The goal of Nootropics is to boost brain performance

Nootropics UK - The definitive guide for 2020

Nootropics UK are also known as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers.” They are supplements that improve brain function, concentration, productivity and they are also known to boost memory function. Hundreds of companies in the UK and globally retail these substances, and in recent years they have become extremely popular.

In this definitive guide to natural brain boosters, you will learn about the most prominent and effective brain supplements on the market, focusing on the uses, benefits, possible side effects and dosage for each substance we discuss. Firstly let’s talk about the origins of nootropics before we look further into the types of nootropics available on the market, especially on the nootropics uk market.

Origins of Nootropics

The word nootropic was first introduced in 1972 by a prominent Romanian psychologist and pharmacist, Corneliu Giurgea. Broken down, the word essentially means “mind turner.”

Supplements known as nootropics are designed to enhance the way your brain functions, making it work faster and more effieciently. Allowing you to focus effectively for longer periods of time without getting distracted, providing you with the ability to study and assimilate information with less difficulty. For elderly people, taking nootropics slows the ageing of the brain. As we age, the brain neurons drastically decrease and brain cells degenerate.

Nootropics are supposed to reduce the rate in which the brains cells degenerate.

Who Uses Nootropics in the UK?

Nootropics are often recommended for people who work long hours, people who work from home such as writers, web designers, bloggers and app developers. However, it seems the largest market for nootropics are students. They often stay up all night trying to assimilate as much information as possible in order to pass vital exams.

They often find nootropics useful for improving memory and for boosting productivity. There are thousands of online reviews that state that nootropics or cognitive brain boosters have helped them during crucial examination times.

There are plenty of brain boosting supplements available both online and offline, here are some of the products available on the nootropics uk market:

Firstly let’s talk about the most popular brain boosters out there:

One of the most popular nootropics out there are the smart drugs. There are several to choose from, although we prefer to focus on natural based nootropics. Studies have highlighted that there were more than 450,000 smart drug buyers between 2014 and 2015, the majority of these buyers were students, primarily final year university students.

Smart drugs or natural nootropics?

So what are “smart drugs” used for?

To reduce sleeplessness associated with sleep apnea or severe insomnia

-Boost energy levels

-Improve focus and concentration

The sole purpose of using modafinil is to treat sleeplessness connected with acute insomnia and sleep apnea. However, over the years people have realised that it is highly effective for boosting productivity and improving focus and concentration. Remember Nootripics UK law, a prescription will be required.

Here are some of the benefits of taking modafinil:

Modafinil is often referred to as one of the safest smart drugs out there. Oxford university studies have revealed that when healthy people take modafinil, they experience various benefits such as improved problem solving ability, a drastic boost in creativity and improved focus and productivity. Other studies have also revealed that users have experienced the following positive side effects:

-Increased joy when working and carrying out tasks

-Boost in fluid intelligence

-Improved memory

-Ability to assimilate information faster and more efficiently

What about the side effects of drug based nootropics?

With most drugs or supplements, there are often some reported side effects. Here are some of the side effects reported pertaining to smart drugs.

-Reduced creativity(only in people who already identify themselves as creative, people that do not identify themselves as creative often experience a boost in creativity)

Other reported side effects include:

-Minor anxiety



natural vs lab created Nootropics

What's a typical UK Nootropic blend?

Neurostim Extracts is available as a multi-supplement, it combines 5 powerful nootropics and aptogens. These potent ingredients help to boost productive output, and increase focus and concentration. The sole purpose of Neurostim Extracts is to faciliate the undertaking of difficult tasks, and to allow the user to step into the challenging world of total deep work. This particular nootropic is designed to boost memory function, increase energy and improve focus.

The ingredients in the Neurostim extracts help to transform a tired mind, to increase motivaiton and drive to work and succeed. This particular formula is supposed to obliterate laziness and push you to complete tasks in an efficient and effective way.

We’d recommend looking for something that consists of the following ingredients: 

1000mg Lions Mane Mushroom Extract

200mg Panax Ginseng 

300 mg Bacopa Monneri

350mg Rhodiola Extract

50 cg Huperzine

Nootropics uk like Lions Mane Extract

Let's take a look at Lions Mane

Lion’s mane is quickly becoming one of the most popular natural nootropics available, owing to it’s research proven effects and its tolerance with most users.

The benefits?

-Reduces rate in which brain cells degenerate

-Improves memory

-Reduces inflammation

-Boosts the immune system

Lions Mane mushrooms alone help to improve brain function and they work to reduce inflammation in the body and they are known to boost the immune system.

Side Effects: 

There are no known serious or adverse side effects for healthy indidviduals taking Lions Mane mushrooms. However, for those who have a mushroom allergy or intolerance, skin hives and and shallow breathing have been reported as side effects of consuming Lions mane mushrooms.

Korean Ginseng Nootropic UK

Panax Ginseng, an age old trusted nootropic

Ginseng has been utilized as a Chinese medicinal herb for centuries. It is often used as an energy booster and mood enhancer, some say it boosts libido and improves memory function too.

Here are some of the known benefits of panax ginseng:

-Reduces Inflammation

-Improves brain function

-Boosts the immune system

-Boosts energy levels

Side Effects 

Here are some of the side effects associated with consuming gensing:

Gensing is known to be very safe, as it is a natural health product however, if you are currently taking medication for diabetes or heart medication, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor before you start taking panax ginseng. Consuming ginseng could essentially reduce the effectiveness of the prescription drugs. Although there have been no significant studies to suggest this, it is always necessary to consult with your doctor prior to embarking on a course of any natural health supplement, particularly if you are already taking prescription medication.

Caution: Supplements containing panax ginseng should not be taken for more than 6 months at a time. It is recommended that you take them for 2-3 week cycles, with two weeks break.


The recommended dosage for panax ginseng is 200mg to 400mg per day, depending on how healthy the individual is.

Bacopa is a time proven Nootropic

Bacopa Monnieri - A new and upcoming natural Nootropic

Bacopa Monnieri is known to rapidly and significantly boost cognitive function and there have been a plethora of studies conducted over the years to prove this. Bacopa works by reducing the symptoms associated with anxiety to calm the user down creating a calm, cool focused state of mind. In order to work efficiently and effectively it is vital that you maintain a calm and focused disposition. Bacopa works alongside other ingredients to create a potent nootropic brain booster. They are readily available on the nootropics UK market.


Bacopa improves brain function significantly, it also works well to improve nerve and cell growth.

Side Effects 

Are there any side effects associated with taking Bacopa?

Some of the minor side effects associated with consuming bacopa are:

  • Nausea.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue

Caution: Drink plenty of water when taking supplements that contain bacopa to avoid dehydration.


The recommended standard dosage for bacopa is 300mg daily, more depending on how long you have been taking bacopa for.

Rhodiola Rosea is a upcoming nootropic uk

Rhodiola Rosea, the energy boosting powerhouse

Rhodiola is a nootropic herb that is often utlilized to reduce stress levels and boost energy. It is specifically used for reducing the effects of chronic fatigue.


Here are some of the benefits associated with consuming Rhodiola:

  • Reduce stress levels
  • Increase energy
  • Helps alleviate the symptoms of depression
  • Enhances brain function
  • Improves energy for working out
  • Balances sugar levels

Side effects 

Are there any known side effects connected to taking Rhodiola ?

If taken for less than 6 to 12 weeks, there should not be any adverse side effects. However, side effects associated with taking Rhodiola are often connected with overconsumption of the supplement.



The recommended dosage for Rhodiola is 400 to 600mg per day.


Bacopa improves brain function significantly, it also works well to improve nerve and cell growth.

Side Effects 

Are there any side effects associated with taking Bacopa?

Some of the minor side effects associated with consuming bacopa are:

  • Nausea.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue

Caution: Drink plenty of water when taking supplements that contain bacopa to avoid dehydration.


The recommended standard dosage for bacopa is 300mg daily, more depending on how long you have been taking bacopa for.

Huperzine is a naturally occurring nootropic extract

Huperzine A - The new kid Nootropic on the block

Huperzine prevents the degeneration of the brain hormone Acetylicholine which is the hormone connected with the acquisition of knowledge. When this hormone is drastically reduced, it becomes very difficult to learn and assimilate information long-term. Huperzine helps to reduce the destruction of this particular hormone by encouraging the body to produce more of it.

Side Effects

Possible side effects connected with taking Huperzine include nausea, bloating, stomach pains, overactive bowel function, dehydration and dizziness.


The recommended daily dosage of huperzine should be about 50 to 200 mcg per day.

  • Stomach pains


The recommended dosage of creatine is 5g per day. You can exceed this dose however, speak to a health professional before doing so.

Gingko Biloba - A traditional asian herb, used for nootropics uk

Gingko Biloba - Adaptogen, Nootropic and stress reliever

Gingko Biloba is a well known brain function enhancer. Some have renamed the Gingko Biloba “The Limitless Pill.” When taken in supplement form they help to improve the memory and boost your ability to process information. The recommended amount of time that users should take Gingko Biloba is 6 weeks continously. Gingko Biloba has also been known to reduce stress and to increase productive focus and concentration whilst undertaking challenging tasks or work.

Side Effects 

There are no reported major side effects although some users do report, headaches, nausea and stomach pains.


Research has shown that Gingko Biloba is most effective when consumed in multiple doses in any given day. The total dosage should amount to 120 to 240mg.

Noopept is a synthetic nootropic uk

A look at Noopept, a controversial Synthetic Nootropic, not in the UK.

Noopept is a lab produced (Synthetic) cognitive enhancer, one of the major benefits of Noopept is that it is a fast acting supplement that provides the user with quick results. It is a powerful Nootropic and can help to increase brain function, improve memory and enhance overall focus during difficult work. Recommended for college students, shift workers and those who find it difficult to stay focused when carrying out important tasks.

Scientific studies have shown that Noopept can help to improve the rate in which brain cells grow, it also improves brain processing speeds. It has also been used in brain injury recovery.

  • Improved brain function
  • Improved memory
  • Increased energy
  • Increased focus and productivity

Side Effects 

Here are some of the possible side effects that users have reported when consuming noopept:Slight nausea

  • Dehydration
  • Mild stomach pains

These side effects are possible side effects and they do not occur in the majority of people who consume this particular nootropic. It is always advised to contact your doctor to find out if it is appropriate for you to take noopept or any other nootropic, espeically if you are already taking prescription medication.  

Phenotropil, a UK restricted Nootropic

Phenotropil, another UK restricted Nootropic

Phenotropil is another powerful lab-produced brain enhancer and should also be taken with caution. It can be purchased from pharmacies and no prescription is needed when purchasing it.

One of the major benefits of Phenotropil is that it repairs damaged brain cells making it very effective for people who are suffering with brain cell damage. Also, those with poor memory function can greatly benefit from taking this particular nootropic. Once again, it is vital that you take it with caution as it has been known to interact with certain prescription medications. The best advice is to consult with your doctor to find out if it safe to take it alongside the prescription medication that you are already taking.

Phenotropil can actually enhance memory and boost brain processing speeds making it suitable for anyone who studies, writes, creates websites or generally works long hours. It has been known to improve focus and productivity over time.

Like all non-prescription supplements or smart drugs, take with caution and consume in small doses to see how your body reacts with it prior to taking larger doses of nootropics uk.

Piracetam is a lab produced nootropic supplement that can be purchased from most nootropics uk marketplaces, mainly online and sometimes offline. The main reason people take this particular supplement is to enhance memory and to improve focus. Elderly people can also take it to reduce the rate in which the brain cells reduce. As you age, the brain neurons drastically reduce in number making it difficult to remember important things. Also processing information can be difficult as you age, therefore, taking supplements to stimulate the brain can greatly improve the rate in which you assimilate information and it can improve overall brain function.

As an elderly person, it is not advised to just purchase smart drugs without consulting your healthcare professional first. It is best to consult with your doctor to ensure the safety of the product and to make sure that the supplement does not interact with any of the drugs that you might already be consuming.

Caution: When taking Piracetam, it is vital that you consume plenty of water, this applies to when you are taking any other brain enhancing supplement. Consuming brain enhancing supplements or nootropic supplements a can cause dehydration and other side effects such as headaches, stomach cramps and digestive problems therefore, consuming plenty of water can reduce these side effects.

We recommend only using this type of nootropic under doctor supervision.

Ashwagandha is a well known Nootropic UK

Ashwagandha - Perhaps the most loved Nootropic and Adaptogen?

Ashwagandha is an Asian natural bark/root supplement, some studies have shown that consuming Ashwagandha in pill or powder form can reduce stress and improve brain functionality over time. Ashwagandha is thought to stimulate the hippocampus which is the gland in the brain that is responsible for memory formation. This particular natural nootropic can help users to remember vital information and some users have also reported improved memory and clearer thoughts.

This amazing plant based nootropic has a plethora of effects, from increasing libido to reducing blood sugar. We always recommend trying this supplement when first trailing nootropics, as it is generally well tolerated and it’s adaptogenic propertieis are well documented.

We’ve dedicated an entire article to this compound, be sure to check it out here.

Some concluding thoughts about Nootropics in the UK

There are hundreds of nootropics available on the market, it is always best to conduct extensive research prior to taking any nootropics products. Also, there are plenty of dishonest companies online selling substandard products. Therefore, prior to purchasing items, read extensive reviews on forums and purchase a small quantity before you commit to buying large quantities of any particular smart drug.

A few things to remember:

-Speak to your doctor if you are taking prescription drugs

-Do not consume if you suffer from high blood pressure 

-Do not consume if suffer from any other heart problems

-Drink plenty of water when you are consuming these compounds

-Check which nootropics interact well with each other before combining them together

-Check your diet as some foods do not interact with your supplements

-Do extensive research on the company prior to purchasing any nootropics uk

Nootropic FAQ - Answering your questions

Are Nootropics Safe?

We’re asked this question all of the time, and it’s not something that’s easily answered, because by definition, Nootropics cover a wide range of substances, both natural and synthetic. We’re going to focus on the safety of natural compounds, such as Ashwagandha root.

In brief, pharmaceutical based Nootropics have more controversy  and generally are considered a higher risk to users, as reflected in the laws which have prohibited or restricted their sale, such as the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

Nootropic supplements are different in many ways to pharmacutetical preparations, primarily by the fact they are of natural origin and not synthetic compounds. For a natural substance to be used in a food supplement preparation, it must be approved by the governing body of the country of sale, for example the European Food Standards Agency in Europe.

Generally, natural nootropics in the UK have not received any notable reports of ill effects, or impact by government legislation because of their safety track record.

Food supplement based nootropics, which you may decide to buy, are back by basic toxiciology studies, as well as studies to assess their effectiveness.

Is there an age restriction?

The general consensus is that you should be over 18 to use any type of nootropic supplement, this is because the effects are fairly unknown on developing physiology, although there isn’t any evidence to indicate any risk to anyone under the age of 18 yet.

Students are a large demographic of Nootropic users, and we’d recommend conducting sufficient research into your product before use, to ensure you are not taking unnecessary risks.

Do Nootropics really work?

The science based evidence is very promising in regards to the efficiency of nootropics uk. There are many new natural compounds coming onto the market, some which were previously used for other purposes, and some entirely new extracts.

Older generation, more researched nootropics such as Ashwagandha will have more information to digest, but new generation products may offer more effective solutions to cognitive enhancement.

About the Author

Harriet Smith, RD

Harriet is a Registered Dietitian, award-winning Health Writer.

Harriet also runs a nutrition communications agency led by qualified Dietitians/Nutritionists, producing evidence-based content and delivering impactful campaigns for food, nutrition, and medical nutrition companies nationally.

Alumni of Kings College London

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