Nootropics cognitive boosters

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 origin of the word nootropic, other names or synonyms you’ll come across when referring to nootropics, a brief explanation of nootropic ‘stacks’, if they really work, how they work and what nootropics can do for you.

You’ll also find information on nootropic safety. And if they have any side effects. Use this guide as a primer to clear any confusion, and get started safely with nootropics.

In just a few minutes you’ll have a better understanding of each topic. And links through to pages in more detail when an in-depth explanation is needed.

You can even click each of the titles in the Table of Contents and go directly to that section if you’re pressed for time.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are a class of substances that improve brain function. Also referred to as neuro-enhancers, cognitive boosters, or memory enhancers. Nootropics can be natural or synthetic.

Experienced bio-hackers often make a distinction between nootropics and smart drugs. For our discussion and to help you understand what they are and how they’re used, we’ll cover the latest in nootropics research.

Nootropics are used to improve focus, motivation, memory, mood, and cognition. Each of these depend on different processes in your brain. And different substances can be used to affect each of these functions.

This idea of altering brain function is not new. Our ancestors were using herbs and alcohol to alter brain function for the last few thousand years.

Origin of the word ‘Nootropic’

The term “nootropic” is relatively new. Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu Giurgea synthesized Piracetam in 1963. And coined the term “nootropic” in 1972.[i] It is derived from the Greek nous (“mind”) and trepein (to bend).

Definition of Nootropic

Dr. Giurgea gave us a list of five criteria that a substance must have to be considered a ‘true’ nootropic.

A true nootropic:

  • Enhances memory and the ability to learn
  • Assists brain function under disruptive conditions such as lack of oxygen and electroconvulsive shock
  • Protects the brain from chemical and physical toxins like anticholinergic drugs and barbiturates
  • Increases natural cognitive processes
  • Must be non-toxic to humans, nor stimulate or depress the brain

Most of the time, when you hear the term ‘nootropic’ used, people loosely mean “cognitive enhancer”. A substance or compound that improves memory, increases cognitive processing speed, boosts alertness, concentration and focus, or a combination of these qualities.

At Nootropics Expert, I do my best to stick to the original definition of nootropic. And when a substance or compound strays from this strict definition, I’ll tell you the reasons why. And things to avoid when choosing a nootropic supplement.

How to Pronounce the word “Nootropic”

The formal or ‘correct’ way to pronounce the word “nootropic” according to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a few in the nootropic community is:


Which sounds a little like ‘Noah’ as in the biblical Noah. And ‘tropic’ with the ‘tro’ rhyming with ‘go’.

However, most in the nootropic community pronounce the word ‘new-tropic’. With ‘tropic’ rhyming with ‘living in the tropics’ (which I did for many years).

There is no absolute ‘correct’ way to pronounce nootropic in my opinion. And anyone who takes issue with the pronunciation of the word likely needs an extra dose of Phenylethylamine. Or 30-minutes of meditation. Just to calm down and get on with building their stack.

Nootropic Synonyms

With the rapidly growing popularity of nootropics and other cognitive enhancers, you will come across many terms generally referring to the same thing. And it can get confusing especially for someone new to nootropics.

Nootropics are commonly referred to as smart drugs, brain drugs, memory enhancers, neuro-enhancers, cognitive enhancers, intelligence enhancers, racetams, nootropic supplements, brain supplements, neuroceuticals, nutraceuticals, and cognition-enhancing supplements.

Most experienced neurohackers simply refer to them as “nootropics”.  And here at Nootropics Expert, I make the distinction between a “nootropic” and a “smart drug”.

Natural vs. Synthetic Nootropics

You can boost brain power in a variety of ways. Your end goal will often dictate if you should use a natural or synthetic nootropic. Let’s illustrate this with some examples.

First we’ll look at a synthetic nootropic, and then we’ll look at a natural nootropic. These are only two of dozens of nootropics in each category.


Dr. Giurgea’s piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA. GABA is naturally produced by your body. (But because it is not “natural”, piracetam cannot be sold in the USA as a “dietary supplement”. And since piracetam is not approved by the FDA for medical use, it also cannot be sold as a drug.)

Piracetam has been shown to support memory[ii], learning capacity, reduce mental fatigue, and improve concentration. It is sold as the prescription drug “Nootropil” in many European countries.

Clinical trials with piracetam have shown it may help your brain in several ways. Including increasing the effectiveness of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.[iii]

Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger that allows neurons to communicate with each other. It is vital for memory, focus, concentration and mental alertness. But piracetam is not the only way to boost acetylcholine function in your brain.

Your body naturally makes acetylcholine from healthy fats in your diet. Good sources of choline – the precursor to acetylcholine – include:

Milk Cheese Eggs Soy Lecithin
Fatty fish Beef (esp. liver) Almonds Cauliflower
Pistachios Spinach Wheat germ spirulina

Natural Nootropics: Milk Cheese EggsYou can also use supplements like Alpha GPC, CDP Choline, and choline citrate to boost choline.

So there is no best source for nootropics. Natural and synthetics work. Some work better than others. And everybody’s body really is different. It often depends what you’re trying to achieve.

Do Nootropics Really Work?

There is no question nootropics work. But opinions vary across the board how well they work. Decades of clinical studies and nootropic user comments and reviews show improvement in many areas. It depends on the person and the specific nootropic.

Personally, I was able to get off of ADHD meds (Ritalin) for a year. And manage my condition just as well with nootropics.

Nootropic Stack

Many university students will tell you their high grades are directly related to a stack like aniracetam, Pramiracetam, ALCAR, L-Theanine and caffeine.

Users report the ability to:

  • Interpret and retain complex information
  • Learning is faster and more efficient
  • Signal to noise ratio gets better
  • Emotions are affected generally in a positive way
  • Anxiety levels drop
  • Sociability can be affected either way.

In the Nootropic community the big proviso is always “your mileage may vary”. Dosage can influence the desired (and undesired) effects of many nootropics. With some of the newer nootropics (smart drugs in particular) the jury is still out on how well, or even if they work.

This includes stacks put out by companies who either don’t disclose individual dosage of each ingredient. Or companies who have poor quality control over, and amount of the ingredients used in a capsule.

The underlying lesson is research and experimentation. Read what others say and research clinical trials. But always remember more is definitely not better.

For an in-depth dive into how nootropics work including influencing brain energy, signaling, cell health & repair, cerebral blood flow, brain waves and fatigue, see my post on:

How do Nootropics Work

What is the Best Nootropic?

It depends on what you mean by “best”. And maybe not the answer you’re looking for. But we have a lot of variables in play here. And especially for someone new to nootropics, this is what you need to consider…

If 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?

By using nootropics, you can benefit from improved memory, focus, learning, mood or motivation. Some even have anti-aging benefits. You have several options for each benefit you’re trying to boost or correct.

Here are the…

Best Nootropics for Learning & Memory

Best Nootropics for Depression

Best Nootropics for Anxiety

Hacking Motivation with Nootropics

Hack Your Flow State with Nootropics

But to be perfectly honest with you, from my personal experience, one nootropic to boost memory may work better for you and not as well for me.

As a general rule, we’re all the same. And generally one nootropic will work better for focus for most people. But I have found each nootropic can have a different effect at different doses on different people.

Each one of us has variations in cognitive “wiring”. Our chemical and genetic makeup is different. We’re influenced by the foods we eat, where we live, the air we breathe and the genes we inherited from our parents.

Science hasn’t yet developed the “magic pill” to solve all cognitive issues. It’s why we experiment, read reviews, and listen to other neurohackers. There is no one-pill solution!

It’s why I created and continue to develop Nootropics Expert®. To help you in your journey in creating the perfect nootropic stack for you at this time in your life.

Learn How to Create the Best Nootropic Stack for You here.

Best Nootropic Stack for Beginners

If you are new to nootropics, and don’t know where to start, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

Each nootropic supplement has a unique mechanism of action in your brain. As soon as you add just one more nootropic, it may have some impact on how the first nootropic works in your brain.

Sometimes this combination of two or more nootropics is intentional. For example, Piracetam boosts the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors in your brain. Which causes your brain to demand more acetylcholine to satisfy this demand.

Experienced neurohackers have learned that ‘stackingPiracetam with a choline supplement like Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline boosts the effectiveness of Piracetam. With even more focus, learning and memory improvements.

But sometimes the interaction between two or more nootropics taken together is unintentional. And could cause adverse side effects like depression, irritability or insomnia.

Huperzine-A is a classic example because it acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which means it boosts levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in your brain.

So if you add Huperzine-A to your stack, you may want to reduce your dose of a choline supplement like Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline. Or you could experience the side effects of too much acetylcholine.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that some nootropics have a cumulative effect in your brain. They ‘build-up’ over time. Especially if you take them everyday. Take Huperzine-A for example which has a half-life of 10 – 12 hours. If you took Hup-A every day, your body wouldn’t have the chance to flush the old Huperzine-A out of our system before you took your next dose.

Some nootropics are water-soluble while some are fat-soluble. What does this mean?

To help you if you’re just getting started in nootropics and building your first stack, check out this article on:

Beginners Guide to Nootropic Stacks

The guide will take you through building a nootropic stack step-by-step. And show you how to avoid the many pitfalls and mistakes many new neurohackers make when first getting started with nootropics.

How do Nootropics Work?

Nootropics can affect your brain by influencing brain waves, cerebral blood flow, cellular energy, hormones, neurotransmitters, neuroplasticity or growth factors.

Dozens of natural and synthetic substances have nootropic properties. Each can affect one or more of several categories affecting your brain. Nootropics work by affecting:

  • Brain energy
  • Brain cell signaling
  • Brain cell health & longevity
  • Brain blood supply
  • Brain Waves
  • Brain fatigue
  • Brain repair

For a detailed overview of each of these categories, go to my post called:

How do Nootropics Work 

You’ll find how each affects your brain, what can go wrong, and examples of nootropics that can address each issue.

You can also get detailed explanations of dozens of nootropics here on Nootropics Expert. Each article explains what the nootropic is and where it came from, mechanisms of action on how it works in your brain, why you may want to add it to your nootropic stack, dosage recommendations, forms each nootropic comes in, references to dozens of clinical studies, and where to buy the supplement.

Visit the “List of Nootropics” page and scroll through the Table of Contents. Each nootropic summary on that page links to a detailed article on that nootropic and how it works.

What Can Nootropics Do for Me?

What can nootropics do for me?Referring to a section near the beginning of this article, the right nootropics can help you:

  • Interpret and retain complex information
  • Learning is faster and more efficient
  • Signal to noise ratio gets better
  • Emotions are affected generally in a positive way
  • Anxiety levels drop
  • Sociability can be affected either way

Nootropics may also help to repair years of damage to your brain, and possibly find a healthier alternative to ADHD meds.

For more on ADHD and ADD, check out my post on:

Best Nootropics for ADHD & ADD

For athletes or anyone maintaining a serious exercise regimen some nootropics can help up your game. And give your body and brain the fuel it needs to operate at your peak.

Hack Motivation with Nootropics

Hack Your Flow State with Nootropics

Best Nootropics for Learning & Memory

Best Nootropics for Anxiety

Best Nootropics for Depression

Need more energy to power through your day? Mitochondria are where your body’s energy is produced. Allowing you to hear, feel and see. Mitochondria beat your heart, stimulate your sex drive and allow you to think.

Your brain has a higher concentration of these little cellular powerplants than most other cells in your body. You can have several thousand mitochondria in each brain cell. They even have their own DNA.

You can hack your mitochondria with nootropics. Learn how here:

Hack Your Mitochondria with Nootropics

If you are dealing with anxiety or depression and conventional prescription anti-anxiety meds, or antidepressants just aren’t helping…

Check this… are you also battling with abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea? Your brain fog, anxiety or depression could be a gut problem. Recent research has established a strong gut-brain connection

And when you address gastrointestinal issues, you’ll often find that depression, anxiety and brain fog are gone too. Learn how here…

Psychobiotics: The Gut-Brain Connection

Are Nootropics Addictive?

A true nootropic as defined here (a natural method of boosting brain performance), are safe and generally non-addictive. Some nootropics can give you long-term benefits even after you stop using them.

Smart drugs which are typically pharmaceuticals can be addictive. Particularly those acting as stimulants.

Nootropics generally have very few side effects, are non-toxic when taken at recommended doses, and do not cause withdrawal symptoms once you stop using them.

To learn more about nootropics vs smart drugs, tolerance, psychological addiction, nootropics and withdrawal, and non-addictive alternatives to smart drugs, see my extended article on:

Are Nootropics Addictive?

Nootropics vs. Smart Drugs — What’s the Difference?

Smart Drugs are not the same as nootropics even though some may have similar benefits.

A smart drug is typically a prescription pharmaceutical used to treat the symptoms of ADHD or narcolepsy.  They are central nervous system stimulant drugs. And the most commonly prescribed are Adderall (dextroamphetamine) or Ritalin (methylphenidate).

These stimulants help with focus and energy in someone who is truly clinically ADHD. They produce spikes in dopamine and norepinephrine.

Adderall, Ritalin and other stimulants are very powerful drugs. And can include side effects such as decreased appetite, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, sleep problems, and cardiac issues. Dependency and addiction is a growing problem with their use.

Two other smart drugs of note are Modafinil and Adrafinil. These are wake-promoting agents that have a different chemical make-up from stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall. But exhibit similar side effects in many people.[xii]

Nootropics are described as having the characteristics of enhancing learning and memory. It should protect the brain while increasing natural cognitive processes. And should not be toxic, nor stimulate or depress the brain.

You could think of a nootropic as food for the brain, while a smart drug is exactly that — a drug for the brain.

Let’s be clear.

Smart drugs can kill you. And
nootropics can heal your brain.

For more on the “dark side” of smart drugs including more detail on methylphenidate (Ritalin), Adderall, modafinil, and prescription ampakines, see my post on:

Smart Drugs – The Bad and the Ugly

Nootropic Safety & Side Effects

One of the qualifications to be called a nootropic is they must be extremely safe, and non-toxic to humans. This from the original definition by Dr. Giurgea who invented piracetam.

For this reason, “smart drugs” like Ritalin and Adderall do not qualify as a nootropic.

Most nootropics have few, if any, drug interactions. And should not complicate existing health conditions. 

But a strong word of caution here… carefully read the dosage recommendations and side effects for each nootropic you’re considering adding to your stack. Every article for each nootropic listed here on Nootropics Expert® goes into detail on what to look out for. Including possible drug interactions.

So care must be taken with anything that alters dopamine or serotonin in your brain. Particularly if you are on any kind of SSRI, MAOI, or other anti-depressant medication.

Nootropics are generally made from plants, or made up of ingredients from plants. Or are purified components or extracts of plants.

The racetam-family of nootropics are derivatives of chemicals naturally produced by your body. For example, piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA which is naturally produced throughout your body, including your brain.

Nootropics are generally safe if you use them as recommended. You don’t want to go overboard with Vitamin D, melatonin or zinc because it could cause problems. Likewise, follow directions on the label and get advice from experienced nootropic users.

Many clinical studies have been done on nootropics over the last 40 – 50 years establishing their safety. And no one who has used a nootropic at recommended doses has ever OD’d to my knowledge.

Some nootropics like the racetams can work as a precursor to, or increase the efficacy of acetylcholine in your brain. In other words, they boost the uptake of choline.

So, for example the most commonly reported “side effect” of using racetams are headaches. And they usually occur in a specific part of your brain.

The best way to counteract a “racetam-headache” is to use a good source of supplemental choline such as Alpha GPC, CDP-Choline, or Cognizin®.

Read more about:

Nootropics Safety & Side Effects

Are Nootropics Legal?

In the USA, nootropics are generally classified as “dietary supplements” or “research compounds“. And can be purchased and used legally for personal consumption.

Smart drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil are prescription “drugs” and require a prescription from a licensed medical professional.

Some nootropics, particularly synthetics are classified as a prescription drug in some countries. For example, Citicoline, which is a supplement in the USA, qualifies as a prescription drug in much of Europe.

Piracetam and other racetam-class nootropics are only available by prescription in Russia, the United Kingdom and Australia. SAM-e is a prescription drug throughout Europe. And Vinpocetine, derived from the periwinkle plant is prescribed as a dementia drug in Japan and parts of Europe.

Dietary supplements are available in the USA without a prescription. And in many other countries. However, please check the status of any particular nootropic and their classification in your country.

See the page on the legal status of nootropics in your country here:

Are Nootropics Legal in My Country?

That page is updated as new information comes in from readers and neurohackers like you. So if you have information about your country that’s not yet listed, please leave a comment at the bottom of the Are Nootropics Legal in My Country page. That page is checked by hundreds of visitors every day. Your input is greatly appreciated.

[i] Giurgea C. “Pharmacology of integrative activity of the brain. Attempt at nootropic concept in psychopharmacology” Actualités Pharmacologiques (Paris). 1972;25:115-56.

[ii] Dimond SJ, Brouwers EM. “Increase in the power of human memory in normal man through the use of drugs.” Psychopharmacology (Berlin) 1976 Sep 29;49(3):307-9. (source)

[iii] Bartus R.T., Dean R.L. 3rd, Sherman K.A., Friedman E., Beer B. “Profound effects of combining choline and piracetam on memory enhancement and cholinergic function in aged rats.” Neurobiology of Aging 1981 Summer;2(2):105-11. (source)

[iv] Magistretti P., Pellerin L., Martin J.L. “Brain Energy Metabolism”Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress  Retrieved February 3, 2016

[v] Swaminathan N. “Why Does the Brain Need So Much Power?”Scientific American April 29, 2008 Retrieved on February 3, 2016 (source)

[vi] Balon T.W., Jasman A.P., Zhu J.S. “A fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis increases whole-body insulin sensitivity in rats.”Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2002 Jun;8(3):315-23. (source)

[vii] Azevedo F.A, Carvalho L.R., Grinberg L.T., Farfel J.M., Ferretti R.E., Leite R.E., Jacob Filho W., Lent R., Herculano-Houzel S. “Equal numbers of neuronal and nonneuronal cells make the human brain an isometrically scaled-up primate brain.” The Journal of Comparative Neurology 2009 Apr 10;513(5):532-41. (source)

[viii] Kobayashi K., Nagato Y., Aoi N., Juneja L.R., Kim M., Yamamoto T., Sugimoto S. “Effects of L-theanine on the release of α-brain waves in human volunteers” Nippon Nōgei Kagakukaishi 1998, vol. 72, no2, pp. 153-157 (24 ref.) (source)

[ix] Pelsman A. et. Al. “GVS-111 prevents oxidative damage and apoptosis in normal and Down’s syndrome human cortical neurons”International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience Volume 21, Issue 3, May 2003, Pages 117–124 (source)

[x] Erickson K. et. Al. “Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2011 Feb 15;108(7):3017-22.

[xi] Mattson M.P. “Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: a neurobiological perspective.” Annual Review of Nutrition 2005;25:237-60.

[xii] Kumar R. “Approved and investigational uses of modafinil: an evidence-based review.” Drugs 2008;68(13):1803-39. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 210 comments

April 5, 2018

Hi David,

I have just purchased your amazing book Head First,
I can’t thank you enough what you do to help others.

Unfortunately most of nootropics are not approved in my country Saudi Arabia.

The most sad news for me is that Aniracetam is not approved in Saudi Arabia .

Can you please tell me what can look for instead

My goal is to inhance my ablity to recall focus and retain the words of languages that I’m studying

I guess Aniracetam would be great so i need a replacement please


    David Tomen
    April 5, 2018

    Shad, I just responded to your comment over on Best Nootropics for Learning and Memory. I honestly don’t think there is a comparison for Aniracetam. Except for maybe some of the other racetams.

    You could try the CILTEP stack with Forskolin, Artichoke Extract and ALCAR. Add the B-Vitamins, magnesium and DHA and you may surprise yourself. A stack like this works better after using it for a couple of weeks.

    Dosage instructions for each one needs to be followed closely as well. And for the B-Vitamins you need to use nature-identical vitamins and not synthetics like folic acid or cyanocobalamin.

    Also, check out Bacopa Monnieri which students have been using for a few thousand years. The thing is with nootropics you need to keep an open mind and keep trying different supplements until you find out what works best for you.

      April 5, 2018

      Thanks alot David, it seems almost all Racetam nootropics are not approved in Saudi Arabia except for Piracetam 400mg
      But I’m afraid I’m gonna need a prescription to buy it from local pharmacies, I don’t know yet but I know it’s approved in Saudi Arabia so the next step for me is to go first thing tomorrow to pharmacy and see what is going to happen.

      Thanks David.

        David Tomen
        April 6, 2018

        Shad, let me know what happens. Because I’m always looking for new info on legal status in different countries for the page

        April 7, 2018

        Yes Daved,
        It’s available in some pharmacies, I tried 4 pharmacies the first 2 pharmacies don’t have it, the 3rd have only 1 box contains 30 tablets 800 mg each and under the name (Nootropil Paracetam), the 4th pharmacy has 3 boxes of the mentioned above
        So I secured 4 boxes but still not try it yet for 3 reasons :

        1 – it seems the Choline CDP and Alpha GPC are not available here.
        Is there any replacement ?

        2- Is it okay to use it whenever i need it and stop whenever i need because I’m planning to use it Occasionally like some months on and some months off?

        3- how to know the best dosage for me?

        David Tomen
        April 8, 2018

        Shad, good that you found Piracetam. You can use Piracetam whenever you need it. There is not a problem with tolerance or withdrawal from this nootropic.

        Follow the dosage instructions here: But you do need to take it with a choline supplement. Look for; Alpha GPC, CDP-Choline, Citicoline, or Choline Bitartrate. The last one requires much higher doses than the other two. Dosage instructions for each is in the review for each type of choline here on Nootropics Expert.

        If you use Piracetam and get a headache it means you didn’t use enough of a choline supplement.

        April 7, 2018

        Hi David,

        This link might help you with Saudi Arabia approved drugs

December 3, 2017

I’m new to the nootropics world and have googled so much info recently that it is rather overwhelming, so this is a wonderful article for me, thank you. I suffer from extreme fatigue that ends up causing depression and anxiety and ADD type symptoms due to being too tired to think straight and then getting overwhelmed at not being productive and then getting frustrated with it all. Vicious cycle. Been battling it for years but don’t want to be on drugs. I went on a few days trial prescription of adderall just as a test of what a normal life without fatigue would feel like and it really did fix EVERYTHING, I felt great, but I don’t want to take anything addictive or anything that is not natural, so no drugs for me if I can avoid it. What natural nootropic would you recommend ? A stack maybe ? I really didn’t want to take any of the synthetic nootropics because I need something I can be on long term without cycling off so the more natural, the better. My job requires me to sit for hours a day so I need to take something daily. Any advise or input would be appreciated.

    David Tomen
    December 4, 2017

    Marla, your story sounds like mine about 5 years ago. I have some suggestions. With extreme fatigue, anxiety, depression and ADD symptoms it sounds like you could be dealing with adrenal fatigue and/or thyroid issues. Please find a functional medicine doctor who deals with ‘natural’-type meds like natural desiccated thyroid. Get a full thyroid panel done and learn how to read the labs yourself. You can get a ton of information here:

    Next, if you tried Adderall and it turned the lights on for you, please do not dismiss prescription meds out of hand. I prefer everything natural myself. But I must use Ritalin everyday to function at the level I do. And BTW, if you decide to revisit this please consider methylphenidate before something like Adderall or one of the newer meds. Ritalin has the longest, safest track record in ADD medicine.

    Finally, please see the stack I describe on this page: There is nothing in that stack that needs to be cycled. I use everything in that stack daily. The racetam-family of nootropics are by their very nature some of the safest supplements on the planet. Safer even than many “natural” plant-based supplements.

      December 6, 2017

      Thank you so much for your input. I will check out the links you suggested. I am not against prescription medications, they are unavoidable for some people. I just wanted that to be a last resort for me, due to long term side affects. I’m also open to racetam nootropics if need be, but in reading about them they almost seemed like they were prescription medications that just didn’t need a prescription for use. In fact in some places they do need a prescription. So that’s my only reason for shying away from those. In my research I am beginning to see that even natural adaptogens can have just as many side affects. It’s all rather confusing.

      I like your suggestion about a natural doctor. My insurance does not cover them so I was hoping I could research and figure it out myself, but there is no one size fits all so I really need to get some tests run.

      You and your site have been very helpful. Thank you.

        David Tomen
        December 6, 2017

        Marla, don’t discount the racetams so quickly. Dr. Giurgea who created the first racetam (Piracetam) made it very clear how they should work. And not cause any kind of side effects. My experience over the years with the racetams has found that to be true with the most well-known racetams. Esp. things like Aniracetam and Piracetam. The racetams often have a much better safety profile than many herbal-based nootropics. But you must follow dosage recommendations very carefully.

        December 7, 2017

        You make some good points. I am so glad racetams have helped you and so many others and I do not want to discount them, as they might be just what I need. I think for me taking anything on my own without advisement from a doctor is scary, and “natural ” just seemed less intimidating, since I am just now starting to get educated on nootropics and adaptogens. But I know you are right, many herbs have more side affects than anything else, so your point is well taken. I will keep an open mind. Thank you.

Tanya Zivin
November 12, 2017

You are a goldmine of advice and information. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to support your cause.

    David Tomen
    November 12, 2017

    Thank you Tanya. The best thing you can do is help spread the word to your friends and family. And your connections on social media. The more people in our society that know there are alternatives to pharmaceuticals and feeling crappy… we’ll simply have a nicer place to live. And a better quality of life.

      Tanya Zivin
      November 16, 2017

      Will do!

Tanya Zivin
November 11, 2017

Hi Dave,

Great site! Over a year ago, my daughter developed a tic disorder after slightly increasing a therapeutic dose of Adderall. We took her off the Adderall, and the tic stayed. I started her on the Uridine stack (with ALCAR) the other week, and by day two, we had a 6-hour reprieve from her tic for the first time since the condition started! We haven’t been able to replicate that since. I have since switched her from ALCAR to Alpha-GPC. Additionally, she takes methylated B vitamins (part of a complex), Vitamin D, NAC (every other day), Lion’s Mane, Turmeric, and zinc citrate. She is on an AIP diet and drinks kombucha at breakfast and dinner. I give her topical magnesium at night. She is getting tired of swallowing so many supplements. I guess my first question is, how long should we give the Uridine stack a chance? We also tried CBD oil once, and it had the opposite effect of what I was hoping…it made her tics worse (dopamine flooded the brain and didn’t know where to go?) She also worsens when she exercises (dopamine flooding the brain). That’s what led me to the Uridine stack. We are working with a neurologist and hope to find more answers after the New Year (when our deductible re-starts).

Would appreciate any help you could offer…tics are about the hardest of the neurological disorders to treat.

    David Tomen
    November 11, 2017

    Tanya, tic disorders are a tough one because researchers are still trying to pin-down exactly what causes them. So far, as you pointed out, the dopamine system in the brain is implicated. But not so much levels of dopamine as the way dopamine receptors work. Or don’t work. I realize that your eyes will glaze over before you get part way through this study, but it’s packed with great information about this disorder:

    You may want to re-visit how you’re using magnesium with her. Take a look at the review I wrote here on dosage recommendations:

    I also recommend closely reading the review for each of the supplements she’s using here on Nootropics Expert. I’ve found that dosage recommendations vary all over the place. The information on this site is based on clinical trials and user experience. Which is often different that what you’ll find on the supplement bottle.

    It’s difficult to predict when she’ll feel the benefits of Uridine. Please make sure it’s the correct form. Stacking it with Alpha GPC was a good idea.

    I’m certainly not a doctor and don’t even play one on TV. So please use these suggestions as pointers towards figuring out what works. And certainly work with a good neurologist. A bonus would be a doctor who understood the benefits of dietary supplements in her overall wellness plan.

      Tanya Zivin
      November 11, 2017

      Thanks, Dave! What would be the correct form of uridine? This is the one we’ve been using: “Cardiovascular Research Uridine 25 mg”
      It’s a small capsule, so it’s relatively easy for her to swallow. Should we be using a sublingual instead?

      As for the magnesium, we were using glycinate, but she would have to take 4 horse pills per night to get the 400 mg. I’ll look into the Magtein.

      Thanks so much for your help!

        David Tomen
        November 12, 2017

        Tanya, the uridine you are using should work OK but the dosage is only 25 mg. At that dosage it will take a looooong time to see any benefit. Please see dosage instructions here:

        The same goes for magnesium. I use Chelated Magnesium 400 mg with great success. But it’s 4 large tablets. Magnesium L-Threonate is arguably a better choice. But recommended dosage is 1 gram per day.

        The keys to success with using nootropic supplements is dosage, correct form of supplement (for brain benefit), and experimenting until you find what works best. Missing any of those 3-key elements is an act in frustration in my experience.

Shannon Sparks
October 17, 2017

Sir, I am finding great satisfaction in consuming the invaluable wealth of information provided on this site as well as your book. I have been interested in a pharmaceutical drug that has brought a great deal of interest in the public. There have been many ethical debates about about it’s use. For example medical students using it might have a better overall test scores or better comprehension of material because of the drugs ability to make the student more attentive and focused. Is it unfair to students that compete against students taking this drug? Hence would you want a Dr. that used the drug during med school vs one that did not; in that the one that took the drug might be more educated because of it’s effects. There has been a movie “Limitless” and also a TV series about this drug; all be it they are over fictionalized. The drug aim talking about is (Modafinil) or (Provigil) 100mg. I was prescribed it because of sleep apnea. This drug has been nothing short of amassing for me. I’m alert and awake but not jittery like from caffeine. I am super focused, I get more things done. If there is a topic of interest for me, I tend to pursue that topic or subject much, much farther than I would have with out the drug. Could you give your professional observation of the uses and capabilities of this drug as well as your ethical view of the uses of this drug. Avid fan and reader.

    David Tomen
    October 18, 2017

    Shannon, I’ll not be doing a review of Modafinil any time soon because it is a prescription drug. And I only review nootropic supplements that are available as an over-the-counter supplement. That anyone can buy and try.

    As for ethics, I don’t see any problem with “upping your game” by using any substance. We have all kinds of examples of what people do to get the edge over others in every discipline. But this will need to wait for another time because it’s such a broad and deep subject to discuss here.

    One suggestion is read my post on Best Nootropics for ADHD because the nootropics in that suggested stack will work synergistically with something like Modafinil. And improve its performance.

Mount Barney
April 12, 2017

I’m looking for an acetylcholine precursor that DOESNT cause diarrhea. I’ve tried choline bitarate and alpha GPC but both give me diarrhea.
Any suggestions?

    David Tomen
    April 12, 2017

    Diarrhea as a side effect with choline supplements are rare. It could be because you already have enough choline in your body. And you don’t need supplemental choline to make acetylcholine.

    My suggestion is to try CDP-Choline (Citicoline) and look for a supplement that uses Cognizin. Which is a patented form of Citicoline. Also try lowering your dose. If neither of those suggestions work you may not need a choline supplement.

April 10, 2017

Hey David and Oliver, i’m from Argentina. We consume yerba mate almost every day. And its not something you get a particulary effect from. Its more like an acquired taste. Its something you take in the morning or in the evening. And we do not consider “MATE” as a tea, is more like an herb. for us is “yerba”.

Oliver Clarke
January 10, 2017

Dude, first I must say that you created an awesome article.

Second I’d love to know if you’ve tried Yerba Mate tea?

As nootropics go I’ve found it to be one of the best when it comes to getting a creativity boost while I write and shoot videos, plus it tastes pretty good.

I’ve also added lions mane and freshly ground coffee into my stack and it’s created an awesome beginner nootropic with really solid results, especially for getting hard Monday work out of the way.

Anyway, keep up the awesome work.

    David Tomen
    January 11, 2017

    Oliver, thanks for the compliment. And no, I have not tried Yerba Mate. But it’s now on my ever growing list of things to try.

      Gordon James
      March 26, 2018

      Hey Dave.

      Come over to

      It would be great to have you in the discussions

        David Tomen
        March 26, 2018

        Gordon, it’s been my intention to spend more time on Reddit and contribute what I can to the community. Thanks for the ‘kick in the pants’. I deserve it.

        February 24, 2020

        Cool thanks. So say 750mg aniracetam :1/2 the standard piracteam dose (whatever it is) x 3 daily ?

        Have you ever tried stacking piracteam with Aniracetam?

        Also can you stack modafinil with aniracetam?

        Thanks again.

        David Tomen
        February 25, 2020

        Ilya, you’ve got the right idea. This is more of an ‘art’ than a ‘science’. Only way to find out what works for you is experimenting. But no, I’ve not tried those combos.

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