The industry is still young, and certainly far from mainstream. While interest has really kicked off in the tech-hubs of America (those Silicon Valley types), its no surprise our slower paced down-under countries, New Zealand and Australia are lagging.
Let’s set the scene with the commonly accepted definition of the term, courtesy of the Miriam Webster dictionary.
They define a nootropic as:
“a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning”
Most companies in the nootropics, supplements, biohacking, and personal optimisation industry use the term nootropics to broadly define a supplement that can help the brain in any way.
Because language is only effective with shared understanding, we say the populist definition is most relevant in the context of buying supplements… like those at Nice Supplement Co!
What about Smart Drugs?
This is usually in the context of synthesised or prescription substances (such as modafinil and Adderall), but due to the generalist meaning of the term, smart drugs can also apply to any nootropics or plant derived substances too.
A drug is a chemical structure which produces a biological effect in a living organism. A "Smart" drug is a drug which provides a cognitive enhancing effect.
The Origins of Nootropics
1. Enhances memory and the ability to learn
2. Assists brain function under disruptive conditions
3. Protects the brain from chemical and physical toxins
4. Increases natural cognitive processes
5. Must be non-toxic to humans, nor stimulate or depress the brain
This criterion gives sets a very narrow standard, and so it’s no surprise that most treat it more like the ideal situation, than the minimum requirement.
Also worth consideration is that this criteria was specifically designed for the description of Piracetam, and was not necessarily intended all encompassing measure it is used now. There’s still many purists that treat this as the end all be all definition to disregard certain stimulants (eg. Coffee) or claim an elitist position for those that meet this technical criterion for nootropic. Generally these lines of conversation blur more into personal beliefs than outright principles of pharmacology.
Our thoughts? Its good to consider these merits when weighing up the value of a supplement, but because the term nootropic is already so widely used, practically there’s no real achievement in trying to enforce the classical definition.
And just if you're curious, under the classical definition, both of our products (L-Theanine+, Lions Mane+) would be still classed as nootropics.
What to consider when choosing your nootropics?
If you see the term “nootropic” crammed in there, then it’s an indicator that it will work on your brain in some way. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that this supplement is worth your time and cash – or that it won’t cause harm.
Your body doesn’t care about some fancy terminology or pretty marketing. What matters is what compounds are in the supplement and how those compounds react with your bio-chemistry in those dosages. So lets take it back to the basics.
Supplement Choice Basics
- Determine your goal.
Do you want stimulation, motivation, anti-anxiety, relaxation, neuroprotection, working-memory, or long-term memory benefits?
- Do your ingredient research.
This means going past the information on the product page and onto looking at trustworthy information from a third party. Forums, YouTube reviews and blogs can be useful to get an idea of the range of experiences. However, for more accurate evidence for function it's best to look at peer-reviewed research, understand how the compound works and in what dosage and situations. If you're new to this, Examine.com can be a good start point to get your sea legs.
- Do your manufacturer research.
Supplements are treated as a sub-group of food, and therefore is highly unregulated. So when it comes to verifying quality, don't think you can lean on your government regulatory system too heavily. Many aspects are untested. Starting points to look into might be:
- what are the brand's ethics?
- where is the product manufactured?
- what certifications or testing has the product had?
Nootropics are substances that help your brain operate.
Before trying them for yourself, be sure to set your goal, then do your research to assess what nootropic compound (or stack) is right for you, and that you can use it safely.
If you want to educate yourself well and truly on the original definition and considerations, we strongly recommend doing more research past this article.
An excellent next step would be to read "A Weird Concept with Unusual Fate: Nootropic Drug" by Doru Georg Margineanu. This paper presents a well educated and carefully researched discussion of the topic.
If you're really interested, we also encourage looking into Doru Georg Margineanu's many other neuroscience and pharmacology related publications.
Keen to try some of our Nootropic stacks?
Alternatively, you can also get all of the Nice Supplement Co. supplements from your local "The Cave Nutrition Store".
Got more questions?
Nice Supplement Co. was built off the enquiring mind - so please, ask away - we'd be very happy to help.
You can see our contact page here.