We have visited some natural nootropics in the past, but recently I have been involved in researching nootropics again and the market has changed significently since I last visited it. There have been a number of new products on the block, one in particular which is gaining a lot of traction is a nootropic called ‘Noopept’. Noopept is an analogue of the first nootropic ‘Piracetam’, but is several thousand times more potent than Piracetam. So, I thought I’d look into Noopept and share my findings and thoughts on its effects and your health.
Nootropic effects of Noopept
Nootropics are things that boost mental performance, usually with regards to focus, attention and speed of decision making; but they also can improve feelings such as happiness. Caffeine is possibly the most common of all nootropics, but in relation to Noopept, its effects are quite mild. Whilst reading up Noopept its effects are commonly related to feelings of drugs such as LSD or ecstasy, and one long term user of Noopept said
“I can suddenly find myself crying of joy on the bus because of the wonders of the existence of the mind and the universe. It’s like I see the world more of the machine that it is, and the gears really are wonderful.”
I’m sure that there might be a bit of exaggeration here to get across his point that Noopept does boost your mood, but this kind of experience isn’t uncommon, and you can read this guys full thoughts/ experiences in this forum post. You can also read some people experiences when taking large dosages of Noopept on that forum too.
In addition to the anecdotal (and some would say reckless) evidence, there is research showing that Noopept can improve cognitive performance in in humans1, and may even have protective properties against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzhimer’s disease2. The research does tend to focus on Noopept’s uses as a treatment for brain trauma as opposed to a way to stay focused and alert. This often results in few studies on long term results being done, and I’ll discuss this a bit below.
As far as Noopept’s nootopic properties go, Noopept does seem to impact the brain in a nootropic way – focus and mood are boosted. So if your interest is in nothing more than a focus and mood boost, at least in the short term, then Noopept is what you probably want. There are a few safety reasons why I wouldn’t consider taking it though.
Safety of Noopept
First and foremost, Noopept is not a nutritional supplement, it is a product of the Pharma industry. (Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a rant about how the Pharma industry wants us all sick so we buy more meds etc). A nutritional supplement provides you with something that you can naturally get from your diet, possibly just in different quantities, for example, taking vitamin C. This is an important difference, because although the dosages might not be natural, the body is well equipped to deal with vitamin C. It can regulate where it goes in the body, how much is in the body, and our cells interact with it in a natural way. It is something our body has evolved with, and can recognise.
Noopept is not something that we cannot get from food, it is alien to our body, and so its interactions in the body aren’t natural, which can cause the body to struggle to regulate it effectively. Unlike vitamin C, we have no idea what Noopept does to the body aside from acting as a nootropic, which could be a result of interaction with several parts of the brain. Current research on Noopept revolves around animal studies, anecdotes (such as the one in the forum post above) and small scale human studies which look into reversing cognitive impairment from strokes etc1. There isn’t anything on the long term effects of Noopept, and its impact on brain chemistry is poorly understood but could pose a real problem to long term users.
Really there needs to be more thorough research on it, to know exactly what Noopept does. Despite this, Noopept is often sold as a food supplement or nutritional supplement, possibly to play down how artificial it is. It is a pharmaceutical though, and should be treated as such by consumers and retailers.
Noopept on the brain
A major concern, particularly for long term users of Noopept its effect on your brain chemistry. Noopept has been shown to increase the expression of signaling molecule called BNDF3, which in turn reduces the amount of TrkB protein in the brain4. TrkB protein is related to learning and memory development, so reducing the amount of this protein could seriously impact memory, learning and even mood negatively. Furthermore, these negative effects may only become apparent once you are no longer taking Noopept and levels of BNDF start to go down, which means they might go un-reported, both by the public, and in clinical trials (because the trial is over). There is also potential that this can lead to developing a dependency on Noopept.
I’m sure that the brain would eventually adjust the amount of TrkB back to its original level before Noopept was taken, but do you really want to be going cold turkey?
There is no doubt in my mind that Noopept is an effective nootropic. Both clinical trial and self experimentation has shown this. Its impact on brain chemistry concerns me though, and the lack of understanding of how this molecule affects the body makes me think its not worth the risk.
1. Amelin AV, Iliukhina AIu, Shmonin AA. (2011). Noopept in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment in patients with stroke. Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 10 (1), 44-6.
2. Ostrovskaya RU. (2014). Neuroprotective effect of novel cognitive enhancer noopept on AD-related cellular model involves the attenuation of apoptosis and tau hyperphosphorylation. J Biomed Sci. 21 (74).
3. Ostrovskaya RU. (2008). Noopept stimulates the expression of NGF and BDNF in rat hippocampus.. Bull Exp Biol Med. 146 (3), 334-7.
4. Frank L. (2996). BDNF down-regulates neurotrophin responsiveness, TrkB protein and TrkB mRNA levels in cultured rat hippocampal neurons.. Eur J Neurosci. 8 (6), 1220-30.
Image courtesy of TZA.