Nootropics, the next step in human mental evolution?

Derived from the Greek words Nous and Trepin, Nootropics literally means ‘Mind-bending’. So what exactly is it and why is it taking the world by storm?

If you have watched the show, Lucy, then half the story has been told and although the effects of nootropics are somewhat similar to what you see in the movies (unlocking the human brain and all) it does not come in the form of blue crystalline meth, or neither does it allow you to move objects with sheer mental will…well, at least not YET.

Nootropics are a combination of super vitamins and minerals combined together to give users a “boost” of focus and clarity. Also known as smart drugs, these neuro-enhancers are often the work of “biohackers”, experts who seek to optimize the full human potential through the careful use of nootropics, and claim that the use of such drugs may even reduce the risk of mentally-related conditions such as dementia and ADHD.

So do they work and what are the risks involved? Apart from comprising of loosely unregulated food substances, studies have yet to show that there are harmful side effects that result from the responsible consumption of the drugs. In fact, most of us are already using some sort of drug to improve alertness and performance; coffee, energy drinks, tea, nuts, and even eggs contain the same substances that are used in the formulation of nootropics. As for the pros, the demographics of users range from students to young professionals and even e-sportsmen. Reason has it that due to the increase in competitiveness in the schools and in the office, more people are turning to newer and more efficient ways to gain an “edge” in their respective fields. E-sports players are no exception as many gamers consume nootropics in order to heighten their senses to remain competitive in tournaments.

So what is the future like for these neuro-enhancers? Well, due to the competitive nature of humans, the demand to outperform and outcompete others have driven the market for nootropics to a whole new level. Statistics show that the combined number of searches for nootropics or nootropic-related events add up to over 160,000 a month and this is excluding phrases or sentences keyed into search engines. It has a global market worth USD 1.35b in 2015 and has an aggregate growth of over 18% from 2016 to 2018. Coupled with an increasingly high-demand and competitive living environment, one thing is for certain. Nootropics might one day be as common as our daily cup of coffee.

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