What are the Most Popular Nootropic Supplements in America?

The Nootropics List

What are Nootropics

The term “Nootropics” can refer to drugs that are all-natural, synthetic of can be obtained through a prescription. As a rule, natural nootropics act a lot slower than their prescription counterparts. Sometimes nootropics have been combined to boost up their effectiveness.

Nootropics have been on the scene since the 1960s, but have grown in popularity in recent years. Although many people tend to lump all nootropics in one category (“smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers”), there are a number of nootropics that are good for other parts of the body and one’s health as well.

Here is a list of some of the most popular nootropics available today, what they are used for and possible side effects:


Adderall is a prescription medication that is made up with large amounts of amphetamines. It is usually prescribed to patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, but more adults are now taking the drug to help them improve attention and focus.

Adderall works because it provides the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that is responsible for one’s working memory, attention and behavior) with dopamine and noradrenaline. In turn, this makes people feel more awake, attentive and optimistic while also finding that they now have a reduced appetite. A recent study has shown that people who take Adderall had better short-term memory.

It should not be surprising to learn that Adderall is often misused by those on college campuses and the side effects are not that great either: anxiety, low sex drive and sweating.

Bacopa Monnieri

This ancient herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance brain function. A number of studies suggests that bacopa monnieri can help speed up information processing in the brain while also reducing reaction times and improve one’s memory to boot. It contains bacoside which are active compounds that can protect one’s brain from oxidative stress and improve signaling in one hippocampus (the place where memories are processed). The downside is that it can take several months before one sees any significant difference.


This one hardly seems to counts since non-nootropics users consume large quantities of the stuff in their morning espresso beverages every day and can be found in cocoa, tea, kola nuts and guarana. It’s a natural nootropic that inhibits the production of adenosine while at the same time raises the production of dopamine. Caffeine is good for enhancing one’s concentration and focus by stimulating one’s central nervous system. On the downside, too much caffeine can lead to feelings of jitteriness or headaches, although some say that taking L-theanine (another natural nootropic) can help. Whether you take with your coffee or in pill form, doctors recommend taking between 4-300 mg.


This water-soluble vitamin changes into neurotransmitter acetylcholine which then can help the brain with learning. However, it is also goof for reducing fatty build-up in the liver. Since humans are only able to produce small amounts of the stuff on their own, humans should consume the nutrient to keep a healthy level in one’s body. The recommended daily dosage is between 250 and 500 mg. If headaches develop, one should cut back a bit and see how the body reacts.


Popular with bodybuilders, creatine is an amino acid that one’s body will used to make protein which is useful when trying to build muscle. But creatine is also good for the brain. Once consumed, creatine binds with phosphate which together creates a molecule that is used to fuel the brain’s cells. It is good for improving one’s short-term memory and reasoning skills. Studies have shown that people who take 5 grams of the stuff a day can do so without any negative side effects. While some people can consume more than that, the jury is still out on its long-term safety.

Ginkgo Biloba

Referred to some as the “brain herb,” gingko biloba dilates blood vessels therefore increasing blood flow to the brain. Taken from the leaves of the gingko biloba tree, it contains flavonoid, an antioxidant which decreases inflammation in the brain as well. It is also goof for reducing one’s anxiety and improving one’s concentration level. Studies have shown that those who take the herb find that their memory and mental processing has been improved after being taken daily for six weeks. Ginkgo biloba has also been known to reduce blood sugar levels, so it is recommended that people with diabetes or hypoglycemia should consult their doctor before taking it. This goes the same for those who are currently taking blood pressure medicine.


Similar to caffeine, L-Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in tea, but it is also can be taken in supplement form. One can get about 50 mg of l-theanine from drinking two cups of tea. It is said that it is enough to increase one’s alpha-waves in the brain which helps with creativity. Taking 200 mg is all one needs to receive a calming effect without drowsiness, however, experts say that it works best if taken with caffeine.


People who suffer from symptoms of ADHD or narcolepsy are often prescribed the brand name for methylphenidate – Ritalin. Similar to Adderall, methylphenidate is a stimulate that increases dopamine and noradrenaline within one’s brain. For healthy adults choosing to want to try Ritalin, they will find that the drug improves short-term memory, the speed it takes process information and attention. Although the drug works wonders on many people, they might also find that their thinking is much more impaired when they quit the drug. Side effects of using Ritalin include: insomnia, stomach ache, headache and loss of appetite.


Feeling sleepy? Then Modafinil might be for you. Many people take modafinil as a prescription medication under the brand name of Provigil as a treatment to combat daytime sleepiness or other types of sleep disorders like narcolepsy which causes uncontrollable drowsiness. Modafinil is good for boosting one’s mental and physical energy levels. It does this by stimulating the central nervous system.

Experts say that modafinil offers stimulating effects similar to caffeine, amphetamines or even cocaine. However, unlike caffeine, which is quick but runs in short bursts, modafinil works in a more consistent manner. It is suggested that those who use modafinil have a lower risk of dependence than the stronger drugs mentioned. With that said, there have been instances reported where a user suffered from withdrawal when taking larger doses of the drug. New users should be fine with about 100 mg per day and see how their body reacts before adding more up to 200 mg per day.


Yes, nicotine is considered a nootropic. It is a natural chemical that is found in many plants besides tobacco. It can help improve alertness and attention and even motor function. Still, it is highly addictive and even lethal in high doses, so this popular nootropic is one that is not recommended.


Noopepet is synthetic “smart drug” that works much faster than natural nootropics. The effects can be felt within minutes (rather than hours, days or weeks) and these effects can last for hours. Studies of the drug on animals show that noopepet can speed up how quickly the brain forms and retrieves memories. It does this by boosting levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a compound that helps brain cells grow. And studies done on humans have shown that the drug can help people with brain injuries recover a lot faster.

Panax Ginseng

This ancient medicinal plant can help boost one’s brain function by reducing brain fatigue, but isn’t very clear how. Some experts believe that it because of the plant’s strong anti-inflammatory effects which can protect the brain from oxidative stress. However, some long-term studies suggest that those who take panax ginseng for a long time may find that their bodies adapt to it, making it less effective over time.


Also known as phenylpiracetam, phenotropil is a synthetic “smart drug” that is similar to piracetam and noopepet. It has been known to help people recover from injuries to the brain including trauma, stroke and epilepsy. A promising study of rats have also shown that phenotropil could be for enhancing one’s memory.


Piracetam, a fast-acting, synthetic nootropic, is good for enhancing the memory and consolidation of people who have been diagnosed with age-related mental decline. However, the same cannot be said for use on healthy adults. Just how piracetam works in unclear, but some scientists agree that the substance can help restore degraded neuron cells’ membrane fluidity.

Rhodiola Rosea

This adaptogenic herb can help one’s body to handle stress in a better way. Studies have shown that rhodiola rosea can help improve one’s mood and lower one’s stress levels. It is also good for reducing mental fatigue, especially students during exam season.

Last Words

While testing of nootropics continues, by and large, nootropics are safe and effective for most people with few side effects. Still, everyone’s tolerance levels are different, and it is recommended that you talk to your doctor before taking nootropics.


Nootropic Nation