What Are Nootropics And How Do They Work?

Among certain groups, nootropics are hugely popular supplements. You may also know them as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers. They can potentially boost cognitive performance, memory and motivation. So it’s no surprise that they’re so sought after. Explore with us the science behind nootropics and find out how they work.

What are nootropics?

Let’s start with the question: what are nootropics? Simply put, a nootropic is a substance, or a combination of several substances, used to boost brain function, energy, alertness, etc. The idea is to get more mental “sharpness. It can be as simple as caffeine, which provides a small boost. But in most cases nootropics contain a range of more or less common ingredients to create a smart drug with versatile properties. Brain-E (29) View The term “nootropic” was coined in 1972 by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea by combining the Greek words for “mind” (nous) and “inflect” (trepein) to describe substances that affect the mind. Although it literally translates as “mindbending,” nootropics are not used to get high. In that respect, their use is more like microdosing psychedelics than tripping. The popularity of nootropics is due to entrepreneurs and creatives in Silicon Valley and other technological hotspots where people want to use their brains at full capacity for as long as possible. Other reasons for their popularity can be found in the (though greatly exaggerated) plot of the movie Limitless, as well as numerous clinical trials and personal accounts of the benefits. This has led to a booming market for nootropics. Many companies now create their own blends by combining many different substances. In this way, they aim to meet the needs, desires and requirements of a large audience.

Synthetic versus natural nootropics

Nootropics can be divided into two main categories: synthetic and natural. Synthetic nootropics consist of compounds that are made in a laboratory. These compounds mimic the action of natural components of plants and herbs, as well as substances that the body makes itself. Synthetic nootropics are usually extensively tested before they are sold to the general public. Some well-known synthetic nootropics are racetams, ampakines and armodafinil. These drugs all have the potential to improve memory, alertness, mood or other elements of cognitive performance. In contrast, natural nootropics are substances found in nature. For example, they are derived from plants, herbs and natural oils. These compounds can be purchased in their natural form to use individually. They are also processed into a powder or liquid so that you can take them more easily. Some notable, natural nootropics include coffee, omega-3 and ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba (20) View

Why should you use nootropics?

There are many reasons to use nootropics in everyday life. Many people are looking for convenient ways to boost mental function, focus, motivation and even physical energy, while also hoping to reduce the impact of oxidative stress and cognitive decline. The choice then often falls on nootropics to give themselves a boost where needed. There are plenty of reasons for a healthy person to use nootropics, whether it’s a university student learning hard for an exam or someone looking to reach their full potential in the workplace. Studies are still early days. Yet there is evidence that some people are actually using “prescription nootropics” (or prescription drugs with nootropic properties) against symptoms of a particular condition. These drugs are not sold as nootropics. Moreover, more research is required to find concrete evidence or explanations. But people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), narcolepsy and early stage Alzheimer’s, among others, are curious to know what science says about the potential of nootropics.

What are the best ingredients for nootropics?

Nootropics contain a combination of synthetic and/or natural ingredients and are produced with a specific use in mind. It’s a finely tuned process where each ingredient is designed to deliver a distinct benefit. But if they are all good for you, why not put in as many as you can? That’s a logical question. But excess harms. The success of a nootropic formula is determined in part by how the various ingredients interact. Admittedly, there are those who use “nootropic stacks,” where a combination of different nootropics is taken. However, this requires knowledge of all their different effects. Generally speaking, nootropics contain several similar ingredients. These are aimed at improving a specific function, such as memory. Keep this in mind when looking for a nootropic for a specific purpose. Some of the most popular ingredients for nootropics include magnesium, Lion’s Mane mushroom extract and vitamin B, to name a few.

How do nootropics work?

Now you know what nootropics are and what they can contain, but how do they actually work? This is a tricky question that we can’t summarize in one or two sentences. First of all, you need to know how the brain functions in order to understand the possible influence of nootropics on it. This is obviously not simple, as the brain is a complex organ. That said, we’re going to make an attempt anyway. The brain depends on many different factors to function properly. The brain is a particularly demanding body part and consumes roughly 20% of daily energy needs. The brain produces various chemicals that are involved in concentration, relaxation, memory and overall cognitive functioning. As mentioned, you can think of the compounds in nootropics as “fuel” for the brain. In theory, the right combination could provide the extra energy the brain needs to function at its highest level, allowing it to perform better and process more. Nootropics can have numerous different effects on the brain. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones.

Learning and memory

Certain nootropics are designed to improve the user’s mental functions and short- and long-term memory. This is partly because they increase blood flow to the brain. In this way, they can potentially improve the user’s ability to learn. As touched on earlier, nootropics are particularly popular among students for these reasons.

Motivation and mood

Motivation is another reason to use nootropics. A lack of motivation is often the result of low levels of dopamine. Dopaminergic nootropics with L-theanine may be able to increase users’ motivation and mood.


In addition to learning ability and memory, your focus can also be greatly affected by nootropics. Still, there is no universal approach because certain ingredients are more suitable for this than others. For example, Rhodiola rosea is able to enhance focus and concentration. Clear Focus from Mindscopic (49) View

When can you use nootropics?

It is important to determine why you want to use nootropics, whether you are a first-time user or want to dive deeper into the world of nootropics. As stated earlier, “prescription nootropics” are actually medications with nootropic qualities. A doctor can prescribe them for numerous physical and mental complaints. Currently, nootropics are not prescribed for healthy people and the term nootropic itself has not yet been medically accepted. This is not to say that there are not potential benefits to over-the-counter nootropic supplements for everyday use. It is certainly not unusual to experience brain fog or lack of motivation during a workday. That is where nootropics can potentially make a positive contribution. Of course, a simple artifice like drinking a cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon can provide a small boost, since caffeine is a nootropic. While this may affect your energy levels, it may also leave you without the desired effect. Instead, consider using other supplements, or combining them.

Do nootropics keep you awake?

Because nootropics stimulate the brain in a variety of ways, they can keep your energy levels high during heavy times. While this boost can be beneficial during the day, it may also affect the user’s sleep pattern. To counteract this, it is wise to take your supplement in the morning. That way, the effects will have worn off by the time your work is done and you want to relax.

Are nootropics safe?

All in all, nootropics seem safe to use. Side effects are also possible, as each substance has a different profile of advantages and disadvantages. Although the side effects are often mild, you should be careful if you are allergic or intolerant to certain substances. As with all supplements, it is important not to exceed the recommended dosage. That way, you can already largely limit any negative effect. Since the industry for nootropics is relatively new, there is still plenty of research being done on every aspect of these substances. For additional advice on safety, it is wise to consult your doctor before using nootropics. As more research is conducted, expect to see fascinating developments in the world of smart drugs. As is often the case, it is important that you look for the best nootropics for your individual needs. Some people want to use nootropics as a more permanent solution. Still, you can’t use all substances indefinitely. So make sure you do enough research before taking the plunge.