What Are the Different Types of Nootropics?

types of nootropics

Have you ever wished there was a magic pill you could take that would make it easier to focus on that boring project at work? Have you looked for ways to protect yourself from terrifying diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases? Do you have a cognitive or mental disorder that makes it hard for you to function in your everyday life? If any of this sounds familiar, you may benefit from taking certain types of nootropics.

These supplements can help to support your brain health, prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and combat conditions like narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Read on to learn more about the different types of nootropics and how they can help you keep your brain in great health today. 

What Are Nootropics?

Before we dive into all the different types of nootropics that are available, let’s talk some about what they actually are. Nootropics are “smart pills,” which are medications and supplements that help to support cognitive performance. These substances can fall under a variety of different categories and may serve a few different functions in the brain.

Nootropic medications often have stimulant effects and may be used to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, and more. You can also find natural stimulants like caffeine and ginseng that can work as nootropics. These substances may aim to help sharpen your focus, improve your memory, or otherwise keep your brain operating in peak condition.


One of the most common prescription nootropics is the medication Adderall. Although this has gotten a bad reputation in recent years because of the ways it’s abused, it is a very effective drug when used properly. This medication is used to treat ADHD and requires a prescription to acquire legally.

Adderall, like the other prescription nootropics on this list, is a stimulant. It contains amphetamines that can increase the number of neurotransmitters in your brain. This allows it to process things more quickly.

You should only use Adderall if you have ADHD and are prescribed this medicine by a licensed physician.


Modafinil is another prescription stimulant that can fall under the nootropics category. Unlike Adderall, this medication is used to treat narcolepsy, a condition that can cause sudden sleep attacks and overwhelming daytime sleepiness. You may also have heard of modafinil by its brand name, Provigil.

Modafinil helps to keep you awake by changing the balance of chemicals in your brain that control waking and sleep. Some doctors may also prescribe it as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Like Adderall, you should only use modafinil if you have a diagnosed medical condition and your doctor prescribes this as a treatment. 


You may also know methylphenidate by its more common brand name: Ritalin. Alongside Adderall, this is one of the most popular treatments for ADHD available today. Also, like Adderall, Ritalin is a stimulant that helps your brain to process things faster in order to manage the symptoms of ADHD.

Ritalin has a little shorter acting time than Adderall, at just one or two hours. This helps patients to better manage some of the medication’s side effects, which can include difficulty sleeping and a lack of appetite. And like all the other prescription nootropics on this list, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor to legally use this medication. 


The last prescription nootropic we’ll cover here is memantine, also known as Axura. This medication is designed to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, a common and devastating form of dementia. It works by helping to decrease abnormal activity in the brain, which can help to alleviate some of these symptoms.

In people who have Alzheimer’s disease, memantine may help to improve memory and slow loss of clarity. However, it is not meant to do these same things in people who don’t have any form of dementia.

You’ll need to be under treatment from a doctor in order to take this medication. Like all the medications we’ve discussed so far, it can come with side effects.


You might be surprised to learn that caffeine falls into the category of nootropics. That’s right, your morning cup of coffee might actually be helping your brain to function better! In fact, coffee has been a major part of many of the great works of literature, art, science, and culture throughout human history

Caffeine effectively blocks a transmitter in your brain that makes you feel sleepy. This can help you feel more alert, focused, and able to think clearly.

While a couple of cups of coffee a day are safe for most people, it’s important to note that you can overdose on caffeine. Always avoid taking caffeine pills or other high-caffeine substances.


Although you may not recognize l-theanine by name, you’ve almost certainly run into it before. This substance is an amino acid that occurs in tea – specifically in black and green tea, which come from the same plant. When paired with caffeine, this natural substance can have nootropic effects.

Some studies have shown that l-theanine can help to increase alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves help to create the relaxed, alert mental state that you get when you create art, meditate, or get into “the flow” of a task. When combined with caffeine, l-theanine may help to improve your alertness and cognitive performance.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids may be another substance you’ve heard of before and are surprised to see on this list. This substance is found mostly among fish oil supplements and fatty fish. They have a number of brain-protecting and enhancing effects, and you can get it through your diet or by taking supplements. 

Omega-3 fatty acids help your body to build protective membranes around cells. They also repair and rejuvenate your brain cells.

Studies of omega-3 fatty acids have shown that they can protect the brain against the effects of aging. It may also help to improve the function of your brain and nervous system. 


Racetams are a class of drugs that share a specific type of nucleus. Each of these drugs ends in the “racetam” suffix, and many of them fall into the nootropics category. Some popular nootropic racetams include pramiracetam, phenylpiracetam, piracetam, and aniracetam.

Although racetams are often not dangerous, you should still talk to your doctor before taking them. Some animal studies have indicated that racetams may have neuroprotective effects. However, there have been no human studies that have showed reliable benefits of these medications. 

Ginkgo Biloba 

You may have heard about some of the many benefits Ginkgo Biloba is believed to have. This plant is native to China, Japan, and Korea, and its leaves are useful as an herbal supplement. While this supplement needs more human research, early studies show promising results. 

One study has shown that Ginkgo Biloba may be helpful for people living with symptoms of dementia. Others suggest that taking this supplement can help to improve cognitive function, focus, and alertness. However, as is the case with many nootropics, these effects are most pronounced in people who are living with some sort of cognitive impairment.


Ginseng is another supplement that’s popular among people who like to explore natural remedies and ancient treatments. Among its many other benefits, ginseng is a fantastic natural nootropic. In particular, Panax ginseng, which is native to China and parts of Siberia, is believed to have some amazing brain-boosting effects.

One study indicates that Panax ginseng may help to prevent some neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It may also help to prevent the development of Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. And if you’ve had a stroke, taking ginseng may help your brain to recover, although you should always talk to your doctor before starting this supplement.


You may know Rhodiola by its more common name, roseroot, although the plant does not produce flowers we think of as roses. It is native to the wild Arctic regions of Europe, North America, and Asia and produces fluffy yellow blooms. And while it still needs human study, Rhodiola can be a wonderful natural nootropic.

One recent study indicates that Rhodiola may help to protect your brain from aging and the sort of degeneration that causes Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Another shows that it may help to regulate neurotransmitters in your brain, which can improve your mood. As with all of these supplements, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you start taking Rhodiola.


If you’re dialed into the fitness world, you may have heard of creatine before. This amino acid is popular among athletes because of the benefits it can have for exercise performance and fitness results. But it may also be able to keep your brain in great shape, as well as your body.

One study in 2018 suggested that taking creatine supplements may be able to improve your short-term memory. This can be important if you’re in school, work a demanding job, or just want to be able to remember people’s names at parties. However, while there are plenty of studies regarding the physical effects of creatine, more study on the mental benefits is needed.

Do They Work?

So now the real question: do all these different brain supplements really do anything? First of all, there’s a common myth that humans only use a small percentage of our brains and that, if we can just access that unused portion, we can accomplish amazing things. The truth, however, is that we all use all of our brains, and there is no secret pill that will make us superhuman.

That being said, there are some substances that can help our brains to function better, especially in people with diagnosed mental or cognitive disorders. Medications like Adderall and substances like caffeine have been proved to help users think more clearly. Not all nootropics are equal, but there are some substances that can give you a boost when you need it.

Using Nootropics Safely

Before you start using nootropics of any kind, you should always talk to your doctor. Some of the nootropics we’ve discussed here require a prescription, and the ones that don’t can still interfere with other medications you may be taking. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any new medication or supplement. 

You also need to be careful when deciding who to buy your nootropics from. Many supposed nootropic substances are nothing more than snake oil, and some could even be dangerous. Always buy from reputable sellers who you can trust are giving you a reliable, safe product.

Discover the Types of Nootropics 

Nootropics are substances that can help to improve your mental performance, including memory, focus, and alertness.

From prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin to natural supplements like ginseng and l-theanine, these substances can help you keep your mind as healthy as possible. However, make sure that you always talk to your doctor before beginning any new supplement, including any of the ones we’ve discussed here.

If you’d like to learn more about the different types of nootropics, check out the rest of our site at Supplementor. We have the best natural supplements available on the internet, ranging from bioceuticals to nootropics and vitamin supplements.

Shop our nootropics today and start discovering the benefits of research-based products that are backed by science.

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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