Despite some nootropics being available only through prescription, its usage in general has grown significantly over the years due to high unemployment rates and a hypercompetitive job market. Many people first stumble upon nootropics when they start looking for quick fixes to enhance their memory and boost their cognitive ability to ultimately perform better for an exam or in the corporate world. And while it doesn’t hurt to just pop a pill and give it a try, everyone still wants to know whether they actually work or not.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are supplements designed to boost the brain’s capacity. Depending on the ingredients used, some nootropics may claim to be able to improve focus, while others may claim to deliver on memory enhancement. Yet, there is no such nootropic that exists today that can enable a person to read a Finance book from cover to cover in just a matter of hours, as portrayed in the Hollywood film Limitless that starred Brandon Cooper.
Nootropics, on their own, will not dramatically increase the areas of your brain responsible for storing learned knowledge or experience. However, its usage can definitely facilitate better long-term memory storage in the same way that a bodybuilder supplementing with protein benefits from its use to aid in muscle growth.
Using that analogy, protein powder alone is not going to make your arm muscles bigger. You actually still need to exercise, lift weights and get your muscles to increase in strength and size, all while benefiting from enhanced results thanks to the nutrients delivered by the whey protein. Similarly, nootropics send nutrients to your brain to make it easier for you to develop crystallized intelligence when you engage your mind in reading novels, learning a new language or trying new experiences.
What nootropics can do, though, is encourage new connections to form in your brain. This allows your brain to solve new problems, use logic in new situations, and identify patterns more effectively and at a much faster speed. The capacity of your brain to process these types of information is called synaptic plasticity. It declines as you get older, and its gradual decline is the main reason why doctors prescribe certain nootropic supplements to the elderly. They want to be able to stave off or delay the process, so the elderly won’t experience any significant memory gaps or pronounced difficulty in performing simple tasks.
Despite all the research done by the scientific community on popular nootropics such as Ritalin and Adderall, it’s not a guarantee that they will work as effectively on you, as they would on patients who are suffering from ADHD or narcolepsy. That’s because these drugs were not developed for people who have healthy brain functioning, and its effects have not been extensively researched for this growing targeted market.
Apart from that, here are two reasons why nootropics may not work for you.
- Everyone has a different brain and body chemistry, so what may work for one person may not work for another. This does not mean that all nootropics do not or won’t necessarily work for you. You just have to find the right nootropic supplement or the ideal nootropic stack that delivers on the cognitive benefits you need.
- The only goal of supplement manufacturers is to make profit, which means that they will create more hype only to sell more products. They don’t really care about the efficacy, though, as long as they can make the sale. Chances are if one supplement doesn’t work for you, it’s because of lesser grade ingredients used and poor manufacturing techniques employed.
How Nootropics Work Best
One approach to maximize the benefits of brain supplements is to combine different nootropics together. This practice is called nootropic stacking. By mixing and matching two or more types of supplements, you can obtain the multiplied effects on memory, learning, focus or motivation, as compared to just relying on the benefits of one nootropic by itself. This supplementation method creates a synergistic effect in the brain so that no one cognitive function is compromised as a result of nootropic use. Many nootropic users take advantage of nootropic stacking to boost the abilities of their brain further than any single supplement could do on its own.
There are two ways you can get started with nootropic stacks:
- Pre-formulated stacks
You can purchase a pre-formulated stack from a renowned supplement manufacturer. The major benefit of this is convenience, as experts have already done their research on the optimal combinations that deliver on the benefits most users need. This is the preferred route for beginners, as making your own custom stack is not only tedious and complicated, it can also double up the side-effects if the dosages are not correct.
- Customized stacks
Creating your own nootropic stack gives you the full flexibility to select the nootropics you’d like to use and adjust dosage as you see fit. While this allows you to really experiment on what works well for your brain and your body, it is often the case that most beginners are unsure of where to start, what to take, and how much to use. Perhaps, the biggest danger of customization is also its greatest strength. Full flexibility requires a lot of research for you to be able to get the effects that you want at the safe dosage.
Even if nootropic use is becoming more commonplace nowadays, many are still skeptical about their benefits and efficacy. Yet, it’s only reasonable to be prudent. There is not only a lack of peer-based scientific research on nootropic use for brain boosting, most of the ones that are proven to work are also available only on prescription.
Truth is, despite the promise of many of these nootropics, caution should only be exercised for your safety. As nootropics are intended to be supplements, they shouldn’t be seen as replacements to good habits such as eight hours of sleep, physical activity and a balanced diet. There is no better way to boost the brain than to keep your mind and body healthy.