Issue 11 - Compounding news
Nootropics. Safety? Efficacy? Ethics?
There has been some hype around nootropics recently, that has followed with a few questions from practitioners. I thought it would be helpful to write a bit of an overview, to help you understand their use, and assess their suitability for clients.
The word nootropic comes from two Greek words, nous, meaning mind, and from the word to turn, tropic. Nootropics are substances which enhance cognitive function, alertness and concentration and some have been used for centuries. Bacopa was used by the Vedic scholars to help them to memorise hymns and scriptures. Coffee is thought to have been used since the 15th century, when it was imported from Ethiopa to increase the concentration of the Sufis in Yemen monasteries.
Nootropics are defined as substances that improve working memory, the ability to learn new things, motivation, attention, mood and energy levels. They include foods, herbal medicines, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.
The current safety issue with nootropics includes the off label use of prescription drugs such as Ritalin by students and finance industry employees to gain an edge over their peers, as well as the importing of non TGA approved substances from the US. These imported products have been reported in some cases to contain no active ingredients or different ingredients from those on the label. Recently a nootropic, phenibut, has been changed to schedule 9 by the TGA due to its potential for abuse. It is thought to be a GABA receptor agonist and was used therapeutically as an anxiolytic, and recreationally to increase sociability and euphoria.
With this in mind, I really began to question the ethics of these nootropics– How far should we go in gaining a competitive advantage? Do we want to create a culture where it is not OK to take a day off due to lack of sleep or stress? Is it cheating to use nootropics to get ahead? Something to question and consider...
There are however, some nootropics that are rooted in evidence, and safe enough that we can compound for your patients:
Theanine - 100mg daily to increase focus and improve memory
Zinc - 30mg daily to improve memory, nerve transmission, depression and hyperactivity
Vitamin B6 - 25-50mg daily to improve cognitive health
And then of course there are the herbs Ashwaganda, Bacopa, Curcumin, Ginkgo and Siberian Ginseng which we have in our herbal dispensary.
These can all be prescribed in Natural Script via the Compounding Product and Herbal Mixture tabs.
Please email or call to talk to me if you have any questions.