Cognitive Enhancers 101: All You Need to Know About Nootropics

nootropic cognitive enhancers

What if there were a pill that could make you smarter? It sounds like something out of The Jetsons, but it could be closer than you think.

Researchers are learning more about an exciting field of medicine centered on substances known as nootropics. Also called cognitive enhancers or “smart drugs”, these chemicals have the ability to boost brain performance, improving mental clarity and recall over time.

Early evidence reveals they could hold great promise for everyone from college students to the elderly. The best part? We’ve only scratched the surface of their potential.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at nootropics, so read on!

What are Nootropics?

The term “nootropics” refers to any supplement (natural or synthetic) that can have a positive impact on someone’s mental skills.

Most nootropics will fall into one of the following two categories:

  • Prescription nootropics
  • Over-the-counter (non-prescription) nootropics

In both categories, most of these substances are designed to work as stimulants. In fact, 64% of Americans partake in a natural nootropic on a daily basis: caffeine! Others will work more as depressants, helping to calm feelings of anxiety and stress.

Next, let’s take a closer look at the different kinds of nootropics you can find within each category.

Prescription Nootropics

Due to their positive effects on cognition, nootropics are often prescribed to help counteract the symptoms of myriad cognitive disorders, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Narcolepsy

In cases of ADHD, doctors will usually prescribe a type of psychostimulant drug called an amphetamine.

Designed to speed up the messages that travel between your brain and your body, these can combat mental fatigue and speed up brain function. In fact, one of the most well-known ADHD medications, Adderall, contains amphetamines.

Other prescription nootropics include:

  • Modafinil (aka Provigil): Fights sudden drowsiness associated with narcolepsy
  • Methylphenidate (aka Ritalin): Manages symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy
  • Memantine (aka Axura): Helps treat Alzheimer’s symptoms

Note that while these medications can be effective, you should only take them with your doctor’s knowledge and a written prescription. 


Like any other medication, prescription nootropics can have a range of side effects, which can range from mild to severe. Common ones include:

  • Quickened heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Vision issues

As such, it’s smart to talk to your doctor about the issues you’re experiencing and your interest in nootropics as a possible treatment option. He or she can point you in the direction of any prescription substances that could prove beneficial, as well as over-the-counter options described below.

Over-the-Counter Nootropics

Interested in seeing for yourself if nootropics can make any difference in your brainpower? 

In addition to prescription medication, there is an entirely separate class of nootropic substances that are available over the counter. You can find both natural and synthetic versions, all of which you can purchase without a prescription.

Let’s review a few of the most common types.


As mentioned, a majority of Americans already partake in a particular nootropic regularly: caffeine!

Did you know your morning cup of Joe isn’t just helping you shake off the night before and ease into your workday? It could also help make you sharper and smarter!

Safe in moderate doses, your daily tea or coffee can help you achieve and retain mental focus. However, keep in mind that excessive quantities are unsafe.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s best to limit your intake to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day or fewer. That’s about four to five cups of coffee, so you’re free to fill up a few times!


Racetams are a class of synthetic compounds that interact with the cholinergic and glutamate receptors in your central nervous system. When taken correctly, they can lead to memory enhancement, along with other neuroprotective effects.

A few of the most common nootropic racetams include:

  • Phenylpiracetam
  • Coluracetam
  • Piracetam
  • Aniracetam
  • Pramiracetam

Interested in racetams? You can also check out Coluracetam Powder! One of the newest and most unique members of the racetam class of synthetic nootropics, it’s known to help improve your mood, motivation, vision and more.

Another popular racetam is Phenylpiracetam Powder. The phenylated version of the drug Piracetam, it’s been around since 1983. While scientists first developed it to help astronauts function in a high-stress space environment, you can use it as a psychostimulant. It can also act as an antidepressant, anticonvulsant and more.

Struggling with anxiety and looking for an alternative to Piracetam? Try Noopept Powder. Studies show that it’s a more effective anxiolytic and can also help ease feelings of irritability.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Scientists have long heralded the cognitive benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. You can find these polyunsaturated fats in certain fish, including salmon, mackerel and seabass.

Because your body doesn’t make omega-3s on its own, you have to get them from your diet. As you do, they help build thicker membranes around your bodily cells, including the neurons in your brain. 

In addition to repairing and renewing your brain cells, these fats can also help improve your nervous system function.

You can get your daily intake via fish oil, as well as algal oil or krill oil. However, let your physician know before you begin any regimen, as omega-3s can interact negatively with some medications that affect blood clotting.


Also known by the brand name Olmifon, adrafinil is a eugeroic. That means it promotes wakefulness and can help keep you alert.

Although it acts as a stimulant, adrafinil is not designed to incite hyperactivity. Instead, it simply works to fight sleepiness. In addition, some researchers believe it could also help improve memory and cognitive recall, though further studies are required to confirm that effect.

Those suffering from excessive daytime tiredness and narcolepsy are best-suited for adrafinil. It’s also ideal for nighttime workers or anyone else who needs to stay awake for a long period of time. 


Sold under the brand name Ladasten, bromantane is an atypical psychostimulant known to improve both mental and physical stamina. Researchers believe it may also help relieve fatigue, alleviate anxiety and facilitate easier learning.

Developed in Russia in the 1980s, bromantane works as an actoprotector. This means it helps keep you alert and physically protected, even under extreme environmental conditions, such as low oxygen. 

While researchers are still studying its exact mechanism, they believe that bromantane works by stimulating and increasing activity in key areas of your brain, including your:

  • Hippocampus
  • Hypothalamus nuclei
  • Operculum (in the reticular nuclei)

Nacet Powder

The scientific name for this powder is (N-Acetyl-L-cysteine ethyl ester) is a mouthful, so most in the industry refer to it simply as Nacet Powder.

This synthetic substance can help improve your focus, boost your memory and even improve your creativity. 


Known only by its initials to date, PL-8-53 is a nootropic research chemical derived from benzoic acid and phenylmethylamine.

In humans, it acts as a hypermnesic substance, which means it’s ideal for boosting memory and enhancing cognition. As studies into its application continue to develop, it’s recognized as a powerful learning aid that can even help treat certain medical conditions. 


Better known under the brand names Anvifen, Noofen, and Fenibut (among others), phenibut works to depress your central nervous system, helping to keep anxiety at bay.

Due to its calming characteristics, it’s seen a wide range of uses since its inception in the 1960s, including applications to help treat:

  • Stuttering
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Vestibular disorders


Sold under the brand names Stablon and Coaxil, tianeptine is another atypical antidepressant. Used to treat a range of symptoms from anxiety to irritable bowel disorder, this agent is a powerful mood lifter and cognitive enhancer.

In addition to immediate stress relief, it can also lead to long-term mental stability and emotional clarity. 

Discover More Supplements and Enhancers Today

Maybe you struggle with a mental illness related to memory loss or psychological decline. Or, perhaps you’re just looking for a substance that can help you power through the day and remain mentally crisp.

Either way, cognitive enhancers can be the answer you need.

Available in both prescription and non-prescription formats, there are many different kinds that can help you fight and treat a variety of conditions. 

When you’re ready to learn more, keep exploring our site. In addition to nootropics, we also discuss other supplements, along with tips on how to improve your overall health, fitness and nutrition levels.

Wondering why some people require supplements and others don’t? We’ve answered that question in this post, so start reading!

Beginners, Nootropics

These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.

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