The Ultimate Nootropics FAQ List
Many people out there have no clue whatsoever as to what nootropics are and whether at all nootropics work or not. And there are also many who immediately ask, are nootropics legal? are nootropics safe? do nootropics even work? what’s their side effects?
We will answer as many frequently asked questions as possible to help you, ourselves, and whoever comes to read this page, to get factual information on nootropics.
If this is your first time here and you have yet to try any nootropic, you are at the right place.
Returning readers: please feel free to add, suggest an edit, or contribute to this list if you have a question you think is beneficial and helpful to other readers.
Without further (er) due, let’s get started from the most basic and most frequently asked question: what is a nootropic?
The original definition when the term ‘nootropics’ was coined, was this: “Nootropics (often called things like cognitive enhancers, smart drugs, brain boosters, etc) are supplements, drugs, superfoods that improve brain functions. They boost cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.” However, the term gradually expanded to mean cognitive enhancers with little-to-no side effects and toxicity.
To be recognized as a “Nootropic”, a supplement has to meet certain standards. Those are:
1. Enhances learning
3. Improves resistance to the brain
4. Facilitate hemispherical transfers of information
5. Increase tonic, cortico-subcortical “control.”
6. Not have the usual pharmacological effects of neuro-psychotropic drugs
A cognitive enhancer is defined by its ability to augment performance on one or more cognitive measures. The term refer to a wide range of natural and artificial compounds which enhance cognitive function.
Neuroprotection refers to the mechanisms and strategies used to protect against nerve injury or degeneration and to prevent the breakdown of the central nervous system. More about it here.
Yes. Nootropics are safe. However, today, the word nootropics is not as exclusive as it used to be as when first discovered. Although they are safe, that should not be sufficient for you to assume any product you buy is going to be safe just because it says the word nootropic on it.
1. Where you buy your nootropic from, and the legitimacy of the manufacturer
2. Your individual body’s reaction to it
No. Nootropics are not addictive. If they were addictive, they wouldn’t qualify, nor meet the standards, to sell as nootropics. Therefore its crucial that you find the right company and search what other people are saying about it to ensure ingredient quality and purity. That said, it does not mean there aren’t cases of people who are addicted to nootropics. But those cases are quite complex and unusual. More often than not, they are due to abuse and consumption of very high doses, often called “megadose”. It is common to see addiction and withdrawal discussions especially when it comes to nootropics like Phenibut. In fact, there is an entire subreddit dedicated to Phenibut quitting. So when asking this question you have to first understand what is addiction.
There are two types of addiction when speaking of substance addiction and abuse:
Physical Addiction: which is the condition in which the body has developed a physical dependency, due to chronic use and/or abuse, of a tolerance-forming substance.
Psychological Addiction: which is the condition in which a person develops a mental dependency, often due to abuse and repetition, to a certain substance.
Both dependencies only occur as a result of an individual’s use of a substance. Therefore, the answer to this question is that: nootropics are not addictive, but they can be when abused.
By definition, yes. Nootropics are legal. In fact, it is one of the standards for a substance to meet, in order to be universally acknowledged as a Nootropic.
However, we all know that only few companies still go with that definition of what makes a nootropic, and therefore, there is almost always a legality questions coming up, and often risk involved, in the process of purchasing nootropics online. Especially when living in a country or city with strict importing and exporting laws.
Each nootropic has a different way of working, which is called mechanism of work. Moreover, nootropics on their separate pages have a benefits and effects section as well as a ‘how it works,’ in which each is addressed. Nootropics work by modulating neuronal metabolism, cerebral oxygenation, neurotransmitter availability, increasing neurotrophic factors and by affecting other cellular processes. If you’re wondering about the mechanism of work, you can visit any of the pages, for example, click on Mechanism of Action and it will redirect you to the Acetyl L-Carnitine page, in which section #3 explains the exact way that nootropic works within our body…or brains. Kapish?
Depending on the effect you seek. For example, a person who looking to increase their learning capability would be looking for a different nootropic than a person seeking to improve their memory. You should choose what to supplement with based on what you want to achieve as well as improve. Some of the popular effects people look for are anxiety treatment, energy, focus, concentration, increasing learning capacity, increasing memory recall, physical performance, enhancing mood, creativity. It is essential to research before you make a purchase though keep in mind that customer reviews are subjective. Each person reacts differently to a particular nootropic. Some of the classic ones that I felt every single one of them consciously:
1. L-Theanine & Caffeine for Focus & Attention – (what I favor the most is the 200mg:100mg ratio)
2. Creatine for reasoning
3. Bacopa Monnieri for memory. Although optimal memory benefits take several weeks to start its action, the anxiolytic effects kick-in shortly after consumption
4. Ashwagandha for stress – king!
5. Lion Mane Mushrooms for neurogenesis
It totally depends on the particular nootropic. Some start to work quickly. The effects can be felt in anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Others need to build up in the body over the course of several weeks to reach optimal concentrations.
There are many options online when considering buying nootropics. However, you have to be careful as there are just as many scam vendors. Additionally, there are many cases where vendors are scamming customers by adding a particular irrelevant or illegal substance and mixing the product in a way to sell partly pure orders to maximize their profit. Research the manufacturer’s credibility, and read customers experiences & reviews from members within nootropics communities such as Reddit’s /nootropics sub.
Acetyl L-Carnitine (also known as ALCAR) is a multi-functional nutrient nootropic that benefits the body and brain. A potent antioxidant and neuroprotectant, it is a powerful nootropic that promotes energy and longevity. It works synergies very well with other nootropics and usually is a primary component in most nootropic stacks.
A natural choline compound, Alpha GPC works on its own as a powerful memory booster, and in combination with other nootropics a powerful potentiator notably boosting cognitive enhancement. It’s used for cognitive-promoting qualities, as well as to increase energy and power output during weight-lifting or exercising.
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb often referenced to as “the king of Ayurvedic medicine.” Its favorable effect remains the ability to reduce and often diminish stress and different types of anxiety. Many would even refer to it as the “stress eliminator.” Additionally, Ashwagandha provides neuroprotection and currently under clinical trials.
Bacopa monnieri is a powerful natural herb nootropic used for ages for its memory enhancing and anti-aging effects. It reduces anxiety and improves memory formation. It also expands learning capacity, decreases stress and even offers neuroprotection.
Coluracetam is a less known member of the racetam family of nootropics. In combination with the common cognitive enhancement of racetams, early scientific trials confirm that it is beneficial in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder as well as with Generalized Anxiety, in addition to its nootropic features.
L–theanine is a natural amino acid existing almost only in green tea leaves. It works brilliantly in unwinding and relaxing the body and brain without causing drowsiness, while reducing stress and increasing cognitive function. Due to not causing drowsiness, it is the perfect choice to combine with stimulants of any sort to take the edge off.
N–Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a more bioavailable form of Tyrosine, an amino acid that’s also a nootropic. It improves mood, memory, and enhances cognitive abilities in many ways. It has great effects of reducing stress and maintaining mental performance during sleep deprivation.
Phenylpiracetam is a potent and fast-acting smart drug of the racetam family. It enhances cognitive abilities as well as boosts physical strength. The Olympics Anti-Doping committee bans it for being too stimulating for athletes.
Noopept is one of the most potent nootropics on the market today. It provides an overall cognition boost along with a small psychostimulatory effect. Unlike many nootropics, noopept effects kick in within minutes of consumption, making it an attractive choice when facing mentally demanding tasks.
Pramiracetam is gaining high attention after a study showing an outstanding success rate of 96% in reversing amnesia, surpassing the one it actually derived from, piracetam. It boosts cognition and improves memory, increases concentration, learning capacity, and furthermore promotes and assists in maintaining and enduring prolonged periods of focus.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom has become one of nature’s most potent nootropic supplement for the brain. There is evidence that is can permanently enhance brain function as well as protect the brain and promote NGF and neurogenesis.
Rhodiola Rosea is a naturally growing flower plant from the wild Arctic regions of Europe, widely used in Chinese, Scandinavian and Russian traditional medicine. It is believed to be the perfect remedy for fatigue and burnouts. Moreover, Rhodiola is useful for the brain; protecting it from toxin damage as well as boosting memory and…
Modafinil is a powerful stimulant that promotes ‘wakefulness’ and treats sleep disorders. It prevents daytime sleepiness and fatigue, as well as offering nootropical benefits such as enhancing mood, increasing mental alertness, increasing motivation, improving reaction time, reducing fatigue, and even enhancing memory.
Aniracetam (my dearly beloved go-to racetam), is a multipurpose nootropic providing benefits in several different areas. It produces remarkable anxiolytic effects, thereby improving cognition and enhancing mood. It also sharpens focus, increases verbal fluency, information processing, as well as expands the brain’s capability allowing greater information processing.
Piracetam is a nootropic designed to enhance brain function. Its the primary compound in the racetam family, from which almost 20 different derivatives have been discovered to date. It’s a revolutionizing nootropic that improves memory and remarkably boosts cognitive function.
Phenibut is one of the best selling nootropics today. As a GABAergic agent, it works on the GABA neurotransmitter distinctly reducing anxiety. It also lessens depression, and PTSD symptoms, improving sleep, and providing an overall feeling of ease and well-being.
No, they shouldn’t. But false positives do happen. A false positive is when a drug screen comes back positive for something that was never taken. Drug screens don’t test for the drugs directly. They test for the metabolites that drugs break down into in the body. Sometimes unrelated drugs break down into similar metabolites causing a false reading. Common drugs screens do not look for nootropics. Standard 5-panel drug screens (commonly used for employment) only test for THC, PCP, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates. Nootropics should not cause a false positive for any of these things. However, it’s always possible. If you have to undergo extensive drug testing, it is recommended that you use caution. And it should also be noted that amphetamines (Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, etc.) will show up on a standard drug screen. If you have a prescription for one of these medications, then it should not be a problem. Otherwise, you should not take any drugs containing any amphetamines. More on that here.
The broad answer is no, you probably shouldn’t. Alcohol affects just about every system of the body, including the brain and the central nervous system. Nootropics work, in part, by changing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Mixing the two could cause unwanted side effects. Some nootropics that have been extensively studied and are prescribed in some European countries have alcohol consumption warnings. Piracetam, for example, comes with the warning that you should not consume alcohol while taking it. It’s always good to err on the side of caution. It’s probably not harmful to have a few drinks with most nootropics. But, be aware, that there could be some interactions.
Nootropics are drugs that improve memory, focus, attention, and motivation. Cannabis, for most people, has the exact opposite effect. By using cannabis with nootropics, you might be canceling out some of the cognitive enhancing effects. That being said, mixing cannabis with certain nootropics can enhance other effects. Nootropics that affect mood and anxiety levels are often used with cannabis to increase their mood-boosting and anxiety reducing effects. Here are a few common nootropic/cannabis combinations.
Although the use of cannabis and nootropics together has not been scientifically studied, there’s no reason to think that this combination would be dangerous. So, yes, you can use cannabis and nootropics together. This combo may increase the mood and anti-anxiety effects of some nootropics. However, it may also diminish the cognitive effects.
Side effects from most nootropics are rare. But like all drugs and supplements, nootropics do have potential side effects. These can range from a mild headache to a full-blown allergic reaction.
By some definitions, nootropics should not have any serious side effects. And most nootropics seem to be pretty safe for most people. But, like anything you put in your body, they can have unwanted results. Some unlikely but possible side effects are:
Allergic reactions are very rare, but they can potentially happen. This is true not only of nootropics but of anything you put in your body.
If you experience any minor side effects like a mild headache or insomnia, you should discontinue whatever is causing it. If your symptoms persist or get worse, see a doctor. If you have an allergic reaction (trouble breathing, extreme anxiety/panic, rapid heartbeat, severe rash), seek professional medical help.
This will vary from person to person, and from one nootropic to another. Generally, you can take nootropics with or without food. It shouldn’t make much of a difference. Some nootropics work best when taken on an empty stomach. Others absorb better with food, specifically fatty foods. Always read the label and see if it is recommended that you take it with food.
These are the websites that I started reading on earlier when I was learning about Nootropics. I think they are some of the greatest resources:
Reddit Nootropics, and needless to say,
Nootropics Information – and our blog page.
Yes, visit this page for more details or to order nootropics if you are in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
If you have any questions in mind, leave it in the comments and we will add it to the list. Also, if you have a question you think should be added to the list, let me know and I will gladly do so.
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