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 in healthy adults 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” after the short-term boost. 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, which is naturally found in green tea). The result is a lasting period of focus with better working memory, reaction time, and alertness, followed by 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, especially long term.
WHICH NOOTROPICS ARE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE 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 with experimental new ingredients, it is often an issue of labeling, not review of safety or effectiveness.
The FDA most commonly intervenes only after 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. Many side effects from nootropics can actually be caused by contamination, adulteration ("spiking"), or simply putting different ingredients or doses than those listed on the label. When it comes to brain health and safety, there is no room for high doses of the wrong ingredient—precision and quality control is critical. Sadly, there is no way to check this with products that are not regulated by an independent party like the government.
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."
If you're wondering how to take nootropics, it depends on which one you choose. If you decide to purchase bulk nootropics in powder form, be sure to get an accurate digital scale to weigh out the doses precisely. If you prefer a ready-to-use nootropic like Indezone, then getting the correct dose is easy: just take 1-2 capsules of Indezone per day, as needed (preferably on an empty stomach).
The team at Ioffe Biotechnologies Inc. is now planning additional studies to demonstrate more task-specific benefits of Indezone Energy.
Whether it’s sitting through a biology 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.