For a long time now, psychology has been turning its head.
From dealing mainly with psychological disorders and harmful alterations in the functioning of mental processes, it has gone on to propose lines of research and intervention that lead to improving human potential. The drugs and supplements known as nootropics represent a similar paradigm shift in the field of neuroscience and psychopharmacology.
The idea that makes nootropics so promising is simple: they could give us the option of improving our cognitive abilities by taking a dose, without suffering significant adverse effects.
What are nootropics?
The definition of the concept of “nootropics” is as open as its nature and potential. In fact, since the Romanian chemist and psychologist Corneliu E. Giurgea first coined the term in 1972, what is understood by nootropics has been evolving and reaching diffuse conceptual limits.
Defining the concept
Just because the concept of nootropics is confusing and broad does not mean that there is no rough definition. In short, nootropics are a heterogeneous group of synthetic preparations and supplements that, once administered in certain doses, have shown promising results in improving the functioning of certain brain functions related to cognition, i.e., mental processes related to memory, intelligence, attention management, and creativity.
Nootropics, therefore, may be useful in improving the performance and mental agility needed to solve complex and difficult tasks, but they may also have a role in preventing cognitive impairment.
Nootropic is not synonymous with psychostimulant
It should be borne in mind that nootropics are not simply psychostimulants, as they are also characterized by virtually no adverse side effects or chemical dependency, and taking an adequate dose does not become an immediate threat to the health of those who take them. This differentiates them from stimulants such as amphetamines.
That is why, although non-tropics are also known as “cognitive drugs” or smart drugs, if we stick to the definition created by consensus, we can differentiate them from substances that damage health and leave clear and irreversible wounds in the body, or that are toxic. While all substances that affect the functioning of neurons have side effects unrelated to the purpose for which the dose is taken, these may be so minor or of such low intensity that they are not considered harmful.
Not all nootropics are drugs
It is also worth noting that there are non-notropic drugs and non-notropic substances that are not considered drugs. The difference between the two is that drugs are subject to medical indication and are sold in pharmacies, while the rest can be obtained in a wide variety of stores, herbalists, etc.
The great demand for cognitive stimulants The idea of nootropics fits perfectly with an increasingly competitive society in which optimizing work performance becomes more and more a struggle to train the body in the art of working under constant pressure.
These substances offer two types of promises that are highly valued in the Western countries of the 21st century: the possibility of optimizing one’s cognitive abilities to adjust to the demands of the labor market, and the immediacy of the results sought. In the end, it is easier and simpler to exchange money for a compound that takes the functioning of the brain to another level instantly than to choose a skill to train and dedicate hours, days or years to this task.
That is precisely why workers in certain sectors related to creativity and new technologies, as well as students who aspire to find a place in elite universities, have long been turning to the consumption of non-tropics. For these social groups, the difference between performing well and not reaching the goals set can mean a turnaround in their work expectations and life plans, so the use of these products becomes one of the many steps necessary to aspire to success.
The fact that the consumer profile of non-nootropics is familiar with the use of new technologies and that there are generally no strong legal restrictions that block their marketing makes the sale and purchase of non-nootropics on the Internet popular in many countries.
In addition, web portals and forums have been set up where consumers talk about their experiences with these preparations, make inquiries and give advice on what to take, what for and how to do it. The result is online communities that keep the popularity of non-tropics alive while giving them visibility, which is also the case with supplements used to improve physical activity performance.
The three major brands of nootropics, Absorb Health, Power Focus and Incite Elite, market their boats through platforms such as Amazon. By clicking on the image you can review the products, in case you feel like trying a nootropic and evaluate its effect on your intelligence and memory.
The effectiveness of cognitive enhancers
Now that we know what the concept of nootropics itself is, we can ask what these substances are in practice. In other words, how does the definition fit in with reality?
The effectiveness of non-tropics has been called into question by the fact that many of the results obtained after years of research are inconclusive. Results have been obtained that confirm the expected effects of the use of such preparations, but there is also research that has yielded opposite results. Furthermore, as non-tropics need not resemble each other either in terms of their components or their proposed preparation or usefulness, to talk about their effectiveness or ineffectiveness by encompassing them all is an oversimplification.
In any case, what can be said about practically all non-tropics is that, although some are promising, it is not yet clear to what extent they are effective and useful for introduction into the daily lives of healthy people or people with symptoms of dementia. Clarifying these points will require years of research and joint efforts to scientifically prove their usefulness.