Nootropics 101: Everything You Need to Know


For over five decades, Nootropics, also referred to as smart drugs and cognitive enhancers, have been in existence, albeit largely unknown. Despite originally being created to treat cognitive deficiencies, their commercial use has skyrocketed in recent years.

Today, the use of Nootropics has become increasingly popular among healthy individuals on college campuses, in tech and business, in sports, and even in households. The growing interest in Nootropics is evident from the numbers, as they are a part of the $1 trillion drug industry, with a 44.5% share in the US alone. The projected global spending on these drugs is estimated to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, with a projected growth rate of 10% per year.

Before delving into what Nootropics are, it’s worth asking: what has caused this growing buzz around cognitive enhancement and the widespread use of Nootropics? And to what extent is this trend related to the fast-paced lifestyle of modern society?

Table of Contents

What influenced the modern way of living?


Recent scientific research says that in the internet age the average human attention span is even shorter than the attention span of a goldfish!

The modern way of living has been influenced by the technological advancements that resulted from the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Large factories and enterprises led to people leaving rural areas and settling in urban areas, which became polluted and cramped over time.

The improved standard of living brought about unhealthy diets and increased stress from modern workplaces. This, along with limited physical activity, improper rest, and disregard for natural laws, resulted in a reduced attention span.

Recent research has shown that the average human attention span has dropped as a direct result of technology and innovations. This has increased demands for labor productivity, leading people to seek ways to increase their brain strength and work efficiency, leading to the use of cognitive enhancers such as nootropics.

Nootropics can help counteract attention deficit, but they also offer other benefits to mental performance.

What are nootropics?

What are nootropic wallpapers
What are nootropics?

Nootropics are a diverse group of substances that includes supplements, herbs, extracts, medicines, and nutraceuticals. They are commonly referred to as smart drugs, brain boosters, memory boosters, neuroenhancers, drive drugs, study drugs, etc. Nootropics come in two forms: pharmaceutical-like cognitive enhancers and natural, healthier options for the brain. Both forms can improve different aspects of cognitive function, but their efficiency may vary.

What do Nootropics do?

Nootropics target the brain in three main ways:

  • Increase neurotransmitter levels
  • Increase blood flow to the brain
  • Protect neurons from damage

By working in these ways, nootropics can improve memory, attention, executive functions, perception, language, and psychomotor functions, which all refer to a brain’s ability to process information, apply knowledge, and change preferences.

What are Nootropics used for?

Nootropics have been discussed in the literature for both treatment and enhancement purposes, although the line between the two is not clear.

  • In treatment, nootropics are used for cognitive or motor function problems caused by disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ADHD.
  • For enhancement, nootropics are used to improve cognitive function in people who have basic impairments but are otherwise healthy, thereby improving their quality of life and ability to perform major life activities.

Nootropics in the Community

Social networks and forums are full of questions from people of all walks of life looking for solutions to common problems such as memory loss, mental fatigue, anxiety, sleep deprivation, stress, addiction, etc. Nootropics are claimed to help address these conditions in a variety of ways, including:

  • Improving memory and learning ability
  • Enhancing verbal fluency
  • Improving attention
  • Reducing mental fatigue, stress, and depressive mood
  • Increasing motivation and energy
  • Improving social skills and creativity

However, the use of drugs to improve cognitive performance is influenced by personal characteristics, drug qualities, and the social context.

Stimulants and Nootropics for ADHD

Nootropics have been used in academic circles to increase productivity, but their long-term effects on healthy individuals have not been conclusively researched.

  • Surveys suggest that 0.7-4.5% of German students have used cognitive enhancers in their lifetime.
  • Stimulants such as Dimethylamylamine and Methylphenidate are commonly used on college campuses and by younger individuals.
  • Based on self-reported use, 5-35% of college students use ADHD stimulants for performance enhancement rather than for recreational purposes.

What nootropic mean?

what is nootropics?
Dr Corneliu Giurgea

The term “nootropic” is derived from two Greek words: “nous,” which means mind, and “tropein,” which means to bend or turn. The first nootropic compound, Piracetam, was synthesized by Belgian pharmacologists C. Giurgea and V. Scondia in 1963. In 1972, Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea coined the term “nootropic” to describe substances that improve cognitive functioning.

According to Dr. Giurgea, nootropics are safe, well-tolerated substances that are suitable for healthy individuals to take.

He determined that nootropics can be taken for long-term use.

  • he also believed that a nootropic should enhance memory and learning
  • improve brain function under disruptive conditions
  • protect the brain against physical or chemical injuries
  • improve cortical/subcortical neuronal control mechanisms
  • possess few or no side effects and have extremely low to no toxicity.

The modern definition of a nootropic has changed over time. It was once only referred to as a specific type of drug that improved cognitive performance, but today it is used to describe any substance that enhances cognition. According to Merriam-Webster, a nootropic is defined as “a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning.” However, this definition does not mention side effects or neurotoxicity. By Dr. Giurgea’s original definition, some of these substances might not be considered nootropics.

Nowadays, a substance is considered to be a nootropic only if it improves cognition and neuroprotection and does not pose a threat of neurotoxicity when used appropriately. So, while the modern definition of nootropics has broadened, the core principles of Dr. Giurgea’s definition still remain relevant in determining the safety and efficacy of these substances.

Are nootropics safe?

The discovery of the original family of nootropics, racetams, by Dr. Giurgea has paved the way for a documented system of nootropic effects. This system is based on a combination of scientific research, human studies, and anecdotal evidence from individuals who have been using nootropics for years.

Despite the low risk of addiction associated with nootropics, it is important to avoid self-medicating with either herbal supplements or research chemicals. Interfering with one’s biochemistry can lead to harmful consequences.

Therefore, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting to use nootropics. The professional can perform tests to ensure that the usage of nootropics is safe and appropriate for the individual. Participating in a culture of responsible usage is essential for maximizing the benefits of nootropics.

What are natural nootropics?

A Ginkgo trees lane
Exercise or meditate with nootropics

Humans have been using herbs and various substances for medicinal purposes, altering the mind, and connecting to spirituality since ancient times. The origins of natural nootropics can be traced back prior to recorded human civilization.

The earliest evidence of nootropic use can be found in traditional Chinese herbalism, Ancient Egypt, and Greece. Our ancestors collected plants from their surroundings and utilized them in their traditional mind-altering practices.

One example from this era is the use of coca leaves, which were chewed and brewed by South Americans for energy and alertness. Kava drinks, used for mood and socialization, may be a factor in the laid-back lifestyle of Pacific islanders. Peyote, used for amplifying emotions during religious and communal ceremonies, has been utilized by native Americans for at least 5,500 years.

Ayurveda, the ancient science of life, is a comprehensive system of health care that includes its own nootropics, known as Medhya Rasayana, such as Bacopa Monnieri, Ashwagandha, Celastrus paniculatus (an intellectual herb), and more.

Other well-known herbs and substances from ancient times include green tea, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, Ginseng, Lion’s Mane, and Cat’s Claw. These botanicals, along with many others, may now be considered nootropic herbs for advanced brain function, and the modern extraction methods have further enhanced their potential and efficiency.

What are nootropics drugs?

Nootropics, also known as “smart drugs,” are substances that enhance cognitive performance. They are used to address a variety of health issues related to lack of focus or energy. While some people may use smart drugs illegally or with a prescription, they are not a healthy solution as they often have harmful effects on the heart and liver.

There are both regulated and unregulated nootropics, with some of the latter being regarded as pharmaceuticals and banned by athletic organizations. Nootropics are often sold online or in stores without a prescription in some countries, while they are prescription drugs in others.

Each culture has its own unique history of nootropic use, including both popular and prohibited substances. However, it’s important to be cautious when using any substance that affects brain chemistry, as it can potentially be harmful. It’s always recommended to consult a healthcare professional before using any nootropic.

What are the side effects of nootropics?

It is important to note that many substances labeled as nootropics have the potential to cause significant negative side effects. For example, Adderall and Modafinil, commonly used smart drugs among students and high-performing individuals, have differing levels of harm associated with their usage. While Adderall is considered dangerous, Modafinil is considered to be somewhat safer.

Despite being popular as cognitive enhancers among the nootropics community, these stimulants carry a multitude of potential side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, nausea, twitching, and even the possibility of developing amphetamine psychosis with Adderall. Moreover, these drugs can lead to a dependence and tolerance with prolonged use, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.

However, there are many safe natural nootropics that can provide similar benefits without the risk of harmful side effects. Thus, it is advisable to avoid relying on these potentially dangerous drugs and opt for safer alternatives instead.

Are nootropics good for you?

The man jumping in the exercise
Exercise or meditate with nootropics

Nootropics may be an option for those experiencing difficulty with memory, stress management, and poor sleep. To determine the right supplement for you, it’s important to educate yourself on the various options and consult a neurologist for any necessary information. The responsible use of nootropics has already shown positive results in many people’s lives.

A recent survey found that the healthy habits of individuals who use dietary supplements and nootropics are higher compared to those who do not. This statistic is based on a survey conducted on US adults in August 2017. However, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the most effective results, including exercising, meditating, sleeping well, and having a healthy diet. Additionally, the use of nootropics should be approached with caution as it is ultimately your own responsibility to ensure your health and safety.

To know which supplement is right for you, you need to inform yourself and know your needs. Read the facts and opinions about smart drugs from various sources.

Statista research
Source: Statista

Nootropics by effects

Nootropics can be categorized based on their effects on memory, focus, stress and mood, sleep, energy, neuroprotection. These substances or supplements are used to enhance cognitive function and promote overall brain health.

Nootropics have been shown to have a positive effect on memory. These compounds work by improving the communication between brain cells and increasing the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential for brain function.

Memory-enhancing nootropics, in particular, help to improve memory recall and retention. They do this by increasing blood flow to the brain, promoting neuroplasticity, and enhancing the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for memory formation.

Common memory-enhancing nootropics include piracetam, aniracetam, and oxiracetam. These compounds have been shown to improve memory recall and retention in both young and aging individuals. They may also help to reduce the symptoms of age-related cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness and confusion.

These nootropic compounds work by improving the communication between brain cells and increasing the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential for brain function.

Focus-enhancing nootropics, in particular, help to improve attention and concentration. They do this by increasing blood flow to the brain, promoting neuroplasticity, and enhancing the production of neurotransmitters that are involved in the process of attention and concentration.

Attention-enhancing nootropics also help to improve attention and mental clarity. They may do this by increasing the production of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, that are involved in the regulation of attention and mental alertness.

Common focus- and attention-enhancing nootropics include caffeine, modafinil, and phenylpiracetam. These compounds have been shown to improve attention, mental clarity, and productivity in both young and aging individuals. They may also help to reduce the symptoms of age-related cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness and confusion.

Some of nootropic compounds are being studied for their potential to support mood and reduce stress.

One of the most popular nootropics for mood and stress support is Ashwagandha, an herbal extract with a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine. It is believed to have adaptogenic properties, meaning that it can help the body to cope with stress. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as improve overall well-being and quality of life.

Another popular nootropic for mood support is Rhodiola Rosea, an herb that is commonly used to enhance mental and physical endurance. It is believed to help reduce feelings of stress and fatigue, as well as improve cognitive performance. Some studies have shown that Rhodiola may help to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve overall mood.

There are also several amino acids that are considered to be potential nootropics for mood support, including L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea that is believed to help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Additionally, 5-HTP, a naturally occurring amino acid, is thought to help boost serotonin levels in the brain, which can help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Nootropics are sometimes used to enhance energy levels and support mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells and play a crucial role in generating energy in the body. Supporting mitochondrial health is important for maintaining overall energy levels, as well as preventing age-related decline and other forms of cellular damage.

One popular nootropic for energy and mitochondrial health is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a nutrient that is found in high concentrations in the mitochondria. CoQ10 is important for the production of energy in cells and is believed to have antioxidant properties, which can help to protect against oxidative stress and other forms of cellular damage. Some studies have shown that CoQ10 supplementation may improve energy levels, physical endurance, and reduce symptoms of fatigue.

Another popular nootropic for energy and mitochondrial health is PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline quinone), a micronutrient that is believed to have energy-boosting properties. PQQ is thought to support mitochondrial health by promoting the growth of new mitochondria, which can help to increase energy levels and improve physical endurance. Some studies have also shown that PQQ may have neuroprotective effects and improve cognitive function.

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is another nootropic that may support energy and mitochondrial health. NR is a form of Vitamin B3 that is believed to support the production of energy in cells and improve mitochondrial function. Some studies have shown that NR supplementation may improve energy levels, physical endurance, and reduce symptoms of fatigue.

Nootropics are sometimes used to enhance various aspects of sleep, including duration, quality, and restfulness. While they may not necessarily be traditional sleep aids, they may help to improve sleep by reducing stress, anxiety, and other factors that can interfere with sleep.

One popular nootropic for sleep is Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the body that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements are often used as a sleep aid, especially for individuals who have trouble falling or staying asleep. They are available over-the-counter and can help regulate the body’s internal clock to promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Another nootropic that may help with sleep is L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea that is known for its calming effects. It may help to reduce stress, anxiety, and promote relaxation, which can be beneficial for sleep. Additionally, L-Theanine may also help to increase alpha brain waves, which are associated with a relaxed, but alert state, making it easier to fall asleep.

Valerian root, a natural extract, is also sometimes used as a nootropic for sleep. It is believed to have sedative and calming properties that can help to promote a restful night’s sleep. Some studies have shown that Valerian root may help to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as improve the overall quality of sleep.

Nootropics are sometimes used for their potential to promote brain health and neuroprotection. Neuroprotection refers to the preservation and protection of the structure and function of the brain, which can help to prevent age-related cognitive decline, brain injuries, and other forms of brain damage.

One popular nootropic for neuroprotection is Bacopa Monnieri, an herbal extract that has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Bacopa is believed to enhance cognitive function and protect against age-related cognitive decline by promoting the growth of new brain cells and improving the transmission of nerve impulses.

Another popular nootropic for brain health is Phosphatidylserine (PS), a phospholipid that is found in high concentrations in the brain. PS is important for maintaining healthy brain function and is believed to have neuroprotective effects. Some studies have shown that PS supplementation may improve memory and cognitive function, and help to protect against age-related cognitive decline.

Blueberries are also sometimes used as a nootropic for brain health. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, which help to protect against oxidative stress and free radical damage, and are believed to have neuroprotective effects. Some studies have shown that blueberry consumption may help to improve memory and cognitive function, and protect against age-related cognitive decline.


Thanks to advances in technology, we now have a range of options for nootropics, including concentrated extracts, bio-compound synthesis, and standardized forms, as well as formulated nootropic stacks designed for specific systems. However, it’s important to remember that every individual has a unique biochemistry and nootropics may not work the same way for everyone.

They are not quick fixes, but rather require effort to achieve optimal results. When used wisely, nootropics can enhance the mental condition, improve mood, increase focus and attention, boost energy levels, and support brain health.

Although nootropics are a new approach, it’s important to keep in mind that natural rules still apply. To maintain a healthy, productive mind, it’s necessary to have an attention span longer than that of a goldfish. Use nootropics responsibly to achieve that goal.

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Types of nootropics

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