The Condensed Guide to Nootropics
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics (i.e. smart drugs) are compounds, supplements, and other substances that are claimed to improve cognitive function. Some are naturally-based and can be obtained over the counter (OTC) while others are synthetic and obtained with a prescription. This is why you must conduct research before you take nootropics and only buy from high quality, 3rd party tested, and trusted brands. And consult your doctor before starting, too!
Nootropics may be medically prescribed to help treat a condition or disease, like ADD, or to remedy certain nutrient deficiencies. In other cases, healthy individuals may take OTC nootropics to improve executive functions, attention, memory, creativity, and/or motivation. Many view those who take nootropics as "self-experimenters" while some consider nootropics as an essential part of a peak performance routine.
NOTE: Nobody reacts to nootropics in the same way nor do all nootropics work the same. Some are stimulatory, some are depressive, some are both! What also may work for one, may not for another; so, don't expect nootropics to be a "plug and play" experience.
What are some OTC Nootropics I can try?
There are many. Caffeine, L-theanine, Omega 3's, Ginkgo Bilboa, Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Curcumin, Lion's Mane, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) and Creatine are generally considered safe and effective with proper care and guidance.
NOTE: always check with your health care provider before taking a nootropic to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.
How should I use Nootropics?
Always take the minimum dose and slowly increase to the recommended dose. NEVER exceed the recommended dose. If you are taking nootropics in powder form, make sure to measure and/or weigh out exactly how much you are taking. This one simple step may save you a trip to the emergency room, or worse!
Are there any alternatives to Nootropics?
There are many teas, herbs, and whole foods one can look into first before trying nootropics. Nootropic substances derived from whole foods (or those that ARE whole foods) have similar benefits and more comprehensive effects without the potential risks of overdose. A healthy diet, proper sleep, and frequent exercise are great places to start when looking to increase cognitive and physical function as well.
Are Nootropics safe?
OTC nootropics are generally safe IF taken correctly and in moderation. BUT, there are still health risks associated with nootropics like, personal factors, drug interactions and overdose, that may land you in a difficult situation. Risks can also be increased when "stacking" nootropics, which is when one combines two or more nootropics for a stronger, synergistic effect. When in doubt, leave it out and set realistic expectations of what you think you are going to get out of the process.
What to do if I take too much or have adverse effects?
Do not hesitate to go to the emergency room or hospital for medical attention if you feel you are having negative symptoms or think you may have overdosed. It may save your life or, at least, help ease the pain. Things get even worse when considering the fact that some nootropics have very long half lives, which means you could be feeling the downsides of the compound for not just one, but multiple days if something goes wrong. Be careful!
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