Do nootropics really work as advertised?
Nootropics are big business right now. It’s all too easy to get swept up into the hype. We take a look at brain supplements in more detail to see if they really work or if they’re just another over-priced scam!
Many nootropic supplements are marketed today as memory enhancers. These products claim that using them will give you better memory retention, faster recall, and generally all-round better performance in memory-based tests.
On top of this, they claim to improve multiple different aspects of cognitive performance: focus, learning, reaction times, stamina, you name it!
Recently however, people have begun to doubt whether these supplements really do improve memory function. Once people found out that brain training games don’t actually improve memory, they started to wonder whether the same was true about nootropics.
So, do nootropics really improve memory function?
Or, like brain training, do nootropics just make it feel like your memory is improving?
Let’s take a look at the evidence and find out!
Nootropics and memory
There are a surprising amount of robust, high quality scientific studies looking at various nootropic substances and how they relate to memory.
According to VAGA, experts on nootropic supplements, Citicoline has been repeatedly shown to improve cognition generally, with users showing significantly better performance in memory-based tests. Citicoline confers extra choline to the brain, which increases synthesis of acetylcholine and phosphtidylcholine. Acetylcholine will improve executive cognitive functions, while phosphatidylcholine is integral to memory formation.
Bacopa monnieri has been shown in clinical trials to improve performance in memory based tests. In this trial, for example, reserahcers found that Bacopa monnieri supplementation of 300mg per day was able to drastically improve memory function in older people showing signs of mild cognitive decline:
Controlling for baseline cognitive deficit using the Blessed Orientation-Memory-Concentration test, Bacopa participants had enhanced AVLT delayed word recall memory scores relative to placebo. This study provides further evidence that B. monnieri has potential for safely enhancing cognitive performance in the aging.
As you’ll see, the researchers also found that Bacopa supplementation improved anxiety and stress levels.
Finally, the evidence supporting the use of Lion’s Mane Mushroom as a memory enhancer. Some robust studies have shown that Lion’s Mane Mushroom supplementation improves specific aspects of memory function. In one trial, users saw improved recognition memory and recall, but no improvements in spatial memory.
All of these substances have been proven in numerous studies. They do seem to reliably improve memory function.
Other substances, however, do not have such a good scientific pedigree.
Be sure to talk to the experts before you start using nootropic substances. Talk to your GP before trying to treat any kind of cognitive decline yourself!