List of the Best Nootropics That Are Worth a Try
No doubt, nootropics are a highly effective means of improving cognitive function and increasing productivity. However, with the many different options available on the market, making a decision can be a bit confusing. Need help narrowing down your search? Read on.
Nootropics are supplements, drugs, or other substances that effectively improve productivity, cognitive function, and overall mental performance. Their popularity among creative professionals, people studying as well as those in the gaming business that requires a lot of brainpower has continued to grow since its benefits were discovered.
Key in the phrase “best nootropics” into the search bar of any supplements forum, and you’ll find hundreds of varying opinions on what’s best. This doesn’t make the decision-making process any easier. Here’s an A-list of the best nootropics that are worth a try.
Best Natural Nootropics and Supplements
Natural nootropics and supplements are natural substances or those based predominantly on extracts from plants and herbs that enhance cognitive performance . Smart drugs that fall into this category while being highly effective in boosting creativity, reducing stress, and improving intelligence as well as socializing skills, do not cause any serious side effects.
Compared to synthetic nootropics, this category of cognitive enhancers is much safer. What’s more, they are a great option for healthy people. The following are a few of the best natural nootropics and supplements that are currently available.
Green Tea and L-Theanine
L-theanine is an amino acid that is naturally present in green tea but is also available as a supplement . It has been proven to effectively improve cognitive function as well as reduce stress levels. Studies have also shown that it improves reaction time, increases attention span, and promotes good sleep.
This substance is able to offer these benefits as it influences the levels of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin present in the brain. These compounds have a direct impact on emotion, sleep, and mode that plays a major role in the way the body handles stress .
For people suffering from anxiety, L-theanine can be used as a therapeutic substance to bring about a feeling of calmness. It also enhances focus.
Some other benefits of this compound include:
- reduced blood pressure;
- boosted immune system;
- weight loss.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recognizes it as a safe substance for consumption . It is worthy of note that it is not healthy for breastfeeding mothers or pregnant women.
This happens to be one of the most consumed substances in the world that has an influence on alertness, mode, focus, and wakefulness. Many of its consumers are oblivious to the fact, that it is a stimulant, and it effectively alleviates fatigue, improves concentration, and increases wakefulness.
While there are a lot of safety concerns surrounding the intake of this substance, when taken moderately it becomes very beneficial. It is legal, and the US FDA recognizes it as safe for usage. However, it advises a moderate consumption if the negative effects associated with it are to be avoided. This is 400 mg per day. This is about four to five cups of coffee .
Other benefits of caffeine include:
- increased neurogenesis;
- improved sports performance;
- boosted long-term memory;
- weight loss.
On the flip side, there may be after-effects experienced with long-term use of caffeine. Some of the associated side effects include headaches, dehydration, dizziness, insomnia, and depression. However, in moderation, these reactions are very less likely to be experienced.
In all, caffeine is good if you’re looking for short-term benefits such as wakefulness, focus, and improved productivity.
Ginkgo biloba is a lush and leafy tree with extracts that have long been found to have positive effects on the brain. It has also been shown to effectively enhance memory in healthy people as well as in patients suffering from dementia .
Besides its ability to improve cognitive function, a regular ginkgo biloba supplement is also believed to promote good vision as well as slow down vision loss that results from macular degeneration associated with aging. Though studies are yet to reveal the workings of this substance, based on the hypothesis, it produces these benefits by increasing the flow of blood to the brain.
In a nutshell, this herb is highly effective, as has been confirmed by many of its users. It is one of the best smart supplements that can be used for relieving stress, improving memory, and reducing cortisol levels.
This is a mountain herb known for its remarkable stress-relieving capability. It is also referred to as the king’s crown, golden root, and arctic root. However, the name “arctic root” belongs to a trademarked extract sold commercially.
A good number of students as well as professional creatives take this herb to increase the feeling of wellbeing and reduce mental fatigue while executing tasks that require high brainpower. It is considered safe when used twice daily for the short term (i.e. 6-12 weeks). However, long-term effects are not known. It is worthy of note that pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers are advised not to use it to avoid complications.
Besides this, it is notable for treating social anxiety disorder, mental fatigue, and depression. In one study, the effects of this herb were compared to Zoloft, an antidepressant. While the outcome portrayed Zoloft as the more effective of the duo, the test subjects found rhodiola rosea more tolerated by a large margin. That is, it posed very little to no side effects at all.
Ginseng is an active chemical substance that positively affects mental processes. It is the second most used psychoactive herbal supplement in the United States. Because of its ability to protect and relieve the body from psychological stress, it is referred to as an adaptogen. Since stress is a primary contributor to suppressed cognitive ability, ginseng is able to handle it effectively.
There exist two main types of this herb:
- American ginseng;
- Asian ginseng (Korean and Chinese).
Though both types are quite similar in appearance, they vary in the benefits that they offer. American ginseng is also known as Panax quinquefolius. It has been found to be more effective in treating cardiovascular diseases, hence the reason for being 5 to 10 times more expensive than the latter on the market. On the other hand, the Asian ginseng also called Panax ginseng or Panax notoginseng offers stress relief as well as the improvement of cognitive abilities as its therapeutic functions .
Both types of this supplement have a positive effect on the immune system. They also help reduce blood pressure as well as improve focus. It is worth a try for healthy individuals looking to increase concentration.
Picking natural cognitive enhancers that are standardized is a great way to go, as they show that good manufacturing practices were followed.
Best Nootropics on Amazon
For people who do not like the idea of filling out their credit card details on random e-commerce websites when buying nootropics, Amazon is the best place to visit. It is one of the most trusted online retail stores worldwide, and if not anything else, the chances of getting reliable products from a vendor are a mountain.
However, just as with buying online generally, there are lots and lots of nootropics to pick, and deciding which to go with can be very daunting. In order to help narrow down the search, we’ve provided five nootropics we feel are among the best on the site.
When it comes to the manufacture of advanced nootropics, Onnit is one of the biggest names. This makes its flagship product, Alpha Brain, a very popular choice on the platform. However, besides its popularity, this supplement has been proven to be highly effective in enhancing cognitive ability.
In one clinical research that involved 63 healthy individuals, the participants were administered Alpha Brain based on the instructions of the manufacturer for 6 weeks. The results came out positive. All participants experienced enhanced executive functions and recent verbal memory .
This supplement is available in both capsule and liquid forms, so users get to choose their preferred option. What’s more, to prevent jitters and a host of some other side effects often associated with certain nootropics based on interaction, caffeine was eliminated from the mixture.
In a nutshell, this supplement contains soy, and apart from individuals on a testosterone building strategy, Alpha Brain may be a perfect fit.
Ampedrin is a premium highly rated smart drug that does a really good job increasing concentration and alertness, improving memory, and reducing anxiety. One interesting thing about this supplement is that it is fast-acting, and, thus, upon administration, the effects set in quickly.
Ampedrin appears to be a favorite to many smart drug users, though there are those who complain about experiencing some mild after-effects. However, the vast majority of healthy people who use it reported enjoying all its listed benefits (clear, concise focus and energy as well as enhanced memory) without experiencing any jitters. On the platform, lots of users of this nootropic left positive comments as regards its fast-acting capability.
One major concern about this supplement, however, is its high caffeine content. Regardless, it still doesn’t cause jitters like certain energy drinks or caffeine-based smart drugs do. Another thing that might be an issue is the fact that the product uses a proprietary blend. This means that how the constituent ingredients are dosed up is not disclosed on the product label. However, this does not call for much concern, as the FDA approves it .
This supplement, as the name implies, is a brain booster. It boosts concentration, improves clarity and memory as well as enhance focus. This one has a large number of user reviews on the platform, and at just a glance, it is easy to see that it really offers what its label says it does.
Over 85% of Brain Booster’s users have given it a thumbs up for its effectiveness and the very little to no adverse reactions it poses. One thing that sets this one apart from several others is that its effect is long-lasting. That is, it offers all the great benefits without resulting in a sudden crash of energy.
For people, especially those looking to eliminate forgetfulness and enhance memory, this may be the perfect product for the job.
Genius Consciousness is ranked as one of the best selling nootropic supplements on the platform. It is a combination of all-natural ingredients meant to enhance memory, reduce mental fatigue, and improve concentration. Like Ampedrin, this supplement is fast-acting, bringing about a notable surge in performance a few minutes after taking it.
Unlike coffee and most energy drinks, the end result of this smart drug is not a sudden crash of energy after a few hours of use. Because of its dopaminergic and cholinergic content, it is able to bring about a long-lasting effect that goes far beyond caffeine can offer.
Genius Consciousness may be the perfect product for people who find caffeine ineffective or are allergic to it. It is highly recommended for nootropic first-timers, especially those looking to break out of a seemingly uncontrollable dependence on coffee.
While this supplement is one of the safest for consumption if taken excessively and over a long period of time, it may cause certain discomforts such as upset stomach and/or dry mouth. To get the best out of Genius Consciousness or any other supplement, users are advised to follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
For people looking to boost their level of concentration and who like it when they can easily count the number of ingredients in their supplements, Qualia Focus may be a perfect choice. Quite the opposite of Qualia Mind, it is a high-quality smart drug that is fast-acting and does a really good job of decreasing mental fatigue while improving focus during very demanding tasks requiring brainpower.
Other functions this supplement claims to offer include:
- increased energy levels;
- improved mental clarity;
- eliminated brain fog.
When compared with many other nootropics on the market, this drug does a really great job. Users may start experiencing impressive improvement in learning and enhanced memory within 6 weeks of use.
However, at a closer look, it may be observed that Qualia Focus contains several ingredients (for example, Taurine and Mucuna pruriens) that aren’t associated with cognitive enhancements. What’s more, it is quite expensive, and unless there’s a really good reason (perhaps a favorite ingredient or value it adds), it may be better to go for the other cheap but similarly effective supplements on this list. The associated benefits can be derived from other products around half its price or less. Regardless, Qualia Focus is undeniably an outstanding smart drug and is worth a try.
Best Prescription Nootropics
As the name implies, prescription nootropics are those prescribed by a doctor. Usually, when a doctor or health care provider prescribes cognitive enhancers, it is mainly for treating or managing certain conditions. Thus, drugs and supplements that fall under this category should be taken with caution and according to the doctor’s instructions. Failure to adhere to the rules of intake may result in side effects. Looking for prescription nootropics that can guarantee great results? Here are some of the best ones you can find on the market.
Provigil is a highly popular medication that contains modafinil as its active component. In most cases, it is prescribed as a treatment for sleepiness that may be caused by narcolepsy or shift work sleep disorder . It is also used by a large number of people as a cognitive enhancer. However, it is important to note that clinical studies on its effectiveness as a cognitive enhancer have been inconclusive so far.
Provigil was approved by the regulatory health bodies in the United States in 1998. Ever since then, it has flooded the markets, and most patients use it either to treat sleepiness or as a cognitive enhancer.
It should be noted that Provigil’s mechanism of action is still not yet certain. However, many experts believe that it works by impacting the core areas of the brain responsible for the sleep cycle. A single tablet of Provigil contains about 100 mg or 200 mg of modafinil alongside other inactive components.
When using Provigil, it is important to closely follow the doctor’s instructions so as to avoid adverse reactions. However, one may still experience certain side effects whether they use this medication properly or not. Some of the commonly occurring negative reactions of Provigil include:
One should avoid using this medication to fight off natural tiredness.
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Nuvigil is a relatively new medication that was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only in June 2007. It contains armodafinil as an active component and is commonly used to combat daytime sleepiness that may result from narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and shift work disorder. In some cases, it could also be used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Before using Nuvigil, one should let the doctor know about his/her medical history in order to be sure that this drug is appropriate for use. This is because patients who have suffered from certain conditions in the past may react adversely to this med.
When using Nuvigil, it is common to experience side effects such as nausea, dizziness, weight loss, or a feeling of dryness in the mouth. Users may also experience headaches or difficulty sleeping.
It is highly important not to overdose on this medication. Rather, explain to your doctor if you feel the recommended dosage is not effective enough. Overdosing on this nootropic medication could cause elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and an increased or decreased heartbeat. It is worthy of note that it is not approved for use in treating children, regardless of the medical condition .
Adderall is quite different from other nootropics in the sense that it is a combination medication. It contains two main drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Experts have classified this medicine as a stimulant.
Adderall is a highly effective drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and, in some cases, narcolepsy. Most people often wonder how Adderall works. It’s quite simple. Its mechanism of action involves altering the number of some natural substances in the human brain.
When using this medication, one should expect certain cognitive effects such as a feeling of euphoria, decreased sleepiness, lucid dreaming, and an improvement in general cognitive function.
One very popular myth involving Adderall is that it may lead to addiction. However, this is not true. When taken in proper doses (according to the doctor’s instructions), the chances of one getting addicted to it are very slim. On the other hand, one can only get addicted if they take more than the recommended dose daily.
The common side effects of this medication include:
- loss of appetite;
- stomach pain.
If you experience severe adverse reactions after using Adderall, contact a doctor immediately.
Ritalin is a popular nootropic medication that is classified under a category of drugs known as central nervous system stimulants. Its active component is methylphenidate, and it works by impacting certain chemicals in the brain and nerves that are responsible for controlling impulses and hyperactivity.
Like most other prescription nootropics, Ritalin is commonly used in the treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy. It could also be used to treat certain symptoms of major depression.
This drug was first approved in the United States in 1955 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its initial use was for the treatment of hyperactivity. However, it is now commonly used to combat other conditions.
How should you administer Ritalin? To start with, it should only be used only after proper consultation with a doctor. People who suffer from glaucoma, muscle twitches (tics), or severe anxiety should stay away from this medication.
Let your doctor know if you have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure. Ritalin is a stimulant and as such could cause a stroke or heart attack as stimulants are known to do. Thus, one should always give the doctor their medical history so as to know if this drug is safe to use.
Axura is a medication used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Usually, this disorder causes a decrease in one’s ability to learn, think, and carry out certain activities. Axura helps combat these symptoms and slow down the progression of this condition. It should be noted that this medication is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Rather, it only helps get rid of the symptoms.
This medication contains an active substance – memantine hydrochloride – that acts as an anti-dementia drug. Axura should not be used indiscriminately or by just anybody. Rather, it should be prescribed only by a doctor who has sufficient knowledge and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to experts, this medication is safe for use in pregnant women. However, it should only be administered when there are no other options available and when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks and disadvantages.
Usually, to avoid side effects, Axura is not prescribed initially in large doses. They are gradually increased over time. Here are some possible adverse reactions one may experience when using this drug:
- body pain;
- shortness of breath.
The medicine may also cause other side effects apart from the ones mentioned above.
Best Over-the-Counter Nootropics
Over-the-counter (OTC) nootropics are those that can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. That is, you do not need a physician to prescribe it before you can buy or use it. Usually, medications that fall under this category are generic drugs. However, some brand name medicines can also be bought without a prescription. Here are some of the best over-the-counter nootropics.
Modafinil is a generic nootropic medication that is quite popular, especially among college students. Studies have shown that a large percentage of students use this drug to focus and fight off sleepiness at school. A large number of adults equally take this med as well. This creates a big question: Why is modafinil so popular?
Modanafil’s popularity can be linked to the fact that it aids concentration and focus. It is also used to treat sleepiness caused by shift work disorder or narcolepsy. Although modafinil is an over-the-counter medication, one should be careful not to use it indiscriminately since it could lead to addiction.
Like most meds, modafinil comes with several common side effects, which may range from mild to severe. If they are severe, it is important to stop usage and visit a hospital as soon as possible.
If you want to quit taking modafinil, it is not advisable to do this abruptly. Rather, gradually reduce the dosage over time as abrupt stopping could lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Armodafinil is a generic stimulant that works in much the same way as modafinil does. It helps improve wakefulness and fight off sleepiness in patients. It could also be used as a temporary therapy for obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome.
Armodafinil can be administered by people who are experiencing difficulties in staying awake as a result of tight work schedules that disrupt their sleep routine. Thus, patients who fall into this category can use this medication as a solution. However, it should be noted that armodafinil should not be taken by people who have a regular sleep routine as it could cause insomnia.
How should you use armodafinil? Usually, this drug is taken once a day with or without food. It should be noted that its effects may take longer to manifest if it is administered with food. For users who are trying to fight off narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it should be taken once in the morning. On the other hand, if you’re trying to treat shift work sleep disorder, it should be taken before the start of your shift.
One should avoid overdosing on this drug so as to prevent side effects.
This is a generic version of modafinil. It can be used as an alternative for it in the sense that they both offer the same functions and share a lot of similarities. Modalert is used to treat ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy. When discussing topics involving this drug, one vital question is usually asked: who uses Modalert?
This medication is taken by different people from different walks of life. However, its most frequent users are people working out, students, and adults in the working sector. One great advantage of Modalert is that apart from its functions of wakefulness, it also helps create lucid thinking, aids concentration, and improves cognitive functions.
However, this drug should not be used by just anybody. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid this medication unless prescribed by a doctor. The same applies to people who have heart problems.
Just like modafinil, Modalert should not be used indiscriminately to avoid addiction or other adverse reactions.
Waklert is a medication specially designed to help people stay awake and focused. It contains an active ingredient – armodafinil. Waklert also helps improve mood, boost mental performance and cognitive functions in users. This medication works quite differently from some other nootropics such as modafinil. While the latter’s effects can be observed swiftly, Waklert is slower to take action. In fact, users may not feel the medication kick in until after a while. However, when it does kick in, the effects are very strong and noticeable.
The action of Waklert lasts for a shorter period of time than modafinil’s one. However, this could be an advantage since users who take this medication in the afternoon can still enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Just like Waklert and Nuvigil, Artvigil has armodafinil as its active component. As such, it performs the same functions as the aforementioned nootropics. Artvigil helps combat sleepiness in patients whose tight work schedule disrupts their sleeping and even dreaming pattern. It also helps boost creativity and motivation in users.
This nootropic medication should be used with caution in order to prevent adverse reactions. It is important to note that Artvigil may cause side effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, and so on. If symptoms persist, stop usage and visit a doctor immediately.
The #1 Supplement to Mix with Modafinil
We rarely recommend mixing Modafinil with other substances. Some coffee here and there, maybe a little bit of nicotine when you really want to push things to the next level. But the reality is Modafinil gets sh*t done by itself.
It’s the best known nootropic on the planet for a reason.
Modafinil works great when it comes to cognitive enhancement. An all-encompassing smart drug that requires popping just one pill and you’ll find 12+ hours of pure focus, improved memory retention, and much more.
Modafinil and Choline Mix
There is one supplement that we highly recommend you mix with Modafinil – Choline.
Choline is an essential nutrient that supports a number of functions within the body, including liver function. But what we’re more concerned with is Choline’s ability to positively impact brain function and development.
Choline enhances the mental benefits of Modafinil, while minimizing a number of Modafinil side effects. For example, many people find the Modafinil high “smoother” and stronger when taking Choline. It’s been shown that Modafinil + Choline offers synergistic mental effects and benefits.
Others find painful “Modafinil headaches” disappear when they add choline to the mix.
Choose Smart Drugs Carefully
Although smart pills have amazing effects and are great for improving focus and wakefulness, it is important to apply caution when taking them. Before using prescription nootropics, it is highly advisable to consult a doctor first to know if it is safe for you.
In the same vein, whether one is using prescription or over-the-counter nootropics, it is important to take them according to the recommended dosage. Overdosing could cause severe side effects or addiction. Above all, choose the right smart drug for you with a clear mind and a cool head.
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- Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. By Mancini, Beglinger, Drewe, et. al. Published: October 15, 2017. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- L-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. By Jackson Williams, Jane Kellett, Paul Roach, et al. Published: 2016. Mdpi.com.
- US food and drug administration: GRN No. 209: Substance: L-Theanine. Filed: August 9, 2006. Accessdata.fda.gov.
- Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much? Current as of December 12, 2018. Fda.gov.
- The acute nootropic effects of Ginkgo biloba in healthy older human subjects: a preliminary investigation. By Nathan P. J, Ricketts E, Wesnes, K, et al. Published: January 17, 2002. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- Discrimination of American ginseng and Asian ginseng using electronic nose and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry coupled with chemometrics. By Shaoqing Cui, Jianfeng Wu, Jun Wang, and Xinlei Wang. Published: February 6, 2016. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, efficacy study of alpha BRAIN® administered orally. By Todd M Solomon, Jarrett Leech, Cynthia Murphy, et al. Published: September 21, 2015. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- Dietary Supplement Label Database. Retrieved: November 27, 2019. Dsld.nlm.nih.gov.
- Highlights of prescribing information for Provigil. Revised: January 2015. Accessdata.fda.gov.
- Medication guide for Nuvigil. Retrieved November 28, 2019. Fda.gov.