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More commonly known as ‘smart drugs’, nootropics are being widely used amongst business professionals and those studying, but what are the benefits and potential downsides?

What’s in a name:

Originally from the Greek word “noos” which means mind, the French added “trope”, meaning “turning” in the 1970’s. The English spelling and pronunciation is “Nootropics”.

As can be seen from the meaning these drugs are made up of chemical compounds that when taken raise a person’s performance. The claim is that they improve cognitive function, heighten alertness and do wonders for the memory and recall.

A Pandora’s Box:

Nootropics cover a wide range of cognitive enhancing substances. This range is wide indeed. It runs from approved and well-researched to restricted with unknown long-term effects for users. 3 examples are:

  • Creatine: A well-researched supplement that is also popular with body-builders.
  • L-theanine: A plant derivative.
  • Modafinil: Medically prescribed to treat narcolepsy.

Nootropic manufacturers and distributors providing these drugs in the dietary supplement classification do not have to meet any industry standards or seek any approvals.

This makes nootropics in the dietary category legal to purchase and use. Many require no prescription from your doctor.

While this may seem advantageous to users, it must be understood that without further in-depth research and long-term studies there really is no way to predict what the consequences of using your brain as an experimental chemistry lab. may be.


It is understood that a fair percentage of users also stack these drugs. This means they take combinations of the drug together or one after the other. This is done in the belief that they will receive a wider range of benefits offered by each chemical.

Doing this with lack of insight into potential damage to the brain and body must be a risk. It would be safe to say that those who are stacking are progressively leaving themselves open to greater problems in the future.

Do they mess with your brain?

This is the million-dollar question. The brain is a highly complex ‘machine’. Those who use nootropics in an attempt to upgrade it may well be upsetting its intricate balance.

There are a variety of ways in which this family of drugs work. Most of them target the brain’s neurotransmitters. It is known if the normal function of these vital brain/body messengers are manipulated to excess then unpleasant issues await. These include anxiety, depression and serotonin syndrome.

If used to excess some of the chemicals nootropics contain can also be highly addictive.

Caution is the byword:

Given the fact that a great deal of scientific and medical study is still required on a wide-range of nootropics it would be wise for users to err largely on the side of caution.

What seems like a harmless, sensible solution to helping users meet tight deadlines, or helping study and during those final exams could well turn out to debilitate a person in later life.

While the here and now is obviously very important surely a healthy future is more important. The choice really is yours.

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