Nootropics FAQ

What Are Nootropics?

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.

What Differentiates Nootropics from other Supplements?

To be recognized as a “Nootropic”, a supplement has to meet certain standards. Those are:
1. Enhances learning
2. Neuroprotective
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

What Are Cognitive Enhancers?

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.

What is Neuroprotection?

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.

Are Nootropics Safe?

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.

What Determine the Safety of Nootropics?

1. Where you buy your nootropic from, and the legitimacy of the manufacturer
2. Your individual body’s reaction to it

Are Nootropics Addictive?

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.

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.

Are Nootropics Legal?

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.

How Do Nootropics Work?

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?

What Are the Best Nootropics?

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

How Long Do Nootropics Take to Work?

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.

Where Can I Buy Nootropics From?

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.

What is Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)?

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.

What is Alpha-GPC?

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.

What is Adrafinil?

Adrafinil is a stimulating nootropic that provides remarkable nootropic properties. It metabolizes into the famous Modafinil, making it a smart tool for enduring in longer, mentally demanding tasks.

What is Ashwagandha?

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.

What is Bacopa Monnieri?

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.

What is Coluracetam?

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.

What is L-Theanine?

Ltheanine 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.

What is N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine? (NALT)

NAcetyl 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.

What is Phenylpiracetam?

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.

What is Noopept?

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.

What is Pramiracetam?

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.

What is Oxiracetam?

Oxiracetam is one of the most valuable racetam class nootropics. Its ability to boost productivity and problem-solving has made it a favorite – and a best seller.

What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

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.

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

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…

What is Modafinil?

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.

What is Sunifiram?

Sunifiram is a potent and powerful nootropic that enhances memory, expands learning capacity, and uplifts mood. A recent addition to the racetam family that seems more than promising.

What is Fasoracetam?

Fasoracetam is a newer addition to the racetam family. It’s a nootropic that helps in relieving anxiety, enhancing memory, and improving overall cognition.

What is Aniracetam?

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.

What is Piracetam?

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.

What is Phenibut?

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.

Do Nootropics Show Up on Drug Tests?

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.

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking a Nootropic?

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.

Can I Use Cannabis While Taking a Nootropic?

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.

Do Nootropics Have Side 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:
Headaches
Anxiety
Insomnia
Irritability
Allergic Reaction
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.

What If I Experience Side Effects?

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.

Should Nootropics Be Taken Without Food?

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.

Where Can I Read More About Nootropics?

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:

Wikipedia
Examine
Reddit Nootropics, and needless to say,
Nootropics Information – and our blog page.

Where Can I Buy Nootropics in Dubai (UAE)?

Yes, visit this page for more details or to order nootropics if you are in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

What are the best or most effective nootropics or smart drugs?

“Personally, I’ve been pretty successful with the anti-narcoleptic drug modafinil. It is a wakefulness-promoting agent used in the treatment of narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorder. It’s also starting to be used for other disorders, for example as a co-medication for bipolar depression and also ADD. (Note that this is being researched right now. These uses are not officially approved yet.)
Apart from that, some people do find that using modafinil to enhance productivity, mental clarity and focus – without having any underlying disorder – helps them a great deal in their work life and/or academic pursuits. Simply put, it makes you feel well-rested and it removes any brain-fog you might have from sleep deprivation or (mental) fatigue. It increases your ability to focus and in my experience it helps you to think a lot more systematically. Other than that, the effects are hardly noticeable.

There is no ‘high’ – although new users often experience light euphoria – and therefore modafinil has little to no abuse potential and there is also a very low risk of addiction. Dependence may be an issue for some users though. The effects of modafinil are most obvious when the user is severely sleep deprived. This constitutes one of the biggest potential problems with modafinil. Having wakefulness-promoting medications on hand makes it very easy to deliberately reduce resting hours or to skip a night’s sleep entirely, putting your physical and mental well-being at risk.


Modafinil’s effects usually last for six to eight hours. Some users experience a light ‘crash’ when the effects wear off, although this is uncommon. Side-effects include headaches (I always keep some painkillers, e.g. ibuprofen, on me when using modafinil.), stiffness or pain in the back and the shoulders, anxiety and agitation. You may also experience changes in your blood pressure and perception. High doses may cause severe restlessness, hallucinations and excessive sweating. In dependent users sudden withdrawals can cause lethargy, extreme fatigue and a lack of motivation.


Modafinil is a prescription medicine in most countries, which means you need a physician to prescribe it for you.


For performance enhancement, I recommend using it occasionally for phases in which you need to be highly productive. Long-term use may have serious consequences for your health.


Overall, modafinil is a powerful supplement for people seeking to enhance their productivity and can be helpful for academic purposes. I’m not sure that I would call it a ‘true’ nootropic, but it can certainly be used in the same manner, as it is by many. Being a controlled substance does limit its potential though. “

What’s the most effective nootropic on the market for 2019?

There’s no “one-fits-all” when it comes to the most effective. Different people take nootropics for different reasons.
Personally, if I were to take one nootropic only for effectiveness, wow, I really can’t just pick one. I think it would be Adrafinil for the stimulation. I’m ADHD, so I already am taking Concerta (extended release Ritalin), and I find Adrafinil to be a very close alternative. Sometimes I find it more effective than Ritalin for things like learning and processing new information.
In terms of best selling to the general public, I remember the list from one of the leading vendors being this:

Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Citicoline
Bacopa Monnieri
Ashwagandha
Curcumin Extract

Generally, if you sort vendors lists by best selling (I just did with Nootropics Depot sorting from best selling), and the top five are:

Acetyl-L-Carnitine
Alpha-GPC
Aniracetam
Bacopa Monnieri
Coluracetam (I’m surprised at this one)

What supplements have calming effects?

Cannabidiol (aka CBD)
A 2011 study aimed to compare the effects of a simulation public speaking test on healthy control patients and treatment-naive patients with a social anxiety disorder. A total of 24 never-treated patients with a social anxiety disorder were given either CBD or placebo 1.5 hours before the test. Researchers found that pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alertness in anticipation of their speech. The placebo group presented stress, anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort.

Agmatine Sulfate
Agmatine exhibits antidepressant effects and promotes mood improvement as well as anxiety reduction and relief. It helps the brain and body manage and overcome stress by reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of well-being. By increasing NRF2, agmatine prevents depressive behavior by protecting brain cells from high levels of stress hormone cortisol. Agmatine increases adenylate cyclase in the prefrontal cortex, and decreases levels of adenylate cyclase which associate with depression. Furthermore, it blocks the NMDA receptor, prevents calcium overloading, as well as reverses the decrease of monoamines such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. Depression often associates with a reduction of monoamines in the brain.

Pramiracetam
Pramiracetam reports show it improves cognitive deficits associating with traumatic brain injuries. Studies demonstrate and confirm its neuroprotective effects. Studies show that its overall impact on lowering symptoms of depression and anxiety was higher than improving memory. Nevertheless, it was beneficial for both.

Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri is effective in reducing anxiety and stress. Clinical trials show that it significantly decreases anxiety and depression in volunteers, and animal studies compare bacopa to other plant extracts for the effective treatment of anxiety and similar disorders.

Sunifiram
As an antidepressant and anxiety reliever, Sunifiram produces its effects as a mirror image of an ampakine. It reacts with glutamatergic AMPA receptors. That also allows it to act as a mild stimulant. Sunifiram is known to increase energy and enhance mood. This is likely due to its antidepressant-like effect.

L-Theanine
A review by researchers of a small set of trials concluded that there are benefits of L-theanine in reducing acute stress and anxiety in people with stressful conditions. Oral intake of L-theanine in rats at feasible dosages reduces circulating biomarkers of stress with or without an actual stressor being present. Therefore, it reduces the adverse effects of stress such as memory impairment. Reductions of perceived stress reported in human subjects given oral theanine at the standard dosages.

Aniracetam
Aniracetam shows strengths in reducing anxiety. Studies show that it affect anxiety by increasing social interactions and improving performance in fear and stress tests. With an increase in serotonin and dopamine, individuals feel a noticeable reduction in anxiety. Thus, becoming a general anxiety relieving agent. Although there are studies that support and verify this process, it is also useful to read personal experiences from Reddit and Longevity communities, where many reports it being far better than Piracetam, Coluracetam, Phenylpiracetam and similar nootropics in the field of anxiety reduction.

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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