Nowadays, nootropics seem to be all the rage as far as medical supplements go. Their many benefits work at the level of the human brain, in areas such as memory, learning, focus, concentration and even decision-making. Nootropic substances are basically different chemical compounds that possess various qualities that improve upon brain function.
These substances, in their natural form, have been around since ancient times, being very popular in traditional Chinese and Ayuverdic medicine. But medical laboratory research in this field began being taken into consideration as late as the 1960s. Around this time, synthetic nootropic chemical compounds started being developed. The term was coined by a Romanian doctor.
There are many types of nootropics, both on the pharmaceutical market and in natural form. Depending on the type, these can work in different ways. There is no doubt that they improve cognitive function in all respects, but just how does this occur? Why are nootropics so beneficial for the health of the human brain? In order to establish an answer for this, firstly a discussion about neurotransmitters is in order.
Neurotransmitters are of various types, and hold various functions. They are a chemical that sends signals to brain cells, by binding to a receptor through a synapse, and thus allowing the receptor to fulfill its function. Neurotransmitters are organized in systems, and nootropics target systems related to cognitive function, and improve their efficacy. There are three main neurotransmitters and adjacent synaptic systems in which nootropics work effectively.
Acetylcholine and the Cholinergic System
Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter on which the Cholinergic system relies. This neurotransmitter influences memory, learning, focus and decision-making. There are plenty of foods that can improve the well-functioning of this system, such as eggs, fish and animal organs such as kidneys, liver and brain. Choline can also be obtained from nootropic supplements from the racetam class, such as piracetam, aniracetam or oxiracetam.
Glutamate and the Glutamatergic System
Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, which is vital in regards to brain health, memory and learning. This is why it is crucial to keep a proper balance of glutamate levels in the brain, in order to maintain the general well-being of our nervous system and neural functions. This system is also stimulated by nootropics from the racetam class, such as aniracetam, which reduces sensitivity to glutamate, thus increasing brain activity.
Dopamine and Serotonin and the Dopaminergic and Serotonergic System
Dopamine and serotonin, as many of us might know already, influence our moods. These two neurotransmitters are very important in regards to nootropics and their use. Besides influencing our mood, they also have an impact on our motivation level, memory and ability to focus. These neurotransmitters can be stimulated by nootropics such as sulbutiamine. Nootropics that work on the level of this system enhance mood when they come in contact with serotonin, and heighten brain energy when dealing with dopamine.
By stimulating and increasing the neurotransmitter production in all these three systems, nootropics thus greatly help improve brain function. Cognitive functions such as motivation, memory, focus, concentration, learning and decision-making benefit greatly from the administration of nootropics. These supplements can be very beneficial especially in intellectually demanding times such as tests or exam sessions, and are a better choice than prescription cognitive enhancers such as Adderall, because they aren’t addictive.
Another very important benefit of nootropics that determines the increase in cognitive function is the improvement of blood flow to the brain. This is why, when taking nootropics, our brains seem to work better, faster and we are able to think more clearly. Tasks that seemed stressful and demanding before are now as easy as a walk in the park, and it’s all because of the beneficial effects of nootropics on the blood flow to the brain.
This is best noticed in case of tasks that involve spatial memory, and is mostly due to the afore-mentioned dopaminergic system. Medical research has established that the serotonergic system is not involved in this particular beneficial nootropic effect, even though the two usually work together. This makes nootropics a great choice when we want to improve upon our performance levels in effortful, tedious tasks that would usually require very hard work. Luckily, a nootropic-based treatment can make our lives very easy and improve upon the overall quality of our day to day experiences.
Protect the Brain from Damage
Nootropics have also been proven to have great neuroprotective qualities. This means that they protect our brains from various aggressions and damage, and can even reverse some of the already-existing ailments that we might face. For example, nootropic supplements such as Noopept or piracetam are very useful as additional treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, as well as memory loss and other cognitive disorders that generally occur among the elderly.
Other instances where nootropics can help greatly in cases of psychological distress are mental instances such as anxiety and depression. Nootropics have been noted to have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant qualities. Usually, this effect may vary depending on how strong the nootropic is. Therefore, stronger nootropics will have a stronger effect, milder nootropics a milder one.
Also, let’s not forget that nootropics are a great ally in the treatment of alcoholism-induced brain damage. It is no secret that the extended abuse of alcohol takes its toll drastically on the human brain. Besides neural damage that affects many cognitive functions, such as memory, learning and concentration, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be really violent. Although it is a legal substance, alcohol withdrawal is one of the most dangerous withdrawal syndromes out there, alongside the one induced by heroin abstinence. It could potentially lead to delirium tremens, and even death in some cases.
All in all, nootropics have many beneficial effects on the human brain and all its cognitive processes. The most important condition is to choose the one that is right for you, your body and your personal needs. This is why it is recommended that you consult with your doctor and make an informed decision in this direction, in order to enjoy the full benefits that nootropics can offer.