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Guest post by David Ronnlid

Find out what lead nootropic researchers have to say about the efficacy of nootropics

Nootropics are increasingly being used by biohackers, college students, entrepreneurs, and people

with many other occupations. As the interest in cognitive enhancers increases, so does the scientific research. For the years 2010–2020, there have been an average of around 1000 new studies added to PubMed with the keyword nootropic each year, whereas there were around 750 per year added during the period 2000–2010.

With this surge in research on the effects of cognitive-enhancing drugs and supplements, one would assume that answers to questions regarding the efficacy of nootropics should start to emerge.

Do we know if nootropics are effective as of 2020?

There are many ways to approach this question. One might go straight to the studies, read them, and make decisions based on what one has found. This strategy requires an in-depth understanding of how studies are done and should be interpreted. It also takes a lot of time to read all the studies on any specific supplement.

Other strategies include asking researchers what they think about the efficacy of cognitive enhancers — or letting a trusted source analyze data from studies to get a landscape overview of the scientific body of knowledge that exists for any specific nootropic. 

What scientists researching the effects of nootropics think about the efficacy of cognitive enhancers

Legendary nootropic researcher Andrew Scholey stated on the Nootralize podcast that certain nootropics seem to be effective for certain people in certain circumstances. Examples of nootropics that professor Scholey considers especially science-backed include Panax Ginseng, Caffeine, and American Ginseng. According to the evidence available as of 2020, these appear to be the most effective for improving energy levels and measures of reaction time and short-term memory.

Another prominent researcher, Steven Roodenrys, stated on the Nootralize podcast that very few nootropics have high-quality science backing their efficacy. He mentioned Bacopa Monnieri, Caffeine, and Glucose as nootropics that show promise for focus and memory enhancement.

Caffeine certainly does something to your mental performance, that’s something most people can agree with. Glucose may be beneficial for certain circumstances, such as improving test performance to increase your grades or chances of getting a job. Both of these have negative side effects if used on a consistent basis, especially when used in large doses.

Bacopa Monnieri, American Ginseng, and Panax Ginseng have few and mild negative side effects. If you want to base your decisions on the opinions of nootropics researchers, you may want to give these nootropics a try.

A trusted source analyzing data from studies on nootropics 

We at Nootralize have analyzed data from placebo-controlled studies on 254 nootropics with more than 5000 healthy human participants.

While nootropic researchers do generally know their field quite well and should be trusted as a source of good information regarding the efficacy of nootropics, they tend to focus in on the specific nootropics that they’ve been involved in researching.

Based on our large-scale analysis of 527 placebo-controlled studies, we’ve concluded, similarly to Andrew Scholey, that certain nootropics are effective for certain people in certain circumstances.

Overall, we are lacking adequate evidence on the efficacy of many nootropics, and this can scare some people from using nootropics. Other people are excited by the unknown because there is potential for large beneficial effects yet to be discovered by high-quality studies.

Not all nootropics lack evidence though. Examples of nootropics that have a relatively large amount of good science backing their efficacy in healthy humans according to our analysis include Bacopa Monnieri, Ashwagandha, Omega 3, and Panax Ginseng.

If it is one thing that scientists and most independent data collection and analysis organizations agree upon it is that different people respond differently to specific nootropic substances. Genetic factors, lifestyle factors, age, and sex are all important for how you will respond to a nootropic drug or supplement.

For instance, it is well known that Creatine is very effective for improving physical performance in certain people while some people are non-responders and experience no benefits.

Perhaps the most interesting subject of research that will help us evolve our understanding of the effects of nootropics is that of personalized treatments which aims to figure out which interventions are effective for individuals with certain genes or circumstances. 

Fortunately, you do not need to wait for scientists to figure out which factors determine the effects a nootropic will have on you. Patient self-experimentation is currently the best way to figure out if a nootropic is effective for you. It is important to test yourself both subjectively and objectively to find out if a nootropic works specifically for you. To do this efficiently, the Nootralize web app can be of help.

About the Author

David Ronnlid is CEO and Co-Founder at Nootralize, a company collecting scientific evidence on the effects of nootropics and making it easily understandable to enable people to feel and perform better.

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