If you’ve listened to The Joe Rogan Experience then you’ve likely heard Joe talk about the Onnit product Alpha Brain and nootropics in general. He tries to break down as succinctly as possible what nootropics are and how they can benefit those who take nootropics. As someone who takes Alpha Brain regularly, I wanted to look a little further into nootropics and figure out exactly what they are.
The word “nootropic” is a combination of the Greek words for “mind” and “to bend or turn” and was coined in 1972 by Romanian Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea. While that definition may sound like it would include mind-altering drugs, for something to fall into the category of a nootropic as defined by Dr. Giurgea it must meet certain criteria. For example, a nootropic must enhance learning and memory; enhance learned behaviors under conditions which are known to disrupt them; protect the brain from physical or chemical injury; enhance the brain’s control mechanisms; contain very low toxicity, negative side-effects, and lack the effects of psychotropic drugs.
As you can see, a nootropic (or “smart drugs” as they’re often called) must provide positive effects to the brain rather than anything negative, and certainly no effects resembling any sort of drug. In the case of Alpha Brain, many users report a wide range of positive effects. These include the ability to remain calm during times of stress, the ability to clearly focus on the task at hand, and the ability to make decisions more quickly.
Virtually everyone will experience some positive effects from taking a nootropic like Onnit’s Alpha Brain, including incredibly vivid lucid dreams. But those who can benefit the most from a product like Alpha Brain are people who spend a great deal of time focusing on a task that requires a clear mind. Writers, public speakers, and poker players all take Alpha Brain and benefit from its ability to clear the fog from the mind and increase mental drive, focus, and clarity.