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Introduction to Nootropics: Staying Smart When it Comes to Smart Drugs

While I was in university, one of the lessons that clearly stood out was that throughout history, humans have always had an intimate relationship with drugs. As a species, we have been using them for centuries to alter not only our health, but also our state of mind—so much so that some naturally occurring substances have fundamentally changed the course of human history. Caffeine, for example, is a primary psychoactive ingredient in two of the most globally exploited, traded and consumed products: coffee and tea. The desire to use psychoactive drugs to improve the human condition is present in almost every culture on the planet. Today, up to 34% of university students have turned to prescription stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall to help them keep up with their academic workload. As modern life becomes more demanding and stress-filled, technology and drugs have converged at a new frontier of cognitive enhancement: Nootropics.

What are Nootropics?

Commonly known as “smart drugs”, nootropics are used to improve focus, memory, and learning capacity, and they have been increasing in popularity since the term was coined back in 1964 by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea. Today, Merriam-Webster defines “nootropic” as a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning.

For a newcomer, the easiest way to define nootropics is for what they are not. They are not cures or medicines. They are not able to increase intelligence, unlock genius, or grant superpowers. Instead, nootropics strive to enhance healthy brains for optimal performance. The idea is to boost brain function without depleting future performance. Coffee is the perfect example; often we drink a cup of coffee knowing we need to be alert for a few hours, but usually experience a “crash.” The key is for a nootropic to support that alert response to caffeine, but prevent the jitters and crash by pairing caffeine with other active ingredients (like L-Theanine). The result is a lasting period of focus and a subtle return to your original state—no depleting effects. For many, this is an appealing alternative to drinking a second, third or fourth cup of coffee to try and maintain focus.

Which Nootropics are Best for Beginners, and Which Ones Can You Trust?

“Biohackers” interested in scientific research and personal experimentation have been known to dedicate years to exploring various nootropics, aiming to improve their brain’s function and performance.

Unfortunately, there is a growing amount of misinformation and dangerous claims at the commercial level by supplement companies targeting mainstream consumers, especially in the United States, where the FDA is not required to approve any product going on the market, unless a “new” ingredient is used. Even then, it appears to be an issue of labeling, not review of safety. The FDA most commonly intervenes only when an adulterated or mislabeled dietary supplement produces disastrous side-effects. For these reasons, critics have serious concerns about the effectiveness and potential side-effects of using chemicals to alter brain function, especially in an industry that seems to favour marketing gimmicks over accountability.

Luckily in Canada, natural supplements and non-prescription drugs are strictly regulated for safety and quality. In order for a product to make it on the shelf, Health Canada conducts a rigorous assessment of the ingredients, health claims, labelling, production, and testing of over-the-counter products. All nootropics manufactured in Canada fall under these regulations, and must possess and clearly display a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the front of their packaging. As with any drug, a clear understanding of the ingredients and their effects on the body is crucial before taking them. Ensuring safety and effectiveness of nootropics is an important and promising step to creating a trusted market for consumers in Canada.

Getting In the Zone with Indezone

If you’re looking to buy nootropics in Canada, the options are limited. Health Canada has approved few products for the market that specifically enhance brain function. Indezone Energy is one of the few. Launched in 2016 by Ioffe Biotechnologies Inc. and featured on Dragons' Den, all 6 active ingredients are naturally-occurring, and have been clinically shown to improve brain function. Most importantly, however, the product has been reviewed by Health Canada and granted an approved Health Claim: "Indezone Helps to enhance cognitive performance." Made in Canada, each package of Indezone contains 20 capsules, with a recommended daily dose of 1-2 capsules, taken as needed. The team at Ioffe Biotechnologies Inc. is now planning additional studies to demonstrate task-specific benefits of Indezone Energy.

Whether it’s sitting through a botany class or solving the next tech crisis, we all want to learn and perform at our best. Regulated nootropics like Indezone Energy are providing a safe way to step into the world of cognitive enhancement.

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