This is our big list of the most popular Nootropics in use today. Here you’ll learn what each nootropic is, what it does and suggested dosages.
Table of Contents
What is this List of Nootropics About?
Nootropic supplements are cognitive enhancers aiming to improve brain function. Whether you are looking to treat mild cognitive impairment, improve mental focus, or biohack your human brain, we’ve got you covered!
Here is my updated list of nootropics and what they do. Including a list of nootropic herbs.
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 to finding nootropics to enhance your mental function.
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.
This nootropics list is in alphabetical order. To quickly go to that listing just click on the name in the Table of Contents above.
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. Making ALCAR one of the best nootropics 2023.
The usual suggested dosage for ALCAR is 500 – 1,500 mg per day.
Learn more about Acetyl-L-Carnitine
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.
Learn more about Alpha-Lipoic Acid
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.
Astaxanthin is a natural pink xanthophyll found primarily in Haematococcus pluvialis algae, and the salmon, shellfish, krill, and birds that feed on them (i.e., pink flamingos).
It is one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier and blood-retinal barrier, benefiting both your brain and vision.
As a nootropic, Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory providing protection from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disease.
Astaxanthin protects your cells from the destructive effects caused by free radicals and protects cognitive function by increasing cerebral blood flow for better memory and overall cognitive performance.
And supplementing with Astaxanthin helps reduce cortisol, a biomarker for stress and mental fatigue.
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.
The nootropic benefits of Artichoke Extract are improved cognition, memory, wakefulness, and protecting neurotransmitters in your brain.
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.
Learn more about Artichoke Extract
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.
The compound Bacoside A easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. And binds to receptor sites to increase cognition and memory. It has been shown effective in treating ADHD.
Dosage recommendations for Bacopa Monnieri with 45% bacosides is 450 mg.
Learn more about Bacopa Monnieri
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.
Berberine is one of the very few nootropic supplements known to activate AMPK (another is Resveratrol).
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”.
As a nootropic, Black Seed Oil acts as a powerful acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which boosts acetylcholine. Supporting improved alertness, learning and memory.
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.
Learn more about Black Seed Oil
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.
Caffeine improves mood within an hour of consumption. Because it increases the density of GABA receptors, potentiates dopamine, and causes some serotonin receptors to be more responsive.
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.
Learn more about Choline Bitartrate
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.
Learn more about Choline Citrate
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.
Centrophenoxine is a water-soluble derivative of DMAE. It is a precursor to acetylcholine in the brain. And once metabolized by your liver, it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
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.
Learn more about Centrophenoxine
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 created in your mitochondria 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.
Learn more about Coconut & MCT Oil
One of the newer racetams on the market, Coluracetam works as a choline uptake enhancer.
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.
Learn more about CoQ10 & Ubiquinol
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.
Fisetin is a flavanol found in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, apples, persimmons, grapes, onions, and cucumbers.
Fisetin is one of the most potent anti-aging compounds found in nature. It has been shown to increase long-term potentiation needed for encoding long-term memory.
Studies show Fisetin protects neurons from damage due to oxidative stress. It boosts Glutathione which is your main antioxidant protecting against inflammation. And it suppresses gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines which provides potent anti-inflammatory benefits for your brain.
Neurohackers who supplement with Fisetin report better focus, memory, and mood. Some say they are more alert even when they haven’t had sufficient sleep.
Users of Fisetin as a nootropic report less back and arthritic pain, less brain fog, it helps reduce their allergies, and it even shows promise for improving memory in Alzheimer’s patients.
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.
Forskolin combined with artichoke extract boosts cAMP levels in the brain. Leading to improved memory, and ability to reason.
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 brain function, support mental processing, improve cerebral circulation, and overall mental health.
As a nootropic, Ginkgo has been shown to be particularly effective at slowing the effects of brain aging, in elderly memory loss, slow thinking and reasoning, and tinnitus. Research suggests there is a 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.
Learn more about Ginkgo Biloba
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.
Glutathione is a tripeptide made up of cysteine, glycine, and glutamine and present in high concentrations in every cell in your body.
As an antioxidant, Glutathione’s primary role is to protect your cells from free radical damage. And plays a vital role in detoxification.
Supplementing with Glutathione may help reduce brain fog and poor cognition. It plays a role in preventing and treating neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism.
Neurohackers who supplement with Glutathione report increased energy levels, better memory, improved digestion, decreased inflammation, clearer thinking, improved skin tone, and stronger hair and nails.
And Glutathione helps prevent neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Recommended nootropic dosage for Reduced or Liposomal Glutathione for immune support is 250 – 1,000 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.
Unfortunately, our brains also shrink as we age. Brain growth factor seems to diminish. But clinical trials show gotu kola extract can help spur growth in brain cells.[vi]
Users report gotu kola is at least as effective – perhaps even more so – in reducing anxiety and relieving stress than Ashwagandha and Phenibut.
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.
Supplementing with Holy Basil increases levels of dopamine, is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), and inhibits acetylcholinesterase (AChE) which boosts acetylcholine.
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.
Learn more about Holy Basil (Tulsi)
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.
Iodine is a cognitive enhancer not talked about much in the nootropic community. Iodine deficient populations are up to 13.5 IQ points less than normal populations.[vii]
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.
5-HT2a (subtype of serotonin receptor) and postsynaptic α2–adrenergic receptors, as well as neuronal Ca2+ channels are also involved in the unique mechanism of action of mitragynine.
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)
L-Dopa (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) is a precursor to the formation of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in your brain. In your body, L-dopa is synthesized from the amino acid L-tyrosine.
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.
Learn more about L-DOPA (Mucuna Pruriens)
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.
As a nootropic, L-Glutamine increases the effectiveness and activity of neurotransmitters. Helping with improve focus, energy, cognition and retention when learning.
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.
Learn more about Lithium Orotate
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.
Since it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, L-Theanine works quickly to increase dopamine and serotonin. The “feel good” chemicals in your brain.
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.
Maca contains significant amounts of the amino acids’ arginine, serine, histidine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and threonine.
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 deficiency is nearly epidemic in our society because it is sorely lacking in our food supply.[x][xi]
Plasticity of neuron synapses is affected by the presence of adequate magnesium in brain cells. It helps improve memory and cognition. And reduces anxiety, brain fog 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.
Magnolia Bark (Magnolia officinalis) comes from the Magnolia tree originally found in Southeast Asia, Eastern North America, Central America, and the Himalayas.
Magnolia Bark has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine since the Qin and Han Dynasty (221 B.C. to 220 A.D) for treating anxiety, asthma, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, headache, and more.
As a nootropic, honokiol which is one of the main active compounds found in Magnolia Bark has been shown in clinical studies to be as effective for anxiety as Valium® (diazepam).
Neurohackers report that using Magnolia Bark as a sleep supplement helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
Manufacturers of Magnolia Bark extract generally recommend a nootropic dosage of up to 500 mg per day. Effective dosage depends on the strength of the extract.
Learn more about Magnolia Bark
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.
Learn more about 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 assists brain cell respiration by increasing intracellular oxygen. It donates electrons to the electron transport chain within mitochondria which helps create the ATP.
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.
Learn more about Methylene Blue
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 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (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.
Learn more about N-Acetyl L-Cysteine
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.
Learn more about N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
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.
NADH also helps boost the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. This allows for greater mental performance including better memory, alertness and energy.
Dosing of NADH is 5 – 20 mg per day. NADH for nootropic benefit seems to be 10 mg.
Nefiracetam is one of the newer nootropics in the racetam family of cognitive enhancers. Developed in Japan, nefiracetam is used to treat learning and memory deficit diseases.[xiii]
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.
Jennifer Rusted, professor of experimental psychology at Sussex University in Britain says, “nicotine is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have”.[xv]
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 is a peptide-derived nootropic related to the racetam family. Much more potent than Piracetam (up to 1000X), its mechanism of action in your brain is similar to other racetams.
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.
Dosage recommendations for Noopept are 10 – 30 mg per day. And should be stacked with a good choline source like Alpha GPC or CDP Choline.
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 is from the racetam family of nootropics. And up to 5-times more potent than Piracetam. Oxiracetam stimulates acetylcholine use in the brain by working with the AMPA and NDMA receptors.
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 was developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960’s. Phenibut is a GABA agonist and primarily binds to the GABAb receptor. GABAa receptor agonists include alcohol and benzodiazepines.
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).
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a perennial vining plant native to Central and South America. Passionflower modulates GABA in your brain by inhibiting GABA uptake in synapses without affecting GABA release or GABA transaminase activity.
Passionflower is used primarily as a nootropic for reducing anxiety and promoting healthy sleep.
Passionflower is also used for reducing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, nerve pain, convulsions, ADHD, heart palpitations, cardiac rhythm problems, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and to reduce hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause.
New studies are emerging investigating the use of Passionflower for reducing panic attacks, seizures, headache, menstrual pain, and Parkinson’s Disease.
The recommended dosage for Passionflower extract is 250 – 1,000 mg per day.
Learn more about Passionflower
Phenylpiracetam (Carphedon) is a Russian derivative of Piracetam.[xvi] And estimated to be 30 – 60 times more potent than Piracetam. It was created by adding an extra molecule from the Phenyl group.
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.
Learn more about Phenylpiracetam
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
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.
Learn more about Pine Bark Extract
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.
Instead, Piracetam seems to influence the AMPA and NMDA receptors. This affects learning and memory processes in the 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.
Learn more about Rhodiola Rosea
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.
Learn more about Phenylalanine
Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a trace amino acid synthesized from Phenylalanine in your brain.
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.
Learn more about Phenylethylamine (PEA)
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.
Learn more about Phosphatidylcholine (PC)
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 helps in the storage, release and activity of neurotransmitters and their receptors.
Phosphatidylserine production declines as we age. And the reason why supplementation of this nootropic is so critical.
Study after study shows supplementation of Phosphatidylserine can boost cognition, focus, memory, and recall.[xix]
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.
Learn more about Phosphatidylserine (PS)
Polygala Tenuifolia is an herb that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years. Used traditionally for boosting memory, and to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As a nootropic, Polygala Tenuifolia extract acts like a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which increases dopamine and norepinephrine. And upregulates acetylcholine in your brain. For better learning, memory, and mood.
Polygala Tenuifolia also boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). And helps reduce proinflammatory cytokines in the hippocampus which also benefits learning and memory.
Neurohackers report supplementing with Polygala Tenuifolia helps reduce anxiety and negativity and is more effective for sleep than any other nootropic they have tried.
Using Polygala Tenuifolia sublingually is reported to enhance the effects of this herb. And works much quicker than swallowing capsules or powder.
Learn more about Polygala Tenuifolia
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.
Pramiracetam is a GABA-like derivative of Piracetam. It’s said to be 5 – 30 times more potent than piracetam.
Pramiracetam is a fat-soluble nootropic and highly bioavailable. It is thought to increase acetylcholine receptors in the brain. This racetam improves memory and verbal recall.[xxi]
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 is a very potent antioxidant, stimulates Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, promotes neuroplasticity, is anti-anxiety, boosts dopamine, and helps cognition, learning and memory.
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.
Learn more about Pterostilbene
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.
A polyphenol antioxidant found in the skin of grapes, Resveratrol’s purpose is to protect the grape from microbial attacks, cold weather and UV radiation.
Studies have shown Resveratrol can also boost learning, memory and cognitive power in the hippocampus section of your brain. Resveratrol can also improve blood flow and boost brain health.[xxii]
Researchers also discovered Resveratrol improves cell survival and neurogenesis in the hippocampus, boosting memory and learning.[xxiii]
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.
Simply smelling the aroma of Rosemary essential oil as a nootropic helps decrease alpha brain waves and increases beta brain waves. Boosting alertness and cognitive performance.
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 helps the process of cell division and repair, and the generation of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin. Which is why it’s considered a potent nootropic.
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.
St John’s wort easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. And seems to work by preventing the re-uptake of serotonin in the brain.
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.
Learn more about St. John’s wort
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.
A typical dose of Sulbutiamine is 400 – 600 mg per day. Tolerance has been reported by neurohackers, so it would be wise to cycle the use of this nootropic. Skip a couple of days every week.
Sulforaphane is an organic sulfur phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables. But it’s most plentiful in broccoli.
Sulforaphane is needed to ensure your body gets enough sulfur. A mineral critical for the synthesis of cysteine and methionine which are needed to produce your master antioxidant Glutathione.
As a nootropic, Sulforaphane is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-aging, neuroprotective, and antidiabetic.
It helps prevent potential damage that can be caused by the β-Amyloid aggregation associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Sulforaphane provides powerful defense against oxidative stress and neuronal damage caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Studies show and practical user experience have proven Sulforaphane helps improve social interaction, abnormal behavior, and verbal communication in those with autism.
Recommended Sulforaphane dosage is 35-60 mg per day.
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.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and precursor to serotonin, melatonin and niacin (Vitamin B3) in your body.
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 an amino acid produced by Phenylalanine in your body. L-Tyrosine is directly involved in creating dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in your brain and body.
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.
Neurohackers report that L-Tyrosine and especially NALT improves motivation and focus as well as amphetamines like Adderall if your dealing with ADHD. So, L-Tyrosine is on my list for one of the best nootropics ADHD.
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.
You can take uridine monophosphate sublingually for a more pronounced effect. Adding 300 mg of Alpha GPC or CDP Choline is also recommended.
Learn more Uridine Monophosphate
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 helps eliminate stress by boosting GABA, serotonin, activating adenosine receptors, and reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
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 (Thiamine) is a required cofactor to produce cellular energy (ATP) from the foods you eat. Vitamin B1 is also needed for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.
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.
Learn more about Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin or nicotinic acid) is used in the synthesis of Coenzyme A which helps to form Acetyl-CoA. Acetyl-CoA joins with choline to form acetylcholine.
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, and boosting healthy brain function later in life. Dosing 50 – 1,000 mg at bedtime taken at bedtime may help you sleep better.
Learn more about Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
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.
You may not realize the full benefit of a nootropic stack containing Alpha GPC, CDP-Choline, Acetyl-L-Carnitine or any of the racetams (that boost choline in the brain) without adding Vitamin B5.
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.
Learn more about Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) as a nootropic helps your body make serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin.
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.
Learn more about Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
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.
Learn more about Vitamin B8 (Inositol)
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Vitamin B9 (Folate) as a nootropic helps your brain make dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
As a coenzyme, Folate participates in one-carbon transfers in the synthesis of DNA and RNA. And converts homocysteine to methionine which is used in the synthesis of S-Adenosyl-methionine (SAMe).
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.
Learn more about Vitamin B9 (Folate)
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]
Learn more about Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin D as a nootropic is critical for the synthesis of GABA, glutamate and glutamine, and dopamine in your brain.
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.
Zinc helps boost BDNF which is needed for long-term potentiation and the formation of memory. A deficiency in this mineral results in poor memory.
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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[iii] Dimpfel W., Wedekind W., Keplinger I. “Efficacy of dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) containing vitamin-mineral drug combination on EEG patterns in the presence of different emotional states.” European Journal of Medical Research 2003 May 30;8(5):183-91. (source)
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[xv] Hurley, D. “Will a Nicotine Patch Make You Smarter?” Scientific American scientificamerican.com February 9, 2014. Retrieved on February 24, 2016. (source)
[xvi] Bobkov Iu.G., Morozov I.S., Glozman O.M., Nerobkova L.N., Zhmurenko L.A. “Pharmacological characteristics of a new phenyl analog of piracetam--4-phenylpiracetam” Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1983 Apr;95(4):50-3. (source)
[xvii] Waegemans T., Wilsher C.R., Danniau A., Ferris S.H., Kurz A., Winblad B. “Clinical efficacy of piracetam in cognitive impairment: a meta-analysis.” Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 2002;13(4):217-24. (source)
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[xxi] Malykh A.G., Sadaie M.R. “Piracetam and piracetam-like drugs: from basic science to novel clinical applications to CNS disorders.” Drugs Feb 12;70(3):287-312 (source)
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[xxiii] Torres-Pérez M, Tellez-Ballesteros RI, Ortiz-López L et al., (2015). “Resveratrol Enhances Neuroplastic Changes, Including Hippocampal Neurogenesis, and Memory in Balb/C Mice at Six Months of Age.” PLOS One 22;10(12):e0145687. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145687. eCollection 2015.
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carlos arana says
My wife (66) had a stroke almost 2 years ago. It was not hemorrhagic and no surgery was needed. It was at the middle cerebral artery. She understands and recalls many things but she can not recall my name although she recognizes every member of the family, friends, events and she can signal people when asked or shown in a photograph. You can not confuse her, shee is still sharp 99% of the time. It is like she had to speak japanese or russian at the time she had to speak. She simply can not find the words. She used to be a very intelligent woman, and still is, but she still keeps a fear to walk, to start spontaneous conversations. She is not depressed but she has been forced, by her impossibility, to accept her situation. She is not taking any medication, a relative good nutrition status and I fell that she needs to boost her brain to allow her to talk. What can you recommend to help her talking?. I need her back to what she was. Thanks
David Tomen says
Carlos, see this article: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-the-aging-brain/ and scroll down to the section called “Vascular dementia, Cerebral Circulation and brain aging”. You will find a list of supplements in that section that may help.
You can also search this website using the search function top right of the top menu and search for the keyword “stroke”. And see what else turns up.
Hallo, do you have any knowledge about royal yelly and its effectiveness?
David Tomen says
I haven’t done the research on Royal Jelly but will take a look and see if it has any nootropic value.
Daniel Janksy says
Hi David! Thank you for this site, I have read a lot on here and you are one of the nootropic reviewers that I greatly trust. I was wondering your opinion of deer antler velvet. It is rarely discussed in the nootropic world, but for me, it is one of my essentials. It is the most effective natural pain reliever I have ever tried, about 20 times more potent than kratom in that aspect. It gives me a good boost of energy that lasts hours without jitters. The nootropic aspect is that it clears brain fog, reduces anxiety and depression, and stimulates nerve growth.
David Tomen says
Daniel, Deer Antler Velvet contains Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) 1 and II and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which likely means it has some nootropic value. But there are no human clinical studies demonstrating its benefit as a nootropic supplement. So, it’s unlikely I’ll be writing a review for it.
But I appreciate you sharing your experience with this supplement. It may help someone else.
Ginger, why isn’t it here? Don’t consider it a nootropic yet? what do you think?
David Tomen says
Paul, Ginger is likely considered a nootropic but I haven’t got to researching it yet. It is on my “to-do” list so stay tuned!
Thanks David, I would like to see the article very much.
Nettie J says
HI David How can I purchase the supplements that you recommend in your videos Quercetin and Bromelain I am a 53 year old female with RA
David Tomen says
Nettie, this is the one my family uses: https://amzn.to/3yc8KsI
Hi David, I noticed that you do not include “Selegiline” on your master list here. (Deprenyl, Eldepryl), but you do have an article on your site about it. I am an adult male in my 50s with ADHD, and I found a reasonably-priced overseas pharmacy to purchase it w/o a script. Could you compare the efficacy between Selegiline and Oat Straw for boosting dopamine to help with ADHD symptems? And maybe other considerations, like long-term beneifits vs side-effect profiles of each? Thanks!
David Tomen says
Anthony, I never did a full review of L-Deprenyl because it’s a prescription drug and not a natural nootropic. But used as a MAOI L-Deprenyl will be stronger and you’ll need to use less compared to Oat Straw Extract.
But keep in mind that a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) like L-Deprenyl does not increase physical levels of dopamine in your brain. It only forces the release of existing dopamine already in your brain.
For ADHD, the best results come from increasing the amount of dopamine in your brain by using L-Tyrosine as explained in this article: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-adhd-add/
I don’t see calcium on your list.
David Tomen says
Rick, not reviewed fully yet but you’ll find a summary here: https://nootropicsexpert.com/13-minerals-essential-for-the-optimized-brain/
would you be able to tell me anything about which of these nootropics can be safely taken with Androgen Deprivation Therapy? Asking for a relative with prostate cancer, for which testosterone-suppressive medication is taken.
As testosterone is made to decline, the cognitive function also suffers. Looking for nootropics that can help memory and cognition, without compromising the medication (generic name: Enzalutamide).
Many thanks and also thanks so much for your reply in the other thread, we are working on it, as per your suggestions!
David Tomen says
Anna, check the Side Effects section for any nootropic supplement I have reviewed here on Nootropics Expert. And that will tell you whether it affects testosterone or not.
But you should also be aware that the best nootropic stack on the planet will not work well if you’ve depleted testosterone and/or estrogen. Because these sex hormones have receptors in your brain and play a role in everything going on in your brain. Which is why insufficient testosterone and/or estrogen often results in depression, anxiety and memory loss.
David, thanks very much for your reply, much appreciated.
Could you just be a bit more specific on this: we all lose testosterone / estrogen as we age. Are you saying that persons of advanced age with cognitive issues related to loss of these hormones cannot be helped by nootropics? Or are you saying that only those on Androgen Deprivation Therapy specifically cannot be helped by nootropics? Because – whether with or without Androgen Deprivation meds, we all decline in these hormones as we age.
David Tomen says
Anna, what I am saying is that testosterone and estrogen play a critical role in the human brain. Anyone who is low in either of these hormones will still get some benefit from using the right nootropic supplements. But until those hormones are restored you’ll never achieve the full benefit of any nootropic.
We do all decline in these hormones as we age. And you can easily see the negative effects hormone dysfunction has on anyone getting older. This is why hormone replacement therapy is so important to anyone who wants to maintain their cognitive function well into old age.
Vicki Harris-Clarkson says
Hello. Can one take a lot of different nootropics all in the same day? After being on SSRIs for yrs my body can’t tolerate them. May Dr has now prescribed an atypical antipsychotic for my anxiety/OCD symptoms. I’d rather add some of these to ones I already take rather than take a drug which will be difficult to get off of. Thank you
David Tomen says
Vicki, your can safely take 30 different nootropic supplements dosed once or twice per day as long as you are following recommended dosages. And none of them are contraindicated with the meds you are using.
Hello again, David!
Are there nootropic benefits to bromantane?
David Tomen says
Henry, Bromantane was developed in Russia at first to treat the flu. Further research in Russian led it to be given to soldiers to help shorten recovery times after strong physical exertion. Then it was given the Russian athletes and subsequently banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency from use in professional sports.
I would call this smart drug rather than a nootropic if you subscribe the definition of what a nootropic is as outlined by Dr. Giurgea.
Thank you for the info. 🙂
Can you write an article explaining which drugs are fat-soluble and which are water-soluble? I took Q10 and turmeric by mistake at the beginning, and it took a long time to realize that they were fat-soluble. and are there any other precautions when taking them?
David Tomen says
Jesse, I try to include that in each review I write. But sometimes I forget. I think a better way would be to review and update each of my individual 97 nootropic supplement reviews and add water or fat-soluble as appropriate if it isn’t already there.
Marty Johnson says
When Apoptosis is disrupted, disease happens in your definition.
Lithium prevents apoptosis.
Seems to be a contradiction!
David Tomen says
Marty, apoptosis is defined as “programmed” cell death. For example, if a cell detects disease it will eliminate itself. But sometimes this “programmed” cell death doesn’t go according to plan. Lithium helps prevent unregulated apoptosis. Note the part of the sentence that says, “When apoptosis is disrupted”.
Hi, I’ve been researching how to use amino acid therapy for depression but find conflicting info about whether or not you can take more than one amino acid together? Or are there certain ones that negate each other if taken together? Example, I was thinking about using DLPA or L-Tyrosine in the morning or morning and afternoon and 5HTP and/or Theanine at night, but then I often get anxiety in the morning so wondered if I can take Theanine or Gaba WITH the DLPA or L-Tyrosine?
David Tomen says
Anina, amino acids often compete for the same transporters so for example the L-Tyrosine in your food may take precedence over L-Tyrosine as a supplement taken at the same time as your meal.
And Tyrosine and Tryptophan also are in competition. But I think you’re causing even more anxiety worrying about this. Instead, I suggest you find out what is causing your anxiety. Only then will you know which amino acids can help you relieve your anxiety.
Please see this article which explains how to figure this out: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-anxiety/
L-Tryptophan is a safer long-term option to increase serotonin than 5-HTP. So, you can use 500 mg L-Tryptophan with 300 mg L-Theanine which may help you sleep. But unless your anxiety is caused by problems with serotonin it may help you sleep but won’t relieve your anxiety. That article I link to should help you figure out which neurotransmitter is dysfunctional.
Thanks David, yes I read that article but it doesn’t answer my question about the timing of taking the different aminos that I want to use. I know what I need but not sure which ones will be ok to take at the same time and which I should take apart, and how far apart.
I’m taking L-Glutamine for gut issues as well as Zinc L-Carnosine.
For anxiety, L-Theanine and Gaba.
For Depression DLPA in a.m. or a.m. and early afternoon, and either 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan at night.
I don’t really want to be taking pills all day long if possible, but don’t want them to negate each other.
Many thanks for your help!
David Tomen says
Anina, the DL-Phenylalanine that you take at 8 am will be gone by noon. And the DL-Phenylalanine you take at noon will be gone by 3:30 or 4 pm. To get it’s benefit you need to use it 2 or 3-times per day IF you want its benefit all day. Same with GABA and L-Theanine. None of those amino acids compete and in fact support each other when you take them.
Oh good! Thanks! And what about the L-glutamine and the zinc L-Carnosine I need to take for my gut, should I separate those from the others/from each other?
David Tomen says
No need to separate them
How is copper not on your list? Copper helps the body make the myelin sheath. Copper boosts production of three neurotransmitters. Copper itself acts as a neurotransmitter. Copper boosts DHEA and hormone production, which facilitates healing and better brain function. Copper helps convert T4 to T3. Copper converts cholesterol into testosterone.
David Tomen says
Is there a nootropics formula to complement or take the place of benzodiazapenes? Just wondering to how you could wean off benzos if there is a better natural way. Been on them a long time. Wondering too if taking them could off balance other things. I’m on clonazapam. Just trying to figure things out!
David Tomen says
Ed, welcome the other few hundred people who have asked me for a magical solution for getting off of benzos in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, there is no simple painless way to do that.
There are a couple of supplements that have been compared to benzos as being as effective. But you cannot use them while using benzodiazepines.
I’ll eventually write an article about best nootropics for getting off benzodiazepines if and when I find enough evidence that something works. But for now there are only a couple of single, individual reports of benzo detox using natural supplements. Which you can find if you Google it and do a little searching.
Thanks a lot.any supplement suggestions for vascular dementia?
David Tomen says
Ed, see this article and scroll down to the section on Vascular Dementia: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-the-aging-brain/
Bill McHenry says
David, Thank you for this site. You have no idea how much you have helped me in just my first visit. I finally have answers to my questions.
Thank you Bill
David Tomen says
Bill, thank you and happy that you have found some answers. That was my intention when I thought of starting Nootropics Expert.
After reading your article I‘m considering trying SAM-e, but I wanna know if SAM-e increases glutamate because I already have excess glutamate and low Gaba so I‘m worried that Sam-e will worsen my anxiety. Can you please give me your thoughts on this? Thank you very much
David Tomen says
Oliver, SAM-e may or may not work for you but it should not increase glutamate.
One way to counter excess glutamate is by using L-Glutamine (https://nootropicsexpert.com/l-glutamine/).
I realize it seems counterintuitive but those two neurotransmitters must be in balance as part of the glutamine/glutamate/GABA cycle. Or bad things happen. Like anxiety.
This looks like a good source of Alpha-GPC. It’s not overly expensive and it’s made from sunflower not soy, which is what I myself am looking for. Not a fan of soy..
Emeritt Alpha GPC
David Tomen says
Matt, that’s a good supplement. I’ve used it a couple of times. It’s pure Alpha GPC with zero “other ingredients”.
I’ve been taking powdered sunflower lecithin in my morning drink. (~2.5G PC) It’s been working great for me. Is there any benefit to adding ALPHA-GPC or CDP-Choline?? If so, how much?
Thanks, read your article on DMAE, was helpful..
David Tomen says
Matt, if you are using 2.5 grams of PC in the morning you likely don’t need Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline. If your goal it raising acetylcholine. But if it’s for brain cell health a good compliment would be 1,000 mg DHA.
Ok, thanks for the reply. My thought is that my liver enzymes have been elevated for the last few months. Haven’t figured out why yet. But I’m thinking the extra PC would help the liver instead of being broken down into Alpha-GPC if I were to add the extra Alpha-GPC so my body could use the PC for my liver… Does that make sense?
David Tomen says
Matt, you can use Phosphatidylcholine (PC) for your liver and Alpha GPC for your brain. That should work just fine.
Dear David, I take 18 nootropics on this big list. Is it best to take them:
a) on an empty stomach?
b) with a little food, for example milk and half a cup of oatmeal?
c) a good breakfast?
David Tomen says
Kelly, the reason supplement bottles tell you to take something with food is because it is fat-soluble. Which means your pancreas needs to be activated to release the enzymes needed to metabolize those ingredients in your gut. Otherwise, your body will just expel them unused.
The water soluble supplements just need water for metabolism. No special treatment.
I keep things simple and take all my supplements at once with a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil. Which tells my pancreas to get busy and the water soluble supplements take care of themselves.
Works like a charm.
I was wondering if you have an opinion on taking an Essential Amino Acids complex.
I tried taking Double Woods’ EAA Complex, and like the benefits of the energy I get, but find I become a little too “ramped up” and it reduces my ability to concentrate (even if I lower the dose).
David Tomen says
Ryan, the problem with an Amino Acid complex is it contains all the main amino acids our body needs. But which amino acids in your body need support? I highly doubt you are low in everything.
Something in that complex boosted one or two of your neurotransmitters in excess. And threw things off balance.
Thanks for the response!
After researching each, I’m going to go ahead and try the 9 Essential Amino Acids individually and see which ones I’m benefiting from and which are throwing me off.
I was drawn to adding the complex to my stack because of its purported benefits with fatigue (I developed CFS a few years back). Are there any other supplements you might suggest specifically for CFS? The next two I had planned on trying were Taurine and Creatine.
My current stack includes:
-R Lipoic Acid
-L-Glutamine (I take this first on an empty stomach)
-Kratom- which has helped greatly with my depression and has helped with some of the CFS symptoms.
David Tomen says
Ryan, those are good choices as are Taurine and esp. Creatine. Only other suggestion I have is do a search of Nootropics Expert using the search field top right of the top menu. And search for “chronic fatigue”. And see what else turns up.
Awesome, will do!
Your site has been by far the most comprehensive source I’ve used for building a stack to address both my mental health problems and my CFS. Thanks again for all the hard work you’ve put into creating these resources!
David Tomen says
Thanks Ryan. Good luck with your stack.