What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are compounds that enhance brain function. 

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a nootropic is a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning.

Some bloggers refer to them as “smart drugs” but not all nootropics are “drugs.” Nootropics can include vitamins, supplements and both prescription and ‘street’ drugs. Like most moms, I like to keep it clean and while I’m curious about the clinical outcomes for those experimenting with illegal substances, I’m not trying those myself.

History of Nootropics

Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian chemist and psychologist, originally coined the term “nootropic” several decades ago. According to his guidelines a nootropic needed to:

  1. Enhance memory
  2. Improve behavior under adverse conditions
  3. Shield the brain from injury by physical or chemical means
  4. Improve tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
  5. Demonstrate a low toxicity and side-effect profile

Although modern nootropics have been discussed for about 50 years, plants have been used to influence mood and cognition, such as Ginkgo and coca leaves, for more than 10,000 years.

Who uses nootropics?

Students and professionals in high-pressure jobs have been the primary audience using nootropics so far. However, as the trend continues, people of all ages and situations are discovering that a little help to keep their mental edge is something that they want.

What substances are considered nootropics?

Different experts and voices in the conversation use the term to describe different things. Some consider anything that might support any aspect of cognitive function to be a nootropic. Some common substances include:

  • Botanical extracts (e.g., Panax ginsengGinkgo bilobaBacopa monnieri, and Rhodiola rosea)
  • Unique dietary ingredients (e.g., creatine, L-theanine (particularly when combined with a little caffeine), acetyl-L-carnitine, phosphatidylserine, and resveratrol)
  • Prescription drugs (Adderall, Ritalin)
  • Unregulated substances (e.g., the racetams – piracetam being the most widely used)

What about “smart drugs”?

Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall: It’s popular for individuals, particularly younger people who want to improve their mental focus to use prescription medications normally prescribed for ADHD.

These medications have a large potential for abuse and are not without side effects, particularly when taken in higher-than-recommended doses.

Adderall is an amphetamine, and Ritalin is a powerful stimulant. Side effects can include insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and loss of appetite. When used in high doses, both can cause high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, hallucinations, and seizures.

What supplements are nootropics?

There are so many, we’re going to be trying them out and publishing results here on this blog for years. Many botanicals and nutrients have large volumes of clinical information validating their efficacy for supporting cognitive function, memory, focus, productivity, creativity, and neurological health.

Supplements generally have a low side-effect profile and lack of dependency and withdrawal symptoms, so they’re much safer to try without the concerns that stronger drugs bring.

As you explore nootropics yourself, you’re going to be assembling your own custom “stack”, your unique mix of doses and times of day to take various things, to optimize your brain and body’s energy and functionality.

Follow us on social media and join our facebook group to ask your questions. Nootropics Mom is product agnostic and isn’t selling supplements. Our goal is to create an unbiased platform to truly help amazing women live their best lives.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Focus Nootropics Recipes

Home Made Energy Drinks

Focus Nootropics

Supplements for Brain Performance

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Optimize Your Coffee

Burnout Focus Nootropics

Focus, Mood & Motivation

It is said that mood follows action. That if you get yourself moving, your motivation will follow and your mood will improve. This is good advice. But for a nearing burn-out mom who just can’t keep up – sometimes a few vitamins and supplements can help a little too.

It may be time to look into Nootropics to help reclaim your brain and your life. As we age, our cognitive function naturally declines but fortunately, science has identified chemical compounds and nutrients that can help bring back the sharper mind of your youth.

Here are a few ingredients you can add to your diet to help optimize your brain’s function again:

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a cofactor in DNA synthesis, and in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.[3] It is particularly important in the normal functioning of the nervous system via its role in the synthesis of myelin,[2][4]

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is used in Ayurvedic traditional medicine to improve memory and to treat various ailments.[7] Preliminary clinical research found that Bacopa monnieri may improve cognition.[7][8][9]


In May, 2003 the Food and Drug Administration gave “qualified health claim” status to phosphatidylserine thus allowing labels to state “consumption of phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly”

DMAE Bitartrate

DMAE is a choline molecule with one less methyl group, and has the ability to reduce build-up of the age pigmentation known as beta-amyloid. It is the active component of Centrophenoxine, or Lucidril, a pharmaceutical designed for cognitive health in the elderly.

Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract

Popular with the Vikings to enhance mental and physical endurance, this revered adaptogen was included in the first Swedish Pharmacopeia and started to appear in scientific literature as early as 1725. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated a positive effect of Rhodiola root extract on a healthy mood.

These are just a few options to try and aren’t miracle cures. Not every supplement works exactly the same way for every person. But when you find the right combination for you – the extra energy can really make all the difference.

-Nootropics Mom