What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics are cognitive enhancing supplements that are designed to improve brain function and the brains ability to produce neuro-transmitters. Nootropics consist of a blend of nutrients specifically chosen to improve cognitive ability.

How do they Work?

The human body requires certain nutrients to function optimally. These nutrients are usually obtained through our diets. By altering the types and amounts of food we eat we also alter the nutrients available to our brain and thereby can alter our cognitive functioning. What nootrophics allow us to do is to further control and boost the specific nutrients required for postive optimal brain function. Nootropic supliments contain a combination of various nutrients specifically chosen to achieve positive benefits. "Nootropics are thought to work by altering the availability of the brain's supply of neurochemicals (neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones), by improving the brain's oxygen supply, or by stimulating nerve growth" (Wiki, 20121).

How do they Compare to Standard Vitamins or Health Supplements?

The performance and composition of nootropics varies widely as does research and proven benifits. Nootrophics often contain common vitamins however they may also contain;

  • Amino & Lipoic Acids
  • Extracts from Herbs, Plants, Roots & Bark
  • Stimulants and
  • Other Chemical Compounds

How can they help in Aviation?

Many positive results have been shown in recent studies. Nootropics can have the potential to increase the consumers cognitive abilities such as;

  • Intelligence
  • Mood (emotional state of mind)
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Focus and Concentration
  • Attention
  • stamina

Nootropics can be helpful for ageing pilots as they provide the brain with the components to create and restore neurotransmitters to more youthful levels.

Other Health Benefits

Some studies have also shown nootropics potential in reducing stress, which is a significant issue in aviation. Certain nootropics have been shown to buffer the brain’s response to stress and provide an overall calming effect (Onnit, 20122). Some forms of nootropics are used as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-stress (adaptogenic) medication. There are many proven benefits from nootropic components, but notably Vinpocetine and Uncaria tomentosa may have a potential role in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s disease (Wiki, 20121). Nootropics have also been used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Dr. Richard Brown Discussing Nutrients, Herbs, Nootropics, & Mind-Body Practices
(Video Embedded from Youtube on 11th Sept, 2012)

What Health Risks Are There?

Nootropics are non-addictive, and generally believed to be beneficial to the human system, however there is little long term research of effects. Side-effects are generally very uncommon however the range of nootropics available and the subjective experience of the individual means it can be hard to generalize their results. One should research the specific nootropic before consuming. Nootropics do not require a prescription. Nootropics are commonly reported to increase the vividness of dreams and although this is not a health risk some users may dislike this.

What Studies Have Been Done?

Because each nootropic is different studies on them can be hard to find or uncommon. This being said, there is a huge amount of information on the specific components used to make up the nootropics. The internet hosts a wealth of information. To find relevant studies, first look though the ingredients of the nootropic you're interested in. Websites like the Nootropic Ingredient Directory offer well organized clear information, and are a great place to start.

1. Wikipedia. (2012). Nootropics. Retrieved 11 September, 2012 from
2. Onnit. (2012). The Science Behind Alpha Brain. Retrieved 11 September, 2012 from
3. Limitlessmindset. (2012). Nootropic Ingredient Directory. Retrieved 11 September, 2012 from

Want to know more?

Youtube - What Are Nootropics & Do They Work?
A video explaining Nootropics and their usage
Nootropics101 - What Are Nootropics?
Further information on Nootropics
Neurosoup - Nootropics
Interesting information on common components of Nootropics
Newyorker - Brain Gain
An article on the underground world of “neuroenhancing” drugs by Margaret Talbot

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