A nootropic is a drug that is used to improve the functioning of your mind somehow. The name comes from the Greek words ‘noos’, which means mind, and ‘trope’ which means to turn. These drugs are most often used to improve cognitive abilities, and have little or no side effects.
Nootropics are not essential to the health of the brain and the mind, they are an add-on to an otherwise healthy lifestyle. The best way to a healthy mind is to get enough sleep, eat a good diet, and get enough exercise.
How do nootropics work?
Every nootropic drug affects your body in a different way. Like any drug, however, results vary, and what really works for one person might not work for another. We all have different body chemistry. In fact, it is not known conclusively exactly how these drugs work, and any evidence is currently based mostly on theories.
Are Nootropics legal?
Most nootropics are legal to possess, and to take, but like a lot of dietary supplements, many are not regulated. But it does vary from country to country, so check their status where you are before you take them.
How will I feel if I take nootropics?
This is a hard question to answer, because everyone’s body chemistry is different, so people will react differently.
Generally, however, the effects of nootropics are very mild. They aren’t meant to be stimulants like Adderall, instead they simply enhance your cognitive function. There is no ups and downs with nootropics as there is with stimulants, and you won’t experience the ‘crash’ that you get with them, either.
What types of nootropics are there?
All racetams are derived from piracetam, which was developed in the early 1970s. Its noted benefits include improved memory, and the ability to be more articulate. A racetam is often the base of a nootropic ‘stack’, where other nootropics are added to enhance its effects.
Choline isn’t usually used by itself, it’s usually used as part of a nootropic stack. By itself, Choline boosts cognition, and when added to a racetam, it boosts the effects. Choline increases the amounts of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is responsible for decision making and some types of learning.
The body needs a balance of acetylcholine; too much is detrimental, and too little can result in side effects such as headaches.
These are the same as herbal remedies. They come from plants, and when they are ingested, boost cognition.
The effects of natural nootropics vary from person and people report different experiences with each one they use. Some people say that they are stronger than laboratory made medicines, and some people argue that their effects are nothing but a placebo.
They may be less potent than synthetic nootropics generally, though this does not mean that you can’t obtain the same benefits with natural nootropics. And there are other benefits, such as natural versions will be so much cheaper.
Bacopi Monneri is one of the most well-known natural nootropics. It boosts memory and reduces anxiety, but it can take 6-8 weeks to start to have an effect, whereas the synthetic equivalent would start working straight away, or at the most, within a couple of days.
However, synthetic anti-anxiety drugs are known to be quite sedating, and can make you feel ‘drugged’, whereas with the natural version, this is not true.
Other popular natural nootropics are Huperzine-A, and Gingko Biloba. If you want to give nootropics a try, but you aren’t keen on taking the synthetic versions, try these natural ones first.
Smart drugs tread the thin line between nootropics and prescription medications.
Modafinil is one of the most well-known smart drugs. It’s prescribed in some countries, banned in some, and completely legal in others. It is marketed as being able to offer all the benefits of a stimulant, but without the side effects of drugs like Adderall, such as feelings of euphoria, which can make them addictive.
Many people don’t consider smart drugs like Modafinil to be nootropics because unlike other nootropics, suddenly withdrawing from it can cause side effects such as loss of focus and insomnia. Ordinarily, withdrawing from nootropics doesn’t cause side effects.
Vitamin B & its derivatives
B vitamins are natural energy boosters. They are often included in energy drinks, and they are actually being explored for their potential to be nootropics. Vitamin B derivatives are modified B vitamins.
Sulbutiamine is a derivative of vitamin B1 that was originally developed by the Japanese to combat fatigue. Picamilon is also a vitamin B derived nootropic which combines niacin (B3) with GABA. More research is needed on whether B vitamins could be effective nootropics, but if you have experienced the boost you get from a Vitamin B complex or an fortified energy drink, you might think it’s worth exploring.
Ampakides are a type of nootropic that hasn’t been studied very much. They are probably the least well-known nootropic. They work by manipulating receptors in your body which increases the amount of a compound called glutamate in the brain. Glutamate is thought to increase memory span and the ability to focus. As there is a lack of research, this is only a theory and isn’t conclusive. Only use this nootropic if you are happy to use something which hasn’t been fully studied for its effects.
Peptides work in a similar way to racetams, but they are quite different. There aren’t many drugs of this type on the market today. A peptide called Noopept is reputedly 1,000x more potent than piracetam while having similar effects. This means that the therapeutic dosage you need to use is a lot smaller, only between 10 and 40 mg per day, compared with 1.6g and upwards for piracetam.
They aren’t as popular as racetams, but they might be worth a try. Users tend to report similar effects from both types of drugs, but some people opt for a peptide if they experience negative side effects from piracetam.
These blends combine different nootropics in one pill. The idea is a little like stacking, but more convenient. Always be sure to look at exactly what you’re taking. Sometimes, there will be ingredients that aren’t nootropics, and they may just be fillers or things you could make yourself for much less cost. Often blends can contain ingredients at such low levels that they don’t really have a therapeutic effect.
One of the most popular nootropic blends is called Alpha Brain. Users tend to report that it works for them, yet the brand is driven by a huge marketing machine, so the reports of success might not be completely unbiased. Maybe start with a pure nootropic, then move on to a blend where the number one ingredient is your nootropic of choice.
Phenibut HCL is a nootropic that people use to reduce anxiety, improve their sleeping patterns, and to boost cognitive performance.
Phenibut is sometimes sold under the brand name Noofen. Its chemical name is Beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid, and it is a derivative of the neurotransmitter GABA.
Phenibut is often included in nootropic stacks designed to reduce stress and anxiety, and to boost mood. It is sometimes used to reduce anxiety in people who suffer from social anxiety or it can even be used as an antidepressant.
The drug can be used beneficially in a few ways, with minimal side effects, if it is used properly, and this is key. If it is abused, withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop taking it.
The drug is a modified version of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is released in the brain to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Taking GABA supplements does not tend to work, as the supplement will not be able to penetrate the protective blood-brain barrier, the membrane which surrounds the brain and separates it from the main bloodstream.
Phenibut’s chemical structure is very similar to GABA, however Phenibut is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, because it has a molecule added to it. The Phenibut is thought to be able to have a similar effect on the brain as GABA.
Once Phenibut reaches the brain, it activates GABA receptors between the neurons. Phenibut stimulates two different types of GABA receptors, GABA-A and GABA-B.
Alcohol acts on the brain in a similar way. Alcohol stimulates GABA receptors to reduce anxiety and stress, relax the muscles, reduce inhibitions, and have a sedative effect.
This makes Phenibut different from other nootropic supplements, as it has a relaxant effect rather than a stimulatory effect.
The effects of Phenibut
The reported benefits of Phenibut are as follows: it’s an anxiolytic, it can boost cognition, it can have neuroprotective effects, sedative effects, and cardioprotective effects.
Anxiety is thought to be the result of excessive communication between some neurons in the brain. If you can’t switch your mind off, Phenibut might be able to help quiet your thoughts. When used to quell anxiety in particular, the drug can reduce stress and anxious thoughts caused by overactivity of the neurons in the brain.
Many users report that Phenibut makes them feel more calm, serene, and less likely to experience feelings of worry. Phenibut might also work to lessen social anxiety and shyness by allowing sufferers to overcome inhibitions.
There is some evidence to suggest that Phenibut can increase cognitive abilities and mental performance. According to research trials, taking Phenibut led to improved brain function, especially when communication between the different hemispheres of the brain was required for a task.
Better communication between the different hemispheres of the brain is associated with better problem solving skills and better creative ability. Phenibut may also promote better memory and learning, but more research is needed in this area.
One of the main reasons that people use Phenibut is as a sedative to improve sleep quality. If you find that you have trouble sleeping at night and don’t fall into a deep sleep, Phenibut might make it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up feeling refreshed.
Neuroprotective and cardioprotective
Phenibut may have neuroprotective qualities. The available evidence suggests that the drug is able to prevent some of the brain cell damage that occurs when stress hormones are high. The drug is also thought to have a cardioprotective effect by reducing pressure on the ventricles of the heart.
Research on the uses and possible effects of Phenibut in humans is very limited, and more research is needed. Phenibut has not yet been officially approved to prevent or treat any health conditions.
The side effects of Phenibut
While there are many reported positive benefits of using the drug, there are also possible side effects if the drug is not used properly. For most people, the drug is safe in low doses. Exceeding the recommended dose can cause similar effects to other GABA stimulating drugs such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, namely sedation, and loss of focus. It is recommended that you don’t take alcohol with this drug as it may have a serious interaction.
Common side effects that are seen with Phenibut use are fatigue, nausea, light-headedness, headaches, stomach discomfort, and in rare cases unconsciousness or memory loss.
It is usually recommended that you only take the drug for a few weeks at a time. Users report that they can tolerate the drug fully after around 5 days of use, and they don’t tend to increase the dose as this increases the risk of undesirable side effects, with no further benefits. There are also reports of negative effects when users begin to withdraw from the drug, especially at higher doses.
Controlling the dose of a strong drug like Phenibut is important. Start with a small dose initially, then the recommended therapeutic dose is anything from 250-1000 mg. Always give your body time to adjust. The drug is assimilated into the body more slowly than other nootropics and its effects last longer. Once you take the drug, the effects can last all day. You might not want to take more than one dose per day. The drug is water soluble, and in powder form, it can be mixed with water or juice. The powder has quite a sour taste, so many people prefer to take it in pill form.
Nootropics have the ability to boost energy, boost cognitive ability, reduce stress and anxiety, and to lift the mood. What’s even better is that they appear to provide these benefits with little or no side effects.
Synthetic stimulant drugs to achieve these effects can often be more potent, but the price of potency is often that side effects are experienced. People on drugs such as Adderall might complain of feeling jittery, and that they have a comedown hours after they have taken the dose. The withdrawal effects can also be severe. Many users report that they experience feelings of euphoria with these drugs, which gives them more potential to be addictive.
Nootropics tend to not make you feel ‘drugged’, rather they have more of a slow burning effect, and research has shown that they can actually protect the brain and the heart, promote better quality sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety.
As with any drugs, however, dosage and usage has to be within sensible limits. The higher the dose, the more potential there is for side effects. Also, nootropics are not regulated, so they have a peculiar status. They are not regulated but legal. Everyone has different body chemistry, so it might take a little trial and error before you find the supplement that is ideal for your needs.
If you don’t like the idea of taking synthetic medications, there are some natural nootropics you can try. Gingko Biloba and Vitamin B derivatives are being researched for their natural nootropic properties. Current research is quite limited but the fact that both of these are used in many ‘energy boosting’ formulations might support their use to this effect, and they might just be worth a try.
Phenibut is a nootropic which is used to reduce anxiety, lift the mood, and promote good sleep. It works on receptors in the brain to increase levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA. GABA is produced naturally in the brain, and it promotes feelings of calm and relaxation. Standard GABA supplementation doesn’t seem to be able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, but Phenibut can, as an extra molecule is added. The effects of the drug on the brain are similar to the relaxing effect that alcohol has, which is what makes it different from other nootropics which are mostly used as stimulants.
Phenibut, when used correctly, is very effective at reducing anxiety, especially social anxiety, boosting memory, and concentration in tasks where both hemispheres of the brain need to be used.
These effects are best achieved by using the drug temporarily and as recommended, as taking higher doses produces more side effects and no further benefits will be gained.
Try a small dose initially and see if you like the effects.