A nootropic is a substance that enhances cognition, memory, and learning, and can be either derived from natural sources (such as nutrients, herbs, or plants) or synthesized (man-made). The word “nootropic” was originally created in the twentieth century, sometime between 1960 and 1970, by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea.  Dr. Giurgea was a Romanian psychologist and chemist and invented a substance he was hoping would treat sleeping disorders, but instead created a new substance he named as the first “nootropic”:  piracetam.  Nootropics are sometimes called “smart drugs”.“Nootropic” is derived from the two Greek words “nous” (mind) and “tropein” (bend or turn).  Dr. Giurgea defined the new class of substance by 5 criteria: 1) It must enhance memory, 2) Improve behavior under adverse conditions, 3) Protect the brain from physical or chemical injury, 4) Improve cortical/subcortical control mechanisms in the brain, and 5) Have low toxicity and low side effects.The class of nootropic substances has expanded from synthesized-only compounds since its inception a few decades ago.  Now it encompasses a broader amount of substances and dietary supplements that promote cognition, memory, learning, and well-being from natural sources as well. 

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