Nootropics also called brain boosters, smart drugs, and cognitive enhancers are compounds that enhance mental functions. Although somewhat new to mainstream society, nootropics have been around for decades, mostly used in the tech world by computer programmers and entrepreneurs to increase focus and concentration, improve memory formation and become more efficient at problem solving. Here are some natural nootropics that can be used to unlock the brain.
N-Aсеtуl- L Carnitine (ALCAR)
One of the primary benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine is as an antioxidant that can help to remove toxins and other waste products from brain tissues. This amino acid is considered to be neuroprotective because it has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier. While many antioxidants can improve the health of your vital organs, few can reach the brain to protect neurons there from the damage associated with oxidation. This effect gives ALCAR the ability to strengthen and nourish neural structures with long-term use.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid which is produced within the brain from another amino acid called Glutamate and Vitamin B6. GABA is considered to be the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter within the body. The main use of GABA is to balance out other chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters which may cause over-excitability. In essence, GABA is a brain chemical which helps nerve impulses to communicate more efficiently. Not only this, but it is also considered to be an anti-epileptic agent, is used by the body to make endorphins (feel-good chemicals), and is vital for proper brain functioning.
Phosphatidylserine is actually found in every cell of the body with an estimated 60 grams present in your body right now. Approximately half of this total is found in the brain (primarily in the cell membranes of neurons). Phosphatidylserine binds with neurotransmitters and enables the brain to metabolize glucose more efficiently. This supplement also helps to heighten communication between brain cells. It can increase the fluidity of cell membranes in neurons that had been previously damaged or were suffering signs of age. These neurons then become rejuvenated and capable of receiving and sending messages at a faster rate again. Phosphatidylserine also enables the brain to more easily restore its supply of the key neurotransmitter Acetylcholine.
DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol, sometimes called Deanol) is an organic compound that is naturally produced in the human brain as well as being found in food sources like fish (anchovies, salmon, and sardines). As a nootropic supplement, it is closely related to Choline but due to a slightly different chemical structure it crosses the blood-brain barrier much more easily. Many individuals interested in boosting their brainpower will take DMAE instead of Choline Bitartrate because it provides a more noticeable increase in cognitive abilities.
Huperzine A is a common ingredient in nootropic stacks and it is also regarded as one of the best natural nootropics on its own. This herbal compound comes from the Huperzia Serrata plant and offers many benefits for people who want to boost their brain power. This natural brain supplement can make it easier for your neurons to form new connections so that you learn faster and remember more. Huperzine is also recognized as neuroprotective and can support overall brain health with long-term use.
Vinpocetine is considered to be a cerebral vasodilator. This means that it improves and increases blood flow to the brain. The most interesting thing about this effect is that it is specific to the brain; blood pressure in other parts of the body are not affected at all. It even targets damaged brain cells that have poor blood flow and increases circulation to these areas. This also helps to improve the amount of oxygen and glucose uptake occurring in the brain.
Choline is an essential nutrient that is necessary for brain health, intelligence, and synaptic plasticity. It is used in your brain both as a precursor to Acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter chiefly important for memory – and as a component in the maintenance of healthy cell membranes. We derive choline from certain foods in our diet, but an estimated 90% of the population does not get the recommended amount per day. A choline deficiency can greatly impair your memory and reasoning functions, make it harder to focus, and even affect your mood.
The health benefits of St. John’s wort extend beyond depression, as they help people suffering from anxiety and mood swings as well. By helping to regulate the hormonal balance in the body, St. John’s wort is able to get the metabolism and internal clock back in line, providing help for sleeplessness, irritability, and chronic fatigue. Eliminating chronic stress hormones from the body can also improve overall health and cognitive function, as excess stress hormones can affect various organs.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
One of the major building blocks of the brain, theomega-3 fatty acid one of the major building blocks of the brain, the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is. This Fish Oil supplements are used because they are good sources of essential fatty acids – especially the Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Omega 3’s are necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies, and they ensure that our cell membranes are fluid which is critical for synaptic plasticity and proper communication between neurons in the brain.
Bacopa Monnieri is among the most commonly used natural nootropics with proven effects for boosting memory, cognitive ability and brain health. It is often taken as an anti-aging supplement for the brain known to protect neurons from several types of damage that accumulate over time. It is both an anti-oxidant and a neuro-protectant with evidence that it can slow down cognitive decline and may even improve learning skills. Bacopa Monnieri is quite remarkable in that it uses a completely unique mechanism of action to enhance brain activity compared to many of the other supplements available.
Tips for using nootropics (for beginners)
Figure out your why: Determine exactly what your goals are for taking certain nootropics. Are you looking to be more productive at work without overloading on caffeine, or are you looking for something to help you wind down at night after a long day? Start with focusing on one goal at a time and finding the right nootropic to meet that goal. And as you become more familiar with what works for you, you can test out others and build your own nootropic tool box.
Review your budget: Consider how much you’re willing to spend on any one product or combination of products, you can purchase pre-formulated stacks or customize your own stack. Pre-formulated stacks are more convenient compared to custom stacks but tend to be more expensive and don’t allow you the freedom to test different dosages or isolate specific nootropics. Preformulated stacks can range anywhere from $20 – $150, whereas buying individual nootropics in bulk to make your own custom stack can cost $12 per ingredient.
Conduct your own research: Don’t rush into buying the first nootropic you come across, do your research on the company selling the product and any possible adverse effects. Make sure it does not interfere with any of your other medications or supplements either. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if you’re unsure.
Start slow: More isn’t always better; this is especially true with nootropics! It is crucial to start with a lower dose to see how it affects you. Then you can try implementing a full dose or combining different nootropic compounds to find the ‘stack’ that works best for you.
Be realistic: Everyone’s brain chemistry and body is different, a compound that works wonders for one person may do absolutely nothing for you. Or it might take a longer time or larger dose to be effective. Set realistic expectations and realize that finding the right nootropic or stack for you is a process.
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