The idea of taking a smart drug (nootropic) to boost your cognition and mental performance is tempting and many people have started doing so. Of late, there has been a surge in the use of nootropics, which are also called pharmacological cognitive enhancers (PCEs).
Smart drugs or nootropics typically fall into three general categories – prescription drugs, dietary supplements, and synthetic compounds.
Experts agree that taking a prescription nootropic, such as Modafinil or Adderall, for ADHD or other neurological conditions may be helpful. However, the use of any type of PCEs in healthy people is far more controversial.
Smart drugs have indeed gained immense popularity because of their ability to boost memory, focus, concentration, learning, creativity, intelligence, and motivation.
Here’s the generic smart drug (nootropics) list you should be aware of:
- Modafinil (Provigil) and Armodafinil (Nuvigil)
Modafinil and Armodafinil are prescription smart drugs for thoughts, which are often used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. Several studies have also shown that modafinil and armodafinil reduce feelings of fatigue and improve memory in people with sleep deprivation.
- Amphetamines (Adderall)
Adderall is a prescription-only smart drug that contains highly psycho-stimulating amphetamines. The drug is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. However, many people use Adderall to improve their attention and focus.
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
Ritalin is another prescription-only smart drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Like Adderall, Ritalin is a psycho-stimulant and increases the secretion of dopamine and other brain chemicals. Also, like Adderall, Ritalin may cause hallucinations, psychosis, seizures, and high blood pressure.
Caffeine is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world. Naturally found in coffee, cocoa, and tea, caffeine can be taken as a supplement. It works on certain receptors of the brain, making you feel energetic and less tired. Caffeine increases your alertness and improves your attention, just like some of the smart drugs do.
L-theanine is another naturally occurring nootropic. It is an amino acid found in tea, which can be taken as a supplement. In fact, studies have shown that L-theanine is more effective when taken with caffeine.
Creatine is yet another amino acid, a natural compound that your body needs to make protein. It’s a popular bodybuilding supplement that promotes muscle growth but is also beneficial for your brain. Creatine works on your brain to help your brain cells to provide enough energy.
- Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is a natural compound that helps your body handle stress more effectively. It can improve mood and decrease fatigue and stress. Studies suggest that taking a small amount of Rhodiola Rosea reduced mental fatigue and increases feelings of well-being, according to Healthline.
- Panax Ginseng
Panax ginseng is yet another natural smart drug to boost your brain function. Taking supplements containing Panax ginseng has been found effective in reducing mental fatigue and improving performance on difficult tasks.
- Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba extracts have positive effects on your brain, according to Healthline. It has been shown to improve memory and mental processing. Taking Ginkgo biloba has also been found effective in reducing stress-related high blood pressure.
Piracetam is probably the most widely used synthetic nootropics. It is often advised to older people to improve their memory. Piracetam is widely available as a smart drug, but there is a lack of research on its efficacy in boosting brain function.
Noopept is one of the synthetic smart drugs that can be found in most supplements. The effects of Noopept can be felt within minutes. It works by increasing the secretion of certain brain chemicals. Animal studies have found that Noopept boosts brain function, but its use as a nootropic is poorly understood in humans. So, the bottom line is smart drugs or nootropics are classified under natural, synthetic, and prescription substances that have the potential to boost mental function. Prescription smart drugs have the strongest effects, while natural ones have a mild effect and act slowly.