Nootropics For Mental Wellness by Cynthia War, Counselling Psychologist
Nootropics are compounds that help the brain stay active and enhance our brain potential, state of well-being or learning ability. Nootropic (meaning: “towards the mind” in Greek) is used as a term for a supplement that is taken or ingested primarily for its effect on the brain.
According to www.examine.com, here are a few nootropics that we find and use in our everyday lives:
Fish oil: Fish oil is a common term used to refer to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids usually found in fish, animal products and phytoplankton. Fish oil is recommended as a source of these omega-3 fats as it is the cheapest and most common source of them. It helps balance out the high-fat and high-carb diet. A high trans-fat diet causes inflammation in certain body parts and fish oil helps to control the inflammation, making it a friend to the heart and the joints. Fish oil supports an increase in brain activity and memory. It also helps the brain with the process of gaining knowledge and understanding.
Glycine: Glycine is an amino acid which can have a uplifting as well as calming effect on the brain. It improves sleep quality, which is why it also has a calming effect. Infact, through improvement of sleep, glycine has also been known to treat fatigue or tiredness and also to improve brain activity.
Magnesium: While magnesium is considered a metal, it is also considered to be nootropic in nature because of the effect it has on the brain. Magnesium is essential for bone structure – it keeps your bones strong and makes sure the muscles work correctly. Magnesium is also found in every cell of the human body. Increasing magnesium can enhance working memory, boost long-term memory formation and improve learning.
L-theanine: L-theanine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that is naturally occurs in green tea leaves. It is known for its nootropic properties like memory improvement and better learning ability. It is also said to have a calming effect. L-theanine is a common supplement given to those who suffer from memory disorders (for e.g., Alzheimer’s disease and dementia) but it is known to have a positive effect on the healthy brain as well.
Caffeine: While there is still a lot of research being done on caffeine, what we do know is that it comes from coffee beans and it can also be synthesised in a laboratory. It has the same structure whether it’s in coffee, energy drinks, tea or pills. Caffeine is a powerful energiser and it can be used to improve physical strength and endurance. It is classified as a nootropic because it provides mental stimulation. However, constant intake of caffeine will lead to tolerance. This means that the effects are reduced only to a point where the user will only be awake. This is an “insurmountable” tolerance, which means more caffeine will not help to overcome it. A month-long break from caffeine can reduce tolerance.
Brahmi: Bacopa monnieri is among the most commonly used natural nootropics with proven effects for boosting memory, brain ability and brain health. Brahmi, which is the bacopa monnieri extract, dates far back into Ayurvedic medical practices. Some of the known effects of brahmi are that it improves memory with long-term use, it has been known to treat anxiety and mild depression, support focus and attention and it increases brain communication.
Blueberries: Blueberries are a small, blue-purple fruit that are frequently consumed as supplements. They can be eaten or supplemented through blueberry powder. The antioxidant and anthocyanin content of blueberries makes them particularly effective at reducing brain decline, supporting heart health, protecting the liver and reducing liver fat build-up. Blueberries may also have a potential nootropic effect. They have been found to improve brain activity in people undergoing brain decline or even in healthy people.They may also have a role to play in promoting the growth of nervous tissue. Blueberries are both a food product and a dietary supplement.
Nootropics are not always supplements or food, they can also come in the form of therapies. There a few forms of behavioural therapy that have positive effects on the mind:
Light therapy: Light therapy is basically exposure to sunlight or bright lights during the day. It has been investigated for treatment of a variety of conditions including skin disorders such as eczema and acne vulgaris, mood and sleep disorders such as seasonal affective disorder, depression, bipolar disorder and delayed sleep phase syndrome and has even been used to promote wound healing.
Dark therapy: Dark therapy is the process of greatly reducing exposure to any light during the hours before sleep. Melatonin, which is an important hormone involved in regulating the body clock, is not broken down because of dark therapy. There have been improvements due to the melatonin upregulation – this includes decreased risk of headaches, cancer and obesity. Other claims of successful treatment of bipolar depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines and headaches have also been made.
Music therapy: Music is best defined as an abstract or subjective stimulus that we perceive with our ears and then form patterns or associations with our minds that results in a sometimes similar or a completely unique experience. It can be the audio perception from one’s favourite songs, remixes or renditions. It can affect the brain significantly and vicariously through that may influence the body. It depends on the preference of music and accordingly can induce any feeling.
It is important to note that while some nootropics induce certain brain (cognitive) or body functions in some people, it could be possible that it may not work for others. While the nootropics noted here sound common and that they would work for everyone, depending upon how one ingests them, perceives them and their biological make-up, results may vary for some. There are many different types and kinds of nootropics that have not been mentioned in this article, you can read up on them from the links below:
Note: None of the information in this article is to be construed as medical advice. This article is purely one that provides information for the readers, the author is in no way trying to influence anyone to buy and use nootropics.
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- Tags: Alzheimer's disease amino acid anthocyanin antioxidant anxiety Ayurvedic Bacopa monnieri blueberries Brahmi brain potential caffeine Dark therapy dementia fish oil Glycine Greek improves sleep quality L-theanine learning ability Light therapy long-term memory magnesium melatonin Mental Wellness mild depression Music therapy nootropics omega-3 fatty acids state of well-being supplement tolerance towards the mind
- Priti Srinivasan