Nootropics, smart drugs

Nootropics, smart drugs



  • 1 What are nootropics?
  • 2 Conditions for a substance to be considered nootropic
  • 3 Benefits of nootropics
  • 4 Types of nootropics

What are nootropics?

Nootropics, also called smart drugs or cognitive enhancersThey are medications, supplements or other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity or motivation, in healthy individuals.

The word nootropic It was coined in 1972 by the Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea, from the Greek terms nous or "mind", and trepein, which means "fold."

Conditions for a substance to be considered nootropic

Unlike other drugs which can cause negative side effects, especially after long-term use, for a compound to be considered nootropic must be safe and not pose a health risk while consumed properly.

Many nootropics share similar mechanisms of action because they act by improving communication between neurons, which helps to balance neurotransmitter levels favoring the health of brain cells. This helps to improve the metabolism of neurons, promote neuroplasticity, and even stimulate the growth of new neurons and synapses.

In short, the nootropic substance must ...

  1. Improve memory and learning ability.
  2. Help brain function in harmful conditions, such as hypoxia (low oxygen level) and electroconvulsive shock.
  3. Protect the brain from chemical and physical aggressions, such as anti-cholinergic drugs and barbiturates.
  4. Increase the effectiveness of neuronal discharge control mechanisms in the cortical and subcortical regions of the brain.
  5. Having few or no side effects and being virtually non-toxic.

Benefits of nootropics

The brain requires a huge amount of energy to perform its function, maintain awareness and pay attention to its external environment. Although the brain is only 2% of our body weight, it constitutes 20% of its energy consumption.

Performing mental exercises, learning new things, concentrating on work and staying alert throughout the day, consumes a lot of energy. By increasing blood flow and oxygenation, you may immediately experience a greater capacity for memory and attention.

Nootropics will not instantly give us greater intelligence quotient or a better understanding. What they do is improve our brain functions by increasing the production and connection of several neurotransmitters.

With the continued taking of certain nootropics, you can improve the synaptic plasticity of neurons, causing a lasting improvement for the health and functioning of our brain.

Other nootropics show vasodilation effects with the consequent increase in blood flow to the brain. This provides you with more oxygen, nutrients and glucose, which are your primary energy sources.

Nootropics also have neuro-preservation and neuronal protection qualities. These compounds directly affect the levels of brain chemicals associated with the delay in the aging process. Some nootropics seem to stimulate the growth of neurons and at the same time slow the rate of damage in them. Over time, this could delay the signs of aging such as memory loss and even counteract the development of disorders such as Alzheimer disease.

Types of nootropics

It is important to distinguish between nootropic and psychostimulant drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall for example. The Ritalin, the Adderall and the amphetamines they are efficient to improve cognition and motivation temporarily, their continued use leads to significant undesirable side effects. Therefore, they are not suitable for sustainable consumption, contrary to nootropics that not only improve cognition and motivation, but can also be taken without long-term risk.

Some of the most popular and used nootropics are the following:

L-Theanine and Caffeine

This is undoubtedly the most popular combination among nootropic users. L-Theanine is an amino acid found mainly in the Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis). Its ingestion increases the alpha waves in the brain and therefore promotes a feeling of relaxation. This substance has a synergistic effect if taken with caffeine, as the effects of the two substances are reinforced when consumed together. L-Theanine mitigates the undesirable side effects of caffeine (stress, tremors ...). Both compounds can be taken every day, and the most notable effects of the combination Caffeine + L-Theanine are a feeling of relaxation and a greater ease to concentrate on a task.

Cerebrolysin (cerebrolysin)

This compound is a polypeptide preparation that stimulates neurotrophic regulation in the central nervous system. It is the only known treatment that not only helps fight the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease but also has a direct impact on its causes.

When a young person in good health takes it regularly, the effects are: improved mood, reduced anxiety, drastic improvement of memory and cognition, even in a state of sleep deprivation. The problem with this nootropic is that its route of administration is intravenous or intramuscular and also has a very high cost.


Semax is a neuropeptide that was developed by the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The research began in 1982 and involved more than 30 scientists in the fields of Neurochemistry, Neurobiology, Neurology and Biochemistry. It was studied for 14 years before its definitive approval in 1996. Its medical uses include stroke treatment, peptic ulcers, optic nerve diseases, memory enhancement and immune system boosting. Increase levels of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (FNDC or BDNF in English) and improves the sensitivity of TrkB receptors in the hippocampus which helps increase cognitive abilities in general.


Bromantane (trade name: Ladasten) was developed in Russia at the end of the 1980s. It is a stimulating nootropic, and it is also unique in that it also has anxiolytic properties. It is classified in the family of actoprotectors, that is, synthetic adaptogens with a significant capacity to improve physical and mental performance without increasing oxygen consumption or heat production.

Its properties are:

  • Increase in cognitive abilities
  • Increase in physical abilities
  • Fatigue Elimination
  • Anxiolytic
  • It stimulates the immune system

Bromantane was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for its stimulating properties.


It is a neurostimulant capable of easily crossing the blood brain barrier and therefore having a direct action on the brain. It is undoubtedly one of the most stimulating nootropics in the market, (and therefore its consumption is not authorized in sports competition).

Its main effects are as follows:

  • Improvement of mental capacity and memory
  • Boosts energy
  • Improvement of physical abilities
  • Improvement of coordination and reflexes

Unfortunately, the tolerance from the body to phenylpiracetam is quite fast and that is why when it is used more than once or twice a week, it begins to lose its effects.


Its unique mechanism of action (modulator of glutamate receptors in the CA3 region of the hippocampus and weak agonist of mu-opioid receptors), has a positive impact on cognitive abilities and does not generate undesirable side effects such as classic antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). The effects are as follows:

  • Improvement of mental capacity
  • Strong mood improvement
  • Anxiolytic effect


The oldest of all nootropics and one of the most used by those who want to optimize their mental abilities. Piracetam (trademark: Nootropil) was first synthesized in Belgium in 1964. The chemist who synthesized it was the "father" of the nootropics, Corneliu E. Giurgea, who was impacted by his ability to improve cognition without having effects undesirable side effects

Is very effective to slow the deterioration of the mental faculties of the elderly. More scientific studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions about its effectiveness in younger people, but there are many reports that confirm that it can work for all age groups.

The effects of Piracetam are subtle and there are people who do not notice them, probably because the normally recommended dose (800mg, 3 times a day) is too low. Actually to take advantage of its effects 100%, it is recommended to take at least twice this dose.

In general, the most notable effects of Piracetam are a improvement of memory and verbal fluency.


The Noopept (GVS-111) was developed in Russia, like many other nootropics on that list. It is a modified peptide, derived from Piracetam. There is an unsubstantiated belief that "the Noopept is 1000 times more powerful than the piracetam." But in reality what happens is that the efficient dose of piracetam (that is, the dose from which the effects are felt) is about 1000 times higher than the efficient dose of noopept.

Noopept has scientifically proven neuroprotective properties and improves the immune system. Its effects on cognition vary widely according to each user: some claim that they notice a very strong improvement in mental focus and memory while others feel no effects. For this reason, most of the community of nootropic users considers the noopept as a substance with quite inconsistent effects.


It is a liposoluble derivative of piracetam, also considered as an ampakina. More powerful and stimulating than Piracetam, Aniracetam is one of the most used and popular racetams. Like most substances in the racetams family, It was developed primarily to combat the effects of mental deterioration in the elderly but is also used as a nootropic in younger people. Among its most notable effects are its anxiolytic capacity and improved attention. Its use is safe and has no undesirable interactions. Unfortunately, its effects last a short time (about 3 hours).


Another compound derived from Piracetam, Pramiracetam is generally considered the least stimulant of racetams. Nor is it a compound that promotes social activities: on the contrary, there are users who ensure that Pramiracetam takes away the desire to participate in social activities (“Spock effect”).

Pramiracetam increases mental faculties and memory and does not produce excessive stimulation sensation.

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