What’s the Hype with Smart Drugs aka Nootropics?
What’s the Hype with Smart Drugs aka Nootropics?Is it possible to tweak your own brain, to make it perform better? Is it safe? The answers are a little bit more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Better answers would be, “Perhaps. Under the right conditions.” At the very least, there seems to be lots of hype out there about smart drugs. Some of it may be noise and talk. Some of it might work for you. Here’s what you should know.
Finding the Right Supplements or Smart DrugsFirst, the question of safety: if you are considering taking a vitamin or herbal remedy nootropic, the chances are high that the supplement is safe. High, but not 100%. Supplements are unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), because they are classified in the same category as food: generally recognized as safe (GRAS). When you’re talking about vitamin A from carrots, choline from nuts, that sort of thing, those supplements basically are food. Even certain nootropic herbs, like the herbal root ashwagandha, closely resemble food and could be eaten as food. However, since they are unregulated, food-based and herbal supplements:
- Might not actually contain the listed ingredients as described.
- Might contain fillers and other undesirable ingredients.
- Might be lab-created, unnatural ingredients, even if they are ingredients available in food form.
Know the Difference between Supplements and Smart DrugsSo, since food-based supplements do not require FDA supervision, one might assume that all drugs get inspected or at least regulated by the FDA, right? Wrong. Not all drugs get classified the same as medications. Some drugs fall into a legal gray area, where they are sold by prescription in some countries, but not in the US. Or a drug-maker will get a drug classified as a “supplement” mostly just because no one else has trademarked it and classified it otherwise! A common example in the US is piracetam. Racetams are sold by prescription in the UK and used for the treatment of such diseases as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In the US, racetams are unregulated and sometimes sold as a supplement, despite such side effects as:
- Weight gain
- Muscle spasms
Which Nootropics Work Best?So do you need drugs that make you smarter in order to get smarter? Research suggests otherwise. You can use safe and effective nootropics, combined with lifestyle factors to make the most of your mental potential. Will nootropics make you a genius? Not necessarily. While there’s such a thing as learning to think like a genius, supplements alone can’t give you more raw IQ points. What supplements can do is help you make the most of your potential. The best nootropic supplement is that supplement which your body can actually utilize. So, for example, if your adrenal glands could do with some additional support to help your stamina, focus and energy, B vitamins as a nootropic might help you do that. The other major factors in getting smarter, or at least as smart as you personally can be, are lifestyle factors such as:
- Getting sufficient, high-quality sleep,
- Eating well to fuel your brain and body,
- Exercising regularly, particularly where you raise your heart rate and increase circulation to your brain and throughout your body,
- Spending time outdoors, which has been proven to elevate mood and improve focus,
- And practicing meditation and especially nasal breathing, which has also been shown to improve focus.