The term 'smart drugs' makes it sounds like the products you buy in a smartshop make you smarter. In reality, most items won't have a positive impact on your cognitive abilities.
Quite the contrary; substances with a sedating or hallucinogenic effect actually temporarily decrease your cognition. Stimulating drugs can help to increase your concentration, but these can't be taken regularly due to side effects.
How nootropics work
But there are substances you can take that make you smarter and without any nasty side effects, which makes them safe for long-term use. These are called nootropics (confusingly enough sometimes also called smart drugs). Nootropic substances can operate in a number of ways.
Some work by increasing blood flow or flow of oxygen to the brain. Others target specific receptors that release vital neurotransmitters, like acetylcholine en glutamate. A neurotransmitter acts as a chemical messenger and is essential to a healthy, functioning brain.
If the neurotransmitters in your brain are properly balanced, you're able to perform cognitive tasks more rapidly. Nootropics essentially help to improve your brain balance.
Types of nootropics
Certain herbs, nutritional supplements, but also medication can have nootropic effects. Pharmaceutical nootropics are specifically developed as medicine for people suffering from dementia.
Unfortunately the current nootropics have limited effect and more work needs to be done to create a medicine that can truly combat dementia.
Nootropics in smartshops
Azarius offers several kinds of nootropics, including ginkgo biloba extract.
Also available: DMAE. This substance is a precursor to acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that's vital for regular brain function. If you take DMAE, the acetylcholine level in your brain will rise, which improves your memory and ability to concentrate.
Smartshops also sell products that help you concentrate, but these formulas often contain caffeine and can't be seen as a pure nootropic. This is because caffeine has side effects and shouldn't be taken in very high amounts.
A nootropic is something that has more subtle effects on your brain's biochemistry. Therefore, you need to take a nootropic for an extended period of time for the effects to become apparent.
Have a look in the nootropics category to view our selection of herbs and supplements.
Would you like to learn more about nootropic products? Read our latest encyclopaedia article on Nootropics. Here we explain how nootropics function, how to use them and what the effects are.