Although the word “nootropic” has become something of an umbrella term for all the various cognitive boosters out there, not all smart drugs or study drugs are actually nootropics. There are some differences, and although you can argue that they are just nuances, we all know that details are what makes most, just like in contracts, right? So let’s take a look at that fine line between these two concepts.
How do you differentiate between a nootropic and a smart drug?
The simplest way to explain would be something along these lines: a smart drug or a brain booster is a prescribed substance, or a regular medicine used off-label, whose primary purpose is to treat a mental disorder or a cognitive difficulty or dysfunction but somebody decides to use it as a brain booster instead.
In contrast, a nootropic is some substance or compound which improves one’s cognitive abilities, but has no concerning side effects, or which offers some kind of protection to the brain. Click here to read the first, original definition of a nootropic from a scientist’s perspective.
Among the brain boosting pharmaceuticals, the two most widely popular ones are dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate, which are the active ingredients in Adderall and Ritalin, respectively. These substances are stimulants and are legally used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other related conditions, by improving the patients’ focus and overall energy levels.
The trouble is, they are increasingly being used recreatively, off the radar, and this results in awful side effects on the human system. Those side effects are the result of these drugs’ mechanism of effect, which entails the forceful spiking of the norepinephrine and dopamine levels.
Negative effects have been recorded in reference to stress levels, heart performance, appetite, mood swings, anxiety levels, and sleep deregulation, especially in young adults and teenagers – in other words, the exact groups which are the most likely to reach for a cognitive enhancer substance. You can read more about their uses and side effects at this web page: https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/learning-memory/do-smart-drugs-work
Now, on the other hand, nootropics are either synthetic or natural substances, typically herbs, herbal supplements, or vitamin complexes, typically not prescribed for any medical disorder in particular. They are used, just like study drugs, to somehow increase or maintain your brain’s cognitive abilities.
They have been shown to have an effect on our attention span, level of focus, the rate at which we age, and there is some speculation as to whether they also possibly affect metabolism at the cellular level.
As a general rule, nootropics and their ingredients are predominantly natural in origin, and rather than aiming to fix any particular cognitive problem, they are instead used to maintain top functionality of the brain, protect it from any risk in the long run, and just overall boost your mental performance on a daily basis.
How can you figure out whether a brain booster is safe?
So, with everything we said just now, how can you be sure whether that study aid you are considering might fry your gray cells or not? This is especially tricky considering that research is still ongoing and really not all that conclusive on most of these substances, even though they are so readily used by so many people.
The rule of thumb is, if you want to know whether something is dangerous for your body or not, take a look at what happens to you when you get too much of it into your system.
Did you know that various poisons act as medicines in small amounts? For example, antidotes to snake bites are made from snake venom, and coffee is a global favoritedrink for waking up even though overuse can be deadly (cortisol overload and heart attack risk).
So, when you are sifting through the gallery of many supplements and compound we encounter every day, and which have some kind of a beneficial effect on the brain, always dig up the stuff that happens when you exceed the safe and recommended doses.
Also, make a point of thoroughly researching all of the ingredients. If you decide to go with OTC boosters, look at legit websites rather than personal blogs. For example, you can find great modafinil info at BestNootropicsNow.
Whether you are considering a natural supplement or a synthetic smart drug, take this friendly warning: never take anything that lacks a plainly displayed list of ingredients, and never take anything that seems to have no valid reason to be there.
If the ingredients are listed in their sum, rather than being broken down into percentage per unit of weight, chances are that the manufacturer is hiding a “magical ingredient” that likely teethers on the edge of illegal or dangerous. Legitimate supplement providers want to help and have nothing to hide.
On the other hand, if the ingredients are plainly disclosed but not plainly explained (online or wherever), skip the thing. You will not get a replacement brain, so never make yourself the guinea pig. Make sure every substance on the list has a safety rating and detailed chemical explanation, like the ones in this study.
The occasionally introduced “miracle pills” with no specified human testing history are the worst. Even if they are being currently researched, no fledgling project is worth the hype until it is approved by relevant experts. Be smart with your smart drugs.