What Are Nootropics? Definition, Benefits & Side Effects 

Updated on May 1, 2024
What Are Nootropics? Benefits & Side Effects of Cognitive Enhancers

Does your brain ever feel like it’s trudging through molasses? That looming deadline just won’t get the focus it demands, and creativity’s gone AWOL. 

That’s where nootropics step in–the so-called “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers”. These supplements claim that they can crank up your brain’s horsepower, sharpening memory, dialing in focus, and boosting cognition.

Questioning if it’s all hype? We’re about to take a wild ride into nootropic territory, sizing up their real deal and slicing through the myths.

What Exactly Are Nootropics (Brain Supplements)?

Nootropics, often referred to as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers,” are substances that are purported to improve cognitive function, memory, creativity, focus, and overall brain health. 

Back in the ’70s, Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist, coined the term “nootropic.” He pitched them as compounds that boost learning and memory, minus the nasty side effects.

These brain boosters aren’t picky; they come in all shapes and sizes—synthetic concoctions, earthy herbs and plants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

How do nootropics work? They claim to tweak your brain’s chemical messengers, juice up the blood flow upstairs, dial down the rust and puffiness, or even jazz up your brain’s wiring and connections. It’s all about getting that edge, brain-wise.

>>Check the best price for TakeThesis Nootropics

Understanding Brain Supplements

Brain supplements are a subset of nootropics specifically formulated to support brain health and cognitive function. They’re packed with a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural compounds purported to nourish your brain and boost its performance.

The following are some of the heavy hitters in the world of brain supplements: 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • B Vitamins
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Bacopa monnieri 

Unlocking the Potential of Smart Drugs

Smart drugs are engineered to sharpen cognitive functions in healthy brains. These drugs zoom in on particular neurotransmitter systems in your brain, aiming to boost memory and focus.

When it comes to smart drugs, modafinil, Adderall, and Ritalin are the usual suspects. Originally designed to tackle narcolepsy and ADHD, these drugs have also gained a rep for giving cognitive abilities an extra edge.

Cognitive Enhancers

Cognitive enhancers encompass a diverse group of substances proven to boost cognitive functions. From herbal extracts to amino acids, synthetic drugs and peptides, this bunch has one mission: to give your brainpower a serious boost.

Cognitive enhancers, whether natural or lab-made, are all about increasing brain efficiency and keeping one sharp as a tack.

>>Check the best price for TakeThesis Nootropics

Types of Nootropics

There are numerous types of nootropics available today, and they can be broadly categorized into three groups: prescription medications, synthetic compounds, and dietary supplements.

Prescription Nootropics

Doctors might hand out prescription nootropics for conditions like ADHD, sleep disturbance, or memory problems. Adderall, Ritalin, and Modafinil are the go-to’s. Sure, they’re game-changers for those dealing with the aforementioned ailments, but when it comes to healthy folks looking for a mental edge, that’s what everyone’s skeptical about.

Synthetic Compounds

Then you’ve got your synthetic nootropics. Piracetam is one of the oldest examples, with its derivatives like aniracetam, oxiracetam, and phenylpiracetam following suit. They’re easy to get without any hassle, but their long-term impact? That’s still a bit of a question mark.

Dietary Supplements

Last up, natural nootropics are the earthy side of the spectrum, presented as dietary supplements. We’re talking caffeine, ginkgo biloba, L-theanine, omega-3s, and a lineup of B vitamins. They’re the milder, safer bet, but patience is key—they take time to kick in.

Science Behind Brain Supplements (Smart Drugs)

The science behind nootropics is still evolving. While some research shows promising results, others are inconclusive. Here’s a peek at what we know so far:

  • Natural Nootropics include supplements like caffeine, L-theanine, lion’s mane mushroom, and omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies suggest these can enhance focus and memory and protect brain health.
  • Prescription Nootropics: Doctors sometimes prescribe medications like Adderall or modafinil to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. These can also improve cognitive function in individuals with these specific diagnoses.

Always consult with a doctor before taking any nootropic, especially prescription medications. They can assess your individual needs and potential reactions to other medications you might be taking.

Common Ingredients of Nootropics 

Many nootropics contain a combination of different ingredients. These may include:

  • Caffeine: This natural stimulant is commonly found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks. It’s known for its ability to enhance alertness and concentration. [1]
  • L-Theanine: An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine has been shown to work synergistically with caffeine to enhance brain function. [2]
  • Bacopa Monnieri: This herb has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. It’s believed to boost brain function, improve memory, and reduce anxiety, among other benefits. [3]
  • Rhodiola Rosea: This natural herb is used for a variety of purposes, including enhancing mental performance and reducing stress. [4]
  • Ginkgo Biloba: Known for its potential to improve brain health and circulation, it’s often used for its antioxidant properties and to boost brain function. [5]

>>Check the best price for TakeThesis Nootropics

Can Nootropics Really Make You Smarter?

The potential benefits of the most highly rated nootropic supplements are certainly enticing. However, it’s crucial to have realistic expectations.

Nootropics are unlikely to turn you into a memory master or a productivity powerhouse overnight. But they might offer a subtle edge, especially if you’re already struggling with cognitive decline or need that extra boost during demanding activities.

Think of nootropics as a tool; they may help optimize your brain function, but they won’t replace a healthy lifestyle, good sleep habits, and a balanced diet.

What Are the Best Nootropics in 2024?

We rounded up the best supplements for brain health in 2024. These supplements help with focus and memory and contain natural ingredients that many experts believe have brain-supporting effects:

1. TakeThesis – Best Nootropics Overall

TakeThesis: Best Nootropics Overall


  • Comprehensive cognitive support
  • Four formulas, one starter pack
  • Enhances focus. energy and motivation
  • A well-balanced formulation for peak mental performance


  • Higher price point compared to some alternatives

Who Is Thesis Best For?

If you’re looking for a well-rounded nootropic blend, Thesis is the perfect choice. Want to have a superhuman memory? Thesis may have your back with its balanced formula that supports your memory and pumps up your energy, focus, and motivation.


  • Kickstart your day with Thesis on an empty stomach for the best results. 
  • Stick with one formula for a solid week, minus a day, to gauge tolerance. 
  • After your off-cycle, dive into the next formula. 


  • Bacopa monnieri: popular for memory support
  • L-theanine: induces relaxation and focus
  • B vitamins (B6, B12): support cognitive function


With a formula that’s as balanced as a tightrope walker and the flexibility to target what you need most, Thesis is among the best brands of brain supplements. Sure, it might cost a bit more, but can you really put a price on unlocking your brain’s full potential?

>>Check the best price for TakeThesis Nootropics

2. Noocube – Best Nootropics for Students

TakeThesis: Best Nootropics Overall


  • Potential stress reduction for long study sessions
  • Memory and cognition support
  • Suitable for students and learners


  • Possible bloating for some individuals

Who Is Noocube Best For?

Noocube may be a suitable option for those aiming to improve memory. It is particularly useful for students, learners, and anyone interested in cognitive enhancements related to information processing and recall.


  • Take two capsules daily
  • Optimal when taken with breakfast


  • Bacopa monnieri: Supports memory formation
  • Huperzine A: Helps you process information faster
  • Alpha-GPC: Boosts overall cognition
  • Vitamin B1: Contributes to brain health


Noocube delivers a comprehensive solution that supports cognition and boosts memory. With purchasing options tailored to your needs, you’re in control of your cognitive journey. Whether you’re a one-month trial customer or a five-month commitment customer, they have you covered.

>>Check the best price for Noocube

3. Hunter Focus – Best Nootropics for Focus

Hunter Focus: Best Nootropics for Focus


  • Energizes your day without the crash
  • Enhances mental clarity, focus, and productivity
  • No jitters


  • Requires taking six capsules a day

Who Is Hunter Focus Best For?

Hunter Focus is your match if you’re all about productivity and lasting focus. It contains caffeine, L-theanine, and B vitamins for a smooth, steady boost.


  • Six capsules daily


  • Caffeine: Keeps the energy steady.
  • L-theanine: Clears the fog for better clarity.
  • B vitamins (B6, B12): Give your cognitive function a leg up.
  • L-tyrosine: Keeps your focus laser-sharp.


Hunter Focus nails it in the energy department, offering a sustained, steady boost. It’s the smart choice for those chasing productivity without the limitations of your average stimulant.

>>Check the best price for Hunter Focus

4. Addall XR – Best Nootropics for ADHD Support

Addall XR: Best Nootropics for ADHD Support


  • Packed with GABA, Bacopa Monnieri, and B vitamins
  • Sharpens focus and attention
  • Clears mental fog
  • Aims to combat ADHD symptoms


  • Ingredient details are not fully disclosed

Who Is Addall XR Best For?

Tailor-made for mental concentration, Addall XR shines as a top pick for ADHD. It’s all about honing focus and attention—just be sure to chat with a healthcare professional before use.


  • One or two capsules daily
  • Best taken in the morning


  • GABA: popular ingredient for focus and energy
  • Bacopa Monnieri: supports memory and learning
  • Vitamins B1, B2, and B6: protects from oxidative stress


Addall XR stands out as an effective solution for focus and attention, with some users claiming that it feels like ADHD pills. If you’re scouting for a natural edge, this might just be your Adderall alternative.

>>Check the best deals for Addall XR

5. Mind Lab Pro – Best Daily Cognitive Boost

Mind Lab Pro: Best Daily Cognitive Boost


  • Combines top-tier nootropics for a superior cognitive blend
  • Utilizes evidence-based dosing
  • Supports memory, focus, energy, mood, and brain health
  • Considered gold-standard in brain-boosting


  • Users say it takes longer to produce results than other brands

Who Is Mind Lab Pro Best For?

Mind Lab Pro is the talk of the town for those seeking a daily brain health supplement. Its nootropic blend is a full-spectrum solution for memory, focus, energy, mood, and brain health.


  • Take two capsules in the morning on an empty stomach 
  • Two more around lunchtime if needed


  • Citicoline: Popular for memory support
  • Bacopa monnieri: Helps improve focus and concentration
  • Lion’s mane mushroom: Purported to be good for brain health
  • Rhodiola rosea: Helps lower stress


Mind Lab Pro may be your everyday brain pill, formulated to offer steady focus and memory benefits without the jitters.

>>Check the best deals for Mind Lab Pro

Benefits of Nootropics

Nootropics encompass a wide range of natural and synthetic compounds that claim to enhance cognitive functions. These can include:

  • Improved memory and learning: Nootropics aim to boost the brain’s ability to store and retrieve information, making learning and recalling details easier.
  • Enhanced focus and concentration: Nootropics may help you stay laser-focused on tasks and avoid distractions.
  • Increased mental processing speed: Imagine zipping through complex problems and tasks with newfound intellectual agility.
  • Elevated mental energy: Feeling sluggish and drained? Top energy nootropics can potentially offer a natural energy boost for the mind.
  • Improved mood and well-being: Some nootropics claim to influence mood and support overall cognitive health.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Nootropics

As with any supplement, nootropics come with potential risks and side effects. These can vary depending on the specific substance and individual factors. Here are some things to consider:

  • Limited research: Long-term studies on the safety and efficacy of many nootropics are lacking.
  • Drug interactions: Nootropics can interact with other medications you’re taking, causing unforeseen side effects.
  • Addiction potential: Certain nootropics, particularly prescription stimulants, can be addictive.
  • Unregulated supplements: The quality and effectiveness of natural nootropic supplements can vary widely.

Are Nootropics Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to try nootropics is a personal one. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are your cognitive goals? Are you looking for a general boost, or do you have specific needs like improved focus or memory?
  • Have you consulted with a doctor? Discuss your goals and health history with a medical professional to see if nootropics are the right fit for you.
  • Are you prepared for potential side effects? Research the nootropics you’re considering and be aware of potential downsides.

>>Check the best price for TakeThesis Nootropics

Nootropics Alternatives: Natural Ways to Enhance Brain Power

Nootropics are cool and all, but hey, some folks dig the natural route for brain health and smarts. Good news: there’s a whole arsenal of lifestyle choices, foods, and supplements that can get your brain firing on all cylinders, no synthetics needed.

Here are some natural ways to enhance brain power:

  • Regular exercise: Get moving! Physical activity isn’t just about looking good—it’s a brain booster too. Hitting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, plus some muscle-strengthening action, can sharpen your memory and overall brain health.
  • Healthy diet: Eat a balanced diet—fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats. Omega-3s, especially from fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, are like brain food gold.
  • Adequate sleep: Sleep isn’t for the weak—it’s for the wise. Quality sleep (think 7-9 hours) is key for memory and brain health. Stick to a sleep schedule that works for you.
  • Stress management: Stress is a brain drain. Keep it in check with mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, or just chilling in nature.
  • Brain-boosting foods: For a dose of antioxidants, load up on blueberries, dark chocolate, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and green tea.
  • Cognitive activities: Flexing your brain with activities like crosswords, sudoku, puzzles, reading, picking up a new language, or strumming a guitar isn’t just fun—it’s a workout for your brain that keeps your cognitive skills sharp and your brain adaptable. Keep playing, keep learning, and watch your brain thrive!
  • Social interaction: Hanging out with your friends isn’t just fun—it’s also good for your brain. So, make those coffee dates and dinner plans.
  • Supplements: Several natural supplements have been studied for their potential cognitive-enhancing effects. Examples include:
    • Fish oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil supplements may support brain health and cognitive function.
    • Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo biloba extract is believed to improve blood flow to the brain and may enhance memory and cognitive function.
    • Bacopa Monnieri: Bacopa Monnieri is an herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance memory and cognitive function.
    • Rhodiola rosea: Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that may help reduce fatigue and improve cognitive performance under stress.

Final Note on Nootropics

What are nootropics? Nootropics are the new kid on the block in the world of cognitive enhancement, and they’re here to throw open the doors to your brain’s untapped capabilities.

Loaded with a variety of brain-boosting ingredients, which include synthetic brain pills, the nootropic world is your oyster.

So, what are you waiting for? Kickstart your adventure to mental clarity and experience the power of nootropics for yourself.

>>Check the best price for TakeThesis Nootropics


  1. Chaturvedi S, Ganeshpurkar A, Shrivastava A, Dubey N. Protective effect of co-administration of caffeine and piracetam on scopolamine-induced amnesia in Wistar rats. Curr Res Pharmacol Drug Discov. 2021 Sep 8;2:100052. doi: 10.1016/j.crphar.2021.100052. PMID: 34909678; PMCID: PMC8663986.
  2. Baba Y, Inagaki S, Nakagawa S, Kaneko T, Kobayashi M, Takihara T. Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study. J Med Food. 2021 Apr;24(4):333-341. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2020.4803. Epub 2021 Mar 22. PMID: 33751906; PMCID: PMC8080935.
  3. Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Res. 2013 Aug;16(4):313-26. doi: 10.1089/rej.2013.1431. PMID: 23772955; PMCID: PMC3746283.
  4. Palmeri, A., Mammana, L., Tropea, M. R., Gulisano, W., & Puzzo, D. (2016). Salidroside, a Bioactive Compound of Rhodiola Rosea, Ameliorates Memory and Emotional Behavior in Adult Mice. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD, 52(1), 65–75. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-151159
  5. Nathan, P. J., Ricketts, E., Wesnes, K., Mrazek, L., Greville, W., & Stough, C. (2002). The acute nootropic effects of Ginkgo biloba in healthy older human subjects: a preliminary investigation. Human psychopharmacology, 17(1), 45–49. https://doi.org/10.1002/hup.353

Fact Checker: Kire Stojkovski M.D, [email protected]
Kire Stojkovski is a practicing medical doctor whose work has been published in some of the most respected medical journals.

Robert James

Robert is a full-time freelance writer and editor specializing in the health niche and its ever-expanding sub-niches. As a food and nutrition scientist, he knows where to find the resources necessary to verify health claims. Robert can be reached at [email protected].