4 Ways Nootropics Can Improve Mental Performance


Nootropics are natural or synthesized substances that boost a person’s mental performance. These can also boost alertness, memory, focus, creativity, motivation, and intelligence. Did you know that caffeine is the most widely consumed nootropic out there?  It’s known to increase alertness and attention. It’s primarily found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. Some nootropics are in dietary supplements, such as ginseng and ginkgo biloba. While the examples mentioned are naturally sourced, some nootropics are synthesized — most of the time, these are prescription drugs used as ADHD medications.

So, how do nootropics work their magic and improve your mental performance?

Modulate Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters, or the chemicals in your brain, are responsible for firing up your nerve cells to create electrical impulses that result in many cognitive functions, like thinking. Nootropics help optimize how these neurotransmitters are produced, converted, and used. They help balance the brain’s neurotransmitters. But, it still depends on what nootropic is consumed as it has its mechanism, so there’s a variation on what parameter is affected.

These are the common neurotransmitters that are affected by nootropics:

  • Serotonin: It’s responsible for regulating emotions. When this isn’t balanced, there might be a possibility of developing depression or bipolar disorder. It can also affect the digestive tract. These are due to different serotonin receptor sites. Also, the imbalance may vary.
  • Acetylcholine: It’s responsible for activating the neuromuscular junction between nerve cells or muscles. So, it’s the driving force for many cognitive functions, like knowledge retention, learning, memory formation, and even focus.
  • Dopamine: This is often called the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter because it’s involved in the motivational pleasure pathway. This brain chemical is released when a person experiences a gratifying moment of excitement.
  • Norepinephrine: This neurotransmitter is associated with the ‘fight or flight’ response. A healthy amount of this brain chemical will make a person alert and focused. Otherwise, it works with epinephrine to deal with stress.
  • Epinephrine: This is also known as adrenaline. It triggers the body’s fight or flight response, which will, in turn, make temporary changes to the body, like increased heart rate, constricted blood vessels, and even numbness to pain.

Enhance Synaptic Plasticity

Synaptic plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, is the brain’s ability to alter and adapt depending on specific experiences. Certain nootropics, like caffeine, modulate the synapses between healthy neurons. It stimulates the nerve cell that increases brain activity. This improves memory and learning, thus, increasing the brain’s neuroplasticity.

Increase Brain Circulation

Did you know that the brain receives around 15% of the total blood supply even though it only consists of 3% of the body’s total weight?  Aside from that, it only uses glucose as an energy source, so there must be a constant supply of this in the blood. Cerebral blood flow is an essential factor that maintains all brain functions. Sustained insufficiency of oxygen and nutrients in the blood will cause degeneration or, worse, irreversible impairment of the brain.


Natural nootropics, like ginkgo biloba, induce vasodilation against small arteries and veins in the brain. This means that the blood flow in the brain is enhanced, and the blood pressure is reduced. Simultaneously, there’ll be an increase in energy and oxygen flow because the nutrients in the blood are circulated efficiently.

Reduce Inflammation

A number of mental health problems and brain fog are linked to inflammation of the brain. Inflammation could be caused by an unhealthy diet, autoimmune diseases, lack of sleep, infections, and mild traumatic brain injuries. Immune cells, like astrocytes and glial cells in the brain, help protect it from pathogens and clean up cellular wastes from misfolded proteins. When these are activated, it’ll release a neurotransmitter called glutamate. High amounts of this can interfere with the communication between neurons and eventually kill the nerve cell. Also, high glutamate levels are linked to depression.


Consuming nootropics is associated with reducing inflammation that occurs in the brain. Certain nootropics, mainly naturally sourced, protect the brain from toxins. These enhance the cellular renewal process of the nerve cells by recycling the old components. In turn, the effects of brain aging are significantly minimized.

Final Thoughts

Nootropics are nutritional supplements that enhance brain performance and other cognitive functions, like memory, focus, motivation, and learning, among others. If you want to improve your focus or simply your stress capability, the benefits of nootropics might help you in countless ways. But, it’s also important to note that these nootropics have side effects, which you need to look out for. Consulting with a healthcare professional would be the best way to know what’s right for your needs.

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