Ultimate Guide to Nootropics

The Ultimate Guide To Maximizing Productivity With Nootropics


Guide to Nootropics - Brain PillsCongratulations, you’ve just found the most accurate and informative nootropics guide in the entire universe!

This is Bradley Cooper from Limitless, and I’m actually on NZT while I’m writing this guide right now…

Okay, I’m not Bradley Cooper, and I’m not on NZT…but I AM a certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, and I AM currently on the most effective natural nootropic I’ve ever tried while writing this.

Let me be 100% transparent with you all about my goal with this guide…this is NOT going to be just another list of product recommendations like you’d find on any other website.

This guide is going to make YOU the expert on nootropics so that you don’t have to read third party reviews or take advice on nootropics from some random guy on the internet…

As a certified NWC, I know supplements better than just about anyone, and I’ve personally tried just about everything there is to try…

I’m going to teach you how to evaluate nootropic supplements, which ingredients work, why those specific ingredients work, what to look for on nootropic supplement nutrition labels, and much more…

This guide is designed to eliminate the need for you to take my word or anybody else’s word when it comes to nootropic supplements…I’m going to show you how to decide whether a nootropic is worth your money or not without help from anyone else.

By the time you finish this guide, you will become the expert. Your friends will think you majored in neuroscience in college when they hear you talking about nootropics…

If you want to feel like Bradley Cooper on NZT, you are in the right place…I feel that way right now and I’m going to show you what I take and why it works in the following sections.

Let’s do this!

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: What Are Nootropics?

Chapter 2: Natural Nootropics Vs. Prescription Medications

Chapter 3: Low Productivity Levels & The Benefits of Nootropics

Chapter 4: The Science Behind Nootropics

Chapter 5: How To Read Nootropic Supplement Nutrition Labels

Chapter 6: Nootropic Supplement Side Effects

Bonus Chapter: How We Arrived At Our Decision For Our #1 Ranked Best Nootropic 

Chapter 1: What Are Nootropics?


Natural Nootropics vs PrescriptionsIf you didn’t understand the references to the Limitless movie in the intro and you don’t know what NZT is, no need to worry…although, you should definitely watch that movie.

NZT was a pill that Bradley Cooper took in the movie, and it essentially transformed him into a genius by maximizing his brain function and optimizing his neurochemistry…

People thought that this was just a movie and the results he experienced were impossible to achieve…well, turns out those people were wrong.

That’s right, supplement science is so advanced nowadays, that supplement companies have been able to create products that function similarly to NZT in the movie Limitless.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these supplements will not actually turn you into a genius. And more importantly, they are not illegal, addictive chemicals like NZT was in the movie.

Nootropics are supplements that optimize your neurochemistry and enhance your brain function through the use of natural, clinically tested, safe, non-addictive ingredients…

The problem is, there are about a million of these supplements on the market, and only about 2% of them actually work…most companies used the nootropic craze as an opportunity to make a bunch of cash off of a scam pill.

BUT, there are a few companies out there that actually wanted to create nootropics that work, and a couple of them succeeded….

We’re going to talk about what the effective supplements contain that makes them work, but first, let’s discuss the differences between nootropics and prescription drugs such as Adderall…

Chapter 2: Natural Nootropics Vs. Prescription Medications


Option #1: Prescription Chemicals

Natural Nootropics vs. medsMany people who are seeking to enhance their brain function for whatever reason (better performance at their jobs, improved ability to study and retain information, enhanced performance on exams, etc.) unfortunately turn to prescription drugs.

If you’re someone who was actually diagnosed with A.D.D. or A.D.H.D, that’s a different story, and you should only take advice on this subject from an actual doctor.

But if you buy prescription drugs from friends or co-workers in order to boost your productivity levels, this section is important for you to read…

If you use prescription drugs without a prescription, so in other words, you do not actually need those drugs, you could experience pretty rough side effects both in the short term and the long term.

Here is a list of side effects people experience when using prescription ADD/ADHD drugs

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Sweaty palms

I’ll never understand why a person would ever take these drugs if they’re not prescribed them…unless they simply don’t know that natural alternatives exist.

Yea, prescription drugs are super effective, but at what cost? And did you know that several safer alternatives have been clinically tested and proven to be just as effective, if not more effective in some instances?

Option #2: Natural Remedies

Clinical testing of natural remedies for enhancing brain function has produced a lot of very compelling data…in chapter 4, we’re going to talk about specific ingredients and we will reference clinical studies that have proven those ingredients to work.

Supplement companies have created what are now widely known as nootropics, which usually consist of several natural ingredients combined into one comprehensive formula.

The primary goal of these supplements is to boost your Acetylcholine levels because Acetylcholine plays a crucial role in learning, memory, and overall brain function…

But is there one ingredient you can take that will produce this effect, or do you need to create what’s commonly referred to as a “nootropic stack.”

Nootropic Stacking Vs. Comprehensive Supplements

Some people choose to take single ingredient nootropics, but we do not recommend this method for a very simple reason…why would you supplement with just one effective ingredient when you could be combining it with several other effective ingredients?

What do you think would work better…one clinically proven ingredient, or seven?

The only situation in which taking one ingredient instead of a comprehensive supplement makes sense is if you can only afford to buy one ingredient…

So, moving on from single ingredient nootropic supplementation, let’s talk about nootropic stacks and comprehensive supplements.

Nootropic stacking is when you buy several individual ingredients and combine them together in attempt to essentially create your own nootropic formula…

Stacking can be fun to mess around with, and it definitely can be effective.

However, why would you do all that research and spend all that money when you can just buy a comprehensively formulated nootropic supplement that was created by a company who has already done all of the research for you?

Not to mention, these companies have a lot more money than you, so they get the ingredients at much lower costs, which means it’s much cheaper for you to buy one of their supplements than to try to create your own.

In conclusion…single ingredient solutions are weak and pointless, nootropic stacking is tedious and expensive, and comprehensive nootropic supplements are the way to go.

Chapter 3: Low Productivity Levels & The Benefits of Nootropics

Do You Have ADD?

If you struggle with paying attention, studying, learning information, retaining information, memorization, or you have any other symptoms that ultimately impede your brain function and prevent you from being productive, then you can benefit from using a nootropic.

Any person on the planet who wants to boost their brain function and elevate productivity levels can benefit from a nootropic, but it’s still important to make sure you don’t actually have ADD or ADHD first.

If you do, you should certainly consult your doctor before trying nootropics.

Here is a list of the most common symptoms of ADD/ADHD…

  • Impulsivity
  • Aggressiveness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Short attention span
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Note that there is a difference between ADD and ADHD. If you want to learn more about the difference between these two as well as other attention deficit disorders, check out this article from WebMD: ADD & ADHD Symptoms & Types

The Benefits of Nootropic Supplements

Now that we’ve discussed the issues and symptoms that come with ADD/ADHD, let’s talk about what nootropics can do for you…

I want to stress once more that nootropics can benefit anyone!

If you’re a student looking to get better grades or perform better on exams, nootropics can be an absolute game changer for you…I know they certainly were for me when I was studying to become a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant.

Nootropics are also used by wall street guys and business men in order to maximize their productivity levels and boost energy…now that nootropics have become immensely popular, they’ve begun to replace prescription drugs and other illicit substances that these people used to enhance performance back in the day.

Here’s a list of the most commonly reported benefits of supplementing with a nootropic…

  • Enhanced focus
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better short term memory
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved information retention
  • Higher productivity levels
  • Greater mental output
  • Mood improvements
  • Sense of enlightenment

So, here’s the point in the article where most of you are probably thinking that this has to be too good to be true…it really sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Well, we’ve got good news for you…you don’t have to take our word for it!

Advanced laboratories and supplement manufacturers have really mastered the science behind nootropics, and in the following section, we’re going to go over the science and provide you with links to clinical studies proving the science is legit. 

Chapter 4: The Science Behind Nootropics


What is the science behind nootropicsWe don’t believe in making our readers “take our word for it” when it comes to supplements, so here we are giving you all the scientific data you need to be confident that what we’re saying is true…

This is really the turning point of this guide…this is where the speculation stops, and the science begins.

In this chapter, we’re talking strictly about facts, clinical data, reported benefits from actual users of the ingredients, and last but not least, we will provide reference links to the scientific studies our conclusions are based on.

We are NOT going to be talking about any nootropics or nootropic ingredients that do NOT work…

This chapter will cover the 7 most clinically proven, scientifically supported nootropic ingredients known to man.

Here is a list of the top 7 most research backed nootropic ingredients…

  • Beta Phenylethylamine HCL
  • Alpha GPC
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Huperzine
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Ginkgo Biloba

In my opinion, the most effective nootropic stack you could make for yourself would be these 7 ingredients combined into one stack…that would be a super kickass nootropic stack.

The thing is, some of these ingredients can be hard to find, expensive, and trying to find out what dosage for each one is a daunting task…

There’s only one supplement out there that contains all 7 of these ingredients, which is the one that I personally take every morning.

There are certainly other high quality nootropic supplements out there, but this is just the only one I know of that contains every ingredient on my checklist.

Anyways, let’s talk about the science…

Beta Phenylethylamine HCL has been shown to enhance overall brain function, improve concentration, and boost productivity levels when taken on a regular basis and properly dosed. The reason it is perhaps the most effective nootropic ingredient out there is the effect it has on dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain.

These neurotransmitters play a crucial role in boosting attentiveness, alertness, and cognitive function. No other nootropic ingredient can directly increase your dopamine and norepinephrine levels simultaneously, which is what makes Beta Phenylethylamine such an attractive option when it comes to nootropics.

Here are some clinical studies that show how Beta Phenylethylamine works…

Study: Action of Beta Phenylethylamine on Nigrostriatal Dopamine Neurotransmission

Study: Psychopharmacological and Clinical Aspects of Beta Phenylethylamine

Alpha GPC (Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine) is an extremely powerful neurotransmitter that allows brain cells to efficiently communicate with each other. Supplementing with Alpha GPC has been shown to boost Acetylcholine production in the brain, which has an extremely potent effect on the user’s mental performance.

Acetylcholine is believed to be the most important neurotransmitter when it comes to any processes involving memory, learning, or information retention, which is why boosting Acetylcholine levels is the key to enhancing brain function.

Here are some clinical studies that show how Alpha GPC improves brain function…

Study: The Effect of Alpha GPC on Cognition and Brain Acetylcholine

Study: The Effect of Alpha GPC on Cognitive Function, Mood, Speed, and Agility

Phosphatidylserine is the cornerstone of any effective nootropic supplement. If you don’t see this one on the label, I’d recommend just avoiding that supplement entirely. Phosphatidylserine plays a role in the production of Acetylcholine and Dopamine, and therefore can already be found in your brain.

However, when you supplement with it and thereby provide your brain with more of it, studies show it may speed up mental recall, improve concentration, and counteract many of the symptoms that come with ADD/ADHD.

Some studies even show that Phosphatidylserine may prevent cognitive decline that most people believe inevitably comes with age.

Here are some clinical studies supporting Phosphatidylserine as an effective nootropic…

Study: The Effects of Phosphatidylserine Supplementation on Cognitive Functioning

Study: Phosphatidylserine and The Human Brain

Study: The Influence of Phosphatidylserine on Cognition in Age-associated Memory Impairment

Huperzine plays an extremely important role when it comes to nootropics. While it does not directly boost Acetylcholine levels, which again is the primary goal of nootropic supplements, it does inhibit acetylcholinesterase, which is the enzyme that breaks down Acetylcholine.

By inhibiting this enzyme, Huperzine is able to prevent Acetylcholine from being destroyed. Therefore, if you combine Huperzine with ingredients that boost Acetylcholine levels, this will produce a synergistic effect. The other ingredients will boost Acetylcholine, and Huperzine will ensure your newfound Acetylcholine does not get destroyed.

Here are some clinical studies on the effects Huperzine has on brain function…

Study: Huperzine A For Treatment of Cognitive Impairment

Study: Neuroprotective Effects of Huperzine A

Bacopa Monnieri contains a high concentration of the active compound Bacosides which has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain. The effect it has on the brain is especially significant when it comes to learning new information, processing new information, and memorization.

Bacopa has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can be a much needed additional benefit for a lot of people.

Here are some clinical studies about how Bacopa Monnieri effects the brain…

Study: Neuropharmacological Review of the Nootropic Herb Bacopa Monnieri

Study: Effects of Standardized Bacopa Monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression

Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to play a role in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. When standardized to a high enough percentage of Salidroside and Rosavins, it has been shown to produce anti-agining effects in the brain due to its antioxidant properties.

Studies have also shown that it improves the brains resistance to high levels of stress, which makes it a perfect fit in the context of a nootropic formula. Most people who use nootropics are under a high level of stress, which is why ingredients like Rhodiola can be super helpful.

Here are some clinical studies showing the effects of Rhodiola Rosea on the brain…

Study: Rhodiola Rosea for Physical and Mental Fatigue

Study: Neuroprotective Effect of Rhodiola Rosea

Ginkgo Biloba has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which produces a wide array of cognition related benefits for the user. Ginkgo contains what are known as Flavone Glycosides, which have been shown to be extremely beneficial for the brain when regularly supplemented. Users have reported better concentration and many other benefits related to ADD symptom relief.

Here are some clinical studies about how Ginkgo Biloba effects the brain…

Study: Examining Brain Cognition Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract

Study: Effects of Ginkgo Biloba on Cerebral Blood Flow

Chapter 5: How To Read Nootropic Supplement Nutrition Labels


how to read nootropic labelsAfter reading chapter 4, you now know exactly what ingredients to look for on the nutrition labels of nootropic supplements, and more importantly, you know why those specific ingredients are what you should be looking for.

Now, let’s talk about some other aspects of the label you need to pay attention to in order to really determine the quality and efficacy of a supplement before spending your money on it.

Overall Potency 

Overall potency is simple…you want to get the most bang for your buck as possible, right? That means you want as many nutrients to be packed in every serving as you can get, which is why it’s important to be able to calculate overall potency.

All you have to do is add up the dosage sizes of each individual ingredient per serving, and then you will have the overall potency…or in other words, you’ll know how many milligrams of nutrients you are being given in every serving.

With nootropics, we tend to look for an overall potency of at least 1,200 milligrams per serving. 1,200-1,500 milligrams per serving is the sweet spot in our opinion.

So, what do you do if the individual dosages for each ingredient are not on the label?

Proprietary Blends (Bad News)

If you don’t see the individual dosages on the label, that means the supplement uses a proprietary blend.


The use of a proprietary blend allows the supplement company to leave the dosage sizes undisclosed, which is a huge problem for us…

I don’t know about you, but I like to know exactly what I’m putting into my body, and I can’t know that if a proprietary blend is present…therefore, I always recommend avoiding proprietary blends.

Chapter 6: Nootropic Supplement Side Effects


Side Effects of brain pillsUnlike prescription medications, nootropic supplement side effects are generally very rare. Most people don’t report side effects IF they are using a supplement that uses the right ingredients in the proper dosages.

When people take bad supplements, or exceed the recommended dosage to experience more benefits, that’s when they experience side effects.

Therefore, we recommend never exceeding the recommended dosage, and making sure you evaluate the quality of a nootropic supplement before investing in it.

Last but not least, it can’t hurt to show the supplement to your doctor and see what he/she thinks…this is always a good idea.

With all that being said, here is a list of some side effects people have reported when using nootropic supplements…

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Jitters (usually only if the caffeine dosage is too high)
  • Anxiety (is the supplement lacks an anti-anxiety component) 

Bonus Chapter: How We Arrived At Our Decision For Our #1 Ranked Best Nootropic


the best nootropic brain pill supplementAt this point, you can evaluate our top ranked nootropic on your own, but we’ll give you a brief overview of why it’s our favorite nootropic.

Here’s a list of qualities that make it our top choice…

  • Contains all 7 of the most clinically proven nootropic ingredients
  • Does not use a proprietary blend
  • High overall potency
  • Users do not report side effects
  • Consumer feedback is positive
  • Clinical dosage sizes are used
  • Formula is completely natural
  • Ingredients are properly standardized

We hope you got a tremendous amount of value out of this guide, and we wish you the best of luck on your journey into the world of nootropics.

If you want to learn more about our top ranked nootropic, click the link below…

#1 Best Nootropic Supplement of 2018 Review


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Joe Costello
Nutrition & Wellness Consultant
Joe Costello is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), author, and internet blogger. Joe has more than 9 years of experience in the sports nutrition industry and over 3 years of experience as a supplement and nutrition blogger. As a certified NWC who specializes in dietary supplements, Joe strives to deliver accurate, comprehensive, and research-backed information to his readers. You can find more of Joe’s work including his E-Books about fitness and nutrition at his official website joecostellonwc.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, or YouTube. Joe Costello is one of the founders of TheSupplementReviews.org and years after the creation of the site, partnered with TEK Naturals, a nutritional supplement company.