Should you try nootropics?

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Shutterstock.com/ Aleksandar Grozdanovski

Nootropic is a word that you may or may not have heard of. It has been around in some shape or form since 1972 but as it is growing in popularity we are sure that if you haven’t heard of it yet, you soon will, well I guess because of this article you now have. The simple idea behind nootropics is that it is a drug to enhance your cognitive function. Think of the movie Limitless but on a much less fictional basis. We hope. That is the real question. Do nootropics drugs work or are they another fantastic work of fiction?

Let me give you a spoiler straight away, the answer is not straight forward, while I do have some advice on whether you should take them or not, it is largely up to you. Nootropics generally come in pill form and have a long list of ingredients. Of those ingredients, the most common are caffeine, omega 3 fatty acids, ashwagandha, and ginkgo biloba. We agree that this is a strange list of ingredients.

The first thing is to understand that as long as you have no pre-existing medical condition, nootropics are believed to be safe. If you do have a history of medical issues (either you or in your family) it is worthwhile talking to your (open-minded) doctor before trying them. I say open-minded because nootropics are largely unproven in the medical field and if you visit a doctor and tell them you are going to start taking these random pills, they may not be too impressed, considering how often they give great advice to people every day on how to live healthy lives that are scientifically proven and it gets ignored. Yet everyone would love a miracle drug that makes you smarter, so some doctors will surely understand your interest.

Looking at the ingredients caffeine and omega three are both well known. Caffeine, as we all know, is healthy in small doses but you don’t want to take too much or it can have the opposite impact on what you want. Omega three is really good for you and it should be part of your normal diet. If for some reason it can’t be then supplements are a good idea. However, if you are healthy and getting enough omega-three, there is no proven reason to get more.

Ashwagandha is a really interesting ingredient as in Indian cultures it is believed to be a miracle drug. It is believed it can protect against stress and help you focus. There has been a little bit of study into this drug and so far it is inconclusive. All we can say is that maybe this is good but it is certainly not bad.

Ginkgo Biloba is the drug that has been used for a long time for cognitive function. There is proof that it helps older people regain some lost memory although it has not been proven to help people who are perfectly healthy have an enhanced brain function, although in theory it could work well in that area. 

The issue is that most nootropics are reviewed by the companies selling them and they clearly have a stake in the game and only want one result. While they may use double-blind tests to prove a drug works, we don’t see how many double-blind tests they did until they got the result they wanted. 

Nootropic treatment is a fun idea that is largely unproven. Unfortunately, it is very expensive. If you have the spare money to try it then go for it, however if your money is important to you then we think there are many better things to spend it on for your health and your general wellbeing.