Nootropics A-Z - A Growing Encyclopedia Of Pretty Much Every Nootropic

Posted by Jonathan Lewell on

This page is a exhaustive list of the most popular nootropics available today. You’ll read a quick introduction to what each nootropic is, and its core benefits to your cognition.

Last updated: 2nd October 2018

Table of Contents:

  1. 5-HTP
  2. Adrafinil
  3. Alpha GPC
  4. Alpha Lipoic Acid
  5. Aniracetam
  6. Ashwagandha
  7. Bacopa Monnieri
  8. Caffeine
  9. CDP Choline
  10. Choline Bitartrate
  11. Coluracetam
  12. DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
  13. Ginkgo Biloba
  14. Huperzine A
  15. Japanese Green Tea
  16. Long Jack Tongkat Ali
  17. L-Theanine
  18. L-Tryptophan
  19. Modafinil
  20. Mucuna Prurients
  21. Noopept
  22. Oxiracetam
  23. Panax Ginseng
  24. Phenylpiracetam
  25. Pterostilbene
  26. Piracetam
  27. Rhodiola Rosea
  28. Trans-Resveratrol
  29. Uridine Monophosphate

5-HTP

5-HTP helps mood and stress by metabolosing into the “happiness” neurotransmitter chemical in the brain called Serotonin.

5-HTP is a fast-acting and high strength Serotonin enhancer. It's therefore wise to only take it for the short-term. For a longer, term solution... Consider L-Tryptophan.

  • Fast acting mood booster
  • Extremely potent
  • Only to be used for the short-term

Read the guide »

Adrafinil

Adrafinil is a nootropic used to enhance wakefulness, focus and mood. It’s the precursor to modafinil, which means it converts into modafinil in the body.

Modafinil boosts the levels of our hypocretin neurotransmitter, which plays a role in reducing appetite, increasing arousal, and keeping us awake. Hypocretin also indirectly increases our dopamine neurotransmitter levels, boosting our motivation to work.

  • More Focus
  • More Productivity
  • More Alertness
  • More Motivation

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is a concentrated Choline supplement used for memory and brain-development.

It converts into the “learning neurotransmitter” Acetylcholine in the body. This is body’s primary chemical messenger, used by brain-cells to send all thoughts, emotions and information to each other.

Alpha GPC is often stacked with other nootropics to reduce their side-effects and increase their effectiveness. Most commonly, Alpha GPC is stacked with Racetams which deplete our Choline levels and can otherwise cause headaches.

  • Improved memory and learning
  • Improved clarity of thought
  • More physical power
  • Increased growth hormones

Read the guide »

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic acid is a neuroprotective supplement that “exhibits significant antioxidant activity protecting against oxidative damage.”

  • It can replace deficiencies in vitamin C and E
  • Its antioxidants protect brain-cells from oxidative damage

Read the guide »

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is a racetam nootropic that has a powerful anti-anxiety effect in addition to the usual racetam benefit: stimulating the AMPA receptor site in the brain. The AMPA receptors play a role in memory and learning.

Aniracetam’s unique anti-anxiety effect comes from its ability to boost our dopamine (motivation) and serotonin (pleasure) neurotransmitter levels.

Since Aniracetam is a racetam, it increases the brain’s demand for Acetylcholine. Take a Choline supplement like Alpha GPC to avoid a headache.

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased memory and learning
  • Increased focus
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased pleasure

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a plant based adaptogen primarily taken for reducing social anxiety and improving mood. It’s cognition enhancing effects are linked to anxiety impairing focus and learning.

Ashwagandha is classed as an adaptogen because it keeps the body in homestatic balance. It improves cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, cortisol levels and heart rate.

It’s also been taken for centuries as a sexual performance enhancer - it boosts libido and testosterone levels in men.

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Improves mood
  • Improves motivation
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces heart rate
  • Increases libido
  • Increases testosterone

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri is a herb taken to reduce anxiety, improve memory and boost overall cognition.

Bacopa Monnieri works by boosting our dopamine (motivation) and serotonin (pleasure neurotransmitters). It also encourages the growth of our nerve endings, allowing information to communicate faster throughout the brain.

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Improves memory
  • Improves information processing times
  • Increases motivation
  • Increases pleasure

Caffeine

Caffeine is a popular stimulant and wakefulness compound.

Caffeine acts as an antagonist to the adenosine receptor. The adenosine receptor causes relaxation and sedation. Being an antagonist, caffeine blocks and reduces its effects, leading to feelings of stimulation.

You can increase the effectiveness of caffeine by adding L-Theanine. This amino-acid found in green tea eliminates caffeine’s side-effects of anxiety and jitters. Caffeine and L-Theanine is a very popular productivity stack.

CDP Choline (Citicoline)

CDP Choline is a Choline supplement taken to increase memory and brain-development.

CDP Choline’s benefits are similar to Alpha GPC, although it converts into Acetylcholine slightly differently. CDP Choline converts into Choline and Uridine, before finally turning into Acetylcholine.

We use Choline to builds the wrappers around our brain-cells. This allows our brain’s to create and repair more brain-cells, which improves our overall cognition.

The Acetylcholine neurotransmitter is also used to send information from brain-cell to brain-cell, especially to our brain’s memory center (Hippocampus).

Compared to Alpha GPC, CDP Choline contains a lower concentration of Choline at 18.5% (Alpha GPC is 40% Choline).

  • Improves memory and learning
  • Builds brain-cells and encourages brain plasticity

Read the guide »

Choline Bitartrate

Good at raising liver Choline levels, but ineffective at raising neural (brain) Choline levels. This is often sold in local supplements shops.

Coluracetam

Colouracetam is one of the newest racetams with many users it to improve sensory experiences (like listening to music), boost mood and reduce anxiety.

Like other Racetams, Colouracetam also has memory and overall cognition benefits. This is because Racetams push our brains to convert more of the Choline B-Vitamin into Acetylcholine - our “learning neurotransmitter”.

  • Increases sensory experience
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Improves memory and brain-connectivity

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)

DHA is the the part of an Omega-3 capsule that benefits our brains (the other part being EPA).It's derived from algae.

DHA is a fatty acid that builds the outer wrappers of our brain-cells called neuron cell membranes. Studies have shown DHA to benefit both infant and elderly test subjects in areas including memory and brain-development.

The average US intake of DHA is 200mg per day, far below the 650mg typically recommended by experts.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is an ancient Chinese “circulation tonic”. Clinical trials suggest it improves memory, reduces anxiety and boosts energy.

Ginkgo biloba improves memory by increasing blood-flow to the brain. A 52-week clinical trial of mild-dementia patients reported Ginkgo to improve cognitive performance and social functioning.

Clinical trials have also seen Ginkgo biloba improve anxiety levels also seen Ginkgo to “significantly” improve anxiety and modulate mood.

Ginkgo is also a stimulant because it inhibits (limits) the activity of our “relaxation neurotransmitter” GABA.

  • Improves memory
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases energy

Huperzine-A

A Choline supplement that does not “boost” Choline production, but stops your Acetylcholine learning neurotransmitter from breaking down. Seen to benefit memory and cognitive tasks.

  • Improves memory and learning

Read the guide »

Japanese Green Tea

A relaxation drink that contains the amino acid L-Theanine. Incredibly healthy with antioxidants and studied to calm subjects down without causing sleepiness.

  • Promotes relaxation
  • Reduces anxiety

Long Jack Tongkat Ali

An aphrodisiac and testerone supplement derived from the South-East Asian shrub; Eurycoma Longifolia.

  • Boosts sex drive
  • Improves testosterone levels
  • Encourages strength gain and weight loss.

Read the guide »

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is a relaxing amino acid found in green tea. It’s been studied to reduce anxiety, physical and mental stress, and improve mood.

L-Theanine encourages the release of our “relaxation neurotransmitter” GABA. Brain-scans show us that taking L-Theanine causes the brain to go into a similar state as meditation - relaxed but awake.

L-Theanine is often stacked with caffeine to reduce the “caffeine jitters” and prevent overstimulation. This is a powerful productivity stack to stay in the “focus zone”.

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mood
  • Negates anxiety side-effects of caffeine

Read the guide »

L-Tryptophan

An amino acid similar to 5-HTP which synthesises the neurotransmitter serotonin - benefiting mood. Better for longer-term use than 5-HTP.

  • A long-term solution for improving mood
  • Encourages good sleep

Read the guide »

Modafinil

Need tunnel-like vision to get things done?

Modafinil is an incredibly popular wakefulness Eugeroic. It’s a prescription medication for narcolepsy, although it’s often taken by healthy individuals to improve focus and reduce mental fatigue.

Its effects are similar to its precursor, Adrafinil, except it’s about 3 times as potent and its effects are felt much more immediately.

Clinical trials conclude that Modafinil significantly improves attention-spans, reduces fatigue, improves cognition and boosts mood and motivation.

  • Improves focus and attention
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Increases motivation to work
  • Boosts mood

Mucuna Prurients

A tropical bean taken to boost mood, reduce anxiety and improve dopamine (motivation) levels.

Mucuna Prurients contains l-dopa and 5-HTP. L-Dopa is the precurosor to our motivation neurotransmitter Dopamine. 5-HTP is the precusursor to our pleasure neurotransmitter Serotonin.

Some clinical trials also suggest that it increases testosterone and growth hormone levels.

  • Increases mood
  • Increaes motivation
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases testosterone
  • Boosts human growth hormone

Noopept

Want a memory-enhancer that’s more 1,000 more potent than your average Racetam? Noopept is one of the fastest acting nootropics on the market. It’s a peptide-derived nootropic that works in a similar way to Racetams, but provides a much more immediately noticeable lift in cognitive performance.

Noopept works by flooding your brain with the learning neurotransmitter Acetylcholine. This “chemical messenger” is used by our brain-cells to send information to our memory center.

A Moscow human trial concluded Noopept to have a positive effect on cognition. It also suggested the nootropic to have mild stimulatory and anti-anxiety benefits.

  • Enhances memory (strong)
  • Increases overall cognitive performance
  • Improves logical / technical thinking
  • Improves mood
  • Increases energy (mild)
  • Reduces anxiety (mild)

Oxiracetam

For optimal memory function, Oxiracetam is one of the more powerful nootropics in the Racetam family. It’s essentially a “version 2” of the founding father: Piracetam.

Like other Racetams, Oxiracetam works by making your brain use up more of your “learning neurotransmitter” Acetylcholine. Users report improvements in memory, focus, learning and technical thinking.

Unlike other Racetams, Oxiracetam does not influence your levels of your Dopamine (motivation) or Serotonin (pleasure) neurotransmitters. Nor does it influence your nicotonic receptors (used to catch Acetylcholine and nicotine).

  • Enhances memory
  • Improves logical / technical thinking
  • Improves overall cognitive performance

Panax Ginseng

For a calm and balanced mind, Panax Ginseng is a good choice. It’s also known as “True Ginseng,” because it’s the most widely studied (and Asian) form of the ginseng genus of plants.

Panax Ginseng is an adaptogen; it helps your body adapt to stress. It’s mainly taken for improving mood, reducing anxiety, and improving overall quality of life.

Clinical research also suggests that Panax Ginseng can improve cognitive performance. This is likely because it relaxes our minds, which is essential for staying focused and performing mental tasks.

  • Reduces stress
  • Increased calmness
  • Improves mood
  • Improves overall cognitive performance

Phenylpiracetam

For a stimulated sense of focus, Phenylpiracetam is an “amped up” version of Piracetam. Phenylpiracetam combines Piracetam with a Phenyl group, making it 60 times more potent.

Compared to Piracetam, you’ll get more of an energized / stimulated feeling - as well as a sense of confidence. Phenylpiracetam is the nootropic of choice for bio-hackers performing intensely logical and technical tasks. Users report it to encourage “precision” thinking.

Phenylpiracetam works in a similar way to other racetams to enhance overall memory. It encourages the use of your AMPA receptor sites (used during long-term potentiation; forming long-term memories). It also encourages your brain to use more of the Acetylcholine learning neurotransmitter, benefiting memory and overall thought clarity.

A 2007 study concluded that Phenylpiracetam is superior to Piracetam because it also offers additional neuroprotection and stimulatory effects. They also suggested it reduces anxiety - which is backed up by users reporting it makes you “overconfident”.

  • Enhances memory function
  • Increases focus
  • Improves logical / technical thinking
  • Neuroprotection
  • Improves energy
  • Reduces anxiety

Pterostilbene

A potent antioxidant derived from grapes. Pterostilbene is not as well-studied as Trans-Resveratrol, but it has been used for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory qualities.

  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Protects brain-cells from oxidative stress.

Read the guide »

Piracetam

For a tranquil sense of focus and overall improvements to your memory and cognition, choose Piracetam. It’s a Racetam without stimulatory effects.

Piracetam works in several ways to boost your cognitive performance. It helps your logical processing by making your brain-cells more permeable in your frontal cortex (used for planning, organizing, etc.). It boosts mental energy by increasing your brain’s glucose consumption (this turns into energy) and improving the functioning of your Mitochondria “energy factories”. Piracetam also improves overal cereberal functioning by increasing membrane fluidity - so toxins can escape.

Piracetam also has short-term and long-term memory benefits. For short-term / working memory, it increases the brain’s use of the “learning neurotransmitter” Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine levels often correlate with fluid intelligence; identifying patterns, connecting abstract concepts, etc. For long-term memory, Piracetam increases the sensitivity of your AMPA receptors. Research suggests the more your AMPA receptors are used, the more likely long-term potentiation will occur. Long-term potentiation is the formation of long-term memories.

  • Enhances focus
  • Increases working memory
  • Enhances fluid intelligence
  • Increases long-term memory
  • Improves mental energy

Rhodiola Rosea

An arctic herb that provides an immediate energy boost that lasts 5 hours. It was used in secret by the Soviet Union.

  • Boosts energy for typically 5 hours
  • Improves mental endurance

Read the guide »

Trans-Resveratrol

Trans-Resveratrol is an antioxidant derived from grapes that fights free-radical molecules to protect the brain from oxidative stress. Trans-Resveratrol is produced by plants for its anti-inflammatory properties. Trans-Resveratrol is structurally similar to Pterostilbene.

  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Protects brain-cells from oxidative stress

Read the guide »

Uridine Monophosphate

Uridine Monophosphate is a brain-repair and memory supplement that is classes as a nucleotide. That means it forms a core part of our brain-cells - the nucleus. Uridine Monophosphate is often stacked with Choline supplements like Alpha GPC and CDP Choline.

Read the guide »

  • Great for brain-repair and maintenance and memory.
  • Uridine increases Acetylcholine release when stacked with a Choline supplement like Alpha GPC or CDP Choline (that means faster brain-connectivity and memory).
  • Makes sure you don't get desensitized to Dopamine by strengthening your Dopamine receptors. If you are taking a Dopamine supplement you should definitely take Uridine Monophosphate.

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