In a modern sense of the word, nootropics, or so-called smart drugs are substances, that are thought to improve mental performance in humans, such as memory, recall, focus, alertness.
Human intelligence is what sets our species apart from the other animals: it gives us an incredible evolutionary advantage and allows us to improve our lives and chances of survival dramatically, and therefore it is logical that those, who understand this, also search for ways of getting a competitive edge and improving own intelligence.
Taking a food supplement, or a magic pill offers a quick and dirty way of achieving that or at least satisfies the desire to do so.
What types of smart drugs exist?
Smart drugs can be classified in a number of ways. Personally, the most useful ways for me are according to their:
- Effect: stimulants (coffee, modafinil), depressants (5-HTP, valerian root), nutritional supplements (vitamins, amino acids), nootropics (piracetam, Gingko Biloba, citicoline)
- Healthiness: good in long-term (vitamins, Rhodiola Rosea, Panax ginseng), unknown in long term (very large category, e.g. coffee), harmful in the long term (Modafinil, Ritalin, Adderall)
- Source: medicine (Piracetam, Ritalin), herbs (Rhodiola Rosea, Gingko Biloba, Bacopa Monnieri), essential nutrients (vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids), foods (coffee, tea, superfoods)
Do nootropics and smart drugs work?
Asking this question depends on what substance you have in mind. In general, assuming your nutrition is good, and you have no vitamin deficiencies, you are likely to benefit from non-harmful nootropics.
Now, the truth: there is no pill you can take to become a genius. NZT from the Limitless does not exist. However, nootropics and smart drugs definitely can make better what is already there.
It is obvious that stimulants work, nobody will argue against the awakening properties of coffee or calming effect of peppermint tea. Nootropic stimulants, such as Modafinil (which is similar to amphetamine in molecular structure), obviously work as well. However, any stimulant will result in a post-high crash, so long-term use of such substances is not advisable, as with any substance of that type.
If to consider healthier smart drugs, then typically, their effects are more subtle but contribute to long-term brain health and good function. I personally have a preference for this type of nootropics, as there is a large body of research on their efficacy (Rhodiola Rosea, Panax Ginseng, etc.), and they are usually not considered to be harmful.
Where to start as a beginner?
These contain a number of nootropic substances and vitamins that do not act as stimulants, but their effect can be felt nonetheless. Moreover, they are probably healthy in the long term in contrast to widely used stimulants that can lead even to depression if not taken properly.
Check out our reviews on the most popular nootropic stacks here: