What are nootropics and why should you care about them?

Liv Butler
Authored by Liv Butler
Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 15:39

The term ‘nootropic’ is generally used to describe the wide range of supplements that have been designed to improve brain function. Sometimes called smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, nootropics can include natural plant derived chemicals, vitamins and minerals or prescription medications, all with the aim of enhancing performance, improving focus or inducing relaxation. If you have never come across nootropic supplements before, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about and also whether they are safe to take, so let’s look in more detail at what you might expect to find.

Whilst the use of cognitive enhancers in healthy people might seem controversial, it all depends on the type of nootropic you are considering. For example, did you know that caffeine is often referred to as a nootropic due to its ability to temporarily improve mood, memory and reaction time? You think nothing of having that cup of coffee in the morning to get your brain ready for the day ahead, so imagine how great it would be to take a supplement that gives you that caffeine-like boost whenever you need it?

What’s inside nootropic supplements?

When considering a nootropic brain supplement, it is important to look at the ingredients being used. Ask yourself questions such as are they natural? Do I recognise them? What do they actually do? The more informed you can be about any supplement, the better you will be able to decide if it is right for you. 

Without boring you too much with the scientific details, natural nootropics are designed to boost brain function and health, by increasing the flow of important nutrients to the brain. This results in a better chemical balance in the brain, higher brainwaves, boosted brain regeneration and increased blood flow.

Whilst all nootropic supplements will vary based on their intended outcome and whether or not you need a prescription to buy them, many non-prescription brain boosters will contain ingredients such as:

L-theanine - an amino acid found naturally in black and green tea and believed to increase alpha waves in the brain, which can help induce a state of alert calmness.

Ginkgo biloba - commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo biloba is thought to help preserve cognitive function and blood flow.

Panax ginseng - another traditional Chinese herb, panax ginseng has been shown in recent studies to help protect against brain diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.

Rhodiola - also known as roseroot, rhodiola may help regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain and support adrenal function.

Ashwagandha - a native Indian herb that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is believed to help restore emotional balance and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.

Magnesium - an important mineral that supports brain health and function and can help boost energy levels.

B vitamins - when combined, the B vitamins such as B6 and B12 (folic acid) help to extract energy from the food we eat and can also help maintain a healthy nervous system.

As well as knowing what goes into the supplements you take, it is also important to consider what is right for you right now. That is because many nootropic supplements are designed to help you through certain stages in your life.

When should you take nootropic supplements?

The great thing about nootropics is that they have been designed with a certain outcome in mind, whether it’s helping you to improve your concentration and focus, or to aid you in getting a better night’s sleep. That’s why it’s important to find out more about the range of products on offer so you can find the right one to suit your circumstances. For example, if you are approaching a period of study and exams and are worried that you won’t be focused enough to do a great job, a cognitive enhancer that has been designed to boost energy, focus and mental clarity might be the perfect solution.

If you are going through menopause or perimenopause, you may be looking for a more natural way of reducing some of the symptoms, such as brain fog, hot flashes and night sweats. There are nootropic supplements available that have been designed specifically for women going through menopause or perimenopause and which contain ingredients known to help boost energy, improve memory, reduce hot flashes and rejuvenate skin.

Nootropics may also be helpful during busy periods of your life, such as when you are parenting young children and feel pulled in too many directions, when you have a lot of responsibility at work or are dealing with stressful situations such as family bereavements, moving house or the breakdown of a relationship. In these circumstances you may look for brain calming supplements that have been designed to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and help you get a better night’s sleep.

Who are nootropic brain supplements suitable for?

Whilst some nootropics are designed for those with cognitive deficits or brain diseases such as Alzheimers, others have been formulated simply to help anyone who needs a little boost to get them through a busy, difficult or stressful period in their lives. Brain boosters may help you to stay alert to deal with the pressures of work, to enable you to study more effectively or to help you to cope when you're in demand and feeling overwhelmed.

They can generally be taken by adults who are either trying to resolve a certain situation such as having a lack of energy, suffering from brain fog or finding it difficult to switch off. Or, they can be taken by people who are looking to take better care of their brains and protect them from cognitive decline in the future.

As with any supplement, it is advisable to speak with your GP first as they may cause side effects or interact with your existing medication.  You should also seek advice from your healthcare practitioner ahead of taking any supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The effects of nootropics will vary from person to person, and they are in no way a replacement for a healthy lifestyle, though the impact of these brain boosters may be enhanced by eating a varied diet, exercising regularly and getting the right amount of sleep.

Noggin have created a range of nootropic brain supplements powered by proven ingredients and powerful botanics to support brain function and improve performance. To view their full range or find out about their nootropic subscriptions, you can visit nogginbrain.co.uk.


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