Understanding Nootropics: A Basic FAQ


Supplements of various types are used every day by a wide assortment of people. These include multivitamins, specialized supplements, oils, and other supplements focused on specific health needs. While physical health is of utmost importance you shouldn’t overlook your mental health. Nootropics are a supplement designed to improve various mental functions such as memory, focus, creativity, and so on. As nootropics are not as widely known as other types of health supplements, you may be unfamiliar with how they work and what they do. Here are answers to the most common questions about these brain boosting supplements. 

Nootropics: The Basics

  • Do They Work? As there are many supplements on the market, an important question to ask is about the effectiveness of nootropics. Users report positive results from nootropic use, but keep in mind that everyone is different and brain chemistry is complex that not every nootropic will affect everyone in the same way. You may have to try a few different ones to see what works best for your unique brain chemistry.
  • Is A Prescription Needed? Currently, no nootropics in the United States are classified the same way as other over-the-counter supplements. Note that if the nootropic contains a drug that requires a prescription, this does not apply and other countries have different laws. For example, in Canada you can legally own nootropics, but you can’t sell them so you have to import them, and many European countries require a prescription.
  • Are They Addictive? The general answer is no. However, some people have addictive personalities and can become mentally dependent on the effects. Also, some nootropics contain substances such as caffeine which can cause withdrawal symptoms when usage stops.
  • How Do They Work? In the simplest terms, nootropics work by altering certain chemicals in your brain. Depending on various neurochemical levels, your behavior is directly affected. For example, dopamine levels can affect your motivation. Altering brain chemistry is not something uncommon — many people do it every day with medication, alcohol, and coffee.
  • Do They Work Quickly? This can vary. Some nootropics work within 20 minutes to an hour like many over-the-counter drugs, while others require you take them for an extended period of time to achieve the full effects.   
  • Why Are Nootropics Used? There are several answers to this question. The main one to improve focus and concentration. In addition, some people are naturally anxious and find that nootropics have a calming effect, while others are dealing with impairments such as psychological disabilities or trauma like PTSD and use nootropics to help lessen symptoms. 
  • When Did Nootropics Enter Widespread Use? Nootropics entered marketplaces in the 1970s but have become more and more popular over the last decade. However, it’s worth noting that humans have been using various substances to alter brain chemistry and attempt to improve cognitive functions for thousands of years.   
  • Will Nootropics Increase Intelligence? The short answer is no, they will not. However, an increase in clarity and focus can assist in learning. The bottom line is that nootropics will not make you smarter but they can help you focus on learning new things provided that you work hard and study new materials.
  • Do Nootropics Have Side Effects? Rarely, but some have been reported. These include relatively common ones that are seen with a lot of different supplements and other medications like headaches, trouble sleeping, allergic reactions, and irritability. If you experience side effects, consult your physician and discontinue use immediately.   
  • Can I Drink And Use Nootropics? Mixing two different drugs that both affect brain chemistry is never a good idea. For example, the nootropic Piracetam has been extensively studied and is a prescription drug in European countries. It carries a warning to not drink alcohol when using it. In general, drug interactions should be avoided as they can have unpredictable side effects.   

Where Do I Buy Nootropics? Lots of different places. Stores that specialize in supplements such as vitamin stores carry them as do health food stores. There are also several different websites that specialize in online sales and you can have it delivered to your house.


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