This is more a list of nootropic ingredients and natural nootropics than actual branded pills. If you’re looking to buy a nootropic, bookmark or print this list and look out for these ingredients, because they’re the best! (SCROLL DOWN for the list of ingredients).
Some of the common names when discussing a class of compounds called Nootropics also include Brain-Boosters, Cognitive Enhancers, and even ‘Smart Pills’.
These names are widely used and are not new, and the name was also coined in the early seventies by Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian doctor.
Professionals in mentally intensive fields like computer programming have been using these compounds for decades. And by knowing which of these compounds offer the best potential cognitive enhancing effects can help you find the best nootropics that will aid you in your journey of self-optimization.
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The best nootropics are the ones that have a great track record of clinically-proven results for cognitive enhancement properties. But there is little clinical data to demonstrate their efficacy and much of what we really know has been gathered from anecdotal accounts.
However, a survey of the various experiences with these compounds, along with information about non-nootropic usage from users can help you in making the decision of which one will be most helpful to you. And while all the compounds we have listed here have clinical data to back up their claims, some have it more than others, it should still be noted that all of them are currently considered as dietary supplements.
Best nootropic ingredients 2020
While the synthetic Nootropics have all shown a tremendous potential to serve people as cognitive enhancing supplements, the lack of widespread clinically-approved trials means that they have unknown side effects.
And while any compound, whether it’s natural or synthetic has the potential to cause unwanted side effects, these natural compounds typically pose a much lower risk. However, this does mean that they will provide much subtler effects.
This is a compound that has been shown as a way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. And although it’s laboratory-prepared, it’s considered to be a ‘bio-equivalent’ to the natural form that can be found in many plants. It will appear in the bloodstream just 15 minutes after ingestion, and it will peak around a little more than an hour.
It was originally used as a muscle relaxer and as a way to treat bruises and increase blood flow to areas that needed healing. But more recently, it’s been used to treat neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia.
There have been several clinical trials investigating this compound as a treatment for plenty of other medical conditions like Cocaine Dependency and Traumatic brain injuries.
You can also easily buy it online on it’s own!
This supplement contains the compound that is a precursor to serotonin. And serotonin is one of your brain’s most important neurotransmitters. Do note that you shouldn’t take this supplement with many other medications because it can become lethal. But if taken properly it has shown a wide range of positive health benefits such as promoting weight loss by curbing appetite, decreasing night terrors, as well as helping to address a host of digestive issues.
The practical effects that are often reported when taking this compound are mood stabilizing or enhancement, rather than providing a stimulant effect. But research shows that our digestive system affects our cognitive function which makes this compound one of the best nootropics available, considering its ability to strengthen healthy digestive function.
This is another one you can buy online quite easily.
Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid—a.k.a. GABA—has been hailed by many as being the holy grail of supplements for promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. Although GABA is the ‘downer’ in the world of neurotransmitters, it shows that it increases the serum
Growth Hormone levels by up to 400%. It reaches its peak around 1 hour after ingestion and most people take doses as high as 3-5 grams.
Many of those taking GABA supplements note that one of the side effects of this supplement is a brief shortness of breath, followed by a ‘pins and needles’ sensation. The shortness of breath—reportedly lasting less than 20 seconds, as well as the ‘pins and needles’ sensation has been reported to occur roughly 60-80 minutes after ingestion of GABA on an empty stomach. While odd perhaps, this side effect isn’t regarded as being serious by most with many of those taking GABA not reporting the issue at all.
Next up is Choline, another powerful nootropic compound that shows benefits when you take it in doses as low as 100mg. Taking large doses is often associated with complaints of headaches. This supplement has been known to boost overall cognitive function, running endurance, your memory function and your reaction times.
It also has a variety of benefits for other systems within your body. They include reducing the fatty liver tissue, improving your overall cardiovascular health and reducing the levels of cortisol your body produces. And it’s also rather safe to take.
5. Alpha GPC
Also known as alpha glycerophosphocholine, this is a compound that has an array of strong nootropic abilities like boosting the overall cognitive function. It’s also being researched as a way to treat Alzheimer’s disease and amnesia.
So overall, this nootropic has shown us that it’s possible to slow down the natural cognitive decline and to improve the cognitive function. And when taking it, your body is able to absorb more than 50% of the compound. Get Alpha GPC here.
This is a non-essential amino acid that is most commonly found in green tea. It has a strong mentally-stimulating effect and improves your perception, your focus, and your memory retention. It’s also a popular relaxation agent, and when taken with different stimulants like caffeine, it can help curb the jittery effects.
L-Theanine also promotes great deep sleep and has minimal side effects. It can also improve your sleep cycles, your mood, your overall sense of well-being and your cardiovascular health.
7. Phenylethylamine (PEA)
This is a powerful nootropic that is also known as ‘PEA Supplement’ or as ‘the love drug’. It’s usually naturally found in chocolate and it’s considered to be one of the most powerful ‘smart drugs’ that exist. It basically functions as a dopamine booster, which means it can greatly influence and improve your mood, helping you with any feelings of depression and anxiety.
It can also act as a bacterial inhibitor and can improve your mental energy, mental clarity, increase your attention span and improve your learning capacity by helping you form new memories easier and faster. The possible side effects of dizziness, nausea or headaches are very rare.
8. Lion’s Mane (Yamabushitake)
Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom that has been popularized in Asian cultures as a powerful treatment for mental disorders and neurological conditions. This is actually a nootropic that can regenerate your neural networks and has been consumed by monks as a tea for centuries.
It can lower your anxiety, lower any feelings of depression, positively affects your quality of sleep, curbs cognitive decline and can even lower and strong symptoms of menopause. It also has shown that it can help your brain grow, due to its Nerve Growth Factor!
Among the most popular natural herbal nootropics is Bacopa Monnieri, which has been used for centuries by people who have been looking to increase their mental clarity. It has also been used as a treatment of epilepsy, tumors, ulcers, asthma and general inflammation. It can also reduce your anxiety, increase your mental focus and your memory retention and lower feelings of depression and forgetfulness.
The way it helps with your memory performance is actually by increasing the length of your neural nerves in your brain. This, in turn, strengthens your neural networks and decreases the time they take in to communicate with each other. The only reported side effects include nausea, bloating or cramping when taken on an empty stomach.
10. Ginko Biloba
Last, but not least, one of the most popular herbal nootropics on our list is Ginko Biloba. Although it has shown inconsistency in clinical trials when studying its cognitive enhancing capabilities, it is a great way to safeguard against cognitive decline. It can boost your short-term memory retention, your focus and problem-solving skills and can even counteract altitude sickness.
Most commonly, this herbal nootropic is found in various natural supplement products like Melatonin and anti-anxiety blends. There are minimal side effects, only reported in a very rare number of cases.
Update 2019: A LOT of these ingredients are in a nootropic known as Mind Lab Pro. This is a super effective nootropic solution, which I’ve recently reviewed and it’s now my main nootropic. It’s a great addition to any stack, and for most people it’s the only one you actually need (along side a good multivitamin).
I wrote a very long post showing you how to use nootropics to get the most benefits, it explained my experiences using various nootropics almost every day for about 6 months. I’d suggest reading that before buying any.