Nootropics – brain performance and concentration always at the highest level
It would seem that the most important thing for a human being is high performance and physical endurance, without which we are unable to perform many everyday activities, not only those requiring great effort. An equally important, but often completely neglected issue, is mental efficiency, proper functioning of our brain, which manages all the other organs and systems of the body. The human brain can be compared to a central computer, an extremely powerful processor, usually working at full power, and mental effort usually turns out to be almost as exhausting as physical effort. If such a state of affairs persists for a longer period of time, certain dysfunctions of the brain’s work may occur, manifesting themselves, among other things, in reduced cognitive abilities or impaired concentration. Therefore, it is worthwhile to counteract it in advance, using, for example, a properly selected diet, favoring better oxygenation of this important organ and providing it with nutrients essential for health. Unfortunately, sometimes it turns out that this is not enough, so you can reach for additional help, nootropics, substances created not only to support the work of our brain, but also to further enhance its capabilities.
- 1 Nootropics – two Greek words and a Romanian doctor
- 2 Nootropics – why and for whom they were created
- 3 Nootropics – natural ones that are particularly worth considering
- 4 Nootropics – other substances we include
- 5 Nootropics – effects and possible side effects
Nootropics – two Greek words and a Romanian doctor
The word nootropics, or nootropics as it is known, has only recently entered the dictionary, but it has already made a huge furore, being the name of extremely effective chemical compounds which give our minds powers we have never even dreamed of before. It comes from the Greek language, specifically from the combination of two words “noos”, meaning mind, and “trepin“, meaning to bend, and its creation is attributed to Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian chemist and psychologist.
Nootropics – why and for whom they were created
For centuries, even millennia, man has been almost suffocating in the limitations of his cognitive abilities, preventing him from fully understanding the world around him. Various methods have been tried throughout this time to increase intellectual capacity, but most often this has ended in either failure or serious health complications. It was not uncommon to use illegal substances, drugs such as LSD or amphetamines, whose action was supposed to stimulate brain cells to work more intensively, but the consequences of such experiments turned out to be tragic. However, the problem remained and although our brain and memory are perfectly influenced by natural methods, the right amount of sleep or proper nutrition, there was still a search for that one golden mean. After many years of intensive research, they managed to find it – a solution that we can use nowadays, which is undoubtedly nootropics.
Defining them in the simplest possible way, we can say that they are carefully selected chemical compounds, which increase the brain’s efficiency, in most cases guaranteeing extremely positive effects, while lacking serious side effects. They are intended for anyone who complains of:
- weakened concentration;
- problems with remembering large amounts of necessary information;
- lack of energy needed to perform mental work;
- negative mood and lack of motivation to any activity;
- the effects of strong stress, increasingly often an inherent part of our lives.
Nootropics – natural ones that are particularly worth considering
Since the definition defines nootropics as chemical substances produced in laboratory conditions, it usually seems to us that they are completely artificial and we will find absolutely nothing of natural origin in them. Here we will surprise you a little, because many nootropics can be found in nature itself, characterized by virtually the same effect on the human brain as their synthetic counterparts. These are usually extracts from popular herbs, commonly known from other medical or even cosmetic applications, or vitamin and mineral sets, and especially worth mentioning are:
1. Ashwagandha (Vitania sluggard)
Considered by specialists to be the best natural nootropic with undeniable health properties. Also known as Indian ginseng, it effectively helps in the treatment and prevention of various ailments that plague us. Among other things, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, regulates the functioning of the entire circulatory and endocrine systems, has a positive effect on the functioning of the liver and kidneys, strengthens the immune system, slows down the ageing processes of our body cells, and facilitates post-workout regeneration. In turn, it can be classified as a nootropic thanks to its anti-stress properties, comparable to many pharmacological agents. Ashwagandha not only quickly removes the effects of this serious civilization disease, but also allows for deep relaxation and elimination of anxiety often accompanying severe stress. It gives a large dose of energy necessary for action, improves mood and motivates to another effort, also mental.
2. Ginkgo Biloba (Ginkgo biloba / Gingko biloba)
This is another plant that can be called a natural nootropic, originating from China and having in its composition over 50 substances with confirmed health properties. Its action comes down primarily to improving the work of the heart and the entire circulatory system, lowering blood pressure and the level of “bad” cholesterol, and proper circulation automatically translates into better oxygenation of the brain. A better-oxygenated brain works at its maximum efficiency, and concentration no longer causes any problems. Ginkgo biloba helps to fight stress, removes the feeling of fatigue, eliminates severe, even migraine headaches, relieves symptoms of dementia, helping to maintain a good memory, so it is used in the prevention of Alzheimera disease, it also perfectly improves mood.
3. Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica)
The third recommended natural nootropic is Gotu kola, the Asian anthrax, used in Indian natural medicine for thousands of years. It has an excellent effect on the circulatory system, improving circulation and thus protecting against such dangerous diseases as venous insufficiency, varicose veins or thrombosis. However, we are interested in the support it gives to the nervous system, improving its overall functioning, which translates into increased concentration, faster thinking processes and better memory. Studies have shown that after using preparations with Gotu kola in their composition also increased the ability to learn and remember large batches of information at once. They also help alleviate all negative symptoms of stress and fatigue, delay the aging process and, like Ginko Biloba, increase the oxygenation level in brain cells.
4. Vitamins that benefit brain function
The importance of vitamins and minerals for our health cannot be underestimated, so we should provide the body with the right amounts of them together with food or specially selected dietary supplements to supplement possible deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals can be safely classified as nootropics because of the way they influence the work of our brain and the entire nervous system. The ones we should take special care to get the right amount of are undoubtedly the B vitamins, responsible for, among other things, correct and undisturbed conduction of nerve impulses, reducing stress, anxiety and lack of problems with sleep, which is necessary for the proper regeneration of the body. They also have a beneficial effect on our ability to remember things, improve concentration, while their deficiencies may cause e.g. depression or accelerated aging of brain cells.
Do not forget about vitamin D, not without reason called “sunshine vitamin”, also having a huge impact not only on our mental abilities, but also on the entire state of health. Its deficiency, caused, among others, by lack of sunlight during the winter months, is visible practically immediately, as it manifests itself by weakening of the most important cognitive functions and progressive degeneration of neurons. Vitamin D is essential for the long-term maintenance of good memory, it also protects against depression, anxiety, and the resulting decrease in immunity.
The last three vitamins that our brain demands are A, E, and C. Deficiencies of the first of them adversely affect the eyesight, one of the most important senses transmitting information to the brain, a deficiency may also cause adverse mood changes, increased nervousness or irritability. Too little vitamin E leads, in turn, to dysfunction of the frontal part of the pituitary gland, it is also manifested by an increasing excess of cortisol, called the stress hormone. While a normal amount of cortisol has a beneficial effect, allowing us to better cope with stress, its excess can even lead to neuronal damage. Equally important, and not only from the point of view of brain function, is vitamin C, one of the strongest natural antioxidants, protecting the brain from cell degeneration and oxidative stress. It is also considered a natural antidepressant, increasing the secretion of serotonin , which effectively improves even the worst mood. Vitamin C also facilitates the absorption and assimilation of many other nutrients, led by iron, which is essential for maintaining good memory and focus to aid learning.
5. minerals essential for concentration, learning and memory
When it comes to minerals that benefit the brain, there are three that take absolute precedence, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Magnesium can be safely considered an element simply necessary to maintain full mental efficiency, and its possible deficiency can have really unpleasant health consequences. The first symptom that should arouse our concern is the growing weakness, lack of strength and energy for the simplest activities, and increasing levels of cortisol in the blood adversely affect mental well-being and increasing stress. Zinc, in turn, is a mineral essential for proper learning processes and memorizing information. Its deficiencies manifest themselves as a significant decline in intellectual abilities and inability to concentrate, for example, on the simplest text or other mental task. Selenium can be safely called the improver of every, even the worst, mood, and when we feel sad, depressed and stressed it may be a sign that we do not have enough of it. For this reason, it is important in the treatment of depression, a disease that, if ignored, can even lead to death.
Nootropics – other substances we include
Nautural nootropics have repeatedly demonstrated their high effectiveness, becoming an important component of many supplements designed to beneficially affect the brain and the intellectual activities it directs. Other, equally effective substances, produced artificially in laboratories, are also widely used, and the most common are:
- Piracetam, which is a component of many popular nootropic drugs, led by probably the best known Nootropil. Among other things, it supports learning and memory processes, allowing you to concentrate as much as possible on them, influences a better transmission of signals through neurons. Our brain works more efficiently, at maximum speed, at the same time the physical capacity of the body increases;
- Aniracetam, a derivative of piracetam, developed in the 1970s in Belgium, perfectly affecting cognitive abilities. It is also characterized by an anti-stress effect and can be said to somehow enlarge our memory, allowing us to easily assimilate more information;
- Sulbutiamina, a synthetic derivative of vitamin B1, better absorbed and assimilated by the body than the natural original. It perfectly affects the functioning of neurotransmitters, stimulates all metabolic processes in the nervous system, increasing the energy potential of the human brain. It is used in the treatment of many mental ailments, ranging from anxiety to clinical depression. By reducing the feeling of fatigue, both mental and physical, it improves our mood, motivating us to continue working;
- Acetyl l-carnitine (ALCAR), a substance with antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, used among others in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. As a nootropic, it helps you concentrate better, improves memory, and our increased cognitive abilities allow us to absorb more knowledge in less time.
Nootropics – effects and possible side effects
As you can see from the examples above, there are really many nootropics, both natural and those artificial, produced in manufacturers’ laboratories. Thanks to this everyone has the possibility to choose the most suitable one, affecting specific processes in the brain. They allow you not only to increase your intellectual capacity, but open up before you completely new ways to achieve your goals, the desired success in private or professional life. Taking them regularly, we can, depending on their type, count on:
- more effective use of your brain, working now at increased speed;
- a mind open to new experiences, even absorbing knowledge, which can be used appropriately later;
- motivation to act, energy allowing to cross all hitherto unavailable limits of intellectual cognition;
- better concentration and nothing will ever distract us during work or study;
- easy coping with stress, without the need for expensive visits to a specialist, psychologist or even psychiatrist;
- no problems with sleep, and after a busy day falling asleep will also be child’s play;
- greater physical efficiency of the body, and the composition of many nootropics also promotes rapid weight loss, e.g. by facilitating fat burning.
Unfortunately, nothing is free in nature, so apart from numerous and undeniable advantages, nootropics also have certain disadvantageswhich are worth getting acquainted with before you use them. These are usually the side effects of their use, perhaps not so troublesome, however taking them you may sometimes feel:
- troublesome allergic reactions, which are usually caused by an allergy to any of the ingredients of the preparation used;
- problems with the digestive system such as diarrhea, stomach pains and even vomiting;
- mood swings oscillating from euphoric states to typically depressive behaviors, usually resulting from an overdose of the used nootropic. This should be strictly avoided, always adhering to the doses recommended by the manufacturer;
- headaches, of varying degrees of severity up to and including migraine headaches, also associated with overdose.
To avoid them, you just need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and the use of any preparation, especially those available over the counter, consult with your doctor. We never know how our body will react to them, and if any of the above symptoms occur, it is enough to stop using the preparation and everything will quickly return to normal.