What is a nootropic?

So what is a nootropic? Unless you have searched for it or tried it yourself odds are you might not even know they existed…

If you’ve watched the movie Limitless or read the book The Dark Fields it can be easy to see why a large number of people wish the “limitless drug” actually existed. In both the film and book, the drug grants an intense elevation of creativity, intellect, and learning powers to anyone who takes the drug. However, it is accompanied by adverse side effects.

A simple search online for “limitless drug to enhance brain power” will produce results containing a wide variety of supplements that claim to do so. Further research on the topic brings out a common word around most of those supplements. The common word is nootropic/s. Now don’t get confused and think that any of those supplements will do what the “limitless drug” does in the film or book. The existence of such drug is merely science fiction (so far). However, brain enhancing supplements do exist and in fact are claimed to be used largely in Silicon Valley by entrepreneurs and tech workers. These supplement/drugs are nootropics and are slowly getting more and more popular.

What is a nootropic? How do they work? Are they safe?


Nootropics are supplements/ drugs that enhance mental function. Some of the benefits of nootropoics include improvement of focus, memory, motivation, learning ability, and overall cognitive wellbeing. Due to this ability nootropics are also referred to as brain boosters, smart drugs, memory enhancers, and intelligence enhancers.

To answer what is a nootropic we must learn a little bit of its history. The first nootropic synthesized was Piracetam and it is one of the most well known and used to this day. The term nootropic is used to describe any substance that does not fit into any existing classification and is taken primarily for its affects on the brain. The word nootropic was coined by the Romanian psychologist and chemist named Cornelious E. Giurgea. He was the first synthesized piracetam. To be considered a nootropic a supplement must have the following traits:

  • Improve learning and memory.
  • Not contain the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs and have very few side effects and extremely low toxicity.
  • Improve the resistance of learned behaviors and memories against conditions that could disrupt them.
  • Provide protection to the brain against physical or chemical injuries.
  • Enhance the effectiveness of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms.

Are Nootropics Safe?

Although, nootropics are considered safe with no known dangerous side effects and low toxicity, one should always exercise caution with proper dosing and obtaining them from trusted suppliers just as any other supplement. Furthermore, it is also important to note that just like any other supplement what works wonders for you might work just “ok” for someone else and vise versa. Everyone’s bodies are different and can react differently to supplements just like it can react differently to foods.