It’s the fastest growing area in the supplement field, and it isn’t tough to see why. Nootropics provide a natural cognitive boost that just about anyone can benefit from. Weight loss, muscle gains and skin support are the kinds of improvements that some people are looking for. Increasing attentiveness, focus and productivity are goals that pretty much everyone can stand to work toward. These cognitive enhancers boast big claims about their impact and advantages. But do nootropics work, and should you try them?
Unlike prescription focus drugs that are prescribed to people with attention disorders or other diagnosable cognitive issues, nootropics are intended to enhance cognitive function in otherwise healthy individuals. For this reason, they are somewhat controversial among doctors and neuroscientists. But the lack of prevalent side effects inherent to most blends frames them as safe supplements without major drawbacks or negative connotations. Unlike stimulants and common “smart pills,” these capsules usually do not lead to shakiness, anxiety, addiction or other undesirable outcomes.
So, they won’t hurt you. But that’s not really what we want to know. Our question is: do nootropics work? Are they actually going to make a meaningful difference in our cognitive function? Or are these simply placebos that intend to give us the impression they are having an impact?
First, let’s take a look at just what these brain supplements intend to do.
How Do Nootropics Work?
There are many varieties out there, and they tend to have different specific objectives. Some, like formulas featuring green coffee extract, simply aim to provide mental energy. The idea is that you can improve alertness and motivation without the need for straight caffeine with its various side effects. Other nootropic formulas intend to deliver cognitive benefits like better memory recall, sharper focus or easier multi-tasking.
Nootropic supplements utilize a variety of different ingredients — usually herbal — to achieve these goals. Some of the most common properties within these blends include ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, and L-theanine. Some ingredients, like piracetam, are approved in other areas but not in the United States. These different ingredients work in their own ways but usually the idea is to facilitate better blood flow to the brain, and to improve cellular function.
OK, so now we know what these pills are supposed to do. But, again, do nootropics work?
Do Nootropics Work?
As with most things, the answer is not cut-and-dry. But there is plenty of scientific backing to suggest that this isn’t voodoo science. Studies show a strong correlation between the ingredients in many nootropic supplements and improvements in cognitive performance. In many cases, the effect is subtle but certainly noticeable. When you account for the relative lack of adverse reactions, or risk of dependency, they compare well to the pharmaceuticals that long ruled the space.
If you are someone who frequently has trouble concentrating, or battling through the morning fog, then these products are certainly worth a try. They aren’t terribly expensive and they are completely legal and safe. They won’t make a profound difference for everyone, but certainly deliver tangible positive benefits in many instances.