There’s a large and growing market for products that help us get more done because really, working 60 hours a week is not enough. Lol! Energy drinks have grown from being a niche product to one of the fastest-growing segments of the beverage industry. We’ve also increased our consumption of specialty teas, mushroom coffee, MCT Oil, and other beverages which help us concentrate and check more off our to-do lists.
Among these pick-me-uppers is a category of lifestyle drugs called nootropics or “smart drugs.” Most come in powders and pill form and they’re the next growth market in lifestyle enhancement products. Nootropics improve memory, creativity, executive function (self-control), motivation, and all things cognitive.
The term nootropics might be new to you, but chances are, you’ve been chugging some form of it for years. Whether it’s in coffee, tea, or energy drinks, roughly 85% of us start our day with the most popular nootropic of all—caffeine.
♥ CAUTION: Nootropics are NOT safe for many users, especially pregnant women, young adults, and anyone with an underlying health condition.
If you decide to try a nootropic, please do your research. Read customer reviews and shop at reputable outlets, e.g. your local drugstore and Amazon. Definitely speak to your doctor, if you’re taking other medication. And always: keep an eye out for side effects.
As we look beyond caffeine to more cutting-edge nootropics, we want to consume safely. There’s now a long list of these “smart drugs” that you can buy, and these 3 are the ones I’m really excited about.
Initially launched by a French manufacturer, Adrafinil is now sold as an unregulated nootropic supplement in countries around the world. It’s easy to find, and if you read many of the Adrafinil reviews out there, it’s also akin to a wonder drug.
Adrafinil converts to Modafinil in the body and promotes a state of wakefulness; designed to assist those who struggle to stay awake because of stress, career, and fatigue. It also helps those suffering from disorders such as narcolepsy.
Side effects include serious heart issues and considerable liver damage when used for prolonged periods of time. Studies have suggested the level of liver damage is similar to Acetaminophen, a.k.a. Panadol and Tylenol.
This amino acid promotes a healthy mood, enhances learning and memory. It has been shown to support muscle recovery, anxiety, sleep, and physical energy.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC or ALCAR) fuels energy production in your cells and supports nerve function. We typically get L-carnitine from meat and other animal foods. So if you’re a vegetarian, you may not be consuming enough carnitine from the foods you eat. Discuss with your healthcare provider whether this supplement is one you should add to your list.
Side effects of taking ALC include stomach cramps, diarrhea, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea. You can find it in pill or tablet form at many drugstores. L-theanine benefits include boosting cognitive function, lowering anxiety, and promoting healthy sleep. And interestingly, it can help relieve stress by inducing a relaxing effect, without drowsiness. L-theanine may also have positive effects on the cardiovascular system and although there’s only limited clinical information available to support the claims, it’s said to help prevent cancer.
Side effects include nausea, dizziness, appetite loss, and headaches.
When efficacy and safety is a concern, these are my go-to supplement brands: Thorne, Pure Encapsulation, and Now. These companies have established histories, and use only the safest premium ingredients.
Thorne and Pure Encapsulation are a bit pricey, but I look at it like this: if I’m going to try something over-the-counter for this level of life-enhancement (and in some cases health benefits), I want to minimize any health risks and steer on the side of caution by paying more.
Ellen is a blogger, psychology student, and productivity hacker living in Melbourne, Australia. She's killing it on Pinterest, likes to plan things, get creative, and on her down-time, Ellen brings out her inner gamer and treats herself with various types of self-care.