What are Nootropics, what defines them, why they are different to ‘Smart Drugs’ and why the difference matters.
After the advent of modern civilization, the defining attribute of human success became intelligence. How smart you are is much more important today than how physically strong you are. This was not the case 10,000 years ago. This is of course an oversimplification, as many other attributes come into play such as execution and conscientiousness. But intelligence is prior to those attributes, and hence it’s supreme importance. Therefore, it’s no surprise at all that people are increasingly looking for ways to expand their cognitive abilities and skills, which brings us to nootropics.
The word “nootropic” originates from the Greek terms noos, which means mind, and trope, which means change. Psychotropically defined, a Nootropic is any substance which improves one or more aspects of cognitive performance, with minimal to no negative side effects and a very high toxicity threshold with dosage. These aspects generally include alertness, focus, mood, and memory. Nootropics can also include substances which lead to neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons in the brain) and neuroprotection (The protection of neurons in the brain).
Nootropics are commonly divided into two categories, natural nootropics and synthetic nootropics. Natural nootropics are usually herbal extracts. These are substances which have existed around for hundreds and sometimes for thousands of years, and whose use can be traced back to traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine). The advantage of using natural nootropics is that they are relatively safer than synthetic nootropics, and we know much more about them given that they have been used for centuries. But don’t be deceived under the guise of familiarity, as many of these natural nootropics have been clinically proven to be very potent. Most notable among them is Bacopa Monnieri, a proven memory booster, and Rhodiola Rosea, a proven mental stamina and mood booster. Another advantage of natural nootropics is that they usually have several mental and physical benefits and is one reason they are sometimes referred to as adaptogens.
As for drugs sometimes confused with nootropics but formally referred to as smart drugs, these are substances that have been chemically created and don’t exist naturally, or as an extract, usually but not limited to oxidation or reduction of a base natural extract, some are controlled and some are not. Adderall, also known as amphetamine sulfate salts is the most common ‘smart drug’ discussed, which comes from a modification of the extract found in ephedra. Synthesis and the creation of analogous chemicals is still a fairly new discovery and adopted technology and so we still are not fully aware of the long-term side effects that can come from regular and continuous use, dependent solely on each chemical and their perceived response in rats and humans. The other issue with these synthetics is that most of them are prescription-only, especially Modafinil & Adderall, restricting easy access to the general population.
Please be aware of your local laws when buying nootropics or purchasing smart drugs, some are recognized as scheduled drugs in specific countries. Make sure you fully do your research before doing anything, you can always ask a question in the group, we are happy to help you with anything!