Offsetting the Adverse Effects of Common Nootropics

nootropic stacks
Nootropics can help with cognition and memory.

Thanks to your recent foray into nootropics, your memory is better than ever. You commit new information to memory with relative ease, recall old memories in a flash, and are able to work your way through even the densest academic material. Smart drugs are great for increasing cognitive functions in a variety of ways. Better yet, only rarely do smart drugs have toxic thresholds or the potential for harmful overdose. Now, that doesn’t mean that they’re entirely without undesirable side-effects.

It turns out that, with certain compounds, your boosted brainpower comes with a price. Whether it is blunted emotions or wired edginess, there’s a chance that your empowered cognition is costing you something. But fear not! With careful and intelligent supplementations, you can balance out negative effects with synergistic nootropics, allowing you to reduce or erase negative effects while keeping your benefits. Here’s a look at a few of the most common “social costs” of popular nootropics and how to counteract the negative effects.

The Nootropic: Pramiracetam

nootropics and creativity
Nootropics are known to help boost creativity.

Pramiracetam is in the racetam family of nootropics, and weighs in as one of the more potent variants. Pramiracetam powder is effective at a mere 100 mg per dose, has shown to improve long-term memory reference [1], and significantly boosts high-affinity choline uptake [2]. It’s been reported to allow for razor-edge focus and a very strong capacity for learning information. Boiled down, pramiracetam is the racetam to go to if you’re looking for an extended cram session, or if you’re looking to block out the world and focus on a single task.

Here’s the problem: pramiracetam powder has been known to heavily blunt emotional intelligence, to the point where some people have described it as “robotic” or “zombie-like” [3]. So while it’s great if you have a weekend to yourself and a cabin to squirrel yourself away in while you finish your latest project, but what about the rest of us who have to interact with people whether we’re using nootropics or not?

The Solution: Aniracetam

For every yin there is a yang, and this principle tends to hold true for racetams as well. While pramiracetam induces very hard, logical thinking, aniracetam boosts creativity and holistic thinking. It also stimulates your D2 dopamine receptors, making for reduced social anxiety and an increased sense of well being [5]. Pairing the two racetams should give you a full, well-rounded cognitive boost, while keeping your social interactions warm and human.

The Nootropic: Caffeine

caffeine effects
Caffeine, which is found in many energy drinks, has many adverse effects.

Caffeine supplements aren’t just something you take via coffee to wake up in the morning. As it turns out, caffeine has a whole slew of cognitive benefits and stimulates a broad range of neurotransmitters. Caffeine inhibits adenosine, which causes drowsiness and relaxation. Through this effect, it also influences dopamine, serotonin, acetycholine, and adrenaline [6]. Caffeine supplements any nootropic stack very well.

But, like you probably already know, caffeine isn’t without its drawbacks. First of all, it makes you irritable. Then there’s the jitteriness, or edginess. And last of all is the crash, where your boosted energy levels come crashing down a few hours later. It’s a potent nootropic, but it comes at a cost.

The Solution: L-Theanine

l-theanine and tea
L-theanine, which is found in green tea, can counteract caffeine’s negative effects.

The good news is that you can alleviate most of caffeine’s side effects by taking one simple compound with it. L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea, and taken on its own has a relaxing effect [7] attributable to the ways it impacts your GABA system. Pair it with caffeine, and you’re looking at perhaps the most potent-yet-basic nootropic stack out there.

Theanine cuts away caffeine’s jitteriness and severely reduces the crash, allowing for not only more energy, but a more focused, directed energy [8]. Now instead of just using your caffeine supplement of choice as a quick pick me up, you can add in some theanine and activate a genuinely powerful nootropic combo.

The Bottom Line

Supplement well, but also supplement smart! If there’s a compound that you’re reaping great benefits from, only to be held back by a few nagging side effects, there’s a chance you can add a complementary compound to reduce those negative effects. Learn how to look at the ways nootropics interact and you’re on your way to designing great, synergistic stacks.




David Johnson is a freelancer with an avid interest in supplements that help relax, enhance mood, and provide cognitive enhancement. Most days he can be found researching innovative ways to bring his readers sounder sleep, better moods, and more.