When seeking to build a stronger and healthier body, we often exclusively focus on our physique and ignore the other important part that has a direct effect on every organ and muscle of our body; the brain.
The link between the mind and the body has been the subject of numerous scientific studies, many of which have concluded that both physical and mental health are closely related and each affects the other in various ways. It has been shown that just as regular exercise and physical activity improve mental well-being, the opposite is also true, i.e. improving mental health also has a positive impact on physical well-being and performance.
In fact, some of the primary reasons why many people avoid exercising or going to the gym are entirely mental; such as lack of motivation, depression, too much stress and worries, etc.
If you have a mental health problem that is consuming most of your energy and keeping you away from achieving your physical fitness goals, then it makes sense that you deal with that problem first and get it out of the way for good, or at least keep it at bay.
Nootropics Can Help
Now, there are different natural techniques that can be used to build better mental health and combat some of the common mental disorders, but in this article I am going to focus on one of the increasingly popular health trends, and that is the use of nootropics.
If you have an interest in dietary supplements you must have heard about nootropics, aka cognitive enhancers. These are basically a group of nutritional supplements and drugs that have the ability to enhance certain cognitive functions. Nootropics are used by many men and women to improve mental energy, mood, attention, focus, clarity, motivation and/or productivity.
There are numerous different nootropics available on the market, some of which are completely natural supplements and others include synthetic chemicals. While nootropics are mostly used to help during study or work, they are also used as pre-workout supplements to increase focus, motivation, energy and endurance during exercise.
The following are some of the most popular nootropics in use today that may make a helpful addition to your supplement stack.
Rhodiola Rosea is a flowering plant that is used in traditional medicine for different health conditions. It is most notably used as an adaptogen to reduce stress and anxiety.
Rhodiola has been shown to help reduce exhaustion and fatigue following low intensity physical activity or exercise. A study found that rhodiola can improve performance during endurance exercise.
Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a form of the amino acid derivative L-Carnitine, which is produced by the body and found in most body cells where it plays an important role in energy production. It is a general nootropic that is widely used for cognitive enhancement.
ALCAR supplementation is suggested for people with depression as studies have found a link between low levels of Acetyl L-Carnitine in the blood and depression.
Some athletes take ALCAR supplements to boost physical performance and energy production.
Ashwagandha, or withania somnifera, is a plant that is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for various ailments. It has proven neuroprotective and adaptogenic effects, and most people take it to relieve stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha can also enhance physical performance, and there is limited clinical evidence that suggests this herb may increase testosterone levels in men.
Sulbutiamine is a synthetic analogue of vitamin B1 (thiamine) that has been shown to increase the levels of thiamine in the brain. There is some evidence that sulbutiamine may improve memory formation and enhance cognitive functions.
It has also been found that daily supplementation of sulbutiamine helps reduce fatigue, especially for people with an infection.
Adrafinil is a synthetic wakefulness-promoting drug and a precursor for modafinil. Both adrafinil and its metabolite, modafinil, are popular nootropics that are used to enhance mental performance. While modafinil is a prescription-only drug, adrafinil is unscheduled and is sold over the counter in the US and other countries.
The benefits of adrafinil are more evident in people who suffer from sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. Adrafinil’s efficacy varies from one individual to another, but its most common effects are increased vigilance, focus and physical activity.
Phenylpiracetam belongs to a group of synthetic nootropic drugs known as racetams, where phenylpiracetam is considered to be one of the most powerful compounds in this group.
Phenylpiracetam is a mild stimulant that is used to fight drug-induced depression, increase tolerance to stress, increase locomotor activity, and improve memory.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Generally speaking, natural nootropic compounds are well-tolerated and do not cause any significant side effects when taken as directed. Synthetic nootropic drugs should be taken with more caution, but they are also generally safe and do not cause any major side effects when taken according to the manufacturer’s or your doctor’s recommended dosage and instructions.
One thing you should keep in mind is that many nootropics have a stimulatory effect, so you should avoid taking them with stimulants like caffeine and other medications that cause stimulation. Otherwise, you may experience some unwanted side effects like increased agitation, nervousness, anxiety, headache, and others.
Although these nootropics do not require a doctor’s prescription, it is always advised that you consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement, especially if you already take other medications. Interaction between certain nootropics and other drugs or supplements is possible, and although you can do your own research online, no one is more qualified to give you a personalized medical advice about the potential benefits and risks of a certain supplement than your own doctor.
Where Can You Buy Nootropics?
Most natural nootropics can be found at Amazon, GNC, and other health and nutrition stores. As for synthetic nootropics like adrafinil, phenylpiracetam and other racetams, you will mostly find these at online nootropics vendors and less likely at local retailers.
There are many trustworthy online vendors that specialize in selling nootropic supplements, and one helpful website where you can discover and compare such vendors is BreezyBrain.
Where Can You Learn More About Nootropics?
If you are new to nootropics, I’d urge you to do a good research about the different available nootropics before you rush to buy any. These supplements are not approved by the FDA, and while many of them have been clinically studied and proven to have benefits, the vast majority of nootropics lack any conclusive scientific proof of efficacy.
One of the best resources where you can find lots of scientific data about nootropics and other supplements is Examine. Another helpful resource is PsychonautWiki. Finally, there is a very active community of nootropics users and experts on Reddit, where you can learn about other users’ experiences with different nootropics and ask for help or advice when needed.