Nootropics: A deep dive
James Hudson
A nootropic is an ingredient that has positive effects on the brain

A nootropic is an ingredient that has positive effects on the brain. These effects include better memory, improved learning and beneficial changes in our mood, such as reduced anxiety. Nootropic ingredients can be plant extracts such as Rhodiola Rosea and Avena Sativa or amino acids such as L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine. (See memory capsules for more information)

To understand how nootropics work we need to look at the anatomy of the brain. There are 86 billion nerves in the brain which use neurotransmitters to join one another at nerve junctions. These neurotransmitters allow messages to be sent across vast numbers of pathways. Our brain is described as having “plasticity” (the ability to be easily shaped), because of the huge numbers of these neural pathways available. When we learn new things or build new habits our brain is utilising new neural pathways. Nootropics make it easier for the brain to follow new pathways or find old pathways that have not been recently used. This results in improved memory, better focus and enhanced learning.

Examples of nootropics include:

  • Ginkgo Biloba: This ingredient has been highlighted for its anti-dementia properties [1] and also its neuro-protective properties. It will help to protect the brain from slowing as we age. Ginkgo Biloba has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and anti-inflammation in the cerebral infarction region [2].
  • Rhodiola Rosea: Also known as “golden root” it contains an active component called Salidroside, which has neuroprotective and antioxidative effects [3].

Author: James Hudson 

[1] Weinmann, S., Roll, S., Schwarzbach, C., Vauth, C., & Willich, S. N. (2010). Effects of Ginkgo biloba in dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC geriatrics, 10(1), 14.

[2] Song, W., Zhao, J., Yan, X. S., Fang, X., Huo, D. S., Wang, H., ... & Yang, Z. J. (2019). Mechanisms Associated with Protective Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extracton in Rat Cerebral Ischemia Reperfusion Injury. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 1-7. 

[3] Chen, X., Liu, J., Gu, X., & Ding, F. (2008). Salidroside attenuates glutamate-induced apoptotic cell death in primary cultured hippocampal neurons of rats. Brain Research, 1238, 189-198.