Some nootropics can be found in the least expected places. Many generic supplements and compounds boast nootropics-like effects while being primarily marketed as something else.
In this article we will jump in and cover certain supplements marketed for other ends, but can boost cognitive abilities.
4 Potential Nootropics You Didn’t Know About
Although each supplement can affect the brain differently, some of these can help slow the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, others can improve stamina or sleep quality.
1. Nootropics: Creatine
Taken from our article on Creatine with nootropics-like properties:
When you think about Nootropics or smart drugs, for the sake of increasing productivity, stimulants like Modafinil, Adderall, and Caffeine pop into your mind.
Many individuals out there looking to improve their productivity without suffering from the side-effect profiles of stimulants — clamminess, jitteriness, anxiety, elevated body temperature, tachycardia, hypertension, headaches, feeling “cracked out,” comedowns, etc. — are left to work with their own devices, failing to unlock their maximum potential.
But the evergreen bodybuilding supplement makes a strong case for improving productivity, not just by increasing mental acuity by refueling neurotransmitters, but also by fueling the brain to prolong stamina as well as offering protection from neurological diseases and neurotoxins [R].
It can also improve reasoning abilities and counteract some of the sluggishness brought on by sleep deprivation [R].
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder, Unflavored, Keto Friendly, 240 Servings (Packaging May Vary)
Vegetarians and highly-stressed individuals have been reported to enjoy stellar results from supplementing creatine [R].
Creatine is also one of the safest and most studied performance enhancing drugs — yet one of the fewest over-the-counter supplements that can actually yield supraphysiological results.
And lastly, creatine can also provide antioxidant benefits.
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How It Works
Creatine is a non-essential amino acid that your body can produce it naturally through glycine and arginine, but it is notoriously difficult to consume an active-dose’s-worth through food sources alone.
It is synthesized by your liver, kidneys, and pancreas [R].
In fact, the average person would need to consume an exorbitant amount of food to enjoy an active dose to the point where their diet would be derailed.
When you supplement creatine, you body stores it as phosphocreatine which is a precursor to ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) — equivalent to your body’s energy currency of choice.
Most ATP (around 95%) is stored in the muscles, with the remainder stored in the liver, kidneys, and brain.
Increased ATP levels can power the muscles through vigorous training regimens as well as directly contribute towards recovery and growth.
But it is the higher ATP levels in the brain that we are concerned with today.
Creatine as a Nootropic: ATP Levels in The Brain
Now, when it comes to the ol’ noggin, it is used to restock ATP levels produced by the mitochondria in the brain cells.
When your neurons use ATP, it loses its phosphate molecule becoming ADP (adenosine diphosphate). But when Creatine is added into the mix — becoming phosphocreatine in the body — the depleted ADP is reconverted to ATP to continue fueling the neurons.
As Nootropics Expert puts it, you can expect to enjoy some of the following benefits:
- Brain Energy. Creatine can reduce mental fatigue. Creatine re-charges ATP which is the fuel source for your brain cells.
- Neurotransmitters. Creatine re-charges ATP which is directly involved in producing, packaging and secreting neurotransmitters. Creatine boosts intelligence, improves memory, facilitates faster thinking, and improves mood.
- Neuroprotectant. Creatine fuels ATP, and boosts cellular metabolism which helps protect against neuronal damage from toxins. And improves cognition.
Studies have shown that children with higher levels of creatine in their brain enjoyed a better working memory when it came to performing daily tasks over children with lower levels of the naturally-occurring amino acid [R].
Another study shows that this non-essential amino acid can improve productivity with a middling dose in a state of sleep deprivation [R].
2. Nootropics: Ibutamoren (MK-677)
Although this entry maybe a little more controversial, it still has its place as IGF-1 — or, more precisely, a lack of IGF-1 — is associated with a slew of negative neurological conditions.
One of the other beneficial effects of Ibutamoren, as you might expect of a drug that simulates the effects of ghrelin, is improved sleep quality. A small study showed that Ibutamoren improved sleep quality and duration of REM sleep in both young and elderly subjects. [R] There is significant anecdotal evidence for Ibutamoren’s beneficial effects for sleep.
‘All i can say is WOW from the first night i slept the deep sleep normally you get only on Z-drugs or hynotic Benzo’s (which i have been prescribed in the past due to sleep problems) but unlike those there is no suppresion of REM and no morning grogginess. This is shown on the sleep tracker results, unfortunately i did not do a control period before (more later) so can’t give an exact figure.’ [R].
Other potential beneficial effects include nootropic – i.e. cognitive – effects, both because of improved sleep quality and because IGF-1 has important roles to play in cognition and memory, and effects related to general longevity. Both growth hormone and IGF-1 levels are associated with longevity. [R]
Improved sleep quality translates to improved problem solving abilities and memory alongside the IGF-1’s ability to enhance memory and study.
Another study linked low IGF-1 levels and the progression of Alzheimer’s [R][R]. We have previously discussed how supplements such as NAC and Creatine can both delay the onset of such diseases.
IGF-1 levels have been shown to reduce depression and anxiety in animal models [R].
3. Nootropics: NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
NAC is another recently maligned supplement that could be compared with other nootropics.
Because NAC can help regulate the important neurotransmitter Glutamate, it is believed that those with brain and memory ailments such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s can benefit from NAC — like with Creatine.
Glutathione may prevent brain cell oxidation that leads to the aging of the cells and a host of related ailments.
A depletion of both Glutamate and Glutathione can cause brain damage [R].
Some of these complications may include Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Addictive Personality, and OCD [R].
The onset of these debilitating diseases can be slowed down by NAC; those who suffer from dopamine-related issues or tremors can also find alleviation with NAC [R].
As previously mentioned, addicts may find relief due to the removal of certain toxins and antioxidant effects.
4. Nootropics: Kratom
We previously covered Kratom in a bodybuilding capacity, but, in my personal experience, Kratom is far more enjoyable for work or study.
- increase focus/alertness
- elevate mood
- induce mild euphoria
- improve attention span
I find that I can work more diligently and for longer hours when I take a small dose of Kratom before writing or whatever task I have to complete.
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