A nootropic is a drug or supplement that improves memory, learning, and general cognition. Nootropics are also known as smart drugs, cognitive enhancers, or neuro enhancers. They are somewhat controversial. In fact, the AMA came out with a paper against the use of prescription drugs by healthy people to boost brain function. But the most potent nootropic is the one that works for you.
The Range of Nootropics
Smart drugs come in a rainbow of choices, both prescription and over the counter. One class of smart drugs includes stimulants. These range from caffeine and nicotine to the ADHD drugs used by students to help them study. Racetams are another common class of smart drugs. And while the FDA has not approved them, they are available over the counter. Aside from these, a wide variety of medications and supplements (even vitamins) are being put forward as smart drugs.
Studies of some nootropics show no benefit, but other studies find more hopeful evidence of effectiveness. For example, researchers studied L-theanine and caffeine together using green tea. They found the combo enhanced memory and cognition.
The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) offers a library of research papers on smart drugs. And searching for a particular drug or supplement usually works better than searching for “nootropics” or “smart drugs.”
Some “brain hackers” use themselves as guinea pigs in the search for the right combination of nootropics. These combinations are often advertised as stacks and sold by marketers. And it’s a big market. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about the ingredients.
The search for the most potent nootropic in the world is still ongoing. More research is needed. But even then, so many personal variables influence the way our brains function. What works for you may not give even your closest relatives the same results. We’re all individuals, and a little (safe) experimentation can help us find what works for us. Full confession: my most potent nootropic is coffee. But I’ll have to try that green tea.