For a long time psychology has changed its approach .

From dealing mainly with psychological disorders and harmful alterations in the functioning of mental processes, it has gone on to propose lines of research and intervention that lead to the improvement of human potential. The drugs and supplements known as nonotropics represent a similar paradigm shift in the field of neurosciences and psychopharmacology.

The idea that makes nootropics so promising is simple: they could give us the option to improve our cognitive abilities by taking a dose, without suffering significant adverse effects .

What are nootropics?

The definition of the concept of “non-tropics” is as open as its nature and possible potential. In fact, since the Romanian chemist and psychologist Corneliu E. Giurgea first coined the term in 1972, what is understood by nootropics has been evolving and reaching diffuse conceptual limits.

Defining the concept

Just because the concept of nootropics is confusing and broad does not mean that there is no rough definition. In short, nootropics are a heterogeneous group of synthetic preparations and supplements that, once administered in certain doses, have shown promising results in improving the functioning of certain brain functions related to cognition, i.e., mental processes related to memory, intelligence, attention management and creativity.

Nootropics, therefore, could be useful in improving performance and mental agility that are needed to solve complex and difficult tasks, but they can also have a role in preventing cognitive impairment.

Nootropic is not synonymous with psychostimulant

It must be taken into account that nootropics are not simply psychostimulants , as they are also characterised by the fact that they produce practically no adverse side effects or chemical dependency, and taking an adequate dose does not become an immediate threat to the health of the person taking them. This differentiates them from stimulants such as amphetamines.

That is why, although nootropics are also known as “cognitive drugs” or intelligent drugs , if we stick to the definition created by consensus, we can differentiate them from substances that damage health and leave clear and irreversible wounds in the body, or that are toxic. Although all substances that affect the functioning of neurons have side effects that are not related to the purpose for which the dose is taken, these may be of such little importance or of such low intensity that they are not considered harmful.

Not all nootropics are drugs

It is also worth noting that there are non-notropic drugs and non-notropic substances that are not considered drugs. The difference between the two is that drugs are subject to medical indication and are sold in pharmacies, while the rest can be obtained in a wide variety of stores, herbalists, etc.

The great attraction of cognitive stimulants

The idea of nootropics fits perfectly with an increasingly competitive society in which optimizing work performance becomes more and more a struggle to train the body in the art of working under constant pressure.

These substances offer two types of promises that are highly valued in the Western countries of the 21st century: the possibility of optimising one’s cognitive abilities to adjust to the demands of the labour market , and the immediacy of the results sought. At the end of the day, it is easier and simpler to exchange money for a compound that takes the functioning of the brain to another level instantly than to choose a skill to train and dedicate hours, days or years to this task.

It is precisely for this reason that workers in certain sectors related to creativity and new technologies, as well as students who aspire to find a place in the elite universities, have long been making the consumption of non-tropics very widespread. For these social groups, the difference between performing well and not reaching the goals set can mean a turnaround in their work expectations and life plans, so the use of these products becomes one of the many steps necessary to aspire to success .

Selling Nootropics on the Internet

The fact that the consumer profile of non-notropics is familiar with the use of new technologies and that there are generally no strong legal restrictions that block their marketing makes the sale and purchase of non-notropics on the Internet popular in many countries.

One of the best selling supplements in Spain is Boost Calm Focus . This is a nootropic supplement developed by the firm Queal. According to Anthony Ripa , from its communication team:

“At Queal Boost, we focused on making a “stack”, based on solid, reproducible research. This is what makes Queal Booster different from others on the market.Each component of Queal Boost has a background of multiple independent controlled trials on the placebo effect. Such research shows results and evidence of improvement in certain cognitive skills.

In addition, has created web portals and forums where consumers can talk about their experiences with these preparations , ask questions and give advice on what to take, what for and how to do it. The result is the existence of online communities that keep the popularity of non-tropics alive and at the same time give them visibility, something that also happens with supplements used to improve performance in physical activities.

The three main brands of nonotropics, Absorb Health , Power Focus and Incite Elite , market their boats through platforms such as Amazon . By clicking on the image, you can review the products, in case you want to try some non-tropicals and evaluate their effect on your intelligence and memory.

The effectiveness of cognitive enhancers

Now that we know what the concept of nootropics itself is, we can ask what these substances are in practice. In other words, how does the definition fit in with reality?

The effectiveness of non-tropics has been called into question by the fact that many of the results obtained after years of research are inconclusive. Results have been obtained which confirm the expected effects of the use of these preparations, but there is also research which has given opposite results. Moreover, as non-tropics need not resemble each other either in their components or in their preparation or proposed use, to talk about their effectiveness or ineffectiveness by encompassing them all is an oversimplification .

However, what can be said about practically all non-tropics is that, although some are promising, it is still not known for sure to what extent they are effective and useful to be introduced into the daily life of healthy people or people with symptoms of dementia. To clarify these points will require years of research and joint efforts to scientifically prove their usefulness.

The most popular types of nootropics

Of course, the fact that there is no guarantee of efficacy in the use of nootropics has not prevented the existence of some particularly popular preparations of this type. These are some of them .

1. Hill

The potential of this substance could be related to the improvement of motor coordination and tasks requiring the use of memory .

2. Piracetam

Synthesized by Corneliu E. Giurgea himself, could slow down the deterioration of cognitive abilities in the elderly . It has also been attributed with some effectiveness in improving memory and verbal fluency in larger age groups.

3. Aniracetam

Like piracetam, it is part of a group of substances called racetams . It is attributed with the effect of improving the capacity to concentrate and think fluently in situations of pressure, as well as slowing down the advance of mental deterioration in older people.

4. Galamantine

Galamantine is popular among some people interested in onironautics , since it is attributed with the power to increase the possibilities of remembering dreams well and having lucid dreams.

Consumption of nootropics without medical indication

The fact that the group of nootropics is so broad and heterogeneous means that several of the preparations included in it are consumed without medical indication, in the same way as food supplements are consumed. This has led to a debate about whether it is appropriate for people without proper medical training to consume certain substances on their own and to determine the doses they need.

However, this is a debate that goes far beyond science, and involves the moral criteria and values that guide the creation of laws in different countries. This does not mean that much more research is not needed on the functioning of non-tropics and their long-term effects, the latter being a relatively unknown topic, given that it is not so long since these compounds have been marketed. We will continue to pay attention to the evolution of cognitive enhancers, both in terms of their social implementation and their effects .

Bibliographic references:

  • Potter, B. and Orfali, S. (1993). Brain Boosters. Foods and drugs that make you smarter. Ronin Editorial.

  • Ruiz Franco, J. (2005). Intelligent Drugs . Editorial Paidotribo.
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  • Nootriment – Supplement Reviews and Healthy Ideas. (2014). Guide to Different Types of Nootropics . Available at: