0 Cart
Added to Cart
    You have items in your cart
    You have 1 item in your cart

    Supplementation — Nootropics

    What Are Nootropics And How Can They Improve Your Brain's Performance?

    People use nootropic supplements to enhance brain function, cognitive ability, and intellectual performance.

    Nootropic Supplements

    Nootropic supplements are dietary supplements that people consume for the purpose of enhancing brain function, cognitive ability, and intellectual performance. Most nootropic supplements are derived from natural or nutraceutical sources. They are biological molecules found in nature, either as plant phytochemicals, or as substances already existing within the human body.

    While the term ‘nootropic’ is a modern term, historically, the use of nootropics dates back thousands of years. Bacopa monnieri, an important herb in India’s Ayurvedic medical system, has been consumed for over three thousand years.

    Bacopa was initially described around the 6th century BCE in texts such as the Charaka Samhita, Athar-Ved, and Susrutu Samhita as a medhya rasayana–class herb taken to sharpen intellect and attenuate mental deficits. The herb was allegedly used by ancient Vedic scholars to memorize lengthy sacred hymns and scriptures. In modern times, Bacopa has been given to Indian school children to enhance concentration and learning.[1]

    The use of Gingko biloba in Traditional Chinese Medicine also has a long history. Ancient Chinese writings mention the medicinal use of Gingko as a cognitive enhancer during the Han dynasty between 206 BCE and 220 BCE.  

    The Father of Nootropic Supplements

    Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea (1923-1995) is referred to by many as the ‘father of nootropics.’ Giurgea was a Romanian psychologist and chemist who specialized in brain pharmacology and cognitive performance research. 

    Dr. Giurgea had a distinguished career, serving as a professor and research fellow at a number of universities in Europe and the U.S. He ultimately worked as a scientific counselor and researcher for the Belgian pharmaceutical company, Union Chimique Belge (UCB). 

    Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea is considered by many to be the father of nootropic supplements.


    Giurgea dedicated his life to furthering the conscious evolution of humanity. He felt that humans could and should work to further their own cognitive potential through whatever means at their disposal, including the use of nootropic supplements and drugs. In his own words;

    “Man is not going to wait passively for millions of years before evolution offers him a better brain.”

    It was Giurgea who, in 1972, coined the term ‘nootropic.’ It derives from the Greek roots ‘nous’, meaning ‘mind’, and ‘tropi’, meaning ‘change; or ‘mind change.’ 

    In 1964, eight years earlier, Giurgea made his first big breakthrough with nootropics. He was able to synthesize a molecular compound that was shown to boost memory, learning, creativity, verbal fluency, and brain circulation. He called his compound, ‘piracetam.’ Since his initial discovery of piracetam, a sub-group of similar synthetic substances has been developed, which includes;

    • Piracetam (general cognitive enhancer)
    • Aniracetam (AMPA receptor modulator, mood and cognitive enhancer)
    • Phenylpiracetam (stimulant, anti-amnesic, neuroprotective)
    • Oxiracetam (mild stimulant, memory enhancer)
    • Pramiracetam (stimulant, memory and cognitive enhancer)
    • Fasoracetam (GABAergic)
    • Coluracetam (cholinergic function enhancer)

    There are a few additional racetam-related compounds that are still being evaluated for their potential nootropic effects. It is these racetam compounds that currently fall into a gray area with respect to their classification as nutraceutical supplements or pharmaceutical drugs. In spite of their synthetic origins, these substances are currently available for sale in the U.S. as nootropic supplements.

    Dr. Giurgea taught that there were five essential characteristics that define what a nootropic is.


    According to Giurgea, a nootropic had to have five characteristics;

    1. it should enhance learning and memory
    2. it should enhance the brain’s resistance to stressful conditions 
    3. it should protect the brain from chemical or physiological assaults (neuroprotective)
    4. it should increase the brain’s cellular communication
    5. it should lack the usual pharmacological characteristics of other psychotropic drugs (meaning they shouldn’t impair motor function or possess sedative qualities), and they must have very few (if any) side effects and extremely low toxicity

    Dr. Giurgea’s original concept of what defines a nootropic has evolved significantly since the 1960’s. Today, a substance is considered a nootropic if it benefits brain function or health in any way. There are now over eighty natural substances marketed as nootropic supplements which fall under this broader definition. The list includes such common ingredients as B vitamins, caffeine, and l-theanine.  


    The Market for Nootropic Supplements

    The stakes are high for nootropic supplement companies and their customers, with the U.S. nootropic supplement market valued in 2015 at over $640 million. Nootropics have gained wide acceptance with older people for memory enhancement, and amongst young people as mood enhancers and cognitive boosters.[2]

    One factor driving this interest is the intense nootropic research which has been conducted over the past few decades. Much of the research has been focused on potential applications to chronic illnesses such as dementia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Parkinsons, and milder forms of age-related cognitive disorders. There has also been research into possible applications for depression, stress, and similar psycho-emotional disorders.  

    As a product, and oftentimes a by-product of this research, scientists have identified many cognitive-enhancing characteristics, in both synthetic and natural nootropic substances. This fact has led to an increasing interest in young people who are in search of ways to increase their physical and mental productivity, and to improve mood.

    A survey of Cambridge University students in England found that 10% of the student body took nootropics to improve their ability to concentrate during exams [3] 

    How Nootropic Supplements Work

    There are essentially nine reasons why people take nootropics;

    • to improve memory
    • to increase concentration and focus
    • to improve learning ability
    • to enhance creativity
    • to produce a tranquil mental clarity
    • to increase motivation and stamina for physical work
    • to combat stress 
    • to facilitate brain cellular regeneration
    • to help prevent neuro-pathologies

    Generally speaking, nootropics work in six different ways.  

    1. Energy – Compared to the rest of the body’s organs, the brain is the largest consumer of energy, consuming 20% of our total supply. Nootropics support energy metabolism by promoting mitochondrial efficiency. 
    2. Neurotransmitters – Nootropics increase neurotransmitter production, which in turn promotes neuron-to-neuron communication, a requirement for all cognitive function, including memory and learning.
    3. Brain Circulation – Nootropics act as vasodilators, widening arteries and veins to allow more blood flow to the brain, which in turn increases brain nutrients. Impaired brain circulation is known to decrease cognitive function.
    4. Brain Waves – Different brain wave frequencies correspond to different conscious states; from gamma, the highest, down to delta, the lowest. Some nootropics can help raise brain wave frequencies to produce desired cognitive effects.
    5. Neuroprotection – Some nootropics have antioxidant qualities, helping to protect against damage caused by toxic compounds, like free radicals. Some also have adaptogenic properties, helping to ward off stress and fatigue.  
    6. Neurogenesis – A few nootropics are believed to have the ability to help promote the process of developing new neuronal tissues, which support brain cell repair, maintenance and plasticity, by supplying some of the necessary raw nutritional building blocks.

    Stacking Nootropic Supplements

    Nootropics can be taken as individual ingredients, or they can be combined in a formula with other ingredients. Stacking nootropics allows for ingredient ‘role playing’ and synergy.

    The long list of nootropic ingredients found above demonstrates that each of these substances has its own unique characteristics compared to the others. Therefore, by combining them together into a single supplement, it is possible to choose specific ingredients to achieve specialized objectives.

    For example, one ingredient may promote neurogenesis, a second ingredient may have neuroprotective qualities, while a third boosts energy.  

    Another reason to stack ingredients is to create synergy. Researchers and supplement product formulators have long realized the benefits which can be derived from combining compatible ingredients, where the value of the stacked combination is worth more than the sum of its individual parts.

    Through the synergy behind a multitude of nootropic ingredients, we’ve created metaBRAIN. metaBRAIN is a box of three nootropic combinations, all formulated for different applications. This box includes metaFOCUS, metaMEMORY, and metaDRIVE -- each with their own subset of features and synergy between the formulations. You can learn more about metaBRAIN here.


        1. Mitra-Ganguli, Tora et al. “A Randomized, Double-Blind Study Assessing Changes in Cognitive Function in Indian School Children Receiving a Combination of Bacopa monnieri and Micronutrient Supplementation vs. Placebo.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 8 678. 17 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00678
        2. Urban, Kimberly R, and Wen-Jun Gao. “Performance enhancement at the cost of potential brain plasticity: neural ramifications of nootropic drugs in the healthy developing brain.” Frontiers in systems neuroscience vol. 8 38. 13 May. 2014, doi:10.3389/fnsys.2014.00038
        3. d'Angelo, L-S Camilla et al. “Lifestyle use of drugs by healthy people for enhancing cognition, creativity, motivation and pleasure.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 174,19 (2017): 3257-3267. doi:10.1111/bph.13813

      Caffeine and L-Theanine: The Perfect Beginner Nootropics Stack

      Caffeine and L-Theanine: The Perfect Beginner Nootropics Stack

      Caffeine and L-theanine make a great nootropic partnership, and like all good partnerships, each member contributes something important to the relationship.

      Oftentimes, one partner is strong in one area, but weak in another. Ideally, each partner compensates in some way for his counterpart’s weaknesses, and the synergistic combination results in more than the sum of its parts. This is certainly true with the nootropic stack, caffeine and L-theanine

      Caffeine, the alkaloid found in coffee, cocoa, soft drinks, chocolate, migraine medications, and popular South American drinks like mate and guarana, is the most consumed drug in the world, rivaled only by nicotine and alcohol (ethanol). 

      Two and a quarter billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day. The majority of people in the world, especially in the U.S., consume some form of caffeine in the morning to enhance alertness and to ‘get their motor going’. 

      Tea is also widely popular, both black and green tea, with two billion people consuming tea each day. Tea also contains some caffeine, with the black variety containing more than green tea. But tea, especially green tea, also contains the amino acid, L-Theanine. 

      Both caffeine and L-theanine are stimulants, but they work in different ways and produce different effects in users.

      How Caffeine and L-Theanine Affect Your Mind & Body

      Caffeine tends to cause a nervous, jittery reaction when consumed at high levels. A typical cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine and most health experts agree that adults can consume up to 400 mg per day with no adverse effects. But amounts over 300 mg or 400 mg per day tend to cause these jittery side effects. 

      L-theanine, on the other hand, while having stimulant and cognitive boosting qualities, also has a calming effect. When combined with caffeine, it forms an ideal partnership. L-theanine balances the nerve-related side effects of caffeine. All of the negative effects of over-consuming caffeine like restlessness and anxiety are essentially neutralized when used with L-theanine. 

      The Science Behind Caffeine

      Caffeine, acting through several systems of neurotransmitters, is a mild psychostimulant to the central nervous system.

      It stimulates the nervous system by blocking the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine, which tends to produce drowsiness and fatigue. In response to this, the body increases neurotransmitter production of GABA and serotonin, which is correlated with improved mood and relaxation.

      The Science Behind L-Theanine

      L-theanine has long been known to promote concentration and relaxation. It also affects the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure.

      L-theanine elevates the brain’s GABA activity. GABA is the principal inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter in the brain. It decreases neuron activity and inhibits nerve cells from over-firing. GABA supports the brain against stress-related messages, and blocks these signals from reaching the motor centers of the brain by occupying their receptor sites.

      L-theanine can also elevate the levels of key neurotransmitters in the brain. So, it helps blood pressure, enhances mood, relieves stress, and promotes brain alpha waves. L-theanine soothes your mind and calms you down without being too sedating.

      A Synergistic Combination

      All of the negative side-effects of over-consuming caffeine like restlessness and anxiety are essentially neutralized when combined with L-theanine.

      The combination of the two produces a calm alertness with increased focus and concentration. It’s a zen-like energy boost, which results in a nootropic that utilizes the best of both of these two ingredients.

      Caffeine and L-theanine are available to buy separately or in pre-combined/stacks. Each supplement sold separately is relatively inexpensive and both are available online and in stores. 

      Ideally, you want to take double the amount of L-theanine compared to caffeine. For example, a regimen of 200mg L-theanine and 100mg of caffeine is ideal for most users.

      You should, of course, experiment with what works best for you. Don’t overlook this powerful combination and take advantage of them in combination to optimize your concentration, focus, and productivity. 

      Introducing metaDRIVE®

      Our nootropic supplement, metaDRIVE (part of the metaBRAIN box) has been formulated specifically to utilize the ideal partnership of caffeine and L-theanine with a combination of neurotransmitter precursors, including L-dopa, L-tyrosine, and Rhodiola rosea. It also contains sulbutiamine and green tea extract (EGCG), both of which enhance the process of conversion from this key neurotransmitter for motivation, focus, and pleasure.