Over the last 10 years, the use of Nootropics or “smart drugs” as a health hack used for cognition and brain optimization has grown considerably. While interest in this subject has been particularly concentrated in high-charging, competitive environments such as Silicon Valley and Wall Street, it is also a topic of interest among folks looking to keep their brains sharp as they age. Nootropics consist of natural (eg. caffeine, L-theanine, Lion’s Mane, Bacopa) or synthetic (eg. prescription drugs such as Modafinil, Adderall, ) compounds that alter cognitive performance through a multitude of brain mechanisms such as increasing the levels of neurotransmitters, hormones and enzymes available to the brain, improving the availability of oxygen through vasodilation, stimulating nerve growth, or decreasing inflammation. Many natural nootropics such as Ashwagandha and Ginkgo Biloba have traditionally been used in Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine. When it comes to scientific studies, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of these compounds on cognitive performance is mixed, although supporting evidence can certainly be found. That’s why we think they fall squarely into the category of health hacks: you really need to experiment with them for yourself to determine whether they should be part of your longevity protocol or not.
What to try: of the nootropic “stacks” (i.e. combinations) we have looked at, we like those offered by HVMN as they list all the scientific studies supporting their ingredients; and Qualia Mind, because it is a formulation by Neurohacker Collective, a company that has grown in popularity in hacking circles based on their research rigor and transparency (no affiliations).