Job markets are getting more competitive and scarcer each day, wages are becoming lesser, products costlier, and scoring good grades in school never seems to get easier. These are but some of the reasons why we find ourselves going for supplements – like nootropics – that can help us juggle as many balls for as long as we can.
If you are new to the subject, however, nootropics might get really controversial and confusing. What is sold as a prescription drug in one country may qualify as a supplement in another or even worse be considered illegal. Even definitions don’t seem to agree!
In this post, we look at what nootropics are, their synonyms, how they work, side effects, and legality in the UK.
What are the UK’s best nootropics?
Zen Caffeine is a potent energy-boosting nootropic from UK brand The Zen Company. They describe their plant-based capsules as “a strong cup of coffee without the jitters”, giving you sustained energy and alertness to power you through the day.
Caffeine is well-known as a performance enhancer, hence the millions of us who reach for a cup of coffee first thing! The Zen Company uses caffeine in its more potent anhydrous form, and pairs it with L-theanine, an amino acid that moderates caffeine’s less desirable side effects without altering its stimulant properties.
With this powerful nootropic combo, you can enjoy calm alertness, stable energy and long-lasting focus thanks to the proven 2:1 ratio of caffeine and L-theanine. Perfect for sharpening your mind, overcoming distractions and supercharging your productivity.
Total ZEN is a powerful nootropic blend designed to optimise your brain and body, with natural, evidence-based ingredients. It features vitamin B6 to support energy and mood, zinc to support energy metabolism, and magnesium citrate, one of the most bioavailable forms of the essential all-rounder, magnesium.
You’ll also find L-theanine, an amino acid known to relax and focus the mind, along with a trio of all-natural, evidence-backed nootropics: Lion’s Mane, an antioxidant-rich mushroom that stimulates neurons and supports learning. Ashwagandha, a adaptogenic herb renowned for its ability to fight stress and improve attention. Bacopa monnieri, a nootropic that fights stress and boosts learning, memory, attention and information processing.
Total ZEN’s nootropic blend can help by:
- Improving your focus, attention and concentration.
- Naturally, boosting your mental and physical energy levels.
- Supporting cognitive function and overall brain health.
- Promoting relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.
- Supporting you during times of stress and anxiety.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom with a host of body- and brain-boosting benefits. It supports learning and memory by improving neural health and function, and it’s thought to clear your mind and improve your mood too.
Rich in antioxidants, it protects both body and brain from stress, inflammation and other forms of damage. There’s evidence to show that this magical mushroom can also support digestive, heart and immune health, making it a powerful all-rounder for overall health.
If you like the sound of Lion’s Mane, check out The Zen Company’s organic Lion’s Mane mushroom capsules. You will find they contain 400mg of Lion’s mane mushroom extract in each plant-based, vegan-friendly capsule, you can easily add this powerful high-dose supplement to your daily routine.
Ashwagandha, known as “the king of Ayurvedic medicine”, is a potent adaptogenic herb, revered for its ability to:
- Fight and build resilience to stress.
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety
- Promote better sleep.
- Boost your overall mood.
It’s also a powerful cognitive enhancer, shown to improve memory, attention, focus and other essential functions. If you’re looking for a supplement to help you stay sharp and strong when the going gets tough, look no further than ashwagandha!
If you like the sound of Ashwagandha, The Zen Company offers potent ashwagandha capsules featuring KSM-66® ashwagandha, a patented extract made from the more potent root of the herb.
Switch On Capsules by Misfits
Misfits is a British brand specialising in plant-based, vegan-friendly supplements. Their Switch On Capsules are designed to heighten alertness, improve focus, sharpen your memory, and promote long-term brain health.
Switch On Capsules are packed with potent nootropics. Like Boost by Form, they include L-theanine for focus and vitamins B6 and B12 for energy. B vitamins play an important role in lots of cognitive functions and are essential for overall brain health.
Switch On Capsules combine these vitamins with green tea extract, rich in neuroprotective antioxidants, and gingko biloba, thought to improve blood circulation in the brain. Gingko biloba is best known as a memory aid, but it’s been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to fight fatigue and cognitive decline.
Switch On Capsules also contain soy lecithin, a great source of brain nutrient phosphatidyl choline for healthy neuron cell function. And to ensure you’re performing at your best even under pressure, they feature calming oat extract and rhodiola rosea, an adaptogenic herb that boosts resilience to stress.
Finally, if sustainability is important to you, then you’ll definitely appreciate Misfits’ commitment to plastic-free, biodegradable packaging and eco-friendly inks.
The Focus Capsules by Innermost
Innermost’s The Focus is a nootropic complex designed to help you reduce mental fatigue, sharpen your attention, and boost your overall cognitive performance. The London-born company claims their all-vegan, allergen-free capsules will help you bring your A-game and be “the smartest person in the room”.
The Focus capsules contain some familiar ingredients: CDP-choline, essential for brain health and neuron cell function, and rhodiola rosea, the adaptogenic herb that helps you withstand stress and perform under pressure.
They also contain taurine, an amino acid with an important role in learning, memory and cognitive health. It’s thought to interact with key systems in the brain to improve mood, especially during times of stress. So if you find yourself struggling to focus when things are getting rough, the combination of taurine and rhodiola rosea could be a game-changer.
The Focus capsules also feature Siberian ginseng, a herb used to fight fatigue and promote alertness. They round off with bacopa monnieri, an Ayurvedic favourite for reducing anxiety, supporting memory, and promoting healthy neuron communication.
How Do Nootropics Work?
Nootropics work by manipulating any of the activities that occur in the brain, including:
- Brain signals
- Brain waves
- Brain repair
- Brain energy
- Brain blood supply
- Brain fatigue
Messages are sent in the brain with the help of neurotransmitters – like acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and norepinephrine. Efficient production and use of these chemicals is critical to a healthy brain and body.
For instance, glutamate, the most popular neurotransmitter, increases the chances of a neuron firing and enhances energy flow as well as memory and learning. Serotonin influences mood, sleep, and appetite, while norepinephrine influences parts of the brain responsible for fight-or-flight.
On the other hand, dopamine is linked to thought and emotion. Acetylcholine influences learning and memory, as well as the formation of healthy synapses.
Various nootropics target either or several of these chemicals. For example, L-Theanine, ginko biloba, Tyrosine, turmeric, and magnesium may influence dopamine levels while L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP relate to serotonin levels.
All signals passed between synapses in the brain are electrical. The four brainwave patterns are beta, alpha, theta, and delta – although we mostly use beta while awake. L-Theanine is known to influence alpha wave patterns.
Repair and maintenance is a constant activity in the brain. One common protein here is Brain-Derivative Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which stimulates the formation of new neurons and synapses. Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a common nootropics ingredient that is believed to boost BDNF.
Our brains take up more energy than any other organ in the body. A common sign of low brain energy is feeling mentally fatigued or experiencing brain fog.
The primary source of energy in the brain is ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Two-thirds of ATP goes to fuelling brain function when you are awake, while almost all of it works on maintenance when you are asleep or unconscious.
Some neutropics may increase brain energy by fuelling ATP. They include ginseng, thiamine (vitamin B1), CoQ10, and sulbutiamine.
Supply of Blood to the Brain
About 15% of the blood from your heart goes to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients. Moreover, the blood flowing out takes away lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and other toxins.
Ginko, Bacopa Monnieri, and Vinpocetine are popular elements of nootropics that target blood flow in the brain.
Brain fatigue may manifest in the form of a lack of motivation, memory loss, lack of concentration, depression, chronic pain, or even mental breakdown. It may result from a lack of enough oxygen, low blood glucose, and stress.
Nootropics that help the endocrine system hence reducing brain fatigue include Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, and Ashwagandha.
Note: from the above information, you can see that nootropics, whether used as a single chemical or a combination of several, may help the brain in more than one way.
Nootropics Side Effects
A lot of controversy surrounds the issue of nootropics’ safety. As with any other supplement, there is always a risk of adverse reactions and drug interactions, especially with extended use.
Side effects may include:
- Blurry vision
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Circulation problems
However, the manifestation of any of these side effects will depend on the specific nootropics stack you are on.
You might want to investigate the individual smart drug you are considering as well as talking to a doctor before adding it to your regimen. Besides, it is always advisable to go for the best legal nootropics offered by trustworthy suppliers in Europe and the UK who guarantee the safety and quality of their stacks.
Are Nootropics Legal in The UK?
In the UK, the only legal smart drugs are natural nootropics in their single-ingredient form or in stacked products such as – like MisFits Switch On, Form Boost and Mind Lab Pro, all these products and many more are available at Nootropics UK a niche retailer specialising in nootropic supplements.
As for synthetic nootropics drugs, the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act saw them outlawed unless you have a prescription. These include substances such as Adderall, Modafinil, Ritalin, and experimental drugs such as Noopept.