I spent an hour staring at a blank document trying to write this story (no, really). The last two years have seen attention spans dwindle and burnout on the rise, and it’s worse for those who’ve contracted Covid-19: post-recovery brain fog is real, with between 22 and 32 per cent of Covid patients experiencing it well after they’ve tested negative.

Nootropics – so-called “smart drugs” – have been on the market for years, but now might be the best time to give them a whirl. In a nutshell, a nootropic is a cognitive enhancer that helps support the brain’s main functions like memory, attention, creativity and motivation; some products are a combination of multiple nootropic ingredients, while others are just a single concentrated element.

“Think of nootropics as just anything that enhances the way your brain operates,” Yootropics co-founder Nick Austin tells Broadsheet. “Some of these nootropics have been used for, you know, thousands of years … What's different these days is there's been a lot of research and science that's gone into the development and optimising of these particular ingredients.”

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Yootropics is an Australian supplement startup that’s joined the nootropics game after seeing a gap in the local market. Its first product, Brain, was specifically designed to combat brain fog with ingredients that help improve concentration, energy levels, the ability to focus, stress management and fatigue. Some of its ingredients include cordyceps, ginseng, sage and brahmi or water hyssop.

“It’s a really good formula to get people back on track who are suffering from brain fog. Typically, people would probably go out and have a coffee to try and spark up. But caffeine kind of just keeps you awake and it doesn’t improve on all those executive functions of the brain which need to be repaired and strengthened, which nootropics do,” Austin says.

The brand has two other products: Calm, which helps with mood balance and stress adaptation (thanks to ashwagandha, tulsi or holy basil, magnolia bark and lavender), and Focus, which is more targeted towards executives or athletes who need to get into the zone and finish tasks quickly (it’s made with zynamite or novel mango, ginseng, gingko biloba, Coenzyme Q10 and magnesium).

Yootropics’ products are the first nootropics to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which rigorously tests products and only lists them if they’re backed by science.

“We use only ingredients that have clinical research, we only use clinical range doses, and we have all our manufacturing done at a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice)-approved facility, which means we go through three phases of testing,” Austin says.

“Brain health coming out of Covid is going to be a really important thing for many, many Australians … We’re hoping this really helps people get back on track and back out working and feeling great again, especially after two years of lockdown.”

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