Cycling Nootropics: A Beginner's Guide

Cycling Nootropics: A Beginner's Guide - Lucid™

Are you curious about how to make the most of your nootropic supplements? In this beginner's guide, we'll explore the rhyme and reasons behind nootropics cycling, teaching you how to cycle nootropics in order to optimize your cognitive performance effectively.

Ready? Let's get started:

Key Takeaways

Nootropic cycling has many benefits, like preventing tolerance and dependency, finding the best nootropics for your needs, and cost-effectiveness.

Cycling patterns vary. Determine your optimal cycle length and adjust it if you experience tolerance or dependency.

Buy quality nootropics from reputable suppliers to ensure product purity.

What is Nootropic Cycling?

Nootropics, often referred to as "smart drugs," are substances that can enhance cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health. Nootropics work by positively impacting neurotransmitter levels in the brain. When used over time, they can lead to a significant improvement in cognition, alertness, and memory–but some have drawbacks. 

Particularly, they can be habit forming or you can become tolerant to the dose, meaning its effects become less prominent and you need to take increasingly larger doses to keep up with the benefits.

Enter the concept of nootropics cycling–or using an array of nootropics strategically to boost your mental performance, without the drawbacks associated with continuous use.

Let's dig further into the "why," and then we'll discuss how to cycle nootropics effectively.

Why Cycle Nootropics?

Cycling nootropics involves taking these supplements in a structured pattern rather than continuously. Here's why it matters:

It helps to prevent tolerance and dependency.

Continuous use of nootropics can lead to the body building up tolerance, where the same dose becomes less effective over time. Cycling helps prevent this and avoids dependency, ensuring that the supplements remain impactful. 

You can easily identify the best fit.

Cycling allows you to experiment with different nootropics, dosages, and cycle lengths to determine what works best for you. It's like trying on different shoes to find the perfect fit–but for your brain instead of your feet.

It can be more cost effective.

You may be thinking "more nootropics means more money," but that's not exactly the case. While it's true that you may need to invest more up front into your nootropics selection, cycling can still be a very cost-effective strategy. 

Cycling includes break periods in which you will not take nootropic supplements. By not using nootropics continuously, you can stretch your supply further. Plus, cycling means that you can integrate some big ticket nootropics, like Lion's Mane or other functional mushrooms, alongside some more cost effective ones, like L-Theanine, to even put the budget.

Exploring Nootropic Options

Before delving into cycling, it's crucial to understand the different types of nootropics available. Each nootropic works by a specific mechanism to influence neurochemicals in a way that enhances brain function. 

However, some influence GABA production while others may have a larger impact on dopamine or serotonin. That means that they all have different benefits for focus, memory, executive function, energy, and more.

When cycling nootropics, you may first want to build a nootropic stack, or a combination of nootropics that each play different roles.

For instance, Lion’s Mane may help to improve memory and boost neurogenesis, while Cordyceps helps to boost endurance and mental and physical energy. L-theanine may help calm the brain during stressful moments, while L-tyrosine helps to promote focus. Together, that stack of nootropics offers full coverage cognitive benefits. (This is the premise–and some of the ingredients–behind our Lucid coffee stack.)

Then, you’ll complete nootropic cycling in one of two ways:

  • By taking breaks from certain supplements, using a period of abstaining to help the body reset
  • By swapping supplements for others that may do the same job, giving you a chance to see what’s most effective for you.

We’ll dive more into how to cycle nootropics below. First, let’s take a look at some of the most popular nootropic options:

Popular Nootropics for Cycling


Caffeine is the most well-known natural nootropic, famous for its ability to boost energy and focus by blocking adenosine production, making you feel less tired and more alert. Caffeine doses range from 20-400 milligrams per day, with larger doses having more severe side effects. Caffeine can lead to dependence and unwanted side effects like adrenal fatigue if used regularly.


L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves, known for its relaxing effects and its ability to smooth out caffeine's impact on energy and focus.


Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo is one of the oldest nootropic supplements in history, and it was traditionally used many reasons, like improving kidney health, treating respiratory conditions, and managing memory loss and cognitive decline in elderly patients. Now, researchers believe that ginkgo’s ability to improve blood flow in the body, and especially to the brain, is behind its diverse health potential.


  • One study found thatstandardized ginkgo extract called EGb 761 may effectively manage dementia.
  • In animal models and test-tube models, it’s been shown to help promote the growth of neurons.
  • Ginkgo may also have preventative effects that help keep cortisol and blood-pressure levels low during stress-related experiences, which can help decrease the risk of tissue damage and improve overall performance.


Alpha-GPC helps to increase acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps facilitate learning and memory. That’s why Alpha-GPC has come to be known as a powerful nootropic for improving memory.


  • One study suggests that alpha-GPC may target four primary areas of cognition–verbal memory, visual memory, verbal learning, and executive function.
  • Another study comparing the impact of caffeine and alpha-GPC found that alpha GPC supplementation increased mental performance speed in young adults by 18%.

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is a medicinal mushroom that’s chock full of polysaccharides that help support a healthy gut microbiome–a colony of good bacteria that experts now know plays a role in most aspects of both mental and physical health.

Most notably, though, Lion’s Mane is thought to stimulate neurogenesis, the growth of new nerve cells, which may help to improve nerve signaling speed and heal damage within the nervous system.


  • Research has found that Lion’s Mane may help to improve memory, focus, and mental endurance, and may be in the running for new medications designed to treat dementia.


Cordyceps is a more popular functional mushroom with an age-old reputation. It was first used by herdsmen to combat the effects of low oxygen levels while working at high altitudes, and researchers now believe that it can improve many aspects of both mental and physical health by improving blood flow.


  • Cordyceps is most often linked to increased endurance, though research has also found it to have possible benefits for improving memory and learning in animal models thanks to extraordinary antioxidant properties.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola is another age-old remedy that’s chock full of active medicinals–including rosavin and salidroside, two compounds known to be potent adaptogens. Adaptogens are compounds that help the body respond to stress.


  • One review of 36 animal studies stated that “R. rosea L. can improve learning and memory function” possibly due its “antioxidant properties, cholinergic regulation, anti-apoptosis activities, anti-inflammatory, improving coronary blood flow, and cerebral metabolism.”
  • Daily consumption of rhodiola has been linked to reduced mental fatigue and increased feelings of well-being while under stress.


Curcumin is the yellow substance that gives turmeric its brilliant color–and it’s well known for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. It has also been shown to have a positive impact on serotonin and dopamine levels.


  • Curcumin has been highlighted as a potential treatment for depression and related disorders.
  • Other research has linked curcumin to total body benefits, like prevention against cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is another ancient remedy we’ve added to the list thanks to continual research that proves it may have a multitude of benefits. Researchers believe that it has powerful antioxidant properties that can help prevent oxidative stress, a primary cause of neurodegeneration as we age.


Panax Ginseng

Ginseng is easy to find on nutrition labels for energy drinks and brain-boosting supplements–and for a good reason. It’s often linked to improved cognitive performance, especially when doing difficult tasks.

Like other nootropics on this list, it may not act directly on any neurotransmitter pathway, rather it may increase blood flow to the brain.


  • Studies have found that panax ginseng may help to reduce mental fatigue in a way that promotes cognitive performance.
  • Other studies have revealed powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which allow ginseng to help reduce oxidative stress.


Omega-3 fatty acids (which can be divided into two main categories–DHA and EPA) are necessary for most brain function. In fact, they are required for brain development, which is why they can be found in most infant formulas and toddler supplements.


  • Research has found that Omega-3 may improve many facets of cognitive function, from increasing focus to decreasing anxiety and depression. A lack of omega-3 is associated with cognitive dysfunctions.
  • One study published in Neurology® concluded that people with low Omega-3 levels had lower brain volume and scored lower on tests involving visual memory and executive function, like tasks involving problem solving, multi-tasking, and abstract thinking.
  • Another study looked at the impact of a fish oil diet (or a diet containing plenty of omega-3) on fruit flies’ ability to learn. In this study, fruit flies fed the fish oil had a positive impact on learning and memory compared to fruit flies fed a standard diet.

How to Cycle Nootropics

You’ve got your nootropic stack, but how do you actually build a cycle? There’s no wrong way, but here are some things that matter:

Determining Your Optimal Cycle Length

Understand Typical Cycling Patterns

Certain nootropics may have specified cycling patterns. For instance, prescription nootropics are often cycled a certain way. For racetam-family nootropics like piracetam, a common cycle involves three to four months on followed by a one to two-week break.

Other cycling patterns for natural nootropics may be:

  • One month on, one week off.
  • Four days on, three days off.
  • Taking nootropics only on weekdays.
  • Cycling two different nootropic stacks every other day.

The one you choose will depend on your personal factors, such as the effects you experience from each supplement, your lifestyle patterns, and your potential for developing tolerance.

Learn to Spot Tolerance and Dependency

Be mindful of the potential for tolerance and dependency when using nootropics. Tolerance occurs when your body gets accustomed to a specific dose, leading to reduced effects. 

Dependency arises when your normal functioning depends on the supplement. This is a sign that your body needs a break from that particular substance. Or, you can take a cold break–meaning you abstain from nootropic substances altogether for a period of time.

Finding the Right Dose for Nootropic Cycling

Determining the correct dose for your cycle is vital. Taking too much of a nootropic can lead to tolerance and potential dependency. Many have an efficacy threshold, meaning that more is not necessarily more effective. Finding the correct dosage is essential to experiencing positive results from your nootropic stack.

Look for dosing information on the products (when purchased from a reputable source). Keep in mind, though, that your individual tolerance and the specific nootropic may require dose adjustments. You may choose to begin with a lower dose and gradually increase until you find your optimal dosage.

Other Considerations for Nootropic Cycling

If you think you’re ready to start cycling nootropics, here’s a run down on what to consider:

  • Record Your Journey: Maintain a log of how you feel before and after each dose. This self-monitoring helps you fine-tune your cycle length. For example, if you're taking Rhodiola and notice that the increased alertness and energy levels are reduced after a week of consistent dosing, consider adjusting your cycle accordingly.
  • Be Prepared to Adapt as Needed: Pay close attention to your body's responses during your cycle. If you notice signs of tolerance or dependency, be ready to adjust your cycle length and take longer breaks between cycles.
  • Stay Informed: Understand which nootropics can be tolerance-building, which are safe to take long term, and which need to be limited. Also make sure you pay attention to any potential medicine interactions and dosage limits for every nootropic substance you include in your stack.
  • Stay Safe: Choosing quality nootropics from reputable suppliers and finding the right dose for each cycle is critical. Your cognitive health is paramount, so always prioritize safety.


In summary, cycling nootropics can help you reap the maximum benefits from these brain-boosting supplements. By preventing tolerance and dependency, finding the best fit for your cognitive needs, and maintaining safety and quality, you can optimize your cognitive performance effectively. So, get ready to cycle your way to a sharper mind and enhanced cognitive abilities.

Lucid beverages contain a blend of brain-boosting nootropics + powerful mushrooms designed to unlock your brain's full potential so you can zone in on what's important. 

Ready to become lucid?  Check out our starter kit. 


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