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Nootropics That Actually Might Work, Say Experts

Learn what to know about nootropics and which ones are effective. 

People are turning to nootropics for a boost in mental performance, memory and creativity and the supplements, which are touted to improve and enhance cognitive functions, are gaining in popularity, but do they work? "While some of these claims may be exaggerated, there is evidence that some nootropics can offer some cognitive benefits," Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies tells us. Read on to learn about the most promising nootropics that have been shown to offer real benefits. As with all supplements and vitamins, it's important to talk with your physician first before taking to ensure there's no adverse side effects or interactions with current medications. Please consult your doctor for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What to Know About Nootropics


Dr. Mitchell explains, "Nootropics are a type of supplement that is designed to improve cognitive function. The word "nootropic" comes from the Greek words for "mind" and "turning." Nootropics are sometimes called "smart drugs" or "cognitive enhancers." There is a wide variety of nootropics available on the market, and they can be used for a variety of purposes, including improving memory, focus, and task completion. Many people take nootropics in order to boost their productivity, and some even use them as a means of achieving better grades in school. Nootropics are also sometimes used as a treatment for conditions like ADHD and Alzheimer's disease. While there is still much research to be done on the efficacy of nootropics, many people swear by their benefits and continue to use them on a regular basis.

Nootropics are a type of supplement that is designed to improve cognitive function. The benefits of nootropics include improved memory, concentration, and focus. They can also help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. In addition, nootropics have been shown to boost brain power and protect the brain from age-related damage. Some of the most popular nootropics include ginkgo biloba, omega-3 fatty acids, and resveratrol. While more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of these supplements, there is evidence that they can provide a range of health benefits. As such, nootropics are an increasingly popular choice for those looking to improve their cognitive function."


Drawbacks of Taking a Nootropic

African American afro woman with curly hair wearing casual sweater rubbing eyes for fatigue and headache, sleepy and tired expression

Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Although nootropics are generally considered to be safe and effective, there are some potential drawbacks to taking them. One of the most common concerns is that nootropics may interact with other medications or supplements, potentially resulting in dangerous side effects. Additionally, some people may experience negative effects such as headaches, nausea, or anxiety when taking nootropics. It is also important to note that the long-term effects of taking nootropics are not yet known. While they may improve cognitive function in the short term, it is possible that they could have negative consequences over time. As a result, anyone considering taking nootropics should speak with a healthcare provider first to ensure they are safe and appropriate for their individual needs."



Drinking coffee

Dr. Mitchell states, "Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that has long been employed as a cognitive enhancer. Current research indicates that caffeine improves various aspects of cognition, including attention, vigilance, and reaction time. In addition, caffeine appears to have positive effects on memory and learning. One mechanism by which caffeine may enhance cognition is by reducing sleepiness and fatigue. Caffeine also increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a role in executive function and attention. Overall, the evidence suggests that caffeine can be an effective cognitive enhancer, particularly for sleep-deprived individuals or those with attention deficits. However, it is important to note that tolerance to the effects of caffeine can develop quickly, so regular users may need to consume increasing amounts of caffeine to maintain the same level of cognitive enhancement."



creatine monohydrate

"Creatine is an amino acid or protein," Dr. Mitchell says. "It's found naturally in your body, mostly in your muscles, and it helps your muscles produce energy during heavy exercise. Creatine is also available as a dietary supplement. People take creatine as a performance-enhancing drug. Some research suggests that it might improve brain function in people with conditions that affect the brain, such as depression, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. However, there is not enough evidence to know if creatine has these effects. Creatine can cause side effects, including stomach pain and nausea. It can also cause weight gain and bloating. More research is needed to determine the long-term safety of taking creatine supplements. When used properly, creatine is generally considered safe. Consult with a doctor before taking any dietary supplements."


Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Bacopa monnieri is a nootropic herb used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. Also known as Brahmi, this herb is known for its memory-enhancing effects. Modern science has begun to back up these claims, and studies have shown that Bacopa can improve memory recall, attention span, and reaction time. Additionally, Bacopa has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, making it a well-rounded nootropic. How does Bacopa work? The active compounds in Bacopa are thought to increase neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in cognitive function. Additionally, Bacopa is a powerful antioxidant, and it is thought that this property may help to protect the brain against age-related damage. Bacopa is an effective nootropic that can improve cognitive function and protect the brain against age-related damage. Bacopa monnieri is a herb used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. Modern research has shown that it can improve memory and cognitive function in healthy adults."


Ginkgo Biloba


Dr. Mitchell shares, "Ginkgo biloba is a popular nootropic herb used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Today, Ginkgo Biloba is one of the most commonly used herbs for cognitive enhancement and memory improvement. So, how does ginkgo biloba work? Studies have shown that ginkgo Biloba can improve blood circulation to the brain, which may help to enhance cognitive function and memory. Additionally, ginkgo Biloba is thought to increase levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. Acetylcholine levels tend to decline with age, so increasing levels with Ginkgo Biloba may help to offset some of the age-related declines in cognitive function. Additionally, Ginkgo Biloba is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals. So, if you're looking for a natural way to boost your cognitive function and memory, Ginkgo Biloba may be worth trying."


Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea adaptogen

"Rhodiola Rosea is a plant that grows in cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia," Dr. Mitchell says. "Also known as "golden root" or "arctic root," Rhodiola has been used for centuries to help counteract the effects of stress. Today, it is commonly sold as a supplement and is touted as a natural way to boost energy levels, improve cognitive function, and reduce stress. While some scientific evidence supports these claims, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of Rhodiola Rosea as a nootropic.

Rhodiola Rosea is thought to work by affecting the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters are involved in regulating mood and psychological well-being. By increasing serotonin and dopamine levels, Rhodiola may help improve mood and alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. Additionally, Rhodiola is thought to increase ATP levels, the primary energy source in cells. This action may help to enhance physical stamina and cognitive function.

While Rhodiola Rosea shows promise as a nootropic, more research is needed to confirm its efficacy. Additionally, because it affects neurotransmitter levels, Rhodiola should be used with caution if you take medication for anxiety or depression. If you are considering using Rhodiola Rosea as a supplement, speak with your healthcare provider first to weigh the risks and benefits."

Dr. Mitchell says this "doesn't constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it's to encourage discussions about health choices."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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