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What are Nootropics?

Nootropics, or "Smart Drugs," are a group of clinical compounds whose action enhances brain functioning. Its activity improves learning, thinking, and memory, especially in impaired mental health conditions.

Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist, was the first to synthesize piracetam and coin the term Nootropics, derived from two words, "noos," signifying mind, and "tropein," meaning to monitor. In general, it signifies both natural and synthetic compounds that have a beneficial influence on cognitive ability.

Dr. Giurgea proposed the following criteria for a product to qualify as a Nootropic
  • The compound should effectively improve the working memory and learning process.
  • It should protect the brain from chemical and physical toxicity.
  • They should have a very low level of toxicity and side effect.
  • The compound should function under hypoxic conditions (low oxygen levels in body tissues).
  • The Natural cognitive functions must be enhanced.

Legal Status

Most Nootropics are legal and are classified as dietary supplements. According to the US Model-
  • Schedule Nootropics indicate the risk of abuse. Schedule I being the highest, and V is the lowest.
  • Controlled Nootropics require age verification and prescription before making a purchase.

Nootropics such as Modafinil, Armodafinil, Piracetam, and theanine are categorized as schedule IV drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It indicates that they have a low addiction risk and are thus also available without a prescription at online pharmacies such as Remedy Counter. It is, however, essential to note that these prescription drugs are not available over the counter in most countries.

The legal status of some of the best Nootropics in the market is listed below.

Nootropic Legal Status
USA UK Australia Canada
Armodafinil Schedule IV Prescription only S4 (Prescription only) Prescription only
Modafinil Schedule IV POM (Prescription only) S4 (Prescription only) Rx-only
Piracetam Unscheduled POM (Prescription only) S4 (Prescription only) Unscheduled
Adderall Schedule II Class B S8 (Controlled drug) Schedule I

Using Nootropics such as Modafinil is banned by several sports organizations.

Types of Nootropics

Nootropics can be classified into three broad categories-
  • Brain stimulant Drugs : These medicines increase the brain's activity to improve alertness, energy, and attention. Some common brain stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin.
  • Synthetic Nootropics : These are lab-created compounds that enhance the brain's activity, such as Piracetam, Armodafinil, and Modafinil.
  • Natural Nootropics : These are naturally obtained compounds that boost brain functioning while making the brain healthier. The best natural Nootropics are American Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba.

Mechanism of Action

Following an oral administration, the Nootropic metabolizes in the liver, and its excretion is through the kidney as urine, and stool. In most cases, the onset of action of the Nootropic is 30 minutes and their time of action is between 10 to 14 hours.

The cognitive and eugeroic enhancing activity of Nootropics is contributed by the secretion of numerous hormones mentioned below.
Hormones contributing towards enhancing brain functioning


This hormone is responsible for letting you feel motivated.


It acts on the brain and the central nervous system in shaping memory and the learning process


They are neurotransmitter that promotes memory and learning.


It lessens the ability of the nerve cell to create, send, or receive chemical messages, thus, producing a calming effect.
Hormones contributing towards enhancing Wakefulness and Alertness


It plays a key role in increasing arousal.


It enhances the mood.


Promotes Wakefulness.


These are wakefulness-promoting peptides.


The use of Nootropics can be classified into two categories:


These are medication that promotes alertness and wakefulness. The FDA approves the use of Nootropics for treating excessive daytime sleepiness associated with-
  • Narcolepsy : It is a sleep disorder that causes sudden sleep attacks and daytime drowsiness.
  • Obstructive Sleep apnea : It is the narrowing of the muscle near the throat that causes affects breathing.
  • Shift work sleep disorder : It affects people with shift work duty. Such people often have a disturbed sleep cycle resulting in sleepiness during the daytime.

Benefits Of nootropics

  • Nootropics weight loss : The ability of the Nootropics to lower your appetite can assist in weight loss.
  • Nootropics for ADHD : Also known as deficit hyperactivity disorder, the use of Nootropics helps manage ADHD symptoms

    shieldTrusted Sources

    Cognitive EnhancementExternal Link
    . The benefits of using Nootropics for ADHD include-.
    • It helps such patients focus better.
    • Prevents procrastination.
    • Improves concentration.
    • Provides a calming effect.
  • Effectiveness : Nootropics are a highly potent drug that provides 10 to 14 hours of action time from a single dose.
  • Safety Profile : The risk of dependency and abuse from Nootropics is low.
  • Management of Fatigue : The energy-boosting property of the Nootropic helps manage fatigue.

Cognitive enhancement-

Using Nootropic effectively improves the person's brain activity, resulting in better memory, creativity, and concentration. They also enhance the thinking and decision-making ability of the person.

Tips for Using Nootropics

The get the best benefits from a Nootropic, using the Nootropic correctly is important.
  • Most Nootropics are oral tablets that should be swallowed with plain water.
  • Breaking or crushing the tablet can cause an immediate release of the Nootropic into your system, thus increasing the risk of side effects.
  • Intake of the Nootropic with alcoholic beverages can cause dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Beginners are advised to start with a lower dose of Nootropic.

Warning and Precaution

Some important factors to take into consideration while taking Nootropics are
  • Nootropics can cause drug interaction that often occurs when two or more medications are taken together, thus lowering the effectiveness and benefit of the drug. A doctor should supervise the use of other medicines with any Nootropic.
  • Nootropics can induce episodes of mania in patients with bipolar disorder and thus require close monitoring.
  • FDA does not recommend its use in people below 18 years and above 65 years.
  • Patients with a history of mental health issues can suffer from aggression, maniac symptoms, thought disorders, and behavioral problem.
  • Treatment with certain Nootropics can develop palpitation, chest pain, faster heartbeat, hypertension, and dyspnea. Thus, its use is not advisable in patients with cardiovascular dysfunction.
  • In people with seizures, using Nootropics can worsen their condition.
  • Nootropic compounds (active ingredients) are clinically proven to cross the blood barrier to reach the growing fetus or the breast milk of mothers. Thus, its use by pregnant and lactating women is not advisable.
  • Some Nootropics, such as Modafinil, can lower the effectiveness of contraceptive pills, thus increasing the chances of pregnancy. Consult a doctor for other alternative contraceptive options if administrating Nootropics.

Nootropics Side Effects

Proper use of Nootropics should not result in any side effects; in case they do, some of the commonly reported side effects of Nootropics include-

Brain Fog - Contradicting its cognitive benefits, improper use of Nootropics can affect the focus, thought clarity, and thinking ability. As Nootropics improve brain activity by inducing the secretion of Acetylcholine, which at a higher level can disrupt the brain's cholinergic capacity (responsible for arousal, awareness, learning, memory, attention, and reward), thus resulting in brain fog

Side Effect Risk Reduction Tips-

Maintain a healthy and balanced diet rich in minerals, vitamins, and amino. Take choline supplements for better results.

Headache - One of the most commonly reported side effects of Nootropics is a headache. It is more prevalent in people overdosing on the medication or taking a poor-quality product. Nootropics such as Modafinil cause "tension-type headaches" as a side effect. It causes a tight feeling around the forehead, causing mild to moderate pain.

Signs to identify headaches caused by Nootropics include-
  • Constant pain.
  • No sign of nausea.
  • Tightness in the forehead may migrate to the neck.
  • No sign of relief from head messages.
  • Pressure around the eye.
  • Dull and persistent headache.
Side Effect Risk Reduction Tips-
  • Take your Nootropic as a single dose, preferably in the morning, to avoid overdosing.
  • Buy Nootropics from authentic deals to get genuine products
  • Consume enough water to avoid dehydration which may worsen your headache.
  • Take a nap and rest if needed.

Digestive Discomfort - The enteric nervous system is a division of the central nervous system that controls the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Due to this gut-mind connection, any alternation or disturbance in the brain or cognitive activity can result in a disturbed digestive system. Since the Nootropic primarily acts on the brain, it can often cause digestive issues such as nausea, dry mouth, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Side Effect Risk Reduction Tips-
  • Avoid overdosing on Nootropics.
  • Taking light meals before or after the administration of the Nootropic is advisable.

Insomnia - The eugeroic activity of the Nootropic promotes activeness and wakefulness for 10 to 14 hours. Thus, administration of the medication later in the day can cause insomnia. A study indicates that using stimulants 6 hours before bedtime can disrupt the sleep cycle in people.

Side Effect Risk Reduction Tips-

Such patients should consult a doctor before taking any Nootropic. Most often, they require dosage adjustments to avoid any possible side effects.

Other Potential Side Effects

Some of the other side effects that one may come across from using Nootropics are-
  • Lightheadedness
  • Jitters
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rash
  • Strange dreams
  • Agitation
  • Palpitation
  • Blurry vision
Medically reviewed by:
Last reviewed: 1st Feb 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Needs Answer? Find them here

  • What are Nootropics for ADHD?

    Nootropics help manage the signs of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some Nootropics recommended for ADHD and ADD are Modafinil (Modalert, Modvigil), Armodafinil (Waklert, Artvigil), Ritalin, Piracetam, and Adderall.

  • What foods are high in Nootropics?

    If you are looking for a natural way to get Nootropics, some of the best options are eggs, spinach, Dark chocolate, Green Tea, blueberries, coconut oil, and turmeric.

  • Do Nootropics increase serotonin?

    Yes, using Nootropics increases serotonin secretion, thus inducing a better mood.

  • Where to buy Nootropics?

    Nootropics are prescription drugs in most places and require a valid medical prescription to purchase them. However, its safety profile and low risk for side effects have made it available online. Choose genuine online pharmacies such as Remedy Counter to buy Nootropics online without a prescription.

  • What does Nootropics mean?

    A Romanian psychologist coined the term Nootropics, meaning mind "Noos" and monitor "tropein."

  • What are the best Nootropics?

    Modafinil is proven to be the safest Nootropic by researchers at Oxford and Harvard universities. The other effective Nootropics dominating the market are Armodafinil and Piracetam

  • Do nootropics have a permanent effect?

    The effect of most Nootropics is between 10 to 14 hours. However, with long-term use, it can enhance and improve brain functioning.

  • Can Nootropics help with dementia?

    As Nootropic helps improve the brain activity of the person, its use can improve signs of dementia and helps such patients remember and recall better.

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