So you want to hack your brain and become super smart, remember everything and have instant recall? It’s not as far off as you might think.

In the last 5 years nootropics popularity has grown to an all time high. My intention with this post is to educate people on what nootropics are and give a few example of possible nootropics and how to use them.

Commonly people will use pharmaceuticals such as Adderall to try to increase their intelligence, memory, etc. But that comes with a laundry list of side affects including possible addiction and the “benefits” stop the minute you stop taking them. Nootropics are far superior, not as dangerous and don’t come with the side affects or addiction.

What are nootropics?

Nootropics have been nicknamed “smart drugs” in recent years. However, nootropics aren’t always “drugs” as they can range from supplements, to nutraceuticals to functional foods.

What do nootropics do?

Nootropics will typically enhance memory, enhance intelligence, as well as provide other various neuro and cognitive enhancements.

This post will break down nootropics into 3 categories: functional foods, supplements and nutraceuticals. It’s then up to you to decide which (if not all) to experiment with.

How fast do nootropics work?

That depends on the exact combination of nootropics that you use. It can take up to 2 weeks (or longer in some cases) to fully realize the affects. If you experiment with more of the nutraceutical grade nootropics and use higher doses then you can sometimes get results faster. Keep in mind that faster does not necessarily mean better.

Are nootropics safe?

The answer is typically yes. However, it really depends on the exact combination, type and grade of nootropics that you use. Functional food based nootropics are going to be much safer than anything nutraceutical grade (which are not necessarily dangerous if used properly).

Types of Nootropics

  • Functional foods & Plants
  • Supplements & Nutraceuticals

Supplements & Nutraceuticals

I don’t like to make a distinction between supplements and nutraceuticals because I don’t want to give false impression that supplements are better/safe for you than nutraceuticals. Anything that is not natural has the potential to have side affects and risks. I think everyone reading this should research every ingredient that’s not 100% food based and natural, as there could be various other considerations. This is also not a complete list but a base to get started in your own research.

PIRACETAM

There are various forums of racetams, the most popular being Piracetam. People report increased mental clarity, memory improvements, and an overall boost in optimal cognitive function. Aniracetam is another commonly used racetam.

CHOLINE

Choline is typical combined with Piracetam. This is a known and popular cognitive nutraceutical based nootropic stack, outlined in more detail at the end of this post. Alpha GPC is one of the best forms of Choline.

HUPERZINE A 
 
Huperzine A is a natural compound extracted from the Chinese club moss Huperzia serrata. It is commonly used to treat dementia, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive deficiencies. It prevents the breakdown of the key neuro transmitter, acetylcholine. Huperzine A has been proven useful in improving short term memory as well as preventing long term memory loss as a result of aging.

Bacopin®

Bacopin® is a branded extract of Bocapa monierri (20% Bacosides A&B). Bacosides have been shown to protect synaptic functions of the nerves and revitalize mental function. Bacopin® has been shown to improve brain function, boost overall concentration, reduce anxiety, and improve memory.

VINPOCETINE

Naturally derived from the periwinkle plant, vinpocetine enhances circulation in the brain and improves oxygen utilization by dilating blood vessels so they can cross the blood brain barrier. In simple terms, it ramps up acuity and awareness and simultaneously improves memory and cognitive performance. Vinpocentine on surface level typically enhances the affects of other nootropics.

GLUCURONOLACTONE

This ingredient is found naturally in the body as a result of the metabolism of glucose. It is commonly believed that Glucuronolactone works to fight fatigue and provide an overall sense of well being.

DHA

Essential nutrient for the brain and eyes. It is often culturally dubbed a necessary brain food. DHA is a crucial fat that makes up a large percentage of the brain. Because few foods have it, it is important to supplement your diet with DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids are key in maintaining proper brain health.

CAFFEINE & L-THEANINE

Caffeine (80mg) and L-Theanine (100mg) are some of the most well studied and thoroughly tested supplemental ingredients on the market. Clinical uses and studies of these two ingredients have repeatedly resulted in improved vigilance and reduction of errors. L-Theanine works to balance out the harsher effects of Caffeine.

SCHISANDRIN A

Component of the Chinese fruit Schisandra chinensis. Schisandrin A has a positive effect on enhancing the central nervous system and is used to enhance concentration. It is specifically effective when combined with DMAA or caffeine.

L-TYROSINE

L-Tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine, effecting attention and learning. It has also been found to support alertness and an increased feeling of well-being. L-Tyrosine reduces mental as well as physical fatigue. Additionally, tyrosine has an antioxidant effect, which helps protect cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals.

COGNIZIN®

Cognizin® is a branded form of Citicholine – an essential substance for brain health. This ingredient works to enhance communication between neurons, maintain normal levels of acetylcholine, protect neural structures, and enhance healthy brain activity and energy.

L-GLUTAMINE

As one of the primary amino acids within the body, this chemical is great for regulating blood sugar levels. It also improves the absorption of nutrients, essentially aiding every other ingredient in Cerebral Success. Perhaps the best cognitive benefit of L-Glutamine is its ability to boost focus, critical thinking, and memory. L-Glutamine works by increasing the glutamic acid within the brain (which helps neutralize excess ammonia), helping to clear away the groggy feeling we sometimes have.

B-VITAMINS
There are various studies that show the importance of B-Vitamins for the prevention of mental decline. B-Vitamins contained within Cerebral Success SmartX have been shown to protect against nerve damage, promote healthy memory function, and increase mental agility.

Functional Foods & Plants

This is any type of real food, plant or beverage that has nootropic properties/benefits.

Eggs – high in Choline

Walnuts – high in neuroprotective compounds such as Vitamin E, melatonin, amongst others.

Ginger – contains strong & unique antioxidants.

Fish oils & omega 3 – contain EPA and DHA (enhanced memory).

Coffee – considered nootropic due to the stimulating effects which can enhance your alertness. No long term benefits, however.

Ginkgo biloba – this is an herb that has been long used in Alzheimer’s patients as a brain enhancer and memory repairer.

Strong stack recommendation:

PIRACETEAM + CHOLINE

This is stack is essentially going to give you the focusing power of Adderall without the shaking or mood swings. In fact, it will actually improve your mood if taken correctly. There is also no known toxicity so you can take quite a bit without worrying.

The way Piracetam works is that it needs to break the blood/brain barrier to start working and be effective. You can take a large 3gram (of each) dose 3 times daily to get effects sooner, or you can pace yourself more and try 1gram 3 times daily. The later will take a few weeks to see significant results, but it will slowly build up.

NOTES:

  • Piracetam utilizes Choline so you need to make sure you have enough in your system or it won’t work and you might even get headaches.  This can be done naturally or through supplementing Choline.
  • Drinking Piracetam is awful tasting, so mix it with grape juice or another juice to cover the taste.
  • Take a fish oil after your stack for maximum effect.
  • Piracetam is water soluble. Take it on an empty stomach.
  • Dosages can vary by person, start with less than recommended.
  • Be patient. It takes sometimes a week or 2 for affects.

Weaker stack recommendation:

CAFFEINE & L-THEANINE

These are amongst the most tested and researched supplements on the planet. Basically the caffeine gives you a jolt of energy and the L-theanine takes away the jitters. This will give you energy, focus, stress resilience, etc.

NOTES:

  • Caffeine addiction is still possible even when combined with l-theanine.

Combining stacks

You can combine the weaker and stronger stacks that I have recommended above. Also you should experiment with different types of racetams. Piracetam is just one in the racetam family. Aniracetam or oxiracetam can also work extremely well for some people, dosages vary.

Conclusion 

This post was designed to get you familiar with what nootropics are, the various types out there, and give you some starting points to begin your experimentation. Nootropics are meant to be experimented with and almost everyone gets slightly different results. I’ve also found that some nootropics work for some people and don’t work for others. Lastly, make sure you give it time and fully test a lot of different options. It can take up to 2 weeks to fully realize the affects.

Please consult with your medical professional before any experimentation as this is not medical advice.

Brian D. Evans
Brian is the Founder/CEO/Editor-in-Chief at Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures. Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising company in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post, Forbes and others.