This is a comprehensive list of the most popular Nootropics in use today. Here you’ll learn what each nootropic is, what it does and suggested dosages.
If you are new to the world of Nootropics, you may be wondering the best way to use a particular compound. You’ll find that here.
If you are an experienced neurohacker this is a great quick reference guide.
You’ll find the full scope of benefits of each Nootropic listed here when you click through to the full review of that supplement.
The full review includes exactly what the nootropic compound is, where it comes from, why it’s used as a nootropic supplement, how it works in your brain, examples of clinical research including links to references, recommended dosages, side effects and possible drug interactions, and the best form or type of supplement to buy for best results.
A word of caution – always start off with the lowest effective dose of any supplement. Each of our bodies is different so you need to find out the effects of each nootropic in your body. And how it will benefit you.
The list of Nootropics is in alphabetical order. To quickly go to that listing just click on the name in the Table of Contents below.
Table of Contents
Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)
Acetyl L-Carnitine ((R)-3-Acetyloxy-4-trimethylammonio-butanoate) is an acetylated form of L-Carnitine. A derivative of the amino acid lysine which is naturally produced in your liver and kidneys. This synthesized form can easily cross the blood-brain barrier.
ALCAR is a nootropic because it targets your brain metabolism, boosts mitochondria energy, and acts as a neuroprotectant. Acetyl L-Carnitine protects neurotransmitters which makes it a powerful compliment to boost the effectiveness of other nootropics.
Acetyl-l-carnitine boosts memory, mental alertness, fluid thought, and is a strong antioxidant.
The usual suggested dosage for ALCAR is 500 – 1,500 mg per day.
Alpha GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) is found naturally in your brain. It is a precursor to acetylcholine – an essential neurotransmitter involved in memory, cognition, sleep and muscular control.
As a nootropic, Alpha GPC easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It boosts acetylcholine levels in your brain contributing to improved memory, cognition, learning and focus. And protects against age-related memory loss.
You get Alpha GPC from raw beef liver, cod fish, spinach, milk, soy and eggs. As a supplement, Alpha GPC derived from soy or sunflower lecithin is a more efficient way of boosting acetylcholine in your brain.
Recommended daily dosage for Alpha GPC is 600 mg.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-Lipoic Acid used as a nootropic is a synthetic version of lipoic acid. A compound naturally occurring in your body. This antioxidant is necessary for cellular energy production. And helps eliminate the free radicals created when nutrients convert to cellular energy.
ALA boosts energy levels, protects brain cells from free radical damage, and improves memory.
Recommended dosage for Alpha-Lipoic Acid is 200 – 400 mg per day.
Aniracetam (1-(4-methoxybenzoyl)-2-pyrrolidinone) is an N-side chain derivative of piracetam. It is thought to be 5 to 8-times more potent than piracetam. Aniracetam is fat-soluble and has a shorter half-life compared to other racetams.
A potent nootropic, Aniracetam reduces anxiety and depression with no sedative effects. It seems to do this by activating the D2 and D3 Dopamine receptors in the brain. Aniracetam helps improve memory, learning, cognition, along with heightened reflexes and perception.
Dosing Aniracetam is 750 – 1,500 mg per day. Do half your daily dose twice per day.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several thousand years. In Sanskrit it literally means “the smell of a horse” which implies this herb provides the vigor and strength of a stallion.
As a nootropic, Ashwagandha helps relieve stress, fatigue, restore energy and boosts concentration. As an adaptogen, it helps your entire body by normalizing blood sugar, boosts insulin sensitivity, works as an antioxidant, promotes breast, lung and colon health, and protects against inflammation.
The typical recommended dose of Ashwagandha is 250 – 500 mg per day.
Artichoke Extract (Luteolin)
Artichoke Extract is a PDE4 inhibitor. PDE4 is an enzyme that breaks down cAMP molecules (messenger systems that relay signals in the brain). Stopping PDE4 then prevents the breakdown of cAMP.
Artichoke Extract is even more powerful when combined with Forskolin to significantly boost cAMP (brain signaling) levels.
Best nootropic artichoke extract dosage with 5% cynarin is 500 mg.
Many consider Bacopa Monnieri to be the best nootropic available today. The nootropic benefit of Bacopa Monnieri were first revealed in ancient Ayurvedic texts. In Ayurveda its used to help memorize long passages of text. And enhance cognition.
The ancient Hindis liked it so much they named it “Brahmi”, after the supreme god Brahma.
Bacopa Monnieri is an adaptogen. It helps prevent the chemical and physical effects of stress. Instead of just suppressing them like many modern antidepressants.
Bacopa Monnieri is used to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. It’ll boost memory, concentration and reaction time. And is used for neuroprotection, and to balance neurotransmitters.
Dosage recommendations for Bacopa Monnieri with 45% bacosides is 450 mg.
Berberine is a bright yellow alkaloid extracted from plants such as Indian Barberry (tree turmeric), Oregon Grape and goldenseal.
Plants containing Berberine have been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, anti-microbial, anti-protozoal and immune-enhancing therapy for thousands of years.
Activating AMPK is especially relevant if you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, or over-weight. All conditions that negatively affect cognition. Research and clinical experience has shown Berberine to be as effective in controlling diabetes as the prescription drug metformin.
Berberine is one of the most powerful (literally) nootropic supplements on our List of Nootropics. Not only can Berberine help control diabetes, but you may find sugar cravings disappear. No crashes late afternoon. Energy levels and stamina increase.
Adding Berberine to your nootropic stack can help improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improve your mood, protect your brain from damage, and help memory.
Dosing Berberine as a nootropic is 500 mg 3-times per day. If you are dealing with a medical condition, or are taking any medication (including antibiotics), you should speak with your doctor before taking Berberine. Especially if you’re currently using blood-sugar lowering medication.
Black Seed Oil
Black Seed Oil is extracted from the seed of Nigella Sativa which is an annual herb native to the Middle East, Southern Europe and North Africa. And has been used for millennia for a variety of illnesses.
Its main active compound thymoquinone (TQ) has been shown to benefit cognitive and mental illness, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and infertility.
The Prophet Mohammed was said to have described the curative powers of Black Seed Oil as, “it has a remedy for every illness except death”.
Black Seed reduces tumor necrosis factor-α (TNf-α) which helps fight inflammation. And it boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which supports better learning and memory, and brain cell repair.
Studies and practical experience by neurohackers show Black Seed Oil effective for reducing anxiety, reducing seizure frequency, and helpful with opiate withdrawal.
Recommended dosage of Black Seed Oil is 1 – 3 teaspoons per day.
Cacao comes from the bean of the Theobroma cacao tree (Cocao tree) native to Central and South America. Cocao powder is at the base of all things made of chocolate.
Cacao as a nootropic offers a hosts of cognitive benefits. It stimulates the release of phenylethylamine (PEA) which boosts focus and awareness. And anandamide (the bliss molecule) which increases happiness levels. Cacao is a source of tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin. And theobromine which boosts blood flow, is a stimulant, and may account for chocolate’s aphrodisiac qualities.
Studies show that consumption of a flavanol-rich cocao drink increases blood flow for up to 2 hours in certain regions of the brain. Improving cognition, memory, and preventing neurodegeneration.
And cacao beans are one of the richest sources of antioxidants available. Reducing free radicals that would normally cause oxidative damage in your brain and body.
But cacao and chocolate are NOT the same thing. How cacao is processed makes all the difference in retaining its nootropic benefits.
See the full review for types of cocao to buy, dosage recommendations, side effects, and drug interactions.
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. As a nootropic, caffeine helps improve reaction time, alertness, memory and mood.
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist which influences acetylcholine, epinephrine (adrenaline), serotonin and boosts the use of dopamine. Providing the stimulant effect experienced when consuming caffeine.
Caffeine provides a protective effect by boosting gene expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Studies show chronic caffeine consumption may protect against developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
See the full review for dosage instructions, how to deal with tolerance, and the benefits of using caffeine stacked with L-Theanine.
Cat’s Claw is a South American vine used as a nootropic with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that support DNA repair, immune function and normal cell division.
For cognitive health, Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) has been used to prevent inflammation, promote cerebral circulation, fight amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s and possibly even boost acetylcholine (ACh).
The recommended daily dose for Cat’s Claw extract (Uncaria tomentosa) supplementation is 250 to 350 mg daily.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant constituting around 40% of the plant’s active compounds.
CBD does not have the same psychotomimetic (mind-altering) effects as the main plant compound THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol). In fact, CBD is able to counter the mind-altering effects caused by THC.
CBD Oil is used as a nootropic for its antianxiety and antidepressant effects, helps alleviate pain, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation and is anti-tumor.
Research into CBD has rapidly gained traction in the last few years. And shows potential in the treatment of depression, neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative stress, vomiting and nausea, anxiety, schizophrenia and other neurodegenerative problems.
Note that CBD Oil and hemp oil are not the same and should not be confused. You will not experience the same nootropic benefits with hemp oil as you will with CBD Oil.
Recommended starting dosage of CBD is 4 – 45 mg per day. Dosage of CBD Oil depends on the condition you are treating, your body weight, and how your body reacts to Cannabidiol. Dosages differ from one person to the next.
Choline is an essential nutrient needed by your body. And cannot make it on its own. Choline is arguably the most basic of nootropics.
It is a water soluble nutrient required for the health of cell membranes. Choline is also the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Food sources of choline are egg yolks, liver, milk and other dairy products, certain grains like quinoa and amaranth, bacon, edamame and cruciferous vegetables.
Brain health is compromised by too little choline. And with our modern diet it is nearly impossible to get enough choline without supplementation.
Choline as a nootropic is used as an acetylcholine precursor. In other words, it’s the step before producing acetylcholine in your brain.
Common signs of choline deficiency can include; headaches, fatigue, memory problems, and muscle pain.
The way your body uses different sources of choline varies depending on the source, and mechanism of action. Common choline sources used as nootropics are explained next.
Choline Bitartrate is a “choline salt”, and one of the least costly sources of choline as a nootropic supplement. Its a weaker source of choline than Alpha GPC and CDP-Choline. Meaning you need to use more to achieve similar nootropic effects.
Dosing for choline bitartrate ranges from 500 mg – 5 grams daily.
Like other sources of choline, Choline Citrate acts as a precursor to acetylcholine in the brain. This is a slightly more concentrated form of choline. It’s a combination of choline and a derivative of citric acid.
Choline Citrate is effective as a nootropic when use in large enough doses. It assists in boosting memory and recall, cognitive abilities, helps concentration and even used to treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Athletes like choline citrate for its ability to assist in cellular and muscle health and repair.
Choline citrate is available in powder, capsule or pill form. And you’ll find it as a main ingredient in many pre-formulated nootropic stacks. Since its water soluble you can take it with water, or mixed with your favorite juice.
Dosage can be from 500 mg. to 3 grams per day.
Citicoline (see CDP-Choline)
CDP-Choline (Cytidine Diphosphate Choline) is also known as Citicoline. CDP-choline is a highly bioavailable source of choline that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
CDP-Choline is metabolized in the body to form choline and cytidine.[i] In the body choline aids in the synthesis of acetylcholine in the body. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning.
The cytidine in CDP-Choline converts to uridine in the body. This nucleotide is important to neural membrane synthesis which helps cognition or thinking.
CDP-Choline is an effective nootropic on its own. And works synergistically to boost the effectiveness of other nootropics. Particularly those in the racetam family.
Dosing of CDP-Choline is 250 – 750 mg. per day.
DMAE is a natural chemical found in your body. It works on boosting cognition and mood. Centrophenoxine seems to be more effective than DMAE when used as a supplement.
Marketed in Europe as “Lucidril”, its prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s and ADHD.
Centrophenoxine is an excellent source of acetylcholine. You can boost the effectiveness of certain nootropics like Piracetam when combined with Centrophenoxine.
A dosage range of 500 – 1000 mg. is considered safe.
Coconut & MCT Oil
Coconut oil is extracted from the seed or fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Virgin or unrefined coconut oil is a potent antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.
Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat. Nearly 60% of the fats are medium-chain fatty acids. Including caprylic acid C-8 (8%), capric acid, C-10 (7%), and lauric acid C-12 (49%).
Medium-chain fatty acids are also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are produced by hydrolyzing coconut oil and esterifying the fatty acids shorter than lauric acid (C-12) with glycerol.
Both coconut and MCT oil provide some powerful nootropic properties. The MCTs in coconut oil bypass your normal digestive system and go directly to your liver where they are converted to ketones.
Ketones are carried throughout your body including your brain for use in the citric acid cycle to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP fuels your mitochondria which improves alertness, cognition, memory and mood.
MCTs help increase antioxidant levels in your brain. And increase serotonin which provides an anti-stress effect.
And coconut oil decreases mitochondrial dysfunction that can be caused by Amyloid-β plaques which are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. And drug-resistant epilepsy patients have found that the ketones provided by coconut oil can help reduce seizure frequency.
Coconut & MCT oil are a helpful addition to any nootropic stack which contains fat-soluble supplements. Improving the bioavailability of those nootropics by delivering them directly into brain cells.
Recommended dosage of Coconut & MCT oil is 1 tablespoon 3-times per day. Or each time you take your nootropic dose.
As a nootropic, Coluracetam enhances concentration and cognition, boosts memory, mood and focus, and treats anxiety disorders. It also seems to have a stimulant effect which improves motivation. Users also report richer and fuller sound and colors.
General dosage is 20 – 80 mg. per day, but depends on your reason for using Coluracetam. And your past experience in using racetams. You may want start with a lower dose, and increase over time based on your experience with this nootropic.
CoQ10 & Ubiquinol
Coenzyme Q10 is naturally obtained from food such as; beef, liver, sardines, mackerel, butter, and extra virgin olive oil. In an ideal world our bodies would convert enough CoQ10 to Ubiquinol from our food. But a more convenient way is giving our bodies CoQ10 directly by using Ubiquinol as a supplement. No conversion necessary.
The original supplement form of CoQ10 was Ubiquinone. It was updated with a newer synthesis of CoQ10 called Ubiquinol which boosts bioavailability from 40% to 90%.
CoQ10 is essential to mitochondria for producing Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). The Ubiquinol version of CoQ10 is highly bioavailable and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. As a nootropic, CoQ10 not only helps produce ATP in brain cells, but protects against free radical damage as well.[ii]
CoQ10 improves athletic performance, works as an antioxidant, and battles fatigue and depression.
A daily dose of CoQ10 of 100 mg from a highly bioavailable form like Ubiquinol is best.
Creatine is made in the liver, and acts as fuel cells for your cells. Including brain cells. It provides energy on demand. You could say creatine is the ultimate nootropic.
Creatine is a popular supplement for athletes because it boosts physical performance by going directly to the muscles needing fuel. Vegetarians and vegans typically have lower levels of creatine in the body than meat eaters.
Creatine is also favored by nootropic users because of the fuel demanded by brain cells when using racetams. After crossing the blood-brain barrier, creatine binds to phosphate. Creatine phosphate in turn fuels energy consumption by the brain.
So creatine is good for muscle fuel, and mental performance. It helps boost memory, reducing brain fatigue, improve mood, is anti-aging and a neuroprotectant.
Dosage recommendation vary widely based on personal preference and physical demand. It goes from 200 mg to 25 grams daily. As a nootropic the most common creatine dosage is 3 – 5 grams per day.
DHA (Omega 3)
Your brain is 60% fat. So it would be safe to say that to maintain and excel mentally, our brain needs a good supply of healthy fats.
The two most studied omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA makes up a large portion of brain gray matter. Brain fat forms cell membranes. And plays a vital role in how our cells function. Neurons are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is a main component of brain synapses. (A synapse is the part of a brain cell that causes a neuron to pass an electrical signal to another neuron).
Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids result in ADD, anxiety, depression, obesity, suicide, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Diets rich in omega-3’s help balance emotions and boost mood because DHA is a main component of the brain’s synapses.
Eating fish helps cognitive performance because fish, krill, and other marine life are high in Omega-3’s. Other foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include: anchovies, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, flaxseed, soybeans, walnuts, spinach, and tofu.
Ideal daily dosage for Omega-3’s should include a least 1,000 mg of DHA.
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produce by your adrenal glands, brain, and testes in men. DHEA levels decline with age right along with testosterone. The result is deceased motivation, cognition, depression, fatigue, and loss of libido.
DHEA as a nootropic has a noticeable effect on increasing motivation, and a general sense of well-being.
Remember that DHEA is a steroid hormone, and does increase estrogen. In men prolonged elevated estrogen levels has negative effects like abdominal fat, and male breasts.
Dosing DHEA is 25 mg. per day and you may want to cycle one month on and one month off. And get your estradiol & DHEA levels checked.
DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) naturally occurs in the brain. DMAE is not a precursor to acetylcholine as reported on some other nootropic sites. DMAE prevents choline metabolism by cells and boosting choline levels in the brain as a result.
DMAE as a nootropic helps increase alertness, boosts mood and memory. Studies show that DMAE supplementation may help improve mood.[iii]
Use of DMAE as a nootropic has mixed reviews in the neurohacking community. Some report benefits to increased energy. And others say it causes hyperactivity, loss of focus and motivation, and depression. Most of the negative effects of DMAE come from higher and prolonged dosing.
Like all nootropics, and particularly with DMAE, experiment to find out if it’s right for you. Start out with a smaller 50 mg. dose, and go as high as 200 mg. per day looking for your sweet spot. And check out the “Dosage Notes” and “Side Effects” in the extended article for more on DMAE.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a serotonin precursor in the brain. It is a naturally occurring byproduct of the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps communication between neurons.
5-HTP as a nootropic easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. And once it converts to serotonin can help improve mood, control behavior and appetite, and help you sleep.
Research shows 5-HTP can help in impulse control, and balance out moods resulting in less anxiety.[iv] And even reduce panic attacks.
Dosing of 5-HTP is 50 mg 3-times per day for up to 2 weeks.
See the extended article for Nootropics Expert® recommendations and warnings on supplementing with 5-HTP.
Forskolin (Coleus root)
Forskolin is a plant native to south Asia. And has a limited nootropic track record. It first became popular when included in the open source stack CILTEP.
Common dosage of Forskolin is 150 – 250 mg. per day.
GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid and neurotransmitter produced by glutamate in your brain. GABA in the brain is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means is prevents other neurotransmitters from being released. Resulting in an anti-anxiety and calming effect.
There is considerable debate on whether GABA as a supplement can cross the blood-brain barrier. But many find it effective for relieving anxiety, stress and for sleep.
Adding a phenyl group to GABA (called Phenibut (β-Phenyl-GABA)), this derivative is able to enter your brain and lower levels of anxiety and stress.
Typical recommended dosage of GABA is 250 – 500 mg per day.
Ginkgo Biloba comes from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree native to China. The leaves have been used for thousands of years to boost mental alertness, improve cerebral circulation, and the overall function of the brain.
As a nootropic, Ginkgo has been shown to be particularly effective in elderly memory loss, slow thinking and reasoning, and tinnitus. One study shows significant improvement in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer patients.[v]
Most noticeable in adults suffering cognitive decline, Ginkgo Biloba seems to improve short term memory and recall. It’s also effective in reducing stress and anxiety, and boosting mood.
Dosage of Ginkgo Biloba is typically 120 – 240 mg. per day with food. Caution should be taken because Ginkgo can increase internal bleeding in some users.
Ginseng can improve symptoms of anxiety, and boost attention, concentration, and memory. Nootropic users above 40 find the most benefit in Ginseng.
Panax ginseng is native to southeast Asia. Other species include American Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng. Each have unique characteristics. Panax Ginseng is preferred, and is used as a memory booster, improves mood, lower anxiety levels, and boosts stamina and endurance.
Look for ginseng extract of at least 3-5% ginsenosides. A good starting dose is 100 mg per day.
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is one of the most important herbs in ancient Ayurveda medicine. Ayurveda uses it to reduce anxiety, reduce fever and treat skin conditions. It improves circulation and promotes longevity.
As an extract dosage is 10 drops or 10-20 ml per day. As a dried herb make a tea of the dried leaf and use 3-times daily. As a powdered herb take 400-600 mg, three times per day.
Glycine (2-Aminoacetic Acid, Gly, G) is a conditionally essential amino acid that plays a role in the synthesis of nucleic acids, glutathione, RNA and DNA, and creatine.
Glycine activates NMDA receptors in your brain and restores serotonin levels which helps improve sleep. And the ability to fall asleep faster.
And Glycine taken in high doses has proven effective in reducing symptoms of schizophrenia.
Recommended nootropic dosage for Glycine is 3 grams per day.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Holy Basil (Tulsi) or “The Incomparable One” is the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion. And has been valued for millennia by Ayurveda, Greek, Roman, Siddha and Unani because of its benefits for mind, body and spirit.
Holy Basil reduces spikes in cortisol induced by chronic stress. And is particularly effective in reducing stress caused by loud noise.
Holy Basil is also a potent antioxidant. It’s a natural COX-2 inhibitor. And the compounds including eugenol, cirsilineol, cirsimaritin, isothymusin, isothymonin, apigenin, rosmarinic acid in Holy Basil have been compared to the pain-relieving activity of ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.
Many neurohackers use Holy Basil as an anxiolytic and find it as effective for calming anxiety as some prescription anti-anxiety meds.
Recommended dosage of Holy Basil extract is 300 – 2,000 mg per day.
Huperzine-A is a natural compound extracted from the Chinese club moss huperzia serrata. Huperzine-A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which means it boosts levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in your brain.
Huperzine-A helps promote memory by increasing acetylcholine levels. Users report improved memory, retention, cognition, and lucid dreaming.
Dosage of Huperzine-A is 200 mcg every 2 days or twice per week.
Since iodine has largely been removed from table salt in some countries, many suggest an iodine deficiency epidemic. Particularly in countries like the United States.
Iodine is essential to a healthy thyroid. Remember, your thyroid is right next to your brain. Iodine deficiency during early childhood results in profound intellectual disability.
The thyroid hormones T4 and T3 are synthesized from iodine and tyrosine. These help regulate processes like growth and metabolism. Thyroid hormones target organs like the brain where they regulate gene expression. And help protect brain cells from toxins.
Ask anyone suffering from hypothyroidism about brain fog!
Dosage for a healthy adult is up to 1 mg per day. Supplemented with selenium. Brazil nuts are a great source of natural selenium. Two Brazil nuts can give you your daily dose.
Kava (piper methysticum) is native to the South Pacific. Pacific Islanders traditionally use the plant for its sedative effects.
Kava can help to reduce anxiety, improve mood, and promote an overall sense of well-being. And unlike benzodiazepines, kava does not impair cognitive function. In fact, studies show kava may boost cognitive function.[viii]
Of the 105 varieties of kava, Noble and Tudei Kava has been traditionally used in the South Pacific Islands. And has been safely consumed for hundreds of years.
Daily dosage of Kava Kava is 250 – 500 mg. Some experts suggest taking less as it will have less impact on your liver. Experiment to find out what works for you.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is the leaf of a tropical deciduous tree within the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia.
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG), unique to Mitragyna speciosa, are the two alkaloids mainly responsible for the effects of Kratom. And are agonists of the μ-subtype opioid receptor (MOR). Which provides its powerful pain-relieving action.
Kratom’s effect on serotonin and norepinephrine help improve mood and lower anxiety. At lower doses, Kratom is used for its stimulant effects and to combat fatigue.
At higher dosages, Kratom can have more of a sedative and anxiolytic effect. And has also been used in traditional and natural medicine as an alternative to opiate medications.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is an ancient Chinese remedy for improving cognitive performance, and overall health.
Unlike other nootropics which often modulate neurotransmitters, Lion’s Mane goes to the root of the problem. It prevents and treats nerve damage by boosting Brain Nerve Growth Factor, or neurogenesis.
Lion’s Mane can help improve focus and attention, boost thinking, repair brain cells, help depression and anxiety, and manage other neurological problems like Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom dosage depends largely on the strength of the extract. And amount of polysaccharide content. Try 500 mg to 3 gm per day depending on extract concentration.
L- Carnosine is an amino acid or dipeptide found in your kidneys, liver, muscles and brain. The two amino acids are beta-alanine and L-histidine.
L-Carnosine works in the body as an antioxidant scavenging for free radicals. The concentration in muscles correlates with life span so it’s considered a powerful anti-aging supplement.
L-Carnosine is involved in neurotransmission, binds to and helps remove AGEs (Advance Glycosylation End-products), helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, and assists in removing heavy metal toxins.
While you may not see profound and immediate nootropic benefits using L-Carnosine, hundreds of studies prove its benefits for long-term health and anti-aging.
Recommended dosage of L-Carnosine is 1,000 mg per day. Bodybuilders and athletes prefer supplementing with beta-alanine – up to 3.2 grams per day. (Do not confuse L-Carnosine with L-Carnitine).
L-Dopa (Mucuna Pruriens)
Dopamine deficiency is directly correlated with Parkinson’s Disease.
L-dopa easily crosses the blood-brain barrier when used as a nootropic supplement. L-dopa can increase libido, testosterone, enhances memory and learning retention. It is also reported to increase human growth hormone (HGH) levels.[ix]
You can easily get extracts of Mucuna Pruriens of up to 98% pure L-Dopa taken from velvet bean or cowitch. Dosage depends on the strength of the extract and can range from 150 mg to 1 gm per day.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is used for its anti-anxiety effects. This plant from the mint family has a lemony scent, and is native to the Mediterranean region.
Rosmarinic acid, a compound found in lemon balm, inhibits the GABA transaminase enzyme. Which in turn helps maintain adequate levels of GABA in your brain. Resulting in a calming effect.
As a nootropic, lemon balm is most commonly used for stress relief, and reduction of panic attacks. Lemon balm also helps with focus, concentration, reduces irritability and depression, and improves memory and learning retention.
Dosage of lemon balm is 1 – 2 grams of dried lemon balm leaf as a tea, or 300 – 600 mg of lemon balm extract as a nootropic supplement.
L-Glutamine in your brain works by boosting glutamic acid and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It also helps detox toxins and free radicals from your brain.
And by increasing GABA levels, L-Glutamine can lead to reduced stress and better sleep.
Dosage of L-Glutamine varies from 500 mg all the way to 10 or 20 grams. For nootropic use its typically on the lower end of the scale. Experiment with smaller amounts, and move up as needed to see what works best for you.
Lithium retains a grim and undeserved reputation. Because it has been associated with treating serious mental issues like bipolar disorder and mania.
It turns out that the psychotic medication lithium isn’t even a drug. It’s actually an essential trace mineral required to maintain optimal cognitive function.
Studies from around the world have demonstrated the critical health benefits of lithium. One study using data from 27 Texas counties from 1978 – 1987 found that rates of suicide, homicide and rape were significantly higher in counties whose drinking water contained little or no lithium.
As a nootropic, micro-dosing with Lithium Orotate comes with a host of benefits. Lithium calms mania and mood swings by decreasing the sensitivity of norepinephrine receptors. It upregulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), neurotrophin-3 (NT3) and their receptors.
And lithium stimulates the proliferation of stem cells in the brain. All boosting neurogenesis and assisting in repair from all types of brain injury.
Lithium also increases brain gray matter, increases DNA replication for neurogenesis, prevents apoptosis, increases N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), inhibits beta-amyloid secretion and protects against damage once it’s formed, chelates aluminum, and protects against glutamate toxicity.
Lithium Orotate recommended dose is 5 mg two or three times per day.
L-Theanine, which naturally occurs in green tea and oolong tea, is an amino acid. L-Theanine is used as a nootropic for anxiety, learning, mood, and focus.
Experienced nootropic users often “stack” L-Theanine with caffeine for a synergistic effect to promote cognition, motivation and attention. As a bonus, the caffeine jitters are reduced when combined with L-Theanine.
Dosing L-Theanine as a nootropic is 250 – 500 mg and it is water soluble.
Maca is a native Peruvian plant growing over 4,000 m (13,000 ft) high in the Andes mountains.
Natives in the central Peruvian Andes traditionally had their children eat Maca to improve their performance in school. Likely due to Maca’s ability to boost acetylcholine and act as an antioxidant.
Maca is used as a sports supplement by strength and endurance athletes to improve trial performance. Likely due to better energy metabolism and improved antioxidant status.
As a nootropic, Maca is known for elevating mood, increasing energy and endurance, boosting learning and memory, increasing libido, and is a potent neuroprotectant.
The purest Maca comes from high in the Andes of Peru. But Maca is also popular now in China and some Maca for export comes from that country. And should be avoided.
Recommended dosage of Maca for cognitive benefit is up to 5 grams per day.
Learn more about Maca
Magnesium doesn’t get the respect it should as a nootropic. The lack of adequate levels of magnesium in your body can result in brain fog, anxiety and depression.
Magnesium can also help maintain healthy blood pressure, and help prevent sudden heart attack and stroke.
Most forms of Magnesium don’t work well as a nootropic supplement because they can’t easily cross the blood-brain barrier. A new form of magnesium called Magnesium-L-threonate is recommended for nootropic use. And is a great addition to any nootropic stack.
A typical adult dosage of magnesium-L-threonate is 1 gram per day.
Mushrooms have been used by humans for thousands of years as food and medicine. Of 2,000 edible mushrooms, 270 species have been identified and tested as therapeutic and preventive agents that ensure and boost human health.
But of those 270 species, only 6 are considered nootropics. And provide some benefit specifically for your brain.
And those mushrooms include: Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Oyster and Reishi.
Each of these nootropic mushrooms offer a distinct benefit to your nootropic stack. Clinical studies show they increase neurotransmitter levels, repair brain cells, improve cognitive performance and longevity, and reduce anxiety and depression.
But the medicinal mushroom market is fraught with peril. And many manufacturers pass on inferior product to unsuspecting and uneducated customers.
See my full review for the benefits that each of these nootropic mushrooms offer. And learn how to distinguish between genuine mushrooms and powdered extracts that offer zero benefit.
Once you learn how to read the label, you’ll have more confidence knowing you’re buying the best nootropic mushrooms.
Methylene Blue as a nootropic will likely feel different than any other nootropic on this list. It’s the first synthetic drug ever developed. First used to treat malaria back in 1891.
Methylene Blue is a potent antioxidant. It binds to superoxide created during metabolism within brain cells. Reducing it to water and stopping the oxidative cascade at its very beginning. Before it gets a chance to do damage.
And Methylene Blue inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAOI) and acetylcholinesterase activity which increases levels of catecholamines and acetylcholine. Boosting serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Affecting anxiety, depression, energy and memory.
Recommended safe dosage based on clinical studies ranges from 0.5 – 4 mg/kg of body weight. It’s water-soluble so you don’t have to take it with a meal or healthy fat.
But please see the “Side Effects” section in the main Methylene Blue review. Because you don’t want to take it with antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications. Or you put yourself at risk of Serotonin Syndrome.
Melatonin (N-Acetyl-5-Methoxytryptamine) is a hormone made in your pineal gland. And it’s this hormone your body produces when its time to go to sleep.
Melatonin levels are low during the day. And peak at about 2 – 3 AM depending on your age. After that it steadily declines until morning.
When the timing is off and melatonin drops below optimal levels, you know you’re getting old(er). Or your pineal gland is not working optimally.
When the melatonin cycle is disrupted by jet-lag, aging or stress – your ability to think clearly, memory, and decision-making abilities can suffer.
Don’t take melatonin during the day or it will disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. Melatonin as a nootropic supplement taken 1 1/2 hours before bed is ideal.
The appropriate dose of melatonin can vary widely from person to person. Start with 1 – 3 mg, 90 minutes before bedtime. See how you feel. And if you readily fall and stay asleep until morning. Then adjust your dose from there – up or down. Most people don’t need any more than 3 – 5 mg. per night.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that regulates the amount of glutamate and dopamine in your brain. NAC is the precursor to glutathione which reduces free radicals in your brain.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine is used as an anti-dote to Tylenol (acetaminophen) overdose and carbon monoxide poisoning.
NAC is also used to treat ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, prevent alcoholic liver damage, Alzheimer’s Disease, eliminate heavy metals, and depression.
Dosing N-Acetyl L-Cysteine as a nootropic at 600 mg up to three times per day helps with focus, motivation and concentration.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a highly bio-available form of the amino acid L-Tyrosine. The brain uses L-Tyrosine to produce dopamine. And the neurotransmitter norepinephrine which affects alertness, memory, and mood.
Dopamine is involved with libido, memory, focus, goal-oriented concentration, a mood elevator and anti-depressant.
Norepinephrine helps with alertness, working memory, focus, and executive function.
L-Tyrosine supports healthy glandular function and stress response because it helps with the synthesis of thyroid hormone and epinephrine (adrenalin).
Studies have found tyrosine to be useful for cold, fatigue, prolonged work, stress, sleep deprivation, and those suffering with hypothyroidism. Particularly studies within the military.[xii]
The typical dose for N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is 300 – 500 mg dosed 2 or 3-times per day. Experiment to see how you respond during your day.
NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide + Hydrogen) boosts alertness, improves mental energy and elevates mood. NADH is an antioxidant coenzyme related to the B-Vitamin family.
This coenzyme is used in the formation of ATP, the energy source produced within the mitochondria of your cells. It’s most highly concentrated in the body’s heart and brain. Both power-hungry organs.
NADH seems to decline with age, and is related to cell damage and accelerated cellular aging.
Dosing of NADH is 5 – 20 mg per day. NADH for nootropic benefit seems to be 10 mg.
Nefiracetam is structurally similar to Aniracetam but considered much more potent. This fat-soluble nootropic easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It works in the hippocampus area of your brain to boost memory and recall.
Nefiracetam is used clinically to treat and prevent seizures, severe depression, and has shown neuroprotective qualities.
Dosing Nefiracetam is based on body weight. Acceptable dosage levels according to limited reported user experience is 100 – 900 mg. per day. Most nootropic users experience some benefit in the lower range.
Nicotine molecules attach to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain. And seem to work by regulating other receptor systems. One obvious clue to how this works – Nicotine tends to make you more alert. And has a calming effect.
The primary neurotransmitter that Nicotine boosts is dopamine. Which may be the reason why it’s so addictive. As a result, it can also help prevent some diseases.
Dozens of clinical studies have been published showing Nicotine effective in treating Parkinson’s, ADHD, Tourette’s, schizophrenia, and other neurological disorders.
Turns out the addictive quality of using tobacco isn’t entirely caused by Nicotine. But by the interplay with all the other compounds found in a cigarette.
The key to using Nicotine as a nootropic is NOT by smoking a cigarette. Use a Nicotine patch or lozenge instead.
Recommended dosage of Nicotine as a nootropic is 1 – 2 mg as needed, preferably used sublingually.
Noopept seems to stimulate dopamine, nicotinic and serotonin receptors. It boosts cognition, memory, retention, logical thinking, improves reflexes, and improves mood. Noopept has also been shown to increase Brain Nerve Growth Factor.
Oat Straw (avena sativa) comes from green oat grass. You may have heard the term “sowing your wild oats”. Oat Straw increases luteinizing hormone in your body and is the basis for that saying. Luteinizing hormone stimulates testosterone production.
Oat Straw is an MAO-B inhibitor and increases dopamine levels in the brain. As a nootropic, Oat Straw can improve attention, cognition, concentration and focus. All benefits experienced when your dopamine and testosterone levels are optimized.
Oat Straw extract dosage is 800 – 1600 mg per day.
Oxiracetam can boost focus, memory, mental energy, recall, and improves fluidity of thinking. It’s most often stacked with a choline supplement because it boosts the use of acetylcholine in your brain.
Oxiracetam can be paired with other nootropics in a stack. And recommended dosage is 750 – 1,500 mg per day, and preferably dosed twice per day. You should use Oxiracetam with a good choline source like Alpha GPC or CDP Choline to avoid fatigue or headache when using it.
Phenibut can have a sedative effect and has strong anti-anxiety qualities. It can be used to combat depression, improve mood, cognitive function and motivation.
A safe starting dose of Phenibut is 200 – 300 mg. Take it on an empty stomach and expect to feel its full effect in 2 – 6 hours. Experienced Phenibut users will dose as high as 1.5 grams per day (NOT recommended when you’re starting out).
Easily crossing the blood-brain barrier, Phenylpiracetam is a fast-acting nootropic. It helps improve memory, recall, learning capacity, concentration, motivation and mental energy. And provides a stimulant effect.
Phenylpiracetam also helps reduce motion sickness, boosts physical performance, is anti-anxiety, and improves tolerance to cold.
Dose Phenylpiracetam 100 mg twice per day. Tolerance is likely so it’s best to cycle Phenylpiracetam. Use it when needed for a cognitive boost. Or try cycling it one week on and one week off.
Picamilon (nicotinyl-y-aminobutyric acid) is a combination of niacin (Vitamin B3) and GABA. It was developed in the Soviet Union as an enhanced form of GABA that is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Once in your system, Picamilon separates into niacin and GABA. And produces a calming and blood vessel dilation effect.
Similar to Phenibut, Picamilon improves memory, concentration, motivation, focus, has strong anti-anxiety properties, and can lower blood pressure.
Start with the lowest possible dosage of Picamilon and see how you tolerate it. 50 – 300 mg per day is typical. Most nootropic users find somewhere between 50 – 100 mg 2 or 3 times per day is optimal.
It is water soluble and should be taken on an empty stomach for quicker action.
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®)
Pine Bark extract is a standardized extract of French maritime pine bark. Pycnogenol® is a patented water-soluble pine bark extract containing 65-75% proanthocyanidins.
Pine Bark extract helps boost cerebral blood flow by increasing nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels. And helps repair and maintain the health of blood vessel linings.
Pine Bark extract is one of the most potent antioxidants discovered. Scavenging free radicals to protect neurons and other brain cells from oxidative damage.
Proanthocyanidins are condensed tannins responsible for the astringent character (pucker factor) of fruits, berries, beans, and tea. Pine Bark is higher in these bioflavonoids than most other plant sources.
Pine Bark extract is a potent anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. And it’s not just great for your brain. It’s also great for skin health, DNA, lowering blood sugar levels, improving eye health, helps correct erectile dysfunction, calms PMS symptoms, tames asthma and hay fever, and symptoms of ADHD.
Dosing Pine Bark Extract or Pycnogenol® as a nootropic is up to 100 mg 3-times per day.
Piperine is black pepper extract. And is used with other supplements for greater and faster absorption.
Piperine taken with a supplement like curcumin will prevent the liver from breaking down the curcumin before absorption. Piperine also elevates other supplement levels in your body which can be good in some cases. And detrimental in others.
You’ll often see BioPerine® added as a compound in some nootropic or supplement stacks. BioPerine® is a patented form of Piperine that is said to significantly enhance the bioavailability of various nutrients through increased absorption.
Dosage is typically 5 – 20 mg per day of Piperine.
Piracetam was developed by Romanian chemist, and the godfather of nootropics, Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea in 1964. This is the first racetam ever developed.
Piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA but does not affect the GABA receptors in your brain.
Piracetam also affects the neurotransmitter acetylcholine by boosting ACh receptors into accepting or being more sensitive to acetylcholine.
As a nootropic, Piracetam boosts focus, learning, and memory. Piracetam also acts as a neuroprotectant.[xvii]
Dosing of Piracetam ranges from 1 – 4.8 grams per day. Dosed throughout the day. If it’s your first time using Piracetam start at the lower end of the range and work your up. If you’re stacking with other racetams you’ll likely use smaller quantities of Piracetam.
AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme found inside each of our cells and works as the body’s master regulating switch. AMPK is reduced as we age. But it is possible to increase AMPK using compounds such as Rhodiola Rosea.
When AMPK is “switched on” it triggers the use of stored energy from fats, removes fats and sugars from the blood, boosts mitochondria production, reduces inflammation, and takes out the cellular “garbage”.[xviii]
When AMPK is activated in brain cells it prevents diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Rhodiola Rosea is a plant that grows at high altitudes and in cold regions of the world. It decreases depression and stress-related mood swings, reduces fatigue, stimulates energy and alertness, and boosts cognition.
Dosage of Rhodiola Rosea is from 150 – 200 mg. per day.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is not produced by the body so must be obtained by food or in supplement form. Examples of natural sources of Phenylalanine are meat and milk products.
Phenylalanine is a precursor, or assists in producing the amino acid tyrosine in your brain. Tyrosine then helps in the formation and utilization of the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and melatonin.
Using Phenylalanine as a nootropic helps fight chronic pain, improves mood and boosts energy. It also helps in relief from anxiety, improves focus and boosts motivation. DL-Phenylalanine is used to help combat ADHD and Parkinson’s.
Phenylalanine dosage is 500 mg up to 3-times per day.
Caution should be observed if you’re taking antidepressants.
PEA is an endogenous (natural) amphetamine in your brain. And its structure is the basis for dozens of amphetamine-based drugs including Adderall (amphetamine), appetite suppressants, decongestants, antidepressants, and psychedelics like MDMA and mescaline.
PEA activates TAAR1 and TAAR2 receptors which in turn prevent the uptake and boosts the release of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
PEA has a very short half-life including as a nootropic because it’s quickly degraded by monoamine oxidase-B. So many neurohackers stack PEA with a MAO-B inhibitor like low-dose selegiline (L-deprenyl), hordenine, or Oat Straw.
Dosage of Phenylethylamine (PEA) is 500 mg up to 3-times per day. More is NOT better of this nootropic and too much can cause severe side effects including rapid heart rate.
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a phospholipid with the highest concentration found in the brain and liver. Used as a nootropic supplement, Phosphatidylcholine (PC) helps build and repair cell membranes.
When Phosphatidylcholine is used as a nootropic, it separates into choline and sphingomyelin in your brain. Choline is needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. And sphingomyelin helps in the development and protection of brain nerve cells.
When blood levels of choline are low, Phosphatidylcholine is cannibalized from cell walls to make acetylcholine. This eventually leads to nasty diseases like Alzheimer’s, poor memory and recall, loss of focus and brain fog, and more.
To boost choline in your brain, you can supplement with Phosphatidylcholine. As a nootropic supplement dosing ranges from 1,200 mg – 5 grams per day. If you are new to neurohacking, start on the lower range of the scale and dose 2 or 3 times per day.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is vital for the brain because this phospholipid is found in all cells, but most highly concentrated in brain cell wall membranes.
Phosphatidylserine production declines as we age. And the reason why supplementation of this nootropic is so critical.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is now derived from plant sources, such as soybean lecithin, or sunflower lecithin. Plant derived PS is equally effective and safer than that derived from animal brain sources.
Dosing Phosphatidylserine (PS) is anywhere from 100 – 300 mg per day.
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) is an enzyme cofactor, and the only nutrient known to facilitate the growth of new mitochondria in your brain cells.
Researchers found PQQ supplementation can boost the production and release of nerve growth factors in cells that support creation of new neurons in the brain. And promotes neuroplasticity that helps neurons develop the connections needed for learning and developing memories.[xx]
More studies support PQQ’s ability to increase mitochondrial density, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and improve learning and memory. As an antioxidant, PQQ is thousands of times more potent than Vitamin C.
Without PQQ, mitochondria wear out and brain cells age faster. Supplementing with PQQ should give you a brain energy boost. And provide anti-aging benefits.
Dosing PQQ as a nootropic is typically 10 – 20 mg per day.
Because Pramiracetam stimulates choline uptake in the brain it should be stacked with a good choline source like Alpha GPC or CDP Choline. And it’s fat-soluble so needs to be taken with food or a good fat source like unrefined coconut oil or MCT Oil.
Optimal dosage of Pramiracetam as a nootropic is 1,200 mg divided into 2 or 3 doses during the day.
Pterostilbene is found in cranberries, blueberries and grapes. And is a compound similar to Resveratrol.
Pterostilbene works by modifying enzymes linked to glucose levels. It helps reduce blood sugar and cholesterol. Which reduces oxidative stress and prevents heart attacks and stroke.
Pterostilbene is believed to be stronger than Resveratrol and has better bio-availability. Both compounds work in different ways in a human cell so are often stacked together.
Recommended dosage of Pterostilbene is 50 mg per day.
Quercetin (3,3′,4′,5,7-pentahydroxyflavone) is flavanol from the flavonoid group of polyphenols found in many plants.
Quercetin boosts mitochondrial function and decreases reactive oxygen species (ROS) production which improves learning and memory.
Quercetin is a potent antioxidant and shown to inhibit Aβ aggregation, and tau phosphorylation associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. And inhibits acetylcholinesterase which in turn increases acetylcholine levels. For further therapeutic potential in treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Neurohackers use Quercetin to reduce allergy symptoms and to fight viral infections. And used as a workout supplement, Quercetin helps reduce muscle soreness.
Quercetin has the unique ability to increase claudin-4 which seals Tight Junctions and healing a leaky gut or leaky blood-brain barrier.
And recent research and user feedback shows that Quercetin may reduce symptoms of COVID-19. And has a significant capability to interfere with the replication of the virus.
Recommended nootropic dosage for Quercetin is 500 mg up to twice per day.
Recommended nootropic dosage of trans-resveratrol is 20 – 250 mg per day.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an evergreen herb belonging to the mint family Lamiaceae. And is used world-wide as a culinary spice and medicine.
Rosemary has traditionally been used for high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and respiratory system-related diseases.
Rosemary is considered a powerful cardiac stimulant, a strong antiseptic, antispasmodic, calms the nerves, for arthritis, dandruff, skin diseases, and stimulates hair growth.
Compounds found in Rosemary including diterpenes, carnosic acid, and carnosol have been shown in recent studies to inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, is a heavy metal chelator, and protects against Amyloid-β aggregation and tau tangles. All promising therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Recommended nootropic dosage of Rosemary leaf extract is 750 mg per day.
Saffron is the dried stigma of the Crocus sativus plant native to the Middle East. And is the world’s most expensive culinary spice largely due to the way it must be grown and harvested (by hand).
Saffron has been used for thousands of years as an anxiolytic, sedative, and antidepressant.
As a nootropic, Saffron is now used for depression, PMS symptoms, post-partum depression, memory, appetite suppression, energy & stamina in athletes, and preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Recent studies show Saffron as effective as some popular prescription antidepressants. And can even help alleviate the sexual dysfunction caused by these drugs.
Saffron extracts (crocin & safranal) inhibit the uptake of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which helps improve mood.
Saffron inhibits the deposit of amyloid-β which is associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Saffron also inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine (acetylcholinesterase) just like the current medication (donepezil) approved to treat Alzheimer’s.
Crocin and safranal which are unique carotenoids in Saffron make it a potent antioxidant. Scavenging free radicals which reduces inflammation, preventing apoptosis, and protecting brain cells and mitochondria.
Recommended dose of Saffron is 25 – 30 mg twice per day.
Learn more about Saffron
SAM-e (S-Adenosyl Methionine) is a naturally occurring compound in your body. It is the amino acid methionine bound to an ATP molecule.
SAM-e is used to boost mood, relieve depression, improve energy levels, and reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia.
The recommended dosage of SAM-e as a nootropic is 400 mg per day.
St John’s wort
St John’s wort (hypericum perforatum) is a plant that has been traditionally used for mood disorders and wound healing. Today its used mostly as a treatment for anxiety, depression and stress.
A word of caution, however. St John’s wort is a strong CYP3A4 liver enzyme inducer. This enzyme is responsible for metabolizing psychoactive compounds in the liver. And translates to nullifying the effect of any other nootropics you may be taking.
Dosing St John’s Wort is anywhere from 900 to 1,800 mg per day. But be careful of using it with any other nootropics or medications.
Sulbutiamine (isobutyryl thiamine disulfide) is synthesized from Vitamin B1 (thiamine). It was first developed in Japan to treat beriberi – a Vitamin B1 deficiency.
Superior to thiamine as a nootropic because Sulbutiamine easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
As a nootropic, Sulbutiamine is taken to boost mood, memory and motivation.
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in your brain and body. And a featured ingredient in many popular energy drinks.
As a nootropic, taurine functions as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. It activates GABA and glycine receptors which affects your mood and prevents seizures.
Taurine is a neuroprotectant because it reduces intracellular free calcium, protects from mitochondrial dysfunction, modulates energy metabolism within cells, modulates longevity genes, inhibits cellular stress associated with Alzheimer’s, acts as a brain cell health “quality control” and protects against stroke.
And Taurine increases stem cells and progenitor cells in your brain which increases brain cell survival and neurogenesis.
Popular energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster are not the best sources of Taurine for the serious neurohacker. You can get the same effect without the negatives by stacking taurine with a good caffeine source and a B-Complex supplement.
Recommended Taurine nootropic dosage is 500 mg – 2 gm per day.
Serotonin, the “happiness molecule” relies on an adequate supply of Tryptophan for synthesis. Low levels of serotonin in the brain are often due to an inadequate supply of Tryptophan.
Tryptophan is found in abundance in oats, bananas, dried prunes, milk, tuna, cheese, bread, chicken, turkey, peanuts, and chocolate. But our bodies often have problems converting this Tryptophan to serotonin in our brain.
Adding L-Tryptophan to your nootropic stack can help you boost serotonin levels. As a nootropic supplement, L-Tryptophan is used to treat anxiety, ADHD, depression, insomnia, memory loss, pain and eating disorders.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the anti-Alzheimer’s spice. Turmeric is one of the main spices in curries. In parts of India where curries are eaten most often, Alzheimer’s disease is extremely rare.
Turmeric is unique in the ability to reduce inflammation common to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain tumors.
Researchers at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, FL found that the curcuminoids in turmeric help break apart the plaque that clogs the brains in Alzheimer’s patients. [xxiv]
Turmeric has a combination of curcuminoids, volatile oils and proteins that make it anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.
Some neurohackers maintain that Turmeric or Curcumin is the best nootropic. You can increase the bioavailability of Turmeric by combining it with Piperine (black pepper extract) and a healthy fat like olive or coconut oil.
To witness the nootropic effects on mood and stress, dose Turmeric 2.5 – 4 grams per day.
Some concentrated extracts allow you to get the effects of Turmeric in smaller doses. Curcuma Longa (root) extract with 95% curcuminoids is dosed at 750 mg 3-times per day.
L-Tyrosine is also a precursor to thyroxine (your body’s main thyroid hormone).
You get Tyrosine from almonds, bananas, dairy products, eggs, lima beans, oats, poultry and wheat germ. Tyrosine hitchhikes on the back of amino acids like tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier to enter your brain.
N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a more bioavailable form of Tyrosine when used as a nootropic.
L-Tyrosine also plays a role in controlling organs responsible for creating and regulating hormones in your body. Including your adrenal glands, pituitary gland and thyroid.
L-Tyrosine can sharpen memory, is anti-anxiety, boosts mood, and protects brain nerve cells from neurotoxins.
Typical dosage of L-Tyrosine is 500 mg – 2 grams per day. Start at the lowest dose and work your way up as you evaluate the effects and benefits of L-Tyrosine in your body.
Uridine Monophosphate (5′-uridylic acid) is a precursor to Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). RNA provides instructions to your DNA to help create memory by facilitating connections between brain neurons (synapses).[xxv]
RNA levels decrease as we age. Supplementing with Uridine as a nootropic is one of the ultimate anti-aging tools to improve memory function.
The monophosphate portion of Uridine is the transporter that helps uridine move through your digestive tract unharmed. And delivers uridine across the blood-brain barrier.
Uridine affects the synthesis of phosphatides in the brain which are critical to cellular membranes. When you increase the synaptic proteins in your brain, you boost the number of synapses. Improving various aspects of cognition.
Uridine comes from eating broccoli, sugarcane, yeast, liver, and tomatoes.
Uridine supplementation as a nootropic uplifts and stabilizes mood, is anti-stress, helps Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is anti-anxiety and helps modulate and normalize dopamine release.
Recommended dosage for you just starting out with Uridine Monophosphate as a nootropic is 150 – 250 mg twice per day. Take it with a good Vitamin B-Complex and a 1,000 mg of a high quality DHA supplement.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is native to Europe and Northern Asia and has been used for millennia for headaches, anxiety, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, irritable bowel, menstrual cramps, epilepsy, and childhood behavior problems.
As a nootropic, Valerian is used primarily to lower stress and promote a good night’s sleep.
Valerian promotes sleep by boosting GABA and activating adenosine receptors. Helping you to relax and get to sleep faster. You sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed with no hangover.
Recommended nootropic dosage for Valerian root extract is 200 – 600 mg per day.
Vinpocetine enhances brain blood flow by dilating blood vessels. And reducing blood viscosity or thickness.
Vinpocetine is derived from the periwinkle plant. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. And helps improve brain blood supply, boosts oxygen and glucose use by the brain, maintains healthy levels of neurotransmitters, and promotes better concentration, focus, and memory.
Dosing Vinpocetine as a nootropic is 10 mg up to three times per day.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B1 is found in lentils, whole grains, pork, red meat, yeast, nuts, sunflower seeds, peas, milk, cauliflower and spinach.
Vitamin B1 is water soluble and is stored in your body for only 14 days. If you don’t get enough B1 you’ll experience irritability, confusion and memory problems. A severe deficiency can manifest itself as beriberi, pain, heart problems, or even paralysis.
Recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B1 is only 1.4 mg per day. You’ll experience a nootropic benefit with Vitamin B1 at higher doses of 50 – 100 mg per day.
Sulbutiamine is a derivative of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine). It is more bioavailable than standard Thiamine. And a far better choice for nootropic use.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3 also supports over 200 other chemical reactions in your body including cellular energy production and fatty acid synthesis.
Food sources of Vitamin B3 include beef, poultry, fish, peanuts and lentils.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is the only B vitamin that can be synthesized in the liver from the amino acid Tryptophan.
Niacin causes blood vessels to dilate or open up which is especially noticeable near the skin. Taking regular niacin as a nootropic supplement can cause a tingling sensation or red flushing of the skin.
1,000 mg of “extended-release” Niacin taken 3-times per day can improve memory, and correct some senility problems. Dosing 50 – 1,000 mg at bedtime taken at bedtime may help you sleep better.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
You need Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) to synthesize coenzyme-A for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Your body cannot make Vitamin B5 on it’s own, so it needs to come from food or a supplement. Vitamin B5 is found in nearly every food type. But much of the Vitamin B5 in Western processed food has been removed during processing.
Vitamin B5 also helps support fatty acid synthesis and cellular energy production in your body.
Using Vitamin B5 as a nootropic can boost focus, memory, learning, and reduce brain fog.
Recommended dosing of Vitamin B5 is 5 mg per day. But neurohackers suggest a higher dosage like a one-to-two ratio with a choline supplement. For example, 250 mg of Vitamin B5 with 500 mg of CDP Choline.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 helps control homocysteine in your blood. Homocysteine is the amino acid associated with heart disease. Your body also requires Vitamin B6 to absorb Vitamin B12 and to make red blood cells and cells for your immune system.
Symptoms of low Vitamin B6 are associated with irritability, depression, nervousness, difficulty concentrating and memory loss.
Dietary sources of Vitamin B6 include poultry, tuna, salmon, shrimp, dairy products, lentils, beans, spinach, carrots, bananas, brown rice, and sunflower seeds.
Recommended nootropic dosage of Vitamin B6 is up to 100 mg per day. Doses exceeding 200 mg can cause neurological disorders and loss of feeling in your legs.
Vitamin B8 (Inositol)
Vitamin B8 (Inositol) as a nootropic can boost serotonin levels which results in feelings of calm, heightened mental energy, and easy thought flow.
But it turns out Vitamin B8 is not a true “vitamin” because your body can produce small quantities of this compound on its own.
Vitamin B8 supports messenger signals throughout the body, including all the messenger signals between neurons in your brain.
Vitamin B8 (Inositol) is also used to control the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and panic attacks.
Best food sources of Inositol are citrus fruits, green leaf vegetables, liver, brown rice, and cereals.
As a nootropic, Vitamin B8 (Inositol) dosage is from 500 – 3,000 mg per day.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folate is involved in gene expression, amino acid synthesis, and myelin synthesis and repair.
Green leafy vegetables, or ‘foliage’ are rich sources of folate. And how ‘folate’ got its name. You can also get folate from citrus fruit juice, legumes, fortified foods (more on this controversy in the extended article), and liver.
Many neurohackers, including doctors and other health professionals confuse folate with folic acid. They are NOT the same.
In the extended article, we explore the differences between folate and folic acid. And how Vitamin B9 (Folate) is critical for the fully optimized brain.
As a nootropic, Vitamin B9 (Folate) dosage is 400 mcg per day.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) deficiency is common among Western adults.[xxvi] Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the efficient conversion of carbohydrates to glucose – your cell’s source of fuel. It also helps your body to convert fatty acids into energy.
Brain fog and poor memory are two key warning signs you’re deficient in Vitamin B12. Other warning signs include fatigue, lack of energy, muscle weakness, mood swings, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin B12 is the largest vitamin we know of, so it’s not as easily absorbed as others. As you get older the body loses the ability to transport Vitamin B12 in the cells in your large intestine where it’s pulled into your bloodstream.
The older you get the more difficult it is for you to get ANY B12 into your body. So the older you get the more likely you’ll need to supplement with Vitamin B12.
B12 in its natural form is only available through animal food sources including seafood, beef, chicken, pork, milk, and eggs.
To get an adequate supply of Vitamin B12 as you get older is really only available through supplementation.
Even though B12 is water-soluble, it doesn’t exit your body as quickly as other water-soluble supplements. It’s stored in your liver, kidneys, and other body tissues. This means a deficiency may not show up for a number of years. But by then it may be too late and irreversible brain damage can potentially result.
The best way to dose Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) as a nootropic is sublingually (under the tongue), or a B12 shot. The first way is much less expensive and considerably less painful.
Higher quality Vitamin B12 comes as methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin which are the forms of B12 naturally occurring in your body. When looking for a B12 supplement or B-Complex, choose the one that contains methylcobalamin for much better absorption and use by your body.
The recommended dosage for Vitamin B12 deficiency is 2,000 mcg daily for a week, then 1,000 mcg doses of B12 once per week for a month. Then your maintenance dose is 1,000 mcg monthly.[xxvii]
Vitamin D is involved in gene expression, regulation of neurotrophic factors, neuroplasticity, and brain development early in life. All in areas of the brain associated with depression. And the neuroplasticity needed for memory formation and retrieval.
Vitamin D protects your brain from DNA damage through prevention of telomere shortening and inhibition of telomerase activity. And prevents oxidative damage to DNA.
Vitamin D3 is the fat-soluble steroid hormone form of Vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” is considered essential. Your skin synthesizes Vitamin D3 from ultraviolet-B (UVB) sunlight.
As a neurohacker, you should be aware that you are likely deficient in this essential vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency (hypovitaminosis D) is an undeclared worldwide pandemic affecting nearly 50% of the population on this planet.
The preferred method for getting adequate Vitamin D is from UVB sunlight on exposed skin.
But all kinds of things can interfere with getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight. Fall and Winter in both hemispheres, cloud cover, smog, skin color, sunscreen, and too much clothing are all factors.
And most of us spend so much time indoors, to get its benefits you should take Vitamin D3 as a supplement.
Recommended Vitamin D3 dosage is 4,000 IU’s per day.
Zinc is an essential trace element absolutely required for optimal brain health and cognition.
Zinc is required for memory formation. When more zinc is available in neurons, neurotransmitters move more efficiently and stay in play longer.
It is integral to the activity of at least 100 enzymes. And Zinc helps lower oxidative stress which protects brain cells and cerebral blood flow. It is part of protein synthesis needed to make neurotransmitters. And it’s involved in DNA repair, synthesis and cell division.
Zinc deficiency is common even in our Western society because we often don’t get enough from food. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you are particularly susceptible.
Zinc levels are low in those with depression. And the lower the zinc level, the more severe the depression.
Recommended Zinc dosage is 30 mg daily, balanced with 2 mg of copper.
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