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Brain Biohacking: Why Are Nootropics Gaining Popularity?

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Brain Biohacking: Why Are Nootropics Gaining Popularity?

In recent years, more and more people are turning to nootropics, a class of supplements and medications that are designed to improve brain function. But what exactly are nootropics, and why are they becoming so popular? In this article, we’ll explore the world of brain biohacking and nootropics, including the available types, benefits, and possible side effects. If you’re remotely curious about optimizing your brain function and improving your cognitive performance, keep reading!

What Is Brain Biohacking?

Brain biohacking refers to the practice of using various means to enhance cognitive function, optimize mental performance, and improve overall brain health, typically leveraging both technological and natural methods. It is based on the principle that the brain, like any other organ in the body, can be trained, or even “hacked” to perform better. The principle challenges the traditional school of thought that brain power and capabilities are fixed from birth and can’t be significantly improved upon.

What Are Nootropics?

The term “nootropic” consists of two Greek words “nóos” which means mind, and “tropḗ,” meaning turn or change. Nootropics, commonly referred to as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers, are substances believed to improve overall cognitive abilities, including focus, memory, creativity, and concentration, in healthy individuals. These substances typically come in various forms, including liquid, powder, or capsule, and have varying mechanisms of action, ranging from enhancing neurotransmitter activity, to providing neuroprotective effects and increasing blood flow to the brain [1].

“Smart drugs” are not entirely a new concept, they’ve been around for centuries. The ancient Chinese used natural versions of it to improve memory and combat certain cognitive illnesses, including dementia [2][3]. Today, with the advancements in science and technology, the range of nootropics available has expanded significantly. While some people use these products to enhance mental clarity, increase productivity, and gain a competitive edge, others still use them to combat cognitive decline, among certain other neurological conditions associated with aging.

Over the years, countless individuals across the world have experimented with some nootropics and found them highly safe and effective. However, it remains important to use them cautiously, as not all of them have undergone rigorous scientific evaluation and are safe for use. It is advisable to consult a doctor or healthcare provider before starting nootropics, or any other medication.

Types of Nootropics

Biohacking nootropics can be divided into two broad categories, prescription nootropics, and over-the-counter nootropics. Prescription nootropics are medications that have stimulant effects, making them effective for treating medical (mental health) conditions such as ADHD, among others. Some of the most common types of prescription nootropics include [4][5]:

  • Modafinil: Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent primarily prescribed to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), narcolepsy, and shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). It is commonly marketed under the brand name Provigil, and it works by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain, leading to increased alertness and overall cognitive function;
  • Armodafinil: Armodafinil is a slightly more potent and longer-lasting variant of modafinil, with similar side effects. Its effect is 1.33 times stronger, making it ideal whose jobs require sustained wakefulness and focus. Commonly marketed under the brand name Nuvigil, this cognitive enhancer is also used to manage conditions like narcolepsy, OSA, and SWSD.
  • Adderall: Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant composed of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is commonly prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy due to its ability to elevate the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain — neurotransmitters linked to focus and attention;
  • Ritalin: Also known as methylphenidate, Ritalin is another “smart drug” commonly used to treat ADHD. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, improving concentration, and reducing impulsivity and hyperactivity;
  • Memantine: Memantine is an NMDA receptor antagonist approved to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It works by regulating glutamate activity in the brain, which can help improve memory, cognitive function, and overall quality of life in people with Alzheimer’s.

On the other hand, some of the different types of over-the-counter “smart drugs” include:

  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a widely consumed stimulant found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks. It enhances alertness and concentration by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, which in turn, leads to increased dopamine and adrenaline production. Higher levels of these neurotransmitters result in heightened energy levels, improved mood, and enhanced cognition;
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Commonly found in fish oil supplements, omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that support overall brain health. They play a vital role in cognitive function, memory, and brain development and maintenance;
  • L-theanine: L-theanine is an amino acid primarily found in green tea that promotes relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety without causing drowsiness. It also enhances focus and attention when combined with caffeine.
  • Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo biloba is a popular herbal supplement derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. It’s believed to improve blood flow to the brain, enhance cognitive function, and protect against age-related cognitive decline.
  • Racetams: Racetams are a family of synthetic compounds known for their cognitive-enhancing effects. Piracetam, the first and most well-known racetam, is believed to improve memory, mental processing speed, and overall cognition, by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Over-the-counter cognitive enhancers are generally considered safer because they are often formulated with milder ingredients and lower concentrations. While both the prescription-type and over-the-counter-type “smart drugs” offer potential cognitive benefits, it’s important to consult with a doctor to determine the most appropriate and safe option for you.

Why Are Nootropics Becoming More Popular?

Many people across the world are turning to nootropics, with the market for them estimated to reach $4.7 billion by 2032 [6]. But why are nootropics so popular? Well, a century ago, day jobs mostly involved craftsmanship, manual labor, home chores, and other tasks that didn’t tax the brain.

Today, most jobs are more mentally demanding, requiring cognitive skills and constant learning. As a result, most people face constant pressure to perform and struggle to keep up with the demands of their roles. This evolution of jobs has sent many to constantly seek ways to boost their brain so they can gain a competitive edge in their professional and personal lives. This growing interest in cognitive enhancement is one of the reasons why nootropics are becoming more popular.

Another reason for the rising popularity of biohacking nootropics is the competitive nature of the society in which we find ourselves, where emphasis is laid on success, achievement, and personal development. Since nootropics offer the promise of unlocking untapped potential, increasing mental processing speed, elevating mood, and enhancing mental clarity, making them an attractive option for all and sundry looking to get a competitive advantage.

What’s more, the increasing prevalence of mental health conditions like stress, ADHD, and anxiety. As awareness and understanding of these conditions grow, more individuals are turning to nootropics as potential supplements or alternatives to traditional medications. Nootropics have over time, proven to offer a relatively safer approach to managing symptoms and boosting cognitive function with few to no side effects.

Finally, the accessibility and availability of nootropics have also contributed to their popularity. With the rise of reputable and trustworthy online pharmacies, it has become easier than ever before to purchase a wide range of nootropic medications and supplements. Websites like offer a user-friendly and convenient platform for customers to explore and compare different products, learn about them, and make informed purchase decisions.

How to Improve Brain Function Using Nootropics? It Is Safe?

From a general standpoint, nootropics are safe. After all, they’re defined as substances that are capable of increasing focus, concentration, and overall cognitive function without causing harm. However, as with other drugs, dietary supplements, and herbs, there is always a possibility that it can cause unwanted side effects, especially if used incorrectly [7]. Here are some safe approaches to biohacking your brain’s health and well-being:

  1. Choose the right nootropic: Different nootropics have different effects on the brain. Some improve memory, while others enhance focus or creativity. It’s important to choose the product that suits the specific needs you intend to achieve.
  2. Stack some cognitive enhancers: Some cognitive enhancers work better when combined with others. For example, combining L-theanine with caffeine has been shown to enhance focus and alertness in most healthy individuals.
  3. Begin with a low dose: It’s important to always start with a low dose of “smart drugs” and gradually increase it over time. This approach to their use can help minimize the risks of side effects occurring, and ensure the nootropic is effective.
  4. Cycle “smart drugs:” Nootropics tend to be most effective when used in cycles as using them too often can lead to tolerance. Using medication in cycles means taking it for a certain period and then taking a break before starting again.
  5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: “Smart drugs” don’t work well when used as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to maintain optimal brain function and get the best out of these substances.

While cognitive enhancers can be effective in improving brain function, it’s important to use them responsibly. Some of them have the potential to cause side effects, and it’s important to consult with a doctor if any arise. What’s more, it’s important to consult a doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

Benefits of Nootropics

One of the most common questions people ask is: do nootropics make you smarter? Well, while they’re often marketed as “cognitive enhancers,” it’s important to understand that they are not a magic solution that can improve intelligence or cognitive abilities instantaneously. However, they offer several benefits for brain function and overall cognitive health. Some of them include:

  1. Improved memory and learning: Nootropics can enhance memory and learning by increasing the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, and acetylcholine.
  2. Reduced stress and anxiety: “Smart drugs can help reduce stress and anxiety by increasing the production of neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin.
  3. Improved sleep: Some cognitive enhancers have been shown to improve sleep duration and overall quality over time.
  4. Enhanced creativity: Some nootropics have been shown to enhance creativity and problem-solving abilities.
  5. Improved mood: Nootropics are widely known as mood boosters. Because they modulate some of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood, they sometimes help reduce symptoms of depression.

While these benefits are attractive, it’s worth noting that not all “smart drugs” have been extensively studied, and their long-term effects are not fully understood. It’s also worth noting that some of these products may have side effects or interact with other medications. This is why it’s important to seek advice and guidance from a healthcare professional before taking “smart drugs” or any medication.

Nootropics Possible Side Effects and Risks

While nootropics offer several amazing benefits, it’s important to be aware of the possible side effects and risks associated with their use. The most common adverse effects include [8]:

  • insomnia;
  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • muscle ache;
  • dizziness;
  • upset stomach.

It’s worth noting that not all nootropics have the same side effects and risks, and some are safer than others. However, it’s always important to consult with a doctor before starting any medication and to follow recommended dosages to minimize the associated risks. It’s important to be aware of how different substances can interact before taking any of these medications. Interactions can increase or worsen negative after-effects; it can also render one or more of the medications combined, ineffective.

ome nootropics may not be safe for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and individuals below the age of 17. It’s important to consider going through the information provided in the nootropic’s user manual before popping the pill.


The growing interest in brain biohacking and nootropics simply depicts society’s increasing focus on brain health and cognitive enhancement. Many individuals are drawn to these substances, asking one critical question, “are nootropics effective?” The short and long answer is that they actually are, but it remains important to understand both their benefits and downsides and approach their use cautiously. As with any supplement or medication, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before making cognitive enhancers a part of your lifestyle.

SEE ALSO: Could Exercising Every Day Help Your Insomnia? Recent Studies Confirm Yes


Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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