Nootropics can help enhance memory, increase focus, and ultimately boost productivity. But with so many options on the market, deciding which one to use can be a tad challenging. This comprehensive guide covers a list of the five most popular nootropics on the market in 2023, as well as everything you need to know about this product type to make an informed decision.
What are nootropics (smart drugs)?
Nootropics, commonly referred to as “smart drugs”, are substances known for their cognitive-enhancing effects on users. They typically increase alertness and focus, enhance memory and learning capability, and ultimately help increase productivity. These substances typically include a variety of natural compounds, synthetic drugs, or a combination of both, and they may come in various forms, including powders, capsules, liquids, and sublingual pills.
Today, healthy individuals from across the world take nootropics to enhance their cognitive alertness and improve mental performance. Engineers, top-level executives of Fortune 500 corporations, sales reps, celebrities, and professionals from all walks of life take them to gain a competitive edge. There have even been cases in which presidents have reportedly used “smart drugs” like modafinil to combat jet lag, stay alert, and deliver excellent speeches even after travelling through several time zones.
At this point, it is worth noting that “smart drugs” do not exactly make people intelligent. Instead, they help boost energy levels, increase motivation to work, and eliminate fatigue, all of which give users a better chance of performing at their peak.
How Do nootropics exactly work?
Different nootropics work in various ways, but in most cases, they typically target neurotransmitters, brain waves, and overall brain health. By modulating these factors, “smart drugs” can promote wakefulness and enhance focus, memory, and other cognitive functions. Now, let’s delve into the specifics of how different nootropics achieve these effects:
- Neurotransmitters. Nootropics like modafinil and armodafinil work by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain. The levels of these chemicals at any instant in time are linked to wakefulness, mood, and brain function.
- Brain waves. Some nootropics, such as Alpha Brain, work by influencing brain waves (alpha, beta, theta, and delta waves), each linked to specific cognitive states. Balancing these frequencies can affect alertness, creativity, and relaxation.
- Overall brain health. Nootropics like Bacopa monnieri work over a long period of time by providing essential nutrients and antioxidants that gradually improve overall brain health. The concept behind nootropics with this mechanism of action is that a healthy brain is better equipped to handle stress, memory issues, and other factors contributing to mental decline.
It is worth noting that while nootropics may help increase focus, boost memory and learning, and enhance overall cognitive function, their effects are temporary. They only last as long as the active ingredient remains in the body. It is important to use them mindfully to avoid adverse effects.
Types of smart drugs and benefits
Generally, there are three categories of nootropics: dietary supplements, synthetic substances, and prescription medications. Let’s take a look at each of these categories.
- Dietary supplements. These are nootropics that are made mainly from naturally occurring cognitive enhancers such as ginkgo biloba, lion’s mane, Bacopa monnieri, and ginseng. Their effects are typically mild and last only for a few hours. Some common nootropic dietary supplements include Mind Lab Pro, Alpha Brain, and Performance Lab Mind.
- Synthetic nootropics. These are products that are made in the lab. They are designed to provide specific cognitive-enhancing benefits, such as increased focus and enhanced memory. Some common products include piracetam and oxiracetam.
- Prescription drugs. Like synthetic nootropics, they are also synthesised in a lab. However, they were developed to treat sleep disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other health conditions. Some of the most common ones include modafinil (Provigil), amphetamines (Adderall), and armodafinil (Nuvigil).
Dietary supplements and prescription drugs are some of the most commonly used nootropics. Dietary supplements are often considered safer for use because of their mild effects and relatively few side effects. However, prescription-type nootropics such as modafinil and armodafinil are generally preferred by “smart drug” enthusiasts because of their stronger, longer-acting effects, which typically span 12+ hours. They’re equally safe, well-tolerated, and effective. It is important to consult with a doctor before taking any cognitive-enhancing product.
Top 5 nootropic supplements on the market in 2023
After a thorough examination of numerous nootropic supplements selling on the market, a select few have demonstrated both effectiveness and safety. Here are the top five nootropic supplements that actually work:
- Modafinil. Most “smart drug” enthusiasts consider modafinil the best nootropic on the market. Originally developed to promote wakefulness in individuals with sleep disorders, the drug also has one of the strongest cognitive-enhancing benefits. Upon administration, its effects kick in within 30–60 minutes and can last for up to 15 hours. Modafinil is safe, well-tolerated, and has such a low potential for addiction that Oxford and Harvard researchers deem it “the world’s first safe smart drug”.
- NooCube. It is a nootropic blend that consists of natural nootropic ingredients, such as Bacopa monnieri, L-theanine, and L-tyrosine, formulated to boost memory, increase focus, and enhance overall cognitive function by optimizing the activities of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. It starts working within 30–60 minutes and lasts 8–10 hours. However, for some users, it may take a few days to months of consistent use to start feeling its effects.
- Mind Lab Pro. This is a nootropic dietary supplement that consists of a unique blend of 11 powerful nootropic ingredients, carefully selected based on evidence to increase focus and enhance memory. Its effects typically kick in within 30 minutes and may last for 6 hours. However, its effects are milder than those of modafinil.
- Vyvamind. Vyvamind is a fast-acting nootropic specifically developed to improve focus, mood, mental function, and energy levels. It consists of a fine blend of several natural ingredients, including vitamin B6, L-tyrosine, and L-theanine, among others, and a little shot of caffeine. Upon administration, it starts working within 10 minutes and lasts for around four hours.
- Nooceptin. This is a powerful nootropic designed to improve focus, enhance memory and learning, and increase mental clarity. Its ingredient list consists of neuroprotective agents, anxiolytics, and certain other substances that promote neuroplasticity.
All of the “smart drugs” listed above are safe, well-tolerated, and super-effective. However, their effects may vary for some users, as people respond to medications differently. This is why it is advisable for anyone interested in exploring nootropics to begin with those known for their high tolerance levels, such as modafinil. According to numerous user reports, individuals often enjoy all the positive effects of the drug without experiencing any adverse effects.
Regardless of which nootropic you decide to use, it is always advisable to consult with a doctor or healthcare provider before starting with it.
Is it safe to take nootropics?
Yes and no. While many nootropics are safe, some factors may contribute to the occurrence of severe side effects. Here are some key considerations:
- The type of nootropic. Some “smart drugs” (for example, modafinil) have a higher safety profile compared to others. Using this nootropic type understandably reduces unnecessary risks.
- The dosage. Taking more than the recommended dosage of any medication is considered an overdose, and it can increase the risk of severe adverse effects.
- The quality of the medication. The nootropic market is flooded with fake products. Fake medications often contain harmful substances that can be detrimental to your health. This is why it is important to always patronise reputable vendors such as ModafinilUSA and ModafinilXL that have a proven track record of delivering high-quality medications to their customers’ doorsteps.
- The manner of usage. Different types of nootropics, including capsules, sublingual pills, and liquids, have a specific route of administration. Taking a “smart drug” in a way it wasn’t designed to be used could make it less effective, increase the risk of serious side effects, or even worsen them. For instance, modafinil comes in tablet form and is meant to be swallowed whole with a substantial amount of water. If the tablet is crushed and snorted, it could lead to an excessively high concentration of the drug in the body, dramatically increasing the risk of adverse effects.
- The health status of the user. Certain “smart drugs” may not be safe for people with certain medical conditions. For instance, modafinil is contraindicated in individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, etc. It is important to always consult with a doctor before taking any medication.
So, yes, nootropics may be safe when choosing an authentic, generally well-tolerated option that aligns with your health conditions, considering its contraindications, and following proper usage. Notably, modafinil stands out as one of the safest brands, making it an excellent starting point for those considering “smart drugs.”
Possible side effects and risks
All medications have side effects, and nootropics are not an exception. However, if you use them exactly as recommended in their usage guide or adhere to the advice of your healthcare provider, the chances of experiencing them will be low. Here are some of the most common side effects associated with most nootropics:
It is normal for some first-time users to experience one or more of these adverse effects. However, they usually go away without treatment as the body adjusts to the active ingredient. It is worth noting that more severe adverse effects such as ringing in the ears, palpitations, and confusion can also result from nootropic use, especially if you abuse them by taking them in stacks or overdosing. It is important to consult with a doctor before taking any “smart drug”.
While there are countless nootropic brands available on the market, the ones listed in this guide are some of the highest-rated products. They are generally safe, well-tolerated, and effective. However, if you’re considering the use of “smart drugs”, it is advisable to start with modafinil because it has a high safety profile and low potential for dependence. Be sure to source it from a reputable vendor so you won’t end up with a counterfeit version. Remember to seek advice from your healthcare provider about the safety of any medication before taking it.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.