Just a decade ago, very few people had ever heard the term nootropic before. Now, that word seems to be everywhere: in magazines, on TV, in movies, and all over the internet.
With the dramatic rise in popularity of nootropics over the past few years, a lot of incorrect information has also popped up. In this post, we’re going to tackle five of the most common myths about nootropics being spread today.
5 Common Nootropic Myths
Below are five common myths about nootropics. Some are more common than others. But I’ve heard all of them at least a few times.
Myth #1: Nootropics make you smarter
It should come as no surprise that this myth is incredibly common. After all, the terms smart drugs and nootropics are often used interchangeably. But do they actually make you smarter?
Well, that depends on how you define the word smart, of course. Most people use that word as another way of saying intelligent. Defined as such, the answer to our question is no.
Despite the common belief that nootropics make you more intelligent, there is little evidence to suggest that it’s actually true. If someone is of below-average intelligence (or perfectly average, for that matter), all the nootropics in the world are not going to raise their I.Q.
That being said, nootropics can improve cognitive functioning. They might not make you smarter, but they can increase your productivity and help you learn faster.
You could make the argument that learning faster and being more productive could, over time, make you smarter. If you consistently used nootropics for a long period of time, it’s conceivable that your general intelligence could increase.
This is just speculation, though, as no studies have been done to test this. What is known for sure is that no amount of nootropics are going to make you smarter overnight.
Myth #2: Nootropics don’t work
I see it all the time. Someone will try one nootropic and, when they don’t immediately get the results they were hoping for, insist that they all nootropics don’t work.
Our brains are incredibly complex. And each one of ours’ is highly unique. That’s why everyone responds differently to each nootropic. Not everyone is going to have the same results.
What works great for me might not work at all for you. Conversely, what works great for you might not do anything for me. The only way to know what will work for you is to try different nootropics. If one doesn’t do what you were hoping it would, try another… and another… and another until you do find what works for you.
Just about everyone I’ve ever known who has had the patience to keep trying different nootropics eventually found what they were looking for. It might not have been the first thing they tried. Maybe not even the tenth thing. But, eventually, they found what they were looking for and you will, too. You just have to be willing to keep trying new things and experiment on yourself a little bit.
Nootropics do work. Not only do they work, for most people they work extremely well. But it takes time and patience to find the right nootropic or nootropic stack to reach your goals.
Myth #3: Your doctor knows all about nootropics
Your doctor spent four years in pre-med, four years in medical school, a year doing an internship, and a 2-7 year residency in their specialty. That’s a lot of time studying drugs, so they should know all about smart drugs, right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, medical school does not teach aspiring doctors about nootropics. The whole Western model of medicine focuses solely on treating illnesses, not enhancing performance. Most doctors have never even heard the word nootropic, let alone know anything about them.
This is incredibly unfortunate for several reasons. Not only do many nootropics enhance cognitive performance, they can also help to treat the symptoms of a variety of illnesses. Countless people have found relief from their symptoms by using nootropics where prescription medication has failed them over and over again.
If doctors were taught about some of the nootropics being used today, they’d be able to treat their patients better. Many nootropics, like several adaptogens, for example, are natural substances that have been used to treat a variety of illnesses all over the world for centuries. Most of them have tons of research to support their safety and effectiveness. Yet, most physicians have never heard of them.
Most doctors know very little, if anything, about nootropics. If you decide to talk to your doctor about using nootropics, you may have to educate him or her about what they are and how they work.
Myth #4: Nootropic use is uncommon/underground
While that might have been true ten years ago, it certainly isn’t the case today. Nootropic use has become more and more popular over the past few years. Businessmen (and women), lawyers, politicians, doctors, artists, writers, shift workers, and countless others use nootropics regularly for their cognition-boosting benefits.
I’ve been a part of the online nootropics community now for the better part of a decade. It’s been fascinating to watch how quickly it’s grown. For example, I’ve watched the nootropics forum on the popular site Reddit grow from just a couple-thousand readers to more than 285,000 in just a few short years.
I’ve also seen articles in popular magazines, both online and in print, talking about nootropics. There have been tons of stories published about their popularity in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in other high-profile parts of the country.
Nootropics have even become the subject of popular movies and TV shows. The movie Limitless, for example, is about a guy who starts taking a fictional nootropic called NZT-48. That movie was so popular that it spawned a TV series.
Not only have nootropics gotten a lot of mainstream publicity in recent years, they’re likely to keep getting more as time goes on. As the demands of work, family life, and our social obligations continue to grow, nootropics are only going to continue to increase in popularity.
Myth #5: Nootropics can replace proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep
No, no, and no.
Too many people seem to think that nootropics can be used to reverse the effects of poor sleep, not getting enough exercise, and a terrible diet. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This myth, like so many others, is common because there is a hint of truth to it. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, for example, and you take modafinil, it will make you feel more awake, alert, and productive – at first. However, if you continue using it in an attempt to offset your inadequate sleep, it will likely only make things worse over time.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, exercise, or essential nutrients, you probably shouldn’t even be thinking about nootropics. Improving your diet, getting more exercise, and increasing your sleep to at least 7 or 8 hours a night will do more for your cognitive ability than any nootropic ever could.
Using something like modafinil to make up for lack of sleep every once in a while is fine. But relying on it for long periods of time without improving your sleep will only make things worse. Nootropics are meant to take your brain to the next level, but they can only do that if you are at your best to begin with.