Nootropics for brain injury and repair

How to Create the Best Nootropic Stack

David Tomen
David Tomen
16 minute read

most effective nootropic stack

If you’ve spent any time here on Nootropics Expert®, you have a good idea how certain nootropics can benefit your brain.

But if you’re just getting started with nootropics, the choices can seem overwhelming. Will one nootropic work? Will it take more that one supplement to solve my problem? If more than one, how do I combine them for best results?

Here are some tips that should help …

Nootropics for ADHD & ADDIf you are a university student, an entrepreneur, a business executive, a stay-at-home mom or dad, or a senior – what are you trying to improve?

It could be just one thing you want to work on. Like improving your memory. Maybe you have a difficult time focusing like I did. Or you find learning new material, skill or language an insurmountable problem.

You could have an issue with anxiety, or bouts of depression. Procrastination could leave you feeling like a failure because of a lack of motivation.

Put some thought into this now because you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money by figuring out what you are trying to fix first.

If it’s just one thing you want to fix or support, you’ll have an easier time putting together the right nootropic stack. And often it will only take 3 or 4 nootropic supplements to get you where you need to be.

Later in this post you’ll get specific suggestions on nootropics for:

For many of us, it’s more than just one problem we’re dealing with.

In my case, the combination of Adult ADD and hypothyroidism caused problems with anxiety, cognition, focus, memory, and depression. That’s a lot to deal with and a lot to fix.[ii]

The good news is it’s entirely possible with the right combination of nootropics to address each of these issues. My life is a good example of what’s possible with the right nootropic stack.

I was able to restart my career. My marriage is better than I ever dreamed possible. And my future looks amazing.

But to be perfectly honest with you, one nootropic that works for me, may not work as well for you. Each of us have unique brain “wiring”.

Our chemical makeup is different. And is affected by foods we eat, where we live, the air we breathe, the genes we inherited from our parents, and more.

So experimentation is key. Pick your top choice of something you’d like to improve. Once you find something that works reasonably well, go to the next thing on your list.

With time, effort, and diligent experimenting you’ll find the perfect nootropic stack for you.

Your First Nootropic Stack

My recommendation is to create your own nootropic stack when starting out.

Nootropics to improve memoryTailor your stack to each issue your trying to solve. It’ll likely be more expensive because you need to get each individual nootropic or supplement.

The advantages at first outweigh the cost in my opinion. When you find something that works, you then need to figure out how much of that nootropic works best with your brain and body.

If you try something and it doesn’t work as well as expected, or what you were promised in the marketing hype, or what you read on the forums – pitch it.

And try something else.

Flexibility and experimentation is key when you’re getting started with nootropics. A pre-formulated stack doesn’t allow that flexibility.

Keep that pre-formulated option in reserve until you nail down what works best for you. Then look for a nootropic stack that fills all your requirements.

Let’s briefly look at some of your options for major issues to get you started. This is by no means an exhaustive list but a way to point you in the right direction.

Use the search function on Nootropics Expert to find every nootropic that works for memory, or depression, or anxiety, or ADHD, or traumatic brain injury, or whatever it is you need to fix or improve.

How to create the best nootropic stack

Nootropics for Cognition, Thinking and Decision-Making

Cognition is the mental action or process you go through when learning something new and understanding it through thought, experience and your physical senses.[iii]

Cognition includes thinking, knowing, short-, working-, and long-term memory, decision-making and problem solving.

That’s a tall order to cover and will likely take more than one nootropic. You can start with:

Nootropics for Memory

We use several different types of memory every day. Short-term memory is also known as primary or active memory. And is limited to what you remember for 20 to 30 seconds.

Long-term memory is the type of memory associated with an event or information you acquired long ago. This is a complicated form of memory influenced by your perception of an event or thing, conditioning or any other input. And is encoded using long-term potentiation and strengthening neurons and synapses.

Working memory is distinct from short-, and long-term memory. These are memories that are not only remembered, but simultaneously processed with information that is important to you. You remember the purpose of the information, and why you decided to remember it.[iv]

Each type of memory can be assisted by different nootropics. Because neurotransmitters, cerebral blood flow, long-term potentiation, hormones and more all come into play for memory.

  • Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline. Both nootropics help boost acetylcholine (ACh) in your brain. ACh is associated with memory and learning.
  • DHA (Omega 3). DHA makes up a large portion of your brain’s gray matter. This fatty acid helps form cell membranes, neurons and synapses which are needed to form and encode memories.
  • Huperzine-A. Hup-A helps promote memory by increasing acetylcholine levels.
  • L-Theanine. Found naturally in green tea and available as a nootropic supplement, L-Theanine helps boost dopamine and serotonin. Improving anxiety, focus, learning, and mood.
  • Noopept. Noopept stimulates dopamine, nicotinic and serotonin receptors in your brain. Boosting cognition, memory, retention, logical thinking, improving your reflexes and mood.
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS). PS is vital for brain health. Highly concentrated in cell membranes, PS helps in the release, storage and activity of neurotransmitters and receptors. Boosting cognition, focus, memory and recall.
  • Piracetam. The original nootropic, Piracetam influences AMPA and NMDA receptors in your brain. Affecting learning and memory.

For more options and to learn more about how memory works, see my post on:

Best Nootropics for Learning and Memory


Nootropics for Anxiety and Depression

Do you remember what it used to be like to be in a ‘good mood’ all of the time? Anxiety and depression are something most of us have had to deal with at one time of another.

For me, being Adult ADD and hypothyroid was like a double whammy. And it took a while to dig out of the hole I was in.

Anxiety[v] and depression[vi] are often ‘grouped’ together both in nootropic circles as well as in the psychiatric/medical world. But they are two distinctly different conditions. Even though the cause of anxiety and depression may overlap.

All kinds of conditions can contribute to anxiety and depression. Neurotransmitter levels that are out of balance can cause severe depression. Illness and stress can cause anxiety and depression.

Poor cerebral blood flow, a lack of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), mental fatigue from lack of cellular energy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and more can all cause anxiety and depression.’

Here are a few nootropics that can help. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

And if your depression or anxiety is severe, please, please seek professional help while you’re exploring your nootropic options.

  • Aniracetam. This member of the racetam-family of nootropics, Aniracetam is very well known for helping anxiety and depression. And one of my favorites. Aniracetam activates D2 and D3 dopamine receptors in your brain. Improving anxiety, cognition, learning, memory and mood.
  • Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline. Both nootropics help boost acetylcholine (ACh) in your brain. ACh is associated with memory and learning. And the choline is needed when stacked with any racetam.
  • Ashwagandha. Used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha helps relieve stress, fatigue, restores energy and concentration, and normalizes blood sugar.
  • Bacopa Monnieri. Bacopa is believed by some to be the best nootropic available today. This adaptogen helps prevent chemical and physical stress instead of suppressing them like many modern antidepressants.
  • Lemon Balm. This plant from the mint family, Lemon Balm inhibits the GABA transaminase enzyme. Which in turn helps maintain adequate levels of GABA in your brain. Resulting in a calming effect and relieving anxiety and depression.
  • Rhodiola Rosea. Rhodiola increases AMPK which helps decrease depression and stress-related mood swings, reduces fatigue, stimulates energy and alertness and boots cognition.
  • Sulbutiamine. Synthesized in the lab from Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Sulbutiamine is another favorite of mine because it boosts memory, motivation and is a heck of an antidepressant.
  • Vitamin B6. B6 is a required coenzyme for the synthesis of most major neurotransmitters in your brain. And helps enhance alertness, cognition, energy, memory and mood.
  • Vitamin B12. B12 is essential for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and neurotransmitters in your brain. B12 enhances alertness, cognition, memory, decision-making and mood.

To learn more about anxiety and depression, and even more options on nootropics that can helps alleviate the symptoms of each, see my posts on:

Best Nootropics for Anxiety

Best Nootropics for Depression


Nootropics for Energy and Motivation

If you’ve ever felt mentally drained after writing an exam, an intense study session, a misunderstanding with your partner, or working out a business problem ▬ nootropics can help.

Energy and motivation kinda’ go hand-in-hand in my book.

When I’m energized, it usually translates into motivation to get things done. When energy stores are depleted in my brain and body, I’m burned out and nothing much is going to happen.

Mental fatigue has a variety of causes. Depleted neurotransmitters can cause fatigue as well as a host of other issues. A lack of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is the energy source for brain cells is another cause of mental fatigue. And leads to neurodegenerative disease.

Hormones that are out of balance can cause fatigue. And poor cerebral blood flow which provides oxygen and nutrients to brain cells can result in fatigue.

The amount of available mental energy has a direct influence on cognitive and mental performance. Let’s look at the nootropics that can fix mental fatigue and boost motivation.

  • Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR). ALCAR boosts acetylcholine (ACh) and transports fatty acids through cell membranes into mitochondria for use as brain cell fuel. One of my favorite nootropics, ALCAR increases memory, mental alertness, fluid thought and is a powerful antioxidant.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid. Lipoic acid boosts levels of acetylcholine (ACh) and glucose uptake. And regenerates depleted antioxidants already present in your brain including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, glutathione and CoQ10. Boosting cellular energy and memory.
  • Coluracetam. One of the newer racetams, Coluracetam works as a choline uptake enhancer. And improves AMPA potentiation. The net result is a boost in energy levels. Unlike prescription stimulants, Coluracetam offers a more relaxed, calm and free-minded kind of thought-processing.
  • CoQ10 & Ubiquinol. CoQ10 is essential for producing Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) that fuels the mitochondria in brain cells. Improving athletic performance, works as an antioxidant, and battles fatigue and depression.
  • Creatine. Creatine acts as fuel for your brain cells. And provides ‘energy on demand’ when you need it.
  • NADH. NADH is a coenzyme used in the formation of ATP, the energy source for mitochondria in your brain cells. NADH boosts alertness, mental performance, energy and memory.
  • Noopept. This peptide-derived nootropic related to the racetam family, Noopept increases BDNF, and stimulates dopamine, nicotinic and serotonin receptors. Boosting energy, cognition, memory, logical thinking, and improves reflexes and mood.
  • Phenylpiracetam. A Russian derivative of Piracetam, Phenylpiracetam improves concentration, memory, motivation, mental energy and offers a stimulant effect.
  • Rhodiola Rosea. Rhodiola increases AMPK which triggers the use of stored energy from fats in your brain cells. Boosting alertness, energy and cognition while decreasing depression and stress-related mood swings.
  • Pramiracetam. A derivative of and more potent than Piracetam, Pramiracetam stimulates choline uptake in your brain. Boosting energy levels, providing focused stimulation for better mental drive and motivation.

To learn more about, and see even more options for energy and motivation, see my post on:

Hacking Motivation with Nootropics

Nootropics for Brain Repair and Maintenance

According to the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) an estimated 1.7 million in the US suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury every year.[vii]Nootropics for brain injury and repair

And that’s just for the USA. This is clearly a world-wide problem for the human race.

Brain injury covers a lot of territory and includes concussion, Post Stroke Syndrome, sports and athletic injuries, damage from pharmaceuticals, environmental toxins, bad food and water, polluted air and more.

The mechanics of injury can affect cerebral blood flow, torn tissue, damage to neurons, altered brain waves and neurotransmitters, free radical and oxidative damage and more.

Now the “official” line from the FDA and other governmental authorities in the USA and many countries world-wide, nootropic supplements and other ‘natural’ substances cannot repair brain injury.

While this is certainly not medical advice, and you should absolutely seek professional medical help for brain injury, neurohackers have found relief on their own experimenting with nootropics. Here’s a small sample of what we’ve found useful:

  • CDP-Choline. CDP-Choline provides your brain with choline which aids in the synthesis of acetylcholine (ACh). And cytidine in CDP-Choline converts to uridine which is important for neural membrane synthesis.
  • DHA (Omega 3). DHA makes up a large portion of your brain’s gray matter. This fatty acid helps form cell membranes, neurons and synapses which are needed to form and encode memories.
  • Phosphatidylcholine (PC). PC is a phospholipid which helps build and repair brain cell membranes.
  • PQQ. The enzyme cofactor PQQ facilitates the growth of new mitochondria in your brain cells. Boosting the production of nerve growth factors in cells that support creation of new neurons. And reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Pramiracetam. This derivative of Piracetam, Pramiracetam increases acetylcholine receptors in your brain. By stimulating choline uptake in your brain, this nootropic boosts energy levels and improves cognition and motor coordination.
  • Pterostilbene. Found in cranberries, blueberries and grapes, Pterostilbene is a potent antioxidant, stimulates Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), and promotes neuroplasticity. By reducing oxidative stress, Pterostilbene helps prevent heart attacks and stroke.
  • Resveratrol. This polyphenol antioxidant found in the skin of grapes, Resveratrol improves blood flow and reduces inflammation. Improving cell survival and neurogenesis in the hippocampus, resulting in better memory and learning.
  • Turmeric. Turmeric is unique in its ability to reduce inflammation common to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain tumors.

To learn more about PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, and the best nootropics to alleviate the symptoms of each, see my posts on:

Treating PTSD with Nootropic Supplements

Best Nootropics for Traumatic Brain Injury


There are many ways to address each issue you’re dealing with when it comes to optimizing brain health and function.

If you’re a nootropic veteran I’m sure you’ll find holes in my recommendations. Each section is most definitely not a conclusive list of nootropics for a single condition.

I encourage you to use the “Search” function on Nootropics Expert®. Enter the issue you’re dealing with and you’ll get a list of articles with suggestions for your nootropic stack.

By no means should you include everything listed under “memory” for example in your stack. One or two options from each section can help you toward your ideal nootropic stack.

Many nootropics work synergistically and together can make a more powerful solution than a nootropic on its own. When combining several nootropics in a stack you’ll want to back off to the lowest recommended dose of each to start.

You also may have noticed that some nootropics appear in several categories. What this means is most nootropic stacks would benefit by including Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline, DHA, and a nature-identical B-Vitamin Complex.

Be sure to click through to each nootropic to review dosage recommendations and side effects. Each article has extensive references to clinical studies as well.

Pre-Formulated Nootropic Stacks

Early in this article I mentioned pre-formulated stacks as an option that you could use to replace individual nootropic supplements.

Finding the right pre-made stack can save you time and often quite a bit of money.

After experimenting with many of the well-known stacks, I settled on Mind Lab Pro®.

Mind Lab Pro contains therapeutic dosages of 11 top quality natural nootropics including; CDP-Choline, Bacopa Monnieri, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Phosphatidylserine (PS), N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT), L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Pine Bark Extract, and Vitamins B6, B9, and B12.

I’ve found it less expensive to use this stack than buying each nootropic on its own. All I’ve had to add is coconut oil, DHA, Aniracetam and Sulbutiamine.

And I’ve recently replaced separate supplements including ALCAR, Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10 and PQQ with Performance Lab® Energy which contains all four nootropics in the dosages I was using. And is less expensive than buying separate supplements.

Check out my reviews on Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® Energy and see if they could work for you too.

If you have questions about building your perfect nootropic stack, please leave a comment in the comment box below. I or another experienced neurohacker in our community will help you out.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” Medline Plus U.S. National Library of Medicine (source)

[ii] Mayo Clinic Staff “Hypothyrodism” Mayo Clinic (source)

[iii] “Cognition” Frontiers in Psychology (source)

[iv] Cowan N. “What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory?” Progress in Brain Research 2008; 169: 323–338. (source)

[v] “Anxiety Disorders” National Institute of Health (source)

[vi] “Depression” National Institute of Health (source)

[vii] “Get the Stats on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States” U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source)

Subscribe to the Nootropics Expert newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest developments in the nootropics space.

Head First 2nd Editon

The Award Winning Guide to Healing & Optimizing Your Brain with Nootropic Supplements.

Head First 2nd Edition

NEW! Eliminate Brain Fog, Low Energy, Moodiness, Difficulty Sleeping, Memory Loss or Anxiety. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Walmart and more...

Where to Buy Nootropics

Wondering where to buy the best nootropic supplements? Well, you’re in the right place. Because here you will find the nootropic supplements that I personally use and recommend. Each supplement has a link to the company store and product that I use. I also include a link to my full review for each supplement here […]

The Definitive Guide to Nootropics

Nootropics can help increase your memory, boost learning ability, improve your mood and assist overall brain function. If you’re new to nootropics, or wonder about the difference between a nootropic and a smart drug, then this page is for you. Here you’ll find the definition of a nootropic, how to pronounce the word “nootropic”, the […]

The Most Comprehensive Nootropics List

This is our big list of the most popular Nootropics in use today. Here you’ll learn what each nootropic is, what it does and suggested dosages. What is this List of Nootropics About? Nootropic supplements are cognitive enhancers aiming to improve brain function. Whether you are looking to treat mild cognitive impairment, improve mental focus, or biohack […]

Free Secrets of the Brain 3rd Edition

Get “Secrets of the Optimized Brain,” 92 nootropics to help you plan your Nootropic Stack when you sign up for my newsletter:

Join The Discussion - 114 comments

January 6, 2024

Hello David,

unfortunately my detailed comments here are repeatedly not released by the system, which is why I am trying to formulate my request very briefly without describing my background.

Is the following stack safe if I am still taking 5-HTP (2x 200 mg/day), Mucuna Pruriens (1x 800 mg/day), Ginkgo (1x 240 mg/day), Passionflower (2x 375 mg/day) und Vinpocetine (1-2x 10 mg/day), among other things?
– Acetyl-L-Carnitine (1x 500 mg/day)
– Bacopa Monnieri 55% Bacosides (1x 320 mg/day)
– CDP-Choline (1x 225 mg/day)
– Huperzine-A (1x 200 mcg/every 2nd til 4th day)
– Phosphatidylserine (1-2x 100-150 mg/day)
if necessary – Ashwagandha (1x 500 mg/day)
if necessary – Cacao 80+% (a few pieces chocolate/day); sometimes to promote motivation and concentration
if necessary – Caffeine (1x 50-100 mg/day); sometimes for concentration-intensive work, in combination with L-Theanine
if necessary – L-Theanine (1x 100-200 mg/day); sometimes for concentration-intensive work, in combination with Caffeine
if necessary – Rhodiola Rosea (1x 230 mg/day)
if necessary – Lemon Balm (1x 500 mg/day)

Thank you!

    David Tomen
    January 9, 2024

    Max, I do not do stack reviews in the comments section of this website. Think what would happen if I did. Nothing else would happen and this site would not exist because that is all I would be doing.

      January 10, 2024

      Hello David,

      I apologize for my previous request. Thousands of others would probably also want information from you about their stacks.

      May I still ask you a more general question that is independent of a specific supplement? Is it safe to take individual supplements in combination with serotonin precursors such as 5-HTP (2x 200 mg) and dopamine precursors such as Mucuna Pruriens (1x 800 mg) if they only support the release of these neurotransmitters in the brain and do not increase their physical amount, as the precursors do?

      Thank you very much for your excellent work!

        David Tomen
        January 11, 2024

        Max, natural nootropic supplements when taken together generally do not cause Serotonin Syndrome or the cardio issues with supplements that act like MAOIs. There are very few exceptions other than St. John’s wort.

        The problems start and can be life threatening when combining some of these supplements with prescription drugs. If you need any more help the best investment you could make in yourself is an hour on the phone with me. Here is a link to my calendar if you are interested:

        January 11, 2024

        Thank you for this valuable and motivating information, which will enable me to carefully discover new supplements for myself despite taking 5-HTP and Mucuna Pruriens. Fortunately, I don’t take any prescription medication and therefore no SSRIs, MAOIs etc. Your advice to strictly avoid St. John’s wort in connection with prescription psychostimulants or serotonin precursors is also very important and I will definitely take it into account.

        Furthermore, your suggestion of a personal consultation with you is wonderful and I would also like to do this. Unfortunately, however, I am not a native speaker and I regularly forget vocabulary I have learned or am unable to recall it when I need it. This is very frustrating for me and keeps getting in my way.
        I hope that by implementing some new supplements I can get a grip on this problem of storing and recalling information. Then I would also be very happy to talk to you, where I am sure there is still a lot for me to learn.

Leah Stawicki
September 1, 2023

Hi David. My 13 year old son was diagnosed with ADD several years ago. Tried meds ( didn’t like that and made things worse). His main issue is focusing. Especially at school. If he doesn’t understand something immediately, he breaks down so I know there is a lot of anxiety involved. What would you recommend for pre formulated stacking and is it safe for a child? I started him on Folic acid about a month ago…. thanks in advance. L

    David Tomen
    September 4, 2023

    Leah, see my article on treating ADHD naturally here: The suggested stack for ADHD for adults is in the yellow box near the top of that article. A good general stack to replace that with a teenager may be one capsule per day of Mind Lab Pro ( But I am not a doctor so cannot “prescribe” this especially for a child. That is purely a suggestion that needs to be verified with a medical professional.

    I do not recommend using individual B-Vitamins because they work in synergy. If you use B9 and not B6 and B12 you end up raising homocysteine. And folic acid is synthetic which is not good. I personally do not think a 13 yar old needs the B-Vitamins unless he is a vegan or vegetarian. A better option is a bioactive multivitamin that includes all of the B-Vitamins in their natural form. There are multis for kids (

David N.
May 21, 2023

Regarding “how to take” (a supplement orally), I have a few questions. In order to maximize the effectiveness of Magnesium L-Threonate, is it best to take it along with food? (If so, is fatty food helpful? High-fiber food not so helpful, to take alongside minerals?) Could the quantity, and/or type of food, matter also? Timing of ingestion matter, to optimize the absorption of supplement?

There are times when I want to take Magnesium L-Threonate, or other key supplements, without having to eat a lot of food along with it. I’ve been wondering, recently, if Magnesium L-Threonate can be easily absorbed and easily utilized by just taking it with water? Or does some solid food help it better?

Would be better utilized (or “activated”) by taking it along with a small, or moderate, amount of food? Or else with just a tablespoon of MCT oil or some other healthy fat. (such as a few pads of butter?)

Thanks for any light you can shed on this matter of: how best to take Magnesium supplements.

    David Tomen
    June 5, 2023

    David, magnesium is water soluble so you can take it with water. This “take it with a meal” or “take it on an empty stomach” are far too complicated for my simple brain. Instead, I take my entire stack of supplements with a glass of water and a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil. The water soluble ingredients take care of the themselves. But the healthy oil activates bile acid in your liver and enzymes in your pancreas which then allows your system to digest fats. Keep it simple. It works.

      September 26, 2023

      Man that’s genius, I get so overwhelmed with scheduling out my supplements that I only manage to even take them 10% of the time. Need to try this instead!

      Do you still get all the desired effects? I know sometimes things can compete for absorption, but even after I laid all my vitamins out in a spreadsheet and noted which ones use the same pathways, I still couldn’t come up with good timing on them.

        David Tomen
        September 26, 2023

        Mo, I still get the desired effects. This site would not be possible if I did not. But the key is consistent daily use including following the timing during the day. IF it’s twice per day that is morning and noon. Each time all together with a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil. It works.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.