Ultimate Nootropics Guide For Beginners

In the last few years, there’s been significant growth in the reputation and use of nootropics.

In the United States alone, the nootropics industry has gone from being valued at $1.3 billion in 2015 to an expected $6 billion reach by 2024.

This growth is mostly because of marketing tactics from bio-hacking “experts” who have built large social-media and podcast followings and converted them to loyal customers.

Those who aren’t following these experts are either attending meetups in their local communities or building one online.

With all the buzz going around about these nootropics, it’s important to put those who may be interested in using nootropics through with the necessary information.

In this article, you’re presented with a guide to the use of nootropics.

Nootropics simply are those alternative drugs, supplements and other substances that improve your mental performance and help you stay healthy.

Nootropics are widely acclaimed to boost cognitive functions, boost memory, creativity, focus, motivation and intelligence activities.

They are highly recommended for healthy individuals who wish to maintain their overall health and wellbeing.

According to Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, who’s widely believed to have started the use of Nootropics back in the 1960s (with the world's first official nootropic, piracetam, in Belgium and eventually coined the term), nootropics had been in use since prehistoric times in different forms. 

From the Ayurvedic herbs like Ashwagandha and Tulsi (Basil), which were used as far back as the 5000 BCE to heal the brain, to the 1500 BCE Egyptian narcotics that were used to help restore the brain from its damaged state, nootropics had existed.

Dr. Giurgea gave a list of the five criteria of a typical nootropic. 

They include:

  • Enhancing learning and memory retention
  • Protecting the brain against injuries
  • Enhancing the resistance of learned behaviors/memories to conditions that disrupt them
  • Increasing the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
  • Lacking the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs, with little to no side effects

Nootropics Benefits


Thankfully, nootropics helps to enhance cognition and memory by influencing the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Nootropic supplements can improve memory function and general mental performance by restoring chemical balances that are usually disrupted because of aging and stress.

The major concern of people who choose to use nootropics is for memory retention.

It’s not an uncommon phenomenon for the brain to lose its ability to function as we grow older.

As a result, it’s important to improve memory.


Nootropics as brain-boosting substances also act as cognition enhancers.

They usually have stimulant effects that can counteract the symptoms of medical conditions, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, or narcolepsy.

Regular non-prescription nootropic substances can help enhance brain performance, particularly the human focus.

Some of these categories of nonprescription nootropics include caffeine and creatine.

This category of nootropics doesn’t help fix existing memory problems or treat diseases, rather, they have effects on thinking, memory, or other mental functions.

However, with these non-prescription nootropics, it’s easy to get tempted to have them in large quantities.

While extreme amounts aren’t safe, a regular amount of caffeine is a good way to boost mental focus.


Attention is very important for the greatest cognitive performance.

 However, there’s a handful of things fighting for our attention every day.

From daily social media notifications across various digital devices, this age isn’t the best time to maintain attention naturally. Thankfully, several nootropics for attention may help.

Nootropics are natural ways to get sharper and more sustained attention, especially now that they’re a better alternative to stimulant-driven synthetics.

While nootropics help to improve memory, mood, energy, neuroprotection, neuroregeneration, amongst others, most nootropic users are more particular about improving their attention spans.


Nootropics provide natural healthy support for mental energy, brain chemicals, stress resistance and more brain-enhancing functions, all of which make nootropics the right choice whenever you need help to clear away brain fog and burnout or just revitalize your overall cognitive performance.

For instance, the L-Theanine is a green tea-sourced variant of nootropics and it helps to enhance attention by tuning Alpha brain waves to a state of calm mental clarity.

L-Theanine helps to raise the activity of Alpha brain waves, which helps to promote a “wakeful relaxation” mood which gives a calm-yet-alert mental state connected to creative thinking, quiet contemplation and peak productivity.


The creative benefits of nootropics can become hard to identify and quantify.

Nootropics can help you think faster and diversely and also recall information more readily. 

When these happen, you have the chance of crossing out items on your to-do list and do them ingeniously and productively without feeling fatigued.

Nootropics reduce inhibitions and open up your more creative side.

Nootropic doses of L-Theanine, Phosphatidylserine (PS), and Bacopa Monnieri can help reduce stress levels and promote GABA (a neurotransmitter responsible for reducing neuronal edginess) on their own.

 However, when combined, they allow users to stay focused as they tap into their more creative sides.


Nootropic supplements are mostly used to improve cognitive functions such as memory and learning, as stated earlier.

However, there are some features of nootropics that can significantly boost your sleep quality.

L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes GABA and serotonin production in the brain as it crosses the blood-brain barrier.

This GABA will help to induce feelings of relaxation linked to better sleep quality.[1]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11983310/ Research has shown that nootropic L-Tyrosine enhances cognitive performance in a sleep-deprived state.

For that reason, it serves as one of the more effective nootropics for sleep-related cognitive issues.


Nootropics are often taken for the stress-relieving properties they possess.

Nootropics can help in reducing stress levels. 

They are most times suggested to patients battling with extreme stress levels. 

For instance, L-theanine readily promotes relaxation and facilitates stress relief by altering the composition of the brain.[2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836118/

First, L-theanine promotes the GABA levels and regulates the different emotion neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

L-theanine also enhances alpha brain waves that help to experience a feeling of wakeful relaxation.

Alpha brain waves kick in when you’re meditating or trying to concentrate.


Nootropics also helps in anxiety management. Research has shown that lower levels of the body's chemical GABA are connected to depression and anxiety symptoms.

So, the intake of a good amount of nootropics can influence GABA levels and lower your anxiety disorder risks.

One popular nootropic is the Omega-3. And while it is commonly known for boosting brain function, it can also be very effective at helping to combat anxiety.

Recent studies have shown that the polyunsaturated fatty acid that’s found in omega-3, has been found to be associated with a significant reduction in the symptoms of anxiety.[3]https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2702216#:~:text=A%20number%20of%20trials%20have,in%20patients%20with%20anxiety%20disorders


Nootropics that are used for motivation support healthy dopamine levels to promote better drive.

These nootropics supplements are focused on the neurotransmitter dopamine and will not only increase your motivation but also improve the cognitive and biological structures which are the foundation of your motivational output for long-term productivity.[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021479/

Nootropics are supposed to enhance dopaminergic bio pathways, improve brain energy, and reduce the negative effects of stress.

Nootropics are a safe and effective way of enhancing your motivation levels and optimizing natural dopaminergic and metabolic pathways without the possibility of addiction and long-term side effects.


Nootropics enhance your ability to learn, focus, remember and think critically.

Plenty of evidence also exists that proves that nootropics can enhance cognition and protect the brain. 

Some studies suggested there may be some neuroprotective benefit gotten from piracetam.[5]https://www.alzdiscovery.org/uploads/cognitive_vitality_media/Piracetam-Cognitive-Vitality-For-Researchers.pdf

Another type of nootropic that has been reported to have some neuroprotective effects is the Rhodiola,[6]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23690847/ and this is because it has the potential of helping to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Brain Regeneration

The brain is such an incredible organ, as it helps to regulate all involuntary functions such as breathing, digestion, and blood circulation, and other voluntary actions like creating new ideas, communicating and processing different emotions.

Nootropics supplements can be used for brain injury and help to reduce some of the lasting affects of head trauma.

Nootropics can help by repairing cell damage, stimulating the growth of new ones, directing more oxygen to the brain, improving mood and much more.

With handling brain injury is a delicate area that needs to be as foolproof as possible.

Nootropics that are especially for brain injury can help speed recovery and improve rehabilitation results.

How Do Nootropics Work

As much as we call nootropics the substances that enhance cognitive health every type of nootropic doesn’t do the same thing as the others.

 Nootropics have different mechanisms behind them, and there are several common pathways that these substances work on in the brain. 

Some of these ways are:

Nootropics Promote Neuroplasticity

The ability for brain cells and networks to grow and change over time is referred to as neuroplasticity.

As we grow older, our brains will continue to develop and reshape. 

However, with time, the brain may need extra help to continue with this neuroplasticity.

And that’s where nootropics come in.

They help to enhance the brain’s ability to adapt and grow by increasing the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) molecule. 

This is the molecule that, as expected, regresses with age.

Nootropics will enhance the BDNF and help the brain significantly increase its ability to learn and memorize.

Nootropics Improve Blood Flow

Improving blood flow is another way by which nootropics enhance brain activities.

Like other organs of the body, the brain naturally needs sufficient blood flow to take in more oxygen and nutrients to work effectively. 

In fact, the brain needs about 15-20% of the cardiac output.

When the brain doesn’t receive enough blood circulation, it’ll not be able to work as effectively and efficiently as it should.

And if care isn’t taken, the complication may be disastrous in the long run.

Several nootropics can enhance blood flow in your brain, making it easier to process oxygen and create energy.

 This way, the brain has more energy to carry out different activities, be more creative and create long-lasting memories.

Nootropics Improve Neuroprotection

One major factor that causes brain decline is the environmental and physiological factors that the brain can get exposed to.

These can cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which may have a diverse effect on your brain.

Nootropics have a neuroprotection effect on the brain, as they help to protect from potential harm and keep your brain cells healthy and totally operative.

Neuroprotection comes in different ways. First, nootropics can suppress inflammatory molecules that damage brain neurons.

Also, they protect the mitochondria from damage. Lastly, your brain is protected from oxidative stress.

The brain requires extra protection as it’s always releasing free radicals for every single process and function.

Nootropics Enhance Resilience Against Stress

It’s almost impossible to avoid stress. So, as much as possible, stress needs to be managed in our daily lives to improve the quality of our lives.

Aside from the way stress makes us feel uncomfortable, it can also be detrimental to our brain and general health. Stress can increase inflammation and impair brain function.

These can cause memory loss and oxidative stress for the brain.

However, nootropics can help the brain combat stress and build more resilience against future stress.

It’s however important to note that nootropics don’t take out the stressors completely, rather they help build resilience for when they appear.

Nootropics vs Smart Drugs

While a lot of people refer to the same thing when they say “smart drugs” and “nootropics”, there’s limited information that explains the differences between these two categories of substances.

First, it’s important to point out that they are similar because they both provide cognitive benefits to the brain. However, the broader answer to the “are they the same thing question” is “no”.

Smart drugs on one hand are prescribed medications like Adderall, Modafinil, and Ritalin that have been approved to treat mental disorders.

The way they work is by increasing the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and other brain chemicals that have an effect on alertness, mood, and the wake/sleep cycle.

They are also stimulants that can sometimes trigger some side effects of different levels of severity, depending on factors like the patient, the drug history, and other factors.

Nootropics on the other hand are natural substances that are considered as the safer alternative to these “smart drugs.” Just like smart drugs, they offer complete cognitive enhancement, like increasing concentration and focus or better memory retention – all of which usually come without side effects. Because these nootropics are mostly herbs and vitamins, they are regarded to be the safer option.

However, “smart drugs” and nootropics are still categorized as cognitive enhancers. From time to time, the terms will be used interchangeably by retailers or people in the industry generally.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that these two categories are just different types of cognitive enhancers that have different benefits, side effects, and interactions.

So far, we’ve discussed the benefits of nootropics, but the main benefits that smart drugs have for users are increased focus, memory retention ability and alertness; enhanced creativity; and improved mental processing speed.

Also, the common side effects that can result from using these smart drugs are headache, nausea, dizziness and stomach upset.

Single Nootropics vs Combined Stacks

Single nootropics (usually referred to as standalone nootropics) when used will understandably produce standalone effects.

However, it’s also possible to combine nootropics for use. This art of combining two or more nootropics is referred to as a “stack”.

Stacking nootropics will usually synergize, multiply, and complement the standalone effects for superior cognitive enhancement.

Combining two or more cognitive enhancing substances at the same time will produce a larger result on its part.

While single nootropic ingredients may help relieve users of lone issues like nutrient deficiencies, most of these lone issues can be made better faster than a single nootropic would if they’re stacked with other nootropics.

This could be done by either targeting similar cognitive bio pathways or using the complementary nootropic to accomplish its bio-benefit like co-facilitating neurochemical conversion of a different aspect of the substance.

While single nootropic ingredients may help relieve users of lone issues like nutrient deficiencies, most of these lone issues can be made better faster than a single nootropic would if they’re stacked with other nootropics.

This could be done by either targeting similar cognitive bio pathways or using the complementary nootropic to accomplish its bio-benefit like co-facilitating neurochemical conversion of a different aspect of the substance.

Combining nootropics can bring about a number of positive effects. However, the negative outcome will come when poor ingredients interact or there’s a level of intestinal absorption competition or any type of unforeseen difficulty.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to either use premade nootropic stack supplements or specifically seek professional help, rather than prepare your own DIY nootropic creation.

Combining several compounds into a stack can have synergistic effects just like when we can combine the ingredients in green tea and coffee.

Another advantage of stacking nootropics is that it’s easy to use a nootropic stack and has a higher potential rate compared to single isolated substances.

There are a number of nootropic cognitive goals that each individual is looking to achieve.

Even though most natural nootropics come with general benefits for everyone, the degree to which those benefits are noticed will depend on the user.

A nootropic supplement may target memory and focus cognitive outcomes, while others may be strictly for energy and stress reduction. The appropriate stack will be done according to the required combined purpose.

Who Are Nootropics For?


While students are used to stimulants while trying to retain information read, nootropics can be a better option.

Some nootropics can help reduce the release of cortisol in reaction to stressors which will also support brain chemicals like dopamine in the brain.

It can help students calm down anxiety levels and be useful for last-minute readings. Nootropics simply are perfect for studying, memory retention, stress resistance and mood enhancement.


Nootropics can help to improve focus, mental clarity and reduce the reactions to stress, which are common with athletes under pressure.

Professionals and creatives

Nootropics can also be useful to professionals and help them stay alert and relaxed while they’re under pressure and trying to focus on work.

Also, nootropics can boost creativity in creatives by supporting specific brain functions. It can also reduce our reactions to stress to clear the way for new ideas.

Senior Citizens (People Above 55 Years of Age)

It’s natural for those above 55 to experience some symptoms of aging like brain fog and memory loss. Nootropics can help promote overall brain health and peak mental performance in older adults.


Nootropics offer a range of benefits to boost cognitive performance and boost brainpower. Precisely, they help you sustain focus, retain more information, and generally become more efficient in your work. This guide has been all about answering the many questions that exist around nootropics and the effects they have on your brain.


What is the most effective Nootropic?

The most effective nootropic depends on the specific need it is used for. While some people may benefit from substances that increase blood flow to the brain, others may find the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory impact useful.

Are there any nootropics that actually work?

Absolutely. They may not just be for everyone. Different people have different biotic makeup, and this can impact the way the nootropics work in the body.

Is it safe to take nootropics every day?

The key to getting the most out of nootropics is consistent use. While some professionals may suggest taking time off of certain ingredients so that your body doesn’t build up a tolerance to the nutrients, it’s important to always read package directions and consult your doctor before getting started.

How much nootropics should I take?

It's always recommended to follow the dosage instructions on the bottle and not to take more than the recommended.


Taylor Bates

Taylor is a neurohacking expert who has been in the world of nootropics since it gained popularity almost 10 years ago. He overcame his ADD, procrastination and lack of focus with nootropics. Now, he is sharing his knowledge and experience here at NootroPicks.com to help others navigate the world of cognitive enhancement.