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The word derives from Greek NOOS, meaning mind or thought, and TROPOS, meaning "putting towards". Merging both, nootropics "turn the mind". Also known as smart drugs, they may consist of individual ingredients or clever mixed formulations that support or enhance each other's working, often via divergent mechanisms.

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Nootropics stimulate the central nervous system

Processes that govern normal brain functioning are very complex and vary from one person to the next due to variations in lifelong external influences and genetic characteristics. Examples of external or environmental influences include exposure to the sun, nutrition and exercise. Today, more and more people are struggling to meet the conditions necessary for optimal functioning of the central nervous system. Nootropics may provide a smart solution. Nootropics may improve cognitive functions by influencing the hormonal and neurotransmitter systems and/or by stimulating blood supply to the brains.

The history of nootropics

Nootropics significantly gained popularity in Silicon Valley: the California region where technology companies, and bright minds, are clustered together. Employers and workers have long realized, and advocated, the importance of getting the most out of your working day. Ritalin (a prescription drug) was long used—indeed: abused—for this purpose. Not least given its forbidden side effects, today the popular choice has definitively shifted to the emerging field of nootropics. Nootropics restore order in times of mental stress, enhancing concentration and performance. Today nootropics are commonly used across various consumer demographics, importantly including athletes and college students, but also, among many others, patients having Alzheimer's disease.

Effects on focus, mood and memory

Nootropics come in various kinds. They all trigger very specific effect-pathways in the body. Diversity of ingredients makes that the different types of nootropics have many varied effects on body and health. Notable differences are seen in the way they impact on mental focus, mood or memory.