Smart Drugs Vs. Nutrition: Which Approach to Nootropics Is Right For You?

The term “nootropic” was coined in the early-70s to refer broadly to a class of substances that give some form of cognitive benefit.  In common usage, however, the term "nootropic" is now associated primarily with “smart drugs”, which are lab created compounds and are generally CNS stimulants or are stacked with CNS stimulants.

We think of two broad approaches to enhancing cognitive function:

Smart Drugs:

The approach taken by many nootropics users and brands is to use exogenous compounds (meaning substances that do not naturally occur in the human body) to stimulate enhanced short-term cognitive performance. Exogenous nootropics generally have either no positive long-term effects (e.g. Modafinil) or result in long-term damage to the brain (e.g. Adderall). Many of the compounds in this category of nootropics have poorly understood mechanisms of action (e.g. Racetams), which is to be expected since they are not part of the body’s natural chemistry. The effects range for mild to intense CNS stimulation depending on the compounds and dosages utilized. This approach to cognitive enhancement is appropriate for individuals seeking a short-term boost in cognitive function and should only be used occasionally if at all from the perspective of the long-term health and function of the brain.

Brain Nutrition:

The second approach, which we follow at Awakened Alchemy, is to support and enhance the brain’s existing chemistry, utilizing endogenous compounds (meaning substances that naturally occur in the human body) and herbal ingredients. By providing the brain with optimal nutrition, the brain grows healthier and stronger, resulting in noticeable improvements over time in cognitive function, learning ability, memory, focus, clarity, concentration, motivation, and drive. Our focus is on:

(i) increasing levels of key peptides (BDNF and NGF) that are linked to increased neuroplasticity and the improved health of neural networks and which therefore improve learning ability and general cognitive function,

(ii) providing the raw materials necessary for the synthesis of key neurotransmitters, enabling the areas of the brain that use these neurotransmitters to function more effectively, improving focus, clarity, memory, mood and motivation,

(iii) utilizing amino acids and adaptogenic herbs to help moderate anxiety and stress to facilitate the calm and balanced mental state necessary for optimal performance, and

(iv) providing key minerals and phospholipids that support the structure and function of the brain.

The effects of this approach take longer to become noticeable, but they compound over time as the brain grows stronger and healthier. Utilizing nutrition and endogenous brain chemistry results in feeling calm, centered, positive, capable, effective and productive, rather than feeling artificially stimulated, energized, hyperactive or hyper-focused.

Which approach is right for you? We suggest that you focus on the long-term health and function of your brain by using brain nutrition supplements daily and use short-term “smart drugs” and stimulant-based cognitive enhancers sparingly and only when you really need them.

But, what about Noopept? Awaken Gold does contain Noopept and Noopept is an exogenous compound. We think of Noopept as being somewhat unique, because Noopept is composed entirely of three endogenous compounds (the amino acids proline and glycine and phenylacetic acid) and it quickly breaks down in the body into those endogenous compounds. The effect of Noopept is to boost levels of Cycloprolylglycine, an endogenous peptide which has profound effects on increasing neuroplasticity by boosting BDNF and NGF levels.

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