Are Nootropics Safe? | A-Z Guide

Are nootropics safe? 

The truth is, there is no simple answer to the question ‘are nootropics safe?’ these days. The answer will vary, depending on the nootropic in question and the individual. After all, nootropics can vary widely in their effects on the mind and body.

You can feel at ease, however, in the knowledge that many nootropics, including the most popular ones, are very safe. A large body of evidence has generally shown this to be the case.

This article will delve into what scientific research has to say about nootropics, so you can make an informed decision about the best nootropics.

The best nootropics are those that are the most effective and safe.

I am not a doctor or a lawyer. Always consult a medical professional before consuming any nootropic supplements, like Mind Lab Pro. Please read my full disclaimer too.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are drugs or supplements that help to boost your cognitive performance [1]. This means that they can help improve mental functions such as memory, creativity, motivation, and attention.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that there are different kinds of smart drugs. We can classify smart drugs into the following three categories [2]:

  1. Dietary supplements (e.g. extracts of ginkgo biloba and Panax ginseng, taken in pill form). These are manufactured products that aim to supplement your diet and improve your health. Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes, and extracts of natural products. Some dietary supplements, such as ginseng, can have nootropic (cognitive-enhancing) effects.
  2. Synthetic compounds (e.g. piracetam, phenotropil, and Noopept). These are substances that are man-made using synthesis. This is the process whereby you create a compound through chemical reactions involving simpler compounds.
  3. Prescription drugs (e.g. modafinil and Adderall). These are smart drugs that a doctor would prescribe for a specific medical condition. These types of smart drugs often have the strongest effects on mental functions, like attention and memory.

So, what are nootropics used for? People use smart drugs for all sorts of reasons.

Since they can boost mental performance, students may use nootropics to help them to study [3]. Entrepreneurs may use them to give themselves a competitive edge [4]. Dementia patients might use prescription nootropics to treat their memory loss [5]. Athletes, artists, and computer programmers also use smart drugs to boost performance.

Ordinary people often experiment with smart drugs to see if they notice any general improvements in life, such as in work and levels of productivity.

Do Nootropics Work?

Now we turn to an important question:

Do nootropics work?

To answer this question, we will refer to studies based on prescription nootropics, like Modafinil, as well as over the counter smart drugs — like Mind Lab Pro and Qualia.

  • Does Modafinil Work?

Modafinil is a prescription-only medicine that helps treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy, a long-term condition causing you to feel asleep at inappropriate times. The drug is also prescribed to combat shift work sleep disorder, sleep apnea, and more.

Studies have shown that Modafinil is effective at combating fatigue [6]. In healthy human volunteers, researchers have demonstrated that Modafinil enhances performance in a range of cognitive tasks, such as those relating to memory and reaction time [7].

Subjects taking Modafinil report feeling more alert, attentive, and energetic.

Interestingly, Modafinil also has neuroprotective effects, meaning that it helps to protect nerve cells against damage, degeneration, or impairment of function.

Overall, Modafinil is a highly effective smart drug — one many consider the most effective in the world.

generic Modafinil

  • Does Mind Lab Pro Work?

Mind Lab Pro is a popular over the counter smart drug. It contains citicoline, a naturally-occurring compound and a building block of cell membranes. Citicoline is a common ingredient in many smart drugs, as it improves cognitive function.

Research has illustrated that citicoline is helpful in the treatment of cognitive impairment [8]. Like Modafinil, citicoline also has neuroprotective effects.

But does Mind Lab Pro also provide benefits for healthy people?

Yes, Mind Lab Pro is an exceptional over-the-counter nootropic.

The research so far indicates exactly this. One study found that citicoline improves attention in healthy adult women [9]. Researchers point out this is suggested by the fact that volunteers given citicoline made fewer errors in the tasks they were given.

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic stack, meaning it combines two or more supplements that have beneficial cognitive effects.

Mind Lab Pro contains a number of other compounds that we know have cognitive-enhancing effects, including tyrosine [10] and L-theanine [11].

Mind Lab pro

  • Does Qualia Work?

Qualia is another popular over the counter smart drug. Like Mind Lab Pro, it is a nootropic stack.

It doesn’t contain citicoline, but it does contain some of the other cognitive-enhancing ingredients found in Mind Lab Pro, such as tyrosine and L-theanine, which studies show lead to clear improvements in attention, focus, memory, learning, and reaction time.

Qualia contains some different compounds from Mind Lab Pro that evidence shows have nootropic effects. These compounds include caffeine [12] and Ginkgo biloba [13].

Are Nootropics Safe?

So, nootropics do definitely work. But you will still want to know:

Are nootropics safe?

You can feel assured to know that most nootropics, in the normal doses in which they are taken, are largely safe.

When it comes to Modafinil, some people were worried it would have harmful effects and the potential for addiction.

This is because Modafinil has stimulant-like effects. However, while Modafinil can lead to increased feelings of stimulation, it is very different from a stimulant drug like cocaine.

A large body of evidence has demonstrated that Modafinil is well-tolerated, safe, and has a low potential for abuse and addiction [14]. There isn’t much evidence about the long-term safety of Modafinil. However, both patients and ordinary people have been taking Modafinil for many years, with no signs of long-term issues.

Turning now to over the counter nootropic stacks like Mind Lab Pro and Qualia, we find that the daily doses of the ingredients are well-tolerated and safe. This includes the compounds tyrosine, L-theanine, caffeine, and Ginkgo biloba.

Not all nootropics are safe, however.

For example, many people use the prescription drug Adderall for studying and work. Doctors commonly prescribe Adderall for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. But just because it is a prescription drug, this doesn’t mean it isn’t without its health risks.

Many healthy people take Adderall more frequently and at higher doses than would patients following the recommended dose. This carries the risk of addiction, which can lead to impacted sleep, increased anxiety and depression, withdrawal symptoms, heart problems, and even death [15].

Adderall should be avoided.

A much safer option would be to take a modest dose of Modafinil or use a nootropic stack like Mind Lab Pro and Qualia, or even to take a supplement of an isolated ingredient found in these stacks, such as L-theanine.

Nootropic Side Effects

Nootropics can sometimes carry minor side effects.

While most users find nootropic side effects quite minor, it’s important to understand what issues you may face when taking smart drugs.

Let’s take a look at the nootropic side effects of Modafinil, Mind Lab Pro, and Qualia…

Modafinil Side Effects

The possible side effects of Modafinil include [16]:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness

Mind Lab Pro Side Effects

The possible side effects of Mind Lab Pro include:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive discomfort
  • Mood imbalance
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness
  • Jitters
  • Strange dreams
  • Lucid dreams

Qualia Side Effects

The possible side effects of Qualia include:

  • Lucid dreaming
  • Excessive energy
  • Altered emotional response
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Spaciness
  • Tightness in the body
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased anxiety

As you will notice, the potential side effects of these nootropics are quite similar.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that these are rare nootropic side effects. High-quality nootropics, at the proper dosage, do not usually include any side effects. So, are nootropics safe for most people? The answer has to be an emphatic yes.

If you are currently on any medication or are taking any other supplements, be sure to do your research and consult with a physician before taking a nootropic. This is to make sure there will be no contraindications…i.e. potential harmful interactions between a nootropic and your medication.

Modafinil vs Mind Lab Pro

The Best Nootropics | 2020 Guide

Based on overall benefits and the least amount of potential downsides, the best nootropics of 2020 are Modafinil, Mind Lab Pro, and Qualia.

These products are all potent, offer impressive cognitive benefits, and little downside from a safety standpoint.

Here’s why you should consider trying these three smart drugs:

Why is Modafinil One of the Best Nootropics?

Modafinil just works. It’s considered the best nootropic in the world right now.

  • It’s not a stimulant. It may act somewhat like a stimulant, but it’s technically a eugeroic…a compound that promotes wakefulness. It won’t make you jittery or speedy as most stimulants do, nor does it have the kind of crash or withdrawals you get with stimulants
  • It’s non-addictive
  • It has very few side effects, especially when compared to other prescription smart drugs
  • It has antidepressant effects
  • It’s highly effective, with many people reporting it as offering the most significant improvements in alertness and focus

Why is Mind Lab Pro One of the Best Nootropics?

Mind Lab Pro is the best over-the-counter nootropic, when taking into account benefits vs. cost.

  • It has evidence-based ingredients
  • It’s caffeine-free. Citicoline provides caffeine-like effects without the jitters. This makes it appealing to anyone who doesn’t want over-stimulating effects
  • The nootropic stack is complex and well-designed, helping to improve overall cognitive performance
  • The dosages are highly effective
  • Many professionals have endorsed the product
  • You can get discounts on multi-box purchases
  • It’s vegan-friendly

Why is Qualia One of the Best Nootropics?

Qualia Mind is exceptionally potent and powerful as a nootropic. It is also expensive.

  • It offers well-rounded improvements to cognitive functions
  • It has immune-boosting potential
  • It includes high-quality and well-researched ingredients
  • Several physicians and health experts recommend it
  • It includes both caffeine and L-theanine, which have synergistic effects. This means the combined nootropic effect of both is stronger than that from each individual compound
  • Qualia includes a comprehensive combination of ingredients, with more high-quality compounds included compared to Mind Lab Pro
  • It’s gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO

Nootropics Safety and Side Effects | Overall

Are nootropics safe to use daily and in the short — and long-term? Yes.

Most people do not experience any issues with smart drugs, both during the day they take them and in the long run after daily or regular use.

Nootropics are not likely to impact your physical or mental health, nor are they going to worsen your daily tasks or mental functions. In fact, the best nootropics we have taken a look at are likely to massively improve your work, studies, and hobbies.

Try out one of the best nootropics discussed and enjoy the wide-ranging benefits it can offer you.

P.S: Here’s the #1 rated nootropic in the world!


  1. Suliman N.A. et al. (2016, July 18). Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic. Retrieved from
  2. Berry, J. (2019, September 18). Nootropics: Types, safety, and risks of smart drugs. Retrieved from
  3. (2016, May 13). Revealed: Oxford’s addiction to study drugs. Retrieved from
  4. Solovitch, S. (2017, June 11). Tweaking brain with ‘smart drugs’ to get ahead in Silicon Valley. Retrieved from
  5. Dekkers, W. (2007, June). Memory enhancing drugs and Alzheimer’s Disease: Enhancing the self or preventing the loss of it? Retrieved from
  6. Kim, D. (2012). Practical Use and Risk of Modafinil, a Novel Waking Drug. Retrieved from
  7. Robbins, T.W. (2003, February). Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. Retrieved from
  8. Secades, J.J. (2019, January). Citicoline in the Treatment of Cognitive Impairment. Retrieved from
  9. Locatelli, A.E. (2012, January). Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Women. Retrieved from
  10. Bloemendaal, M. (2018, March-April). Neuro-Cognitive Effects of Acute Tyrosine Administration on Reactive and Proactive Response Inhibition in Healthy Older Adults. Retrieved from
  11. Adhikary, R. (2017, September). L-theanine: A potential multifaceted natural bioactive amide as health supplement. Retrieved from
  12. Valladres, L. (2012, January). Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Tasks. Retrieved from
  13. Lee, H. (2018, August). Ginkgo biloba for cognitive improvement in healthy individuals. Retrieved from
  14. Ballon, J.S. (2006, April). A Systematic Review of Modafinil: Potential Clinical Uses and Mechanisms of Action. Retrieved from
  15. Carter, A. (2018, June 20). Adderall Addiction: What You Should Know. Retrieved from
  16. “Side Effects of Provigil (Modafinil), Warnings, Uses.” RxList, RxList, 8 May 2018,


After utilizing nootropics for the better part of a decade, I realized the potent results these products produce -- with regards to productivity and cognitive enhancement. Soon thereafter, I became obsessed with finding the premier smart drugs on the market. Then using them to improve my life. When I'm not devouring everything I can about nootropics and the science behind why they work, you'll find me traveling around the world or in the gym.

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