Nootropics are a special class of drugs that can increase focus, attention and boost memory. This boost in cognitive function comes as the result of a variety of different mechanisms. Many nootropics work by improving communication between neurons by balancing neurotransmitters, or by improving energy metabolism in the brain.
Here, we talk about nootropics for those just starting out, and discuss some of the most popular choices, as well as a basic overview on how nootropics work and where to go from here.
It’s best to start out slow. That said, nootropics are often taken as supplements that involve multiple nootropics joined together. More advanced users often have strict nootropic schedules, and utilise large doses.
For beginners, it’s recommended to start off with just one type nootropic, and only in smaller doses. Over time this can increase in complexity and dosage as the user becomes more aware of the effects nootropics have on their body.
Starting with a low amount of the nootropic lets one see how it affects the mind and body before continuing with the full, recommended amount. Also, mixing nootropics together from the beginning makes it harder to determine which individual part of the nootropic stack is causing the most effects. Even experienced nootropics users will only tend to change or add one new nootropic at a time so that they can get an idea of what changes are occurring in the body following the change.
For people who don’t know where to start, we recommend starting with the most basic of the nootropics, the racetams.
Racetams are a class of nootropics that increase the production of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is essential for transmitting information around the brain and has a close affiliation with learning and memory. Some of the most popular racetam nootropics include piracetam, aniracetam, and oxiracetam. All of these nootropics are a good place for the beginner to explore.
There are also a number of natural nootropics available for the beginners to choose from. Herbs like bacopa, rhodiola, and L-theanine from green tea are all excellent starting points.
Pre Formulated Stacks
Another option is to buy a pre-formulated stack from a supplement manufacturer directly. These stacks are great, convenient introduction to nootropics. These stacks can be taken on their own and are more convenient rather than weighing out and mixing one’s own nootropic combinations. It also eliminates the challenge for new users to identify what ingredients they should be mixing together to leverage their nootropic ingredients effects. It also makes it much simpler to dose the nootropics, as raw, powdered nootropics can be dangerous if taken in the wrong dose.
Create Your Own Stack
A nootropic stack is a combination of two or more supplements that provide cognitive benefits in order to create a synergistic effect. The benefits of this supplementation technique to boost the abilities of the brain are greater than any single supplement could do on its own. For example, if an individual has to attend meetings, has job interviews, or needs to study, they usually require caffeine that is consumed in the form of coffee, soft drinks, etc. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that has an immediate effect and awakens the brain, making the individual more alert and eradicates drowsiness, tiredness, headaches etc. Pairing up caffeine with L-Theanine makes one of the best nootropic stacks. L-Theanine is a substance that elevates mood and boosts confidence. Together these two bring about enhanced proficiency at whatever one is working on. This way, stacks allows one to combine several nootropics to create the best cognitive enhancements that suit their needs. Furthermore, making up one’s own stack is also much more economical and guarantees full control with dosage and types to the user.
Most experienced nootropics users will formulate their own nootropic stack. This starts with getting familiar with the nootropics of choice. Take each ingredient on its own first to learn how it affects your body individually before combining them together with other ingredients.
Nootropic Sampler For Beginners
The number one recommended nootropic is Piracetam. It was also the first synthetic nootropic to ever be created, and is the substance that lead to the first usage of the very word “nootropic” itself.
Piracetam provides many benefits to the users including:
- Better vocabulary recollection: The user is able to think of the word clearly when he needs it.
- Less foggy mind: You feel alert and sharp at all times. This even happens when you are doing effortless and mundane tasks daily.
- Enhanced short term and long term memory: You are able to retain the information at a higher rate with their names and meanings.
- Faster thought articulation: You will not stumble over speech and speak faster with what’s in your mind.
- Less Social Anxiety: You will feel confident when talking to strangers and feel more outgoing than before.
- Increased Motivation: In some cases, you will be more willing to complete tasks quickly and avoid delay in work.
How to Take Piracetam
Piracetam is generally taken at doses of 2.5-5 g per day in separate doses. The most common routine is to take piracetam at doses of 1.5 g three times per day. This is because the half life of piracetam is only 2-3 hours. Splitting the dose up into several smaller doses allows the effects of the piracetam to last longer throughout the day, rather than only for a few hours at a time.
The Piracetam can be mix with a drink or taken in solid capsules. Masking the flavour with juice or another beverage is also recommended if the flavour is too strong.
The second best nootropics for beginners is Aniracetam. This chemical is very similar to piracetam, as it’s also a member of the racetam family of chemicals. It’s one of the most well-known nootropics in the world.
The benefits of aniracetam include:
- Mild memory improvement: Users become better at retaining information than before.
- More motivation: You will get more inspired as you feel motivated and begin to think creatively than before.
- Easy articulation: Anticeratam helps professionals like writers and poets to think and express ideas clearly.
- Clear and more fluid thoughts: Works best for those who have a creative project and through Anticeratam they can think and execute effectively and creatively.
How to Take Aniracetam
The recommended dose for aniracetam is 1-1.5 g per day. Just like piracetam, aniracetam should be split into a few smaller doses taken throughout the day for best results.
Take aniracetam as a capsule, in a smoothie or shake, or mixed in water or juice.
One of the newest and most popular nootropics for beginners is Noopept. Although noopept isn’t technically a racetam, it is very similar structurally, and therefore has many of the same benefits.
Noopept is considered to be as much as 1000 times more potent than Piracetam. It’s mainly used to promote focus, concentrations, and mental stamina.
How to Take Noopept
Noopept should be taken in smaller doses compared to Piracetam or aniracetam. The recommended dose is between 10 and 40 mg on a daily basis. One dosage should be split into 3 equal amounts to be taken throughout the day.
Due to the very small dose required of this nootropic, it’s essential that measurements are made with an accurate scale.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). It has relaxing qualities by turning down the neurotransmitters in the brain associated with mental stimulation and anxiety. Additionally, L-Theanine increases blood flow to the brain, helping to supply oxygen and nutrients, as well as eliminating metabolic wastes and byproducts from the brain safely.
L-Theanine works especially well in combination with caffeine.
The benefits of L-Theanine Include:
- Poor sleep: L-Theanine promotes more restful sleep and faster sleep onset.
- Anxiety: L-Theanine is useful for eliminating heart palpitations, anxiety, and muscle tension.
- Jitters: L-Theanine directly reduces the jitters associated with caffeine intake.
How to Take the L-Theanine
The regular caffeine drinkers simply add 200 mg of l-theanine to their first cups of coffee or tea. The beginners should only use that drug that consists of 80 mg of caffeine and 160 mg of l-theanine to balance the effect of caffeine. This is necessary to become accustomed to tea or coffee as the tolerance level goes up.
Oxiracetam is another member of the racetam family. It’s recommended for those looking for a mental energy boost, and a longer duration of effects compared to the other racetams like piracetam and aniracetam.
The benefits of oxiracetam include:
- Enhances short-term and long-term memory.
- Improved mood.
- Improves motivation level when used during a workout.
- Works best for higher level students like Ph.Ds. who want to finish a lengthy and tedious project that requires more clear thinking and quality expression.
How to Take Oxiracetam
The recommended dose for oxiracetam is between 800 and 1200 mg per day. Some experienced users will take doses as high as 2400 mg in a day, though this dose is not recommended as a daily dose.
The last in the list of nootropics for beginners is Adrafinil. This is considered to be one of the strongest nootropics.
Adrafinil is best used for eliminating the effects of mental fatigue. Students and business owners use this supplement to help them finish tough, mentally demanding projects. It’s also useful for those working night shifts to help them adapt to changes in their circadian rhythm.
It’s important to note that Adrafinil is not appropriate for those taking birth control pills, as it may reduce the effectiveness of the contraception.
How to Take Adrafinil
You have to be careful while using Adrafinil on a daily basis. As a beginner, it’s recommended that you begin small. 200 mg is recommended as a starting point for this nootropic. As time goes on and you become more familiar with this nootropic, you can increase the dose gradually.
Here is a table with short description of benefits of nootropics mentioned.
Other Nootropics For Beginners
- Lion’s Mane Instant Coffee for alertness.
- Yerba Mate Tea for creativity and mental energy.
- Pramiracetam for attention and focus.
- Melatonin to enhance sleep.
- Green Tea for a boost in mood
- Rhodiola for exercise performance and stress reduction.
Can I Take Several Nootropics Together?
Yes. In fact, this is the most common way of taking nootropics. This is called a nootropic stack, which involves taking several different nootropic substances that work together in their effects to produce improvements in cognitive performance.
Some of the most common combinations of nootropics include:
- L-Theanine & caffeine
- Alpha GPC and aniracetam or piracetam
- Noopept and CDP Choline
- L-Theanine and Noopept
- Bacopa, Lion’s mane, and Rhodiola rosea
What If I Can’t Focus Due to Stress and Anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are one of the most common causes of poor concentration and focus. This is because anxiety and stress create a cascade of neurotransmitter activation in the brain that interrupt the processes of learning and memory, and drain the nerve cells of essential energy. This causes mental exhaustion, and reduces overall focus, concentration, and mental energy.
Fortunately, there are a number of nootropics that can help with anxiety and stress to boost focus and concentration. Noopept, L-Theanine, green tea extract, lion’s mane, inositol, and alpha-GPC are all known for reducing anxiety and the negative impacts of stress and anxiety. This action is considered one of the main mechanisms that allow these substances to improve focus and concentration, as well as mental energy and endurance.
If seeking nootropics that can help with stress and anxiety, it’s recommended that you look for substances of pre-formulated nootropic stacks that have a focus on relaxation rather than stimulation. Avoid nootropics that contain caffeine as well in order to produce the best effects possible.
How Do I Find a Stack Based on Certain Needs?
Depending on your individual needs, it’s helpful to look for stacks that are specifically catered to these needs. Thanks to the wide range of nootropics available, this is easily accomplished.
The main needs people tend to have when searching for nootropics are:
- Improved mood
- Support for studying
- Overall cognitive support to defend against cognitive decline that comes naturally with age.
- Better sleep efficiency at night
- More mental energy and stamina
- Lowered anxiety and stress
Finding nootropics for these needs involves some research, but generally follow these rules:
- Nootropics that are suggested to increase energy tend to be better as a study aid, mental energy and stamina, and improved mood.
- Nootropics that are suggested to produce calming or relaxing effects are generally preferred for improving symptoms of stress and anxiety, sleep, and prevention of cognitive decline.
You’re likely to find premade nootropic stacks that target each of these areas of focus directly. Look for formulas that match the description of what your needs are specifically if you are new to nootropics and aren’t sure where to start.
Nootropics make for a great pre workout. This is especially true for nootropics that have stimulating effects, such as caffeine, or piracetam. Additionally, nootropics tend to contain many of the essential vitamins that the body needs to activate nerve fibers to control muscle contraction, as well as to support repair of muscle tissue. This includes the B vitamins, choline, and phospholipids.
If choosing a nootropic as a preworkout, look for formulas that contain vitamin B (especially B5, B6, and B12), as well as phosphatidylserine or phosphatidylcholine, caffeine, piracetam/aniracetam, alpha-GPC, or noopept.
Herbal nootropics are also useful as a preworkout for their benefits on the stress response system in the brain. By supporting this system before a workout, the body is able to push harder during the workout before becoming fatigued, thus improving overall exertion and resulting gains. Some examples of herbal nootropics includes rhodiola, bacopa, ginkgo, and ginseng.
A simple way to test if these supplements are working is to try some brain training games. First, one can try a few games before taking nootropics then try them again after supplementation. Testing the brain is a great way to keep track of the body’s cognitive responses to nootropics. One may also keep a check on their pre-nootropic and post-nootropic performance for whatever need they took nootropics such as at work, at studies, sports, etc. Keep track of fitness, workflow and happiness is another way to determine the effects of nootropics on the body.
There are plenty of other, non-supplemental options for improving cognition. This can include diet and lifestyle habits that promote optimal cognitive functioning. Although there are many, the main considerations for these activities are ensuring adequate nutrition (both macro and micro nutrients), as well as habits that promote elevated mood, sleep, and physical health.
Exercise has been shown to release endorphins that promote nerve repair and growth, and any balanced lifestyle routine will involve some level of exercise. It doesn’t end here though. Physical exercise is just one component of improving the mind and body. Mental exercise can be done through activities like meditation or mindfulness. It works to exercise the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). If done every day, even in small doses, we can help the body balance our fight or flight, and rest and digest nervous system function, eliminating potential neurotransmitter imbalances, improving mood and sleep, and boosting overall cognitive functioning.
Nootropics suppliers offer numerous nootropic capsules and powders as well as nootropic sample packs for beginners who need help to choose and experiment with.
There is a number of factors to consider when making a decision on a nootropics supplier, the foremost being quality control. Putting health and safety at risk, that’s a gamble no one can afford to take, and it is important to find a trusted, respected and reliable supplier.
Next is the price. The cost of nootropics is variable and varies further with different suppliers. Hence, find ways to save money and research to look for a vendor that has the lowest prices or offers discounts.
It is a good idea to take some time out to learn how the nootropics actual work. Having a brief idea of what kind of nootropics are available and what are their respective effects further ease the decision as to what nootropics to buy. This step is pocket-friendly as it prevents money to be wasted and instead directs it towards purchasing the exact nootropics that target one’s needs.
However, it is important to know that nootropics work in complex, subtle ways inside the body and may not have the same effect on someone else. Everyone responds differently to different compounds such as differences in brain chemistry etc. It is key to set a realistic expectation and not consider nootropics as something that provides an immediate and strong effect.
Getting started in the world of nootropics can seem daunting and difficult to navigate, however, by starting out with the nootropics we’ve outlined in this article, you can begin to familiarise yourself with the major nootropics available.
The easiest way to begin is to purchase a single, encapsulated nootropic, or a basic nootropic formula. With this, you can begin to learn how these constituents affect your body individually. Over time, these effects can be carefully dialed in to produce optimal results for your own specific needs. Eventually, after further research and experience with different nootropic substances, you can begin to formulate your own custom nootropic formulas.