What Are Nootropics?
Should You Use Natural Brain Supplements? Or Are Synthetic Brain Drugs The Way To Go?
Nootropics are a hot topic in the media these days. A couple of years ago, you would only find the word mentioned on a few niche websites and perhaps a dozen or so fringe journal articles.
A good number of scientific papers will have mentioned things like Piracetam and Noopept. But again, these things never even got close to gaining the kind of popular notoriety they are enjoying right now. Say the words “smart drugs” or “nootropics” to a co-worker and there is a good chance they’ll know what you’re talking about. That is something that has never been true before.
The mass media are largely responsible for this rise in notoriety. New articles on nootropics are published almost daily.
Yet people still don’t properly understand what nootropics are, what they do, how they work, or the dangers that come with them. Again, the mass media are responsible for this. The one thing that all of the articles published on nootropics share is a total lack of understanding about brain enhancing substances.
Most of the time, the article lurches from over-exaggerations about what nootropics can do, and ludicrous scare stories about how they are ravaging sectors of the economy like a new cocaine.
While this misinformation machine carries on churning out articles, there are dozens of brilliant small businesses out there creating some fantastic brain supplements ready for when people begin to learn what nootropics are really all about.
There are signs that this change in attitudes is already happening.
The global nootropics market was value at $1.5bn in 2015.
By 2024 it is expected to reach $6bn.
That is not slow growth!
As the market grows and more people become educated about what nootropics actually have to offer, then the mass media will slowly begin to catch up.
Until then, all we can do is try to enlighten as many people as we can.
We may not have the reach of CNN or The Huffington Post, but we have something much more valuable; diligent research, experience, and a lack of vested interest in scare stories.
So, let’s begin.
What are nootropics?
Where have they come from all of a sudden?
Who is making them?
What Are Nootropics? – History & Evolution
The word “nootropics” is derived from the Greek ‘noos’, meaning ‘mind’, and ‘tropē’, meaning ‘turning’.
It is a broad term traditionally used to refer to any substance which positively affects any aspect of cognitive function.
The word was first coined by Romanian Psychologist Corneliu E. Giurgea.
This was the same guy who invented Piracetam in 1964. For this reason, many people consider Piracetam to be the first real nootropic – this is not the case, of course, but the claim persists.
Broadly speaking, “nootropic” is used to refer to a very broad range of substances that have even broader effects.
We’ll now go through some of the main ways we conceptualize different types of nootropics. The most basic of these distinctions is the split between synthetic, pharmaceutical-grade brain drugs, and natural nootropic supplements.
Synthetic vs. Natural Nootropics
We think that everybody would be better off using natural nootropic supplements.
To explain why, we first need to take a look at what synthetic nootropics are and what they do.
For many people, the word nootropics refers exclusively to a class of synthetic brain drugs designed to dramatically increase focus, eliminate fatigue, and facilitate lucid thinking.
The best known of these drugs are:
These drugs all do slightly different things; some are designed to keep you focused on a single task, while others are designed to eliminate social anxiety. A few are supposed to eliminate mental and physical fatigue.
Almost all of these substances were developed with the intention of treating a serious condition or for use in extreme circumstances.
For example, things like Methylphenidate (sold under the brand name Ritalin) was developed to treat ADHD. However, many college students use it to help them stay focused in the library during finals season.
Piracetam, on the other hand, was created simply because it could increase cognitive function. Developers at a Belgian pharmaceutical company saw that it could drastically increase memory function, attention span, etc. There is some evidence that it was used to treat epilepsy in the 1950s, but obviously this was not taken further.
Today, these drugs have very different legal statuses around the world. In some countries, they can be bought over the counter. In others, they are completely illegal. Then there are countries where things like Modafinil can be obtained on prescription for the treatment of sleeping disorders.
As you can no doubt tell from the name, natural nootropics are different from the likes of Modafinil and Piracetam in one very important regard: THEY’RE NATURAL!
Natural nootropic stacks will typically provide a combination of herbal extracts, amino acids, concentrates, and other natural substances. Together these substances will deliver a significant increase in cognitive performance.
They will try to bring about the exact same benefits as the synthetic nootropics listed above.
Some are designed to rapidly increase mental energy, attention, and mental clarity.
Some put you in a state of tunnel vision, where all you can concentrate on is the task at hand.
Others aim to promote long-term memory function, improved brain health, and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
Some focus on reducing performance anxiety, stress, and poor sleep quality.
A very small number are designed to do all of the above.
Natural nootropics are often dismissed as being weaker than their synthetic counter-parts. This is often true to an extent. But this is not necessarily a bad thing – we’ll explain why later!
They will often contain ingredients which have been heavily refined and purified.
We’re not talking about fruit powder and ground spices here.
Select compounds found in certain plants have been identified as having brain boosting properties; these compounds can be isolated, concentrated, and then added to a stack.
But they cannot contain any ingredients not found in nature.
They cannot contain anything that your body could not encounter by eating certain foods.
This is what separates them from the synthetic brain drugs discussed above.
Why Choose Natural Nootropics?
This is really easy for us.
As far as we’re concerned, everybody is better suited to natural nootropics than synthetic brain drugs.
This is almost always true.
It doesn’t matter if you’re absolutely convinced that you need Modafinil to get through your final exams, or if you are absolutely certain that Piracetam is what you need to get ahead.
You will almost always be much better off using a natural nootropic supplement over a synthetic brain drug. This is true for a number of reasons.
The first reason is to do with safety.
Synthetic brain drugs come with an absolute avalanche of side effects and long-term health risks that most natural nootropics do not.
Obviously, the exact risks and side effects vary from drug to drug.
However, all of them share a common set of side effects and long-term health risks, including: addiction, withdrawal symptoms, insomnia, nervousness, low mood, hyperactivity, anxiety, confusion, and nausea.
Even more worryingly, few of the most popular brain drugs have been studied long-term in humans. Some studies have found that Piracetam, for instance, causes few serious short-term side effects. Yet we have no idea how the compound affects the brain over many months and years. When it comes to safety, uncertainty is not something we’re willing to tolerate.
The second reason is related: unpredictability.
Many people will argue with us here, but we actually think that most of the supposed benefits of synthetic brain drugs can just as easily be thought of as side effects.
For example, Modafinil can help you stay up and get work done throughout the night – there’s no denying that. But it can very quickly get out of control. You may find yourself losing track of time, running way over when your project was due to be submitted. It can actually make it hard for you to stop concentrating on some trivial task and get back to the thing you’re supposed to be doing. It can keep you up for 36 hours straight and leave you looking like a zombie in the meeting you were so desperate to prepare for.
Noopept is another example of a substance that can quickly backfire. Noopept decreases social anxiety. It lowers your inhibitions without making you fell intoxicated like alcohol or other depressants. This can really help you in big meetings where you need to turn on the charm to close the deal. But it can very easily lower your inhibitions too far; you may not start acting drunk, but you can definitely stray into ‘over-familiar’ or outright ‘weird’ territory.
The final reason is to do with the very nature of cognitive enhancement.
Ramping up your cognitive function for a brief period is one thing, but genuinely enhancing the way your brain works is quite another.
If you want to give your mental energy and focus a quick boost, then you can use something like Piracetam. Effects will come on quick, and then they’ll dissipate soon after that. You’ll have a bit of a hangover, and you might experience some other side effects.
But if you want to improve multiple aspects of your cognitive function in a deep, meaningful, lasting way, you need to take a long-term, consistent approach to brain supplementation.
There is no quick fix for things like a poor attention span or a poor working memory. You need to use a comprehensive nootropic stack on a daily basis for many weeks or months to bring about lasting changes. You need to target multiple aspects of cognition and do so intelligently.
As with all things, you get out what you put in.
You can’t get long-term results from quick solutions.
Different Types Of Natural Nootropic
There are several different types of nootropic supplement.
One way to divide them up is into categories of action. In other words, categorized according to their primary nootropic function.
Here are some of the most common categories you will come across while delving into the weird and wonderful world of nootropics:
The most effective way to increase focus, concentration and mental clarity is to increase choline availability in the brain. This allows the brain to create more acetylcholine; the neurotransmitter involved in many of the most vital executive cognitive functions.
Substances which raise choline levels are often referred to as cholinergics. They include Alpha-GPC, CDP-Choline, Choline Bitartrate, DMAE, and Huperzine A (although the action of this last one is a little different to the others).
These are substances which, by various mechanisms, support proper memory function. Every full spectrum nootropic needs to have something to support memory function. A few specialist supplements will actually try to do nothing but improve memory recall, retention, and accuracy. Some claim to be able to ameliorate or even prevent age-related memory loss. While it is impossible to prevent age-related memory loss entirely, a combination of diet, exercise and supplementation can possibly help reduce its severity and the rapidity of its onset.
Typical memory boosters you will find in nootropic stacks today include Bacopa monnieri, Vinpocetine, DHA, and all of the cholinergics mentioned above!
Some substances are able to increase cerebral circulation. This means they are able to increase blood flow in the brain without raising systemic blood pressure. By opening up your brain’s blood vessels, your brain cells get more oxygen and nutrients, allowing them to function better.
The typical example here is Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo seems to work via several mechanisms at once; reducing the viscosity of your blood while also opening up your capillaries.
Neurotrophic Factor Stimulation
Certain substances are able to go beyond raising cognitive function in the short to medium term. Some natural substances are able to actually promote physical brain cell growth, maintenance and proliferation.
For instance, Lion’s Mane Mushroom is known to promote the release of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a neurotrophic factor which regulates the growth, maintenance and proliferation of neurons. Its presence stimulates the growth of new neurons, while its absence would mean sub-optimal brain cell maintenance and regeneration.
Protection from oxidative damage is an integral part of a full spectrum nootropic stack. Antioxidants don’t have any direct effects on cognitive function. But if you want to optimize cognitive function over the long-term, they are an absolute must-have. They are fairly easy to come by. However, not all antioxidants are created equal. Some, like Maritime Bark Extract, can cross the blood brain barrier with great efficiency. Others, like resveratrol, are very potent and conducive to long-term health.
Single Ingredient Supplements, Pre-Made Nootropics, & Custom-Made Stacks
Now that you’re familiar with what nootropics are, as well as the different types of nootropics available, you need to decide what type of supplement is right for you.
Broadly speaking, we think there are three distinct types of nootropic supplement:
- Single-ingredient supplements
- Pre-made, premium nootropics
- Custom-made stacks
In our opinion, beginners should always go with the second option.
Pre-made, premium nootropic stacks offer multiple benefits that the other two don’t.
For starters, when you’re just starting out in the world of nootropics, you don’t necessarily know what you’re doing. You have no idea what works for you, or what works at all for that matter. It isn’t wise, then, to try building your own stack from individual parts.
For the same reason, using individual ingredient supplements isn’t a good idea. It would take you far too long to figure out what works for you. That’s to make no mention of the expense involved in buying several individual ingredient supplements and seeing if they work for you.
A pre-made stack is therefore the best option for beginners.
It is also a great option for seasoned nootropics users too.
You simply can’t get the kind of quality of ingredients you can get from premium stacks when you’re sourcing the materials yourself.
Major supplement brands use economies of scale to get the per serving cost down.
Manufacturers like Performance Lab use highly potent, branded forms of all of their ingredients. They keep the ingredients as close to their natural forms as possible. They deliver their formulas in a capsule that is 100% vegan and made from natural prebiotics.
It would be impossible to get the same kind of quality when building your own stack.
Augmenting Your Stack
Creating your own stack from scratch is probably not the best way to go if you’re a beginner.
Nor is it always a good idea even if you have extensive experience with nootropics. You can end up spending an awful lot more money to get an inferior product.
However, augmenting your premium, pre-made nootropic stack can sometimes be a very good idea.
Even the most comprehensive nootropic stack can sometimes be made better by adding in extra ingredients.
For example, the editor of this site stacks Mind Lab Pro with an algae-derived DHA/EPA supplement.
Some of our regular writers stack Performance Lab Mind with the same DHA/EPA oil.
Other people we know stack a nootropic supplement with an energy supplement when they need to plow through a particularly long day and night of hard, detailed, mentally taxing work.
This is a common tactic employed by people like lawyers, professional traders, and creative professionals when they have an unusually busy week coming up. They thrown an energy stack on top of their usual nootropic, and they find it helps them get the extra few hours of work done each night they to in order to get through the week with their livelihoods intact!
There is nothing wrong with adding in new substances to your nootropic stack, or indeed with combining stacks.
You just need to make sure that you aren’t doubling up on any one ingredient.
You also need to ensure that you aren’t stacking any ingredients that interact with one another negatively. A common example of this is when people double up on both a cholinergic like Citicoline and an acetylcholinesterase-blocker like Huperzine A. This can cause side effects you wouldn’t necessarily get from using either of the substances alone.
If you feel that your current stack is working, but that it could still be working better for you, then you can try introducing other substances. But you should do this one by one. You just need to ensure that the substances you introduce do not interact with any of the ingredients already in the stack, and that you are not inadvertently doubling up on your doses. Do your research carefully, and never introduce a lot of different ingredients to your stack at one time. Add them gradually so you can reliably tell which substance is causing any side effects your might experience.
If you feel that your current stack is working, but that it could still be working better for you, then you can try introducing other substances. But you should do this one by one.
You just need to ensure that the substances you introduce do not interact with any of the ingredients already in the stack, and that you are not inadvertently doubling up on your doses.
Do your research carefully, and never introduce a lot of different ingredients to your stack at one time. Add them gradually so you can reliably tell which substance is causing any side effects your might experience.
Side Effects Of Natural Nootropics
Many of you will now be pretty convinced that natural nootropics can help you perform better, get more done, and ultimately get more out of your life.
But before you take the plunge, you will no doubt be wondering how safe these supplements are; after all, nootropics are a relatively new class of supplements. They have been thoroughly studied, but there isn’t a whole generation who have been using these things who we can now use as a case study.
So are nootropics safe?
Do nootropics cause side effects?
What about long term health risks?
It is impossible to say that “nootropics are safe” or “nootropics are dangerous”, because the word refers to a very broad class of substances.
Some of them are extremely safe, well tolerated, and fine for long-term consumption.
Others pose serious dangers, cause immediate side effects, and are totally unsuitable for long-term, regular consumption.
Some nootropics are perfectly, some are downright dangerous. There is no way to classify “nootropics” generally as either safe or dangerous.
Instead, you need to look at the substances classed as nootropics on an individual basis.
If you look at our comprehensive ingredient guide, you’ll see that we have discussed the best nootropic ingredients in great detail.
These ingredients are all thought to be perfectly safe for regular human consumption. They do not cause serious side effects – if they were regularly found to cause side effects, they wouldn’t be in our guide!
Not every natural nootropic substance is safe and side-effect free.
You should check out our substance guides, as well as other sources online, to see what kind of risks you’re talking about with each substance.
You must consider the long-term risks as well as the immediate dangers.
Things like caffeine make great additions to a focus and energy stack, but only if you’re not going to use it frequently. It can cause chronic side effects like insomnia and hypertension even if it doesn’t present any immediate side effects. Caffeine can also be highly addictive; it is easy for people to become dependent on caffeine. It is not something you want to be taking every single day.
It is imperative that you talk to a doctor before you start experimenting with nootropic supplements.
We are not doctors.
This is not medical advice.
Talk to a qualified professional before you start putting any strange substances into your body!
Natural Cognitive Enhancement Without Supplements
Of course, there are lots of ways that you can significantly improve cognitive performance without using supplements. Many would argue that these methods are actually more effective than targeted supplementation. In our opinion, employing both kinds of tactics works best.
Here are a few topics that you might be interested in:
All of these things can influence cognition, be it through safeguarding brain health, encouraging brain development, or directly improving various aspects of mental performance. Check out a few of these articles and give some of the methods we discuss a try. They could make a HUGE difference to your life – what have you got to lose?
Further reading on our site:
- The most effective nootropic ingredients
- The worst nootropic ingredients
- Current supplement rankings – Top 3
Here are some of the most common questions we get asked about nootropics. If you have any questions you’d like to ask, just post them to the comments at the end and we’ll get right back to you!
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are substances that enhance cognitive performance. The original definition, as defined by Corneliu E. Giurgea, states that a nootropic must cause significant improvements in cognition without causing any side effects or long-term health risks. That is the definition we use as well.
What Can Nootropics Do?
Nootropics can rapidly improve your ability to focus on a complicated task, help you stay concentrated for long periods of time, and enhance your memory function. The best nootropics can make a significant difference to your day-to-day cognitive function. They can massively improve your short-term working memory, accelerate information processing, and help you retain new information much more easily and for longer.
Can Nootropics Make You Smarter?
No. Simple as that.
No nootropic supplement can make a discernible difference to your actual intelligence, whether that is measured by IQ or some other meaningful metric (to our knowledge only IQ has clinical validity). Any supplement claiming to be able to make you smarter, or to be some kind of Limitless Pill is purposefully lying to you. If they’re not outright lying, then the manufacturer simply doesn’t understand what nootropics do; never a good sign.
What Can’t Nootropics Do?
As far as we can tell, nootropics can’t make you more intelligent, more creative, or more perceptive. So to those of you who were thinking of investing in nootropics and then becoming a bestselling author or a serial entrepreneur overnight, think again!
Nootropics cannot reverse or cure cognitive decline in any clinically-meaningful way. They can seemingly delay its onset, and even significantly reduce the severity of the symptoms, but they cannot completely cure anyone of age-related memory loss.
Are Nootropics Safe?
This is a very difficult – if not a completely impossible – one to answer. ‘Nootropics’ is an extremely broad term. It applies to any substance that significantly enhances cognitive function without causing serious side effects or negative long-term health risks (so choline is in, alcohol is out).
Some nootropics are extremely safe, while others cause pretty intense side effects. In our opinion, if a substance causes notable side effects, then it isn’t a real nootropic (to go by the original definition of the word). But others disagree. You therefore need to look at the safety and long-term health risks on a substance by substance basis.
What Are The Most Common Side Effects Of Using A Nootropic?
The exact side effects you can expect from a nootropic will vary wildly supplement to supplement. It depends entirely on the ingredients in the supplement, how they are dosed, and so on. However, we can make some very broad generalizations about the side effects commonly associated with brain supplements.
Some of the most common side effects associated with natural nootropics include, but are not limited to: headaches, nausea, lack of focus, confusion, loss of motivation, low mood, irritability, anxiety, and muscle cramps.
Is There A Definitive List Of Effective Nootropics?
We have compiled a list of the best nootropic ingredients commonly used today. This list is never complete, it is not exhaustive, and it is by no means timeless. The list is based on scientific research. If a substance has been repeatedly shown to significantly improve cognitive performance in good, independent clinical trials, then we consider it for the list. If it has few side effects and the benefits work well in a nootropic stack, then we feature it on the list. If new evidence emerges showing it has dangers, or if a new substance comes up that works better, then it might be dropped.
Is There A List Of Nootropics To Avoid?
Yes, there are lots of ingredients we routinely see in supplements that we know do absolutely nothing. They are a waste of money and some of them even produce side effects while doing nothing positive for you.
We have just started compiling a list of the worst nootropic ingredients often seen in brain supplements today. This list is obviously going to be very long; much longer than the list of the best ingredients. It is in its early stages but we intend to keep working on it over time. We try to focus on the most harmful or the most commonly used ingredients first, but we’ll slowly expand to include as many as we possibly can.
Which Nootropics Work Best Together?
Of course this depends on what you mean by “best”; what is it you are trying to achieve? What is your risk tolerance? How much money do you have? All of these things come into play so this answer can never be definitive. However, there are some substances that generally work extremely well together. Some examples might help.
Caffeine and theanine are the classic double team for enhanced focus without jitters. Lion’s Mane Mushroom and Phosphatidylserine is a great stack for long-term brain growth and maintenance. Ginkgo biloba and Bacopa monnieri are two herbal extracts we look for in a supplement promising memory enhancements in the long-term. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cognitive enhancement.
Are Nootropics Legal In The US?
The legality of the synthetic nootropics – i.e modfinil, piracetam, noopept, etc – varies significantly country to country and substance to substance. In the US, Modafinil is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it is illegal to import or purchase without a prescription. You can buy Modafinil in a foreign country and bring it into the country if you have a prescription. Piracetam, on the other hand, is completely uncontrolled in the US; you can buy it legally.
For natural nootropics, it’s very different. Most natural nootropic substances are legal to purchase and use in most countries around the world. Natural nootropic substances can almost always be bought without issue in the US. However, there is bound to be exceptions. If you’re unsure, consult with the relevant government website, or check out our dedicated article on the subject!
Are Nootropics Legal In The UK?
The legality of synthetic nootropic substances like Piracetam and Modafinil in the UK changed recently with the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. This act was designed to crack down on harmful “legal highs”, but the wording was extremely vague, and it left nootropics in a bit of a gray area. According to the law, to count as a psychoactive: “A substance must be capable of having a psychoactive effect to be covered by the new legislation. A psychoactive effect is something which affects a person’s mental functioning or emotional state by stimulating or depressing their nervous system”, with effects potentially including “alertness, time perception, mood”, etc.
Obviously, this description could apply to anything. While it is still legal to possess most psychoactive substances (including Piracetam), it is now much more difficult to import these substances. Possession is not usually illegal though.
However, natural nootropic substances are different. These are not usually controlled in the UK. You can buy most natural nootropics from supplement stores in the UK, and they can be bought from other countries online and shipped into the country. Most of the best nootropics reviewed on this site are made in the UK, so clearly the country is amenable to cognitive enhancers.
Are Nootropics Legal In Australia?
Like the US and the UK, most of the synthetic, pharmaceutical-grade nootropics are obtainable only with prescription. If you possess controlled substances like Modafinil without a prescription, it will be confiscated and you might be liable for punishment.
Are Nootropics FDA Approved?
It really depends what you’re talking about here. Natural nootropics – the kind of specialist dietary supplements we review on this site – are not evaluated by the FDA because they never look at supplements. If you ever see the FDA logo on a dietary supplement, it’s meaningless. Some pharmaceutical-grade “nootropics”, such as Adderall, have had FDA approval in the past. It is important to note that FDA approval does not mean that something is safe. It merely means that it has been approved for use under medical supervision (i.e for use in clinical trials and controlled subscription).
Can You Take Nootropics With Tea & Coffee?
This depends on the stack in question. If, like many of the brain supplements reviewed on this site, the supplement contains caffeine, then you will need to cut right back on your baseline caffeine consumption. It isn’t advisable to take supplements containing caffeine while also drinking things like tea and coffee. However, if the stack doesn’t contain any caffeine, you can usually take them with tea or coffee. Many members of our review team take their nootropics first thing in the morning with a hot cup of coffee and any extra supplements they might take.
Always read the label carefully, and don’t take caffeine lightly – it is an incredibly potent stimulant. Overdose can be fatal, and side effects are extremely common.
Can You Take Nootropics With Alcohol?
With regards to synthetic brain drugs, it is highly inadvisable to drink any amount of alcohol while using nootropics. But if you are only talking about natural nootropics, then it’s a different story. It varies from stack to stack of course, but generally speaking, it is safe to combine natural nootropic substances with alcohol, so long as you are only drinking moderate amounts.
Alcohol severely inhibits brain function, and it can dramatically hinder long-term brain development. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause lasting brain damage (even if you think it’s fine). So if you’re concerned enough about cognitive performance to use nootropics, then you really shouldn’t be drinking alcohol.
Can You Take Nootropics While You’re On Medication?
This depends entirely on the medication in question and what condition we’re talking about. You MUST talk to your doctor about this. Do not just ask strangers for advice online. Tell the doctor who prescribed you the medicine what you would like to take. Please don’t get in touch with us with this question. We are not medical professionals so we are completely unqualified to answer your questions.
Can You Use Nootropics While Fasting?
Yes, of course you can. However, there are a few things that you need to consider. If you take your morning stack during your ‘fasting’ window, then you will technically be breaking your fast. You will also get less out of the supplement because you aren’t taking it while your metabolism is already in gear. For that reason, we recommend taking your daily nootropic with breakfast. That way, you will digest it efficiently and you’ll get the most out of it that you can.
You also need to consider things like caffeine content. If you want to take an intense, short-term focus supplement that contains lots of caffeine, then it might not be wise to take it without any food simply because it will hit you so hard.
Do I Really Need A Nootropic Supplement?
Whether or not you should use a nootropic supplement is entirely down to you! If you feel that you could do with a sharper memory, enhanced focus, and reduced anxiety, then natural nootropic supplements could definitely help. If you’re interested in optimizing brain function over the long-term, promoting neurotrophic factor levels, and potentially slowing down cognitive decline, then a top quality nootropic stack may be exactly what you need.
However, if you think you’re struggling with real cognitive decline, a serious case of cognitive impairment, or you are looking for a quick fix to a life of brain neglect, then nootropics are not for you. If you are looking for a magic pill to make you more intelligent, or to help you pass an exam, then you’re not going to get what you’re looking for from nootropics.
How Often Should I Take A Nootropic?
In our opinion, the best way to enhance mental performance is to take a comprehensive, full-spectrum nootropic stack every single day for weeks and months on end. There is no overnight fix for sub-optimal cognitive function. To see a real, tangible, meaningful increase in brain performance, you need to take a steady, consistent approach to supplementation.
Many stacks are designed for short-term, infrequent use, and that’s fine. If you want a quick boost in focus and mental energy, then there are plenty of stacks designed to provide just that. But they can’t deliver the kind of deep, lasting improvements in mental efficiency as the supplements designed for long-term use.
How Long Should I Use A Nootropic For?
Good quality brain supplements should be fine for long-term, continual use. The whole point of natural nootropics is that they deliver real cognitive enhancements without the horrible side effects and unpredictability of synthetic brain drugs. Some substances like Huperzine A require regular cycling, but most of the time the best stacks will be purposefully designed for consistent, regular use.
That said, when you use a given substance on a daily basis for a long time, you’re always going to build up some kind of tolerance. The effects might not necessarily be any weaker, but they are probably going to feel a lot weaker. You’ve probably experienced this with caffeine; a few years ago a single cup set you up for the morning, whereas now you might need 3 just to feel human. We therefore recommend taking a short break every 8-12 weeks.
Can You Take Too Many Nootropics?
Yes, of course you can (we know this is a bit of a silly question as “too” has inherent negative connotations). We constantly get questions from people asking if they should double or even triple dose a nootropic supplement because they aren’t seeing the effects they were expecting. This is never a good idea. Some people also combine multiple different stacks, which means that they are taking anywhere from 15 to 40 different substances each and every day. In our opinion, this makes side effects and adverse reactions highly likely. The more moving parts in a system, the more likely it is to collapse.
How Much Should I Pay For A Nootropic?
As with all things in life, you get what you pay for. If you want genuine results – if you want to see a meaningful difference in your day-to-day mental performance – then you need to invest in a high quality brain supplement. Invariably, that is going to cost more than the generic, run-of-the-mill brain stack on sale in your local supplement store for $10. It is also going to cost more than the $15 stacks you can find on Amazon.
The best nootropic stacks are almost all in the region of $40-60 a bottle. Some of the real premium products are $70 or more, but it really does need to be good to justify that price (especially since our favorite products are all under $70 a bottle).
Can I Trust Money-Back Guarantees?
Not all of them, no.
Some products, like Mind Lab Pro, Performance Lab, and Alpha Brain, all come with genuine money back guarantees that are totally legitimate. We can say that from experience. However, other products come with a money-back guarantee that can only be described as a scam.
Check out the comment sections in our reviews to see if anyone has posted any unpleasant experiences about the product in question. You should also check the fine print of the money-back guarantee to see if there is anything in there that makes compliance impossible – a surprisingly common tactic.
Is It Safe To Buy Nootropics Online?
This depends entirely on the supplement in question. There are plenty of scammers out there. Check out our complete scam supplement guide and you’ll see just how many different ways there are to get hurt buying brain supplements online. Some scams hurt your wallet, others might harm your health. It is really important that you get acquainted with these scams BEFORE you get hurt by them. It’s also safer if you stick to trusted brands with good reputations. At the very least, don’t buy from anyone that doesn’t have a physical address and proper company accounts!
Luke is our Editor in Chief. He is the main driving force behind NaturalNootropic.com, and he creates most of our most important content. He is extremely passionate about enhancing human cognition; he has experimented with many different nootropic substances over the years, sometimes with negative results. He wants to help people get more out of performance-enhancing supplements, and he is fascinated by recent advances in longevity research. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.