Best Nootropic Supplements and Drugs to Boost Cognitive Performance

Top List of 13+ Nootropics Supplements and Drugs

Nootropics are the compounds that you use to enhance your brain function and performance. You may as well recognize them by the name “smart drugs.” Students are using them to achieve their academic goals and increase their competency, whereas employees in competent fields are becoming reliant on these smart drugs to help them boost their cognitive abilities to perform better than others.

Modafinil is now a common prescription smart drug among students in the United Kingdom, whereas Adderall nootropic supplement is becoming a trend in the United States for the corporate workers to enhance their cognitive performance to fulfill their job requirements.

So, if you are having a hard time focusing or are struggling with cognitive performance, smart drugs can help you tremendously. They show strong and positive results with rarely any side effects. Nootropics are supplements that not only enhance your cognitive abilities but also cast a positive effect on your other bodily functions. Some of them improve your immunity and make your body defend well against certain diseases and health conditions. Other nootropics help with your mood, memory formation, focus, and abilities to analyze analytically.

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics, essentially, are family compounds that include nutrients, supplements, smart drugs, and nutraceuticals. These compounds have a strong and constructive effect on the performance and health of the brain and serve in increasing your memory, learning abilities, logical reasoning, intelligence, cognitive processing speed, speaking capability and fluency, attention, focus, and overall motivation. Besides these, nootropics also help in boosting your mood and enhancing your energy mentally as well as physically.

Nootropics have a diverse functioning mechanism and each of them works uniquely in your brain and body. Some of the compounds work as triggers for certain brain chemicals and neurotransmitters that ultimately improve your brain’s functions. While some nootropics work on various parts of your body and help in enhancing your physical abilities. Beta Alanine, for instance, helps you increase your muscle mass and reduces exertion by neutralizing your body’s pH value.

As a matter of fact, nootropics is an umbrella term that refers to a certain class of chemicals that benefit the human brain and help it perform better. This includes both naturally existing chemicals as well as manmade supplements. There is, however, a certain criterion these chemicals have to meet. They must:

  • Have the ability to enhance memory and improve the learning tendency of the brain.
  • Help the brain function under pressurizing conditions like hypoxia.
  • Increase the efficacy of the brain.
  • Possess less to now side effects that can harm the brain or the body of the user.

A chemical that fulfills these requirements earns the ‘nootropic’ title and gets referred to as a ‘smart drug.’

1. The Racetam Family

Racetams are a family of nootropic compounds and are widely known for their strong effect on the brain. The parent nootropic of this family is piracetam. All the nootropics in this precise family comprise the same structure as that of piracetam and have a 2-pyrrolidone nucleus composing hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Racetams are synthetic in nature and are clinically used to improve the cognitive condition of dementia patients and individuals recovering from a stroke. The most common drugs of the racetam family are piracetam, aniracetam, oxiracetam, and pramiracetam. While these drugs serve as cognitive enhancers, there are other subtypes of racetams as well that act as antiepileptic drugs including levetiracetam, brivaracetam, and seletracetam. Some of the common drugs from the racetam family are briefly overviewed underneath:

Piracetam

The parent of all racetam nootropics, piracetam is a medicine used widely in the European, Asian and South American countries. For years medical professionals have been prescribing piracetam to treat cognitive problems. This nootropic shows a substantial positive effect in improving general cognition and curtailing cognitive decline that comes with aging. While it is very helpful for elderly people and those with dementia, piracetam does have certain benefits for healthy individuals. Though only limited research is available in this context, users report a constructive impact on cognition ability. It enhances intellectual functions, memory, and concentration in individuals who suffer from cerebrovascular disorders (lack of blood flow to the brain).

Piracetam increases the synapses and synaptic reorganization in the brain that alcohol withdrawal generates. It prevents the neurodegeneration caused by alcoholism. Also, users report a positive impact of piracetam on depression. It does not treat depression but curbs it by enhancing mood. Side effects of piracetam are very limited and harmless. The user may cause you anxiety or drowsiness for some time.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is a prescription drug used to enhance brain functions and performance. Among the clinical uses, aniracetam is effective for Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, motion sickness, and sleep-related disorders. In some reports, aniracetam is effective against aging factors. Some disorders and diseases of the central nervous system are also improved through aniracetam. A few clinical trials report aniracetam effective in the management of post-traumatic disorder, ADHD, and autism. However, these benefits lack strong evidential support and require further research to validate the findings.

Aniracetam possess anti-depressant effects, making it effective for people suffering from depression. It also helps in alleviating anxiety by manipulating certain neurotransmitters. Though this racetam drug lacks research, it still shows certain positive results in improving cognitive functions in elderly individuals.

Pramiracetam

Synthesized from piracetam, pramiracetam is a cognitive enhancer from the racetam family. Pramiracetam has ‘dipropan-2-ylamino ethyl group’ in its structure instead of amide group that is present in piracetam. This substitution makes pramiracetam stronger and more potent than its parent drug, piracetam.

According to research and user review, pramiracetam promotes improved memory and learning ability. It boosts both the short- and long-term memory and helps in better object recognition.

For patients with head injuries, pramiracetam can reduce the amnesic effect better and help the patient recover sooner as compared to other racetam drugs. Pramiracetam also curbs the possibilities of cognitive decline by improving the blood flow to the brain.

The drug can help in improving the condition of patients with chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency. Pramiracetam is well-tolerated by the users and they report no particular side effect of the drug. It possesses very low toxicity and seldom shows any adverse reaction. There are two forms available for pramiracetam; powder form and tablets. Users prefer tablets more because powder formed pramiracetam possesses strong unpleasant taste. Tablets, conversely, are more convenient to use.

Phenylpiracetam

Phenylpiracetam, as the name suggests, is a phenyl derivative of piracetam. It possesses psychostimulatory properties that help phenylpiracetam enhance your physical performance. This nootropic drug is also more neuroprotective than its parent drug, piracetam and reduces the rate and symptoms of cognitive decline. Studies report that phenylpiracetam shows positive results pertinent to cognitive health in the patients of dementia and stroke if they use it for over one month. Phenylpiracetam has the ability to improve your mental functioning and boost your physical strength. It reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression by increasing the level of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. A positive impact generates on your mood and motivation level as phenylpiracetam starts working in your brain.

It reduces the activation of brain cells that are responsible for movement. This ability makes phenylpiracetam exceedingly helpful in decreasing seizures. This phenyl derivative of piracetam increases the alpha/beta waves in the brain which results in increasing your overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, learning, and focus.

So far there are no harmful side effects for phenylpiracetam reported except for marginal reactions such as headaches, irritability, and insomnia. These reactions are usually due to a high dose. Consuming phenylpiracetam within the safe dosage limit will eliminate these reactions.

Coluracetam

Colorectal works differently than any of the other racetam drugs. It possesses an entirely different chemical structure from other drugs of its family. This makes coluracetam a unique smart drug that equally, if not more, effective than the member racetam drugs. Coluracetam efficiently increases memory, learning abilities and improves vision.

Following the process of ‘high-affinity choline uptake,’ coluracetam increases memory formation and enhances cognition. This makes it more popular in the nootropic community. Being a recent addition to the racetam drugs family, relatively fewer studies are available regarding coluracetam. It increases the uptake of choline into the synapses of the brain and promotes the synthesis of more acetylcholine. With an increased level of acetylcholine, your brain is able to function better and stronger.

Due to the dearth of clinical findings, the exact benefits and effects of coluracetam are not known but it shows positive results in improving age-related neurological diseases. It also demonstrates constructive effects on your mood and motivation, helping you with depression and anxiety.

Fasoracetam

Fasoracetam is also a newly released synthetic nootropic drug and is a part of the racetam family. Though the benefits of fasoracetam are highly subjective, some of the clinical findings offer support to these benefits and promise a bright scope for this particular nootropic. Among the so far identified benefits, fasoracetam shows positive results in improving the symptoms and condition of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Other than this, it offers protection to memory like other racetam drugs and improves conditions like anxiety and mood disorders.

Some of the benefits offered by fasoracetam include prevention of memory loss, reduction of depression, and improving general cognition. Fasoracetam is a strong racetam that is capable of having substantial positive effects on your cognitive abilities. It is a unique nootropic that is still under clinical trials and its exact benefits need exploration. It is, however, found effective in helping the users overcome their social anxiety by initiating more confidence and better verbal fluency. Researchers associate this effect with fasoracetam’s ability to support the process of producing and releasing of GABA, glutamate and other brain chemicals.

2. Cognitive Enhancers

The cognitive enhancer is a term that is interchangeably used with nootropics. However, you cannot accumulate drugs of both the classes in the same category. All nootropics are cognitive enhancers but all cognitive enhancers are not nootropics.

Cognitive enhancers are substances that actually enhance the cognitive function and cast a positive impact on the concentration, learning, memory, and mood of the user. Nootropics, on the other hand, require the properties of neuroprotection and non-toxic in nature. The stimulant attributes and potential adverse reactions of Adderall make it a cognitive enhancer rather than a nootropic.

However, we can call drugs from both categories as smart drugs.

Cognitive enhancers work with the purpose of treating conditions such as sleepiness and attention disorders. These drugs do cast a positive impact on the cognitive abilities of the user but they are not designed for that purpose.

Using cognitive enhancers can boost your mental performance but are not sans risks and side effects. So you have to choose them rather carefully and get your doctor’s opinion when planning to use them for improving your mental abilities and performance. Some of the known cognitive enhancers are briefly explained below:

Modafinil

Introduced in the late 1990s, modafinil is a cognitive enhancer effective for treating narcolepsy, obstructive sleep disorder, and shift work sleep disorder. Modafinil promotes wakefulness and alertness. It aids the process of stimulant withdrawal and presumably decreases the drug cravings and dependence. Though this cognitive enhancer needs further research, it so far showcases positive results for sleep-related problems and disorders.

Among the side effects of modafinil, you may face insomnia as it promotes increased wakefulness and alertness, making it difficult for you to fall asleep. It can also instigate anxiety and nausea upon usage. Users also report encountering Paresthesia or pins and needles-like feeling in the body when they use modafinil. These side effects usually occur when you overdose modafinil or increase your daily intake suddenly. To curtail these adverse reactions, it is beneficial that you take smaller amounts of the drug in the beginning and then increase it gradually.

There is not sufficient research available for modafinil as yet. Therefore, the exact benefits and potential harms are not completely known. So, we recommend you to consult your physician prior to consuming the drug in order to protect yourself from any unnecessary harm.

Armodafinil

Belonging from the –afinil class of pharmaceutical compounds, armodafinil is a cognitive enhancer that effectively stimulates the brain. It instigates the cells to make them more active and resultantly improve the overall functioning of the brain. It specifically enhances the ability to think, react, memorize, analyze, comprehend and recall information. These positive effects of armodafinil make it suitable for students, people working in forces, corporate workers and athletes. Serving as a mind booster, some users report it as an effective creativity enhancer.

If you encounter problems with imagination, armodafinil can help you overcome it. It is safe when it comes to addiction. Your brain does not develop a dependency on it or get negatively affected in any manner. There are, however, some mild side effects that you may encounter. Headaches, dizziness, sleep disorder and diarrhea are some adverse reactions your body may face upon armodafinil consumption. These effects are not long lasting and are likely to vanish away with time as your body gets accustomed to the drug.

Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is a nootropic drug, used commonly in France. It is a fat-soluble derivative of thiamine and has antioxidant properties. With its ability to reduce fatigue, sulbutiamine stimulates gut activity and improves muscle weakness. It has a positive effect on memory and offers protection to the brain. Synthetically produced, sulbutiamine helps in increasing the thiamine levels in the brain substantially. For people with lower energy levels, sulbutiamine can help them boost their mood and energy more than placebo.

Studies indicate positive effects of sulbutiamine for severe depression, anxiety, and fatigue with a 75% success rate. Also, sulbutiamine shows the constructive effect on Alzheimer’s patients. It helps boost their memory. As for healthy individuals, it is also effectual in improving the long-term memory by boosting neurotransmitters such as choline.

Among the clinical use of this drug, a six-week treatment plan of sulbutiamine is effectual for

protecting nerves from damage caused by high blood sugar level. Sulbutiamine has fewer side effects when you use it within the dose limit of 600 milligrams a day. Exceeding the recommended dose, you may incur reactions such as mild skin allergies, agitation, and headaches.

Sunifiram

Sunifiram currently retains the status of an experimental drug that you may find among the range of brain enhancers. The promoted benefits of sunifiram include improved mental focus and decreased a symptom of depression. The initial purpose of sunifiram was to use it in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, however, couldn’t continue and the drug remained unapproved for the age-related disease. Conversely, its structure and function associate it closely with piracetam, so it is now available for use as a smart drug. The user experience so far reports it as highly efficient and 1000 times more potent than piracetam. It takes a lower dose to instigate stronger effects, making it more proficient.

Some studies show that sunifiram, in near future, can become a part of treatment and prevention of drug-caused amnesia. This recently discovered cognitive enhancer can delay your response towards pain by releasing pain-relieving effect.

The toxicity of sunifiram is unknown because there is not enough research available. However, its resemblance with piracetam showcases that it has a very low level of toxicity if any. Side effects of sunifiram may include nausea, headaches, anxiety, restlessness, and sweating. These effects are likely due to an abrupt increase of dose or mixing the drug with stimulants.

3. Natural Nootropics

Natural nootropics are the safest supplements that help you reach your optimum level mental performance without causing you any sort of adverse reaction. They do not entail the potential risks that synthetic smart drugs have and contribute positively to the health of your brain.

Nootropics, as the definition goes, are substances that improve your mental functions like memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration without causing your mind or body any negative effect. Natural nootropics are safer options for cognitive enhancement and do not affect your brain in any adverse way. They retain the health of your brain and make it stronger and better.

The natural nootropic supplements are helpful for your brain in various manners. They increase the circulation of blood in your brain, making it energetic and motivated. They provide your brain with the essential nutrients that are mandatory for the optimum mental functioning but are not sufficiently available in your regular diet.

Especially if you have a particular preference in your diet, strictly vegetarian or prefer protein only, then these natural nootropics come really handy in meeting the requirements of nutrients you are missing out in meals. Certain natural nootropics serve as a precursor for important neurotransmitters in your brain that, in the result, support other functions in your body. Let’s have a look at some important natural nootropics.

Galantamine

Galantamine belongs to the class of pharmaceutical compounds termed as cholinesterase inhibitors. This natural nootropic is particularly helpful in treating symptoms of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Galantamine increases the ability of your brain to think and memorize by increasing the levels of brain chemicals responsible for the mentioned tasks.

Galantamine is a part of combination therapy for treating Alzheimer’s disease and its associated dementia. Combining it with other drugs, galantamine produces positive results in improving the cognitive health of the patients. Alzheimer’s patients have lower levels of acetylcholine in their brain which causes dementia.

Galantamine prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine which ultimately increases its level in the brain and makes up for the reduced level. This helps with the symptoms of dementia. This effect, however, is only effectual to a certain level. In case of Alzheimer getting worse, galantamine may not work as good as before. Also, the drug shows no effects pertinent to preventing Alzheimer’s or keeping it from getting worse.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a natural nootropic because its main compound is the extracts of Chinese club moss, Huperzia serrata. The reviews and research showcase that the drug enhances the person’s ability to learn and memorize in all stages of life. It is effective even for the Alzheimer’s patients. It increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, resulting in more energy and better cell formation.

Huperzine A is effective for age-related memory problems and works well in treating myasthenia gravis, a muscle disease. This nootropic drug protects your brain nerves from harmful agents such as nerve gases. As it increases the level of acetylcholine in the brain, it aids the brain nerves to communicate well within the brain as well as with the muscles and other areas. This ultimately boosts not only cognitive abilities but other bodily functions as well.

4. Choline

Choline exists in your body naturally. However, the amount produced is not sufficient enough to ensure high cognitive performance at all times. There are certain dietary sources that are rich in choline and can help you meet the required amount of choline. Eggs, beef liver, broccoli, salmon and codfish are some choline sources. While eating such food items is effectual, they may exceed the intake of other nutrients.

Choline supplements, in such a situation, are best-suited because they give you the exact required amount to improve your cognitive abilities and performance. Choline helps not just in improving your memory and learning abilities but also play a positive role in reducing the risk of heart diseases. It enhances brain health and escalates your intelligence level. Research supports the claim that choline reduces the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and curbs the possibility of cancer development in certain cases.

Choline Bitartrate

Choline bitartrate is a basic component of lecithin that is available in plants and animal organs. This precise natural nootropic serves as a precursor for acetylcholine which subsequently improves the communication between the nerve cells to promote mental functions and abilities.

Choline bitartrate also serves as a methyl donor for various metabolic processes and supports lipid metabolism.
Choline bitartrate has a better absorption rate than choline itself. This nootropic helps in the synthesis of choline and acetylcholine which ultimately support the brain in memory and attention. It also helps in maintaining neuromuscular function by improving the brain-muscle coordination.

Research indicates that choline bitartrate helps eliminate toxins from the liver and protect you from different liver conditions. Though there aren’t many clinical findings, there are some trials indicating that choline bitartrate can become an effectual treatment for inflammation management. The supplements are effective for people with a high inclination towards alcohol, pregnant women and people with neurological conditions.

Citicoline

Present in dietary sources such as beef liver, citicoline is naturally produced in your body as well. It plays an important role in serving as a building block of the cell membrane. Its presence is of more significance in the brain as compared to any other part as it helps protect your brain cells from the attack of free radicals and inhibits neural decay. The most renowned benefit of citicoline is its ability to boost memory and enhance general cognition. Citicoline produced in your body naturally may not suffice the actual requirement. Therefore, citicoline supplements are effective substitutes to meet the required level.

Citicoline promotes the metabolism of glucose in the brain which resultantly offers energy to the brain to work optimally. It fights back the free radicals trying to enter the brain cells. This not only protects your nerve cells from damage but also slow down their aging. Citicoline shows a positive impact on neurological problems such as age-associated memory loss, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Centrophenoxine

Centrophenoxine is a cholinergic compound comprising a dimethylaminoethanol component. It is commonly sold under the brand name of Lucidril. It helps to reverse the signs of aging with respect to cognition, given that you take it for an acute period with high doses. Professionals refer centrophenoxine as a neural enhancer and protector if you continue to use it for a long period of time and in a smaller dose.

Centrophenoxine promotes RNA synthesis, protein synthesis and glucose uptake in neurons which ultimately offers more energy to the brain to enhance its performance. It also increases the intracellular water content which works positively in treating dementia and improving cognitive skills.

Some of the benefits that still require strong evidence include the anti-aging capability of Centrophenoxine. It presumably fights the free radicals and protects the brain cells from potential damage that can cause aging.

Uridine

Uridine essentially is a component of RNA that exudes positive health effects on the human body and brain. It helps enhance brain functioning, reduces pain and treats certain mental disorders. It casts a positive effect on your cardiovascular health by controlling the amount of oxygen supply to your heart. By activating P2Y2 receptors, it can lessen heart contraction during heart attacks. Some of the research indicates a positive effect of uridine for the patients of carpal tunnel syndrome when combined with folic acid and vitamin B12. Uridine lowers down inflammation in lung cells and can restore the liver growth.

Uridine is helpful in improving your sleep, preventing epilepsy and promoting plasticity. It can enhance your cognitive abilities and promote logical reasoning and memory.

DMAE

Your brain produces a very small amount of DMAE which has tremendous cognitive enhancing properties. DMAE is abundantly present in sardines and anchovies. Its supplements are powerful brain boosters that enable you to address your daily DMAE requirements.

DMAE may increase the levels of acetylcholine in your brain which plays an important role in the process of learning and memory formation. Acetylcholine tends to decrease with age and is quite low in patients of Alzheimer’s. If the treatment integrates DMAE supplements, it can help the condition of patients suffering from age-related mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

DMAE is also useful for treating the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia which is a side effect of the long-term practice of antipsychotic drugs. There are no harmful side effects reported for DMAE nor the user review presents any evidence pertinent to adverse effects of the supplement. DMAE promotes a positive mood, better memory, and increased intelligence. It also boosts physical energy and reduces the fatigue level.

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