Are nootropics a reliable cognitive-enhancing promise, or the most sought-after scam?

Although banned by the Psychoactive Substances Act, UK students looking for a boost in their cognitive performance are still buying Noopept. Considered to be a smart drug, Noopept is sold as a dietary supplement that supposedly enhances your memory, focus, efficiency, and endurance.

What are nootropics?

A smart drug is considered to be a nootropic. A nootropic was considered to be a substance that improves cognitive function, such as memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals. But the word is currently used for describing any substance that has any influence on brain executive functions.

Other drugs used as nootropics are nasal decongestant dimethylamylamine, ADHD medicine methylphenidate, or myoclonus treatment piracetam. Then comes oxiracetam, phenylpiracetam, and aniracetam. The students say they use them for enhancing their academic performance.

Even nutrients and vitamins are considered to be nootropics: omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, folate, and vitamin E. Or herbs such as Ginko Biloba, ginseng, and salvia.

Noopept is a white powder that can be either snorted – just like cocaine – or swallowed in the form of a tablet. The UK government has prohibited its non-prescription marketing last month. Still, the students are buying it from online sources, consuming it, and claim they owe Noopept their successful exams.  Even more than before. There is something appealing in everything that is forbidden.

Are nootropics a scam?

Those using them say they aren’t. But then, why don’t scientists agree with them?

Like with any other drug, there are side effects. The more so for Noopept, since they haven’t been studied properly, but what is known is enough to worry about. Cardiovascular problems and psychosis are the main troubles Noopept is known to cause.

Without being a classic recreational psychoactive drug, but more of a dietary supplement, Noopept is a great threat just as if it were so. It induces depression if abused. The more you take, the sharper your brain will become is the drive that can lead to over-dosage and severe mental health damage.

Another perspective is that the nootropic market is misleading. That nootropics work more on placebo premises than actual enhancements. Some even admit that the drugs don’t have any effects on them.

Pastile placebo si nocebo

“The circuits that are involved in human cognition are very complicated and not fully understood. You can’t just ‘turn up the dial’ that easily. If you’re more confident and think you’ll do better, you will do better,” said Barry Gordon, the director of the cognitive neurology/neuropsychology division at Johns Hopkins Medicine

The consumers might be satisfied even if it’s just a placebo. The important thing for them is that it worked. But that doesn’t mean it can’t cause damage. Ingesting or sniffing substances that interfere with your brain chemistry can’t remain without consequences.