What Are Nootropics?

The term "nootropics" is proposed to denote the means that exert a specific activating influence on the integrative functions of the brain, stimulate learning, improve memory and mental activity, increase brain resistance to aggressive influences, hypoxia that enhance cortico-subcortical connections. Nootropics do not exert a pronounced psychostimulating or sedative effect, they do not cause specific changes in the bioelectrical activity of the brain. At the same time, they to some extent stimulate the transmission of excitation in the central neurons, facilitate the transfer of information between the cerebral hemispheres, improve the energy processes and blood supply of the brain, increase its resistance to hypoxia. The most important manifestation of their action is the activation of intellectual and mnestic functions, antihypoxic activity. To improve physical performance, nootropics are effective only in combination with actoprotectors and psychostimulants or in weakened and asthenic individuals.

Nootropics (synonyms: nootropics, nootropics, neurometabolic stimulants, neurodynamic, neuroregulatory, neurometabolic, eutotrophic, metabolic cerebroprotectors) are substances that exert specific influence on the higher integrative functions of the brain, stimulate learning and memory, improve mental activity, increase brain resistance to damaging Factors that improve cortical-subcortical connections. A similar effect was first observed in pyracetam, synthesized in 1963 by the Belgian pharmacologists K. Giurgea and V. Skondia, who were initially studied as an antikinetic agent. In 1972, K. Giurgea with the help of the staff found that after receiving piracetamam the learning processes are facilitated, memory is improved. Even earlier, since the 1960s, y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was used to improve mnemonic functions.

In 1972, K. Giurgea proposed the term "nootropics" to refer to a class of drugs that improve the higher functions of the brain and do not have the side effects inherent in psychomotor stimulants. More than 10 original nootropic preparations of the pyrrolidine series, currently in the phase of clinical trials or already registered in a number of countries, have now been synthesized; Among them oxyracetam, aniracetam, etiracetam, pramiracetam, dupracetam, rolziratsetam, cebrasetam, nefiracetam, isazetam, detiracetam. These "old" nootropics have received the general name of ratsetam.

In addition, other families of nootropic drugs including cholinergic, GABAergic, glutamatergic, and peptidergic have been synthesized. Signs of nootropic activity in the pharmacodynamics of glutamic acid, memantine and levocarnitine have been established. The nootropic effect of a number of neuropeptides and their synthetic analogues (ACTH and its fragments, somatostatin, vasopressin, oxytocin, tyroliberin, melanostatin, cholecystokinin, neuropeptide Y, substance P, angiotensin II, cholecystokinin-8, peptide analogues of pyracetamol, etc.) is shown in the experiment.

In general, the 90-ies marked a high rate of research activities related to the search and study of new nootropics. Until now, the search for a basic hypothesis of the action of nootropics is continuing, capable of integrating already known aspects of the mechanism of action of nootropic drugs and determining their future fate. At the moment absolutely new nootropics are synthesized, which are much more effective and have fewer side effects.

It is important to search for new drugs that have greater pharmacological activity and selectively affect the integrative functions of the brain, improving the patient's psychopathological state, mental activity and orientation in everyday life.

In the conditions of loads that athletes experience during the competition and training with a depleted functional resources, nootropics can be used for prevention and correction. Some of them, possessing a cerebroprotective metabolic effect, are used individually in certain periods and stages of training athletes. According to the WHO, it is recommended that the group of nootropic drugs include medicines that can exert a direct activating influence on the learning processes, improve memory and mental activity, and also increase brain resistance to aggressive influences.

    The general resultant actions for this group of drugs are:
  • Improvement of mental processes - cognitive functions or cognitive processes (learning);
  • Improvement of memory speed and storage stability of received information (memory);
  • Improving the reproduction of available information, enhancing intellectual activity, intellectual capacity;
  • deterioration of the extraction from memory (oblivion) ​​of information on pain or stress conditions;
  • stimulation of metabolic processes in the nervous tissue, especially with various disorders - anoxia,intoxication, trauma, etc. (bring the level of metabolism to the level of optimally functioning neurons);
  • lack of influence on the higher nervous activity and psyche of healthy people;
  • Improving the impact on higher nervous activity and mental state in functional or morphological disorders;
  • increase the stability of brain thinking processes to the influence of unfavorable factors of external and internal environment (hypoxia, trauma, strokes).

The presence of pronounced anabolic action and indirect positive influence on physical working capacity makes it expedient to use certain drugs from the group of nootropics (piracetam, etiracetam, aminalon, sodium oxybutyrate, phenibut) in pharmacological support schemes for sports activities. Currently, there are several classifications of nootropic drugs. Classification of nootropics in the chemical structure provides for dividing them into the following groups.

Most often use a mixed classification of nootropic drugs, taking into account the origin, clinical effectiveness, breadth and mechanism of action. According to this classification, nootropics are divided into two main groups:

    I. Preparations with dominant or predominant mnestic effects (cognitive enhancers), the main effect is the effect on memory (mnestic)
  • 1. Derivatives of pyrrolidone, namely, cyclic GAM K (ratsetamy) - pyracetam (nootropil), pramiracetam (praistar), etiracetam, nefiracetam, aniracetam, phenotropil, etc.
  • 2. Cholinergic agents:
  • A) inhibitors of cholinesterase - galantamine hydrobromide (nivalin), rivastigmine (exelon), donepezil, ipidacrin (neuromidine), aminostigmine;
  • B) enhancing the mediator synthesis - choline chloride, choline alphoscerate (gliatilin), lecithin, etc .;
  • C) M-, H-holinomimetiki-betanechol;
  • D) substances with a mixed type of action - deanol, aceglutamate.
  • 3. Neuropeptides and their analogs - Semax, cerebrolysin, cerebrocurin, actovegin, solcoseryl, tiroliberin.
  • 4. Drugs affecting the system of excitatory amino acids - glutamic acid, nooglutil.
  • 5. Preparations of glycine and its derivatives - glycine, noopept.
  • II. Drugs of mixed type with a wide spectrum of action (neuroprotectors)
  • 1. Activators of brain metabolism - pentoxifylline, acetyl-L-carnitine.
  • 2. Cerebral vasodilators - vinpocetine (cavinton), oxybral (vikamin), nicergoline (sermion), etc.
  • 3. Calcium antagonists - nimodipine, cinnarizine, flunarizine, and others.
  • 4. Substances affecting the GAM K system - aminalon, membrane, pantogam, picamilon, sodium oxybutyrate, phenibut (noophen), etc.
  • 5. Antioxidants - mexidol, pyrithinol, a-tocopherol, etc.
  • 6. Preparations from different groups - naftidrofuryl, etimazole, ginkgo biloba extract (tanakan, memoplant), melatonin, huato boluses, etc.