Improving Mental Functions with Nootropics – Main Types
Nootropics (the term comes from Greek words “nous” meaning „mind“ and “trepein” meaning to bend or turn) are a variety of drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals and functional foods which are designed to enhance a single or many brain activities and functions. Nootropics improve specific areas of brain activity such as motivation, attention, memory, focus and so on.
If the nootropics are offered to the public in the form of pills, injections, inhalants and so on, it usually means they were synthesized artificially and we call them drugs. There are recent analyses and researchh which show that specific stimulants, used at proper concentrations, have the effect of increasing cognitive functions in the general population.On the other hand, very high doses can have very serious negative effects, like cognitive deficits.
Main types of nootropics used today, in the form of supplements are:
Amphetamine pharmaceuticals (most common ones are Aderall, dextroamphetamine and lisdexamfetamine) are used to increase cognitive control, which can range from attentional and inhibitory control to episodic and working memory. Amphetamine pharmaceutials are mostly used on patients diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but can be used with healthy adults as well.
Methylphenidate is a type of substituted phenethylamine also used to enhance cognitive control in general population. It is used to enhance results in performing demanding tasks which require a very high level of efforts. It also bears the danger of negative effects like decrease of learning, if administered in higher than recommended dosages.
Eugeroics (like armodafinil and modafinil) are used to promote wakefulness, help people with sleep deprivation, increase alertness and help with problem solving and reasoning. They are used clinically with patients suffering from sleep disorders and narcolepsy.
Xanthines (caffeine being the most notable example) also help in enhancing alertness, performance, even memory. Generally, lower doses of caffeine will help healthy adults with increased alertness, higher dosages may result in increased performance. The molecule of caffeine has an all-round postitive psychoactive effect on the human body – it enhances attention, alertness and helps with task switching.
Nicotine, the active ingredient found in tobacco, according to many studies has positive effects on many functions: motor skills, orienting and alerting attention and memory.
Among the nutraceuticals (term comes from the words nutrition and pharmaceutical) – different products ranging from supplements, herbs, processed foods – most famous nootropics are:
Bacopa monnieri – a herb with nutraceutical properties – has memory enhancing effects.
Panax ginseng – an important part of Chinese traditional medicine, Ginseng is claimed to have medicinal properties, but studies are yet to show positive results.
Salvia officinalis – Garden or common sage – like the Ginseng, there are no concrete evidence that can result in certain conclusions.
Ginkgo biloba – a type of tree that has been a part of traditional medicine for centuries, cultivated in Asia especially. They contain a variety of substances which are said to have a positive effect on human brain activity, but this is yet to be proven by studies, since no evidence has been found so far.