Discovered by Lafon, a French pharmaceutical company, in 1974, Adrafinil was first introduced to the public as a treatment for narcolepsy in 1985.
Sold under the brand name Olmifon, it was eventually replaced by its active metabolite, the more-powerful wakefulness drug, Modafinil.
Adrafinil is still available for personal use today without a prescription, while Modafinil (brand name: Provigil) must be prescribed by a doctor for narcolepsy or night shift sleep disorder.
Adrafinil and Modafinil are commonly called “Smart Drugs” or nootropics, used by individuals who want to improve their cognitive function, creativity, and productivity.
Other “Smart Drugs” belong to the racetam family – Piracetam, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Phenylpiracetam, and Pramiracetam.
Noopept, a peptide that passes through the blood-brain barrier, and choline, a nutrient related to the B-vitamin family, are also considered effective for wakefulness and focus.
Students, shift workers, athletes, entrepreneurs and other healthy people can benefit from Adrafinil and other “Smart Drugs” if they choose the right supplement for their needs and use it safely.
Adrafinil is legal for personal use in the U.S. and Canada, and you can purchase it online from popular nootropic websites and supplement companies in the U.S. It’s available on Amazon’s Canadian site.
Thus, Adrafinil exists in sort of “gray area” with the FDA: it’s okay to buy online, but you won’t find it on Amazon.com (nor in any local store like GNC, CVS, Walgreens or Walmart).
Adrafinil, along with its successor, Modafinil, and other “Smart Drugs,” offer busy students, shift workers, and others a (mostly) safe way to stay alert and focused.
Modafinil gets most of the attention from the nootropic community, but it’s a prescription drug, which may be off-putting for some people who need a quick and inexpensive aid to stay awake.
Adrafinil available in both powder and capsule forms. I like the powder form since I can measure what I need for a specific day. It’s water soluble and dissolves in a cup of hot water. (If it doesn’t dissolve, you have fake Adrafinil.)
Adrafinil is more specifically, a eugeroic, or wakefulness-promoting agent. This type of drug, originally a prescription medication to treat narcolepsy or drowsiness, has many attributes suitable for the everyday person who occasionally needs to pull an “all-nighter” or fight fatigue.
It’s a short-term solution if you need to study all night for an exam, finish a complicated presentation for work on short notice, or get through an overnight shift without falling asleep.
Like any eugeroic supplement, Adrafinil must be used according to directions for the purpose intended. A healthy person using Adrafinil to stay awake for an extra work shift will need to take a different dosage of Adrafinil (or Modafinil) than a narcolepsy patient.
Unlike over-the-counter supplements, you can’t just look at a label and decide if Adrafinil will work for you. Check out reviews and real-life experiences from others in the nootropic community.
Most of the online reviews of Ardafinil are positive or neutral. I did a bit of research on Reddit and nootropic sites and fond a few interesting takes on Adrafinil.
Reddit user Trashpockets writes about his experience with Adrafinil:
“It’s essentially like good sleep and normal human focus in powder form. You feel rested, you feel focused and alert, and your thoughts can clear up a bit without the “I’m on some kind of drug” feeling.”
On the This is Trouble blog, Kyle’s review of Adrafinil states:
“The crash is virtually non-existent,” “no jitters, just insane focus,” and “You can build a tolerance, but it’s harder to build one compared to coffee.” If you are wondering exactly how Adrafinil can boost productivity, he adds “I built my entire niche website, Types of Tequila and wrote the first seven articles in about five hours on Adrafinil.”
Benefits and effects
Adrafinil’s primary benefit is keeping you awake and alert. That’s what it was designed for, and even though it is potent enough to treat patients with sleep disorders, it is safe for most healthy people in need of a moderate stimulant.
When you need to stay alert and focused for a demanding project at work or all-night study session, Adrafinil can help. It fights sleepiness without promoting hyperactivity.
The effect is similar to caffeine but much stronger and without the jittery side effects, you get from too much coffee or too many energy drinks. The focus and alertness last anywhere from three to six hours.
A 1988 French study showed Adrafinil and Modafinil reduced drowsiness in 83% of patients suffering from hypersomnia and 71% of patients suffering from narcolepsy.
One of the studies conducted on Modafinil involved military personnel who were required to go three nights without sleeping. The researchers discovered Modafinil was just as potent as amphetamines, but without the side effects.
You’ll feel your overall energy improve, as well as concentration. Most people who use Adrafinil in an appropriate dosage won’t feel any heart palpations or other problems associated with wakefulness supplements containing high amounts of caffeine.
Adrafinil is used primarily as an anti-fatigue supplement, but it offers cognitive and memory enhancing properties. Not just a non-caffeinated way to help you stay awake, it does offer an entire spectrum of brain-boosting advantages for users.
A Canadian study suggested that Adrafinil is useful for improving memory and attention. Adrafinil has a general effect on brain mechanisms and metabolic rates, instead of concentrating on a particular neurotransmitter.
(On a side note, the extensive research even pointed out that two test subjects experienced an interest in sex for the first time in years after taking Adrafinil.)
Enhances Learning Ability
In a separate study, older beagle dogs given Adrafinil experienced improvement in learning new tasks and increased vigilance. In human studies, Adrafinil successfully treated poor memory and attention span.
This may sound too good to be true, but every year new research points to the cognitive benefits of Adrafinil.
How It Works
Adrafinil stimulates the central nervous system and leads your adrenergic system to release adrenaline. A hormone released naturally in times of danger or excitement, it puts your “fight or flight” mechanism into gear.
Our “fight or flight” mode is meant to protect us from danger, but it also enables us to have greater concentration and focus.
Hypocretin, a neurotransmitter linked to wakefulness, may be responsible for triggering alertness and concentration you experience after taking Adrafinil. After hypocretin is triggered, dopamine, histamine, and other neurotransmitters spring into action, giving you more focus and energy.
Dopamine is essential for better focus and attention. When dopamine levels in the brain’s prefrontal cortex increase, working memory improves.
Dopamine in the frontal lobes of the brain guides information from other parts of the brain to sharpen problem-solving skills and concentration. And dopamine helps you chill out and feel happier while you work (as anyone who’s taken Adrafinil or Modafinil can attest, you begin to really love your work).
You might say Adrafinil helps set off a chain reaction among hormones to get them to work together and boost your attention and efficacy.
It usually takes Adrafinil about an hour to start working after you take it, and the effects last from three to six hours. Adrafinil is primarily a brain stimulant and doesn’t affect motor coordination like Choline Bitartrate or Piracetam.
The standard dosage for Adrafinil ranges from 600 to 1200 mg per day to promote wakefulness.
The only “official” dosage is the one indicated for the treatment of narcolepsy, so if you’re taking Adrafinil to stay awake to study or complete a work project, it’s best to start with a small dose (about 20-30 mg).
The typical dose for people using Adrafinil for increased alertness and concentration is 300 mg in the morning, and 300 mg in the afternoon. No drug or supplement affects everyone the same way, so it’s best to start small and increase dosage slowly if you can tolerate a small amount.
You should take Adrafinil on an empty stomach, and wait for 45 to 60 minutes for it to take effect. (Adrafinil must metabolize into Modafinil before you feel any benefits.) Don’t take Adrafinil at night or in the late afternoon, as it will impair sleep.
Take Adrafinil in cycles to avoid experiencing side effects, including damage to the heart or liver. It should be taken for no longer than five months, three times a day.
It can be difficult to discern a full list of side effects for Adrafinil. Without needing FDA approval, there is no requirement to officially disclose them.
There are plenty of independent sources that offer such a list, though.
- Dry mouth
- Liver damage
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle tension
- Sleep issues
There could be many other side effects. As always, it is important to discuss any potential side effects with a doctor prior to and during use.
The most prevalent of the side effects involve the liver. Adrafinil can cause permanent liver damage with long use.
Less common side effects are more dangerous and include hallucinations, bruising, chest pain and heart palpitations. If you suffer from any heart condition, check with your doctor before taking Adrafinil.
An elderly patient with bipolar disorder experienced Orofacial Dyskinesia (involuntary mouth and facial movements) after Modafinil treatment.
Since Modafinil turns into Adrafinil after ingestion, taking large doses of Adrafinil may cause Orofacial Dyskinesia (involuntary nervous ticks) in people taking it for the treatment of bipolar disorder, especially when other medical issues are present.
Note that Adrafinil is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an organization which monitors doping in international sports.
Adrafinil works fine on its own, but you can further enhance its benefits by stacking it with other memory and focus enhancing products.
Noopept is a mild cognitive enhancer with some psychostimulant effects. For extended periods of study or other mental work, stack 150mg of Adrafinil and 10mg of Noopept once or twice a day.
Fish oil is a common supplement with dozens of health-promoting effects, including increased memory and cognitive abilities. Stack fish oil with Adrafinil and/or natural energy sources inducing B-complex vitamins if you prefer a moderate, conventional stack.
You can also stack Adrafinil with phenylpiracetam or piracetam for concentration and productivity.
If you want to take a nootropic to enhance learning ability and memory, but aren’t sure if Adrafinil will work for you, here are a few other cognitive enhancers and how they measure up to Adrafinil.
The European Medicine Agency (EMA) approved Pitolisant to treat narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness. Pitolisant works by activating the brain’s histamine H3 receptors, which causes people to become more alert.
A European double-blind study showed that narcolepsy patients given Pitolisant experienced wakefulness without the side effects of Modafinil. Since Adrafinil metabolizes into Modafinil after you take it, we can deduce that Pitolisant is also safer to take than Adrafinil for most people.
Pitolisant Vs. Adrafinil Comparison
- Pitolisant has few side effects compared to Adrafinil
- There are few dependable online suppliers of Pitolisant; you can buy Adrafinil on Amazon.com and other online stores.
- Although deemed safe and effective in studies and cleared for use in the EU, there’s little information on it from American sources
Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica), an odorless, parsley-like herb traditionally used to treat fatigue and wounds, stimulates the growth of new brain cells by stimulating the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Despite its name, Gotu kola contains no caffeine and isn’t related to the cola nut. It protects the brain by releasing antioxidants to fight damaging free radicals and neurotoxins that cause brain fog and memory loss.
Gotu Kola Vs. Adrafinil Comparison
- Gotu kola is an herbal supplement used for thousands of years. Adrafinil was first sold to the public in 1985.
- Adrafinil isn’t as safe as Gotu Kola, but it has more powerful wakefulness properties.
- Gotu kola is a good alternative if you want to enhance cognition with an herbal remedy instead of chemicals.
Oxiracetam is a member of the family of synthetic compounds called racetams. These compounds protect against cognitive decline and enhance learning. Research shows it reduces cognitive decline in patients 65 and older. It modulates two neurotransmitters necessary for memory retention – acetylcholine and glutamine.
Oxiracetam vs. Adrafinil Comparison
- Oxiracetam is safe for most users when taken in high doses or for long periods of time. Adrafinil can only be taken safely for up to five months.
- Adrafinil is a stronger stimulant than Oxiracetam.
- Oxiracetam doesn’t impair sleep quality, but taking Adrafinil will cause sleeplessness if taken later in the day.
Adrafinil offers a relatively safe and efficient way to stay awake and focused.
If you find vitamins and herbal remedies may not be strong enough for you, but racetams and other nootropics are too strong (and have too many side effects), Adrafinil may be the right choice for you.
You don’t need a prescription to buy it, like Modafinil, and it’s legal for personal use in the U.S. and Canada.
It’s inexpensive, and worth a try for healthy individuals who need a boost in brain power and concentration.