Nootropics are the new must-have supplement for any serious athlete, as they are designed to enhance performance by increasing alertness, energy levels, and ramping up motivation and stamina.
So, whether you’re looking to gain muscle, increase strength, or lose body fat, make them an important part of your pre-workout routine.
As an athlete, your ability to perform at your best is dependent on your levels of focus, motivation and energy. So, whether your goal is to gain more muscle, look more shredded or improve athletic performance, your brain’s ability to communicate more effectively with the rest of your body can be a major influencer in how effective your results can be.
Our brains are capable of astounding feats and require an immense amount of energy to perform its functions. Cultures around the world have been using brain enhancement substances for thousands of years. It’s unclear when or how we first discovered that plants could alter our mood and state of mind, though evidence of their use dates back as far as 10,000 years ago.
Our ancestors realized that certain plants promoted changes in our thinking such as ginseng root used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve brain function, Maca Root, the Peruvian miracle root used to increase mental clarity and Yerba Mate used in many South American countries to improve focus and mental energy.
So, it makes logical sense that the modern-day athlete adds a cognitive enhancing supplement to their routine to help improve overall performance. That is why the demand for Nootropic supplements is growing, as they are designed to help you unlock more of your brain’s potential.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are a class of synthetic and natural cognitive enhancing supplements that increase mental functions including memory, motivation, concentration, and attention.
Nootropics date back to the 1960’s, when the first known Nootropic drug, Piracetam was created by Romanian Psychologist & Chemist Dr Corneliu Giurgea, though not for what we know Nootropics to excel at, increasing mental capabilities. Instead, it was created to help deal with motion sickness.
On the surface, Piracetam was a failure. They were trying to create a compound that mimicked the neurotransmitter GABA and could cross the blood-brain barrier. The goal was to induce GABA-like effects, such as relaxation and a reduction in stress.
Further research showed that Piracetam proved surprisingly successful in enhancing mental performance, memory consolidation, & information processing, properties never before seen in any lab-tested substance up to this point.
In the year prior to Piracetam’s discovery, Soviet neuroscientists were already beginning development of the “Nootropic” Phenibut, an experimental drug intended to calm children with psychiatric disorders—later, its anxiolytic properties would be used as a focusing agent for cosmonauts.
The development of Piracetam led to a long line of Nootropic drugs known today as Racetams. Racetams were originally developed by the Belgium Biopharmaceutical company UCB before grabbing mainstream attention.
Throughout the decades following Piracetam’s discovery Russian neuroscientists carried the torch of Nootropic research in an effort to expand their understanding of the mind and further developed various Racetam drugs, such as Phenylpiracetam & Noopept.
Some Nootropics are designed to alter the concentration of existing neurotransmitters, meaning they can enhance the activity of mood-boosting neurochemicals in your brain, such as dopamine, acetylcholine (the learning neurotransmitter), serotonin, and GABA.
Whereas other Nootropics can increase brain growth factors, such as brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF), which regulate the function and growth of neurons in key areas of the brain.
Studies over the years have shown that using Nootropics can enhance memory, cognition, and focus far beyond regular capabilities.  They also have been shown to be effective in improving mental health and reducing stress.  
Are Nootropics safe?
The term Nootropic is of Greek origin, coming from the word “nous” which means “mind” and the root “tropo-” which translates into “turning” or “change”. Meaning, Nootropics are substances that change the mind in some way.
Giurgea laid out a strict set of definitions for Nootropic drugs, requiring that they must enhance learning and memory, exhibit neuroprotective effects and show extremely low toxicity and almost no side effects. Nootropics are often called ‘smart drugs’, though based on this definition it would be wrong to call them that. A smart drug is used primarily to treat some kind of mental or cognitive disorder. An example would medications such as Adderall or Ritalin, which are prescribed for ADHD.
Now, just to confuse things a little!
Dr Vladimir Skondia a researcher at the Belgian pharmaceutical company, UCB, further attempted to categorize Nootropics, though his criteria were more based upon the metabolic characteristics of the compound, and to meet this criteria Nootropics had to be found to:
- Not directly influence blood vessels through vasodilation or vasoconstriction
- Not change the electroencephalogram (EEG) rhythm of the brain
- Not cross the blood-brain barrier
- Not facilitate changes in brain metabolic activity
- Possess few or no side effects
- Be subject to clinical trials which reveal changes in brain metabolism
This is why, what is and what is not considered a Nootropic is debatable. Many Nootropics would meet part of both criteria, and few would meet all requirements. For the purposes of this article, we will mention compounds that are marketed or considered by one or both criteria’s to be a Nootropic.
Are Nootropics good for you?
Your brain is an amazing network of 100 billion neurons, which communicate via chemicals known as neurotransmitters. When neurotransmitters are able to send signals more efficiently, you experience improved concentration, better memory, and increased mood.
These neurotransmitters work to activate signals within the brain that regulate every single activity of our lives. The delicate balance of these systems is where using Nootropics can be effective.
Research has shown that some Nootropics have the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier. This capability facilitates the delivery of these substances immediately to the brain, promoting faster responses to their cognitive enhancing properties. 
One of the most interesting benefits of using Nootropics supplements is that they can increase neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. 
To accelerate these neuroplasticity benefits of your Nootropic supplement its recommended to engage in brain training programs or getting into a habit of reading and learning a new language or skill regularly. As we are learning and challenging our brain in different ways, our brain creates new connections between your neurons called Long-Term Potentiation. 
Just like training your body in the gym, the more you challenge and ask of your brain, the faster its capacities will grow.
The benefits of Nootropics can intensify and grow over time with consistent use. Producing results such as;
- Enhanced Cognition (improved Memory, Recall, Concentration, Clarity, Energy and Focus)
- Stimulated Creativity
- Improved Mood and Decreased Stress and Anxiety
- Increased Sports Performance (Improved reaction time and decreased performance fatigue)
Nootropics neuroprotective properties and ability to slow down signs of ageing are probably one of the main benefits of using them. For example, double-blind and placebo-controlled studies have shown a significant decrease in cognitive decline after using the Racetams, Piracetam and Oxiracetam.  
What are the side effects of Nootropics?
Nootropics have actually be proven to be some of the safest types of nutritional supplements available on the market today, though there are always possible side effects to be aware of.
The most commonly reported side effect of Nootropics is headaches (especially from the Racetam class like Piracetam). This is mainly due to increase in the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which places more demands on the body than it is capable of producing at the time.
The easiest way to counterbalance this is either by adding foods such as eggs, beef, chickpeas and salmon to your diet, which are rich in Choline, which acts as a precursor to Acetylcholine and serves to safely increase its supply. The other option is to stack racetams with a choline supplement or another Nootropic such as Alpha GPC, which can also supply your body with the necessary choline.
Another side effect, especially if taking excessive dosages, is its effect on the gastrointestinal system. This can cause irritation such as bloating and gas or lead to nausea and diarrhoea.
The simple remedy for this is to reduce the dose that you have been taking. Normally this means going back down to the recommended levels. If symptoms persist then stop taking your supplement for a few days while the side effects resolve themselves.
Many Nootropics are able to increase energy levels and improve alertness. This can sometimes result in one of two quite opposite side effects: fatigue and insomnia.
Fatigue will generally only occur when an excessive dosage is used of one of the alertness-promoting Nootropics. You may feel like you are “burned out” after a few hours, similar to the spike and crash felt with caffeine.
The easy solution to this side effect is to use a smaller dose or to spread out your dosages throughout the day. If fatigue persists even at these levels, you might want to cycle off the compound for a week or two or consider switching to a different Nootropic altogether.
Insomnia is seen in cases where a stimulating Nootropic is taken close to bedtime, leading to your mind being overly active and unable to fall asleep. The timing of your dosage is important for preventing this possible side effect and this is why it is recommended to avoid taking Nootropics in the late afternoon or early evening.
Some people may experience anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, mood disorder or depression again from using excessively high doses, so always use the recommended doses.
The bottom line is that Nootropics are safe if they are used safely.
Which Nootropics should I take?
Nootropics can be broken down into seven classes based on their mechanisms of action. They are, Racetams, Cholinergics, Dopaminergics, Serotonergics, Adaptogens, Metabolics, and Stimulants
Racetams – Improve the sensitivity of your acetylcholine (ACh) receptors so that communication is more efficient between neurons. Most racetams are able to heighten cholinergic activity in the brain. Some are more effective in promoting the development of more neurons while others increase receptor density in areas of the brain like the hippocampus.
Cholinergics – Increases acetylcholine (ACh) levels in areas of the brain such as the hippocampus, which is associated with storing long-term memories as well as the process of memory consolidation. ACh is one of the most abundant neurotransmitters in the body and is involved in retaining new information, accessing memory, and controlling our attention span.
Dopaminergics – Increase dopamine level or activity in the brain. When you stimulate the release of Dopamine in the pre-frontal cortex, it can lead to improved cognition, alertness and energy levels
Serotonergics – Increase levels of one of our key mood neurotransmitters called Serotonin. This neurotransmitter is part of our psychological rewards system and is responsible for causing sensations of pleasure and happiness like when you win a competition, receive praise from your significant other or eat something delicious.
Adaptogens – Improve brain health and performance. These herbal-derived compounds work to support the on-going maintenance of your body to return brain cells to proper balance. They can help decrease sensitivity to environmental stressors that damage the brain.
Metabolics – Optimize the energy supply to your brain cells. When circulation is improved, the brain will receive more oxygen and glucose which are the two ingredients needed to make ATP – the type of energy that your neurons use to power their many cellular processes.
Stimulants – help you stay focused, become more driven and improve many of our basic thought processes related to information processing and retrieval.
AC-11 (Cat’s Claw) is an all-natural ingredient that is derived from the inner bark of a vine, known as Uncaria tomentosa, which is indigenous to the Amazon.
One of AC-11 powerful benefits is that it activates enzymes that repair damaged DNA, which can enhance brain health and cognitive function.
About 90% of AC-11 effectiveness is due to Carboxyl Alkyl Esters (CAE), which belongs to a group of compounds known as organic acids, which are important in improving and supporting our well-being.
This ability to repair damaged DNA has shown AC-11 to be effective in research, which can help improve cognitive functions such as memory, focus and concentration. 
AC-11 is found in the Nootropic stack Alpha Brain.
Possible side effects include diarrhoea and flushes. This is why it is recommended to follow dosage guidelines.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for AC-11
The recommended dosage is 350 – 700 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Alpha GPC increases the availability of the nutrient choline in the brain, which is the precursor to the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which plays a key role in memory formation and learning.
Alpha GPC exhibits a neuroprotective effect and has been shown to reduce cognitive decline in elderly humans. Research at the Department of Neuroscience, University of Perugia in Italy showed its effectiveness in people who have suffered a cerebral stroke or ischemic attack caused by acute cerebrovascular disease. 
Research has shown that Alpha GPC can improve power output and physical strength. Users reported a 14% power output improvement who took it 45 minutes before their activity. 
Furthermore, Alpha GPC has also been shown to be effective as a pre-workout supplement for bodybuilders and competitive weightlifters. 
Alpha GPC has few reported side effects. Animal studies have shown in high doses Alpha GPC loss of appetite and minor weight gain.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Alpha GPC
The recommended dosage is 300 – 600 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is categorized as a metabolic Nootropic and is effective in improving mental energy levels and promoting enhanced cognitive performance.
It is found naturally inside every human cell and is vital in a number of different bodily functions including the production of energy through the conversion of glucose (sugar) into cellular energy.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is effective in improving cognition and reducing cognitive decline in the elderly. Research has shown it may have a successful ‘Neuroprotective’ element in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. 
Alpha Lipoic Acid is also a very powerful antioxidant.
Its effects are more potent when taken in conjunction with other Nootropic supplements to promote brain health and anti-ageing benefits.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is generally safe and considered to be extremely well-tolerated, possible side effects include skin rashes, stomach ache, nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Alpha Lipoic Acid
The recommended dosage is 200 – 600 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Aniracetam is a Nootropic developed in the 1970’s by the Swiss multinational healthcare company Hoffman-La Roche. It is a part of a class of Nootropics known as Racetams. Aniracetam it is known as the more potent Racetam that can improve memory, cognition as well as improve mood.
Aniracetam is effective in boosting creativity and lowering anxiety/depression, whereas as other Nootropics in the Racetam class are focused on enhancing mental focus.
Aniracetam is unique in its mood enhancing effects compared to other Racetams, as it has been shown to reduce anxiety via interactions with serotonin, dopamine, and choline receptors. 
Aniracetam has the ability to improve memory and learning damage in those who have suffered from trauma to the brain. Research has shown that Aniracetam is also effective in protecting the brain against trauma. 
Aniracetam is regarded as well-tolerated with a low level of toxicity and minor side effects including anxiety, nausea, diarrhoea, uneasiness and insomnia.
All of the Racetam Nootropics have a potential to cause headaches. This is why taking a choline supplement and following recommended doses is important with Aniracetam.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Aniracetam
The recommended dosage is 600 – 1500mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Artichoke extract is most well known for having a bioactive compound called cynarin, which can improve cognitive function and increase memory formation in your brain through a process called long-term potentiation.
Research has shown Artichoke extract to be effective in enhancing both long and short-term memory. 
Artichoke extract taken in conjunction with Forskolin can yield significant Nootropic effects including improved memory capacity, and increased ability to retain new information. This combination is found in the Nootropic stack, Ciltep
Artichoke extract it is a great source of Vitamins A, B, and C, along with key nutrients like fibre, Potassium, Magnesium, Chromium, Calcium, Zinc, and Iron.
Possible side effects include intestinal gas and other stomach issues. It is be avoided by anyone who has an allergic reaction to plants like marigolds, daisies, and other similar herbs or plants should be careful with this supplement.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Artichoke Extract
The Recommended dosage is 200 – 500 mg a day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Ashwagandha is a herb that has been used extensively in Indian Ayurvedic to extend longevity, increase sexual function, and help people recover from a number of illnesses.
One of the most powerful effects of using Ashwagandha for brain function is its ability to protect and promote overall health and well-being by reducing the levels of the “stress hormone,” cortisol, throughout the body. Research has shown that a 60-day regime with Ashwagandha effectively reduced levels of serum cortisol in people with chronic anxiety and mental stress. 
Ashwagandha is purported to have benefits for memory, cognitive function and concentration.
One of Ashwagandha’s main active ingredients are known as Withanolides, which act as cholinesterase inhibitors, which means that they block the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which plays a key role in memory consolidation, learning
Ashwagandha has also been shown to exhibits GABA-like properties and enhances calmness without creating drowsiness. Studies show that it has potential as a treatment for depression and panic disorder. 
Possible side effects include gastrointestinal tract irritability and low blood pressure.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Ashwagandha
The Recommended dosage is 300 – 1250 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Bacopa Monnieri is a natural herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to enhance memory, mood, learning ability, and brain health. It is among the most commonly used natural Nootropics and closest natural form to the synthetic Nootropic Piracetam, as its effects are similar.
Bacopa Monnieri is known to amplify cognitive processing, making learning new things faster and easier. This includes improving spatial learning, and as research has shown it can enhance learning capacity in subjects under stress. 
It is both an anti-oxidant and a neuroprotectant and is effective in keeping your memory function high as you age by slowing down some of the symptoms of cognitive decline. Studies have shown that it has significantly improved memory in groups of older adults. 
Bacopa Monnieri is generally considered to be safe when you follow recommended dosage guidelines. Possible side effects include fatigue, nausea, indigestion, increased perspiration and urination.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Bacopa Monnieri
The Recommended dosage is 500 – 1000 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it
Celastrus Paniculatus has been used in various Indian cultural and medical traditions, such as Ayurveda and Indian Unani. It is widely known as the “intellect tree,” and used to both sharpen mental focus and relax the nerves.
Celastrus Paniculatus has been shown to enhance cognitive function by improving memory and learning and to protect the brain from oxidative damage and neurotoxicity. 
Its effect creates the feeling of fluid, alert thoughts, and heightened concentration. Furthermore, research has been shown it to be an effective anti-depressant. 
The Celastrus Paniculatus plant extract is non-toxic. No side effects have been reported
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Celastrus Paniculatus
The Recommended dosage of 7 – 20 seeds can produce noticeable benefits for most people. In extracted oil, a recommended dose of 5 – 10 mg per day and increased accordingly. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Centrophenoxine has a tremendous range of beneficial effects upon the mind, memory, and even overall brain power and cognition. It falls into the category of Choline sources because it boosts the levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, which is strongly associated with many aspects of cognitive function.
It was developed in 1959 by scientists at the French National Scientific Research Center, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive issues. It is structurally related to DMAE which is a natural brain booster.
Centrophenoxine is effective in increasing memory performance and enhancing brain power. It is also known to increase mental stimulation, leading to increased perceived energy and focus. It has also been researched to play a crucial role in anti-ageing for your brain. 
There is also a lot of research currently showing positive effects of Centrophenoxine on conditions like Dementia. 
Centrophenoxine is recognized as quite a versatile Nootropic, capable of potentiating greater effects when stacked with other Nootropics, particularly the racetams.
Centrophenoxine is very safe, with almost zero toxicity and it is also very well-tolerated when used at safe doses. Possible side effects include headaches, nausea, dizziness, gastrointestinal issues, jaw clenching, and irritability. This is why it is recommended to follow dosage guidelines
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Centrophenoxine
The Recommended dosage is 300 – 1000mg a day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Choline is closely related to the B family of vitamins and is found naturally in a number of foods including eggs, fish, beef, milk, peanut butter, and even chocolate. It is used in the liver to prevent the build-up of fat, but it’s most important role is in contributing to brain function.
Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which is involved in processes related to memory formation, retention, recall, mathematical and verbal reasoning, planning, and focus.
Choline demand is especially high for babies developing in the womb when an estimated 50,000 neurons per second are being formed. Research at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, found that pregnant mothers who were given greater amounts of Choline had offspring with higher IQs than their counterparts with lower intakes. 
Choline comes in two forms, Choline Bitartrate and Choline Citrate.
Choline Citrate has about 50% choline content, whereas Choline Bitartrate has about 40% choline content. Both are cheaper versions of Choline, and Alpha GPC and Citicoline are more expensive and bioavailable versions.
Research has long established that getting enough Choline makes it easier to remember and keeps your mental facilities sharp later in life. The Framingham Heart Study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study on residents in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts.
The study concluded that those residents with higher choline intake demonstrated significantly better cognitive performance. 
Choline is considered to be a safe nutrient with a very low occurrence of side effects and no serious risk factors. Possible side effects include faintness or dizziness. Higher doses can cause unusual body odour, increased salivations, sweating, and in some cases vomiting. This is why it is recommended to follow the dosage guidelines
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Choline
The Recommended dosage is 1 – 3 g per day, though an adequate daily amount of daily 550 mg in men and 425 mg in women is considered effective. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Citicoline is one of the most popular Choline supplements available, and due to its bioavailability, it has proven more effective at increasing brainpower than taking equivalent amounts of choline supplements.
It’s effective in improving both cognitive function and general brain health by keeping the brain better equipped with the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which plays an integral role in the development and formation of memory and a number of other cognitive processes.
Citicoline has been observed to improve verbal memory in people aged 50-85 who have illustrated age-related memory loss or cognitive impairment. 
It also has an effect on Dopamine and Norepinephrine levels, which can increase attention span, focus, and concentration, as well as greater amounts of motivation and vitality. Citicoline has been used to treat a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, particularly in relation to ischemic stroke, head trauma, age-related cognitive deterioration and Alzheimer’s disease. 
It is an excellent supplement that can increase the effectiveness of other Nootropics when taken in a stack.
Side effects which are more common when the dosage is high include headaches, diarrhoea, nausea, insomnia, and other intestinal issues. This is why it is recommended to follow dosage guidelines
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Citicoline
The Recommended dosage is 500 – 2000 mg daily, split into 2-3 doses throughout the day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) is naturally produced in the human brain and found in foods like anchovies, salmon, and sardines. It is similar to Choline, though is known to cross the blood-brain barrier much more easily, providing more noticeable cognitive abilities.
Once DMAE enters your brain cells, it is converted into the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which is one of the most important neurotransmitters for the formation of new connections between neurons and the plasticity of the brain.
Deanol (Chemical name for DMAE) was considered as medication for attention deficit disorder after studies in the 1970s showed that it reduced hyperactivity and improved concentration in schoolchildren with learning disabilities and behaviour problems. However, when further testing was deemed too expensive, it was packaged as a supplement.
Increased levels of DMAE leads to enhanced memory, cognition, reasoning, focus, and learning skills. 
DMAE has been rated by the Natural Medicines database as Possibly Safe when taken orally and in reasonable doses.
Possible side effects include gastrointestinal distress, irritability, confusion, and drowsiness.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for DMAE
The Recommended dosage is 150 – 500 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Forskolin is produced from the Indian Coleus (Coleus Forskohlii) plant which has played an important role in Indian traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Forskolin increases your ability to learn, reason, and access stored memories by increasing levels of cAMP (Cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which increases memory formation and retention. Research has shown Forskolin to be effective in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease. 
Forskolin works well in a stack with artichoke extract and is used in the Nootropic stack, Ciltep.
Forskolin is generally regarded as safe, though there have been relatively few tests and studies on it. Possible side effects include headaches and increased heart rate.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Forskolin
The Recommended dosage is 25 and 60 mg per day, split into 2-3 doses throughout the day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Ginkgo Biloba’s use in ancient Chinese culture may be considered “folk medicine,” and due to its powerful antibacterial and antifungal abilities, it was used as a cure-all remedy for a wide range of conditions. More than 270 million years ago, the first Ginkgo Biloba trees populated wild forests around the globe.
Ginkgo Biloba has earned its reputation as the memory-boosting herb. It provides powerful recall of facts, and promotes a mental environment that is clear, energetic, and focused.
Ginkgo also has natural MAO inhibiting qualities. MAO inhibition ensures that levels of Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine remain balanced, creating a feeling of natural energy and mental focus. Research has shown it to be effective in treating impaired cognitive disorders such as Dementia. 
Ginkgo Biloba has been rated by the Natural Medicines database as Likely Safe when taken orally and appropriately. Possible side effect include light nausea, dizziness, or rapid heartbeat
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Gingko Biloba
The Recommended dosage is 120 – 600 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Huperzine A is an alkaloid compound that is purified from the Chinese club moss Huperzia Serrata. It is considered a natural Nootropic, though there is some laboratory manipulation that takes places during the creation of this Nootropic, it appears to be extremely beneficial because the final result is a highly purified substance
Huperzine A increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) in the brain by blocking the action of cholinesterase, which inhibits ACh production.
Huperzine A is commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases for its ability to improve memory and cognitive abilities while acting as a neuroprotectant. Research has shown that Huperzine A provides a significant improvement in memory with Alzheimer and Vascular Dementia patients. 
Huperzine A is also considered as a memory enhancer. Research has shown that it enhanced memory and learning performance in students. 
Medical studies have concluded that Huperzine-A has minimal to no side effects and no toxicity, which makes it generally regarded as safe for human consumption. Possible side effects include diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and restlessness.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Huperzine A
The Recommended dosage is 50 – 100 mcg twice a day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Idebenone is a lesser-known Nootropic and was initially developed as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s and related forms of mental impairment. It is effective in improving cognitive functioning and memory.
Idebenone is anti-oxidant brain supplement and a synthetic analogue of coenzyme Q10, which helps to maintain the health of the power plants in our cells, the mitochondria. It also increases Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which is a protein involved in the generation, growth, and health of brain cells.
Idebenone is able to improve the activity of a number of neurotransmitters in the brain. This leads to better memory and learning capacity along with an overall faster speed of recall. Research in Germany found Idebenone to be effective in slowing down symptoms in Alzheimer patients throughout a 2-year study. 
It is also commonly paired with Centrophenoxine to create an excellent longevity-boosting Nootropic stack for advanced anti-ageing protection.
Side effects with Idebenone are rare. Possible side effects include stomach upset, headaches and problems with sleep if it is taken too close to bedtime.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Idebenone
The Recommended dosage is 500 – 1,000 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Lion’s Mane is a Nootropic mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. It is one of the best reputed natural Nootropics available, known for increasing Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) levels in the human brain, which are important for the maintenance of healthy brain cells.
Due to its Neuroplasticity properties, Lion’s Mane Lion’s helps to protect against cognitive dysfunction and age-related memory loss, which makes it an effective Nootropic to use in a stack.
Its ability to enhance overall cognitive function, neuroprotective qualities, Lion’s Mane is one of the most promising and popular natural nootropics. 
Lion’s Mane has been clinically demonstrated to enhance cognition including improved memory and recall. It also helps with maintaining focus and attention. Japanese researchers found that individuals aged 50-80 taking daily doses of 3 g per day for 16 weeks had significant increases in cognitive function scores. 
Lion’s Main is a source of at least 32 different active nutrients including Potassium, Zinc, Iron, and Selenium. All of the major amino acids are present as well, along with a variety of polypeptides and polysaccharides.
There are no reported side effects of using Lion’s Mane. It seems to be highly safe with no reports of toxicity levels.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Lion’s Mane
The Recommended dosage is 500 – 800 mg taken once a day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Noopept is not technically a Racetam, though it is classed as one because it uses similar mechanisms of action. It is considered one of the most effective and strongest of all the Nootropic supplements on the market today.
It activates Dopamine receptors as well as selective Serotonin receptors. These systems are involved in mood and motivation which is why Noopept is seen as being effective for disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Research has shown its neuroprotective effect, which can be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 
Noopept has secondary stimulating effects, such as increased alertness, focus, energy levels, and mood, though is not classified as a stimulant. Research has shown its positive effect in treating stroke patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment. 
Most Noopept side effects are more likely to occur at higher doses, though include nausea, irritability, dizziness, and restlessness.
All of the Racetam Nootropics have a potential to cause headaches. This is why taking a choline supplement and following recommended doses is important with Noopept
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Noopept
The Recommended dosage is 10 – 30 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Developed in the 1970s, Oxiracetam is a synthetic derivative of Piracetam, the original Nootropic. It functions by activating the neurotransmitter glutamate receptor in the brain, which is the most important neurotransmitter for normal brain function.
Oxiracetam is known for being one of the strongest Nootropics on the market.
Oxiracetam has been shown to improve memory in general, enhancing both memory formation and retention and exerting a significantly positive effect on the speed of recall. It is also effective in logical and technical thinking ability, concentration and focus, and makes learning faster and easier. 
Though it is best known for its ability to improve memory, learning ability, and other cognitive functions, Oxiracetam has been extensively studied as a potential treatment for memory loss related to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. 
Oxiracetam has shown to have a high level of tolerability. Research has shown possible side effects to include nausea, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness, brain fog and vivid dreams.
All of the Racetam Nootropics have a potential to cause headaches. This is why taking a choline supplement and following recommended doses is important with Oxiracetam
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Oxiracetam
The Recommended dosage is 600 – 3,000 mg a day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Phenibut was discovered in Russia in 1960’s and has been used to treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, motion sickness, dizziness and other conditions in Russia, Latvia, Georgie and Ukraine.
Phenibut is designed to stimulate the mood-boosting neurotransmitter GABA, which is involved in regulating communication between brain cells. GABA itself cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, though Phenibut contains a phenyl ring, which allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Anxiety-reduction is the most commonly recognized benefit of using Phenibut, though it has also been shown to increase cognitive abilities and mental performance. 
When taken responsibly (Instructed by a doctor) for short periods of time, most individuals will not experience serious side effects or adverse reactions.
Possible side effects reported are changes in dream patterns, numbness and pain, drowsiness and a hangover effect, which is due to be taken to quickly between doses or interaction with other supplements.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Phenibut
The Recommended dosage is 500 – 1500mg per day, split into 2-3 doses throughout the day. It is recommended not to use Phenibut more than twice a week. Always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Phosphatidylserine is actually found in every cell of the body with an estimated 30 grams present in your brain right now, primarily in the cell membranes of the neurons, and is effective in boosting memory and overall cognition.
Researchers from Chaim Sheba Medical Center and Tel Aviv University Sackler School of Medicine found that Phosphatidylserine was effective in the treatment of age-related cognitive decline. 
Phosphatidylserine is effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier and binds with neurotransmitters and enables the brain to metabolize the brain’s main energy source glucose more efficiently. It also helps the brain to more easily restore its supply of the key neurotransmitter Acetylcholine.
In a double-blind study of active young men, Phosphatidylserine was shown to increase the time the men could exercise until exhaustion by approximately 25%. 
Phosphatidylserine has a flawless safety record through both clinical research and standard toxicology tests. Side effects are considered rare and mild and include insomnia and stomach upset.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Phosphatidylserine
The Recommended dosage is 100 – 500 mg per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Picamilon is one of several Nootropic supplements that were originally developed in Russia during the Cold War. It was originally developed to increase circulating levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which itself cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.
Picamilon is a combination of GABA and Niacin (Vitamin B3), which allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore creates a strong formula for stress relief and energy boosting. Niacin itself has a positive Nootropic effect on mental performance, so the combination of the two is what makes it such an effective brain booster.
Picamilon benefits include better mental energy and improved clarity and focus. Research has shown it to be more effective in learning and memory when compared to Piracetam. 
Picamilon is also believed to have a significant antioxidant effect, helping to break down and remove toxins in the brain.
Picamilon is generally very well-tolerated and very safe with no reports of serious side effects ever published
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Picamilon
The Recommended dosage is 50 – 200 mg per day, split into 2-3 doses throughout the day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Piracetam was the first compound developed in the Racetam “family” of Nootropics. It has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with the Neurotransmitters Acetylcholine and Glutamate receptors, which are responsible for memory and cognition.
Piracetam is an effective tool for cognitive enhancement, particularly in the areas of memory, concentration, and psychomotor speed (Reaction time).
Research has shown Piracetam’s effectiveness in treating people with cognitive impairment due to ageing, brain injuries, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is because Piracetam increases levels of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) in the brain, which improves the function of mitochondria, the power plants in our cells, especially in ageing brains. 
Piracetam increases blood flow to the brain, which is critical for a highly optimized brain. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study it showed Piracetam’s effectiveness to improve the delivery and dispersal of oxygen molecules to cells in the brain. 
Piracetam is non-toxic to the body and does not exhibit serious side effects when used within the appropriate dosage range. Possible side effects include fatigue, nausea, brain fog, stomach discomfort and insomnia.
All of the Racetam Nootropics have a potential to cause headaches. This is why taking a choline supplement and following recommended doses is important with Piracetam
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Piracetam
The Recommended dosage is 600 – 1200 mg taken 2-3 times per day. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Pramiracetam is a synthetic cognitive enhancer and is one of the most potent Nootropics in the Racetam family. It is well-known for helping to increase goal-directed and purposeful behaviour.
Pramiracetam was first synthesized by scientists at Parke-Davis, which is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company, in the late 1970’s. It has gained a reputation in the Nootropics community for optimizing cognition and in particular, boosting long-term memory and learning efficiency.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, Pramiracetam was observed to improve memory, particularly delayed recall in young men who had suffered a brain injury. 
Furthermore, Pramiracetam like other Racetams is an efficient neuroprotective agent with research showing its effectiveness in preventing cognitive decline and loss of memory in people with brain trauma. 
Pramiracetam is different from other racetams in that it does not stimulate specific neurotransmitter receptor sites. Its primary action is to increase the uptake of choline in the hippocampus, the part of the brain crucial to the formation of long-term memories.
Research has shown only minor side effects when using Pramiracetam, including nervousness, anxiety, fatigue, and GI tract distress.
All of the Racetam Nootropics have a potential to cause headaches. This is why taking a choline supplement and following recommended doses is important with Pramiracetam
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Pramiracetam
Research has shown a total daily intake of 800 -1200 mg divided into two or three doses per day, was optimal. It is recommended to always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Rhodiola Rosea is a natural Nootropic and adaptogen that has been used traditionally in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and other European countries as a “tonic herb,” It is known to reduce fatigue, boost concentration, improve your mood and alleviate stress.
Students who used Rhodiola Rosea during stressful exams found that their physical fitness, mental fatigue the self-assessment of the general well-being was significantly better. 
Rhodiola Rosea contains 140 compounds in the roots and rhizome. The critical components include rosavin, rosarian, and rosin, collectively known as rosavins. This phytochemical is the primary active components in the herb and responsible for its mood lifting and anxiolytic effects.
One of the key benefits of Rhodiola Rosea is its ability to stimulate a specific class of enzymes known as AMPK (5′ AMP-activated protein kinase), which increases the number of mitochondria in our cells. Mitochondria are popularly referred to as the power plants of our cells.
In a double-blind trial, healthy volunteers who received an extract of Rhodiola Rosea one hour before an endurance-exercise test saw significantly increased endurance. 
The most common side effects reported are dizziness and dry mouth. This is why it is advised to follow dosage recommendations
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Rhodiola Rosea
Traditionally, Rhodiola Rosea was prepared into a tea, but it is now more commonly used in oral capsule form. The recommended dosage is 100 – 600 mg. Since Rhodiola Rosea is considered to be a mild stimulant, start with a low dosage and increase accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Uridine is a naturally occurring substance that is manufactured in the liver and is considered one of the best Nootropics for increasing synaptic plasticity by making it easier for your neurons to form new connections. Uridine works by increasing the synthesis of brain Phosphatidylcholine (PC), which helps cells operate and regulate enzymes within the brain.
Uridine is effective in reducing stress and anxiety and this effect is much stronger when Uridine is combined with Choline directly. Furthermore, research has shown that when used in conjunction with Choline and the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, it enhances the improvement in learning and memory. 
Uridine also helps to increase the level of Neurotransmitter Dopamine in the brain, which affects mood and motivation and is involved in the pleasure centre of the brain. Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine found Uridine to be an effective treatment for depressed adolescents with Bipolar Disorder. 
Uridine is a very safe supplement and is naturally found in foods like Broccoli and tomatoes.
As long as the dosage recommendations are followed, the only side effects that might be present include headaches, fatigue, nervousness, and some gastrointestinal distress.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Uridine
Uridine can be used as a standalone supplement, though it is typically taken with other Nootropics in a stack. The recommended dosage range is between 500 mg and 2 grams per day. Always start with the lower dose and adjust accordingly depending on how your body responds to it.
Vinpocetine is a synthesized extract of the natural plant alkaloid Vincamine, which is found in the periwinkle plant called Vinca Minor. Both Vinpocetine and Vincamine occur naturally in this plant, but for many years it was only Vincamine that was used as a cognitive enhancement compound.
Later, when lab synthesis techniques were improved, Vinpocetine production started to outstrip Vincamine harvesting because the two display similar benefits but Vinpocetine has a much lower risk of negative side effects.
The Nootropic benefits of Vinpocetine include improved memory functions, stress reduction, better attention span, and increased motivation. It stimulates the receptors of key neurotransmitters like dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin, simulating their effects in the brain without creating dangerous spikes in hormone levels.
This is due to Vinpocetine’s ability to improve blood supply to the brain, by preventing inflammation and allowing for a faster rate of circulation to important regions of the brain. 
Research has shown Vinpocetine is effective in the treatment of cognitive impairments especially memory and sustained attention deficits. 
Very few side effects have been identified with this compound. The only reported side effects that have been observed are nausea, headache, stomach pain, nervousness, dizziness and sleep problems. Symptoms are reported to have been short-term.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Vinpocetine
The Recommended dosage is 15 to 30 mg a day split into three equal dosages. Vinpocetine used with Gingko Biloba is effective to improve memory and brain function.
Yerba Mate is a natural Nootropic for increased alertness and vigilance that is traditionally consumed in subtropical areas of South America like Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Yerba Mate is a natural source of caffeine but is noted for producing a smooth and stable boost in energy, unlike the peak and crash sometimes associated with coffee and other energy drinks.
It provides a unique mix of three stimulants: Theobromine and Theophylline (also found in chocolate) and Caffeine. The proportions of these stimulants are especially beneficial to people, who need to stay sharp and focused for a long time.
It also contains Vitamins A, B vitamins, plus significant quantities of potassium, sodium, and magnesium in the leaves and tea. 
Research has shown that Yerba Mate and exercise are more effective in improving mood during and after a workout than just exercise on its own. 
It is generally regarded as safe and fairly well-tolerated, though when consumed in high doses it can cause symptoms such as insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines for Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is most commonly consumed as a tea. General dosage is 1-3 cups per day, which should be about the same as what you would do for a regular cup of coffee or tea.
Taking Nootropics in a stack can be highly beneficial. A stack, simply put, is the combination of two or more supplements together, which allow users to achieve better results, while increasing potency.
Caffeine with L-theanine at a 1:2 ratio (1 part caffeine to 2 parts L-theanine) is by far the simplest Nootropic stack for anyone to use as a starting point. Caffeine gives you the boost in energy and focus that you’re aiming for, and the L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, will take away the jitteriness often associated with caffeine, leaving you with a relaxed but alert state that is perfect for productivity.
It’s important to understand that a Nootropic stack should work synergistically. Because each supplement has a different mechanism of action in your brain and body, so make sure each supplement in your stack supports the other Nootropics in your stack.
Keep in mind that the effect of some Nootropics can be cumulative. And the effects build up in your brain over time. A good example is Huperzine-A which has a half-life of 24-hours. If you take it every day then your body never has a chance to get rid of some of it, and it can build up over-time. So you should cycle Huperzine-A, and use every 2nd or 3rd day.
Another aspect to think about is that Nootropics are either fat soluble or water soluble. Water-soluble products like Piracetam can be easily mixed in water whereas ones like Aniracetam will clump and not mix well. Water-soluble Racetams can be taken on an empty stomach, whereas fat-soluble Nootropics take longer to get absorbed in the bloodstream but last much longer, though need to be consumed with or after a meal.
Creating your own stack gives you full flexibility to be creative as you want and to make changes to your stack components and dosages as you see fit.
So if you are looking to create your own stack then
RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH.
This is the most important part of any successful Nootropic stack.
This is why many Nootropic enthusiasts turn to pre-made Nootropic stacks that have been researched and created for you. These “off the shelf” supplements have the benefit of being effective and offer convenience over weighing out and mixing your own Nootropic combinations.
Here are 5 of the top Nootropic stacks on the market that are worth investigating.
Ciltep is a natural Nootropic stack created by Natural Stacks, a popular manufacturer of other supplements including BioCreatine and MagTech. It is designed to safely enhance the brain’s ability to form vivid, long-lasting memories and remain sharply motivated and focused for hours.
Premium Artichoke Extract – Boosts energy and improves long-term memory.
Forskolin – Improves overall mental function, especially learning retention.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Maintains short-term memory and energy levels.
Vitamin B-6 – Promotes optimal function of brain processes.
L-Phenylalanine – Boosts energy and promotes a positive mood. Also increases attention span, according to Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease.
Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro uses multiple ingredients to create a truly effective stack to support studying, learning, attention, storage and recall, all while strengthening the mind’s resistance to stress.
The company’s strategy in putting together this stack is largely based on the synergy of each of these Nootropics working together. Their aim is to optimize 6 brain pathways: Energy, Neurotransmitters, Cerebral Blood Flow, Brain Waves, Neuroprotection and Regeneration.
The Mind Lab Pro stack contains 11 ingredients including:
Citicoline – Energizes and enhances mental performance.
Bacopa Monnieri – Improves memory performance and learning and retention.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract – Enhance mental energy, attention, learning and focus in the short term; and maintain memory, mental clarity and brain health in later years.
L-Tyrosine – promote working memory and optimize mental performance under high stress and fatigue.
Alpha Brain is a Nootropic stack created by Onnit, one of the most well-respected Nootropic supplement manufacturers around. The compound is designed to improve mental function as a whole. In particular, Alpha Brain is said to enhance memory, focus, and energy in both the short and long term.
Two double-blind clinical trials with Alpha Brain conducted by the Boston Center for Memory showed improvements versus placebo in memory, brainwave patterns, and focus.  
Alpha GPC – Improves cognitive function.
Vinpocetine – Increases alertness, focus, and overall concentration.
Pterostilbene – Improves overall brain function.
AC-11 – Enables increased physical exertion.
Qualia is a premium Nootropic stack that is designed to nourish the mind with over 40 premium brain nutrients to immediately enhance focus, energy, mood, and creativity while supporting long-term brain health.
Qualia is different from other pre-blended Nootropic stacks in the fact that it has a two-step formula that you take on a cyclical basis in the morning. Step one you take on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up. Step two an hour or so later with food.
Huperzine A – It supports learning, memory, neuroplasticity, and executive function.
Celastrus Paniculatus – An Ayurvedic herb with Nootropic and neuroprotective effects.
Phosphatidylserine – It helps to reduce stress, fatigue, attention deficit and forgetfulness, and to increase mental processing speed and accuracy, attention and working memory.
Theobromine – It helps increases alertness, attention, and executive function.
Anhydrous Caffeine – It increases alertness, wakefulness, attention, working memory, motor activity, and elevates mood.
Uridine Monophosphate – It supports short and long-term memory, learning, attention, and executive function.
Mucuna Pruriens Seed – A mood enhancer and increases focus and motivation.
OptiMind is a high-end blend of well-known ingredients designed to support cognitive function by providing the perfect blend of the world’s best Nootropic ingredients.
Their formula combines Nootropics and important vitamins, which make the stack very effective with positive long-term effects on your performance by enhancing your focus and energy and by improving brain function and mental performance.
OptiMind is designed with 12 ingredients including:
DMAE – Improves memory, focus, mental processing, attentional control and executive function.
Alpha Lipoic Acid – Improves mental energy levels and promotes enhanced cognitive performance.
Sulbutamine – Improves mood, focus, memory and mental performance
Green Leaf Extract – Enhances cognition, including mood, memory and learning.
Achieving optimal physical performance can be a complex and demanding process. This means keeping your brain and body running efficiently is essential to achieving this. That is why the popularity of Nootropics amongst athletes has skyrocketed. There are the synthetic, created in the lab Nootropics and there are natural, found in nature Nootropics, and of course, there are those that fall between the two and come from nature but are only made available through specific laboratory processes.
Nootropic supplements have the potential to benefit pretty much everyone and can enhance performance via many mechanisms, from increasing alertness and energy to reducing anxiety, ramping up motivation and improving strength and stamina. So beyond the double expresso shot maybe it’s time to explore your own ‘limitless’ potential in the gym.
Disclaimer: Nootropics are banned by WADA and most other global sporting organization for both in-competition and out-of-competition use. You should NOT use them if you are competing in any such sanctioned sport as it a prohibited mental enhancing gaming substance. Please check with local doping agencies for the latest information.
*Popularly Recommended Dosing Guidelines are based on study and manufacturer information and are for informational purposes only. Always consult a doctor and follow manufacturer recommendations when taking any supplement.
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