What are Nootropics?
Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are substances specifically formulated to enhance various aspects of brain function, such as memory, focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation . Originally developed to improve memory and overall cognitive abilities, some have even been prescribed to address neurological disorders.
The term “nootropic” was coined in the early 1970s by Romanian chemist Dr. Corneliu Giurgea. He defined nootropics as substances capable of enhancing memory, improving behavior, safeguarding the brain from physical or chemical harm, all while exhibiting minimal side effects.
The nootropic market has experienced a remarkable surge and is projected to reach a value of $6.2 billion by 2027, compared to an estimated $2.7 billion in 2020. This growth trend is expected to continue, with a healthy rate of over 12.50% anticipated between 2021 and 2027.
Nootropics are available in various forms, including prescription medications, natural supplements, minerals, vitamins, and synthetic compounds. Prescription nootropics, requiring a doctor’s prescription, include stimulant drugs like Donepezil for Alzheimer’s and Adderall/Ritalin for ADHD, often misused for their stimulating effects.
In contrast, non-prescription nootropics are designed to enhance brain performance without significant bodily effects. Common natural options include bacopa monnieri, Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng, and Rhodiola Rosea. Synthetic nootropics, such as Vinpocetine, modafinil, and Racetams, are laboratory-produced cognitive enhancers.
Nootropics offer a range of benefits, including increased motivation, focus, creativity, and energy, all without notable side effects or addictive potential. However, these advantages often come at a higher cost. It’s essential to understand which nootropics are best suited for your needs before making a purchase. This article will delve into the top ingredients used in various nootropic brands and their mechanisms, providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Disclaimer: This is an unsponsored article written only for information.
You can also read our infographic about medicines and supplements for memory improvement.
How Do Nootropics Work?
While the exact workings of these brain-boosting supplements remain a mystery, researchers suggest that nootropics may enhance brain performance by targeting various systems simultaneously.
One theory proposes that they enhance blood flow, allowing better oxygen delivery to the brain, ultimately improving its function. This boost in cerebral blood flow helps cognitive longevity by facilitating the transport of brain-nourishing compounds.They optimize brain oxygen and glucose levels, offer anti-hypoxic benefits, and shield brain tissue from toxins.
Certain cognitive enhancers, such as Caffeine, activate noradrenaline neurons and influence dopamine release locally . This is why Caffeine helps us stay awake without jitters. Other nootropics enhance memory and learning by inhibiting AcetylCholine activities, blocking Ca channels, and boosting antioxidants .
Some nootropics may amplify the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Others prevent the reuptake of these neurotransmitters, leading to higher levels in nerve terminals. For example, dopamine is linked to pleasure and reward, released during enjoyable activities. Elevating dopamine levels can positively impact mood and brain function.
Considering the brain’s energy needs, certain nootropics support brain energy by enhancing mitochondrial metabolic activity, aiding the transport of fatty acids into brain cells, and increasing cerebral oxygen and nutrient uptake.
Nootropics may enhance cerebral circulation by promoting nitric oxide activation and blood vessel relaxation, while inhibiting homocysteine and oxidative damage. These actions reduce blood cell stickiness, minimizing clumping.
Furthermore, nootropics may facilitate neuroregeneration by boosting natural brain-boosting growth factors like nerve growth factor (NGF), supplying neuronal building blocks like choline, and maintaining brain cell membrane flexibility and plasticity. Here are top 5 ways on how nootropics enhance cognition.
Non-Prescription Natural Nootropics Supplements
As discussed above, natural nootropics, also called nonprescription nootropics, can improve your condition and brain performance without causing adverse effects. Here is a commonly used Nootropic list;
- Bacopa Monnieri
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Panax Ginseng
- Omega 3 Fatty Acid
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Cera Q
- Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
- Maritime Bark Extract
- Dimethylethanolamine bitartrate (DMAE)
- Huperzine A
- Vitamin E
- Alpha GPC
1. Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance brain function with the help of active compounds called bacosides. It can speed up information processing in your brain, reduce reaction times, improve memory functions, and relieve anxiety with its calming effects.
Bacopa monnieri is one of the most studied natural supplements on the market.
- Many recent studies have shown to improve cognitive function, reduce reaction time and increase memory retention.
- Other animal studies suggest that taking this ingredient can help improve conceptual learning and the ability to retain information.
- According to another human study, supplementing 300mg of bacopa for three months can significantly improve visual information processing, learning rate, and memory.
- The recommended dietary intake is 300 mg 3 times daily or 600mg 2 times throughout your daily routine. 
So, based on human and animal studies, this natural nootropic can help improve brain performance, visual information, and memory functions.
Please remember it can take up to 6 months for users’ brains to adapt fully, so don’t expect immediate results from taking bacopa at low doses.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring and one of the most widely consumed psychoactive stimulants humans have consumed for centuries. From the moment we wake up to powering through workouts and easing our headaches, Caffeine has done it all. But what exactly does it do?
The all-natural energy boosts you need to focus—without the crash. Caffeine provides a healthy dose of alertness and attention, unlike other drinking products filled with synthetic sweeteners or chemicals.
- Caffeine works as a stimulant; it suppresses adenosine receptors in your brain, which causes you to feel less tired, increases your alertness and attention span, decreases your reaction time, and helps release dopamine, making you feel good about life. 
- This nootropic supports task performance to a limited extent, improves reaction time, and delays cognitive decline in healthy people.
- Some studies also suggest that at low doses, Caffeine can reduce anxiety, while at high doses, it can induce anxiety and cause an increase in tense arousal, nervousness, and jitteriness. Most of these benefits are short-term but do not affect long-term memory.
- The usual recommended intake of Caffeine is 40–300 mg for alertness, improving focus, and decreasing reaction time.
So the bottom line is, Caffeine is an organic chemical compound with a wide variety of uses. It can make you more alert and improve your attention, making it useful for people who want to stay awake or feel more focused on the task at hand.
3. Ginkgo biloba
The ancient Asian tree Ginkgo biloba is a natural remedy for improving brain function. It is one of the most commonly used herbs studied in humans. Still, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness and safety before recommending any dosage levels or claims that can be made about benefits against dementia symptoms and improving brain performance.
- According to a study, taking 200mg of Ginkgo daily for five months may improve the symptoms of dementia. Other studies suggest that this herbal extract can improve memory and mental processing in healthy older adults when taken daily for one and a half months   .
- The usual recommended intake of Ginkgo for cognitive enhancement is 120-240mg daily at least 1-4 hours before the performance. For relieving cognitive decline in adults, 40-120mg 3 times a day is enough .
4. Panax Ginseng
Ginseng is a plant used for many years to strengthen the immune system and help fight off stress. There are different types of ginseng, such as Asian Ginseng (from Chinese and Korean sources), which can be consumed in pill form before bedtime to improve clear thinking.
American ginseng with properties similar to those found in Siberian Ginseng but is not quite as strong or potent when taken orally. It’s primarily known because its root aids people with diabetes by reducing their chances of potentially getting sick during winter due to colds and flu.
- The study of 52 healthy individuals revealed that taking 1 gram of Panax ginseng daily for eight weeks remarkably increased the volume of a brain region crucial to memory and improved scores on executive function, attention-related tasks, and long-term memories .
- Other studies also suggest that taking 200-400mg of this herbal extract can help you reduce brain fatigue and improve performance on complex tasks like mental math problems. However, the exact mechanism of improving brain performance is not known.
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most well-known and studied natural nootropics. This fatty acid is vital for brain health, as it helps build membranes around neurons to protect them from damage or injury.
- Omega 3 comes in 3 different forms; alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Among these three types, the EPA appears to be the best against depression.
- Omega 3s also help repair cells in other parts of your body, like skin, that are aging, similar to our brains getting older due to harmful chemicals. According to studies, Omega 3 fatty acids can protect against brain aging and are vital for brain and nervous system function .
- Omega-3 supplements may help prevent and treat depression. Most researchers agree that EPA seems more efficacious than DHA at fighting mental health issues like anxiety or stress. Studies have shown positive results for people with severe mood disorders using this type of fish oil. However, further research will need to be conducted before drawing any conclusion.
Popular Omega 3 Brand: Omega XL.
6. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is another natural adaptogen that can help you feel less stressed. This plant grows in the cold parts of Europe ad Asia. It is also known as arctic root or golden root. This plant is very rich in nutrients, and according to some studies, it contains more than 140 active ingredients, the two most potent being rosavin and salidroside.
- Several studies show Rhodiola supplements improve mood and reduce feelings of burnout in anxious people or those who occasionally experience high levels of stress.
- Some studies suggest that taking Rhodiola has decreased mental fatigue for college students during exam periods when they are most tense.
- Many use it to treat anxiety, fatigue, anemia, depression, and headaches. But, according to a randomized, double-blind study, taking a standardized extract of Rhodiola Rosea may improve concentration and reduce fatigue.
- The most common side effects of Rhodiola Rosea are dizziness, dry mouth, sleep problems, and jitteriness.
So, Rhodiola Rosea is a popular herb with few side effects, and it appears to offer some benefits for the conditions mentioned. The benefits of Rhodiola Rosea have also been known to help with increased stamina, concentration, and mental well-being. However, there haven’t been many extensive studies on these effects, which leaves its true potential unclear.
Despite the negative beliefs about nicotine, more researchers call it a powerful nootropic. It is abundant in tobacco leaves and has beneficial effects on memory, cognition (including creativity), motivation, and executive functions like decision-making, among other things, for healthy individuals to become more intelligent or boost their brainpower, which we all desire.
- Nicotine is a stimulant that can improve your attention span and motor functions. It also has nootropic effects, such as improving alertness and mental performance, especially for people with naturally poor focus spans .
- Another study suggests that Chewing Nicotine gum makes you more adept at handwriting skills. However, these benefits come at the cost of addiction and may be lethal in large doses.
Citicoline is naturally found in the cells of humans and animals. It is a natural brain supplement that effectively treats stroke and traumatic brain injury. Citicoline also helps reduce free radicals, which can potentially harm your cells by neutralizing them with nutrients.
- It’s possible that citicoline could play an active role in neurotransmitter release like dopamine for Alzheimer’s patients since they need more stimulation than usual due to their condition .
- The usual recommended dose of Citicoline in humans is 500-2000mg per day or 7-28mg/kg body weight. However, in most trials, lower doses have been used in patients with depressive disorders.
Citicoline is a compound that helps the brain function more efficiently by increasing phosphatidylcholine synthesis. This could be due to the following three mechanisms:
The first one is, Converting 1,2-diacylglycerol into this essential nutrient. The second one is, stimulating SAMe production, which reduces levels of arachidonic acid in our bodies and stabilizes membranes. The third one is, allowing us to think better and heal quicker from any injury as well.
Citicoline may stimulate mental alertness through increased production of critical amino acids such as the building block lecithin enzymes. This increase can promote repair after physical activity or stress-inducing events like exercise because extra amounts will keep you feeling fresh mentally long enough until those nutrients are depleted.
This nootropic is generally considered safe and will not cause toxicity in many cases. Still, some individuals may experience side effects like headache, constipation, insomnia, blurred vision, stomach upset, etc.
Phosphatidylserine, or “PS” for short, is a fatty substance in our brain cells and carries messages between them. This essential phospholipid protects your mind by keeping it sharp so you can stay on top of anything with relative ease. Phosphatidylserine has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of ADHD.
- In the 2010 study, researchers found that older adults with mild cognitive impairment who took phosphatidylserine supplements had improved memory after six months. In addition, when taking this drug versus a placebo, participants experienced a significant improvement on tests in the end-of-study.
- Another study found significant improvement after just two months on average- more extensive studies are needed before determining its long-term safety or efficacy. However, other small studies revealed improvements, such as increased focus and concentration over time.
- According to a European Psychiatry study, PS and omega-3 fatty acids could help treat ADHD in children.
- This phospholipid is also crucial for neuroplasticity so the brain can repair its cells and generate new ones.
- PS also encourages neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine. This, in turn, improves communication between the brain cells.
- It also reduces the effects of mental stress by lowering cortisol levels. High levels of this hormone can cause brain fog, anxiety, mood swings, and memory problems.
Phosphatidylserine is considered safe, but it may sometimes cause side effects like insomnia, gas, and stomach upset. It may also cause a blood-thinning effect and can cause adverse effects if used along with other blood thinners like warfarin.
Apoaequorin is a calcium-binding protein that was initially extracted from a type of jellyfish known as Aequorea victoria.
While there is potential for agents to help maintain healthy calcium levels in brain cells, Apoaequorin has a chemical structure that gut bacteria may break down before it reaches your brain.
This protein is primarily promoted as a natural brain booster by a company (Quincy Bioscience) that manufactures it in Prevagen.
- This protein has been shown to help people with dementia and memory problems as a supplement.
- Some studies have also suggested that it may be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease or certain forms of cancer because they increase blood flow. In addition, it can enhance your thinking skills by increasing your brain’s dopamine levels-which lower as you age.
- Certain studies suggest this protein is safe and may not cause serious side effects. However, no good scientific evidence supports its use for these conditions.
While the brand using this ingredient leads as the best seller in the Nootropics category, it’s important to note that research on its efficacy is quite limited. Experts suggest that there is insufficient evidence to confirm its effectiveness as a brain booster.
A popular product containing Apoaequorin is Prevagen.
11. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is an ancient Chinese medicinal food that has boosted cognitive function and enhanced mental clarity.
Lion’s mane mushrooms may be the most potent fungi on earth. According to studies by scientists worldwide, they contain compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells.
- Recent studies show it can protect the body against cancer, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), fatty liver disease, and aging.
- Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are also sometimes used to help relieve symptoms of mild anxiety and depression. An animal study found that lion’s mane mushrooms could also improve moods by decreasing feelings associated with stress or trauma-induced upset among those who have suffered from these conditions before.
- Some of the ingredients found in mushrooms have been proven to recover the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines. It is also proven to be beneficial for improving memory functions.
- Certain animal studies suggest that Lion’s mane mushrooms can reduce anxiety and depression by reducing inflammation.
However, more human research is needed, but so far, studies suggest the use may be beneficial in this regard.
Read the best Lion’s Mane Mushroom Brand.
12. Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Pycnogenol® is a patented French maritime pine bark extract with 65–75% procyanidins. These powerful antioxidants support heart health and combat free radicals in the body, which may cause diseases such as cancer or diabetes .
- Pycnogenol® is a supplement beneficial for many subjects, including those with initial cognitive impairment. Pycogeneros help regulates oxidative stress levels and may improve brain function in these individuals by reducing symptoms like confusion or memory loss .
- The usual recommended intake of Maritime Pine Bark is 45- 360 mg daily for poor circulation and improving athletic performance .
Pine Bark Extract is a nootropic with many other uses, including preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Maritime Pine Bark is a natural remedy that can help boost your brainpower. It supplies the body with flavonoids, antioxidants capable of stopping free radicals from damaging cells in our bodies and causing cognitive decline as we age – even if you’re unaware.
Cera-Q is a new ingredient derived from silk that has long been consumed for its health benefits. Cera-Q peptides attract and bind to β-sheet portions within other proteins, such as beta-amyloid plaque, which can help prevent or disrupt the formation of this brain-damaging substance affecting human neuron membrane receptors resulting in better cognitive function.
Cera-Q also increases glucose uptake into memory/cognition areas, assisting mental performance.
- The results of this study were promising, but additional research is needed to determine the mechanism and whether biochemical markers involved in memory formation correlate with them.
- Another study indicates that 400-600mg of this protein has been shown to improve brain performance and verbal and visual performance. Although these effects are promising, additional clinical trials are required to clarify further because this is not well-researched, and legitimate studies do not prove its benefits.
14. Dimethylethanolamine bitartrate (DMAE)
DMAE is another naturally occurring nootropic that many believe can positively affect mood, enhance memory and improve brain function. Many people also use it as anti-aging for beautiful skin.
DMAE works by increasing acetylcholine (Ach) production, which helps regulate functions controlled by the brain, including sleep, muscle contractions, or pain responses.
Although DMAE is considered safe, it may cause rare side effects like skin irritation, muscle twitching, sleep disorder (insomnia), sneezing, severe eye irritation, and convulsion. In addition, this compound can interact with other drugs, so use it with caution.
- Animal studies suggest that DMAE increases choline and acetylcholine extracellular levels and may be effective in scopolamine-induced memory deficit.
- Some people believe that it may be helpful in Alzheimer’s disease, depression, ADHD, and dementia. However, the research regarding this compound is limited.
15. Huperzine A
Huperzine A is a dietary supplement derived from a plant called Chinese club moss Huperzia Serrata and has been eliciting some interest as an upcoming treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. It acts like another kind of medication called cholinesterase inhibitors by improving neurotransmitter levels in our brains which help control memory functions such as learning abilities or recall span.
However, this is not entirely safe and may cause nasal obstruction, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, cramping, increased saliva, anxiety, dizziness, thirst, and constipation.
This nootropic comes in tablets and capsules form, and the usual dose for memory boosting is 100 mcg twice daily, while the daily dose for Alzheimer’s disease is 300 mcg to 500 mcg. For dementia, it’s 100 mcg twice daily.
- Huperzine A exerts its cognitive-enhancing effects by inhibiting the acetylcholine esterase enzyme. It could treat the neurodegenerative disorder and potentially serve as a disease-modifying drug for Alzheimer’s.
- Traditional Chinese medicine also treats fever, inflammation, Alzheimer and other forms of dementia.
16. Inositol (Vitamin B8)
Inositol, also known as vitamin B8, is an essential nutrient the body can’t produce on its own. It naturally occurs in foods such as rice and cereal and through certain supplements like vitamin B8-rich multivitamin tablets or fish oils for people looking to increase their brain power with nootropic effects.
Inositol is a nutrient that works well for treating mental health conditions and, in some cases, has even been shown to be more effective than prescribed medication.
Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are the most commonly used vitamins for brain health. They can help disintegrate homocysteine, high levels of which have been connected with a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- This is one of the most commonly used vitamins for the brain and functions as a nootropic with benefits for anxiety disorders such as depression and OCD .
- Certain studies have revealed that those suffering from depression and anxiety have a low level of Inositol.
- Taking Inositol has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety but is not too effective in schizophrenia. While some studies even found that it may be helpful in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Most Popular brand of Inositol is Ovasitol.
17 Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally found in certain foods. This vitamin most commonly occurs in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.
- This vitamin is an antioxidant that primarily protects the cells from damage caused by free radicals. It is believed to help improve the mind and memory of older people.
- This memory supplement can also aid people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
- As it is an antioxidant, it prevents or slows down cognitive decline in the aging population, but more in-depth research is required to prove its benefits for the brain.
- The usual recommended dietary intake is 1000mg daily (considered safe) for adults.
However, taking this vitamin and other medicines, significantly blood thinner, can be risky. So it’s better to avoid it and ask your general physician.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that can help manage stress. It also provides numerous other benefits for your body and brain, such as boosting the function of nerve cells in our brains called neurons and lowering blood sugar and cortisol levels to reduce anxiety symptoms or fight depression more effectively.
Ashwagandha is a natural nootropic that has been used in Ayurveda for centuries. Its most well-known property may be its ability to reduce stress, as it blocks the stress pathway through regulating chemical signaling, among other mechanisms.
- Also, according to some authentic studies, Ashwagandha can reduce the symptoms in individuals with stress and anxiety disorders.
- Ashwagandha is packed with many neuroprotective phytoconstituents that can help with various brain disorders, but further study is required to promote it as a nootropic drug.
- It also improves sleep quality and may help reduce stress and anxiety.
Read Best Ashwagandha Gummies Stress Balls ⇐Here.
19. Alpha GPC
Alpha GPC is a natural choline compound found in the brain. It has also been investigated for its potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
It also works as a precursor of acetylcholine by increasing its levels at nerve endings; this might help improve memory and learning functions.
- However, some studies concluded that Alpha GPC or Caffeine does not significantly affect mood, cognitive abilities, and physical performance.
- Most Alpha GPC brands have 300-600 mg daily, but almost all studies safely used 1200mg per day in three doses for cognitive decline.
- This ingredient is present in Quantumind Nootropic.
Theobromine, formerly known as xanthosis—is a bitter alkaloid in cocoa and chocolate. It was first discovered in the 1840s; its effects are slightly similar to Caffeine, and it works as a mild stimulant in the body.
Apart from the stimulant effects of Theobromine, this compound also helps you promote more profound and better sleep, improve cholesterol levels, remove body toxins, reduce inflammation, promote a healthy weight, and reduce gout symptoms.
- Theobromine inhibits the effects of phosphodiesterase and blocks adenosine receptors. Still, it also shows other adenosine receptor-independent consequences, such as oxidative stress depletion and gene expression management.
- Some clinical studies show that Theobromine can improve focus, memory, and concentration.
- Other studies suggest combining Theobromine with other flavanols can enhance mental performance.
Amino Acids Nootropics
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green and black tea and some mushrooms, but it also has many benefits when taken as a supplement. For example, many studies have shown that taking 200 mg of this amino acid may help focus and improve sleep quality and creativity without causing drowsiness.
- According to a study, using L- theanine can positively impact the general state of alertness, attention, focus, and arousal and may be linked to increased creativity.
- Another study showed that those 50 milligrams increased alpha waves, most commonly linked with improved mental alertness or “creativity,” without causing any side effects.
- The usual recommended intake is not established, but many studies found that 100 mg and 400 mg daily can significantly improve sleep quality and promote relaxation.
L-theanine also affects the level of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters can influence moods like sleep patterns and emotionality levels in people who experience certain emotional states or stressful situations.
Creatine is another amino acid supplement that may help with exercise performance and mental abilities. This amino acid is naturally found in muscle cells and the brain.
- A recent study found positive effects on short-term memory and reasoning when taking creatine supplements; however, more research must be done before concluding its effectiveness or safety at different levels.
- Apart from cognitive-enhancing abilities, this amino acid is one of the most commonly used supplements for improving performance in the gym. Some studies suggest that Creatine can increase muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance  .
- Taking 5 grams of Creatine daily is entirely safe and doesn’t cause any side effects for long-term use.
There are limited studies on adolescents, but some scientists think it could be safe for them to take this amino acid.
L-Tyrosine is another amino acid that occurs naturally in the body and can also be found in certain foods. The body produces it from phenylalanine. Most people use it orally as a dietary supplement to improve alertness, attention, and focus.
It helps reduce stress and prevent stress-induced memory and attention deficits by increasing the level of noradrenaline and dopamine.
- The usual recommended daily dose of L tyrosine is 500-2000mg, roughly 30-60 minutes before any acute stressor.
- It has been used to improve mental performance, alertness, or memory by people looking to treat their depression.
- However, recent research shows that it may not work for depression due to a lack of effectiveness compared with those taking prescription medications.
5-HTP is a remarkable nootropic, is an amino acid that plays a pivotal role in regulating serotonin levels and other crucial neurotransmitters within the brain. By serving as a precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP facilitates the synthesis of this vital neurotransmitter. Serotonin, often called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, is involved in various essential functions, including mood regulation, stress management, and appetite control. As 5-HTP aids in optimizing serotonin levels, it can positively influence emotional stability and mood elevation and promote healthy sleep patterns.
- Extensive clinical research and studies have showcased its potential to promote relaxation, enhance sleep quality, and contribute to overall well-being.
- Clinical trials have provided evidence of 5-HTP’s efficacy in addressing various conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and insomnia. Its influence on serotonin levels makes it a promising natural alternative for individuals seeking mood enhancement, stress reduction, and improved sleep quality.
5-HTP’s ability to regulate serotonin and other vital brain chemicals makes it a noteworthy nootropic. Its impact on relaxation, sleep quality, and appetite satisfaction has garnered attention through extensive clinical research and studies, offering individuals the potential for improved overall well-being and mental balance.
25. Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC)
This is a potent antioxidant, has been proposed as a valuable neuroprotective agent capable of energizing and safeguarding brain cells. Here is what the research says about it;
- Research suggests this compound may benefit age-related cognitive decline and related issues. Additionally, Acetyl-L-carnitine has shown promise in various therapeutic applications, such as Alzheimer’s disease, memory enhancement, cognitive function improvement, alleviating symptoms of depression, and mitigating nerve pain in individuals with diabetes.
- Clinical studies have explored the use of Acetyl L-Carnitine in individuals with Alzheimer’s, demonstrating encouraging outcomes regarding memory enhancement and cognitive improvement. It is believed to enhance the production and release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in learning and memory processes.
- Furthermore, Acetyl L-Carnitine has shown potential as an adjunctive treatment for symptoms of depression. Modulating neurotransmitter activity and increasing the availability of energy substrates within brain cells may help alleviate depressive symptoms and enhance overall mood.
Acetyl L-Carnitine, with its antioxidant properties and potential neuroprotective effects, holds promise as a supplement for supporting brain health. While it is often associated with age-related cognitive decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, its potential benefits extend to memory enhancement, cognitive function improvement, depressive symptom relief, and the alleviation of nerve pain in individuals with diabetes. However, further research is needed to fully understand and validate its efficacy in these areas.
Racetams belong to a class of synthetic nootropics that share a pyrrolidone nucleus. The smart drugs in this class include Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Phenylpiracetam, and Aniracetam. Other drugs in this class are levetiracetam and seletracetam, considered anticonvulsants.
Piracetam is a synthetic nootropic molecule that has been shown to improve memory in people with age-related mental decline but does not seem to have many benefits for healthy adults. Piracetam may help you retain information better, solve complex problems more quickly and efficiently than before, and enhance your cognitive function overall —though this research needs further exploration.
Phenylpiracetam, aka Phenotropil, is another over-the-counter and synthetic smart drug shown to help the brain recover from various injuries. It’s similar in structure to Piracetam and Noopept but not as potent or effective.
- One study shows it enhances memory slightly better than both options alone when taken by rats with strokes! However, adult research isn’t available yet, so use caution before taking this supplement.
- Pramiracetam also belongs to Racetams nootropics and works as a CNS stimulant. It is also used as a cognitive enhancer and long-term memory formation. The usual recommended dietary intake is 400mg three times a day or 600mg 2 times a day.
Phenylpiracetam is a unique drug developed in 1983 for the Soviet space program. It’s an analog of Piracetam, but with one amino acid changed from Phenethylamine to Hydroxyphenylethylamine (or HPEH). Adding this extra chemical causes it to promote greater mental alertness than its parent compound. It may have benefits outside just being used as medication on outer-space astronauts, like enhancing creativity through brainstorming sessions or improving productivity at work.
Aniracetam is another synthetic Racetam nootropic. This one is available as an over-the-counter supplement in the US, and in Europe, it is known by prescription only. Aniracetam is also believed to improve memory and enhance brain performance.
Noopept is another drug that belongs to a group of synthetic nootropics. This one has similar brain-boosting effects to Piracetam but has a much lower daily dose than Piracetam.
The unique thing about Noopept is that it has quick action, and you will feel its effects in minutes, lasting several hours.
- Researchers have found that this smart drug is an effective treatment for brain injuries, and it could be helpful as a nootropic in healthy adults .
- The standard daily dose for Piracetam is 4800mg, while Noopept is 10-30 mg daily.
Vinpocetine is a synthetic nootropic obtained from Voacanga Africana seeds or Vinca minor leaves. One of its common uses may enhance blood flow, leading to increased memory power; however, these claims haven’t been investigated thoroughly.
Vinpocetine is a widely-used cognitive enhancer with success in preserving cognitive function and slowing down the onset of dementia. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much literature on this topic compared to other drugs tested for their efficacy against Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s symptoms.
- Besides memory enhancement, recent studies have demonstrated its efficacy in other diseases like cardiac, inflammation, and atherosclerosis.
- This nootropic’s usual daily dietary intake is 15-60mg in three doses. The ideal dose is 5mg three times a day.
Some commonly used prescription drugs are stimulants that treat ADHD, narcolepsy, dementia, or other conditions. Here is a list of some of the widely used Prescription Nootropics;
- Provigil contains Modafinil as an active substance.
- Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
- Ritalin contains methylphenidate.
- Axura contains Memantine.
Please note that these drugs can only be used with the doctor’s permission and can only be effective in treating certain conditions.
These medications can effectively treat specific medical conditions, but like any other prescription drug, they carry side effects and interaction risks. Therefore, people should only take them under a doctor’s care to avoid adverse outcomes.
Before taking this powerful class, every patient deserves a proper consultation with an expert who knows exactly what treatment plan will work best without harming you chemically and physically.
Now let’s discuss them one by one.
Adderall is the brand name for the combination of 2 stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is most commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Adderall can be used only with a doctor’s permission and might cause side effects like dry mouth, insomnia, headache, stomach upset, dizziness, weight loss, constipation, etc. Other less common and more severe side effects include heart attack, stroke, depression, hallucination, irritability, muscle breakdown, etc.
- Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain area that controls working memory, attention, and behavior .
- According to a study, Adderall improved people’s ability to control their behavior and enhanced short-term memory. 
30. Modafinil (Provigil)
Modafinil is a stimulant drug and was introduced in the late 1990s. It is the active ingredient in prescription medicine like Provigil and is used to help people stay awake when needed for work or school. The drug was introduced in the late 1990s to treat narcolepsy and shift work disorder, but it can also be effective for people who have trouble staying awake during the day because of obstructive sleep apnea.
While there isn’t enough research to make factual claims about how it works, some studies suggest that it blocks dopamine reuptake, increasing the extracellular dopamine level.
Please note that this medication does not cure any disorders but may relieve extreme drowsiness due to narcolepsy and other illnesses like obstructed breathing while sleeping( obstructive ), which often causes sufferers’ heads to hit against their backs at night.
31. Ritalin (Methylphenidate)
Methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, is a central nervous system stimulant. It influences chemicals in the brain and nerves resulting from hyperactivity and impulse control. This drug increases the level of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain and helps improve short memory in healthy individuals.
Ritalin, a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can cause positive and negative side effects. Positively it helps with symptoms of ADHD while risking more severe complications throughout the body; negatively, this stimulant leads people who misuse their prescriptions into an addiction linked back through time to liver disease, heart problems, etc.
Ritalin is a medication that was first introduced during the 1950s to treat chronic fatigue, depression, and psychosis of people who were also depressed. It became very popular for ADHD treatment by 1990, with around 3 million prescriptions annually.
Axura is the brand name for Memantine, a prescription medication that can be taken by mouth to slow the progression of moderate-to-severe dementia associated with Alzheimer’s.
Side effects include headaches, constipation, and sleepiness. Still, they may also have blood clots, psychosis, or heart failure in more extreme cases if not adequately managed with other medications prescribed by an experienced doctor.
Although the risk of Axura (Memantine) abuse is very low, it can still be illegally used to improve focus and brain performance.
While the above-discussed prescription nootropics can effectively treat certain medical conditions, you should still not take them without a doctor’s permission.
Side Effects From Prescription Nootropics
Please remember that the above prescription medicines come with side effects; Here is a list of some common side effects associated with using these prescription nootropics.
Adderall can cause abuse; some side effects might be low sex drive and sweating. Other severe side effects include heart attack if concurrently taken with alcohol.
Ritalin can cause psychosis, hallucinations, seizures, heart arrhythmias, and high BP, especially in high doses.
Conversely, modafinil can cause headaches, nausea, drowsiness, constipation, gas, and difficulty falling asleep.
So based on the above list, which is the best nootropic supplement, and how to select one for yourself?
As a pharmacist, I recommend anything that contains most of the well-researched, proven, and safe ingredients. That’s why I recommend BrainPill®—which is loaded with some natural and proven ingredients. BrainPill contains some or most of the above-discussed natural nootropics.
Why we love BrainPill®
- This nootropic stack comes with a 67-day money-back guarantee.
- The formula is all-natural and has ingredients that boost focus, attention, and overall brain health.
- BrainPill® is effective for treating brain fog and may also help improve learning abilities.
- Also, BrainPill® is safe and free from toxins and other harmful substances. Read more about BrainPill ←Here.
Many types of nootropics and smart drugs with different potency levels are available.
Prescription smart drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have the most potent effects on memory and attention span; however, they’re also highly addictive and need doctors’ prescriptions.
Synthetic nootropic supplements like Noopept and Piracetam can be more challenging to find, but research is lacking on their effectiveness in healthy adults.
Natural brain boosters such as BrainPill® offer a gentler approach without any risks associated with addiction or dependency. The Ingredients in BrainPill are all effective, honest, and safe for memory improvement and overall brain performance.
Whatever your preferred method may be, we recommend that you consult a doctor before taking anything new so that they can assess whether it will cause side effects or interact negatively with other medications you might take regularly. You can read more about Nootropics brands here← and other supplements and medicine on Drugs Bank.
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