It is almost inevitable that this list of the top 5 nootropics of all time that we came up with will elicit mixed reactions. Some will agree to some extent, some will not, and some will complain about the non-inclusion of their favorite cognitive enhancing agent. Given the sheer number of variables that need to be considered, we found it a bit surprisingly easy to come up with our own selection for the top 5 nootropics of all time.
In selecting the best cognitive enhancers ever, we narrowed down the criteria to the following: effectiveness to a broader demographic (read: not just the academic and recreational nooters), price, availability, and its contribution to the advancement of cognitive enhancing agents.
Here is our list of the Top 5 Nootropics of All Time.
# 5. SUNIFIRAM
The development of cognitive enhancers that had exponentially higher potency than piracetam definitely set online discussion boards abuzz, especially the communities dedicated to users of nootropic agents and to those who have interests in the field of neuroscience. Sunifiram is one of such cognitive enhancers and it has an estimated potency of 1,000 stronger than that of Piracetam. The absence of formal human trials did not stop those who want to sample its potency. Sunifiram is currently being studied for other medical applications.
Its effect is often compared to what was depicted on the movie “Limitless,” a movie about a super nootropic albeit at a much lesser scale. Users report having significantly improved memory and recall, improved learning abilities, enhanced mental clarity, and better verbal fluency. The downside to it however is that it seems that one develops a tolerance for it and like the side effects in the movie “Limitless” it can cause a reversal of its positive effects, with the addition of headaches and decreased motivation. Sunifiram is also a bit on the pricey side.
# 4. NOOPEPT
A good number of nootropic users will be wondering why Noopept is not ranked higher up in this list and they have a valid argument in that regard. Just like the previous entry, Noopept is also estimated to be 1,000 times stronger than Piracetam. Its effects, like Piracetam include better memory functions, improved logical reasoning, better focus, and enhanced sensory perception. Users liken the Noopept experience to watching the world from a 720p perspective then shifting to 1080p after administration. This nootropic agent, like Sunifiram, is also being observed for other potential medical applications.
Noopept however is linked to a number of unpleasant side effects. Some users complain of naggingly consistent headaches that can’t be resolved even with the addition of a choline supplement. Being a peptide-based compound, this cognitive enhancer also has poor bioavailability when taken orally that users have to find other ways to self-administer like through nasal sprays and improvised sublingual pressed powders. It also has a short-half life and one can develop a tolerance for it.
# 3. CHOLINE
Choline is an essential nutrient that is structurally similar to the Vitamin B group. It is an important cognitive enhancer in the sense that the brain needs it to synthesize acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain believed to be responsible for memory and other cognitive processes of the brain. Even though there are rich food sources of choline, it is poorly absorbed in the system and is not very efficient in crossing the blood-brain barrier. This apparent weakness can be offset by taking high quality choline supplements and precursors like Alpha GPC and Citicholine. Choline supplements are almost a standard in every sound and well-planned nootropic stack.
As good as choline is at increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, it can’t do much to affect the way these neurotransmitter functions. Choline merely makes it easier for you to access and use the added levels acetylcholine in your brain. This is also the reason why choline is often regarded as merely a nootropic stack “helper.”
# 2. PHENYLPIRACETAM
There will definitely be those who make an argument for other racetams, mostly from the basis of its effects on them. One must note however, that due to our varying sensitivities to racetam supplementation, our reactions to its effects will also be different. Phenylpiracetam made this list not only for its cognitive enhancing abilities, but also for its ability to enhance physical performance. Phenylpiracetam is around 60 times more potent than piracetam and it can also provide cognitive enhancement just like other racetams, if not better. Users report of having a significantly improved memory, better mental clarity and focus, increased motivation, and added mental energy.
Its ability to improve physical performance is apparently so effective that it was listed among the banned substances of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It does have the usual side effects associated with racetams like headaches, dizziness, insomnia, irritability, and upset stomach. You may also want to stay away from this drug if you happen to be a world-class athlete.
# 1. PIRACETAM
While you may have raised one or both eyebrows with this selection, it might benefit you to know that if not for the development of Piracetam, you would not be reading this article. Without a doubt, Piracetam paved the way for the development of cognitive enhancers. This is also the same reason why most of the other cognitive enhancers that you read about are always being compared to Piracetam. It is the grand daddy of all cognitive enhancers. What is even more awesome is that Piracetam is not exactly the type of cognitive enhancer that, you’ll go mouthing “oh it was good during its time,” because it is still pretty much in use now.
This granddaddy of all noots was first synthesized in Belgium in 1964, by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgia, the very same person who gave you the word “nootropic.” Piracetam set the standard for nootropic agents, which is why even the most recently developed cognitive enhancing compounds are being compared to it. To date Piracetam is still being studied and observed for its potential as a treatment for a host of other medical conditions.
There are of course, some other nootropic agents that almost made it to this list such as other racetams like Aniracetam and Coluracetam, nutraceuticals such as Bacopa monnieri, and other ampakine like substances like Unifiram. This list did not include experimental substances with letters, numbers, and squiggly lines as it would be difficult to get an unbiased review from pampered, yet stressed out laboratory rodents. Some may also complain about the absence of eugeroics like Modafinil and Adderall. These wakefulness promoting agents are excluded because their cognitive enhancing properties are just secondary effects
Based on the standard for nootropics set by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgia, a cognitive enhancing agent must pass several criteria. According to the good doctor, a true “nootropic” should have the following abilities
- It should be able to enhance memory.
- The memory retained should be resistant to brain trauma, whether physical or chemical.
- It should be able to help make the tonic cortical and subcortical mechanisms more efficient
- It must have very few side-effects and it must not be toxic.
It should be clear from these standards set by Dr. Giurga that most existing cognitive enhancers come up short. These standards should also partly explain why some of the cognitive enhancers above made it to the list. We would sure like to see your own list of the top 5 nootropics of all time.