The nootropics trend has been gaining popularity ever since the 2011 movie Limitless. The famed “Limitless pill” basically gives one superhuman mental abilities. Namely, the ability to learn a new language to fluency within hours, or writing half a novel in a day. Physically, it provides one with superhuman reflexes and complete control over one’s movements.
Obviously, that belongs to the world of science fiction. Still, there are some nootropics that can provide a significant boost in mental abilities, as well as enhanced physical function.
Are you interested in enhancing your mental and physical energy with substances that are incredibly safe? Here’s a list of thirteen nootropics that will help you do just that:
14 Nootropics That Boost Energy Levels
I had to put Modafinil at the top of the list. Its potency and few side effects have led to it being known as “the closest thing to the Limitless pill” and “the world’s first safe smart drug”. While it certainly won’t give you superpowers, Modafinil is about as effective as a smart drug can get.
The most obvious effect of Modafinil is the wakeful and alert state that one feels. This makes it ideal for working or studying for extended periods of time. Modafinil is also mildly stimulating in a manner that is slightly more obvious than caffeine. This encourages physical, as well as mental activity. The “focus factor” is also a major plus. One can maintain focus with ease, as well as effortlessly switch from one task to another. A word of caution, though. If you plan on working and studying, make sure to turn off any other distractions. You may end up scrolling Facebook or watching Youtube videos for hours on end instead of actually being productive.
Adrafinil was invented in 1974 by Lafon Laboratories in France. Doctors were actually testing to design an analgesic when it happened. Adrafinil is a prodrug to Modafinil, meaning that it converts to Modafinil once it’s processed in the liver. Adrafinil basically generates the same effects as Modafinil, since it’s the same active substance that reaches the brain in the end. However, it’s two times less potent and it takes longer to kick in. Adrafinil is regarded as a dietary supplement in the US, Australia, Canada and many other parts of the world.
Piracetam is a nootropic that enhances focus, as well as memory retention and recall. It was invented in 1964 by Romanian chemist Corneliu E. Giurgea. Piracetam is the first ever substance to be coined a “nootropic”.
Also, it’s the least potent member of the racetam family and the least diverse in effects. Piracetam is mildly stimulating and this aspect isn’t at the top of users’ reasons for using Piracetam. Piracetam provides a noticeable enhancement in mental acuity, concentration, verbal fluency and creativity. This may be caused by the fact that piracetam increases blood flow within the brain, as well as synaptic plasticity.
Piracetam increases acetylcholine production, which explains the increase in memory and focus. Thus, choline levels are depleted and users are required to combine piracetam and racetams in general with citicoline, Alpha-GPC or choline bitartrate so as to avoid headaches. Furthermore, piracetam has been proven to have neuroprotective properties, both in healthy people, as well as those who have just suffered a stroke.
Noopept is a peptitde and a member of the racetam class of nootropics. It was developed in 1996 as a cognitive enhancer and a treatment for age-related memory issues. Noopept stimulates the production of two important brain chemicals that are responsible for memory retention and recall. Its mechanism of action is the same as other racetams, namely by acting on the cholinergic function.
Noopept is one of the most potent racetams in existence. It’s said to be 100 times more potent than Piracetam. That may sound grandiose, but Noopept is a nootropic, and most nootropics have a certain threshold that makes heavy consumption futile. Noopept is 100 times more potent than Piracetam in the sense that you would need 100 times less the amount to feel the full effects. Noopept primarily boosts focus, concentration, clarity and creativity. It’s also mildly stimulating in a manner that is slightly less obvious than that of caffeine.
Phenylpiracetam is another powerful member of the “racetam” family. Users compare it to Modafinil in terms of potency and effects. While it is similar in effects, the mechanism of action is different. An added phenyl group to piracetam makes phenylpiracetam similar to amphetamines, both structurally and effect-wise. This added phenyl group makes phenylpiracetam surprisingly stimulating, an effect that is quite different when compared to most other racetams which are mildly stimulating at most.
Phenylpiracetam enhances focus, memory recall and it also provides anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. It was used by Russian cosmonauts to help mitigate the effects of stress during space voyages without impeding cognitive functions.
6. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola is one of the most potent herbal tonics known to man. It’s been in use for centuries in Asian, Russian and Scandinavian medicine. Rhodiola Rosea was popular centuries ago because it helped people better cope with harsh conditions and retain vigor in the face of energy-depleting weather. The herb is incredibly effective in combating fatigue. If you feel tired after a hard workday or a couple of consecutive courses, a Rhodiola supplement will help put you back in the zone. This applies to those having to work long shifts as well.
7. Panax Ginseng
There are almost a dozen species of ginseng, yet the ones that are used as nootropics are American Ginseng or Asian Ginseng. Panax Ginseng is the Asian type and “panax” literally translates from Greek as “cure-all”. Asian Ginseng is one of the most well researched herbal nootropics in the world.
It was proven many times to be effective in increasing cognitive abilities, as well as energy levels. Like Rhodiola, Panax Ginseng is an adaptogen through its increase in GABA levels. Furthermore, this herb is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Hence, Panax Ginseng can be effective as an anti-depressant, as well as a treatment for mild ADHD. Also, it boosts ATP production by shielding the mitochondria through its antioxidant effects.
8. Smart caffeine (L-theanine + caffeine)
Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed stimulants in the world. Everyone and their moms have had at least one cup-of-joe in their lifetime. Caffeine provides wakefulness, stimulation and focus by acting as an adenosine receptor antagonist. It’s quite effective in doing so, and many people seem to forget that caffeine is a psychoactive drug. Still, the effects can get uncomfortable when reaching a certain threshold. As you increase dosage, the likelihood of experiencing the jitters increases.
L-Theanine is an amino-acid that is typically found in green tea, though widely available as a supplement, as well. It produces relaxing effects and it improves focus. The two synergize to produce an energetic, yet relaxed and focused feeling that is ideal for productivity during stressful periods.
This derivative of piracetam is similar to phenylpiracetam in its effects. It’s mildly stimulating both mentally and physically. Also, it increases alertness and motivation levels. Oxiracetam is one of the more stimulating members of the racetam family. On top of that, it’s also a potent memory boster, especially in areas that require logic and reasoning.
Oxiracetam works by modulating glutamatergic and cholinergic systems. Hence, it directly impacts acetylcholine and glutamate. Also, oxiracetam increases neural communication in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and emotion.
10. LSD microdosing
Microdosing LSD has been gaining popularity in recent years. While LSD is a psychedelic drug that was very popular as a recreational drug in the hippie era, Silicon Valley professionals and many others use it for entirely different reasons. Small doses of 5-20mg (less than 1/10 of a dose) can be used to increase creativity, motivation, clear-headedness, wakefulness and energy levels.
Microdosing psychedelics encourages new connections in the brain by blocking existing ones, thus allowing users to experience less biased points of view. LSD imitates serotonin when it enters the brain and it also increases dopamine levels. Microdosing LSD is famous for encouraging flow states. A flow state basically means when you’re “in the zone”. More precisely, when productivity and pleasure levels are both high when doing a certain task such as working or studying.
Sulbutiamine is a synthetic derivative of vitamin B1 (thiamine) that was developed as a treatment for chronic fatigue. It’s especially useful for those who are thiamine-deficient, although healthy users can also noticeably benefit from its effects.
Sulbutiamine enhances memory through its upregulation of acetylcholine production. Also, it promotes a wakeful state of mind and increased energy levels through its increase in glutamate, the key excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Last but not least, mood plays an important part in the whole sulbutiamine experience. In addition to glutamate, dopamine levels are also increased, which further contributes to the wakefulness factor, as well as motivation. Sulbutiamine has been proven to benefit those suffering from major depressive disorder by helping them function better in their personal and professional lives.
L-Tyrosine is an amino-acid that is essential in physical, as well as mental function. It’s a precursor to norepinephrine, dopamine and adrenaline, three key neurotransmitters. L-Tyrosine can be found in high-protein foods and the body produces enough on its own, making supplementation unnecessary for healthy cognitive and physical function. However, it does indeed produce nootropic effects when taken as a supplement.
Most notably, L-tyrosine helps the mind function properly under stressful conditions. This can greatly benefit people with demanding or risky jobs. It’s also effective in combating fatigue, even in those who are sleep-deprived. It counters the cognitive-impeding effects of sleep deprivation. L-Tyrosine can boost productivity by increasing working memory, thus making difficult tasks less challenging. Furthermore, one can switch from one task to another with greater ease. This is mostly attributed to the increase in dopamine that L-tyrosine provides. L-Tyrosine can also be greatly beneficial to those who suffer from ADHD. People with ADHD are known to have low levels of L-tyrosine.
Sunifiram is a derivative of piracetam that was first synthesized in the year 2000 by scientists working at the University of Firenze. It’s quite similar to piracetam, though anecdotal reports say that it’s much more energizing. Even low doses of sunifiram are enough to boost cognition, mood and energy levels. There are no known severe side effects and its toxicity is non-existent.
Not a lot is known about sunifiram, as it’s still considered an experimental drug in the US and many other countries. Still, there are many positive reports about it. Its mechanism of action is similar to piracetam, and acetylcholine is the main neurotransmitter that is influenced. Hence, the headaches may occur for the same reason, namely acetylcholine depletion. Furthermore, it alters your senses, making you more aware of your surroundings. Sunifiram also causes mild euphoria that will make you more confident in your decisions.
Also called ALCAR, the last nootropic on the list is a naturally-occurring micronutrient that is beneficial for both the body and the mind. Aside from its immediate cognitive-enhancing effects, ALCAR also has long-term neuroprotective properties.
ALCAR is a precursor to acetylcholine, making it great for combining it with other acetylcholine-based nootropics such as piracetam or other nootropics such as sunifiram. Furthermore, ALCAR increases serotonin and norepinephrine while decreasing GABA levels. It’s been shown to be an effective anti-depressant and anti-fatigue medication. ALCAR is very safe and well tolerated. Side effects are indeed rare and are mostly felt when one exaggerates dosage.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, you’ve got quite a lot of choices to boost your energy levels in a safe way. Of course, there’s more to nootropics than mental energy. You’ll want focus, memory, clear-headedness, open-mindedness, and the list can continue, of course.
Nootropics won’t magically make you remarkable. It is our job to regard them as a tool and to make a habit out of striving for our goals. Also, you may find that one nootropic may benefit you more than others. Fortunately, the “palette” of nootropics is diverse. It’s up to you to experiment and see which one works best for you.