Nootropics: Brain Enhancers?

Some nootropic products. Credit: Lance Robotson

It’s coming to that time the academic year when a multitude of assignments, exams, proposals and class projects have created a perfect storm of terror in your life. If you’re a final year student you might as well forget the possibility of a social life as you struggle to even hang out with friends and watch the match.

If your problem was health related there would be a multitude of various different vitamins, minerals and supplements you could take in order to boost your immune system.  But when the issue is mental concentration, cramming and alertness your options are a bit more limited.

However, the growing research and development of nootropics could be on the verge of bringing to the market similar products that assist you in all of the above. Basically nootropics are various types and brands of supplements that assist in cognitive, memory, motivation and attention amongst other neurological functions.

Some nootropic products.  Credit: Lance Robotson
Some nootropic products. Credit: Lance Robotson

It might sound like a drastic step best held for the final week of your dissertation, but if people drink coffee and other caffeine stimulants on a daily basis, then the possibility of taking a medically developed and tested supplement for the same thing is not so much of a stretch.

Nootropics are not ‘pep pills’ or any other any other brain ‘enhancer’ that you can find in your local head shop. They’re medically cleared by food and drug authorities. Some brands have even been shown to have effects in the medium to long term like vitamins and minerals taken for your body.

Also available in liquid form.  Credit: Ian Ruotsala
Also available in liquid form. Credit: Ian Ruotsala

The effects differ from person to person, but by and large most people experience at the very least increased alertness rising to increased working time and study. They can also add to the lucidity and vividness of your dreams.

When it comes to side effects, few issues exist for those supplements that are sold by recognised companies who go through medical clearance. Some users have reported over stimulation and difficulty in drifting off the sleep as well as becoming immune over time.  Some consider them nothing more than placebo.

A selection of products from leading company Onnit.  Credit: Do512
A selection of products from leading company Onnit. Credit: Do512

Nootropics might not yet be mainstream, but its heading that way. A Reddit group, coverage by Vice as well as articles on countless medical sites are slowly making people more aware of the benefits. The stopping point right now is scepticism, and cost. A month’s supply of a leading nootropic could set you back up to €35.

Silicon valley has seen a huge take up on the drugs so far, and many athletes in sports that require intense concentration such as snooker, pool and poker have begun using them also.  Such as Leo Wolpert, below


So if nootropics go mainstream, one wonders what will that mean for our future. More productivity and clear thinking resulting in better lives? Or perhaps their role is to be the most monumental form of Red Bull ever seen for that last burst across the academic or professional line.