The Nootropics FAQ

Nootropics FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Here is a list of all the questions that people commonly ask about nootropics. The answers are based on current research and years of personal experience. I’ve made every effort to ensure that these answers are correct. If you think I may have gotten something a little bit wrong, or if you have a new question that you would like me to add to the Nootropics FAQ, please let me know in the comments section at the bottom.

What are nootropics?
Do they actually work?
What is the correct spelling for nootropics?
What are some other names for nootropics?
How do you pronounce “nootropic?”
What is the origin of the word “nootropic?”
How do nootropics work?
How long do nootropics take to work?
How long have people been using nootropics?
Why do people use nootropics?
Will using nootropics make me smarter?
Are nootropics legal/Do you need a prescription?
Are nootropics addictive?
Will nootropics show up on a drug test?
Can I drink alcohol while taking a nootropic?
Can I use cannabis while taking a nootropic?
Do nootropics have side effects?
What should I do if I experience any side effects?
Should nootropics be taken with or without food?
Where is the best place(s) to buy nootropics?
Do I need to buy a scale?
What is “stacking?”
Is it safe to stack nootropics?
What are the different types of nootropics?
What is the best nootropic for…..?
Where can I learn more about nootropics?


What are nootropics?

Nootropics are drugs, supplements, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and foods that improve at least one aspect of mental function. Examples of mental functions that nootropics can improve are memory, motivation, attention, focus, anxiety, mood, learning, and creativity.

By most definitions, nootropics also have to provide their benefits without causing serious side effects or causing dependence. Cocaine, for example, increases motivation, attention, focus, mood, and wakefulness. However, it is highly addictive and can have acute and long-term health consequences. For this reason, it would not be considered a nootropic.

Do they actually work?

Yes. Many people are skeptical when they first hear about nootropics. But I can tell you from first-hand experience that, yes, they absolutely do work.

Not all nootropics work the same way, and everyone’s brain chemistry is different. Most people have to try a few different nootropics before they find the one or ones that that work best for them. But they do work, absolutely.

What is the correct spelling for nootropics?

You may see alternative spellings for the word nootropics. Some of these include nutropics, nutroopics, and notropics. In English, the correct spelling is what you see here: nootropics.

What are some other names for nootropics?

Nootropics have been called by a number of other names. Some of these names are smart drugs, cognitive enhancers, brain supplements, brain drugs, intelligence enhancers, mood brighteners, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, nutraceuticals, brain pills, noots, and study aides.

How do you pronounce “nootropic?”

Nootropic is pronounced like this: nO-ah-trO-pik. Click here to hear an audio pronunciation.

The shortened version, noots, is usually pronounced like this: newts.

What is the origin of the word “nootropic?”

The word “nootropic” was coined by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea in 1972. Dr. Giurgea was a Romanian psychologist and chemist. He created the word “nootropic” out of the greek words νους (mind), nous (intelligence), and τρέπειν (to bend or change).

According to Dr. Giurgea, nootropics should have the following characteristics:

  • They enhance learning and memory
  • They protect the brain against physical and chemical injuries
  • They enhance resistance to conditions that disrupt learned behaviors
  • They increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
  • They have few side effects and low toxicity


How do nootropics work?

To put it very simply, nootropics work by changing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain and the way that those chemicals interact with each other.

The brain is filled with chemicals that interact with each other. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are responsible for mood, anxiety, focus, motivation, appetite, memory, libido, pleasure, pain, and anything else you can think of. They play a crucial role in what makes you, you.

By changing the levels of specific neurotransmitters in the brain, we can change certain traits. Take motivation, for example. We know that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in motivation. Generally, more dopamine, more motivation. Less dopamine, less motivation. So, taking nootropics that increase dopamine in certain parts of the brain will lead to more motivation.

This, of course, is a huge oversimplification. Brain chemistry is incredibly complex, and modern science is only starting to scratch the surface of how the brain works. But we know that by taking nootropics, we can change the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. And changing these levels will lead to changes in the way we feel.

How long do nootropics take to work?

It totally depends on the particular nootropic. Some start to work quickly. The effects can be felt in anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Others need to build up in the body over the course of several weeks to reach optimal concentrations.

How long have people been using nootropics?

It’s impossible to answer this question precisely. As long as modern humans have existed, they have tried to enhance their mental abilities through plants, drugs, meditation, fasting, religious practices, and dozens of other means.

Stimulants life caffeine and cocaine have been used for centuries to increase focus, motivation, attention, wakefulness, and memory. Opiates like morphine, heroin, and opium have been used for a long time to improve overall mood, relieve stress, and reduce anxiety.

Of course, most of these drugs (except caffeine) would not be considered nootropics because of their known side effects. But it shows that people have an innate desire to improve their mental performance.

As far as modern nootropics go, like drugs in the racetam family, we can get a more accurate look at when they were first used. Piracetam, the first racetam created, was first synthesized in 1964. It became commercially available in the early 1970’s.

Other nootropic drug categories are even more modern. The eugeroic drugs, like modafinil and adrafinil, were first created in the 1960’s. But they did not start being used as nootropics until the 1990’s.

The short answer to this question is that modern nootropics have only been used for the past few decades. The long answer is that people have been using drugs like caffeine as nootropics for centuries.

Why do people use nootropics?

Nootropics are used for a variety of reasons. Most of these reasons involve increasing focus, motivation, mental energy, memory, learning, and overall cognitive performance. Other reasons that people may use nootropics are to reduce anxiety and improve mood, which indirectly can result in an increase in all of the above.

Many people use nootropics to boost their own natural cognitive performance. Others, with various cognitive impairments (learning disorders, PTSD, etc.), use nootropics therapeutically to treat various mental deficits. In countries where some nootropics require a prescription, they are prescribed to treat a number of conditions.

Here is a list of the most common reasons people use nootropics:

  • Increase Focus
  • Increase Motivation
  • Improve Memory
  • Improve Learning
  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Improve Mood
  • Treat Various Medical/Psychological Conditions
  • Improve Overall Cognition
  • Increase Creativity
  • Increase Logical Thinking/Problem Solving


Will using nootropics make me smarter?

Not exactly. However, they can improve your ability to learn, memorize information, recall information, focus your attention, and stay motivated.

While the use of nootropics will not increase your intelligence directly, they will improve your ability to engage in intellectual activity.

Over time, the use of nootropics could result in an increase in intelligence, if you spend your time engaged in intellectual activity. This has not been studied scientifically, yet, but it makes sense. If your brain is primed to learn then, over time, you should become smarter if you dedicate yourself to learning new things or performing new tasks.

Are nootropics legal/Do you need a prescription?

In the United States, most nootropics are sold legally as dietary supplements. You do not require a prescription to buy or possess them. In Canada, they are legal to possess but not to sell, so they need to be ordered from another country.

In several European and countries, some nootropics require a prescription. Piracetam, for example, is a prescription medication in the UK, Australia, Italy, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain.

It should be noted that some stimulants that are used as nootropics require a prescription in the United States. These include amphetamines, methylphenidate, and modafinil.

Are nootropics addictive?

Anything that changes the way you think and feel can be addictive. There have been reports of people getting addicted to certain nootropics. However, these reports are rare and are usually only seen in people that already have problems with addiction.

Most drugs that are considered nootropics do not produce significant tolerance and withdrawal upon cessation. These characteristics are commonly associated with addictive drugs. There are exceptions, however. Stimulants, like caffeine and amphetamines, are known to produce withdrawal symptoms after prolonged use.

Generally, nootropics are not addictive. But there are exceptions. Make sure you do your research before starting anything new. And know yourself. If you have a history of addictive behavior, you should use caution.

Will nootropics show up on a drug test?

This is a tricky question. The simple answer is no, they shouldn’t. But false positives do happen.

A false positive is when a drug screen comes back positive for something that was never taken. Drug screens don’t test for the drugs directly. They test for the metabolites that drugs break down into in the body. Sometimes unrelated drugs break down into similar metabolites causing a false reading.

Common drugs screens do not look for nootropics. Standard 5-panel drug screens (commonly used for employment) only test for THC, PCP, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates.

Nootropics should not cause a false positive for any of these things. However, it’s always possible. If you have to undergo extensive drug testing, it is recommended that you use caution.

And it should also be noted that amphetamines (Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, etc.) will show up on a standard drug screen. If you have a prescription for one of these medications, then it should not be a problem. Otherwise, you should not take any drugs containing any amphetamines.

Can I drink alcohol while taking a nootropic?

This is a broad question, as each nootropic works differently. The broad answer is no, you probably shouldn’t.

Alcohol affects just about every system of the body, including the brain and the central nervous system. Nootropics work, in part, by changing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Mixing the two could cause unwanted side effects.

Some nootropics that have been extensively studied and are prescribed in some European countries have alcohol consumption warnings. Piracetam, for example, comes with the warning that you should not consume alcohol while taking it.

It’s always good to err on the side of caution. It’s probably not harmful to have a few drinks with most nootropics. But, be aware, that there could be some interactions.

Can I use cannabis while taking a nootropic?

Nootropics are drugs that improve memory, focus, attention, and motivation. Cannabis, for most people, has the exact opposite effect. By using cannabis with nootropics, you might be canceling out some of the cognitive enhancing effects.

That being said, mixing cannabis with certain nootropics can enhance other effects. Nootropics that affect mood and anxiety levels are often used with cannabis to increase their mood-boosting and anxiety reducing effects. Here are a few common nootropic/cannabis combinations.

Although the use of cannabis and nootropics together has not been scientifically studied, there’s no reason to think that this combination would be dangerous.

So, yes, you can use cannabis and nootropics together. This combo may increase the mood and anti-anxiety effects of some nootropics. However, it may also diminish the cognitive effects.

Do nootropics have side effects?

Side effects from most nootropics are rare. But like all drugs and supplements, nootropics do have potential side effects. These can range from a mild headache to a full-blown allergic reaction.

By some definitions, nootropics should not have any serious side effects. And most nootropics seem to be pretty safe for most people. But, like anything you put in your body, they can have unwanted results.

Some unlikely but possible side effects are:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions are very rare, but they can potentially happen. This is true not only of nootropics but of anything you put in your body.

What should I do if I experience any side effects?

If you experience any minor side effects like a mild headache or insomnia, you should discontinue whatever is causing it. If your symptoms persist or get worse, see a doctor.

If you have an allergic reaction (trouble breathing, extreme anxiety/panic, rapid heartbeat, severe rash), seek professional medical help immediately.

Should nootropics be taken with or without food?

This will vary from person to person, and from one nootropic to another.

Generally, you can take nootropics with or without food. It shouldn’t make much of a difference. Some nootropics work best when taken on an empty stomach. Others absorb better with food, specifically fatty foods.

Always read the label and see if it is recommended that you take it with food.

Where is the best place(s) to buy nootropics?

In the United States and Canada, nootropics are usually bought online. Some nootropics can be found in health food and supplement stores.

Below are four of the best online retailers. There are dozens of others, but these four have the best selection, prices, and customer service. For a more detailed list of sellers, check out Where To Buy Nootropics.

Nootropics City – This is a great company that’s been around for a few years now. Nootropics City has amazing products, reasonable prices, fast shipping, excellent customer service, and a very good selection of nootropics. They carry some nootropics in capsule form that you can’t find anywhere else. Highly recommended.

Peak Nootropics – This is a company that has been around for a while and has a trusted track record. It’s also the company that I’ve been using the longest. I highly recommend using them. They have a great selection of nootropics (powders and capsules) and reasonable prices. Their shipping is fast. For most nootropics, this is who I use, personally.

Absorb Health – These guys have everything. They have a vast selection of nootropics. Almost everything that you’ll find at Absorb Health is either in pill or capsule form, though they do have a few powders. And, they also have tons of other supplements in every category you could possibly think of. Great customer service, good prices, and great products. Highly recommended.

absorb_health1

Duck Dose – The above nootropic retailers all have an impressive selection of smart drugs. The one popular nootropic that they don’t sell, though, is modafinil. Duck Dose is a fairly new but highly reliable company that specializes in selling modafinil (Modvigil, Modalert) and armodafinil (Waklert, Artvigil). In fact, it’s all they sell. If you’re looking for modafinil and/or armodafinil and live in a location that they ship to, Duck Dose has great, pharmaceutical grade products, very reasonable prices, excellent customer service, and fast shipping. Highly recommended!

duck dose

Do I need to buy a scale?

It’s a good idea. As the popularity of using nootropics continue to grow, more and more are becoming available in capsule form. However, many are only available as a powder.

Some suppliers provide you with a small measuring spoon to use. But this is not very accurate. It is recommended that you get a small milligram scale. Make sure it is able to measure down to at least 1 milligram. This way you are able to measure out very accurate dosages.

Most online nootropic suppliers have scales available for sale. I would recommend buying one from Amazon.com. They have several to choose from and their prices are reasonable. You can check out Amazon’s selection of milligram scales here.

What is “stacking?”

Stacking is the process of taking more than one nootropic at a time to maximize results. It is not uncommon for people to take two or more nootropics at a time.

The most common stacks include a choline source, like Alpha GPC, and at least one other nootropic. This is because many nootropics affect the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. If the brain does not have enough, then you will not get the most out of whatever nootropic you are taking.

If you would like to learn more about some basic stacks, check this out: The Top 3 Nootropic Stacks For Beginners. These 3 stacks are all safe, effective, and perfect for beginners, although plenty of experienced nootropic users still use them regularly.

Is it safe to stack nootropics?

Many people take multiple nootropics at a time without any side effects. However, negative interactions can occur.

You should always do your research before stacking nootropics. Make sure there are no known interactions between them. For example, you generally should not stack multiple stimulants together, as this can put a dangerous strain on your cardiovascular system.

What are the different types of nootropics?

Most nootropics will fall into one of a few categories. These are racetams, stimulants, nutraceuticals, cholinergics and other miscellaneous nootropics.

Racetams – The racetams are a family of chemically similar drugs that are used for their nootropic properties. These include piracetam, pramiracetam, coluracetam, oxiracetam, aniracetam, and phenylpiracetam. They are used to increase focus, motivation, learning, memory, reduce anxiety, and improve overall mood. They are popular because they work for most people and have few side effects.

Nutraceuticals – The word nutraceutical is a portmanteau of the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical.” It is used to describe a number of different supplements. Common nootropic nutraceuticals include ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, ginseng, salvia officinalis, and isoflavones.

Stimulants – These are drugs and supplements that exert a nootropic effect by stimulating the central nervous system. Stimulants can have a nootropic effect, but only up to a certain point. This is called the Yerkes-Dodson law. Stimulation increases mental performance up to a point, but over-stimulation actually decreases mental performance.

It should be noted that some of the drugs in this class are available by prescription only in the United States. Prescription stimulants include the amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, etc.), methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), and modafinil (Provigil).

Some of these do have legal, non-prescription alternatives, though. Adrafinil is an unregulated supplement that is very similar to the prescription drug modafinil, for example. Other stimulants that are used as nootropics include caffeine, nicotine, and ephedrine.

Cholinergics – Cholinergic drugs are ones that affect the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is known to play a role in learning, memory, and reward. Nootropics in this category include Alpha-GPC, choline, citicoline, centrophenoxine, choline citrate, choline bitartrate, DMAE, lecithin, and phosphatidylcholine.

Other miscellaneous nootropics – These are all other drugs and supplements that have nootropic properties. Some popular miscellaneous nootropics include L-theanine, phosphatidylserine, tianeptine, huperzine A, vinpocetine, and L-tyrosine. There are many others, but these are some of the more popular and well-studied ones.

To learn more about the different categories of smart drugs, read this: The Different Types of Nootropics.

What is the best nootropic for…..?

People often ask, “What is the best nootropic for focus.” Or, “What is the best noot for anxiety?” We get similar questions for attention, learning, memory, creativity, wakefulness, mood, and everything else.

The truth is that there usually isn’t one right answer to any of these questions. Some nootropics work wonders for some people and do absolutely nothing for others. You need to do a little bit of experimenting on yourself to answer these kinds of questions.

I usually recommend that people try several different nootropics to see what works best for them. I’ve seen too many people try one and get discouraged when it doesn’t do what they hoped it would. Everybody’s brain chemistry is different. Different people respond differently to different drugs. This is especially true of nootropics.

If you want to know what the best nootropics for you are, then you’re going to have to try them for yourself. Here are a few guides to give you some suggestions:

Best Nootropics For Anxiety

Best Nootropics For Focus

Best Nootropics For Memory

Best Nootropics For Motivation

Best Nootropics For Mood

Best Nootropics For Studying

Best Nootropics For Creativity

Where can I learn more about nootropics?

To stay up-to-date with everything that’s happening in the nootropics world (news, new substances, new sellers, etc.), please subscribe to the Nootropics Zone newsletter. As our thank you to you, you’ll get The Ultimate Nootropics Quick Reference Guide for free!

Another great resource that I recommend is Examine.com. Whenever I hear about a new nootropic, drug, or supplement, I always look it up on Examine. This website provides science-based information about drugs, supplements, vitamins, minerals, and more. It’s easy to understand for the average person. And every entry is meticulously cited, should you choose to do further research.

If you are really interested in nootropics, I recommend joining a nootropics-related forum. My personal favorite nootropics community is on Reddit. The subreddit /r/Nootropics is very active and filled with good information. Longecity has a good “Brain Health” forum that has a lot of nootropics talk.

And lastly, if you are on Facebook, you could join a nootropics group. There are several to choose from. I recommend joining the group Better Living Through Nootropics. It’s newer than some of the others, but it has much less advertising.

Conclusion

There you have it: The Nootropics F.A.Q. We hope this has been informative and you’ve had all your questions about these amazing substances answered. However, if you think we’ve missed something or you’d like to see something added to the FAQ, please leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

And, if you haven’t already, make sure to get The Ultimate Nootropics Quick Reference Guide. You can get it for FREE when you sign up for the Nootropics Zone newsletter.

Nootropics FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
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