If you are asking, are nootropics safe? You must be thinking about taking the supplements, but you aren’t sure whether they will have side effects on you, right? Before we answer this question, let us first understand what nootropics are and how they work. Nootropics are supplements meant to improve or alter a person’s cognitive performance by altering the neurotransmitters in the brain.

How do you use nootropics?

There are two main types of nootropics: those that you can use every day without fail and you don’t develop a tolerance, and those that lose their effectiveness after some time and you have to increase the dosage to continue benefiting from them.
You can take either of the nootropics or do nootropic stacking. This is where you take at least two different nootropics together to create a better and synergistic cognitive outcome.
To learn more about nootropic stacking and how to properly take the various nootropics, visit EvidenceLive website.

Are nootropics safe?

To answer this question, we need to look at the main types of nootropics available in the market: prescription and over-the-counter (non-prescription) nootropics.

Prescription nootropics

As you can guess, these are prescribed by an authorized doctor. These nootropics often contain a stimulant such as amphetamine used to treat a myriad of conditions such as dementia, narcolepsy, ADHD, and other conditions.

The most common prescription nootropics are:

  • Modafinil: This is a stimulant used to correct sudden narcolepsy drowsiness
  • Adderall: Contains amphetamines that treat ADHD
  • Memantine: Treats the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Methylphenidate: A stimulant that can manage the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy

While these nootropics are highly effective at treating various conditions, you should not use them without the doctor’s authority. This is because like other medications, these “smart drugs” carry their fair share of risks such as:

  • A fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Troubled vision
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related problems
  • Addiction
  • Impulsive behavior such as risky sexual practices.

To have an easy time managing the side effects that might come up, work closely with your doctor.

Over the counter nootropics

From their name, these are nootropics that don’t require a doctor’s prescription to use them—you buy them directly from the drug store.
These nootropics are often obtained from natural sources, and they include:


This is the same caffeine you find in coffee and tea. While it's harmless in small amounts, large amounts of caffeine can lead to increased agitation and even death.
Caffeine pills and powders often contain high amounts of the stimulant, which you can use to fix your mental condition, but you should be cautious of the amount you use to avert the side effects. As a rule of thumb, never take more than 400 mg of caffeine a day.
So before you take that caffeine pill, check the amount of caffeine in the pill and don’t take more than you should.

Ginkgo biloba

Native to China, Korea, and Japan, Ginkgo biloba has been around for a long time, and a recent study (2016) showed that by taking 200 mg of the herbal supplements for at least 5 months, you have the ability to improve your brain function, improve dementia symptoms and other mental problems.
While studies show that Ginkgo biloba does its work, these studies aren’t enough to declare the herb safe—further research needs to be done.
So, when it comes to the safety of Ginkgo biloba, you should avoid taking it as there are plenty of better researched and proven prescription nootropics you can take instead. 


L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea, but there are l-theanine supplements containing higher concentrations of the amino acid.
L-theanine has been proven to increase the alpha waves in the brain that contribute to a relaxed and alert mental state.
A combination of l-theanine and caffeine has been shown to boost cognitive performance and alertness. While this is the case, ensure that you follow the FDA’s caffeine guidelines to avoid momentous side effects.
Although, there are no official l-theanine dosage guidelines, most supplement companies recommend you take between 100 mg and 400 mg of the amino acid per day.


These are synthetic compounds that have been shown to affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Some of the notable racetams you should be aware of include: pramiracetam, piracetam, aniracetam, and phenylpiracetam.
Like with l-theanine, there is no set dosage, so you should follow the instructions given on the bottle or consult a healthcare provider.
As long as you take the supplement according to the given instructions, you shouldn’t worry about side effects as studies haven’t found any adverse effects of taking racetams as per the given directions.

Omega 3 fatty acids

They are one of the most popular and studied mental enhancers, and studies show that the fatty acids help build the membranes around the body cells; hence they are vital at repairing and renewing the brain cells.
You will find these polyunsaturated fats in fatty fish or fish oil supplements.
Although the supplements carry a low risk when you take them as directed, they can interact with other medications and cause blood clotting, which, as you know, is lethal.
To be on the safe side, before you take the supplements, first check with your doctor.

The verdict: are Nootropics safe?

By definition, yes, nootropics are safe, but you should be cautious of how you take them.
As a rule of thumb, be choosy about the supplements you take. For example, stay away from less studied nootropics such as Ginkgo biloba.
Instead, stick with properly researched and proven supplements containing high-quality ingredients and safety certifications. The supplements should also have well-designed formulas and clean labels.
If your budget allows it, go with prescription nootropics, as they have already been certified by the relevant authorities.
The other thing you should do to ensure you are safe is to take the nootropics the right way. Always follow the doctor or manufacturer’s directions. If the manufacturer or doctor doesn’t recommend cycling or stacking, don’t do it.
Finally, visit a doctor immediately when you have any side effects, regardless of how minor they are.