Since 2010, I've been researching and using nootropics. Sometimes called "smart drugs" or the "limitless pill," nootropics are dietary supplements that support brain function and promote mental performance — improve memory, cognition, focus, mood, and energy. Persuaded by consistent reports from scientific literature, I began using Creatine as my first nootropic. And within five years, increasingly pleased by the results, I had added several other nootropics to my diet. Along the way, I faced six challenges common to users of nootropics.
1) Lacking Evidence
Some products contain ingredients for which there's little or ambiguous research. Or research suggests more effective alternatives are available. Do a search for "nootropic" on Amazon, click on any of the top results, and take a look at the ingredients. You'll probably see Choline, DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol), Glutamine, or Vinpocetine. They are common nootropic ingredients, but it appears that few studies support nootropic benefit from them, particularly in comparison to alternatives. Don't just take my word for it. Click on the links for reviews from an independent third party. And then look for products that contain ingredients with the greatest potential to help you, as supported by scientific evidence.
2) Overused Ingredients
Some products contain ingredients to which you're likely to develop a tolerance, or which require cycling for various reasons. For example, Caffeine may be a valuable ingredient when used in a targeted manner, but its effectiveness will probably decrease if used daily. And some ingredients, such as Huperzine-A, have long half-lives that pose risks for daily use. You'll find these ingredients and others like them in many of the most popular nootropic products. So take care to investigate proper usage of each ingredient, and don't overuse ingredients that are best used only occasionally.
3) Secret Formulas
Some products hide the quality and quantity of their ingredients behind a secret formula. Vendors may call it a "proprietary blend." It may include effective ingredients, like Rhodiola or Theanine, but there's no way to know whether it provides an effective dosage. The concentrations of ingredients may be too low, or their amounts may be insufficient compared to those used in supporting studies. On top of that, most vendors don't share certificates of analysis for their product ingredients. So you can't know whether and how they tested the quality of their products. Maybe their supplier provided a mislabeled ingredient that they didn't verify. Maybe they use an ingredient with a suboptimal level of bioactives to cut costs. You just can't know these things for some products. Look for vendors with open formulas and that share their certificates of analysis.
4) Ineffective Dosages
Some products with open formulas and effective ingredients have weak or ineffective dosages. For example, take a look at products that include Bacopa, which may be the most effective ingredient for improving memory. You may see an extract with something like 20% bacoside, or an amount of around 100 mg. But it appears that most studies supporting notable improvement to memory have used much higher dosages, around 300 mg of 50% bacoside extract. Don't expect results that match clinical studies if you don't use a dosage that matches those clinical studies.
5) Expensive Products
Most products with open formulas and effective ingredients at effective dosages are far more expensive than buying their ingredients individually. It's shocking actually, to look at the prices people are paying for some of these products. For example, Avanse Lumonol, Nootroo, Opti-Nutra Mind Lab Pro, and Q Sciences Q96 sell for at least twice the amount you'd probably pay to buy their ingredients on Amazon. Unless money is no object for you, look for better value.
6) Inconvenient Stacks
Finally, buying all the ingredients individually can be a time consuming hassle. First you have to find and order a reputable product for each ingredient. Then you have to swallow separate capsules for each ingredient. Or maybe you even have to measure out quantities of powder. The hassle may be worth a substantial savings in money. But what if you didn't have to choose between the two? What if you could have both convenience and competitive prices?
In early 2016, Thrivous began developing new nootropic products to address all six challenges described above. Our products combine well-researched and effective ingredients at effective dosages into open formulas with shared certificates of analysis, so you can be confident that you are using quality products. And our products have prices that rival purchasing their ingredients individually, so you can feel good about their value. I believe they are the most cost-effective nootropics in the world.