance learning capacity and attention span
- Boost your memory and speed of recall
- Heighten mental energy, focus, and concentration
- Hone problem-solving and decision-making skills
- Increase intelligence and creative thought.”
Additionally, nootropics may:
- Banish brain fog
- Sharpen memory
- Heighten attention
- Increase focus
- Boost energy
- Provide mental clarity
- Speed up mental processing.
My Journey and Nootropics
I was the kid who sat in the front of the class with my hand always up ready to share the correct answer. I have always prided myself on being smart and having a great memory. I could multi-task and juggle and never miss a beat. I climbed the corporate ladder into high level positions of authority. Everyone counted on me and I never let them down.
Then cancer and chemotherapy happened. And menopause. And Hashimoto’s. I felt like my mind was in outer space with the brain fog. I had zero focus and concentration. I could barely remember something from the time I thought of it until I could get a pen and paper to write it down. There were days that a simple 15 minute task would take me over two hours to complete. I felt like I had literally lost my mind. My brain was broken.
Like most things in life, I learned to adapt. I learned various brain hacks to help me cope and function on a daily basis. While they were certainly helpful, it was only a superficial fix.
A friend of mine introduced me to my first nootropic after I had complained about all of my brain issues. I jumped on the train and never looked back. It took some time to figure out the correct protocol, and I can definitely tell a difference. For me, it’s not like an on-off switch. It’s more of a gradual and natural improvement. I’m still tweaking the protocol and my brain isn’t entirely back to it’s former functioning, but it’s a huge improvement – I’ll take it!
Currently, my own personal protocol consists of green tea (L-theanine), Unfair Advantage, CoQ10, Brain Octane, Omega 3 fatty acids (via food) and GABA. I can tell when I’m not getting enough healthy fats and supplements to my brain because I immediately feel the brain fog and mood swings.
What are the Best “Beginner” Nootropics?
There are so many nootropics out there. ALWAYS discuss any changes in your nutrition/supplement protocol with a licensed medical professional, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, elderly, or have immune or heart issues, or any kind of chronic illness, or are taking prescription medicines. Each supplement has it’s own list of side effects, and drug interactions. This is a comprehensive list of “beginner” nootropics that you may have already heard of.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid which helps to improve memory and energy, and ease depression.
Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwaghanda are two common adaptogens which help to reduce stress, improve mood, and improve overall cognition functions.
Many people cannot wake up without their cup/s of coffee. Caffeine gives you energy and alertness. The Bulletproof coffee craze isn’t going away any time soon so feel free to add some grass fed butter and Brain Octaine to your coffee too.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is used by every single cell in the body, and fuels the mitochondria into converting fat into energy. CoQ10 supplementation may help to reduce inflammation, protect the health of your brain cells, and boost energy, cognition, and memory.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) helps to calm your central nervous system and promote relaxation. It may be helpful for those with depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Ginkgo Biloba helps to improve mental function, memory, and easing anxiety. It’s often used in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Lion’s Mane is a supplement originating from ancient Chinese medicinal mushrooms, and is designed to improve overall cognitive function.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in black and green teas. It calms the brain and gives you sustained energy.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which help to reduce inflammation and improve overall brain function. Many individuals take fish oil supplements, but you can just as easily enjoy Omega 3’s in wild caught salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed.
SAM-e is a naturally occuring amino acid which helps to relieve depression, anxiety, arthritic pain, and brain fog, while helping to improve memory. It may be helpful to those with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Unfair Advantage is comprised of CoQ10 and ActivePQQ to support your mitochondria and give you a mental and physical boost.
Additional nootropics include:
- Adderall – a prescription popular for those who suffer from ADHD.
- Bacopa Monnieri – an adaptogen to help with memory and attention.
- Forskolin + Artichoke extract – helps with memory, focus, and motivation.
- KetoPrime – another favorite from Bulletproof which helps increase energy and decrease stress.
- Mondafinil – a prescription to help with focus.
Are They Safe?
Are nootropics safe? It depends. Sigh… I know. Again, there are so many nootropics out there. ALWAYS discuss any changes in your nutrition/supplement protocol with a licensed medical professional, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, elderly, or have immune or heart issues, or any kind of chronic illness or are taking prescription medicines. Each supplement has it’s own list of side effects, and drug interactions.
Look for nootropics that come from natural sources without fillers, sugars, food coloring, or any unusual ingredients. All natural nootropics are your best bet. There are so many nootropics out there, it’s impossible to summarize side effects into a 101 level article such as this. But be aware of mood swings, depression, racing heart, or psychotic episodes, and see your doctor immediately for any negative side effects.
Biohacker Khamseh contines, “We need more education about nootropics. People automatically think they are safe, but there is a huge need for education. Too many people who do not have ADHD use Adderall and Ritalin to give them an edge, and this can be extremely dangerous. Regardless of what nootropics you take and how you use them, do your research, talk to a medical professional, and listen to your body.”
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Love, hugs, and good drugs,HERE. Sources: The Best Nootropics to Naturally Enhance Your Brain How Do Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis Rewire Your Brain? Brain Fog Busting Tonic 11 Nootropics to Unlock Your Brain SAM-e GABA Supplement Benefits and Side Effects