In recent years, a new wave of “smart drugs” called nootropics has overtaken the pharmaceutical market. Nootropics are drugs that reportedly improve several different aspects of intelligence and cognitive ability. Of these, memory enhancers have become increasingly popular and are now offered in several varieties. There are four main types of memory improvement drugs:
These drugs work by affecting acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps with memory formation. Drugs in this category run a gamut from nicotine, the main ingredient in cigarettes, to the natural herbs sage and rosemary.
GABA, or Gamma Aminobutyric Acid, is another neurotransmitter. By inversely agonizing, or basically blocking, the GABA receptor site in the brain, memory enhancement is achieved. Research is currently underway on drugs that utilize this feature with hopes of creating an Alzheimer’s treatment.
Drugs in this category also work by blocking another neurotransmitter receptor in the brain. They have the effect of increased wakefulness, alertness, and improved memory. Rolipram, an anti-inflammatory drug, achieves the required blocking effect and is currently being used in the treatment of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
cAMP, or Cyclic Adensosine Monophosphate, is a secondary messenger that can improve memory in higher amounts. Drugs in this category generally work by decreasing levels of an enzyme that breaks down naturally occurring cAMP. The result is increased wakefulness and improved memory.
Though not recommended without the advice of a doctor, these drugs can improve memory. Many people find that the risks are worth the results of improved memory. One should study and try the numerous natural supplements on the market before turning to stronger pharmaceutical measures.