Brain supplements are gaining popularity as the years go by. They have been found to help with improving different aspects of the brain like memory, attention, focus, learning and thinking abilities, concentration, moods, reducing anxiety and depression and so many more.
And while people become more and more interested in them, people are getting concerned about their safety and reliability. In fact, almost everyone seeking to look into nootropics as an option to enhance their mind, are having this big question, “Are nootropics safe?”
Well, the main aim of this post is to discuss this question at length and provide a reliable answer based on studies that will help you make the right choice as far as nootropics are concerned.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Going by research, clinical trials and user reports, brain supplements are generally safe and have beneficial effects if taken by users responsibly.
And there is more to this than meets the eye.
See, when it comes to nootropics, there are different varieties of brain supplements that fall in this name. There are natural supplements and synthetic ones as well as those that have been well researched on and tested, and those that have had little research and trials.
Some of the well known natural brain supplements include bacopa Monierri, Gingko Biloba and Ashwagandha, to mention just a few, while the synthetic ones include Aniracetam, Piracetam and Oxiracetam among others.
The difference is in how they are made but all of them have shown good results in improving the different areas of the brain they have been associated with.
In the category of research and trials, a good example of a supplement that has been well researched on is Piracetam since it is the first racetam to be made and has been around for decades now.
A supplement that has not been well researched on is Fasoracetam. Although the few studies on it have brought out very positive and promising results.
The bottom line is, it is pretty difficult to give a final judgement on brain supplements as a whole because there are many factors that come into play as well as the wide variety of nootropics there are, but there are certain factors that can be looked into when using them to increase safety and maximize the benefits.
This is what we are going to look at in the next section.
Factors That Influence The Performance of Nootropics
1. Nootropic Based Factors
* Dosage – There is always a dosage that comes with every smart drug that the experts recommend you work with to get the benefits the said drug is known to provide.
It is important to follow the dosage strictly as it is based on the research done on the supplement as well the human and animal studies carried out.
Normally, before setting the dosage as the official dosage, trials are done on people and animals for different dosages and the one that shows optimal results is set as the official dosage.
Dosages higher than the recommended one are mostly known to cause side effects or reverse effects.
Reverse effects associated with smart drugs are when you take a drug to reduce a brain related issue and end up making the issue worse instead.
This is due to taking more than what was listed in the bottle. That is why it is quite essential to confirm that the dosage you are working with is the right one and stick to it.
Also, be sure to start with the minimum dosage and slowly increase the dosage (where it is recommended) and only when it is necessary.
* Frequency of the doses – The other dosage related aspect that affects the safety of brain enhancing drugs is how often you are taking them.
There are those supplements you are advised to take continuously for a period of a month to maximize the benefits while there are those that need only a few hours to release their abilities.
For those that take a few weeks or so, it is wise to take them using cycles. Cycles are having a period when you are taking the supplements and then a following period when you give your body a rest from them, then get back to them a while after.
Normally, the best cycle is having a whole month where you are taking the supplements and then a whole month break from them. After that, you take them again for a month and then another month’s break. And keep following the cycle.
This not only keeps you safe from building tolerance that would require you to have a higher dosage that could put your health at risk, it has also been proven to be the best method of working with this category of nootropics.
For the supplements that take a few minutes to kick in and then last for a few hours, you are supposed to take them only when you need them.
Avoid having them on a daily basis or thinking of creating a daily routine for them. This will keep you in good balance and help you avoid becoming addicted to them (for some drugs) or build tolerance.
* Stacking – Sometimes, it is good to take two nootropics at the same time since studies have shown there are nootropics that enhance the performance of other nootropics.
This is known as stacking. A good example is taking any racetams like Aniracetam together with a choline supplement like CDP Choline and the like, because it helps keep choline choline levels in your body at peak for many benefits.
However, you should make sure that the drugs you are about to stack go well together as not all of them do. Some cause a harming effect when taken alongside others.
For example, modafinil is known to work against anti depressants, treatments for ADHD and MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) inhibitors.
Research profile of the nootropic – As earlier mentioned, there are supplements that have been well researched on and those that haven’t gotten numerous research and trials but have shown great abilities with the little research done on them.
Mostly, the ones that have had studies and trials on them are the ones that have were developed or discovered years ago while the new ones are mostly the ones that have little research, although not all.
It is your responsibility to take time and know the research profile of the nootropic that you want to use before using it.
Working with the well researched ones than the less researched ones reduces the risk of the side effects or other unknown negative effects that come with the ones that have not been fully studied.
2. Individual Based Factors
* Other medications being used – This is another critical element to consider when you want to get into nootropics. It is always advisable to visit your doctor before having any supplements, especially when you are on medications for other health conditions.
The thing is, there are supplements that have a good interaction with the medications and others don’t go so well with them and could end up causing more problems for you.
For instance, you are advised not to take Gingko Biloba together with medications like blood thinners, aspirin and NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs) pain relievers.
* Age – Reports indicate that the most common users of brain supplements are young adults (youths) and teens. These are biggest users of brain enhancers.
However, it is believed that people who used the supplements below the age of 25 could have adverse effects.
This is not proven yet but there are high chances it could be true since the nootropics normally interfere with the natural development of the brain, which takes about 25 years for the brain to be fully developed.
It also affects maturation of the brain especially when stimulants are used.
* Chemistry of the body – The chemistry of the body differes from one person to another. That is why you will find some brain supplements will have really rewarding benefits for one person while they won’t work for another person.
This is true not only with supplements but even with medications. That is why it is always recommended you check with a doctor before you start using any brain drugs.
* Health condition before using nootropics – Your health condition as you opt for nootprics is a huge factor to keep in mind.
Experts advise you, as the user, to be healthy before you take the supplements, or have the condition the supplement you want to take is known to handle.
That means, if you want to take a memory supplement, make sure you have a memory condition.
If you have any other existing health issues before taking a nootropic, you could be putting your health in danger, especially if you don’t consult a doctor.
Health issues like heart disease, diabetes and liver disease, to name a few, could put you in more harm if you went for nootropics without professional medical advice.
Tips For Safety to Keep in Mind When Taking Nootropics
Here are things you should always consider before you go for any nootropic:
1. Follow the recommended dosage – See that you work with the advised dosage for the particular nootropic you want to use. In the case of a dosage that ranges from one quantity to another, start with the lowest dosage and increase it with time, only when it is needed.
Low doses have proven to have maximum benefits while high doses in other cases have shown to affect the way the nootropic is known to work.
2. Consider cycling – Where cycling is needed, be sure to follow the cycle as strictly as possible.
If you take high doses of a supplement for a long period of time without any breaks, you may get side effects and also find yourself having built tolerance that will need you to increase the dosage which could put you in danger of addiction, dependence and affect your normal brain function.
3. Use nootropics only when you need them – Intead of creating a routine for them, seek to use them only during the time you feel you really need them. This will keep you away from the negative effects of long term use.
4. Avoid stacking without medical advice – Only stack nootropics when you are advised to by an expert, don’t do it yourself. Chances of increasing health risk are high if you use many nootropics from different manufacturers all at once.
5. Don’t expect magical effects from nootropics – While brain supplements are based on scientific study and are known to work, don’t have high expectations from them.
There is this tendency to want to be a genius using brain supplements as depicted in the movie and series “Limitless” which is close to impossible.
Know that they provide a good deal of boost to the brain but cannot be used in place of your normal lifestyle. Also, use them while living a healthy lifestyle.
6. Do your research on nootropics before using them – Before you purchase a supplement, know their mechanism of action, how long their effects last in you, how long it takes before you get the benefits, the side effects associated with them, their interaction with other medications and nootropics, if any side effect could really be harmful, how taking them affect your sleeping patterns and any other information you feel might be crucial.
As a piece of advice, work with the more researched supplements over the ones with little background information.
7. Make a visit to your doctor before supplementing – It is always important to take cognitive boosters that work well with your body’s chemistry and your health status. And you can only be sure of this by paying a visit yo your doctor before you get started.
In conclusion, it is essential you know that generally, many brain supplements are considered safe to use (as there are even other that have been approved as medications in different countries), but be particularly careful with the ones that have little background information as they may have unknown problems.
If taken as directed and with care, nootropics can serve a good benefit to the users.