Brain-Boosters, Cognitive Enhancers, and even “Smart Pills”—these are but some of the common names used when discussing a class of compounds called Nootropics. The name isn’t new at all, having been coined in the early seventies by the Romanian doctor Corneliu E. Giurgea, and professionals in mentally-intensive fields such as computer programming have been using them for decades. The term Nootropics refers to a broad class of compounds that have shown throughout decades of clinical studies to show marked improvements in cognitive functions such as short term memory, abstract learning, ability to focus, and critical thinking. The best Nootropics are those with track records of offering clinically-proven results for cognitive enhancement properties.[1] For convenience, you can skip directly to any of the Nootropics listed in this article by clicking their names below:

There are certainly many more Nootropics available on the consumer market today than just the few listed here however, these represent those compounds which have demonstrated remarkable brain-boosting abilities. All of the compounds on this list have clinical data to back up claims—some more than others—but it should be noted that none of them are currently FDA-approved for the treatment of any medical condition, although many are used as prescription medications in many European countries, and many of the herbal Nootropics have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic healing practices. While it may seem strange for well-known substances, with clinical data to back up their benefit aren’t approved by the FDA for the treatment—of anything—such is the current state of affairs. All of these compounds are considered dietary supplements under FDA guidelines, and are perfectly legal to purchase and use within the United States.

The best Nootropics are those with a proven track records  clinically-proven results for cognitive enhancement

There are several Nootropics that are prescription only—synthetic to the core—and produced under patents held by major pharmaceutical companies. Modafinil, for example, is one of the most-popular Nootropic drugs manufactured specifically with the intent of promoting ‘wakefulness’ and has been used to treat such diseases as narcolepsy [2]. With the growing concern over the dangers of prescription medication, there has been a resurgence of interest in Nootropic compounds that aren’t prescription—and in many cases aren’t even synthetic. This article will look at what are largely regarded as being the best Nootropics from two broad categories—those which are synthetic, and those which are natural Nootropics.

The Best Natural Nootropics

While synthetic Nootropics have shown tremendous potential to serve as cognitive enhancing supplements, the lack of widespread clinical trials means that many side-effects may yet be unknown. While any compound—natural or synthetic—possesses the potential to cause un-wanted effects, natural compounds such as herbal extractives, and alkaloid isolations typically pose a much lower risk. The trade-off in safety often means that more natural Nootropics will often provide much more subtle effects.

Herbal Nootropics are somewhat of their own ‘stacks,’ in that there are often many synergistic compounds that work together as a collective to promote overall cognitive-enhancing experiences

It’s important to discern between natural supplements that isolations of naturally occurring compounds—such as Alpha GPC, Choline, or 5-htp, and more truly natural compounds such as Ginko Biloba, Bacopa, Lion’s Mane, and Rhodiola. The former are naturally-occurring compounds but are typically only made available after very particular laboratory processes. The later, including all herbal Nootropics, are simply prepared forms of already existing plants which contain many different cognitive-enhancing compounds. Herbal Nootropics are somewhat of their own ‘stacks,’ in that there are often many synergistic compounds that work together as a collective to promote overall cognitive-enhancing experiences.

1. Huperzine-A

Huperzine-A

Life Extension Huperzine-A

Huperzine-A is an isolation of an active alkaloid found within the Chinese club moss plant, or Qian Ceng Ta—which has been shown as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease on it’s on accord. Huperzine-A however, is a laboratory-prepared, but considered to be a ‘bio-equivilent’ to the natural form found in many plants within the Huperziaceae, Lycopodiaceae, and Selaginella families. [6] Similar to many of the Ractam Nootropics, Huperzine-A is thought to be a NMDA antagonist, as well as being a neural anti-oxident. Huperzine-A appears in the blood stream just 15 minutes after ingestion, with serum levels peaking around a little more than an hour. One of Huperzine-A’s most-notable biochemical functions is that is serves as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor—which allows other neuro-active compounds to have a more profound effect. [7][8] The Chinese have used the herbal form, the Club Moss Plant, originally as a muscle relaxer, and treatment for bruises and increasing blood flow to areas which need healing.

More recently however, this plant has been used in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Schizophrenia, as well as serving as a counter-agent for organophosphate (herbicides) poisoning. [9] There have been several clinical trials conducted investigating Huperzine-A as a potential treatment for many medical conditions such as Cocaine Dependency and Traumatic Brain Injuries [10] Huperzine-A is a somewhat difficult compound to find in stores, especially in isolated form, but is readily available online. Life Extension sells isolated Huperzine-A capsules, and is a fairly reputable brand.

2. 5-HTP

natrol-5htp-supplement

Natrol 5-HTP

5-HTP supplements contain the compound that is a pre-cursor to serotonin, one of the brains’ most important neurotransmitters—often hailed by many has being the molecule that increases ‘happiness.’ It should be noted that 5-HTP SHOULD NOT be taken with many medications, such as SSRIs, and can be quite dangerous—even lethal—if done so. If taken properly, 5-HTP has shown a wide range of positive health benefits such as promoting weight loss by curbing appetite, decreasing night terrors, as well as helping to address a host of digestive issues such as IBS and Leaky Gut Syndrome. 5-HTP is thought to be directly converted into 5-HT (Serotonin) by enzymatic processes, thus making more Serotonin available to the body. There are a large number of Serotonin receptor sites throughout your body’s neural pathways, which qualify 5-HTP as as having the potential to act as a Nootropic.

The practical effect of taking 5-HTP is more often reported as being mood-enhancing—or mood stabilizing—rather than providing a stimulant effect. Recent research that strengthens our scientific understanding of how the digestive system deeply affects our cognitive function also strengthen the case for 5-HTP to be qualified as one of the Best Nootropics available, considering it’s robust ability to strengthen healthy digestive function. This Gut-Brain connection has been recently understood as being so strong—that it may even be at the root of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) [11].

3. GABA

gaba-pure-encapsulations

Pure Encapsulations GABA

Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid—GABA—is hailed by many as being the holy grail of supplements for promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. GABA is the ‘downer’ in the world of neurotransmitters, counter-balanced by Glutamate—and all the processes involved. Many other Nootropics on this list, especially the Racetam family, are thought to act by antagonizing GABA-related receptor sites within the brain, indicating the body’s ability to deeply utilize this Nootropic compound. In addition  to it’s neurological benefits, GABA is also taken by many as a way to naturally ‘boost’ Growth Hormone levels. GABA has been shown in clinical trials to increase serum Growth Hormone levels by up to 400%, reaching peak at around 1 hour after ingestion. [12] GABA unfortunately shows great difficulty in it’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, making effective dosages somewhat larger compared to other Nootropics on this list. For example, many GABA supplements list a single dosage as being 750mg or more.

Those seeking GABA as a natural HGH booster often take doses as high as 3-5 grams! While the blood-brain barrier issues causes a bit of difficulty in fully-utilizing GABA supplements, the ‘stacking’ of GABA with a Nitric Oxide-promoting supplement  seems to be useful, as Nitric Oxide has been shown to blood-brain permeability of GABA specifically [12]. Many of those taking GABA supplements note that one of the side effects of this supplement is a brief shortness of breath, followed by a ‘pins and needles’ sensation. The shortness of breath—reportedly lasting less than 20 seconds, as well as the ‘pins and needles’ sensation has been reported to occur roughly 60-80 minutes after ingestion of GABA on an empty stomach. While odd perhaps, this side effect isn’t regarded as being serious by most—or even unpleasant—with many of those taking GABA not reporting the issue at all.

4. Choline

jarrow formulas cdp choline citicholine

CDP Choline from Jarrow Formulas

Choline is a powerful Nootropic compound that is a precursor to acetylcholine—considered as being the ‘learning molecule—and also shows potential in reducing the amounts of fat within the liver. This compound has shown benefit when taken in doses as low as 100mg, but is frequently taken in doses as high as 2g. It should be noted however, that large doses are often associated with complaints of headache—but strangely enough has is also taken by many Nootropics enthusiasts as a means of limiting headaches when using other compounds, such as racetams. A popular version of this compound is CDP Choline, which is sold as Citocoline by Jarrow Formulas.

Choline supplementation has been shown to boost running endurance, overall cognitive function, reaction times, and memory function—as well as helping to address issues of fatigue. While Choline shows tremendous ability to boost neurological and cognitive function, regarded by many as one of the most-fundamentally important Nootropics, it also shows a large number of other benefits for other systems within the body. Among the many—reduction of fatty liver tissue, reducing genetic expression of cortisol production (stress hormone), and improving  overall cardiovascular health. Choline is considered very safe to take, with rare side effects—primarily reported as headaches at large doses.[15]

5. Alpha GPC

Pure encapsulations alpha gpc nootropic supplement

Alpha GPC from Pure Encapsulations

Alpha GPC, or alpha glycerophosphocholine, is a choline-containing compound that has been shown to demonstrate strong Nootropic abilities such as boosting overall cognitive function by providing a boost to choline levels in neurological pathways, as well as systemically too. In addition to it’s overall brain-boosting ability, Alpha-GPC has been investigated as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as well—showing some promising results. Alpha-GPC has also been shown to provide treatment for scopolamin-induce amnesia, suggestively providing an overall increase in the body’s available Acetylcholine supply. [14] Curiously enough, Alpha-GPC also demonstrates a marked ability to increase serum levels of Growth Hormone naturally, although only acute spikes have been observed.

Overall, Alpha GPC demonstrates the abilities to improve overall cognitive function, increase Acetylcholine levels, potentially stave off cognitive decline, as well as triggering large increases of Growth Hormone over short periods of time. Alpha GPC is very similar to choline, both in it’s chemical structure and it’s benefits. One of the advantages of taking Alpha GPC over simple Choline supplements is it’s demonstrated ability to be over 50% more readily absorbed by the body. This difference in bio-availability has been observed in serum levels testing, and in it’s potentiation of Acetylcholinesterase— a Rivastigmine inhibitor.  [22]

6. L-Theanine

douglas-laboratories-l-theanine-nootropic

L-Theanine from Douglas Laboratories

L-Theanine is non-essential amino acid which shares many chemical similarities to Glutamine, as well as both GABA and glutamate. L-Theanine is naturally found in green tea, and is regarded as having a mentally-stimulating effect which improves memory retention, focus, and overall perception. L-Theanine is also known to be a relaxation agent for many, and is commonly taken in conjunction with many other stiumlants such as caffeine as a means to ‘level out’ jittery effects. L-Theanine is known to help promote quality deep sleep, although can cause difficulties when taken directly before bedtime.

Overall L-Theanine is a very safe supplement with notable side effects remaining minimal and rare, and showing many remarkable benefits such as improved focus, memory, and attention.  Additionally, L-Theanine has been shown to show many other non-Nootropic benefits such as it’s positive impact on cardiovascular health, sleep cycles, and overall sense of well-being.[16] A great L-Theanine supplement is the L-Theanine from Douglas Laboratories. Douglas Laboratories is a brand that is comparable to Pure Encapsulations—both of which are considered to be ‘Doctor-Trusted’ supplement brands.

7. Phenylethylamine (PEA)

bulksupplements-pure-phenylethylamine-powder

Phenylethylamine (PEA) from BulkSupplements

Known as the ‘PEA Supplement’ by many, Phenylethylamine is a powerful Nootropic. PEA is also known as ‘the love drug,’ is found naturally in chocolate, and is known throughout the Nootropics’ world as being one of the most powerful ‘smart drugs’ there is. PEA ultimately functions as a dopamine booster, which can drastically offset feeling of anxiety or depression. PEA is an a close relative to Phenyalanine, and works as a neurotransmitter & modulator in controlling the release of dopamine and Norepinephrine. In addition to it’s powerful Nootropic properties, PEA has also demonstrated the ability to act as a bacterial inhibitor, capable of breaking up tough biofilms.

PEA is considered to be a psychoactive compound, that can be found in naturally elevated levels within the human body during periods of excitement or sexual arousal. Due it’s powerful ability to affect mood and sense of well-being, many take PEA as a means to help combat feelings of depression or anxiety.

Phenylethylamine has demonstrated strong ability to improve mental clarity, overall mental energy, increase attention spans, as well as improving learning capacity and aiding in the formation of new memories. Phenylethylamine has a bit of difficulty crossing the blood brain barrier and is often taken in relatively-large doses such as 1-2 grams—on an empty stomach. Side effects are rare, and often only associated with doses of more than 1-2 grams. These side effects are typically noted as slight dizziness, headaches, or  nausea. Of note, is that many people report an odd floral taste/smell approximately 1 hour after dosage with PEA. This compound, acting as a dopamine booster, does possess some danger of becoming habit forming—although much less so than other very common compounds such as alcohol or nicotine. [17]

8. Lion’s Mane (Yamabushitake)

host-defense-lions-mane

Lion’s Mane from Host Defense

Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom that has been used for centuries by Asian cultures as a powerful agent in the treatment of mental disorders and neurological conditions. Lion’s Mane is one of the few Nootropics on this list that has shown a marked ability to to actual help regenerate neural networks—specifically in the regeneration of mylelin along neural axons. [18] This natural ‘smart mushroom’ has been reportedly consumed by monks as a tea for centuries as a means to enhance concentration during periods of meditation. Lion’s mane has shown the ability to lower anxiety, stem cognitive decline, lessen feelings of depression, lower symptoms of menopause, and positively effect the quality of sleep.

Lion’s Mane is considered one of the best natural Nootropics available on the market today for it’s powerful neuro-protective properties. Lion’s Mane has also been shown to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor—meaning it can actually help the brain Grow! [19]

9. Bacopa

himylaya-bacopa-nootropic-supplement

Bacopa from Himalaya

Bacopa Monnieri is among the most well-renowned natural herbal Nootropics, having been used by many seeking an increase in mental clarity for centuries. Bacopa has been used by Indians as a means of increasing focus, as well as having been administered for the treatment of asthma, epilepsy, tumors, ulcers, and general inflammation over the years. While many of these treatments have been done to extensive scientific research, used mainly in the fields of Ayurvedic medicine, there is a large body of modern research to back up many of the long-held claims of Bacopa’s ability to provide cognitive enhancement. Bacopa has been shown to reduce anxiety, increase memory retention, increase overall mental focus, as well as lowering feelings of depression and forgetfulness.

Bacopa acts on dopamine and serotonin pathways in the brain, but has been shown to aid in memory performance by actually increasing the length of neural nerves (dendrites) within the brain. This allows more robust neural networks to form, as well as decreasing the overall time it takes for neural nerves to communicate with one another. Bacopa is a very safe natural Nootropic, and has only had mild side effects reported such as nausea, cramping, or bloating when taken on an empty stomach. Many people take Bacopa as an effective means to increase conversational attention, as a study aid (over long periods of time), as an overall promoter of well-being, and also as a powerful anti-oxidant.

10. Ginko Biloba

gaia-herbs-ginko-bilopa-natural-nootropic

Ginko Biloba from Gaia Herbs

Ginko Biloba may be one of the most popular herbal Nootropics in existence today, but has only demonstrated inconsistent cognitive enhancing capabilities in clinical trials. Ginko is taken to boost short term memory retention, problem-solving, and focus skills, as well as a means of safeguarding against cognitive decline. The main body of data that support the beneficial aspects of Ginko Biloba are typically confined to it’s ability to positively effect memory, counteract altitude sickness, and stave off cognitive decline.

While the effectiveness of Ginko Biloba varies greatly from person to person, the number of different studies surrounding non-cognitive effects of Ginko Biloba are immense. Pink Eye, Nitric Oxide production, Interlukin 6, and Oxygen uptake are only a handful of the many effects of Ginko that have been clinically investigated. Commonly, Ginko is found as a synergistic ingredient in many natural supplement products such as Melatonin blends, and anti-anxiety blends. The side effects of Ginko Biloba are minimal, and only reported in a very rare number of cases. Overall, Ginko isn’t as robust of a natural Nootropic as many others on this list, but earns the privilege of inclusion for it’s remarkable to boost memory.

11. Ashwaghanda (Rennet)

herb-pharm-ashwagandha-extract-tincture

Ashwagandha from Herb Pharm

Latin name Withania somnifera, this popular natural Nootropic is has been used for centuries by Ayurvedic healers, and very generally has been regarded as a overall anxiolytic compounds—falling within the Adaptogen classification—and capable of greatly reducing and preventing anxiety. Different from many other Adaptogens, Ashwaghanda has showed the remarkable ability to provide a boost in both physical and mental energies. For this reason, Ashwaghanda is often used by athletes and those in highly-demanding mental professions such as computer programming, engineering, or other research sciences.

As an adaptogen, Ashwaghanda is also used among many cancer patients—not yet as a proven method to treat cancer—but as a means to counteract the imunosuppressive action of cancer drugs. Overall, there is a strong body of evidence showing that Ashwaghanda can serve as a powerful natural Nootropic capable of increasing energy, alertness, motivation, and reducing anxiety—which is often one of the largest hurdles for people when trying to focus deeply. Ashwaghanda is a very safe supplement to take, and is often administered orally as a tincture (liquid extractives) between meals.

12. Rhodiola

bulksupplements-rhodiola-rosea-nootropic

Rhodiola from BulkSupplements

Rhodiola is known as Golden Root and is another Adaptogenic herb which has been shown to provide a remarkable increase in overall mental performances. Rhodiola has been shown to most effectively serve as a natural Nootropic in it’s ability to preserve cognitive function rather than increase it, although it has also been shown to remarkable boost overall physical energies.

As with many non-pharmaceutical compounds, clinical trials to investigative research are often sparse—being that the incentive for commercial funding is low without patent rights [2]. In addition to cognitive functions, Rhodiola has also demonstrated the ability to serve as a general longevity agent, showing up to 20% increases of lifespan in laboratory studies with animals.

13. N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)

nalt-n-acetyl-tyrosine-jarrow-nootropic-supplement

NALT from Jarrow

NALT is closely related to L-Tyrosine, an amino acid compound, and is a naturally occurring compound. Currently, there isn’t a lot of clinical data allowing for many claims (if any) to be made about this compound, but the amount of positive descriptions of personal experience warranted it’s inclusion. NALT has been investigated in the context of being an adult pre-natal nutrient with beneficial results, but as mentioned—has little clinical data for cognitive effects. Subjective accounts of this compound detail it as producing near-euphoric states with sensations of calm and focus, deepened concern for others, and overall boosting of emotional energy levels.

L-Tyrosine, a closely related compound, does have a strongly supported clinical background as being a powerful neuro-booster—capable of increasing levels of noradrenaline and dopamine, boosting mental energy, and helping support mental function during periods of sleep  withdrawal. It is somewhat functionally wise to consider the data for L-Tyrosine when considering the effectiveness of N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, since it is broken down into L-Tyrosine by the kidneys after consumption. The N-Acetyl form of L-Tyrosine is thought to be more effectively absorbed by the body, thus allowing the end availability of L-Tyrosine to potentially be higher than with just L-Tyrosine supplements. Overall, it’s probably wise to gauge the Nootropic potential of this compound with that of L-Tyrosine—with the reports of smoother experiences in mind. [20]

The Best Synthetic Nootropics

As mentioned above, Mondafinil has been one of the most-popular prescription drugs considered as a Nootropic over the years, being largely replaced by Adderall among the recent younger generations—particularly college students. If you’re interested in learning more about prescription Nootropics, or patented cognitive enhancers, I suggest you read this article by Vice—as those compounds will not be falling within the scope of this article.

While ‘synthetic’ is a term that is often associated with ‘not-healthy,’ such is not always the case with dietary supplements. As a general rule, one must pay closer attention to the potential dangers of synthetic compounds, but many have long-proven track records absolving them from much disdain. Take, for example, the wildly popular Nootropic Aniracetam, which has been studied extensively; proving it’s benefit among those seeking to boost their brain power. While the exact methods by which these compounds’ function is still largely unknown, there are many ancillary facets by which their overall classifications can be discerned—such as those which provide physical energy, those which provide mental energy, as well as those which provide emotional energy. It should be noted that these broader classifications are very subjectively rooted, and certainly may vary from person to person. One of the most valuable resources available online for surveying reported experiences with different compounds is the Erowid Vaults, where users have been posting different experiences for years.

1. Aniracetam

This powerful synthetic is among some of the most-proven Nootropics—the racetam family—which has been studied for decades. Racetams all share a similar ‘core’ compound—pyrrolidone—and range in their focal applications from stimulants to anti-convulsants. Aniracetam in particular has been shown to be popular and effective [4] which may be due to its characteristic of being fat-soluble. The main benefits of Aniracetam are considered to be mental enhancements, such as an increase in memory capacity, learning ability, as well as creating increases in focus. Aniracetam is among a class of compounds considered to be AMPA Modulators—named for their ability to increase the effectiveness of glutamatergic neuroreceptor network. In plain English; Aniracetam works to help regulate the parts of your brain that are connected to quick thoughts, and neuro-reaction times. [21] A recommended daily dosage of Aniracetam is 750mg per-day, taken with either food or a fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, or a nut-butter. Many users also recommend that this product be taken with a Choline supplement, such as Alpha-GPC or Choline Bitarate to help reduce the risk of associated headaches. Aniracetam has been described by many of those taking it as providing powerful, clean mental energy, as well as subtle emotional energy as well.

2. Oxiracetam

Another in the Racetam  family, this compound has been shown to be up to five times more potent that the original Racetam—Piracetam. Oxiracetam has been shown to provide powerful mental stimulation—fully qualifying it to be considered one of the cognitive enhancement supplements—so-called ‘smart-drugs’—on this list. While similar to Aniractam in many ways, Oxiracetam is water-soluable which makes it ideal for powdered form consumption. Oxiracetam stimulates both the AMPA and NDMA receptors and related pathways in the brain. Oxiracetam is considered to be one of the most ‘true’ cognitive enhancing compounds on this list, as it is regarded largely as having little effect on mood or emotion. Many compounds within the Racetam family have been shown to show marked benefit in the treatment of anxiety and depression, but Oxiracetam’s inability to affect mood excludes it from that list. This Nootropic compound is very difficult to find in stores, but can be bought in isolated form from Peak Nootropics.

3. Noopept

This compound is often associated directly with members of the Racetam family, but is not actually due to the difference in core chemical structuring. However, Noopept is thought to act on the same acetylcholinic pathways within the brain as the Racetams, resulting in it’s common inclusion in discussions. Noopept is another synthetic which has been patented in both Russia and the United States, and is currently being sold as a dietary supplement—not being FDA approved for the treatment of any medical condition. In addition to the mental stimulation of increased memory retention, increased learning, and overall increases in perceptual cognition, Noopept also provides a ‘subtle’ psychostimulatory effect which can offer benefit for those looking for less pharmaceutical means of addressing anxiety or depression. Data regarding this compound vary, some claiming up to a 1000 fold increase of effectiveness compared to similar compounds such as Piracetam, while others simply regard the two as demonstrating similar effects. Overall, Noopept is one of the most-popular Nootropics on the market today.

4. Phenibut

Phenibut is a Nootropic that was first synthesized by Russian scientists and was a standard inclusion in Soviet Cosmonaut’s medical kits [5] due to it’s ability to serve as an tranquelizer—reducing stress and anxiety—while at the same time not leaving the cosmonauts ‘drowsy,’ which is bad news if you’re sitting in the driver-seat of a space-bound tank of rocketfuel. Phenibut goes by brand names such as Noofen or Citrocard, and is approved for clinical use in many parts of the world. However, in the United States—as with so many other compounds—Phenibut isn’t FDA approved for the treatment of any disease or medical condition but can be bought perfectly legally as a dietary supplement. This synthetic is great when mixed with a stimulant, such as caffeine or theanine, and helps works as a GABA antagonist similar to alcohol or benzodiazepines. The effect is sensations of well-being, calmness, relaxation, increased libido, and improvements on focus.

Additionally, Phenibut is reported by many to help promote very deep sleep patterns as well as improving overall mood. It is debatable whether Phenibut is, of it’s own accord, worthy of the Nootropic classification. While it’s bio-chemical methods may not be in line with the Racetam family—the end result is often increased levels of focus and commitment to activity. Many report the anxiolytic action (anti-anxiety) of Phenibut as allowing for them to simply let go of the subtle anxieties and mental processes that often make it difficult for them to focus—increasing their ability to focus as opposed to increasing the capacity to focus. As with many Nootropics, the exact manner by which Phenibut functions in the body isn’t completely known, and much of the records of effects rely on subjective accounts. Phenibut is difficult to find in local stores or chains, but is readily available online from companies like Peak Nootropics.

5. Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine barely falls within the category of synthetics—regarded as semi-synthetic—but is a powerful Nootropic none-the-less. This compounds was first synthesized in Hungary from an alkaloid in the Periwinkle plant. This compound first saw commercial production starting in the late 1970’s and remains a clinically-approved method of treating cerebriovascular diseases and age-related memory impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease. Vinpocetine acts as a powerful neuroprotective agent, such as Lithium Orotate, and is currently not FDA-approved for the treatment of any medical condition within the United States but, again, is available for legal purchase as a dietary supplement.

Vinpocetine supplements regarded as promoting higher blood-flow throughout neural pathways, and has been clinically-regarded as being more of a neuro-protective compound than a neuro-enhancing compound. This compound is often taken in combination—stack—with other Nootropic compounds  for it’s ability to promote higher bloodflow to the brain, thus making any other ingested compounds more bio-available. This increase in blood flow does not increase overall blood pressure levels and is thought to burden the cardiovascular system with any additional stress.

Where to Buy Nootropics

Nootropics are, compared to many supplements like fish oil and magnesium, pretty obscure and hard to find in many cases. Several of herbal and more natural Nootropics can be found at your local healthfood store, online, or maybe even is some grocery stores like Whole Foods. As a general rule of thumb, these aren’t the best supplement brands available, and may contain a wide range of possible contaminants, unwanted ingredients, and even unlisted fillers in some cases. The internet is often the best source for these types of products, and quality brands are much more easy to find. Still, with some of the synthetic, more powerful Nootropics—it can still be quite hard to track them down. Fortunately, with the recent surge in popularity surrounding Nootropics there has been quite a few retailers pop up that specialize in Nootropics.

Natural Stacks

Natural Stacks is a company dedicated to quality, details, and no-nonsense product offerings that cater the the high demands of professionals working in mentally-intensive fields such as programming and engineering. Separating themselves from much of the competition, Natural Stacks Nootropics are free of GMOs, Gluten, and artificial ingredients such as flavorings and coloring. This dedication to purity allows the Natural Stacks products to ensure maximum potency with every dose. Another separating factor in the Natural Stacks resume is their adherance to Current FDA best manufacturing processes in their use of cGMP facilities in the making of all their products. Natural Stacks supplies a great many Nootropics products, as well as many other herbal and isolated supplement products as well.

Peak Nootropics

Peak Nootropics is a Colorado based company that specializes in many very specific types of Nootropic products. The Peak Nootropics Store offers all of the more synthetic Nootropics found on this list, as well as several others such as Citicoline, Andrafinil, and Phenylpiracetam. Peak Nootropics guarantees that their suppliers adhere to strict GMP protocols, and utilize third-party laboratories in the United States to test for contaminants, heavy metals, and verify purity of product. Peak Nootropics specializes in single-compounds, and is a site to buy Nootropics from if you aren’t looking for pre-made ‘stacks.’

Powder City

Powder City has a wide variety of supplements, in addition to their very robust offering of Nootropics. As their name implies—many of their products are offered both in capsule and powder form. Many Nootropics enthusiasts prefer to purchase their products in the raw powder form which enables them to encapsulate their own blends catered to their preference. Powder City offers almost any Nootropic compound with options for capsules, powders, or tubs (large amounts of powder) for many items. Powder City also verifies the purity of their products through such methods as liquid-gas chromotography, heavy metals testing, as well as a full microbial panel. Noteworthy, is their practice of placing new shipments of raw materials in ‘quarantine’ until they’ve verified the purity. Powder City is great for Nootropics such as Noopept, Aniracetam, Phenibut, and even the much-acclaimed Vinpocetine. Powder City also has a very useful ‘Shop by Goal’ section of their site which breaks supplements down into categories such as Focus & Memory, Mood Support, Energy Support, Muscle Growth, and other such categories.

BulkSupplements

Despite their very generic name, BulkSupplements represents a very useful force in the supplements industry. Their products, manufactured in an FDA-certified cGMP facility, are offered at a price range usually reserved only for wholesale purchases. However, their website clearly specializes in the offering of products in quantities suitable for most consumer buyers. While BulkSupplements carries many products other than Nootropics, they do have a Mental Wellness section of their website dedicated solely to many semi-synthetic and natural Nootropic supplements. BulkSupplements.com offers many hard-to-find Nootropic supplements including Choline, Phenylethylamine (PEA), and Sulbutiamine. All US-based orders over $49 ship for free!

PureFormulas

Of the many supplement retailers online today, Pureformulas.com stands out as the single most-quality oriented company. They are among the top 500 internet retailers (no small feat) and offer free shipping on every order, and are semi-obsessed with helping buyers learn about which supplement brands are trusted by actual doctors. Pureformulas offers nearly every Nootropic on the Natrual Nootropics section—but only a few of the semi-synthetics such as the Aniracetam, Noopept,  or Phenibut. Overall this is a great website to buy any supplements from, but especially Nootropics! All orders through Pureformulas qualify for free shipping, and American Express customers qualify for free 2 Day Shipping. Overall, this retailer is the best place to shop for high quality supplements.

Amazon

Amazon needs no introduction, I’m sure you’ve likely purchased something from them in the past. As you may have imagined, they also carry many Nootropics from all sorts of companies around the world. The only downside in shopping from Amazon is that you usually need to know what you are looking for before you go there to purchase something. The Amazon Nootropics page, for example, contains many products that are blends of the various Nootropics mentioned here, and are from smaller companies that may not offer a very pure or potent product. If you have found a Nootropic on this page—particularly the natural Nootropics—you are likely to find the best deal by purchasing through Amazon.

The Best Nootropics

Choosing the best Nootropic from such a comprehensive list can be quite exhaustive. Most Nootropics enthusiasts take many different Nootropic compounds as a part of their ‘stack,’ which enables synergistic actions to take place supporting a wide-array of beneficial cognitive enhancements. By combining several different Nootropics together, you are able to control the balance of the overall experience.

For example, more potent synthetic Nootropics such as Aniracetam, are often described as causing a bit of mental ‘tension,’ and leaving users with a slight feeling of jitteriness. This isn’t experienced by all, but there is enough concern that it has lead many to experiment with the combination of other Nootropics to help even things out. An example combination would be taking L-Theanine in the morning along with Coffee, followed by GABA. Later in the morning, one might take a more powerful synthetic that is considered more on the stimulant side of Nootropics, such as Aniracetam. Afterwards, supportive supplements such as Arginine, Magnesium, and maybe some CoQ10 would be ideal for their anti-oxidant effects. These supplements, when taken throughout the day, would be considered someone’s daily stack—meaning they are all taken throughout the day—with the intent of contributing to a larger physiological balance. To be part of a ‘stack’ these supplements do not have to be taken together at the same exact time.

The addition of one [Nootropic] compound—or the reduction of another—might help you achieve the balance you’ve been searching for

Many people new to the concept of Nootropics find the best introduction to cognitive enhancement within the natural Nootropics—as these offer a more subtle benefit compared to the synthetics. Ultimately, the best Nootropics combination for each person will be found by thorough trial-and error investigative practices—and will more than likely evolve over time. What works well now, may not work well next year. It’s important to gain as deep of an understanding of these compounds and how they interact within your body. By knowing how each compound effects you as an individual, you will be able to better understand when the addition of one compound—or the reduction of another—might help you achieve the balance you’ve been searching for.

As with all dietary supplements, you should consult a licensed physician or healthcare practitioner before making any changes to your current dietary routines. The advice in this article is not meant to serve as qualified medical advice, and should not be taken as such. Some of these compounds have the potential to have unwanted interactions with some medications, usually those for anxiety and depression. When proper precautions have been taken, and a well-informed understanding of Nootropics has been gained, there are truly some magnificent benefits offered by this family of chemicals that can help benefit one mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Nootropics' Cognitive Enhancement
Powerful Brain Boosting Supplements
Nootropics are powerful cognitive enhancing compounds that offer a wide-ranging ability to address and supplement many mental functions within the body. From boosting memory and learning ability, to helping treat Alzheimer's through strong neuroprotective action—Nootropics serve as a powerful tool in anyone's medicine cabinet.
PROS
Boost Memory
Inreases Learning Abilities
Boost Overall Mood
Repair Existing Neural Damages
Ensure Neural Longevity
Helps Reduce Anxiety & Stress Hormones
Many Herbal & Natural Nootropics on Market
Almost All Available Online
Cons
Hard to Find Right Nootropic for You
Some Synthetics Can Cause Jitters, Headaches
Hard to Find in Local Stores
Rating
Nootropic Supplements

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22886028
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11812254
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654794/
  4. https://examine.com/supplements/aniracetam/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenibut
  6. https://examine.com/supplements/huperzine-a/
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12445575
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetylcholinesterase_inhibitor
  9. http://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/supplements-remedies/huperzine-a-natural-memory-remedy/
  10. https://clinicaltrials.gov/search/intervention=HUPERZINE+A
  11. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/05/gut-bacteria-link-and-multiple-sclerosis/
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18091016
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11849830
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1409797
  15. https://examine.com/supplements/Choline/
  16. https://examine.com/supplements/Theanine/
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904499/
  18. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-stamets/mushroom-memory_b_1725583.html
  19. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lion-s-mane-mushroom-unparalleled-benefits-your-brain-and-nervous-system
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7794222
  21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2441819/
  22. https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/#summary1-2
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