Nootropics are often referred to as ‘smart drugs,’ because they have the ability to enhance cognitive function. They can boost focus, learning capacity, memory, mood, motivation, and energy.
The word “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 often relentless, so people are turning to nootropics to take them past what they previously considered to be their limits.
What qualities does a nootropic have?
To be classed as a nootropic, a drug must have these qualities:
It should improve learning and memory
It should have few or no adverse side effects
It should have no detectable toxicity
It should increase the brain’s resistance to physical and chemical injuries
How do nootropics work?
The different nootropics available 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. Experts are always looking to tap into the full potential of the 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 serotonin and dopamine. Whether cognitive defect is 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.
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.
They improve protein synthesis.
They can strengthen the brain’s neural connections, so the brain’s parts will communicate better with each other.
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 are designed to 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 concentrating.
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.
These drugs include iQuzil, and they are the newest type of nootropics. this is one of the latest categories of nootropics. The drugs are designed to increase productivity and enhance capacity for learning.
Nootropic drinks are being developed and are being touted as the 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 this to happen.
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 is best to take it with food, which will help the body to absorb it.
Many users have reported that one of the main effects they get 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 technically a member of the B group of vitamins, although it has a very 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. This improves the ability of the brain neurons to communicate and it is also believed to have 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 more potent.
It’s a very fast acting drug because it absorbs quickly and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Users report that they feel the effects of taking it within around 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 drug 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 alternative choice 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. This helps to promote a state of alertness. Many users report feeling very productive after taking it.
IDRA-21 is what’s known as a next generation ampakine nootropic. Ampakines are quite new to the nootropics scene. They activate a receptor which boosts attention span and the ability to learn.
The nootropic potential of ampakines is being researched by scientists as a possible treatment for cognitive impairment, and by the United States Army to boost the alertness of sleep-deprived soldiers.
One of the newest ampakines available on the market is IDRA-21, which has shown itself to have long lasting effects with proven benefits.
What is IDRA-21?
IDRA-21 is a drug derived from the same chemical structure as benzothiadiazine. Drugs with a similar structure include diuretics which are given to prevent organ failure in some patients. It is known as an ampakine, so this puts it in the same bracket as the familiar nootropics aniracetam, sunifiram and unifiram.
As it is a nootropic substance, IDRA-21 has been clinically proven to improve cognition with little or no side effects.
However, as it is a new substance, there is not much anecdotal evidence to back up the laboratory-based research.
The supplement is currently being studied for its memory boosting, cognitive enhancing, and stimulating effects. There is also exciting research ongoing, into whether it can reverse cognitive decline.
The drug was developed in 1994-95, and the first research articles were published in 1995.
How does it work?
IDRA-21 is an ampakine compound and ampakines activate receptors in your brain called AMPA receptors. These receptors are responsible for increasing the speed of the communication between the brain’s neurons, as well as boosting learning and memory.
IDRA-21 binds to the receptors in the brain that govern attention, alertness, and responsiveness. It also boosts the effects of some of the brain’s neurotransmitters, particularly glutamate. Glutamate is one of the 2 most important neurotransmitters found in the brain and it is responsible for quick reasoning, increased focus, better attention span, and improved deductive skills.
Increases in cognitive ability
Increased accuracy when completing tasks
Increases in short term memory
It can potentially treat schizophrenia
It can possibly be a treatment for depression
It has a neuroprotective effect, so it can protect the brain from age-related cognitive defects
Increased alertness and wakefulness
Side effects and safety
When used appropriately, it is relatively safe however; be aware that it actually worsens brain tissue damage following seizures or a stroke.
IDRA-21 is a potent Ampakine. Ampakines activate AMPA receptors in the brain which has been shown to worsen brain damage. Studies on rats found that IDRA-21, when administered with glutamate killed their brain neurons. This is so dangerous for people who have had seizures and strokes because these conditions excessively activate AMPA receptors, and this causes a kind of toxicity in the brain.
Another study found that the dosages of IDRA-21 that caused this neurotoxicity were significantly higher than the doses needed to boost cognition, so researchers concluded that IDRA-21 has relatively low neurotoxicity in therapeutic doses.
For this reason, it is very important to follow the recommended dosage and precautionary measures to prevent undesirable adverse side effects.
Anecdotal evidence from some users reports that it can cause increased anxiety, hypomania, manic episodes, headaches, rapid sweating, insomnia and depression symptoms. These side effects may occur some weeks and months after you have taken the supplement.
Some users reported that this downside had put them off from trying the supplement again. You can avoid the risk of side effects by taking a small amount the first time you take it, to see how your body reacts. Also, don’t use it long term, as this increases the risk of adverse side effects. If you are at all concerned about the possibility of side effects with a relatively unknown supplement, try other nootropics that are backed up by research.
Dosage and interactions
IDRA-21 in nootropic stacks
Due to potential AMPA toxicity, it is not recommended to combine IDRA-21 with other ampakine drugs such as Aniracetam. Little is known about the potential toxicity in humans, as most research has involved animal studies. Other nootropics which increase glutamate levels should be avoided as well.
IDRA-21 currently has only had animal trials carried out on its effects. Dosing in a study with monkeys showed that 3 or 5.6 mg/kg body weight was enough to produce cognitive benefits.
The study also showed that IDRA-21 was 10 times more effective than Aniracetam at reducing learning defects. A water maze study of rats showed cognitive enhancement at oral dosages of 4-120 mmol/kg.
There are no peer reviewed clinical studies on humans, however there is some anecdotal evidence of benefits being obtained at dosages of between 5-25mg.
There has been some exciting research carried out regarding the nootropic potential, potency and lasting effects of IDRA-21, however so far, the only real research has been done on animals.
Comparison to aniracetam
In a study carried out on monkeys, the researchers measured the animals’ cognitive performance in a complex behavioural task. The monkeys were given the drug alprazolam before the task was given in order to induce a cognitive deficit. The known nootropic drug aniracetam was given as well as IDRA-21 to test the latter’s ability to reverse the cognitive impairment.
Results showed that the IDRA-21 was 10 times as powerful as the aniracetam in terms of dosage, meaning that the effects were far more potent dose for dose. The effects of IDRA-21 remained persistent for 3 days after just a single dose, which marks it down as a very long-lasting nootropic especially when compared to the roughly 2 to 3-hour effects produced by many other ampakine drugs.
Research done with rats indicated that IDRA-21 is useful for reversing cognitive deficit caused by giving the rats a drug called scopolamine.
In both studies, IDRA-21 proved effective for treating the inhibition of AMPA receptors in the brain, which was simulated by the administration of drugs at the beginning of the study. This shows promise for treating people who may have AMPA-related learning disabilities, or in the ability to enhance intelligence in those with naturally inhibited AMPA receptors.
Use as a behavioural modifier
IDRA-21 has potential as a powerful promoter of wakefulness and awareness, thanks to its properties as an ampakine drug. Activation of the AMPA receptor in the brain results in increased learning ability by promoting the faster nerve connections, as well as other effects caused by increased levels of glutamate, such as improving situational alertness.
Unfortunately, while the general mechanism of ampakine effects is well-known, the real effectiveness of IDRA-21 in human subjects is not well-known. There is some anecdotal evidence from people who have tried it for themselves however, which is promising.
There is an online forum called Longecity, which contains several IDRA-21 related topics, resources, and accounts of personal experiences.
IDRA-21 is a new substance that is relatively unknown, even to people who are clued up on the world of nootropics. But it does show potential as a nootropic, especially in people with a natural AMPA inhibition. It appears to produce beneficial effects such as improved memory, learning capacity, increased alertness and wakefulness and quicker reasoning. However, remember that there is little evidence regarding its safety and efficacy. Some studies have even shown that it increases cognitive damage risks in patients who have suffered from strokes or seizures. Other people have reported undesirable side effects even after just a single dose of IDRA-21. Therefore, maybe you choose other safer and risk-free nootropic agents that are backed up by clinical trials and research studies.
Taking a drug or supplement nearly always involves having to make a judgement about risks and benefits, but without research evidence, you can’t possibly make a decision safely. Just because it has worked for others, it doesn’t mean it will work for you.