Every now and then you hear about super brain drugs, neurohackers, and other phenomena aimed at improving mental performance of humans. Nootropic supplements have both fans and critics, but it is hard to argue with the popularity of nootropics for mental efficiency. And while there is yet no definitive answer to the question: “What are the best drugs to help focus and concentration?”, some people have been taking nootropics for decades with impressive results.
If you have only heard about nootropic supplements but never studied the topic deeply enough to form your own opinion, here is a definitive guide to nootropics. Find out what are nootropics, what are the most effective nootropics for every condition, and how to choose neutropics that will work for you.
Best Nootropic Stacks
A nootropic stack is a combination of two and more nootropic supplements. They can be taken together or in sequence. They can also have the same advertised effect, although most nootropic fans design their nootropic stacks to contain pills aimed at different aspects of mental stimulation. These are the two most popular nootropic stacks you can buy today.
Alpha Brain is a nootropic stack that comes in vegetable capsules. It is manufactured by Onnit and contains three signature Onnit blends: the Flow Blend, the Focus Blend, and the Fuel Blend. The supplement consists of mainly natural ingredients known for their strong effect on the mental capacity, including vitamin B6, Cat’s Claw, Bacopa, Oat Straw, and Huperzia Serrata.
The Alpha Brain nootropic supplement has gone through rigorous testing, including double blind clinical trials, where Alpha Brain was tested against placebo and demonstrated a noticeable effect on brain waves, memory, and focus. Some researchers also suggest that Alpha Brain starts working starting already from the first day of taking it.
Alpha Brain is one of the most popular drugs that make you smarter, so naturally, there are plenty of Alpha Brain testimonials from people who have experienced its effects firsthand. Those people report clear thinking, sharper focus, more clarity, better memory, and even better sleep as the effects of this nootropic.
The most important benefits of Alpha Brain as a drug that makes you focus include:
- Improves your memory and memory recall;
- Gives you more energy to work;
- Makes you think and react to things faster;
- Improves your mood and sleep patterns;
- Recommended dosage of only two capsules a day.
Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is often called the most comprehensive nootropic stack available on the market today, but what exactly makes it one of the best nootropics for memory and other mental functions? It contains 11 nootropics that work in 6 bio-pathways and are able to significantly improve your cognitive functions in a short period of time. Mind Lab Pro is designed for all kinds of consumers with a special focus on people who need a lot of brainpower for successfully performing at their jobs.
In addition to providing immediate help with mental capabilities, Mind Lab Pro also has some long-term effects on your brain function. The most essential ingredients of this nootropic stack, which comes in convenient plantcaps, include Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Citicoline, Bacopa, and Phosphatidylserine, also known as PS. Additionally, the pills contain Vitamins B6, B9, and B12, L-Theanine, and Maritime Pine Bark Extract, each with its own specific effect on the brain.
With Mind Lab Pro, you can look forward to the following benefits:
- This nootropic supplement is great for people who often need to multitask;
- It improves the oxygenation of your brain, making it more active;
- Mind Lab Pro is packed with active ingredients and contains little to no ingredients with no specified effect;
- The supplement helps you not only achieve clear focus, but also assists you in relaxation after hard work;
- Recommended dosage of only two capsules a day.
Best Natural Nootropics
Natural nootropics can help you achieve specific goals regarding your cognitive performance without the potential side effects of synthetic brain enhancement drugs. Here are the best legal stimulants with natural active ingredients you can try today.
To Chinese nationals, the Lion’s Mane Mushroom is best known as the part of their authentic cuisine. However, Lion’s Mane is also a significant part of traditional Chinese medicine and has been known for centuries for its amazing health benefits. For a long time, it was believed that Lion’s Mane Mushroom is the solution for hundreds of health problems and conditions, but recent studies revealed that it’s particularly effective at triggering the release of Nerve Growth Factor by the brain.
The Nerve Growth Factor, or NGF, is responsible for managing the repair, growth, and developing nerve cells in your brain. The more NGF your brain produces, the more neurons will grow and the more advanced they are going to be, which, in turn, will positively influence your overall brain function. Lion’s Mane boasts a string of long-term effects for mental capabilities and can be successfully stacked with most other natural drugs that help you focus.
L-Theanine is a natural amino acid that can be found in green and oolong tea. When paired with caffeine, L-Theanine creates a powerful combination that can help you achieve better focus, faster thinking ability, boost your mood, and rejuvenate after a day of working hard. It also has a strong calming effect that can be very helpful when you are wound up from the stress, and it is reported that you can notice changes in your mood and well-being already 45 minutes after taking L-Theanine.
If you have often used caffeine or caffeine supplements to increase the energy levels, you have probably noticed how they also make you feel anxious and jittery. That is not the case with L-Theanine, which positively affects your performance without the unwanted nootropics side effects. L-Theanine also boosts the production of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, promoting an overall happier state for a long time.
DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. When you think about the composition of your brain, you need to remember that 60% of it is fat, and a large part of that 60% is DHA. That is exactly what makes DHA such an important tool for brain health and abilities. It is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effect on the brain and your overall health, but it also has numerous other benefits.
Most importantly, DHA promotes brain-derived neurotrophic factor — a group of proteins that is responsible for the formation and growth of brain nerve cells, or neurons. In addition to that, DHA can help you alleviate the symptoms of depression, achieve clearer thinking, improve your energy levels, and notice positive changes in your memory. You will even see an increase in your motivation, which is hard to achieve even with the best cognitive enhancers.
Bacopa Monnieri is a staple plant in Ayurvedic medicine, but recently it has expanded its popularity far outside the states that are traditionally associated with Ayurvedic treatments. It has been used for centuries in numerous ways, including treating epilepsy, but it’s the mental enhancement effect that made Bacopa Monnieri one of the best natural nootropics available today.
Today, Bacopa is often regarded as the top nootropic for those who study a lot, although it can also prove to be very helpful in a variety of other situations. Bacopa Monnieri focus pills help you study more efficiently, improve your memory, boost your attention, and help you recall words faster. Plus, it is associated with reducing heart rate in stressful situations, as well as anxiety — when studied against lorazepam, which is a benzodiazepine drug, it has been found that Bacopa Monnieri has a similar effect on anxiety without the memory loss side effect that is often linked to benzodiazepine.
Even if you have never taken any concentration pills, you are probably familiar with the effect caffeine has on your mental abilities. Most students and workers tried boosting their focus, motivation, and energy with caffeine. The good news is that caffeine is available in many forms besides the numerous pills that make you focus, which means you may already be consuming enough caffeine on a daily basis with your morning coffee or afternoon tea.
There are many known benefits to caffeine, from its ability to boost your energy levels and combatting fatigue to making your thinking sharper and make you more motivated to work, study, or perform in other ways. The biggest problem with caffeine, however, is the potential overdosing on caffeine. Since you are probably already taking the recommended dosage of caffeine every day, health care professionals don’t advise taking caffeine as a supplement. Luckily, caffeine in any form can be successfully combined with nearly any natural memory enhancing drugs available today.
Widely known in traditional Russian medicine, Rhodiola Rosea has been used for centuries as an anxiolytic — in other terms, an effective solution for anxiety and stress. If you often have to perform under stressful conditions while working or studying, Rhodiola Rosea-based nootropic supplements can help you improve productivity without having your abilities limited by anxiety and stress. At the same time, Rhodiola Rosea doesn’t simply calm you down — it increases your productivity that has been previously affected by anxiety.
Rhodiola Rosea has many other benefits that improve your cognitive function. By boosting the production of serotonin, beta-endorphins and norepinephrine, this supplement can positively affect your mood. It also stimulates the development and growth of new brain nerve cells, as well as increases your energy level, motivation, concentration, and memory. Rhodiola Rosea works best on its own or when combined with DHA and Bacopa Monnieri supplements.
You have probably seen Ginkgo Biloba supplements being advertised to help older people combat the negative effect of mental deterioration on their cognitive abilities. However, the truth is that people of all ages can benefit from the impressive mental performance benefits of Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo Biloba is frequently taken on its own, but when used together with Bacopa Monnieri or Phosphatidylserine, the two supplements can enhance each other’s effect to a great extent.
The main reason why Ginkgo Biloba is so effective at promoting cognitive function is the fact that it contains both terpenes and glycosides. The first ones make your blood thinner and reduce its viscosity, while the second ones promote the expansion of blood vessels. As a result of alleviating the problem of restricted blood flow by the use of Ginkgo Biloba, blood can reach your brain cells more effectively and is more oxygenated, which ultimately improves your performance.
Like Rhodiola Rosea, Tyrosine is a powerful anxiolytic, which means it can help you fight the destructive effect anxiety and stress have on your cognitive performance. However, besides being a powerful aide in stress-related situations, Tyrosine has also proven its efficiency in a number of other challenges. For example, it has been found to increase the productivity and alertness of sleep-deprived individuals.
Other stressful conditions where Tyrosine has been discovered to be very effective and improving the mental abilities of individuals were noisy, oxygen-deprived, and extremely cold environments, where people taking Tyrosine were able to continue performing with normal efficiency. Tyrosine is an amino acid that is produced by your body from phenylalanine, another amino acid. However, the average production levels of Tyrosine by your body are not sufficient enough to support your brain function. Tyrosine demonstrates an even stronger effect when paired with other supplements with anxiolytic properties, including Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha.
Your Ultimate Nootropics Guide
How to choose a proper nootropic
There are dozens of nootropic supplements regularly praised for their abilities to improve the cognitive abilities of a person, but there is no universal way to find out which nootropic will work for you and which won’t. Here are 7 tips that will help you pick the best supplements for your needs:
- Get a clearly defined goal. Defining your goal as “Performing better” or “Being able to do more” is too broad and won’t bring you any sizeable results. Decide what exactly you want to achieve with your nootropic experience to narrow down the variety of supplements you consider.
- Research everything. There is no shortage of information about nootropic drugs on the internet, and you need to use every source of information to get a clear picture of the supplement. You will need to look for both scientific research and people’s testimonials — sometimes, an honest nootropics review will tell you almost everything you need to know.
- Have realistic expectations. The worst way to approach your nootropics journey is to expect that they will solve every problem in record time. Some of the best nootropics take time to demonstrate the effect and even then it might be subtle, but it doesn’t mean that the selected supplement doesn’t work for you.
- Choose your nootropics type. The majority of neurohackers stick to the natural nootropics, including the ones we have listed earlier. With those nootropic supplements, you are unlikely to encounter any side effects. However, some prefer to combine natural nootropics with synthetic supplements like noopept and piracetam, and while it is a less advisable way to boost your mental capabilities, it is still worth considering.
- Start low and slow. If you are only beginning to explore the world of nootropics, you should never start with complex formulas and high dosage. It is best to use something simple like DHA, B-vitamin complex, or another single-ingredient supplement in the lowest dose possible, gradually increasing the dosage and adding more supplements as you go.
- Play with different substances. Even if you have found that a particular nootropic drug works wonders for you, it is important to continue trying new supplements and assessing their effectiveness. First, you may unlock an even more winning combination, and second, you avoid the risk of teaching your brain to work on one supplement and one supplement only.
- Make changes in your lifestyle. Improving your cognitive performance is about complex changes, not just about the nootropics intake. If you take a nootropic supplement but forget to keep a healthy sleeping schedule, eat a healthy diet, work out when you can, and spend time doing what you love, you should not expect any considerable effect.
There are several ways to classify nootropics, but the most popular one is by the main ingredient in the supplement. Overall, there are two main types of nootropics you can buy today: natural and synthetic nootropics.
Natural nootropics include the supplements that are mainly plant-based and don’t contain any ingredients that can move them to the synthetic class. The active ingredients in natural nootropics are usually known for centuries and have a mild to medium yet steady effect on the brain performance. Most natural nootropics come in a form of caps, but some neurohackers even consider everyday products like omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods and coffee to be natural nootropic supplements.
Synthetic nootropics include a variety of supplements that have been synthesized in a lab and typically have a higher concentration than their natural counterparts. This type of nootropics can include everything from vitamin complexes and choline-based supplements to smart drugs, piracetam and other chemical nootropics known as racetams. While there are many studies describing the many benefits of synthetic nootropics, some of them are also known for their adverse effects, which is why beginners should take synthetic enhancers with caution.
Nootropics Side Effects
It’s no secret that most nootropics come with certain side effects, and even the best brain pill does not guarantee that you won’t encounter at least some of the adverse effects. So what are the most common side effects of popular nootropic drugs?
One of the most frequently experienced side effects of nootropics is problems with sleep, including insomnia and trouble falling asleep. That is why many neurohackers and medical professionals recommend taking a sleep supplement together with the nootropic.
Another common adverse effect of nootropic supplements is an increased heart rate and blood pressure. If you encounter these side effects after starting to regularly take a nootropic, it may be a sign that this supplement is not for you and you should try another nootropic.
Finally, there is always a certain risk of developing an addiction to the nootropic of your choice if you continue taking it for years. It’s actually very easy to develop this addition: first, you notice that a nootropic supplement has a noticeable effect on you, and then you start taking it every day for a long period of time, which eventually causes your brain to lose its efficiency without the stimulation from the supplement. The easiest way to avoid this side effect is to regularly switch up the nootropics you take and introduce new supplements into the mix.
Frequently asked questions
What are nootropics?
Nootropics, which are often referred to as smart drugs, are natural or synthetic substances that are believed to improve mental capabilities in people. Nootropics are a rather new subdivision of the supplement market. One of the reasons why nootropics have become so popular is that our society is getting more and more competitive, which causes some people to seek alternative ways to boost their focus, productivity, and memory.
There is a special section of nootropics known as prescription nootropic supplements. They are designed for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other neurological conditions. These supplements should be prescribed by a medical professional and are not available as over-the-counter medications.
However, when talking about nootropics, most people mean the supplements that are freely available to anyone and are believed to improve the cognitive performance of individuals. These supplements can be natural or synthetic and come in different forms, but what unites them is their advertised effect of boosting mental powers.
Modern nootropic drugs can be used individually, but the majority of neurohackers prefer to mix two and more supplements by creating a nootropic stack. There are hundreds of suggested nootropic stacks you can find online, but with some knowledge about nootropics and their effect, you can create your own stack based on your expectations and needs.
Do nootropics actually work?
The thought of taking one pill to significantly improve one’s mental performance is certainly very comforting, but the truth is that there have not been enough credible medical studies to support the idea that nootropics work for everyone, with the exception of caffeine and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the positive effects of different nootropics are so often reported by individuals that there is no doubt that nootropic drugs may work for most healthy people.
Are nootropics safe?
There is always a risk of contracting certain side effects when taking a nootropic supplement, which is why it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider before adding nootropics to your daily routine. At the same time, it can be said with certainty that natural nootropics, which are the preferred option for most neurohackers, have little to no side effects, provided that they don’t clash with your existing conditions or medications you are currently taking.