In the 1960’s and 1970’s work first started to look at compounds that had the potential to enhance cognition. Some of this early work started on B vitamins and has progressed to this day encompassing countless compounds from sulbutiamine (a B vitamin derivative) to sources sources of choline such as Alpha-GPC and CDP-Choline.
The word Nootropic emerged to describe this class of compounds, derived from the Greek words nous, meaning “mind”, and trepein meaning “to turn.” Nootropics are most neatly defined as a compound that enhances an aspect of human cognition. In practical terms Nootropics are a safe way to improve some aspect of cognition such as memory, focus or mood.
Nootropic: a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning
You may not know, but you most likely drink a Nootropic every day already – Caffeine, in coffee, is the world’s most popular stimulant and proven to improve both mental any physical performance. Lesser known Nootropics are CDP-Choline and Alpha-GPC. Both are prodrugs (something that is metabolised into something else in the body), CDP-Choline gives the body choline and uridine, while Alpha-GPC gives the body choline and glycerophosphate. Choline is an essential nutrient important in the functioning of the brain.
These days the terms Adaptogen and Nootropic are used somewhat interchangeably. Strictly though, Adaptogens are compounds, often herbs that help the body adapt to stress and restore normal physiological functioning. Importantly they must be nontoxic.
Although a relatively new term, many Adaptogens have been used for centuries in traditional medicine, the most obvious examples being Traditional Chinese or Indian Ayurvedic.
Popular examples of Adaptogens are panax ginseng, ashwagandha, bacopa monnieri, rhodiola, curcumin, the list goes on. Mushrooms can also be adaptogens and many have been used for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine. Cordyceps and Reishi mushrooms for example being the subject of much research into their effect on aspects of human cognition.
One of the most interesting areas of research with Nootropics and Adaptogens is combining them to create synergistic pairings with more rounded effect profiles. A great example of this is Caffeine and the calming amino acid L-Theanine. Multiple studies have shown this balanced combination can significantly improve attention and alertness1,2 as well as reduce the sometimes negative side effects of caffeine alone such as nervous energy or anxiety. This is the combination we employ in our Boost Nootropic. In many ways it’s like a calming cup of strong coffee!
Our other Nootropic, Edge is a daily cognitive enhancer, centred about B Vitamins, Bacopa Monnieri and the aforementioned Alpha GPC. Bacopa Monnieri, a herb, native to Southern India, is traditionally used in Ayurveda and has demonstrated memory improvement3 and anxiety reduction4 properties.
The subject and study of Nootropics and Adaptogens is a large one and growing in interest as it moves from niche interest toward the mainstream. With our products we’ve taken the most thoroughly researched and efficacious ingredient combinations to create two high quality, innovative products that will work for you.
See Form’s range of Nootropics and Adaptogens here.
1 ‘The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood.’, Haskell et al (2008) Biol Psychol, 77(2), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006208.
2 ‘The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness’, Giesbrecht et al. (2010), Nutr Neurosci, 13(6), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040626
3 ‘Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa Monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial’, Stough et al. (2008), Phytotherapy Research, 22(12), 1629-1634. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18683852
4 ‘Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.’, Calabrese et al. (2008), The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(6), 707-713. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153866/