Posted on May 31, 2017

The Nootropics Trend

Nootropics are often referred to as ‘smart drugs’ and have become popular as methods to achieve cognitive enhancement as well as for increasing learning capacity and memory. There are a number of classes of nootropics and each one offers unique benefits as well as specific mechanisms and the list of all of the nootropic drugs is almost as long as standard pharmaceuticals. However, for the medical community there are an array of questions, doubts and skepticisms as to the efficacy as well as scientific studies and results on this subject and whether this is a trend or offers actual solutions.

Nootropics reach back to the 1960’s when the first drug was used to combat motion sickness. By 1971, the drug piracetam was studied for memory improvement and it is believed that this is when the actual term ‘nootropic’ began. Dr. Corneliu Giurgea is credited for coining the word ‘nootropics’ as part of the piracetam testing. He chose the combination of the Greek ‘nous’ which means ‘mind’ and ‘trepein’ which means ‘to bend’. The results is a term that correlates to drugs that have the ability to bend the mind.

Over the years there have been continued extensive studies on piracetam around the globe, and each one focused on specific aspects of the drug use and the outcome in affecting the brain. One of the original purposes for the research related to Alzheimer’s patients and the potential for neuro protective benefits. Testing with drugs such as piracetam, aniracetam and ociracetam continued with animals and rats and were followed up by volunteer human patients when toxicity reports came through. It is important to note that previously defined ‘smart drugs’ such as Adderall and Ritalin are not included as part of the nootropic selections.

One might wonder how the popularity of nootropics made the jump into becoming ‘trendy’ and in finding the answer, you need only look to the incredibly competitive business world, specifically Silicon Valley. The requirements to not only maintain a working ‘edge’ but to continue to show a steady level of improvement in the workplace has made nootropics the drug of choice in the technology fields.

As reported in a Guardian article, “It <Silicon Valley> is a hotbed of interest because it is a mentally competitive environment, says Jesse Lawler, a LA based software developer and nootropics enthusiast who produces the podcast Smart Drug Smarts. “They really see this as translating into dollars.” But Silicon Valley types also do care about safely enhancing their most prized asset – their brains – which can give nootropics an added appeal, he says.

It seems that those that prefer nootropics do not rely solely on the main drug itself, but experiment with a cocktail of natural ingredients that act to enhance brain function and learning. Some make use of ‘green tea’ as an alternative to caffeine and there is a growing faction that are turning to these alternative methods in combination as an effort to maintain their health.