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Enhance your Cognitive Potential: An In-Depth Guide to Nootropics

In our fast-paced world, the quest for enhanced cognitive function, mental clarity, and overall brain health has led many to explore the realm of nootropics. These cognitive enhancers promise to optimize neurological function, boost mental energy, and improve clarity. This article will delve into the basics of nootropics, explore their impacts on brain health and cognitive function, and provide detailed information on various nootropic compounds, including recommended dosages and supporting scientific studies.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics, often referred to as "smart drugs" or cognitive enhancers, are substances that can improve brain performance. They can be natural or synthetic and are used to enhance memory, focus, creativity, intelligence, and motivation. The term "nootropic" was coined by Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea in 1972, combining the Greek words "nous" (mind) and "trepein" (to bend or turn).

How Do Nootropics Work?

Nootropics impact the brain in various ways, including:

  • Enhancing Neurotransmitter Function: Many nootropics work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin, which are crucial for mood, memory, and cognition.

  • Improving Blood Flow and Oxygenation: Some nootropics increase cerebral blood flow, ensuring that the brain gets enough oxygen and nutrients to function optimally.

  • Neuroprotection: Certain nootropics have antioxidant properties that protect the brain from oxidative stress and neurodegeneration.

  • Modulating Neuroplasticity: Nootropics can enhance the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, crucial for learning and memory.

Nootropic Compounds & Their Benefits

  • Bacopa Monnieri

  • Benefits: Enhances memory, reduces anxiety, and improves cognitive function .

  • Dosage: 300-600 mg per day of a standardized extract (50% bacosides).

  • Rhodiola Rosea

  • Benefits: Reduces fatigue, improves mood, and enhances cognitive function under stress .

  • Dosage: 200-600 mg per day of a standardized extract (3% rosavins and 1% salidroside).

  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom

  • Benefits: Promotes nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis, improves memory and cognitive function, and may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression .

  • Dosage: 500-3,000 mg per day of dried mushroom extract.

  • Ginkgo Biloba

  • Benefits: Improves blood flow to the brain, enhances memory and cognitive speed, and has neuroprotective effects .

  • Dosage: 120-240 mg per day of a standardized extract (24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpenoids).

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA and EPA)

  • Benefits: Supports brain cell structure and function, reduces inflammation, and may improve mood and cognitive performance .

  • Dosage: 1,000-2,000 mg per day of combined DHA and EPA.

  • L-Theanine

  • Benefits: Promotes relaxation without drowsiness, improves focus and attention, and can enhance the effects of caffeine .

  • Dosage: 100-200 mg per day.

  • Panax Ginseng

  • Benefits: Enhances memory, reduces mental fatigue, and improves overall cognitive function .

  • Dosage: 200-400 mg per day of a standardized extract (4-7% ginsenosides).

  • Phosphatidylserine

  • Benefits: Supports cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health, and may reduce symptoms of ADHD .

  • Dosage: 100-300 mg per day.

  • Caffeine

  • Benefits: Increases alertness, improves focus and concentration, and can enhance physical performance .

  • Dosage: 50-200 mg per day.

  • Creatine

  • Benefits: Enhances energy production in brain cells, improves memory and intelligence, and supports overall cognitive function .

  • Dosage: 3-5 grams per day.

  • Magnesium Glycinate

  • Benefits: Supports cognitive function, reduces anxiety, and promotes relaxation .

  • Dosage: 200-400 mg per day.

  • Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC)

  • Benefits: Increases acetylcholine levels, enhances memory and learning, and supports overall brain health .

  • Dosage: 300-600 mg per day.

  • Choline

  • Benefits: Supports brain development and function, enhances memory and cognition, and may reduce symptoms of cognitive decline .

  • Dosage: 250-500 mg per day.

  • Nervonic Acid

  • Benefits: Supports brain health, myelin synthesis, and cognitive function .

  • Dosage: 200-300 mg per day.

  • Cordyceps

  • Benefits: Enhances energy levels, improves athletic performance, and supports overall cognitive function .

  • Dosage: 1,000-3,000 mg per day of standardized extract.

  • DL-Phenylalanine

  • Benefits: Supports mood, reduces pain, and enhances cognitive function .

  • Dosage: 200-500 mg per day.

  • Uridine Monophosphate

  • Benefits: Enhances memory and learning, supports neuroplasticity, and promotes overall brain health .

  • Dosage: 150-250 mg per day.

  • Theobromine

  • Benefits: Improves mood, enhances cognitive function, and supports cardiovascular health .

  • Dosage: 100-300 mg per day.

  • Taurine

  • Benefits: Supports cognitive function, reduces anxiety, and promotes relaxation .

  • Dosage: 500-2,000 mg per day.

  • Coleus Forskohlii

  • Benefits: Supports cognitive function, enhances memory, and may reduce symptoms of ADHD .

  • Dosage: 100-250 mg per day of standardized extract (10% forskolin).

  • B-Complex Vitamins

  • Benefits: Support overall brain health, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function .

  • Dosage: Follow recommended daily intake for each B vitamin, typically found in a balanced B-complex supplement.

How to Use Nootropics

When starting with nootropics, it is crucial to begin with smaller dosages to assess tolerance and effects. Gradually increasing the dosage can help in finding the optimal amount for cognitive enhancement.

Cycling Nootropics: To prevent tolerance and maintain efficacy, it is often recommended to cycle nootropics. A common practice is to use them for 5 days on and 2 days off, or 4 weeks on and 1-2 weeks off.

Supporting Your Brain Health

Your overall lifestyle approach is going to be your first go-to. Besides taking nootropics, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for cognitive function. This includes:

  • Balanced Diet: Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins supports overall brain health.

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and promotes the release of growth factors.

  • Adequate Sleep: Quality sleep is essential for memory consolidation and overall brain function.

  • Stress Management: Practices such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help reduce stress and its negative impact on the brain.

  • Get adjusted! Chiropractic isn't just for neck and back pain. Improving spine alignment/function will also help improve overall cognitive function as well! I regularly hear from my patients that they feel like they can think better and have overall better mental clarity after an adjustment.


This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

By exploring the potential of nootropics and integrating them wisely into a balanced lifestyle, we can enhance our cognitive function and overall brain health, enabling us to perform at our best.


  1. Morgan, A., & Stevens, J. (2010). Does Bacopa monnieri improve memory performance in older persons? Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  2. Calabrese, C., Gregory, W. L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., & Oken, B. (2008). Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  3. Panossian, A., Wikman, G., & Sarris, J. (2010). Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): Traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine.

  4. Darbinyan, V., Kteyan, A., Panossian, A., Gabrielian, E., Wikman, G., & Wagner, H. (2000). Rhodiola rosea in stress-induced fatigue--a double-blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine.

  5. Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research.

  6. Yamada, K., Noda, Y., & Nabeshima, T. (2002). Effects of ethanol extracts of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Pharmaceutical Biology.

  7. Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2002). A glucose-caffeine ‘energy drink’ ameliorates subjective and performance deficits during prolonged cognitive demand. Appetite.

  8. Mix, J. A., & Crews, W. D. (2002). An examination of the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 on the neuropsychologic functioning of cognitively intact older adults. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  9. Yurko-Mauro, K., McCarthy, D., Rom, D., Nelson, E. B., Ryan, A. S., Blackwell, A., ... & Stedman, M. (2010). Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimer's & Dementia.

  10. Dangour, A. D., Andreeva, V. A., Sydenham, E., & Uauy, R. (2012). Omega 3 fatty acids and cognitive decline: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews.

  11. Gomez-Ramirez, M., Higgins, B. A., Rycroft, J. A., Owen, G. N., Mahoney, J., Shpaner, M., & Foxe, J. J. (2007). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological Psychology.

  12. Nathan, P. J., Lu, K., Gray, M., & Oliver, C. (2006). The neuropharmacology of L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy.

  13. Reay, J. L., Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2005). Single doses of Panax ginseng (G115) reduce blood glucose levels and improve cognitive performance during sustained mental activity. Journal of Psychopharmacology.

  14. Benton, D., & Donohoe, R. (2011). The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. British Journal of Nutrition.

  15. Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double–blind, placebo–controlled, cross–over trial. Psychopharmacology.

Nootropic Supplements to look into


Neurohacker Collective

Premier Research Labs

The ultimate guide to Nootropics

Nutridyn: Brain Power

Some good Resources

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NOOTROPICS | PART 1 | AN INTRODUCTION TO A NEW CLASS OF COMPOUNDS J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;42(4):1079-149. doi: 10.3233/JAD-141206. Cognitive enhancers (Nootropics). Part 3: drugs interacting with targets other than receptors or enzymes. Disease-modifying drugs. Update 2014.


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