Best Nootropic Stacks for Beginners & Experts
You are surely aware that if some nootropic drug is not working effectively for you, it is not a good idea to exceed the recommended dosage. It only seems like a logical decision, but who knows the response of your body to regular overdosing. Sometimes, it leads to adverse or allergic reactions, especially at the beginning, but with time the drug just gets less effective or stops working altogether. Does it mean that you have no chance to feel the full advantages of your favorite medication? No, there is a way out — try a nootropic stack!
Tolerance and unpleasant side effects are the common problems with brain-boosting aids. They occur mostly when people do not follow the instructions for use. There are many reports on the internet about cases where users start taking higher amounts of nootropics to increase their efficiency.
Instead of a better focus and alertness, they get dizziness, restlessness, and inability to concentrate on anything for the first couple of days, and then their drugs do not produce any noticeable effects. Last but not least — eventually, such individuals show decreased cognitive performance and unstable emotional state.
In this article we will tell you about the safe and advantageous way to get the best results from the medications that enhance wakefulness or thinking and working capacities. We are talking about stacking different preparations and taking them together. This method causes neither tolerance and severe withdrawal symptoms, nor adverse reactions of your body. We offer you the guide to safe and effective stacking, you will learn where to buy the best blends, and how to make such preparations on your own. Stacks are very popular both among experienced users and beginners. Herein, you will find out where this positive reputation comes from, and why they can work better than separate medicines.
What Is Nootropic Stack?
The individuals with a long history of nootropic administration noticed that when they take several aids together, different preparations complement each other and provide ultimate benefits. Combining various supplements and active compounds is actually what they call stacking. Such combinations may include two medicines, or be longer than your Christmas shopping list. It is not a joke, there are users who combine more that one hundred items on a daily basis. The practice of using stacks as well as scientific observations have proven that they are more powerful for enhancing memory, attention and concentration, learning capacities, mood, motivation, alertness, etc. They positively alter brain performance and work for a longer time. Compared to the effects of the standalone smart drugs, the synergistic performance of the stacks is the major league of nootropics.
Talking about the selling points of the nootropic combinations, we cannot but inform you that it might not be necessary to start using them from the first intake. The common recommendation is to choose a drug that you like and try an average dose. First of all, it is obviously cheaper than stacking several products. Secondly, you have to see for yourself which ingredients are good and bad for you personally. It will help you build a stack that works with the maximized effectiveness without undesired consequences. Also, it is necessary to remember that some brain-boosting drugs and stimulants may interact with each other in quite the opposite way, causing a negative aftermath.
The nootropic stacks can be divided into two main types:
- simple stacks. These are the ones that consist of a main ingredient and one or two additional compounds that complement and amplify the performance of the basic drug. We call them nootropic stacks for beginners;
- advanced stacks for experts. They are either a combination of many various medications, or include two to three powerful compounds that all have strong effects and should be administered with great care.
Herein, we will tell you how to make both simple and expert stacks, and give you a couple of examples.
So, why are they so advantageous? Single preparation produces a standalone action. Some of them bridge the deficit of certain nutrients in our bodies, for example vitamins, minerals, and other microelements.
Others increase the level of endogenous chemicals such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, etc. We call them neurotransmitters, as they play the role of messengers in the nervous system.
But even these nootropics may work differently:
- serve as the precursors of the neurotransmitters;
- enhance the activity of the tissues that release them;
- prolong the occurrence and performance of these biochemical substances in the human system;
- protect neurons from damage, stimulate receptors, etc.
Furthermore, there are drugs that are good only for memory, mood, motivation, wakefulness, etc. The sum of these actions gives the transcendent impact on the brain performance.
How to Make Nootropic Stack?
Yes, you are right — too much information for one person to choose a drug. Do not worry, there is no need to learn chemistry and biology, there is an easier approach to building the best nootropic stack for you personally. The keywords are “for you personally,” as the future formula of the drug mixture will depend on your profession, lifestyle, age, diet, etc. Certainly, your place of living will also influence the formula of the combination, as the ecology may vary from city to city, and some medications are not available or forbidden in some countries.
Let’s see the basic factors that will determine your choice:
- the first and the most important issue you have to think about is the reason why you need the help of nootropics, what is there in your life you want to improve. Students need something to help with studying, to enhance their learning capacities and concentration. Elderly people often complain of bad memory, doctors and drivers need pills for wakefulness and focus, sportsmen seek additional energy. There are users that require a powerful but safe remedy for depression, anxiety, apathy, fatigue, and brain fog. Once you’ve got all your problems in a row, you can pick the first one and select an appropriate drug for it. For example, racetams and natural sources of levodopa and L-tyrosine are good for memory and cognition. Aniracetam and rhodiola rosea may alleviate the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (shortened as ADHD) as effectively as the prescription brain stimulants, like Adderall or Ritalin. Ashwagandha and ginseng help our brains recover after the injuries. All nootropic supplements have the list of their particular actions and effects;
- ask yourself what is more preferable for you — the modern synthetic prescription drugs or natural remedies. Many people, many opinions – we do not have the only one correct answer. Some people prefer taking the products that were clinically tested and approved by medical authorities. Others like natural remedies for their safety. A similar question is if you are ready to try new medications when their effects have not been completely studied. It depends only on your willingness to take a risk;
- you will have to set up the experiments, and your own body will be the subject of them. After you have defined the problem you need to solve, you must pick the medicine for it. People have different biochemistry, due to their environment, foods, pernicious habits, and so on. Thus, they need different ingredients in different dosages. The only way to choose the right for you is to try the first one, then the second, and further, until you find the drug that gives the desirable effect. Attentively screen the response of your body to the drug. Pay attention not only to the ailment you are treating, but to possible adverse reactions too;
- remember, when it comes to medications, “more” does not always mean “better.” Most likely, the exceeded dose will cause dangerous side effects. Actually, this is why the stacks were invented — to intensify and prolong the effects without increasing the amount. At the same time, the preformulated stacks have the opposite problem. Their capsules may contain an impressive amount of the mixture, but you should consider the strength of each compound separately. Sometimes, they are present in very low, ineffective dosages;
- be ready to adjust to new circumstances quickly. Some preparations, or your favorite drugstore, may disappear from the market. The prices as well as the laws may change. If you really want to improve the work of your brain, be ready to dig deep and try some new brands. Who knows, they might not work for you, but you should not give up and try the next one. Flexible means successful, especially in our case.
What else should be mentioned in this paragraph? Don’t make things more complicated than necessary. Sometimes, the decision is very simple, and all you need is a vitamin complex or a better diet with more omega-3, protein, and other useful nutrients. It will not put a strain on your wallet, and deliver desirable results. By the way, taking B vitamins and fish oil with the supps for thinking and memory is always a good idea, as they nourish the brain and work as the cofactor for the chemical reactions there.
We have mentioned the term “preformulated stacks,” and surely you would like to know what it is. Simply put, these are the brain-enhancing supplements that contain several different ingredients. Such preparations are made by manufacturers and available off the shelf. The obvious advantage of such products is that you do not have to measure and mix the combination by yourself. For beginners, it can be the best and the safest way to get acquainted with nootropic stacks. Usually, preformulated stacks are sold in the form of capsules with extracts or milled powders of numerous roots and herbs. The best-selling examples of the preformulated stacks for brain performance are:
- Brain Elevate by Now Foods, which contains the extracts of ginkgo biloba, rosemary leaf, and Centella asiatica. Additionally, it includes L-glutamine, choline, and phosphatidyl serine;
- the capsules Brainstorm 2, produced by Nature’s Answer, contain ashwagandha, ginkgo biloba, and gotu kola;
- the famous brand Doctor’s Best manufactures the vegetarian caps Ultra Cordyceps Plus. Except cordyceps sinensis, it includes the ginkgo and artichoke extracts;
- an American company Opti-Nutra Ltd. produces the brand Mind Lab Pro, with 250 mg of citicoline, 100 mg of phosphatidylserine, 175 mg of L-tyrosine, and 100 mg of L-theanine. It also contains the extracts of Bacopa monnieri, maritime pine, lion’s mane, and R. rosea. For better dopamine production, Mind Lab Pro includes a B-vitamin complex.
All famous manufacturers try to make their own stacks for focus, cognition, memory, motivation, etc. The list of ingredients of such capsules can be as long as the medical encyclopedia, there is no way to name them all. Most likely, the nootropic stack will be titled as the complex/formula for memory, cognition, or brain performance.
The shortcoming of the premade nootropic combinations is that they leave no room for experiment and individual approach. All doses and ingredients are standard, and there is no possibility to add or detract anything. For beginners, it is a good thing, as there is no chance to do any harm to your health. Moreover, you can take the manufactured stacks with other drugs, if you think that they can complement one another. Piracetam or aniracetam, for instance, may effectively accompany other dietary supplements.
However, advanced users prefer to make their stacks themselves. Not only because this way they are free to choose the constituents and doses, but the expenses also play a big role here. It appears that purchasing the separate medicines and combining them is much cheaper than buying a branded preparation. The companies that produce them have to spend money on design, advertising, etc. Certainly, their prices include these costs. Thus, we have the first two reasons why people choose to stack their nootropics individually — freedom and cost savings.
On the other hand, we do not recommend that users who are not familiar with smart drugs start with complex combinations and make them on their own, without any guidance. The newcomers must learn the interactions and safe doses of all compounds, and at the beginning it is better to keep up to the instructions. Hereafter, we will give you the examples of the nootropic stacks for beginners and experienced users. It is better if you use these recipes for the first time, until you know the reaction of your brain to each particular compound. With time, you will be able to create your own formulas, relying on your own experience. It can be long and sometimes tedious research, but it must be done before you are really ready for stacking the nootropics yourself.
Best Nootropic Stack for Beginners
So, you are a beginner. You tried several nootropics, but they do not solve all your problems when taken separately. After some research, you have made a decision to try stacking and want to prepare your drug yourself. In the table below you can see the common indications for the most used ingredients. It will help you choose the composition according to your needs.
|Focus and vigilance||L-theanine, caffeine, racetams (Noopept seems to be the strongest), modafinil and armodafinil.|
|Thinking and memory||Racetams, centrophenoxine, huperzine A, Bacopa monnieri, ginkgo biloba.|
|Energy||Modafinil, armodafinil, caffeine, phenylpiracetam, ashwagandha, ginseng.|
|Better mood||St. John’s wort, ashwagandha, tianeptine, rhodiola rosea.|
|Anti-stress and anti-aging compounds||Panax ginseng, R. rosea, cordycep mushrooms, ashwagandha, holy basil, coenzyme Q10, quercetin, etc.|
Hereafter, we have gathered the nootropic stacks that enjoy the greatest popularity among inexperienced users. These combinations are reported as safe and efficient for most uses. They are good for those who are only beginning to discover the hidden capacities of their brains.
Caffeine and L-Theanine
This mixture proves our statement that being complicated is not always good. The simplest decisions sometimes have the best results, and the stack 200 mg of L-theanine plus 100 mg of caffeine is a good example. Funny thing, it is actually a combination of coffee and green tea, which no one would use as a morning drink. However, this mixture works very well as a medication. Caffeine brings energy, concentration and wakefulness, but at the same time can cause anxiety, problems with sleep and appetite, restlessness, etc. L-theanine is very helpful for these negative side effects of coffee, as it alleviates annoyance, agitation, and insomnia. This is the simplest but bright illustration of the synergistic performance of different compounds in the nootropic stack. Remember that the ideal ratio is two parts theanine and one part caffeine. If you drink coffee or tea during the day, you should take into consideration the caffeine that is present in your drinks.
Noopept or Racetams with Choline
Another example of a simple and effective stack is the combination of the drugs from the racetam family (Noopept, piracetam, aniracetam and oxiracetam), and choline. You can take choline from different sources:
- choline bitartrate and others;
- soy lecithin;
- Alpha GPC.
The combination of 300 mg of choline and the recommended daily value of a racetam drug is a good starting point for beginners. Many people report that they are happy with their racetam pills, but complain of occasional headaches. This side effect is a consequence of the acetylcholine deficiency caused by the racetam drugs. Noopept and others make your brain consume a lot of this neurotransmitter. Sooner or later you face the undesired effects of this action. The most effective method to administer the racetam drugs is to take them together with choline, which is a precursor of acetylcholine. This way, piracetam and its congeners do not cause the undesired reactions. Do not take too much choline, though, as overdosing causes the same symptoms as a deficiency.
Ashwagandha & St. John’s Wort
Some of our readers are thinking right now — what if we have some more serious tasks for the nootropic stacks than just improved memory and bright thinking? Really, a lot of people use smart drugs to treat such serious psychiatric impairments as major depressive disorder (MDD), social anxiety, various sleeping disorders, cognitive decline in senior patients, brain injuries, chronic stress, etc. Are there any simple stacks with minimum compounds that can be helpful for these illnesses? Yes, we have a safe and well-reputed blend that includes only natural ingredients. Ashwagandha is a famous adaptogen – Ayurveda has employed the magic powers of this herb for ages. Indian people use it to combat toxins, induce physical and mental capacities, and mitigate mood and psychiatric problems. St. John’s wort, the second constituent of the stack, is another famous medicinal plant, which is used as an antidepressant, anti-anxiety agent and the remedy for ADHD.
Hypericum perforatum increases the level of serotonin in the brain and prolongs its effects. This is what makes you feel happier, regain motivation and zest for life, and helps you forget about depression. With balanced serotonin, people are less worried and irritated. Withania somnifera is a source of tropine and withaferin A among other constituents, and is famous for its numerous healing capacities. First of all, it is a powerful stress reducer. Other actions of this herb include normalizing the cortisol level, treating sexual problems, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor performance, and many others.
These two herbal supplements do great teamwork in a nootropic stack, and effectively mitigate stress and tiredness, boost energy, and promote a better physical and mental performance. Still, they cannot be considered “the smart drugs.” Neither of these plants provide significant cognitive or memory enhancement. If you are looking for a better thinking and decision-making, you can add some racetam or caffeine plus L-theanine stack to this combination. Thus, you can get rid of MDD and anxiety, and improve your brain performance, all at once.
Smart Drug Stack for Experts
Oftentimes, our guests meet more than one standalone cognitive or energy problem. We are sure you know what it means — modern hectic life demands numerous complex tasks which we have to deal with day in day out. At work, we need alertness and the ability to make fast and correct decisions, and the gym requires more physical endurance. Sometimes we need to enhance our memory, and sometimes we simply need to relax. A lot of people tried to find the combination of nootropics which could solve all problems. Still, such all-in-one stack does not seem to exist.
There are preparations, though, that belong to the class “nootropic stacks for experts.” They include more ingredients than the stacks for beginners. Consequently, they produce more comprehensive actions. As well as the simple mixtures, advanced composite preparations can be preformulated and customized. Let’s look at a couple of examples of both variants.
TruBrain and Alpha Brain
The most popular bestsellers among premade stacks for advanced users are two brand names — TruBrain and Alpha Brain. They both contain carefully chosen ingredients and have powerful and multilateral effects. These two blends are comprised of efficient brain boosters and different sources of choline — Alpha GPC 100 mg for Alpha Brain, and 250 mg of CDP-choline for TruBrain. Either variant is good for normalization of the acetylcholine of glutamate level. Other compounds of these stacks are also different.
TruBrain is available in three forms: drinks, bars, and capsules. Here is a detailed review of all three:
- drinks, which are also divided into three variants — Daily, Daily Caffeine Free, and Boost. The difference between the first two is obvious, 80 mg of caffeine is present only in the original form. Other active compounds are: 300 mg of vitamin C, 1 g of piracetam, 800 mg of Oxiracetam, L-theanine 160 mg, magnesium 200 mg, and 350 mg of tyrosine. The Boost version differs as follows: it contains 100 mg of caffeine and 200 mg of L-theanine, 12 mg of Noopept instead of piracetam, 500 mg of uridine and 250 mg of meclofenoxate. The name “Boost” was given to this drink because the additional ingredients provide more powerful and quick effects;
- chocolate bars have more calories, they contain cacao, dates, peanuts, almonds and chia seeds, L-theanine and caffeine (150 and 80 mg correspondingly), 20 mg of Noopept and 250 mg of citicoline;
- TruBrain capsules are also available in three variants — Morning, Afternoon, and Boost. The following ingredients are found in these medications: CDP-choline 250 mg, Piracetam (2.4 g for Afternoon and 4 g for Morning), 300 mg of L-theanine, and 800 mg of oxiracetam. The last ingredient is present only in the Boost version. The additional nutrients of TruBrain capsules are magnesium, tyrosine, carnitine, and DHA.
The bottle of Alpha Brain supplement may contain 30 to 90 capsules. The active compounds of this preformulated stack are:
- the extract of the roots and bark of uncaria tomentosa, commonly known as AC-11. 350 mg of AC-11 provide the anti-aging, antioxidant, and DNA-repairing agent. This compound exerts a positive influence on the immune system and increases cellular energy;
- 300 mg of L-tyrosine;
- 200 mg of L-theanine;
- the extract of Bacopa monnieri, 100 mg per a capsule;
- phosphatidylserine, 50 mg. This bioactive compound increases mental and physical activity, used to treat ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease;
- 10 mg of vitamin B6;
- 5 mg of vinpocetine;
- pterostilbene is a comparatively new drug that has brain-boosting, antitoxin, and antitumor effects. It prolongs life, reduces the level of sugar in the blood, helps to gain muscles and treat injuries. One capsule of Alpha Brain contains 0.75 mg of this ingredient;
- 0.4 mg of huperzine A.
The oat straw, which is also found in Alpha Brain, serves as a filler and does not carry any curative properties.
The downsides of these stacks are few, but they may be significant for many users. First of all, they are rather expensive. Their formulas are very complicated, so you will need a precise weighing instrument and a lot of time in order to make them yourself. The good thing is that you can take manufactured drugs together with other nootropics. For example, Alpha Brain effectively cooperates with racetams. TruBrain, in its turn, can be used together with herbal nootropic supplements and adaptogens.
Phenylpiracetam with Alpha GPC
This nootropic stack does not have a lot of constituents, but still it is considered to be a blend for experienced users. Two compounds of this mixture are very powerful, thus should be taken with care.
Phenylpiracetam is a stronger congener of piracetam, with higher capacities to increase focus and energy. As you remember, the active brain performance requires a lot of acetylcholine, which you get from Alpha GPC.
The pros of this stack are intense action and safety. There are some cons too — you should not take this stack regularly, it is good only for occasional use as needed.
Aniracetam or Piracetam, and Oxiracetam
This is a very serious blend that works as a rocket engine for your brain. People often call it “PAO stack,” by the first letters of the ingredients. All racetams are believed to have brain-boosting effects. At the same time, piracetam is better for memory, aniracetam increases your creativity and induces decision-making, and oxiracetam effectively accelerates energy. The blend of these drugs can yield stunning results, but they may be too much for lamers. Sometimes, too intense effects are not what you are looking for. For example, all three nootropics together may increase your sensations to unusual levels, when you hear things you did not hear before and colors seem brighter. The positive aspect of this effect is that you notice the slightest details and analyze situations quicker.
Oxiracetam, when added to other racetam medicines, gives additional stimulation of the brain. All three medications are good for memory, and in combination they provide significant memory augmentation. All the more, you enjoy everything you do, as this stack improves mood and motivation. As for the safety of the PAO stack, you should start with a lower dosage. Take the halved dose of each ingredient and increase it if needed. This combination causes the significant and impressive results, but it is expensive and you will have to experiment with the rates of administration. Additionally, the chronic use of the racetam mixture can lead to sleeping problems. You should attentively track all changes in your mental performance and circadian rhythm.
Sulbutiamine is not actually a stack. It is a synthetic vitamin B1, used as a nutrient to increase memory and to treat B1 deficiency. It also elevates mood, improves thinking, and alleviates anxiety. Sulbutiamine is effective for treating depression and ADHD, it adds motivation and vigilance. The mechanism of action, in simple terms, lays in promoting the acetylcholine, GABA and dopamine activity in the brain. This organic chemical can be used as an ingredient for various stacks:
- sulbutiamine plus huperzine A plus some source of choline. A very good stack for those who need smooth but guaranteed effectiveness;
- B1, racetam drug and choline. Usually, in such combinations the experienced users choose aniracetam.
The average daily value of sulbutiamine is 200 mg. Other constituents should be administered as it is recommended. Keep in mind that this compound may dangerously interact with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as citalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, or dapoxetine.
N-acetyl-L-tyrosine, or NALT, is a modified tyrosine used to increase the level of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. NALT is a precursor for L-dopa, which is metabolized into these neurotransmitters. It produces faster and brighter actions, as it is absorbed into blood faster than L-tyrosine. The role of dopamine in wakefulness, concentration, memory and cognition is well-known. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are the hormones and neurotransmitters that help us make quick decision and boost our energy. NALT is a part of numerous nootropic stacks, it is also available as a standalone preparation. You can use it to make your own blends, the safe daily intake is up to 300 mg. It can be mixed with almost all nootropics without dangerous side effects. There is one precaution, though: you should not use it with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, e.g. hydrazine, toloxatone, etc.
Where to Buy Quality Nootropics?
The preformulated stacks are sold all over the world wide web. Every reputable online pharmacy has nootropics and most of them place the manufactured stacks in their catalogs. Such websites as iHerb, Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, and others offer the most popular brands and various stack formulas. Moreover, manufacturers like Now Foods, Opti-Nutra Ltd., Nature’s Way, Solgar, etc. provide their guests with the possibility to buy their products right on the website of the company. Such premade stacks as TruBrain or Mind Lab Pro have their own web pages, where you can find the detailed information about the stacks and purchase them.
Concerning the customs blends, all possible ingredients are widely represented on the market, and you will not face any difficulties with buying them in the local pharmacies or on the internet. Usually, they are marketed without any prescription from the doctor. Still, we recommend seeking medical advice before you start taking any new medication. Be especially careful with the over-the-counter drugs if you are taking other medications or have serious health problems. Remember that nootropics have multiple effects and work in almost all systems of your body. Thus, they can be contraindicated to some diseases and interact with other preparations.
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