Many people are seeking enhanced cognitive function and mental performance, and nootropics may just be the holy grail. Nootropics, also known as "smart drugs,” have gained popularity for their potential to improve focus, memory, creativity, and overall brain function. While nootropics offer promising benefits, it is essential to be aware of the potential side effects they may bring.
If you are curious about the benefits of nootropic supplements but aren’t sure what to expect, stick with us. We’ll cover everything you need to know about nootropics side effects, including possible allergies and drug interactions, as well as how to minimize the risk of adverse effects.
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The most common nootropics side effects are headaches, digestive issues, and trouble sleeping.
Other problems that may arise include drug interactions and allergies.
You can avoid many potential side effects by choosing a high-quality product and dosing appropriately.
Understanding Nootropic Benefits
Nootropics encompass a wide range of substances, including herbs, vitamins, minerals, and even synthetic compounds. In fact, there are medicinal mushrooms, botanical extracts, and prescription drugs (like the ones used to treat ADHD and related conditions) that fall into the nootropic category.
Each type of nootropic has a unique mechanism of action and therefore has unique benefits. For instance, Cordyceps mushroom has been found to improve blood flow, which may improve cognitive processing speed and athletic performance. Lion's Mane mushroom is a natural nootropic that may improve memory and learning by increasing the growth of nerve cells and improving neural connectivity.
Alpha GPC, a choline supplement, is believed to support memory and learning, so much so that it is approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease in some parts of the world. L-Theanine, an amino acid commonly found in green tea, has been associated with relaxation, improved focus, and enhanced reaction time, especially when paired with caffeine, the world’s most well-known nootropic. Caffeine is a popular stimulant associated with enhanced alertness and attention.
Most Common Nootropics Side Effects
While nootropics have gained popularity for their cognitive benefits, it is crucial to be aware of potential side effects that may arise from their use. These side effects can vary depending on the specific nootropic and individual factors such as dosage, sensitivity, and existing health conditions.
However, many of the most common side effects overlap and are the same side effects associated with other neurotransmitter regulating drugs, like those prescribed for ADHD (like Adderall) or mental health conditions. The most common potential side effects generally associated with nootropic supplements include:
- Digestive issues
Other Possible Nootropics Complications
While nootropics side effects sometimes just happen (possibly because the person and the substance just don’t mesh or because that nootropics specifically benefits just aren’t what’s needed), there are times when side effects may be related to improper use or other complications related to lifestyle factors.
Some problems that may arise include:
One common reason that one may experience side effects from nootropics is due to taking the wrong dosage. Particularly, taking a nootropic dosage that is too high can result in increased side effects. Although many nootropics are natural substances, they are not inert.
In addition to the side effects listed above, taking nootropics at doses that are too high, especially for extended periods of time may cause your neurotransmitter levels to become dysregulated, which may worsen the problem you were trying to manage.
To minimize the risk of side effects, it is crucial to follow appropriate dosage guidelines for each nootropic. Start with the lowest effective dose and gradually increase if needed, paying close attention to your body's response.
Nootropic stacking, or the process of combining several nootropic supplements, is the most common way that nootropics are used to reap full coverage benefits. Luckily, many natural nootropics are safe to combine, though it’s always wise to research the possible contraindications between supplements before mixing.
Plus, the actual dosage of each substance needs to be adjusted when combining nootropics because many have overlapping effects. It may be best to find a premade nootropic stack to take some of the guesswork out of combining nootropics and fine tuning your dosages.
Potential Drug Interactions with Nootropics
It is vital to consider potential interactions between nootropics and any medications you may be taking. Some nootropics, such as Alpha GPC, may have interactions with anticholinergic drugs or medications for Alzheimer's disease. Caffeine, when combined with certain medications like stimulants or MAO inhibitors, may lead to adverse effects. Certain medicinal mushrooms should not be taken with antidepressants or blood thinning medications.
To ensure your safety, you should always speak to your doctor about your plan to use nootropic supplements and discuss the possibility of drug interactions with any prescriptions or other supplements you are currently taking.
Allergic Reactions and Precautions
Although rare, allergic reactions can occur with certain nootropics. If you have known allergies or sensitivities to specific substances, carefully review the ingredients of any nootropic product you consider using.
Some individuals may be allergic to mushroom-derived nootropics like Cordyceps or Lion's Mane. If you experience any allergic symptoms such as skin rashes, itching, difficulty breathing, or swelling, discontinue use and seek medical attention immediately.
Monitoring Your Body's Response to Nootropics
Everyone's body chemistry is unique, and individuals may respond differently to various nootropics. As you start and follow through with your nootropic journey, you’ll want to pay close attention to how your body and mind react to the substances you are using.
Consider keeping a journal to track any changes in mood, sleep patterns, energy levels, or overall well-being. This self-monitoring approach can help you identify potential side effects and make adjustments accordingly.
While nootropics do have the potential to help enhance cognitive function, it is essential to be aware of potential side effects and take necessary precautions. Understanding the benefits, potential risks, proper dosage, and stacking guidelines will help you make informed decisions.
Be mindful of potential drug interactions and any allergic reactions you may have. Always talk to your doctor before starting nootropic supplements to ensure that they will not negatively react to your current wellness regimen.
If you want a one-stop nootropic stack that’s perfectly calibrated to offer full coverage mind and body benefits. We recommend checking out our Lucid Mushroom+Nootropic blend. You can read more about Our Ingredients and Why We Chose Them, or check out one of our three flavor varieties:
- “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- “The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252552/
- “Assessing the effects of caffeine and theanine on the maintenance of vigilance during a sustained attention task” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22326943/
- “The effects of l-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301051107001573?via%3Dihub