Every year, dozens of wellness trends sweep the country. From CBD Oil, to Turmeric, to cryotherapy, to you name it — chances are I’ve tried it.
I know that many of them don’t actually do that much, but there are a lot of trends that have helped me in one way or another.
The most recent wellness trend that I have seen on an uphill climb over the past year is nootropics!
This latest trend isn’t a crystal-infused facial or a therapeutic CBD candy, but quite the opposite: it falls under the category of supplements that increases cognitive function, enhances alertness, boosts energy, and help manage stress.
Introducing Smart Drugs
You’ve probably seen them on your Instagram feed, had a friend mention taking them, or even gotten an add for them. This should come as no surprise as the Nootropics market is expected to market to reach $6 billion by 2024.
There are a variety of benefits that come with the “smart drugs,” from cutting stress to producing a sense of bliss. Some even promise a buzz without the next-day hangover. So what are they exactly?
Nootropics – What Are They?
Nootropics are herbs, supplements and foods that enhance brain power. They also have protective benefits that keep the brain sharp and increase functioning.
In today’s world, they are primarily sold as supplements but there are more than 80 various substances that fall under the nootropics category. Other food-deprived ingredients that are considered nootropics that you may have heard of are flavonoids, a substance found in green tea and blueberries, and omega-3s.
For centuries, nootropics as supplements have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to aid in optimizing brain function. While these claims do sound like science-fiction, I’ve seen the positive benefits these supplements can have, first hand.
Benefits of Nootropics
They claim to “enhance human intelligence” but what exactly does that mean? In my personal experience with Nootropics, I have mainly taken them for that specific reason, to enhances brain function. This includes improving focus, minimizing mental fatigue, boosting memory skills, and increasing reaction time and alertness.
A few years ago I was battling an immense amount of brain fog, where I could barely remember the simplest things. Specifically, I started taking Alpha GPC, Huperzine A, and BHB and watched as my brain function slowly improved.
How exactly does it work? Remember that the brain is regenerating constantly, ergo developing new brain cells. You might think that a brain boost only means beating brain fog and enhancing memory, however, the brain also affects plenty multiple aspects of health and well-being. Thus, nootropics carry plenty more benefits than just enhancing brain function.
Other nootropics are also adaptogenic. They induce feelings of calm to help people dealing with stress. Most people seek out for brain-enhancing powers of nootropics to help deal with various moods such as anxiety, depression and chronic stress.
Also, nootropic L-Theanine is proven to enhance sleep quality. Nootropics also have preventive benefits, possessing antioxidants to protect the brain against the effects of aging.
Scientifically Proven Nootropics
Did you know that you are probably taking scientifically proven nootropics without knowing? People are unknowingly relying on common well-researched substances that fall under the umbrella of nootropics. Today’s scientifically proven nootropics include nicotine, caffeine, amphetamine (Adderall), eurogenics, and methylphenidate. While these are proven nootropics, in my opinion, there are other ones that are way better for you.
In the wellness realm, the new nootropics are more appealing than taking stimulants are chugging coffee. These natural herbs act fast, but may also come with side effects, so be careful taking them.
Many nootropics rely on herbs including Eleuthero, Schisandra, Rhodiola, lion’s mane and L-theanine. Most of these are sometimes referred to as adaptogens as well.
According to Shari Auth, Chinese medicine specialist, these ingredients are known to “increase the body’s resistance to stress and fatigue.”
Research on Nootropics
The research on Nootropics is somewhat unclear still because it’s a relatively new field for Western cultures. Further nutritional studies and interventions are required but for now, testing these nootropics under supervision is my go-to. I’d advise you to thoroughly research a nootropic before you experiment with it, but disclaimer, I am not a doctor nor a medical professional.
My Personal Experience with Nootropics
I usually add L-theanine to my coffee or take it in pill form, to improve cognition. Research shows that it may enhance cognition associated with attention and alertness. It works remarkably greater than consuming caffeine alone, but has to be done carefully.
That being said, there’s certainly a rise on the consumer demand for nootropics. The habit of consumers surrounding supplements and beauty ingestibles have changed over the years. The wellness industry may have started with looking better and losing weight back in the 70’s, but I think its more focused on feeling better, reducing anxiety and stress, and improving focus these days and that is something I can get behind.
While it’s possible that these herbal supplements can help improve your focus and productivity, they really should be used like medication. So taking them to repair functionality, but stopping once it improves.
If you’re experiencing something like brain fog, it is also important to ask yourself why that is happening, and get to the root cause. While nootropics potentially could help, they will just act as a bandaid if you’re not helping the underlying problem.
It may require a few lifestyle changes to address the underlying cause for consuming nootropics. These changes could potentially include things like eating a well-balanced diet, physical activities, and changing your sleep cycle, or even as far as having to seek medical attention.
Is it Right For You?
Although nootropics are natural, it’s still essential to consult with your doctor especially if you’re under certain medications. Meanwhile, it may not also be the best option for those prone to high blood pressure since these herbs increase circulation to the brain.
When getting a new supplement or making a change in your lifestyle, it’s essential to talk to your physician, dietician, etc. to know if it’s right for you. Even though I am getting my certification to become a nutritionist, I still contact my dietician when I have questions, because I don’t always have the answers.