Nootropics are clever, adaptive chemicals, also known as ‘brain boosters’. They’re believed to work with your body to optimise everything from concentration to motivation. Different nootropics have different benefits: some enhance your memory and creativity, while others improve focus and mood. Caffeine is the most popular example — when you’re drinking your morning coffee, it’s the nootropic that’s sharpening you up and getting you ready for the day.
Here’s our lowdown on how they work, which ones to choose and how they can help you:
How do Nootropics Work?
Nootropics work by stimulating the release of chemicals like dopamine, and improving the performance of neurotransmitters, which makes the brain perform more efficiently. Although they’ve been used in some cultures for millennia, Western medicine has only recently discovered the benefits.
Different Types of Nootropics
There are many different nootropics available, and although all are linked to improved brain function, each one has different benefits.
Many boast both long and short term cognitive improvement, so if you’re wondering ‘how long do nootropics last?’ the answer is complex. With caffeine, for example, the cognitive effect only lasts as long as it stays in your bloodstream, but other nootropics tell a different story.
Take citicoline. Its short term benefits include increased mental energy, but when used over a longer period of time, it can also improve memory. L-theanine – commonly found in green tea – is used to promote calm and relieve symptoms of insomnia, but it can also have significant long term benefits for your overall health, such as reduced blood pressure.
Other nootropics stimulate the release of serotonin, the human happy hormone. It’s what our bodies use to stabilise our moods, so it makes sense that levels of these naturally occurring nootropics are often found to be low in people suffering from mental health concerns such as anxiety. Though doctors stress they’re not a substitute for Western medicine, the use of mood-boosting nootropics has been shown to improve mental wellbeing.