The Ultimate List of Study Drugs and Cognitive Enhancers

study drugs and cognitive enhancers

The following is a comprehensive list of the best known nootropics and brain enhancing supplements that will help you out when studying- otherwise known as “study drugs”.

The supplement industry can be a tough one to navigate for those looking for scientific facts. In this list we’ve made it a point to reference the published scientific research on each ingredient that relates to cognition and brain power. Throughout this list, we will highlight (in red) what we view to be the best cognitive enhancers based on public testing and our own findings.

There are many great products that successfully combine a number of these ingredients. If you are looking for ready-to-buy products, check out our 10 best brain supplements post by clicking here. If you are looking to better understand key ingredients, keep reading…

There are a couple of things to note before continuing…

  1. Within the supplement and drug industry, many companies have branded ingredients under different names. If you do not see a known cognitive enhancer on this list, it is likely that you are familiar with a specific product under its branded name (ex. Bacopin®, Bacognize® are both Bacopa Monnieri).
  2. We have not included EVERY study in existence. There may be other (more complete) studies under synonymous or branded names.
  3. We (the writers, contributors, and owners of SupplementHQ.com} are not licensed healthcare professionals. The information is intended for educational purposes only and and does not constitute professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis, and may not be used as such. The information on this site is not reviewed by a medical professional, and is only to be used at your own judgement. Always consult your doctor before using any supplements.
  4. This list is a work in progress. We will continue updating this list with additional ingredients and research as the information becomes available.
  5. Please let us know in the comment section below if there are any ingredients you think we’ve missed. Enjoy!

1,3-Dimethylamylamine

Personally, I think DMAA is bitchin. However, the FDA has recently revoked its supplement label and it can no longer be sold as such.

There are not any official studies available on the use of DMAA as a cognitive enhancer, but from personal use, I can testify that it is a solid energy and focus enhancer. It is a central nervous system stimulant, and is commonly paired with caffeine.

Can cause false-positive of amphetamines. So athletes, beware.

5-HTP

5-HTP converts to serotonin within the brain.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often associated with “happiness.” There are also notable studies showing 5-HTP effectively decreasing appetite. It is commonly referred to as a natural beta blocker.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2468734
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1384305
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9705024

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

ALCAR has high bioavailability and is able to easily cross the blood brain barrier. It helps in the production of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter linked to learning, memory, analysis and overall cognition.

ALCAR has also been shown to be helpful in slowing brain related aging by influencing mitochondrial. It also works to reduce fatigue [1] and increase cognition [2][3].

Standard dosage of ALCAR is between 300-1500mg.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18065594
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20098226
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17658628

Adrafinil

Adrafinil is a precursor to Modafinil, meaning Adrafinil converts to Modafinil within the body.

The primary effect of this drug is increased alertness, but not in a central nervous system stimulatory way. It works by fighting sleepiness at the source.

Adrafinil is not as highly recommended as Modafinil. Both are classified as prescription drugs, not supplements.

Agmatine

Agmatine is a neurotransmitter that is derived from L-Arginine.  It is believed to be a neural protector, and has been shown in studies to reduce pain.  Agmatine should NOT be stacked with creatine, citruline,  L- Arginine, D aspartic acid, or yohimbe.

Estimated human dose is around 1300mg/day – based on limited human studies.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20447305

Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC is a cholinergic supplement that is effective in increasing choline within the brain. The results are improved cognitive function (few to no clinical human studies of young adults – but thousands of human testimonials of improved focus, memory, and learning), and reduced cognitive decline (supportive studies on the elderly[1][2]).

Alpha-GPC is relatively safe with few side effects. Dosage is around 1000-1200 mg daily (3x400mg).

Beware of supplements containing Alpha-GPC and the amounts included. Many companies “label stuff” or include low amounts of an ingredient just to have it on their label.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12637119
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12637119

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Mostly found in meats, ALA is a fatty acid involved in the metabolism of energy. It has been shown to be effective in reducing oxidation by increasing antioxidant enzymes[1][2]. It is believed to help slow the aging process, reduce inflammation[3], and work as a neuroprotective agent.

Standard dosing as a nootropic ingredient ranges from 200-600 daily. For general anti-oxidation, 50-100 is standard.

 Relatively safe, mild reported side effects.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21908204
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19617657
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15655130

Aniracetam

Part of the racetam family (see the more popular, piracetam). Aniracetam is cholinergic – aiding in the longevity of activity of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Aniracetam, is known for promoting holistic thinking, by increasing blood to the corresponding area of the brain.

Standard dosage is relatively high, at 1.5g, 1-3 times daily. Aniracetam stacks well with Alpha-GPC.

Not currently available as a dietary supplement in the United States, although readily available. Few human studies have been published. Few side effects and low toxicity.

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri has a lot of exciting human studies showing evidence of improved memory and learning[1][2][3], anti-oxidation, and reduced anxiety. The amount of studies pointing to the effectiveness of bacopa make it one of my personal favorites.

May result in reduced motivation due to the calming effect. Often stacked with stimulants to counter this effect.

One downside is Bacopa monnieri requires frequent usage for the benefits to be realized.

Standard dosage is around 300mg/serving (at 55% active). Side effects may include upset stomach, nausea, and increased urination. Do not take with antidepressants, or sedatives.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20590480
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18683852
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11498727

Blueberry

Blueberries are packed full of antioxidants and anthocyanin, which help aid in the prevention of cognitive decline [1][2]. Further evidence on healthy rodents suggest that blueberries may promote improved cognition in the young and healthy as well. Additionally, blueberries support healthy nervous tissue growth as well as reduce inflammation within the brain.

Blueberries can be supplemented with blueberry extract. Standard dosage ranges from 5-10g/daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20047325
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20047325

Boswellia serrata

Boswellia serrata comes from the Frankincense family. You may have heard of this from the bible, if you are into that sort of thing.

This supplement has anti inflammatory properties and is commonly used to treat symptoms of Osteoarthritis. There was even one study that showed Boswellia serrata effectively eliminating a brain tumor.

Not a whole lot of science on this one. It would have very mild, if any, cognitive effect.

Caffeine

Caffeine is easily one of the most studied and used supplements of all time. Caffeine works by exciting neurons and promoting mental stimulation. Caffeine promotes wakefulness [2] and alertness [1]. It can influence neurotransmitters such as dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin.

Standard dosage is between 60-400mg depending on personal sensitivity.

Your body builds up a tolerance to caffeine. Every so often, take a 2 week break to refresh the effectiveness of caffeine.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21244169
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21489866

CDP-choline

CDP-choline, synonymous with citicoline, is one of three acetylcholine intermediaries (phosphatidylcholine & Alpha-GPC are the other two). Ultimately, CDP-choline increases the amount of available choline to be synthesized into acetylcholine within the brain. Acetylcholine plays a crucial role in learning, focus[1], and memory[2]. It has also been shown to help replenish phospholipids, resulting in increased neural protection and reduced cognitive decline[3].

Standard dosage is around 250-500 mg a day.

[1] http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=19921
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9203170
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9203170

Celastrus paniculatus

The seed oil of the Celastrus paniculatus plant have been shown to have beneficial effects on cognition. Human studies are limited, however, the plant has been used historically in Ayurvedic medicine for the very purpose of increasing “intelligence.” Official human studies have not been conducted (or not made available to the public), however, preliminary tests on rodents are very positive, especially in regards to improved memory retention.

Clitoria ternatea (Shanka Pushpi)

Another classic from Ayurvedic medicine. Clitoria ternatea has no human studies (from what we could find) but preliminary animal testing shows positve effects on memory after 30 days. The increase was similar to piracetam, however, the effects took 30 days of use. No improvement was noticed after a single dose, as it is with piracetam. Possibly beneficial in reducing biological stress as well as limiting glucose uptake. More studies are needed.

Cocoa Flavanols

Cocoa flavanols have two main active properties (theobromine and caffeine). The effects of which have been noted to improve blood flow to the brain and increasing cardiovascular conditions. Studies testing the cognitive benefit have been inconclusive. The results seem to be minor and dose dependent.

Coluracetam

Coluracetam is of course, part of the racetam family. However, the effects and mechanisms of this drug differ substantially from its other racetam cousins (such as piracetam and aniracetam). Studies are limited, but it appears to operate in such a way that it preserves choline uptake in the event that choline uptake is impaired. It is believed to benefit memory impaired individuals. Testing on rats showed statistically significant improvement on memory using the maze test. Possibly beneficial for improved eye site.

Approximately 200 mg/ day based on studie dosage. However, this compound is relatively new.

Convolvulus pluricaulis (Shankhapushpi)

Natural herbal remedy used for improving memory. It has been noted to decrease stress and anxiety while also promoting learning. Studies conducted on healthy rats show that the effects on learning are similar to those of piracetam.

Creatine

Most commonly used by bodybuilders, creatine also exhibits nootropic cognitive benefits. The primary benefit of creatine is to promote increased cellular energy (including brain cells). This increased cellular energy results in enhanced neuroprotection and neural functioning [1][2]. Creatine is considered very safe.

Creatine may also be useful in treating cases of depression. [3] 

Standard daily dosage is around 2g. Make sure to drink sufficient water as dehydration is the number one cause of side effects with creatine (and most nootropics)

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22347384
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11208905
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18206856

D-Serine

D-Serine is a neuromodulator that regulates the neuronal activity. The primary use of D-Serine medically is to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, however, it has been shown to reduce cognitive decline[1].

Standard dosage seems to be around 2000mg/day.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15780844

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone that has been shown to have cognitive and anti-aging benefits[1]. It works like a steroid and can increase testosterone[2]. It is often used in combination (stacked with) other nootropics found on this list.

Users often report increased mental energy as well as improved overall feeling of well being. Additionally, DHEA seems to be effective in increasing motivation.

Standard dosage is around 25-50mg a day. Individuals with heart, blood, or liver issues should avoid DHEA.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20497239
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23417481

Dimocarpus longan

Traditional use for treating cognitive decline and improving memory. Not a lot of studies have been conducted on Dimocarpus longan, but there is reason to believe that it can provide neuroprotection, resulting in increased memory by preventing memory cell deterioration [1]. 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20064595

Emblica officinalis (Amla)

Traditional Ayurvedic use was to provide cognitive vitality. Human studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of managing blood glucose and reducing cholesterol. Rat testing suggests that Alma may be effective in promoting improved learning [1]. Additional rat testing shows anti-anxiety effects.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17343883
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22070517

Fish Oil (DHA, EPA, Omega-3)

Most commonly found in certain types of fish, omega-3’s contain high levels of both DHA and EPA. Your body requires DHA for optimal functioning and for new memory formation [1]. Every cell within your body benefits from these fatty acids. They help maintain the fluidity of the cells.

Fish oil has been shown to reduce brain shrinkage, especially in areas such as the cerebral cortex and hippocampus [2]. Some studies have shown that fish oil has the ability to reduce the symptoms of ADHD [3]. Fish oil may increase brain activity, resulting in an increased feeling of energy

There are literally hundreds of studies supporting the benefits of fish oil.

Standard dosage ranges from 250 mg – 1g daily.

[1] http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0046832
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22855869
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20491709

GABA

GABA is a depressant neurotransmitter that works to promote relaxation. Supplementing GABA struggles to cross the blood brain barrier [1], so has little effect. However, there are GABA agonists that work to bypass this issue and increase GABA within the brain. Individual users report increased relaxation, improved sleep, and a calm state of mind.

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002839087190013X

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is perhaps the single most popular herb for improved brain health. There are a number of studies showing that ginkgo biloba increases memory and recall [1], reduces cognitive decline as we age [2], and improves overall cognition [3]. 

Although effective, Ginkgo biloba is generally considered a mild nootropic.

Standard dosage ranges from 40-120 mg / 1-3 times daily.

See our top 5 best ginkgo biloba supplement post.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802920
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8741021
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12905098

Glycine

Glycine is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that has been shown to improve sleep [1][2] and relaxation. Its ability to improve sleep results in increased cognitive ability [3] and also reduces fatigue.

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2006.00193.x/full
[2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x/abstract
[3] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x/abstract

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Traditionally used in Ayurveda medicine, Gotu Kola has been shown to beneficial in reducing tissue inflamation as well as reducing overall blood pressure. These benefits provide protection for nerve cells resulting in a decrease in aging and positive benefits to memory.

Modern studies have shown Gotu Kola to decrease stress[1] and anxiety [2], while increasing attention[3] and overall calmness[4][5].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20677602
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20677602
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20677602
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11106141
[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18191355

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract has been shown to provide antioxidant support [1] and neuroprotection [2]. The extract may also help increase blood flow providing a host of benefits to the brain and overall learning.

Standard dosage ranges from 150-300 mg/daily. 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22400909
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18815129

Green Tea Catechins

Catechins is a word used to describe certain types of flavonoids and antioxidants. It has been shown to be successful in aiding almost every single organ system within the body. Green tea can be supplemented and or drank as a tea.

As it pertains to brain health and enhancement, green tea has been shown in studies to only improve cognitive function when paired with L-Theanine [1]. It seems to be more beneficial as a neuroprotective than a cognitive enhancer.

Standard dosage ranges from 135-400 mg/serving. Pairing with L-theanine may be beneficial for increased cognition. Pairing with Fish Oil supplements may improve bioavailability.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21303262

Hordenine

Relatively under researched, Hordenine is believed to be an effective herbal Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) inhibitor. MAO inhibitors prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters (such as phenylethylamine and dopamine). By preventing the breakdown, the amounts of these neurotransmitters can be increased.

Possibly effective in increasing energy (adrenalin) [1] as well as improving mood and motivation.

Recommended dosage is around 30-50 mg / serving, 2-3 times daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2570842

Huperzine-A

Huperzine-A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This basically means that huperzine-A works to inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the main neurotransmitter involved in learning (memory [1] and focus). It has also been shown to protect against toxicity [2]. It is commonly referred to as the most powerful prescription free memory enhancer.

Standard dosage ranges from 50-200 mcg. Because of it’s long half life (longer than 24 hours) it is recommended to be cycled. Example: 2-4 weeks on, 1-2 weeks off ( although a specif cycle time is not specified).

Limited studies have shown huperzine-a to be safe and well tolerated.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21185313
[2] http://examine.com/supplements/Huperzine-A/#ref19

Idebenone

Idebenone is synthetic CoQ10 that maintains the same antioxidant benefits. It may be beneficial in preventing ATP depletion[1] and providing neuroprotection [2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9215809
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9840428

Kava

Kava is a popular herb and polynesian drink that can also be supplemented. It is used to reduce anxiety[1][2] and may also have a hypnotic effect. Kava works by influence GABA inhibitory neurotransmitters. In a recent study, Kava (90mg active) was found to improve cognition and reduce errors in subjects testing [3]. 

Standard dosage is between 100-300 mg, 1-3 times daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12535473
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19430766
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15181652

Krill Oil

Like fish oil, Krill oil contains a large amount of DHA and EPA (the amazingly beneficial fatty acids). The difference between Krill Oil and standard fish oil is that the oils from Krill contain phospholipid structure. This increases the bioavalability [1], resulting in better uptake from your body. Krill Oil also contains vitamins A, E, and D as well as antioxidants.

Studies have shown Krill Oil to provide memory and antidepressant benefits [2], something you need in a study drug.

Standard dosage is around 1-3 grams daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854650
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23351783

L-DOPA

L-Dopa is an amino acid that is a precursor to dopamine and is commonly supplement by individuals suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and other low dopamine diseases. Healthy people supplementing L-Dopa report increase in mood and overall outlook. They also report increased attention and ability to focus.

Most available form of L-Dopa is Mucuna Pruriens. See below.

L-Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used in the production of certain neurotransmitters (noradrenaline and dopamine). L-Tyrosine is commonly used by individuals struggling with ADHD and often stacked with adderall to help regulate the ups and downs of the drug. In studies, L-Tyrosine has been shown to increase cognition [1][2] and reduce stress [3].

Users report an increased ability to focus and complete long strenuous cognitive task.

Standard dosage tends to be around 300-1500 mg.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10230711
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7794222
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2736402

Magnolia officinalis

Magnolia Officinalis has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine. It is commonly used to reduce anxiety, treat depression, and as a relaxant. Studies may also show increased acetylcholine release [1]. More studies are needed.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11154051

Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm)

Most commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety. It appears to be a cognitive enhancer for those who are experiencing stress or anxiety. Quality of memory seems to be enhanced in most subjects [1]. Melissa officinalis seem to increase activity of receptors within the brain that respond to acetylcholine.

Standard dosage is around 300-500 mg /day.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12062586

Modafinil

Modafinil is a prescription medication used for individuals with narcolepsy. It has also become incredibly popular in the nootropic industry, as a way to boost mental energy and increase focus [1]. Its cognitive benefits have been researched in a number of studies [2]. It has been shown to increase working memory [3] as well as reduce fatigue [4].

Modafinil is classified as a drug. It may cause side effects of headaches, dizziness, agitation, nausea, and depression. Play it safe, consult a physician first.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12552359
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22820554
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20653641
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10607161

Morus alba

Traditionally used to increase vitality and immune system support. It is believed to have a number of cognitive benefits, but official human research is limited. In rat testing, supplementation of morus alba showed enhanced learning [1]. Additional studies on stressed rats showed improvements to memory [2]. It may also have neuroprotective and anti cancer benefits.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23182412
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20407553

Mucuna Pruriens

Herbal supplement that is used for improving mood and motivation [1]. It is a great source of L-Dopa, the amino acid and dopamine precursor [2]. It may also be capable of increasing growth hormone (HGH). Additionally, Mucuna Pruriens have been found to have brain protecting abilities [3], by removing toxins and heavy metals.

Standard dosage is around 800 mg (active 15% l-dopa)

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18955292
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18973898
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15478206

Muira puama

Muira puama improves cognition by inducing acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in brain areas relative to cognition[1]. The compound also gives neuroprotection with anti-oxidative effects in the brain[2]. One study suggested that serotonin receptors play a role in the way the muira puama extract helps with the learning process[3].

The typical dose is 1000-1500mg of a 4:1 concentrated extract or 4,000-6,000mg of the basic extract.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20833520
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17433649
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18561960

Nardostachys Jatamansi

Also known as Spikenard or Muskroot, this plant is said to have neuroprotective properties[1] and also enhance learning. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are known to help with memory and learning and are used to treat alzheimer’s disease. One study showed in vitro that this herb has acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties[2]. Another study done with a maze test for mice showed that nardostachys jatamansi improved learning and memory in both young and old mice[3].

Though the human trials don’t exist to give a set dosage, the estimated optimal dose is anywhere between 2,700-9,000mg of the basic root extract depending on weight.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23513188
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17639556
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16579738

Nefiracetam

Nefiracetam is a fat soluble drug used for memory enhancement and cognitive decline. Though no change is seen in the short term, it seems to help memory formation when used over a prolonged period of time[1]. In addition, one study done on rabbits showed that it has cognitive enhancing properties which are associated with cholinergic neurotransmission[2].

The daily dose is 150-450mg, preferably divided and taken with meals.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15988469
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11951055

Nicotine

When you hear nicotine, you probably think of cigarettes. Surprisingly, it is also employed in cognitive enhancement. There are quite a few studies that show increased alerting attention in participants[1][2][3]. Nicotine also seems to improve cognition in those who are mildly cognitively impaired[4].

For non-smoking individuals, there are multiple methods of administration. It can be inhaled, or one can use topical patches or chewing gum. Though nicotine has some nootropic benefits, we don’t really recommend it due to its addictive properties.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17976537
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15279498
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9860103
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22232050

Nigella sativa

Also called black cumin, this medicinal spice seems to have a positive effect on processing speed and attention and also is shown to have a slight positive effect on cognition and memory in elderly persons[1].

The recommended dose is 2-3g of the seed.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23707331

Noopept

Noopept is a cycloprolylglycine-derived peptide that is synthetically made. This one is very similar to Piracetam in effects. One study that actually compared the two showed an increase in cognition in patients with mild cognitive disorders [1]. Another study done on rats showed an improvement in memory formation [2]. The supplement has been found to reduce anxiety and fatigue and increase daytime wakefulness[1].

The recommended dose is 10-30mg per day.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19234797
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12596521

Oxiracetam

Oxiracetam is a synthetically derived racetam used for its cognitive benefits. Oxiracetam has been shown to improve memory in subjects with memory decline and also in healthy animal studies; further studies on humans are important to establish whether it is effective[1]. Oxiracetam is also helpful for slowing cognitive decline for age-related symptoms[1].

The daily dosage for oxiracetam ranges from 1,200 to 2,400mg.

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430020506/abstract

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng is a well researched supplement that is derived from the ginseng plant. Panax ginseng is effective in improving mood and cognition[1][2]. In one study researchers discovered that panax ginseng improved memory by improving subjects ability to learn new information[3]. Panax ginseng is widely used in many products and is very common in energy drinks.

A typical daily dose of panax ginseng is 200-400mg.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20737519
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16401645
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21276426

Phenylethylamine

Phenylethylamine is commonly known as a ‘love drug’ because of its unique effect on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and seratonin[1][2]. These two neurotransmitters are linked with improved mood, focus and alertness.

A standard dosage of Phenylethylamine is around 500 mg.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2172461
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9671094

Phenylpiracetam

Phenylpiracetam is a racetam compound derived from piracetam. Phenylpiracetam has been shown to have similar effects of piracetam but at much lower doses. Phenylpiracetam has been shown to improve cognition, function in the elderly, and decrease cognitive decline[1][2][3].

A good daily dosage of phenylpiracetam ranges from 200-600mg taken in two or three smaller, equal portions throughout the day.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646385
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21626817
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16447562

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is an amino acid derivative compound that is very common throughout the brain and plays a critical role in cognitive function. Your body makes phosphatidylserine but supplementation has been shown to have increased benefit. Phosphatidylserine supplementation has been tested on the elderly, youth with ADHD and in healthy adults; it has been shown to improve attention, memory, ADHD symptoms, processing speed and a wide variety of other cognitive attributes[1][2][3][4].

An ideal dose of phosphatidylserine is 100mg taken three times daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23495677
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23495677
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23495677
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22017963

Piracetam

A widely studied racetam compound, piracetam is used for boosting brain function especially in the elderly. Piracetam increases brain membrane fluidity which can improve memory and decrease mental decline[1][2]. Piracetam is very non-toxic and can be consumed in large quantities for general long-term brain health[3].

The most effective dose of piracetam is three doses daily of 1,600mg, totalling 4,800mg daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9037245
[2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430020506/abstract
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8061686

Polygala Tenuifolia

Polygala tenuifolia is a root used for its ability to improve memory and protect against brain-related illnesses in traditional chinese medicine. Studies have shown an increase in working memory (short-term memory) and spatial awareness and processing[1].

Chinese Medicine directs taking 3-9g of polygala tenuifolia daily for forgetfulness.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19429065

Pramiracetam

Pramiracetam is a racetam molecule derived from piracetam and used for improved long-term memory function. Pramiracetam has been shown to decrease forgetfullness in healthy old and young volunteers[1]. Additionally, in young adults with brain trauma it was able to improve long-term memory formation and cognition[2]. It is unclear whether these benefits extend to all healthy adult individuals.

The recommended daily dose of pramiracetam is 1,200 mg taken in 2 or 3 different equal servings throughout the day.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15374306
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1786500

PRL-8-53

Derived synthetically, PRL-8-53 has been shown to dramatically improve memory, especially in those with a poor short term memory[1]. Results from one study showed that some subjects were able to double their short term memory scores[1]. One caution to note on PRL-8-53 is that all research on this supplement has been conducted by the patent holder.

A standard dose of PRL-8-53 ranges greatly but the average person would take 3-80mg.

[1]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/418433

Pueraria lobata

Traditionally used for migraines and hangovers, pueraria lobata has been shown to improve cognition and attention in menopausal women[1]. Although it has only been studied on a specific population, it is possible it will have positive effects for all healthy adults.

Studies conducted with pueraria lobata used 100mg daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12851519

Pycnogenol

An extract of pine bark, pycnogenol is used for its ability to enhance nitric oxide in the body[1]. Nitric oxide plays a role in blood flow throughout the body and in the brain. Pycnogenol is associated with improved cognition and mood in healthy students given a series of tests[2]. Pycnogeol is also associated with a lower rate of failed tests and higher average marks[2].

A normal dose of pycnogenol ranges between 100-200mg taken daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10946222
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22108481

Pyritinol

Pyritinol is essentially two B6 Vitamins connected by a sulfur group. It’s used as a brain booster and anti-hangover pill. It is useful in the repair and function of cholinergic neurons and can boost acetylcholine levels in the brain[1][2].

A typical dose of pyritinol is 300mg taken twice, daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7710671
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3567461

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is found in grape skins and in wine. Resveratrol has been touted as a life extender and cure-all but hard scientific evidence is not quite so optimistic. Resveratrol improves cerebral blood flow but no cognition improvements were noticed in the same study[1].

A standard dose of resveratrol ranges between 250-500 mg for increased blood flow in healthy individuals. For increased insulin sensitivity and heart health 5-10 mg daily is ideal for long-term health.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357044

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a traditional chinese herb and anti-fatique adaptogen, second in popularity only to ginseng. rhodiola rosea is particularly helpful during periods of stress[1]. Studies have been conducted on students during finals and on physicians during the night watch. In both studies students and physicians with rhodiola rosea scored significantly higher than their peers on a placebo[2][3].

A normal dose of rhodiola rosea is 300 to 600 mg although doses as little as 50 mg have been shown to be effective.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22228617
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11081987

S-Adenosyl Methionine

S-Adenosyl Methionine is the amino acid methionine bound to an ATP molecule. This molecule circulates in the blood naturally and aids in the metabolic process. Used for aiding in depression and osteoarthritis, S-Adenosyl Methionine is also shown to have the same effects as creatine on cognition[1]. Cognitive effects of creatine include increased cellular energy and neuroprotection[2][3].

Standard dosage of S-Adenosyl Methionine is normally 600-1,200 mg daily, divided into two or three doses during meals.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14550683
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22347384
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11208905

Sarcosine

Sarcosine is a cognitive enhancer that comes from glycine. In healthy individuals it helps increase synaptic levels of D-serine and the neurotransmitter glycine which has cognitive promoting effects such as memory and learning[1][2].

A standard dosage of sarcosine is around 30 mg/kg, therefore the average person would require around 2000 mg daily.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15159536
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16554468

Scutellaria baicalensis

Scutellaria baicalensis is a species of flowering plant and listed as one of the 50 fundamental herbs of chinese medicine. It is used for cardiovascular and cognitive health and longevity. S. Baicalensis prevents age-related memory loss better than piracatem[1]. Additionally, S. Baicalensis has been shown to improve cognition in healthy subjects at higher dosages[2].

Optimal dosage for humans is difficult to pin down, but animal studies suggest that 500 mg of the extract would be ideal.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11749803
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17196405

Sulbutiamine

A synthetic derivative of Thiamine, sulbutiamine is essentially two thiamine molecules bound by a sulfur group. Sulbutiamine crosses the blood brain barrier more easily than thiamine and has been shown to improve memory through increasing cholinergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic transmission[1]. On mice, sublutiamine has been shown to improve performance on operant conditioning tests and object recognition tests[2][3].

Human studies have been done at 400 mg daily, but it is unclear whether this is the optimal dosage.

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0006295290900997
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4059305
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15951087

Sunifiram

Sunifiram is a synthetic derivative of Piracetam and has similar properties to that of nefiracetam, which enhances GABAergic and cholinergic signalling[1]. Although sunifiram has been shown to have the same effects as nefiracetam, it has not been studied to the same extent. However, it has been shown to be as effective as piracatem on cognition with less than 1% of the dosage[1].

A recommended dosage for sunifiram is difficult to prescribe due to limited research but between 5-10mg would be consistent with the conducted research.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11087574

Theanine

Theanine, or L-Theanine as it is often called, is a relaxing amino acid that is found in tea. In addition to promoting relaxation, theanine has been found to reduce the perception of stress and improve attention[1][2]. When paired with 50 mg of caffeine, 100 mg of theanine was shown to significantly improve accuracy and attention on cognitive tests on healthy adults[3].

A typical dosage of Theanine is between 100-200mg and usually accompanied with half that amount in caffeine.

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464611000351
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21739364
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988

Uridine

Uridine is one of the four basic components of RNA, which is present in all living things and critically important for the creation of memories and the passing of information from DNA. Uridine has also been found to help boost neuronal growth[1][2]. Supplementation of Uridine with fish oils and Choline has been shown to aid in synapse formation and function[3][4].

A standard dosage of uridine is in the 500-1000 mg range.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11722606
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11418861
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19400698
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16631143

Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a synthetic compound derived from the periwinkle plant. One study showed the plant extract led to decreased reaction time while testing and better memory[1]. There are also a couple of studies that show the supplement decreases cognitive decline[2][3]. Vinpocetine is also said to increase cerebral blood flow[4] and provide neuroprotection[5].

The daily dosage for vinpocetine is anywhere from 15-60 mg.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3899677
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21311488
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183904
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1429914/
[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22841414

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that plays a role the brain. It is thought to be associated with depression. One study found that the rate of B12 deficiencies in depressed persons was greater than that in non depressed persons[1]. Another study showed that vitamin B12 along with folate is essential to the stability of neurological systems involved in mood regulation[2].

The dose is around 1000 mcg for people who are insufficient.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671130
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10784463

Yamabushitake

Yamabushitake is a mushroom that grows in Asia and can be eaten for different medicinal purposes. The mushroom is said to increase mRNA expression of nerve-growth factor[1] and also increase production of the myelin sheath[2] which helps nerve signals travel quickly to and from the brain. One study done on older subjects who suffered from non-clinical cognitive impairment showed improved cognition with 3g of 96% Yamabushitake given over a 16 week period [3].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18758067
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12675022
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844328

Yerba mate

Yerba mate is derived from a flowering, fruit producing tree. Its leaves are brewed into a tea in some parts of the world and it has a wide range of uses from suppressing appetite to protecting the heart. It’s also good for your brain.

Yerba mate contains caffeine which can help you stay awake and focused. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. A study focusing on learning in mice showed that with social memory, something in the plant helps make non-effective doses of caffeine effective.[1]

One dose of the supplement is between 1,000-1,500mg of yerba mate leaf.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18948179

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that is needed for survival. It has been shown to increase cognition in stroke patients with poor dietary intake of zinc [1] and in adolescent girls who were mostly zinc deficient [2]. Zinc deficiency has also been shown to have a negative effect on spatial learning and memory and an increase in zinc in deficient subjects shows improvement for both[3].

Zinc has 2 standard dosages. 5-10 mg is the low dose for preventative supplementation and 25-45 mg is the high dose for those who are at risk for zinc deficiency.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19761652
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20368377
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19183867

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About SupplementHQ

Jessica is a student at BYU studying Physiology and Developmental Biology. She has a passion for the human body and plans to enter the field of human health and nutrition research. Connect with her via Google+ and Facebook.

Comments

  1. what a massive post