What Are Nootropics? Beginner Friendly Guide to Nootropics

“Man is not going to wait passively for millions of years before evolution offers him a better brain.”
― Corneliu E Giurgea

In 1964, Cornelius E. Giurgea (chemist and psychologist) synthesized the first nootropic and named it Piracetam. To earn the name nootropic, he stated that the compound should have the following characteristics.

  • Enhance learning ability and memory
  • Enhance resistance against learned behaviors (e.g. shock and hypoxia)
  • Protect the brain against physical or chemical injuries
  • They should have few side effects and have low toxicity
  • Improvement in both conscious and subconscious behaviors

The word nootropics are derived from the Greek words nous and train, which means “to bend the mind.”

To bend the mind can sound terrifying for some people but it’s important to understand that your mind is flexible and adaptive (neuroplasticity) and can improve overall cognition over time.

There are both natural and synthesized nootropics. Their intention is to:

  • Enhance creativity
  • Enhance energy
  • Enhance sleep
  • Improve mood
  • Increase physical performance
  • Improve attention span
  • Prevent Neurodegeneration
  • Protect brain cells
  • Allowing new patterns of thoughts
  • And much more


Neurotransmitters or brain chemicals control your mood, emotions, and other sensation. There are more than 100 of them and more are yet to be found.

With nootropics, you alter your brain chemistry to improve cognitive function, and overall health.

That may sound crazy, but be mindful that people affect their neurotransmitters every day with food.

Commonly with coffee and doughnuts, but those to more harm than good and won’t improve brain performance. Every bite you take either helps or hurt your neurotransmitters.

And some foods even deplete them.

Here is where nootropics step in to improve your cognitive function. For a while, or for a lifetime.

You don’t have to be a neuroscientist to understand the significant benefits of nootropics fully; you just need to balance them for optimal brain function.

Let’s quickly discuss the most common neurotransmitters and what they do.


This infamous neurotransmitter plays a role in; mood, behavior, appetite, sleep quality, sexual desire and function.


Dopamine neurotransmitters are responsible for pleasure, reward, drive, and personal motivation. People with low dopamine levels may have trouble getting out of the bed in the morning.


Acetylcholine has a huge responsibility for both the nervous system and the physical body (like most neurotransmitters). And it’s also important for memory and learning.


GABA is recommended for its anti-anxiety and relaxing effects, it also enables you to cope with stressful situations much better.

GABA improves memory and study capacity. And many other brain functions.

When you make a huge boost in serotonin levels and a slight boost in GABA, you can create an effect to reduce social anxiety.

How to get the most out of nootropics?

Water and brain function are related.   Lack of water causes lack of focus, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, sleep issues, depression, anger, and much more.

The best nootropic supplements are those who have good absorption rate, free from toxins, and have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

The brain needs water to produce neurotransmitters. So drink a lot of water when you use nootropics.

Balance is everything

Changing your health and achieving a healthy balance is the key to optimal brain performance.

Just because one nootropic gives one neurotransmitter heaven, doesn’t mean you should be taking more of it.

We humans should be happy and healthy by nature. But because of artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, processed foods, TV, and other stuff that make you forget how normal brain function feels like.

Having a balanced brain chemistry is rare and therefore, nootropics can make a huge impact in your daily life. You’re a unique human being and your result when altering your brain chemistry will vary.

Maybe a friend you know can drink a lot of coffee and do well, doesn’t necessary you will too.

You might experience that coffee makes you shaky and anxious because you have low levels of the calming chemical GABA.

All this means that you need to find the right balance that suits you. With that said, nootropics are important more than ever now.

[alert-note]One good reason why supplements are powerful is that they absorb minerals and other compounds from the soil to create the therapeutic components. Therefore, Supplements should be cultivated organic whenever possible so you can get all the necessary nutrients.[/alert-note]

Classes of nootropics


Racetams is the class of nootropics that was created to improve memory, they were developed in 1960 and has become popular and widely used.

Racetams also improves cognitive performance, and attention span.

The results you get is determined by your unique biochemistry, tolerance, and where you’re standing right now in terms of balance.


This is a unique category of natural nootropics – herbs, plants, and nutrients, or other compounds that help the body to handle stress and adapt to stressful circumstances and situations.

Adaptogens Herbs have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine; it’s an excellent choice to put in your nootropic stack. Because they can help you with:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Mental and physical stress
  • Neuroprotection
  • Depression


Cholinergic interact with acetylcholine system in different ways. When you take this kind of nootropics, you’re enhancing learning and memory.

And the following:

  • Increased memory recall
  • Multitask without fatigue or confusion
  • Better decision-making
  • Increased confidence

Choline found in eggs is useful for the brain but doesn’t induce nootropic effects. Alpha-GPC is another type of choline that penetrates the blood-brain barrier, which leaves you with enhanced brain function.


Like discussed earlier, serotonin is linked to mood, social behavior, appetite, and other functions. Supplements that works with serotonin is called Serotonergic.

Balancing your serotonin levels can leave you with:

  • Learning new things with ease
  • Increased relaxation
  • Motivated to handle life
  • Sense of “everything is okay”
  • Reduce anxiety


Dopamine has enormous responsibilities for overall cognition. Enhancing dopamine levels can leave you with:

  • Increased alertness
  • Improved sense of clarity
  • Increased motivation

The goal is to find where you’re lacking neurotransmitters and then trying to re-balance them with nootropics. Identify the symptoms you’ve got and start from there and get the neurotransmitters back in business.

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