With the rise of nootropics’ popularity, many people still wonder if these “magical” pills actually work. Here is there truth: Yes, they do. But not all of them. And not for everyone. Let’s investigate.
Why Journalists Shouldn’t Write About Nootropics (Ever)
I recently came across this article published on GQ.com. While it’s a grammatically and visually appealing one, it literally makes me nuts.
Because it shows all the flaws of modern “journalism.” The article is about this random guy who clearly has no idea about nootropics, but he has decided to try them and see if he can feel like “Bradley from the Limitless movie.”
He tries L-theanine, then he goes directly to synthetic nootropics, and as it always happens, he cannot go without mentioning smart drugs and Modafinil.
After trying a couple of products for a couple of days, he figures out that he cannot possibly feel like Bradley Cooper. (Is this so?)
He doesn’t forget mentioning a couple of “experts” saying there are “no studies” that would confirm the benefits of nootropics. As always, such “experts” cannot go without mentioning studies on “rats,” which don’t prove benefits for humans. (I’m happy he said that, because I’d never thought about it)
Finally, he makes this excellent conclusion that nootropics probably don’t work.
His ergo: “You could also save your money, put your phone down, and go for a walk.”
Because going for a walk brings the same benefits as taking nootropics.
Or does it, Bubba?
So, what’s wrong with this article?
Well, basically everything. It shouldn’t be published in the first place.
But since it was, let me mention a couple of critical issues:
- Nootropics and smart drugs are NOT the same thing, so stop talking about them together (it’s like talking about being vegan and eating meat at the same time)
- Trying a couple of nootropics for a couple of days is the WRONG thing to do, and it usually doesn’t work
- You can’t feel like Bradley Cooper in the Limitless movie by taking nootropics nor do you want to, since, if you forgot, he was going crazy and became addicted after a couple of weeks of taking the “limitless pill”
If you are a random person learning about nootropics and you come across such article, I am convinced you would say: Ah, nootropics are crap. I knew it.”
And I don’t blame you for that. It’s not your fault thinking like that.
But you’d be wrong – dead wrong.
I’m not here to convince you that you should trust me.
But do trust the facts, not some biased opinions of journalists, who love to use the “big words” to get the necessary clicks they need to keep their business going.
Luckily I don’t care about the clicks. Nor about getting paid.
So let me share a couple of essential facts about nootropics with you.
Do Nootropics Work?
Even though I’m not a native English speaker, I hope you can feel my anger whenever someone is trying to diminish benefits of nootropics by saying: “Oh, I tried them and I didn’t feel Limitless.”
Anyhow, let me try to answer this question for you.
First of all, there is an agreement in the nootropic community that nootropics are all-natural compounds that deliver benefits but leave a few or no side effects.
Here you can read the whole definition. 
By this rule, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and many other compounds are considered nootropics.
How about smart drugs like Modafinil? No, they are NOT nootropics. They are drugs. I call them smart drugs, but anyhow, they are drugs, nothing else. 
Now, to the Limitless movie. Was Bradley cooper taking LEGAL natural supplements that he bought in a store? No, I don’t remember it that way.
Did he feel any side effects? Hm, do you remember his memory skipping? I’d call that a pretty severe side effect. Would you not?
So, do you think he was taking natural & legal supplements? Not even close.
All right, Sherlock, so why would you even try to achieve such crazy effects that were shown in the movie (it was still a movie, btw) by taking legal & natural stuff?
You wouldn’t if you were smart. Or if you weren’t paid by doing something so stupid.
Ok, enough about smart drugs. Let’s return to nootropics.
So far we figured out that there are MANY nootropics and nootropic compounds.
If we look at my list of nootropics, there are at least 85+ nootropics currently available on the market. 
Now tell me, Bubba, how can you say, by testing a few of them, that they don’t work?
But do they work? Like for real?
Sure thing.  But that’s the wrong question to ask.
The right question is: HOW do they work, WHO do they work for, WHAT to expect from them, and HOW MUCH to take.
In general, many nootropics can:
- Improve your memory 
- Enhance your focus 
- Help you relax 
- Help you to calm down 
- Improve your sleep 
- Improve your mood 
- Help with brain regeneration 
Yes, MANY scientific studies prove all the mentioned benefits. And many were done on actual humans, not just rats.
How do I know that? Because I read them. Many of them. And I’m not the only one. Not even close.
But instead of saying nootropics CAN or CANNOT improve different parts of cognitive performance, you have to check every single nootropic compound before you make any stupid comments.
And guess what – my team has done exactly that. I have personally done it. Many other experts have done it.
Scientific publications have done it. Reliable online sources have done it. Many organizations have done it.
And I can tell you that MOST nootropics provide scientifically-proven benefits. Again, check my nootropic list to confirm that.
Some effects can even be tested with cognitive tests, for example.
Now, we have known the benefits of some nootropics for a long time. For example, the benefits of Bacopa Monnieri were, based on a reliable source, first mentioned in the 6th century. 
That’s just one example. There are many.
And we’ve just recently learned about the benefits of some newly discovered nootropics. We are still not sure about many nootropics. And we also know that some don’t work.
That’s how it is.
BUT if you want to improve your cognitive performance, if you want to improve your sleep, and if you want to be more relaxed, then nootropics (especially nootropic stacks) can help you. 
Not all supplements indeed provide the same benefits for everyone, but many do.
How am I so sure?
- They have scientifically-proven benefits
- I tested them
- Many other experts that I trust tested them
- You have an organization such as EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) who is, among others, researching nootropics and if they find benefits (and they are very strict, btw), they allow you to use specific claims like ingredient X brings Y & Z benefits at a precise daily dosage 
So, let me ask you this, Bubba: If you have scientific tests, if you have advanced criteria for measuring cognitive performance, if you can do brain scans and whatnot, why does a random journalist say you cannot test the efficacy of nootropics?
Actually, there are some platforms available that provide such cognitive tests online. Here is one of them. 
Guess what, Bubba, you even have a clinical study that proves the benefits of taking a popular nootropic supplement. 
Now, going back to resources about nootropics – you can find ALL needed resources on my blog.
Will you find missing facts? Sure thing, because there are some.
Will you find my personal, SUBJECTIVE, and non-scientific opinion about nootropics? Of course, you will. And I’ll even mention what’s the fact and what’s my opinion.
But will you find me saying: It didn’t work for me, HENCE, forget about it and go out for a walk – it’ll do you better. Of course not.
If you do, however, do let me know so that I can slap myself. And after that, correct the unintended error.
What’s Coming Next?
That’s enough – I put my ego out, and I allowed it to take control of the first part of the article.
Now I’m back – the “ego-is-under-control” me. Or am I?
I’ve decided to connect with some world-class neuroscientists and other experts who will help me scientifically evaluate nootropics and especially, nootropic stacks and supplements.
This will (hopefully) slow down all those wannabe journalists talking bullshit about stuff that they shouldn’t be talking about because they have no idea about it.
What do I expect to see from tests?
It’ll be easier to figure out which nootropic supplements are the most effective ones, what kind of measurable benefits do they bring, and what they don’t do.
And what will I do if all previous scientific tests about nootropics have been wrong all along?
Hm, well, I’ll probably share that with you, and then I’ll change jobs.
I might become a journalist. Because why not.
Take care, my biohackers.
And always trust the facts.
Grega Gostincar, MSc, is the founder of Your Inception. He has been researching, testing, and experimenting with nootropics since 2015. Greg, a certified expert in nutrition and brain biohacking from Emory University, is one of the most recognized researchers in the field of nootropics.