SMART DRUGS FOR BEGINNERS: THE NOOTROPICS SPECTRUM
Nootropics or smart drugs are compounds that help in enhancing cognitive performance and improving mental functions. These cognitive enhancers are somewhat new to people but they have been around for so many years.
Nootropics are classified into two categories: Synthetic nootropics and Natural nootropics. However, there are some nootropics that are regarded as the ‘in-betweeners’. Therefore, they are also included in the spectrum of these two categories.
CATEGORY 1: Natural nootropics
Natural nootropics are naturally occurring herbal compounds that have been made in use for a long period of time in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.
There is a subcategory of nootropics, often termed as ‘adaptogens’. Adaptogens are substances that help in increasing body’s resistance in response to biological stress. Some of the popular natural herbal nootropics are ashwagandha and ginseng.
These well-known natural nootropics improve memory, enhance cognition, and reduce stress and anxiety. They also provide complete brain protection. Some of the popular natural herbal nootropics include:
- Lion’s mane mushroom- It is a medicinal nootropic that helps in improving cognition. It also reduces anxiety and prevents decline in cognitive abilities.
- Rhodiola Rosea- It is a flowering plant, also referred to as ‘golden root’, which improves physical performance and reduces stress, anxiety, mental fatigue and anger.
- Ginseng- Ginseng or panax ginseng is a type of plant root which is used to improve cognition and mood and reduce fatigue. It is also used to strengthen the immune system.
- Ginkgo Biloba- These are the leaves (originally from China) which are used to enhance attention and memory.
- Eleuthero- It is also known by the name ‘Siberian ginseng’. It is a natural herb (originally from Asia) which is used to reduce anxiety and stress and boost up the energy levels.
CATEGORY 2: Synthetic nootropics
Synthetic nootropics lie on the other end of the nootropics spectrum. These are manmade compounds that are usually prepared in the lab.
Some of the common synthetic nootropics are Aniracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Oxiracetam and Pramiracetam. All these sythentic nootropics belong to the family ‘racetam’, which implies that they have similar chemical structure. These synthetic smart drugs have a number of applications which make them absolutely desirable. The most well-known smart drug from the ‘racetam’ family is Piracetam. It has very mild side-effects and ensures neuroprotection. Also, it improves attention and memory in people who suffer from cognitive deterioration because of aging.
Some other popular synthetic nootropics with stimulant properties are Ritalin, Adderall and Modafinil. Adderall is often given as a prescription to treat Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is also used to cure ADHD. However, modafinil is a drug that effectively works out for people with sleep disorders like hypersomnia or narcolepsy.
The “in-betweener” smart drugs:
“In-betweeners” are compounds that occur naturally but go through certain laboratory processes before they are made available to you. These compounds perform different functions to enhance health. It includes improving cognitive performance, preventing depression and treating insomnia.
Some of the popular “in-betweener” nootropics are:
- Huperzine-A: It is a compound that is used to enhance learning. Huperzine-A is extracted from Huperzia Serrata, a Chinese herb.
- L-Theanine: It is a compound that is found in the leaves of black and green tea in the form of amino-acid. It is used to improve attention and reduce anxiety and stress.
- GABA: It is a neurotransmitter (sedative in nature) which is produced through the biosynthesis and fermentation of microorganisms. It is mainly used to induce a deeper and faster sleep.
This is how nootropics are categorized and recognized in the nootropics spectrum.