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Nootropics Review: How Do Nootropics Improve Brain Function and Health?

If you are reading this article you are most likely familiar with the term nootropics as well as the many benefits reputed to this special set of healthy supplements. It seems nootropics are vogue for professionals and academics in all lines of work and there is rising hype surrounding them.

As a cautious consumer, it is important to dig past the hype and base your investments on scientific fact and proven results. To provide a foundation for planning supplementation, the following nootropic review will provide a simplistic overview of how various nootropics work to improve the brain health and subsequently its operations as well.

 width= Understanding the Human Brain

Even though modern science knows a lot about the brain, there is still a great deal that we have yet to learn. One thing is for sure, the brain is a complex piece of equipment. It has over a hundred billion neurons that work together to creating innumerable interactions that dictate every aspect of who we are and what we do. 1

Recent studies have led to breakthroughs that have afforded us new insights into how a healthy brain operates and how these operations can be moved to an optimal level. This is where nootropics come into the picture.

Nootropics are a class of synthetic and naturally occurring compounds all of which have positive benefits for the brain even if their specific effects can be quite different. When considering how the brain can be improved through nootropic supplementation, it is essential to understand the six components of a healthy formidable brain that nootropics address.

Optimal Energy Levels  width=

The brain requires abundant energy to maintain neurons that are constantly being produced and burnt out like light bulbs. Then, more energy is required to effectively manage these “lightbulbs” so that vital information can be exchanged optimally, which results in excellent cognitive function.

If energy levels fall below adequate levels, the brains operations falter and fatigue sets in. If brain luminosity is kept at this mood lighting mode for too long, conditions of depression and dementia are a greater risk.

Nootropics increase brilliance by boosting brain energy. Mitochondria are the tiny powerhouses of the cells and require plenty of oxygen and other nutrients to boost power production. Some nootropics, like Rhodiola rosea, work to improve the metabolism of these powerhouses and keep them well supplied for maximum energy output. This is also important in preventing cognitive deficiency in the future. 2

Balanced Brain Chemicals

Much like your car requires a variety of fluids to operate the breaks, transmission, steering, and engine, the brain will also malfunction without its selection of special chemicals called neurotransmitters.

These chemicals function as a communications system that carries messages from one neuron to another through the process of synaptic transmission. These transmissions are required every time you remember your passwords, think of an intelligent solution, raise your hand, begin to feel sleepy, and for every other conscious or unconscious activity in the body.

Some of these neurotransmitters are essential for cognitive functioning. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin improve focus on tasks and keep the mind relaxed. Acetylcholine facilitates the acquisition of information and the creation of associations. GABA works to relax the mind and prevents synaptic-overexcitement, which can result in headaches. 3

Nootropics can affect these communications and the outcomes they produce through impacting different steps of the communications process. Nootropics can provide the materials to produce neurotransmitters, increase the sensitivity of their receptors, interrupt communications or stop them from being disassembled when their communications are complete, leading to greater amounts of a specific chemical and an increased effect.

Caffeine can positively affect the neural communications involving mood, stress levels and pleasure and can be a great help to maintaining cognitive capacity for hours on end. 4

 width= Improved Blood Supply

A healthy supply of blood is crucial to a healthy brain for several reasons. First, blood carries all the nutrients the brain needs to create its essential chemicals, neurotransmitters. Blood also carries life-giving oxygen that brain cells can’t function without and prevents massive ischemic damage from a lack of oxygen.

Finally, a healthy blood flow keeps the brain clean from neurotoxins and waste materials that can hamper cognitive function in large amounts. A brain kept well-supplied with oxygen is capable of greater endurance, ingenuity, concentration and increased resilience to age-related conditions.

Cocoa is a heart-healthy nootropic to include in your stack. When consumed in its raw form, it can activate nitric oxide and relaxes blood vessels in the brain leading to greater oxygen supplies. 5

Long-term Neuroprotection

As we can see, the brain operates on a delicate balance and can be subject to damage from various deficiencies, toxins, and even physical injuries. Neuroprotective nootropics work to keep the mind safe from the damage that these elements can cause by providing long term benefits from nootropic use.

One of the primary actions as a neuroprotective is protecting neurons from oxidative stress. Vitamin D has been found to be vital for neuron growth and survival. 6 Bacopa monnieri is another potent nootropic with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that enhance the elimination of toxins and protect from various degenerative conditions. 7

Brain Regeneration  width=

The only brain in a perfect condition is one that isn’t used. If you are applying your brain to its intended purpose you are also simultaneously wearing it down. Just like any machine, the brain has some parts that wear out faster than others and need urgent replacements. But that is okay as the brain is capable of repairing itself through the process of neurogenesis.

Nootropics help to regenerate the brain by promoting neurogenesis from several angles. Most often, this is done through meeting the brain’s high demands for energy, nutrients, and oxygen throughout life.

Brain plasticity is another important aspect of a healthy brain that is supported by nootropics. Plasticity is the brain’s capacity to change throughout life. A healthy brain with enhanced plasticity will adapt to its changing environment and better retain information absorbed through the senses.

Lion's Mane Mushroom could be the best nootropic for increasing brain plasticity because it improves Nerve growth factor (NGF) activity. NGF is essential for neurogenesis because it can support the growth and survival of neurons. 8

Brain Waves

Scientists armed with EEG (electroencephalogram) equipment have found the brain emits frequencies caused by electrical activity in the neurons. Depending on how the brain is functioning, these frequencies can be higher or lower.

Human behavior has been categorized into 5 different frequency ranges that pertain to different activities. At the lowest registers, between 0.5 and 8 Hz, are the delta and theta ranges associated with deep meditation and sleep cycles. At registers exceeding 38 Hz is the gamma range that transcends consciousness. 9

Humans typically operate between the alpha and beta ranges between 8 and 38 Hz. Beta is most common and is the state of waking consciousness and fast thinking. Just below beta, is the alpha range which is crucial to increased creativity and the state of effortless functionality commonly called “flow.”

This enigmatic phenomenon occurs when the mind emits frequencies just between alpha and theta ranges. This state of mind is characterized by sudden appearances of gamma level frequencies that help to create new associations and enhances creativity. 10

Artists, thinkers and athletes alike have hailed the state of flow and eagerly sought after nootropics that can induce this serene brainstorm. Green tea, with its high levels of L-theanine, has been found to encourage these alpha brain waves that greatly enhance cognitive functions. 11

 width= Risks and Precautions for Nootropics Use

While the world of nootropic opportunities is very exciting, caution must be taken when introducing these powerful bio-hacks into the regular diet. Always read the precautions labels beforehand and discuss your plans with a qualified doctor if you have any health considerations or are under medication.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should also be cautious as some of these potent chemicals can be passed to young developing infants.


Nootropics are natural and synthetic supplements with low risk and huge cognitive benefits. Hopefully, this nootropic review answered some questions regarding nootropic usage to get you started on your own supplement plan.

PhotoCredit: Natali_Mis/, LeoWolfert/, AfricaStudio/, sdecoret/, fizkes/, IhorL/

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