There are two types of nootropics available in the market—prescription and over-the-counter (OTC). Prescription nootropics are recommended in the treatment of certain medical conditions, which include:
Some of the prescription nootropic drugs and their uses are listed below:
|Modafinil||Treats sudden drowsiness associated with narcolepsy||Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep|
|Adderall||Treats ADHD||Increased heart rate|
|Methylphenidate||Manages symptoms of narcolepsy and ADHD||Changes in vision or blurred vision|
|Memantine||Treats symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease||High blood pressure, depression|
Some studies have reported that prescription nootropics when taken regularly, increase chances of behavioral problems such as risky sexual practices.
OTC nootropics are natural or synthetic supplements available in the market without a prescription. Some of the commonly available natural and synthetic nootropic drugs, their prescribed doses, and uses are described below:
|Caffeine||400 mg or up to four to five cups of coffee||Acts as stimulants||
|L-theanine||100 to 400 mg/day||Increases alpha waves in the brain, contributing to a relaxed yet alert mental state||Same as caffeine|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||NA||
||May interact with medications affecting blood clotting|
|Gingko biloba||200 mg/day for at least five months||Improves brain function||Not safe with prescription nootropic drugs|
|Panax ginseng||100 to 600 mg one or two times a day||
Prevents certain brain diseases including
|Interacts with many medicines. Hence, one should consult the doctor before taking this supplement|
|Rhodiola rosea||One capsule one or two times daily||
|Creatine||30 g/day||Helps with short-term memory and reasoning||Limited research is available on whether the supplement is safe for adolescent athletes|
|Ashwagandha||400 to 500 mg/day||
What are the benefits of nootropics?
Benefits of various nootropics, their effect on the brain, and side effects are described below:
|Nootropic||Mechanism of action||Desired effect on the brain||Adverse side effects|
|Armodafinil||Increases the action of neurotransmitters (exciting chemical messengers) such as glutamate and suppresses depressant neurotransmitters such as GABA||Increases wakefulness||
|Citicoline||Protects the integrity of nerve membranes and modulates the level of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, dopamine, and glutamate||
|Ampakines||Stimulates the action of glutamate by binding to its receptors||
Long-term improvement is seen in the following areas:
|L-theanine||Increases alpha waves in the brain||
Thus, the benefits of nootropics can be summarized as follows:
Are nootropics effective in pain management?
Some nootropic drugs, such as piracetam, may have additional analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Pain and inflammation are due to the migration of the immune cells and oxidative stress at a particular site.
- Piracetam could suppress the immune cells and remove the free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
- Studies have reported that the analgesic action of piracetam could be due to the stimulation of certain receptors at the spinal levels.
Are nootropics effective and safe?
The effectiveness of nootropic drugs is demonstrated in many small-scale studies. However, large-scale studies haven’t been conducted to prove their efficacy.
There aren’t many studies about the safety and effectiveness of nootropics, so it is difficult to predict if these drugs could be effective for all.
- Because natural supplements do not come under regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the safety of drugs is uncertain, and the possibility of adulteration is high.
- Some products are reported to have contaminants that are not mentioned on the label. Hence, always consult a physician before taking these supplements or buy the supplements from a reputable company that undergoes independent testing.
- These are not recommended for pregnant women and children unless prescribed by a physician.
Many nootropics have the potential for undesirable drug-drug interactions. If you are already on any other prescription drugs (for heart disease, diabetes, or oral contraception), nootropics may alter their effect on the body.
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