Just imagine that you could take a capsule to perform at a higher productivity level. Imagine that just one or two pills each day could unlock your potential and make your brain work more effectively. Seems far fetched, right? Surprisingly, it might not be. Some people view brain enhancing supplements as controversial. Some say they are no more than “snake oil” (which some supplements can definitely qualify), while others absolutely swear by them. To form your own opinion, you need to know what brain enhancing supplements are and how they work. You should get to know the different kinds of brain enhancing supplements and their possible side effects. Then you can judge if they could possibly work for you!
What are Brain Enhancers?
Nootropics are the fancy word for brain enhancing drugs and natural supplements. But they also go by many other names, including smart drugs. But in essence, brain enhancers are substances that are designed to work in the brain at a biological level in order to help the brain work more efficiently. The end result is clearer thinking, better memory and retention, longer focus, positive mood, and increased drive.
How They Work
Different brain enhancers work in different ways, but the basic concept is the same. The best brain enhancing supplements work by perfecting the biological processes in the brain. Thought processes in the brain work by firing neurons. Mature neurons have axons, which send information out, and dendrites, which receive information. Synapses are formed between the axons and dendrites and allow for the flow of information around the brain. Synapses are formed continually throughout life as learning occurs. Thus, more information is sorted and stored and we become “smarter.” Brain enhancers can take effect at many points along this process. They can work by encouraging overall neuron health, by encouraging blood flow to the brain, or by increasing synaptogenesis. Most often, though, they work by increasing certain neurotransmitters in the brain. An increase in one or more of these chemicals can make certain processes, such as memory recall, attention, and focus, much easier.
Who Uses Them
These brain enhancing pills have been in use for many years by those people who could benefit most from them. Examples of big proponents of brain enhancing drugs include:
- College students. Study pills can help them stay awake longer, cram more, and score better on their final exams.
- Wall Street bankers. Nootropics can give them a brain boost right before a big trade.
- Silicon Valley techies. The brain enhancers can help them work long hours and attain breakthroughs.
- Scientists and biohackers. Optimal brain performance can be achieved with a little nootropic help.
- Senior citizens. Effects of natural mental decline can be bettered by brain enhancers.
Types of Brain Enhancers
The term “nootropic” or “brain enhancer” covers a broad range of brain enhancing supplements. There are two main categories: natural brain enhancers and pharmaceutical drugs for brain enhancement. Both of these types of nootropics contains different ingredients and work a little differently.
Natural Brain Enhancers
Attaining more brain power is not a new concept by any means. Cultures around the world have been using substances that make them smarter for centuries. There are an abundance of natural substances that work as brain enhancers. All of these ingredients are found naturally in herbs or foods. Here are some of the more popular choices:
- Green tea. The caffeine, catechins, and polyphenols in green tea work to stimulate the brain and increase neurotransmitters. Green tea is easily able to pass through the blood brain barrier, making it a potent mental stimulant. This helps with better focus, attention, memory, and alertness.
- Coffee. Coffee has been the energy-producing weapon of choice for many years. The primary stimulant in coffee is caffeine. It works by blocking the neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired. The end result is increase alertness, mental energy, and better focus.
- Gingko biloba. The effects of the leaves of this ancient tree as an anti-dementia supplement are well-documented. It improves blood flow to the brain and is a powerful antioxidant, so it has very positive effects on memory and cognition. It is regularly prescribed in some European countries to help fight against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
- Huperzine-A. This derivative of Chinese club moss works by blocking the enzyme that tries to reduce the levels of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter, in the brain. The result is better memory storage and recall and better learning ability overall, as was proven by a study of Chinese students.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine. This naturally occurring substance works in the body to increase the levels of acetylcholine. It’s an amino acid that has been shown to work against cognitive decline as a result of aging because it helps to keep existing brain cells healthy. This has been an important supplement in the study of treating Alzheimer’s. Users report that it helps vastly with concentration and motivation as well.
- DHA. DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid, a fatty acid that occurs naturally in many foods. While there is still much to learn about DHA in the brain, we do know that it’s present in the lining of brain cells. Also, where there is an abundance of DHA, better learning has been shown. The opposite is also true- when there is a lack of DHA, memory and learning has a noticeable deficit, and depression can take hold in the brain.
- Bacopa monnieri. More commonly known as water hyssop, this herb has ancient roots as a powerful brain drug in Ayurvedic medicine. This supplement can increase the rate at which dendrites grow, resulting in faster processing of information in the brain. It can also increase memory processes, as clearly shown in one study of college students.
- Limidax XR. This outstanding blend of all-natural substances is a powerhouse for brain enhancement. With ingredients like vinpocetine, nettle leaf extract, niacin, microencapsulated caffeine, and glucuronolactone, it works on many aspects of the brain process. It gives extended energy, mental stimulation, focus, and concentration.
- Other neuro supplements. Other blends exists that combine many natural and lab-made supplements that will enhance the brain. Each supplement and each brand has a different stack, or combination of nootropic substances, so read up on each one to find the ingredient list that corresponds to your desired effect.
Pharmaceutical Drugs for Brain Enhancement
Some of the most popular “study drugs” and “smart pills” are actually prescription drugs. Most of these brain enhancers require a doctor’s prescription for you to be able to legally obtain them. The side effects of these groups of drugs are much more dangerous and pronounced than with natural substances, particularly when it comes to addiction problems. While none of these pills were made specifically for nootropic purposes, they can have positive effects on cognition:
- ADHD Medications. These are the most popular of the prescription drugs used for studying. Ritalin and Adderall are particularly popular because of their efficacy. These amphetamines work by increasing the brain’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, chemicals which excite the nervous system. They provide prolonged energy, mental clarity, attention, and memorization. These pills are most popular on college campuses for studying for finals. They run a very high risk of addiction, and can only be obtained legally from a doctor. They also have a higher risk of side effects than any other prescription nootropic.
- Racetams (Piracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Aniracetam, and Oxiracetam). This group works in the brain to stimulate acetylcholine receptors, and some of the racetams even improve the brain’s uptake of glutamate by activating the correct receptors. The results are better memory, learning, information recall, and metal energy. These groups of drugs are classed in a legal grey area- they aren’t approved as a medication or supplement in the US, but you can purchase them online from nootropic companies. These fat-soluble brain enhancement pills are best taken with a fat source because they will be more easily absorbed by the body.
- Finils (Modafinil, Armodafinil, and Adrafinil). This brain enhancing drug was originally designed to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. It wakes up the brain by increasing levels of certain stimulatory chemicals, like dopamine, and has profound effects on the sleep/wake cycle. The effect is increased energy and better cognition. Adrafinil, which is available without a prescription, is actually converted to modafinil by the liver. As such, taking very high doses for long periods can cause severe liver damage.
Considerations for Taking Brain Enhancers
“With great power comes great responsibility.” These wise words still ring true when it comes to brain enhancement as well. It’s tempting to want to unlock the potential your brain has, but there are inherent risks in doing so. Mainly, adverse side effects from whatever supplement you choose to take is the biggest risk (see below).
Quality is the other big concern. When it comes to natural substances, they are considered dietary supplements and regulations vary from country to country. Recommended doses, as well as quality standards, are set by the manufacturers themselves. If you buy your substances, research the manufacturer and the ingredients before making a purchase. Not all companies are as ethical or come with as many guarantees as Limidax. Even if you decide not to purchase Limidax, make sure to do all proper due diligence before going with another company. One of the best places you should start is checking what country the company makes the product. Some companies based in other countries, even the United Kingdom, have come under fire for low dosing or even fabricating nootropic ingredients.
What Are the Side Effects?
Each supplement type has it’s own special considerations. Here are some specific examples that are worth considering:
- Some herbs, particularly ginkgo biloba, should not be taken if you are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or blood thinners such as warfarin. The combination could result in excessive bleeding due to extremely thinned blood. Limidax does not contain ginkgo biloba.
- Some stimulants, particularly the pharmaceutical stimulants and caffeine, can cause restlessness, sleeplessness, and jitters. Limidax takes care to put in minimal caffeine (about the same caffeine as a small “tall” Starbucks coffee and Limidax also uses microencapsulation to control-release caffeine)
- ADHD medications can be very addictive and have severe side effects when taken outside the care of a doctor (illegally in the United States), including racing heartbeat, chest pain, fever, rashes, and even heart attack or stroke. Correct dosage under the supervision and prescription of a doctor (for your medical case) is imperative to avoid these side effects.
- Across all brain stimulants is the danger of two very common side effects: headache and insomnia. Adjusting the dose and following manufacturer directions can eliminate these.
How Do I Know if They are Working?
With natural supplements, the best way to judge whether or not a brain enhancing pill is working is to take the pill up to a week. Some products, like Limidax, work on day one for the vast majority. Try to exercise healthy skepticism if anyone tells you that it might take 30+ days to see results. Be sure to keep all other factors, like diet and amount of sleep, constant (be aware that most brain boosters won’t work as well if you aren’t getting the right amount of sleep). Then, after a few weeks of taking the pills, stop taking them for a day or two. If you notice a marked reduction in your cognitive ability, like recalling information or alertness or motivation, while off the pills, then you can be assured that the pills are working for you. It happens this way because the brain naturally adapt to the increased levels of different chemicals caused by the supplements, and so there’s not usually a big jump from cognition upon taking the pills initially.
As for the pharmaceutical supplements, a noticeable difference will occur almost immediately. This is both a positive and negative aspect. It allows the user to get an immediate and short term effect.This works well for things like final exams or job interviews. You can take one or two doses of the pills to stimulate the brain and achieve better learning for a bit. However, extended use of prescription brain enhancers is dangerous due to the side effects and addictiveness.
The final consideration for brain enhancers: their notorious status as a placebo. Many scientists believe that these pills “work” because the users believe that they work. Only you know your own brain’s power and potential. Check the ingredients, the quality, and the side effects of any supplement or medication you choose to try. Be careful with smart pills and use them wisely, and you may just see an increase in your cognitive ability and the unlocking of your brain’s potential!
Of course, this site is heavily geared towards promoting Limidax, as we obviously see it as the best brain enhancer on the market (and we might add that consumers agree, awarding us the highest rating of 4.8 out of 5.0; Shopper Approved). If you do choose to try Limidax, it does come with a 30 day money back guarantee!