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IEET > Contributors > Lincoln Cannon > HealthLongevity > Enablement > Neuroscience

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These Seven Nootropics are the Real Smart Drugs


Lincoln Cannon
By Lincoln Cannon
Lincoln Metacannon

Posted: Feb 23, 2016

Nootropics are drugs, supplements, and foods that improve mental function. Sometimes people refer to them as smart drugs. They facilitate desired mental functions like memory and focus, and reduce undesired mental states like stress and depression. I’ve been researching and experimenting with them for years. And I’ve found that most don’t seem to do much more than make expensive urine. But there are exceptions. Below is my list of nootropics that work, based on peer reviewed scientific research and my own experience.

1) Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial creeping herb native to wetlands worldwide (read more). Supplementation may provide a notable increase to memory, according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled. It may also provide a minor decrease to anxiety, depression, and forgetting.

2) Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates (read more). It is best known for providing benefits to persons engaged in strength training. Supplementation may also provide a notable decrease to fatigue, according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled. It may also provide a notable decrease to depression; a minor increase to fatigue resistance, subjective well-being, and cognition; and a minor decrease to symptoms of sleep deprivation.

3) Ginkgo Biloba is a tree native to China (read more). Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to cognitive decline, according to robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials. It may also provide a minor increase to memory, cognition, sleep quality, subjective well-being, calmness, cerebral blood flow, processing accuracy, processing speed, and reaction time; and a minor decrease to symptoms of Alzheimer’s, ADHD in children, anxiety, numerical memory, stress, symptoms of PMS, and symptoms of schizophrenia.

4) Inositol is a sugar alcohol chemical compound that exists in various forms, the most prominent of which is myo-inositol, which occurs widely in nature (read more). Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to anxiety and panic attacks, according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled. It may also provide a minor decrease to depression, and symptoms of PMS.

5) Melatonin is a substance found in animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria (read more). Supplementation may provide a strong decrease to insomnia and notable decrease to symptoms of jet lag, according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled. It may also provide a minor increase to sleep quality, and memory; and a minor decrease to alertness.

6) Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial flowering plant that grows on sea cliffs and mountains in cold regions of the world (read more). Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to fatigue, according to robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials; and a notable increase to cognition and subjective well-being, according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled. It may also provide a notable decrease to depression; a minor increase to processing accuracy; and a minor decrease to rate of perceived exertion, and stress.

7) Theanine is an amino acid analogue found primarily in particular plant and fungal species (read more). Supplementation may provide a notable increase to relaxation (usually without sedation), according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled. It may also provide a minor decrease to anxiety, and symptoms of schizophrenia; and a minor increase to sleep quality.

I’ll also mention a couple other nootropics, not for general use, but specifically for those that may suffer from migraine headaches, which of course severely degrade proper mental performance. Like the nootropics listed above, these have solid scientific research supporting effective applications. And although I haven’t used them myself, my son who has suffered from migraine headaches has used them with good results.

*) Feverfew is a perennial herb that was native to Eurasia and has spread around the world (read more). Supplementation may provide a strong decrease to migraine, according to robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials.

*) Vitamin B2 is found in milk, cheese, leafy vegetables, liver, kidneys, legumes, yeast, mushrooms, and almonds (read more). Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to migraine, according to multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled.

Because it can be tedious and expensive to find, purchase, and swallow all of these nootropics separately, I’m working with a chemist to combine some of them. Assuming that works out, I may also open an online store to sell a combined nootropic, in one place at a price significantly below that of purchasing components separately. If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, add your name and email to my list.


Lincoln Cannon is a technologist and philosopher, and leading advocate of technological evolution and postsecular religion. He is a founder, board member, and former president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. He is a founder and advisor of the Christian Transhumanist Association. And he formulated the New God Argument, a logical argument for faith in God that is popular among religious Transhumanists.
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COMMENTS


i can relate to depression since I’ve lived with it since the beginning of life itself. I’ve taken so many substances I could have opened my own chemist shop. As for the alternatives in new-agiesm tried that in the ‘70s but the best was self medication which really did work even though it was and still is ‘here’ a criminal offense. Luckily I got psychiatric drugs that do work. As for the potentialities in the article they remain at best placebo’s. I mean with all these mental boosters why are people still so stupid? Making -globally- the same dopey mistakes? As for scientific tests they anticipate the result in the design of the tests or that of the participant even if ignorant. In the end potatoes can make you smarter with the proviso that one needs a certain amount of intelligence in the first place. You cannot help those who are beyond help. Trite I know. I wish the authors self experimenting all the best. Be good to know what is what.





Hi Almostvoid. I sympathize with your skepticism. Most supposed nootropics (like most supplements) seem to have little to no supporting evidence or little to no effect. I’m persuaded, however, that these particular nootropics are more than placebos. The studies are significant, and my own experience with them has been positive. I doubt they’ve increased my IQ, but I believe they help me use what I’ve got longer and more dependably.





Dear Lincoln Cannon -[don’t want to get into an endless debate but [haha]] could it be that your positive results are through self-boosting-mentally-activated-field-wave-states a composite resonance unique to you that is with the knowledge of the positive create within an intelligent mind of yours positive results? Because I have always pondered the idea at the other spectrum -since university- why some students were so thick no matter how much one educated them. [good luck]





Almostvoid, it’s possibly placebo. And frankly, I’ll take all the positive placebo I can get. But it seems improbable to me that it’s only placebo, given the results of the referenced studies.





Very informative!! I believe Piracetam is missing from this list as well.





Thanks for commenting, Polaris Kyo. I think Piracetam and related -racetams are promising, but I haven’t yet experimented with them myself.





Hi Lincoln,

Great article, thanks, I’ll be adding myself to your email list!

I think you only 2 negative affects of the nootropics above:
Melatonin = minor decrease to alertness.
Theanine = minor increase to sleep quality.

Are those the only 2? Give the side effects of most prescription drugs (e.g. nausea and constipation/diarrhoea) I’d have assumed there would be more?

Regards
Adrian





Hi Adrian. Thanks for your question.

The listed nootropics appear to be quite safe, but research does indicate the possibility of some minor drawbacks in some cases. For example, inositol supplementation at neurologically active levels may result in some digestive discomfort. Some of the others may also cause discomfort if not taken with food. One study noted a minor decrease in numerical memory accompanying the cognitive decline resistance benefits of Ginkgo. And there are still many unknowns about long term supplementation and interactions, so it’s wise to remain observant and consult a physician regularly.

The two negatives you listed don’t strike me as negatives. Melatonin should be taken before sleep, when decreased alertness is desirable. And theanine usually is not sedative, even though it may contribute to improved sleep quality.





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