Now that you know what nootropics are, the amount of different nootropics available for sale on any merchant’s website will hit you with information overload. Each one sounds pretty good if you look at them all. So how do you select the right one to start with?
You’re free to try any nootropic out there, but we always recommend starting with a nootropic that’s popular. Our reasoning is pretty simple. If a nootropic is introduced and it works for the vast majority of people, then positive field reports will begin popping up, and it will only grow in popularity. If a nootropic is introduced and it doesn’t work, or people experience horrible side effects from it, then it won’t get picked up by the public and as a result of that, won’t become popular in terms of sales. At Pure Nootropics, we try to provide the most popular nootropics that are third party tested for purity and your safety.
Here are a few nootropics for you to dive in on. We’ll give you the name, the effects, and why we think that it’s a good beginner nootropic, aside from the popularity factor. We’ll begin with discussion of some of the racetams.
Our #1 recommended beginner nootropic is piracetam. It’s a good “all-around” nootropic. Here are the effects:
- Enhanced memory for both the short and long term – you retain information at a higher rate than if you weren’t using piracetam with things like word meanings, names, photographic memory, etc.
- Less “brain fog” – you feel sharp and alert at all times, even when you’re doing mundane or effortless tasks like walking along the road or filing papers.
- Better vocabulary recollection – you’re able to think of the right word when you need it, instead of compromising with a weak word like “nice” or “good”.
- Faster thought articulation – you can speak what’s on your mind faster, and you won’t stumble as much over your words when you’re trying to get an idea out.
- Boosted motivation – in some cases, you’ll feel more ready to take on the day, and you’ll be more excited to move forward in life instead of procrastinating.
- Less social anxiety – in some cases, you’ll feel more outgoing, and starting conversations with strangers won’t be difficult. Rather, it’ll come to you more easily.
We always recommend piracetam to the nootropic beginner for these four reasons:
- High rate of success – most users who try piracetam experience something positive from it, even if no other supplements are stacked with it. We’ll talk more about combining (stacking) other nootropics later, we’ll cover beginner nootropic stacks, and .
- Easy to measure – because of piracetam’s dosage (explained below), it’s easy to ensure that you’re getting the exact amount you need.
- Good all-around effects – you won’t always feel every effect from piracetam, but chances are, you’ll feel at least one or two.
- Cheap – as far as nootropics go, piracetam is on the less expensive end of the spectrum.
Dosing + how to take piracetam
It’s usually recommended that you take 2.4 – 4.8g of piracetam per day, broken down into three doses of 0.8g – 1.6g each. The half life (time it takes to leave your system) for piracetam is just 2-3 hours, so by separating your doses out, you get all of the effects all day instead of just at the start of your day.
You can either mix piracetam with a drink or take it in capsules. Pure nootropics offers both capsules and pure piracetam powder that is third party tested. If going with powder we recommend mixing it with a flavored drink as piracetam itself doesn’t have a great taste, and that foul taste is only exacerbated if you mix it with water.
Some users experience headaches when initially trying out piracetam – it’s theorized that this is because piracetam interacts with your glutamate receptors and causes more glutamate to be absorbed by your brain. Acetylcholine balances out glutamate, so if you experience headaches, add in a choline supplement to get rid of them. (Choline sources are all converted to acetylcholine once you ingest them.) Another theorized reason for racetam headaches is because the racetam family of nootropics is believed to increase acetylcholine intake in the brain, causing low levels of acetylcholine and thus headaches. We offer a choline supplement for our customers that contains alpha GPC and citicholine called Optimal Choline Complex. For more information about the benefits of choline and how to supplement with choline for enhanced cognitive function be sure to check our our beginners guide to choline which you can find here.
You probably won’t experience the effects of piracetam the very first time you take it. Most users report that after 1-2 weeks of dosing, the effects start to kick in full-force. Just don’t give up on it, even if you feel nothing on your first couple of days, you’ll probably feel something if you remain consistent in your dosages.
Noopept is the “new kid on the block” – it’s one of the newest (invented in 1996), most popular nootropics on the market today.
The effects themselves are similar to piracetam, but there are a few key differences, explained below.
- Many users report that piracetam is more “in the background”, whereas you can notice the effects from noopept very easily.
- Noopept is considered 1000x as potent as piracetam, so your doses are much, much
- Many users report that memory improvement is far more pronounced with noopept, but less pronounced in terms of clearing brain fog and improving your articulation.
The dosage for noopept is much smaller than piracetam – in fact, you should only be taking 10mg to 40mg per day. Again, split this into three different doses, because piracetam and noopept have similar half-lives.
You will need a scale that goes to the hundredth’s place in order to dose noopept correctly if using powder. A scale can be found on Amazon for around $20. It’s impossible to eyeball something that small, and going overboard will only lead to waste. Make sure that your scale is calibrated correctly, too! Alternatively sublingual solutions are a great way of administering noopept.
Noopept is a fantastic nootropic for beginners because it’s so easy to take. You take so little that it doesn’t pollute your drink’s taste (water will still taste like water), and if you’re weighing it into capsules, you can use the smallest ones possible so that each dose is easy to swallow. (Some may have trouble swallowing 1.6g of piracetam in two pills, and taking multiple pills in a row can be slightly nauseating to those same people.)
We’d recommend starting with piracetam first, and then if you don’t like it or it doesn’t work, switching to noopept. Sometimes, users will feel effects from one when they don’t feel them from the other, depending upon factors such as genetic predisposition, dietary considerations, etc.
Aniracetam is for the creative personalities out there. Many of the effects are similar to piracetam, but there’s a creative spin on nearly all of them.
- Clearer, more fluid thoughts – if you have a rough idea for a creative project floating around in your mind, aniracetam will allow you to delve deeper into that and do so more effectively.
- More motivation – artistically, you’re the most motivated when you’re inspired. Many users report creative inspiration while taking aniracetam.
- Easy articulation – there’s a gap between thinking something and verbalizing it for others. For poets and writers, aniracetam should help you to take those thoughts or ideas and clearly transmit them to the world.
- Mild memory improvement – users report that information retention is slightly weaker with aniracetam, but definitely still present
We think that this is a good nootropic for beginners because of how measurable it is. You know yourself – how much creative or inspired thought do you have per day, and how much creative work do you actually produce per day? With aniracetam, you’ll notice both of those numbers increasing with consistency.
Examine.com recommends that you take approximately 1,000mg to 1,500mg per day, and again, split that amount into a couple separate doses. Aniracetam is fat soluble so it should ideally be taken with a meal or other source of fat (like milk).
If you want to go fast and not have your nootropic be “in the background”, oxiracetam is worth checking out. It has more stimulatory properties than other “racetams”while still having the general “all-around” effect.
Out of all of the standard racetam effects, memory capacity is the main benefit of oxiracetam. When taken, it improves your long term and short term memory capacities alike. On top of that, you get a mood boost, and although the working mechanism is again not known, many users report stimulant-like effects from oxiracetam without the crash once the substance’s effects wear off. Many like to use oxiracetam when working out as it allows them to push a little harder.
Oxiracetam is frequently recommended for the “grinders” out there – the programmers, the PhD students, etc. It’ll give you the energy surge that you need to complete a project, but you won’t crash off of it and have your next day’s work suffer. (In many labor-intensive fields, that’s simply not an option.)And because of the drastic memory improvements, you shouldn’t get lost in your project or forget what you did a day, two days, or even a week ago.
We recommend it for beginners because we are fully aware that there are those of you out there looking for stimulatory effects with your cognitive enhancing ones. And we don’t want you to turn to prescription enhancers – nootropics can do what you need to accomplish all by themselves as long as you use the right ones and in the right combinations.
The dosage for oxiracetam is up for debate. Some say that 800mg – 1,200mg per day is the right amount, whereas others say that they haven’t felt anything unless they hit 1,600mg – 2,400mg per day.
Let’s continue on with the energy theme. Some don’t consider adrafinil a nootropic, but it’s worth mentioning. Before going any further it should be noted that *drafinil enhancers can interact with oral contraceptives and make them less effective; prescriptions of Provigil (modafinil) for example, contain warnings about this interaction. We mention it here, because adrafinil is usually purchased as a powder without such information included, so females should know that it may reduce the efficacy of their birth control.
The appeal of adrafinil is very simple – you get energy without all of the extra baggage. Those who take any prescription stimulant (adderall, vyvanse, ritalin, etc.) know that there can be,and often are, unpleasant side effects associated with dosing.
Adrafinil isn’t as potent as these prescription enhancers, but it does give you energy without the crash. We recommend this one to beginners only if you’re looking for that energy boost without the physical addiction that prescription medications can bring about.
The effects can be condensed into two words: laser focus. Users report that you get “tunnel vision”, and the only thing important to you is the task at hand.Aside from the focus, though, users don’t report very many cognitive enhancing properties. Only use adrafinil if energy with intense focus is your main goal.
And be careful with it. Taking too much can keep you up all night. Start small. Usually, you can get adrafinil in pills of 200mg each. Start with half of one of those in the morning and see how you feel. You’ll also see a nootropic called modafinil for sale, Adrafinil is metabolized (converted) into modafinil when it goes through your digestive system. Both are very similar and usually similarly priced. Modafinil is very popular, and commonly thought to be the inspiration behind the movie Limitless. Dave Asprey and other notable biohackers have taken modafinil for years.
A fair warning: don’t take adrafinil every day unless you really need to. It’s a psychoactive enhancer, which means it affects those receptors only. This means that it’s not physically addicting like a enhancer that affected your dopamine would be. But the mental addiction is still there. It’s like if you’re a consistent coffee drinker, and then don’t get your morning coffee one day – you’re tired, sluggish, and irritated. That same thing can happen with adrafinil on a larger scale – but it won’t happen if you control your dosing properly.
L-theanine is an amino acid that comes from green tea and is considered more of a “helper” nootropic in that it doesn’t do a whole lot by itself, but when combined with caffeine, the compound helps to mitigate any negative side effects and let you use that oh-so-sweet caffeine energy boost to its fullest potential. The combination of caffeine and l-theanine is what powers our 1-2-Go energy/focus booster. This powerful combination of caffeine and l-theanine in a 1:2 ratio respectively has been studied and shown to reduce susceptibility to distraction and increase alertness.
- Jitters: L-theanine helps to control the jittery feeling that you get when you either have a low caffeine tolerance or have a tolerance but take a lot at once (multiple cups of coffee or tea within a few hours).
- Anxiety: L-theanine helps to reduce the feelings of anxiety (and general stress) that some people feel after taking caffeine, often manifested as an accelerated heart beat.
- Poor sleep: some have trouble sleeping after taking caffeine, even if consumed hours before bedtime. L-theanine helps to get rid of this mild and chemically induced insomnia.
If you’ve experienced problems with caffeine in the past, it’s worth trying it out with L-theanine mixed in. You might find that your negative feelings associated with caffeine are gone, or at least noticeably reduced. Regular caffeine drinkers can continue with their usual caffeine consumption amounts and just add in 200mg of L-theanine with their first cups of tea or coffee.
For those who don’t usually drink coffee, we wouldn’t recommend starting off with coffee or tea. Your tolerance is low, and the caffeine estimates in coffee can vary wildly based on who made the particular pot of coffee that you’re drinking. Same with tea. With such a low tolerance, unintentionally going overboard is unpleasant.
To solve this problem, you can try our 1-2-Go product as it contains an amount of caffeine (80mg) that is roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee and includes the proper amount of l-theanine (160mg) to balance the caffeine. Eventually, as you become accustomed to caffeine and your tolerance goes up, you can start drinking coffee or tea and then switch to a sublingual l-theanine or continue with something like 1-2-Go.
Nootropic: Bacopa Monnieri
Perhaps you’re already at the top of your game, but you struggle with memory retention. Bacopa Monnieri (“Bacopa”) is a nootropic that can improve your memory in terms of names, faces, and general information recall without giving you the extra effects that the racetams give you. Bacopa is a natural nootropic that was covered in our history of cognitive enhancing supplements.
Beginners flock to Bacopa because it’s easy to order: you can get it directly on Amazon under the brands Bacognize or Himalaya. (Many options have free shipping and are under $15, which is pretty cheap compared to the rest of the nootropics on this list.) Note that we carry BaCognize’s branded version of Bacopa Monnieri extract in both powder and capsule format. You can buy bacopa monnieri in our shop.
The important thing to look for in Bacopa is the amount of bacosides in each pill. Most will have between 20% and 50% bacosides. You want to be getting 150mg of bacosides per day. See the mg dosage of each pill, then see what percentage is bacosides, then do the math. Easy, especially if you’ve already been taking your nootropic supplements!
As a heads up, Bacopa takes longer to kick in than other nootropics do. In fact, you sometimes have to continue usage for up to eight weeks before noticing any effects. But if you have the diligence, you can experience enhanced short and long-term memory without any other side effects. Just a simple boost to one of your cognitive skills.
Technically, Bacopa is also an “adaptogen”. This is a special type of compound which, by definition, fends off anxiety and stress. If you suffer from social anxiety or depression, you may feel better after taking Bacopa.
Some users report drowsiness when taking Bacopa because they’re already naturally relaxed and the adaptogen properties put them over the relaxation limit, but that’s the only commonly reported side effect. If you take it and start feeling sleepy, the solution is simple: take your dose at night. It can even function as a mild sleep aid. Because Bacopa works in the background, you don’t need to dose right before you need to remember something… it happens on autopilot throughout the day as long as you dose consistently. Bacopa is often stacked with other nootropics because of the minimal side effects.
Nootropic: St. John’s Wort
Breaking out of depression can be quite challenging. An option is going to the doctor’s office and being prescribed medication… but many people don’t want to go down that path, or already have and have had less than favorable results. They want to break out all by themselves with natural, non-addicting remedies.
If this sounds like you or someone you know and care for, take a look at St. John’s Wort. The compound doesn’t help your cognitive abilities in any way, but it does inhibit the uptake of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (increasing the amount of the vital chemicals in the brain). These are the chemicals that make you feel good. Researchers speculate that this is accomplished through Hyperforin (a phytochemical), but as with most nootropics, nothing has been proven definite.
Technically, St. John’s Wort is an SSRI, but it’s not a prescription that you’d get at the doctor’s office. In case you aren’t aware, SSRIs work by reducing the amount of serotonin that your brain can absorb from what’s produced in your body. This results in your body producing more serotonin than usual, which helps those who suffer from depression (and the lack of serotonin). Please note that SSRIs can have adverse reactions with other enhancers, so taking St. John’s Wort should be discussed with doctor especially if you are taking other medications. Increased levels of dopamine for example are associated with some mental issues like schizophrenia.
Dosage with St. John’s Wort has to be consistent, and you have to evenly space your doses throughout the day so that you’re always signaling to your body that it needs to produce more serotonin. The standard dose is 300mg 3x daily, and the easy part about St. John’s Wort is that you can find it in capsules on Amazon or at your local convenience store for an incredibly low price. (Most are $10 – $15 for a full month.)
Believe it or not, your favorite bodybuilding supplement can also help your cognitive functions… but not in the ways that you might, at first glance, think.
When you take creatine, it’s converted into phosphocreatine, which helps your body to produce more adenosine triphosphate “ATP.” This supplemental ATP isn’t useful to your body until you have an actual, urgent need for it. For example, if you take creatine and go do “leg day” at the gym, your body will rapidly drain the phosphocreatine as you do squats and deadlifts to keep your ATP levels consistent.
This also works with mental tasks. Oral supplementation of creatine can increase the brain’s phosphocreatine levels by 3% to 13%.
That seems like a small increase, but it does have a noticeable effect.
- This increase has been shown to increase executive function (the management of cognitive processes) in sleep-deprived individuals.
- This increase enhances your performance on demanding tasks such as long hours of studying, trying to solve complicated math problems, figuring out a solution to a complete disaster at work, etc.
On top of that, you’ll get the physical benefits of taking creatine, too. Many weight lifters report that when supplementing creatine, their max lifts went up by 10% to 15%.
The cool thing about creatine is that it helps your mind and your body simultaneously. There are no side effects (besides cramps if you don’t drink enough water), and the positive effects are usually immediately noticeable (unlike some other nootropics).
Take five grams every morning, and make sure that you drink plenty of water while taking creatine. If you don’t, you will have negative side effects. More water is stored in your muscles when you take creatine, so you need to drink more in order to not get dehydrated.
Some recommend starting the first week with 20g per day. This increases the saturation rate so that you start to feel the effects from creatine quickly. It’s up to you if you want to do this or not, if you do, drink even more water than you would with 5g. A gallon a day should be your goal, although many skirt by with less than that. I’m currently using Hyperion Strength‘s enhanced creatine with taurine and fenugreek complex as my creatine supplement of choice.
Beginner Nootropics: Conclusion
If you’re a beginner, the nootropics above are the ones that you should be considering right now depending on what you’re hoping to get out of your nootropic usage. We’ll talk about nootropic stacks a little later. Taking a nootropic stack means taking several different nootropics every day so that their effects play off of each other. We’re going to give you five killer ones to try in a follow up post. With stacking, you can go above and beyond the already pretty amazing effects of the best beginner nootropics listed above.