Nootropics are often referred to as ‘smart drugs,’ because they can enhance cognitive function. They can boost focus, learning capacity, memory, mood, motivation, and energy.
The term “nootropic” was first used in 1972 by a pharmacologist, who took the name from 2 Greek words “noos” meaning ‘the mind’, and “tropein”, meaning towards. The literal translation of the name is ‘to turn towards the mind’.
The drugs have a wide range of benefits and are widely used by people who work in demanding professions and need to keep a competitive edge, and students who are studying for exams.
Modern life is so busy and demanding, that many people are turning to nootropics to stretch their limits and capabilities.
What qualities does a nootropic have?
To be classed as a nootropic, a drug must have the following qualities:
It should improve learning capacity and memory
It should have few or no adverse side effects
It should have no detectable toxicity in the human body
It should increase the brain’s resistance to physical and chemical injuries
How do nootropics work?
The different types of nootropics differ from each other in their chemical structure and in how they work, as they are both extracts of herbs and plants, as well as synthetic compounds. They also affect different parts of the brain and so they produce different effects because of this. Experts are always looking to tap into the full potential of the human brain, and with people living longer, there is a lot of research going into developing drugs that can protect the brain from degenerative damage. Cognitive problems are usually associated with a deficiency of one or more of the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
For example, depression can be caused by low levels of the chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Whether cognitive defects are caused by accidental brain damage, a genetic condition or ageing, there is a need to look into substances that can potentially reduce or prevent cognitive decline. Diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia don’t have to be inevitable, though they are increasingly becoming a fact of life.
Each nootropic affects the brain in a different way, so it is not yet fully understood what the exact mechanisms of action are when someone takes a nootropic. What is understood however, is that:
Nootropics can activate cholinergic networks to increase acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that plays a role in learning, memory, muscle coordination and movement.
They can increase brain metabolism by stimulating blood circulation so there is more oxygen and energy available to brain neurons. This can boost concentration and focus considerably.
They improve protein synthesis.
They can strengthen the brain’s neural connections, so the brain’s parts will communicate better with each other. This leads to better decision making and clearer thought.
What are the main types of nootropics?
There are many different nootropics available on the market, which offer different benefits. Here are some of the different types you can get:
This group includes drugs like Vinpocetine, which can increase blood circulation to the brain. This leads to a significant boost in memory and focus. These drugs are mainly used to treat language and memory problems, and difficulty with concentration.
These include drugs such as Huperzine, and these nootropics were developed in the 1980’s by researchers who discovered that memory loss and cognitive decline was associated with low levels of a chemical called acetylcholine. These drugs inhibit the action of enzymes that break the chemical down and they can also boost the actual levels of the chemical in the brain.
These are the most popular of the nootropics, and piracetam was the first drug of this kind that was available. There are now quite a few different types of this drug, such as Aniracetam, Pramiracetam, Oxiracetam, Coluracetam & Nefiracetam. They are all known to be quite safe which has added to their popularity and availability.
These drugs include iQuzil, and they are the newest type of nootropics. These drugs are designed to increase productivity and enhance capacity for learning.
Nootropic drinks are being developed and are being hailed as a replacement for energy drinks but they have no side effects, such as the palpitations and jitters that can occur with the consumption of energy drinks.
So, for us to function as best as we can cognitively, the brain’s neurons and neurotransmitters need to be working as they should. Nootropics help to optimise the levels of the essential neurotransmitters.
The best-known nootropics
This supplement is one of the racetams, and it is well-known for its mood boosting capabilities. It is fat soluble, so it recommended to take it with food, which will help the body to absorb it.
Many users have reported that one of the main effects they feel from taking this drug is that they feel stimulated, and that they have lots of mental energy, concentration and focus.
There are also other effects which occur with Aniracetam supplements, such as that they help to increase blood flow to the brain, and they act on the neurotransmitters in the brain. Some research even suggests that they can increase communication between the 2 hemispheres of the brain. Many users report that this drug helps to influence creativity and flexible thinking.
Sulbutiamine is a member of the B group of vitamins, although it has a similar action to a nootropic in many ways. The supplement is a modified version of the B vitamin thiamine, and it works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and increasing the levels of thiamine in the brain, which improves the ability of the brain neurons to communicate. It also has positive effects on choline, dopamine, and glutamate, which are some of the most important brain chemicals in terms of boosting mood.
Many users report that this supplement helps to relieve stress and fatigue, and that it boosts attention, and mental alertness.
Noopept is one of the most powerful nootropics available. It has mood boosting effects which are similar to those brought about by Aniracetam, but they are far more potent.
It’s a very fast acting drug because it quickly and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Users report that they feel the effects of taking it in as little as 15 minutes.
There is a lot of evidence to support the idea that taking this supplement increases brain energy and motivation. In fact, reports from users seem to suggest that this is the best nootropic available for increasing motivation.
A number of studies also indicate that Noopept has a neuroprotective effect, which means that it helps to keep the neurons in the brain healthy. In some cases, it may even be able to reverse existing damage to the brain. This explains why it is so effective at boosting mood and helping to alleviate stress. It is also thought that this supplement can help to increase and build connections within the brain.
This is not a choice for someone who wants to casually try nootropics, rather it is a viable alternative if all other options have failed. Adrafinil can be mildly toxic and can possibly affect liver function. It should be taken under medical supervision ideally.
This supplement affects the dopamine and serotonin systems within the brain, which helps to promote a state of alertness. Many users report feeling very productive after taking it.
DL-Phenylalanine, is also known as DLPA. It contains different forms of the essential amino acid Phenylalanine. As phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, the body can’t make it naturally, so we must take it in via supplementation or foods such as meat, milk, oats, and wheat germ.
To boost the absorption of any supplementation, the body also needs a good supply of vitamins B3, B6, C, copper, and iron.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and phenylalanine helps to make proteins in the body. There are also several different forms of phenylalanine: L-Phenylalanine, D-Phenylalanine, and DL-Phenylalanine, which is a combination of the two.
The “L” form of the amino acid is a naturally occurring substance which is normally found in protein rich foods. L-Phenylalanine is thought to be helpful in boosting chemicals in the brain like Dopamine and Norepinephrine which can improve mood.
The “D” form of this amino acid is made artificially. D-Phenylalanine is believed to have an effect upon how the brain and nervous system interpret and respond to pain in the body.
DL-Phenylalanine is often used to relieve cases of minor depression and other mood problems as well as and physical pain. This supplement has also been used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. DLPA is also often combined with other mood boosting supplements and can be taken in a nootropic stack to boost its effectiveness.
How does it work?
It is not fully understood exactly how it works, but what is known is that the supplement can easily cross the blood/brain barrier, where it enters the central nervous system.
The blood/brain barrier is a protective layer of red blood cells and the glia of the brain which prevents toxins, bacteria, or viruses from entering the brain and nervous system. This barrier can also keep out beneficial compounds sometimes, so the fact that phenylalanine can cross the blood-brain barrier is what makes it so effective for enhancing cognitive function.
Prior to entering the brain, the supplement is absorbed through the intestines and is partially converted in the liver.
It is known to be a precursor of another potent amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine is thought to be useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It is also important to for normal metabolic function and it can reduce body fat.
Tyrosine also helps to produce several powerful neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine, which play an important role in maintaining mood.
Recent research also suggests that Phenylalanine aids in the production of melatonin, which controls our sleep/wake cycles.
It is also believed to bind to Glutamate receptor sites on the brain’s neurons, which makes DL-phenylalanine an Ampakine, which is a supplement that stimulates the brain’s AMPA receptors.
There are several potent benefits of using DL-Phenylalanine. One reason people might use it is as a pain reliever. It is thought to be effective for muscle aches, arthritis related pain, migraines, headaches, and menstrual cramps. There is also evidence to suggest that it is helpful for many types of chronic pain, even those caused by an injury or accident. The supplement appears to work by suppressing nerve transmissions in your pain pathways, by blocking the actions of a pain-inducing protein called enkephalinase. There is also some evidence to suggest that this supplement can increase the effectiveness of narcotics and other pain medication.
It is also thought to be effective for boosting energy and alertness, improving memory, and learning capacity. It is thought to do this by enabling the nervous system to work more efficiently. If this is your main reason for wanting to try a nootropic, other supplements such as noopept or pramiracetam are more effective for this purpose. But it might be a good idea to stack DL-phenylalanine with these compounds to boost its effects.
Several studies have shown that DLPA may be useful for easing the symptoms of depression. The main reason it has this effect appears to be because it increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Individual results do vary, but many users report that they feel less stressed and anxious while taking it.
DLPA may also help those suffering from ADHD and degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. There is research that indicates that many people who suffer from ADHD have lower levels of key amino acids, including Phenylalanine.
Other researchers have found that the ability of DL-Phenylalanine to boost the levels of certain chemicals in the brain leads to improved concentration in ADHD patients. The available research into Parkinson’s disease suggests that the supplement may improve symptoms of the illness such as rigidity, walking, speech, and even associated depression. Nerve signals which carry information from neuron to neuron are conducted faster and more effectively, and this is why phenylalanine is currently being used in the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.
There are some reports that DLPA supplementation has been useful for opiate withdrawal treatment, but there is limited research available. According to some users, the supplement helped to improve the depression experienced after detoxing from some opiate drugs like Suboxone.
The recommended dosage for DLPA that you should take depends on the reason you want to take it in the first place.
For depression, taking 200 mg in the morning was found to be effective for reducing symptoms.
Those looking for more general mood boosting effects might take a 100-mg dose in a nootropic stack.
Studies which looked at the treatment of ADHD used 20 mg, though this is considered a low dosage. For Parkinson’s disease, the recommended dose is between 200 and 500 mg.
As with other amino acid supplements, it is best to take DL-Phenylalanine on an empty stomach with water or juice about an hour before meals. You should try and avoid consuming high-protein foods within an hour or two of taking it as well, since they may interfere with absorption.
On the whole, there seems to be a wide range of effective therapeutic dosages for Phenylalanine.
Clinical studies and research have used anywhere from 100 mg to 5,000 mg per day. Typical users tend to adhere to 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day however.
It is also common to stack Phenylalanine supplements with Hordenine, a compound that prevents the breakdown of this supplement before it has a chance to have an effect. The result is longer lasting effects and more significant improvements in mood.
DL-Phenylalanine side effects:
This supplement is regarded as being very safe and only mild side effects have been reported. These effects include heartburn, nausea, and headaches.
Most people do not experience any negative effects when taking DL-Phenylalanine at the recommended dosage. When used at excessively high doses of more than 1500 mg per day, side effects can include numbness, tingling, and other signs of nerve damage.
Another possibility is that supplementation can increase your blood pressure, and that in large doses, the balance of serotonin in the brain can be affected, so always adhere to the suggested dose where possible.
The supplement should also not be taken by people who use antipsychotic medication and some antidepressants, particularly monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Always speak to your doctor if you want to start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medication or you have an existing health condition.
DLPA can be an effective supplement which can possibly provide a wide range of benefits. While it is not one of the more commonly used nootropics, it does appear to have positive effects on mood, energy levels and motivation.
The supplement promotes the normal functioning of the central nervous system, and it helps to reduce the symptoms of depression and relieves chronic pain among other things.
If used in a stack with other cognitive enhancement supplements from the Racetam family or with other mood-boosting compounds such as sulbutiamine or tyrosine, its effects can be boosted considerably.
It is a legal supplement and you can buy it without a prescription, and it has little or no side effects at the recommended doses.