After the scientific revolution and the major advancements in science and technology during the past couple of centuries, life has become very intricate, challenging and stressful. Everyone has so many things to do and worry about day-to-day while time is flying by faster and faster each day.
No wonder that stress, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are so widespread and rising. There is so much mental pressure in today’s world that can eventually have a tremendous impact on our productivity and well-being.
Changing and improving your lifestyle is one of the first solutions many experts would recommend for dealing with stress, anxiety and other forms of temporary mental impairment.
But many people want an easier and faster solution, so they started turning to medications and supplements for a quick fix.
Nootropics to the Rescue
Nootropics are a group of brain-enhancing drugs and supplements that are used to improve mental performance. They are also often called smart drugs as they are used to improve thinking, learning, recall and other cognitive skills.
Nootropics also include many anxiolytic and antidepressant substances that are commonly used to improve mental health and function.
Some of these nootropics, especially the herbal ones, have been used for centuries in alternative medicine.
However, it wasn’t until recently that they gained a lot of popularity, and everyone from gamers to professionals became interested in these products, thanks mostly to the Internet!
8 Popular Nootropics
There is a wide selection of nootropic products on the market that range from completely safe dietary supplements to potentially risky synthetic chemicals. Even some prescription drugs, like ADHD treatments, have been used off-label as nootropics.
The following are eight herbs and synthetic medications that are among the most popular nootropics consumers purchase online.
These are generally safe products that are available over the counter.
The leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, and this is currently one of the top-selling herbal supplements in the US and other Western countries.
Ginkgo contains natural compounds that increase blood flow in the brain and other areas of the body. Ginkgo supplements are used to improve the symptoms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline in old people.
It is also believed to boost memory and cognitive functions in healthy individuals, although there is no conclusive evidence to date that supports this.
The root of the ashwagandha plant has been proven to possess medicinal value, and it is used as a natural remedy for many health problems. People take ashwagandha supplements to improve thinking, concentration and mental performance.
Ashwagandha is one of the most effective adaptogens, which are herbs used to increase the body’s resistance to stress. Clinical studies proved the efficacy of ashwagandha in reducing stress and anxiety. One study found that ashwagandha may prevent cognitive decline associated with obesity.
Adrafinil is a man-made chemical medication that was developed for the treatment of sleepiness and fatigue due to sleep disorders. It is a eugeroic compound that improves vigilance, alertness, mood and energy. Some people use adrafinil as part of their pre-workout stack for its ability to increase focus, motivation and energy.
Because of its mild stimulant effect, adrafinil is often used as an alternative to caffeine. The Real Adrafinil website states that adrafinil is one of the five top sellers among the many OTC nootropics sold by online nutrition stores.
Noopept is a synthetic medication that was developed in Russia as a treatment for memory disorders in the elderly, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While it is an approved treatment in Russia and some other countries, it is neither approved nor regulated in most of the Western world, including the US.
There is little evidence that noopept works for healthy individual, but many have used it as a memory booster, often in combination with other nootropics.
Bacopa monnieri, aka brahmi, is an herb that has medicinal uses in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda). It is often touted as a natural remedy for anxiety and different forms of cognitive impairment.
Studies show that bacopa can provide significant improvement in cognitive performance, particularly for aging people. Besides its use as a mild general cognitive enhancer, bacopa has been used to treat ADHD, dementia and other neurological disorders.
Huperzine A is an alkaloid that is naturally found in a plant called huperzia serrata (Chinese club moss). This compound has demonstrated neuroprotective properties, and it has been studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
As a nootropic, huperzine A is taken to boost memory and other cognitive functions. This is supported by the scientifically proven fact that huperzine A decreases the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a key role in attention, alertness, memory and learning.
Phenibut is a synthetic analogue of GABA (neurotransmitter) that functions as an anxiolytic, sedative and central nervous system depressant. It is an approved drug in Russian and a few neighboring countries, where it is used to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia and other medical conditions.
In the US and Europe, phenibut is not approved nor regulated, and so consumers can legally purchase it over the counter. Many people use this drug to help them relax and sleep, but some experts warn of its addictive potential and withdrawal symptoms.
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that is widely used to relieve stress and fatigue. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, making it a potentially effective natural aid for cognitive enhancement.
In addition to being used to improve mental performance, there is some evidence that rhodiola rosea supplementation may also improve physical performance.