Nootropics are drugs, supplements and other substances believed to enhance brain power. There are nootropics designed to boost memory, concentration, motivation and even happiness. The term encompasses a number of substances, both natural and synthesised, over the counter and prescription, legal and illegal. The common kitchen spice turmeric can be a nootropic, but so can Ritalin and even LSD.
The word nootropics is a portmanteau of the Greek words nous (“mind”) and trepein (“to bend or turn”). It was coined in 1972 by Romanian scientist Corneliu Giurgea, who invented Piracetam, an early cognition-enhancing drug said to improve memory and learning. Giurgea was clear about the radical potential of nootropics: “Man will not wait passively for millions of years before evolution offers him a better brain.”
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