The Science Behind Nootropics: How Do They Enhance Cognitive Skills

Feeling stressed by the number of things to do, not remembering basic things, or even having difficulty concentrating has become normal in our times. This has led to an increase in the popularity of nootropics, also known as "smart drugs," which are supplements or drugs that are designed to enhance cognitive function.

Nootropics in supplement form are usually found in tablets, capsules, and powders and usually have between 1 and 8 ingredients, depending on the quality of the nootropic. It is normal to combine different ingredients to achieve a formula that stimulates different aspects of the brain and as a consequence is more efficient.

While some nootropics have been found to be effective at improving memory, focus, and other cognitive skills, it's important to understand the science behind how they work. Here is a list of the most recognized and best performing for the brain.

 

Lions Mane

Lions Mane, also known as Hericium erinaceus, is a mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In recent years, it has gained popularity as a nootropic due to its potential cognitive benefits.

Research has shown that Lions Mane may be effective at improving cognitive function. One study found that taking Lions Mane extract led to improvements in cognitive function and memory in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (Mori et al., 2008). Another study found that taking Lions Mane extract led to improvements in cognitive function and mood in healthy young adults (Nagano et al., 2010).

Bacoppa Monnieri

Bacoppa Monnieri is a herb that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It has gained popularity as a nootropic due to its potential cognitive benefits.

Research has shown that Bacoppa Monnieri may be effective at improving cognitive function, particularly in the areas of memory and attention. One study found that taking Bacoppa Monnieri extract led to improvements in memory and attention in healthy adults (Stough et al., 2001). Another study found that taking Bacoppa Monnieri extract led to improvements in memory and attention in elderly adults with mild cognitive impairment (Calabrese et al., 2008).

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a natural compound that is derived from the Chinese herb Huperzia Serrata. It has gained popularity as a nootropic due to its potential cognitive benefits.

Research has shown that Huperzine A may be effective at improving cognitive function, particularly in the areas of memory and learning. One study found that taking Huperzine A led to improvements in memory and learning in healthy adults (Xu et al., 1995). Another study found that taking Huperzine A led to improvements in memory and cognitive function in elderly adults with mild cognitive impairment (Qian et al., 2010).

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Adaptogens are substances that help the body adapt to stress and promote homeostasis. In recent years, ashwagandha has gained popularity as a nootropic supplement due to its potential to improve cognitive function.

Research suggests that ashwagandha may help improve memory and cognitive function in healthy individuals. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, healthy adults who took Ashwagandha extract for eight weeks showed significant improvements in cognitive function, including memory, attention, and information processing speed, compared to those who took a placebo (Choudhary et al., 2017).

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. Ginkgo Biloba extract is a popular dietary supplement that is often touted for its potential cognitive benefits.

Research suggests that Ginkgo Biloba may improve cognitive function and memory in healthy individuals, as well as in those with cognitive decline or dementia. In a meta-analysis of 21 randomized controlled trials, ginkgo biloba was found to improve cognitive function, particularly attention and memory, in both healthy individuals and those with cognitive impairment (Yang et al., 2013). Another meta-analysis of 36 randomized controlled trials found that ginkgo biloba was effective in improving cognitive function and daily living activities in individuals with dementia (Birks et al., 2009).

 

Important: While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of these nootropics, they show promise as natural supplements that may improve cognitive functions.

 

In conclusion, nootropics have been studied extensively for their potential benefits in improving brain function, particularly in regard to memory, focus, and cognitive performance. The natural compounds found in some of the most popular nootropics, such as Lions Mane, Bacoppa Monnieri, Huperzine A, Ashwagandha, and Ginkgo Biloba, have been shown to enhance cognitive abilities by increasing blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation, and promoting the growth of new brain cells.

While more research is still needed to fully understand the long-term effects of nootropics and their potential interactions with other medications, the current evidence suggests that they can be safe and effective when taken as directed.

If you want to learn more about how to improve cognitive abilities and the effect of nootropics, we recommend you read this article.

Finally, if you are looking for a nootropic that will help you concentrate better and improve your memory and that is safe to use, lab tested, and manufactured in an FDA-approved facility, SupraFocus may be of interest to you.

 

I hope you enjoyed this reading. If you want to know more about the studies referenced in this article you can review the bibliography below.

 

References

  1. Sun, QQ., Xu, SS., Pan, JL., Guo, HM., Cao, WQ. (1999). Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao, 20(7), 601-3. PMID: 10678121.
  2. Wang, R., Yan, H., Tang, XC. (2006). Progress in studies of huperzine A, a natural cholinesterase inhibitor from Chinese herbal medicine. Acta Pharmacol Sin, 27(1), 1-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7254.2006.00255.x.
  3. Zhang, HY., Tang, XC. (2006). Neuroprotective effects of huperzine A: new therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative disease. Trends Pharmacol Sci, 27(12), 619-25. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2006.10.004.
  4. Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research, 23(3), 367-372. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634
  5. Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research, 31(4), 231-237. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.31.231
  6. Zhang, C., Gao, J., Zheng, S., Zhou, Y., Liu, Z., & Xu, L. (2020). Hericium erinaceus polysaccharide-enhanced functional recovery and neural protection after traumatic brain injury via antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 153, 1113-1123. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2020.04.141
  7. Aguiar, S., & Borowski, T. (2013). Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Research, 16(4), 313-326. doi: 10.1089/rej.2013.1431
  8. Calabrese, C., Gregory, W. L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., & Oken, B. (2008). Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(6), 707-713. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0018
  9. Pase, M. P., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. B., & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. Journal of Alternative
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