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What are Nootropics?

As the global population ages, we all start seeking alternative ways to optimize our health and mental functions and promote cognitive wellbeing.

One product that’s been gaining popularity in recent years is nootropics, where the growth is reflected in its increasing market size.

The value of the nootropic supplements market was estimated to be $3.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to increase to $8.2 billion by 2032 with a 9.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Consider this blog post your introduction to nootropics – what they are, how they’re used and the different types available, and whether they are safe. Let’s dive in!

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are a class of substances believed, in some instances, to improve cognitive functions, including memory, focus and attention, creativity, and mood enhancement.

The name itself is derived from two ancient Greek words: nóos for ‘mind’ and tropḗ for ‘turning.’

There are three types of nootropics: all-natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic. These nootropics can be consumed in capsule/tablet, powder, and liquid formats.

The supplements may include a diverse range of compounds, but caffeine is one of the most widely known nootropic compounds.

Aside from caffeine, nootropics include vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and synthetic compounds.

Currently, the market for nootropics is dominated by North America and Europe due to increasing awareness of the importance of cognitive health.

The Asia Pacific market is expected to follow suit, with China, India, and Japan leading the pack fueled by the emphasis on herbal remedies within Asian culture.

A Brief History of Nootropics

The first known mention of nootropics was by Cornelius E. Giurgea in 1972, when he defined piracetam as a substance that enhances memory and learning.

Although nootropics didn’t receive its official term until Giurgea’s finding, using natural compounds as cognitive function enhancers has been practiced for thousands of years.

A great example of this is Rhodiola rosea. The high-altitude plant is also known as arctic root, golden root, rose root, or king’s crown. Rhodiola is commonly used in European regions to increase endurance and performance. 

Another popular example is ginkgo biloba, one of the world’s oldest living tree species. It is estimated to be over 200 million years old!

The ginkgo biloba plant uses its leaf extract in traditional Chinese medicine. Among it’s advocates, it is believed to treat several conditions, such as cognitive impairment, cardiovascular diseases, or psychological disorders, but further research is still needed to produce strong evidence.

There’s also Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi, a botanical plant used in Ayurvedic traditional medicine to enhance learning, improve memory acquisition, and reduce anxiety.

What are Nootropics Used For?

Nootropics are believed to support cognitive wellbeing, promote positive mood, and maintain energy. Here are the findings on each aspect.

Cognitive Support

Nootropics are believed to support brain functions due to several findings. Deanol, a chemical compound in fish, was shown to improve spatial memory performance and increase alertness and attention in animal and clinical trials on healthy adults.

Another substance, piracetam, has been used clinically to prevent and treat post-traumatic cognitive and mental dysfunction and to improve learning and memory functions in children with developmental dyslexia.

Mood Support

Another proposed use of nootropics is for mood improvement. In a trial using Rhodiola rosea, a group of students suffering from anxiety showed improved overall mood after two weeks of treatment.

After three months of usage, the chemical compound deanol was also shown to support positive mood.

Energy Maintenance

It’s also believed that certain nootropics might provide essential nutrients and increase energy to the brain as it acts as a vasodilator.

Vasodilator means it dilates the arteries and veins, ultimately improving blood circulation to the brain.

Currently, there is limited clinical evidence on their effectiveness on mental performance, safety, and consequences for long-term use.

It is also important to acknowledge that evidence for nootropics’ effectiveness is inconclusive, and more studies should be conducted to establish their medicinal benefits.

Types of Nootropics

Three types of nootropics are available on the market: natural, prescription, and synthetic. Here are examples, uses, and explanations of each type.

Natural Nootropics

Plenty of nootropics come from natural origins. Examples of naturally occurring nootropics include caffeine and creatine in several plant organs such as flowers, leaves, or roots.

These nootropics usually have lower toxicity levels while retaining potentially beneficial effects, making them more suitable for healthy people.

Prescription Nootropics

Prescription nootropics are cognitive performance enhancers or medications that counteract certain medical conditions such as ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

This type of nootropic will require a doctor’s prescription to be purchased as it carries much higher risks than naturally occurring nootropics. Examples of prescription nootropics are Adderall, Ritalin, and Memantine. 

Synthetic Nootropics

Synthetic nootropics are lab-formulated and highly regulated pharmaceutical nootropics. Examples are Modafinil and Adrafinil for narcolepsy or Racetams for Central Nervous System disorders. The upside of synthetic compounds is their purity, possibly increasing their effects.

Are Nootropics Safe?

Nootropics are safe if consumed according to regulations and prescriptions. Mild side effects include dizziness, rashes, increased libido, restlessness, or gastrointestinal issues.

Some nootropics can also work against certain drugs and thus should be consumed with care. An example is Ginkgo biloba, which causes blood thinning and should not be consumed with anticoagulants. 

Although nootropics are well-tolerated and have low side effect incidence, you should always consult medical professionals and purchase your nootropics from well-vetted manufacturers. 

Final Thoughts

Nootropics are “brain-booster” supplements that are believed to support brain wellness, maintain cognitive functions, promote positive mood, and maintain energy. They are available in natural and synthetic forms.

Most natural nootropics are available over-the-counter, while varieties that have medicinal properties require prescriptions and are used to treat certain conditions such as ADHD.

It’s important to note that further research on nootropics is still needed to reinforce their effectiveness and safety for long-term use. Always consult a medical professional before you consume them to avoid side effects or drug interactions.

If you’re interested in trying non-medicinal, natural nootropic supplements for yourself, Blessed Wellness is excited to offer our line of mushroom nootropic supplements available for sale online! Experience the benefits of nootropics for yourself with our natural mushroom supplements.