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Nootropics Update: Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Nootropics Update: Smart Drugs and Language Learning…

It’s been almost two months since I wrote Nootropics: Smart Drugs and Language Learning. As I’m fielding a number of emails on the subject I figured an update is in order.

Note: It can take a good six months to a year to get a handle on using Nootropics, so in no way am I professing to be an expert or even halfway there. This post is simply to share what I’ve learned, and where I’m at.

Additional note: I’m not interested in the speed-type Smart Drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Modafinil. Caffeine is the strongest I’ll take (and even with caffeine I have to be careful). My Nootropics adventure will mainly focus on the safe Racetams: Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Aniracetam, Sulbutiamine, Oxiracetam, and others.

A newbies guide to Nootropics…

There are many combinations of Nootropics (known as ‘stacks’), mentioned on the internet. One forum post will tout a certain mix, and yet another will pooh pooh the very same.

I’m not a chemistry major so I’m winging it like many others. And because of this, I won’t be surprised to be discover snafus in my regime (posted below), or even how I’m understanding it all.

From what I’ve read, a basic stack can consist of Piracetam, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and CDP-Choline (this is also debatable). The Choline is needed because (apparently) Piracetam depletes it from our systems, resulting in bad headaches. A switch, CDP-Choline gives me headaches so it’s possible that the eggs I consume already offer what I need.

A basic rundown on taking Nootropics:

  • Start out with a simple stack, adding one Nootropic at a time.
  • Different Nootropics do different things so decide your aim (language study, maths, music, memorization, motivation, whatever) and then trial suggested combinations, tweaking as you go.
  • Nootropics do work but you need to give your brain a workout at the same time. Study a language, memorise a script, learn new chess moves, whatever.
  • A mere 15 minutes of physical exercise before study can accentuate the effects of Nootropics.
  • Drink copious amounts of water (severe dry mouth and headaches are no fun).
  • Nootropics such as Piracetam are subtle so carefully observe and track your progress.
  • As previously mentioned, a Choline source alleviates the headaches caused from taking Piracetam (but this is not true with everyone).
  • Some say to take water soluble pills between meals and fat soluble during meals. Others say to take everything together with proteins, avoiding carbs. Up to you.
  • Some say to take caffeine, others say avoid it. Up to you.
  • Sleep is important (no surprise). If you are on a bad run of insomnia, taking expensive Nootropics is a waste, so mix your stack wisely.
  • Keeping healthy is advised, as is taking a multi-vitamin with decent range of B vitamins.

A given, I might have missed a few important pointers. If you know of others, go ahead and add them in the comments below. And if there’s a snafu somewhere, ditto.

Where to get advice…

For questions, there are several decent forums discussing Nootropics. This section on longecity.org covers quite a bit but there will still be a bit of confusion at first (I discover new information weekly): Nootropics thread index

My Nootropics trial: 1st Stack, 2nd Stack, and now the 3rd Stack…

Before Xmas I played around with Piracetam, Pyritinol, Vinpocetine, and Hydergine. Wanting to frolic, I took a break.

After the holidays I tweaked my stack to Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Pyritinol, Idebenone, Lion’s mane, Vinpocetine, Super Omega 3-6-9 1200, Huperzine A, Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa, and vitamins. Due to that darn bird I also took Melatonin (too much apparently) so after two weeks plus of not sleeping I switched to L-Tryptophan.

A month later I asked for a stack critique from Luke at Smart Nootropics (site is no longer live). Luke advised me to drop Idebenone and Vinpocetine, replace L-Tryptophan with Melatonin, and upgrade my multi-vitamin. I took most of Luke’s great advice but not all (forgive?)

Below is my third Nootropics stack (vitamins included).

With breakfast:

Caffeine (PepsiMax, CokeZero, tea or coffee)
Caffeine 50mg (ProLab 200mg cut into 4’s)
Piracetam 2 “00”
Pramiracetam 1 “1”
Hydergine 1 mg
Acetyl-L-Carnitine 499 mg
Methyl B-12 1000 mg
Super Omega 3-6-9 1200 mg
Lion’s Mane 300 mg
Multi-vitamin (Eve)

With lunch:

Piracetam 2 “00”
Pramiracetam 1 “1”
Acetyl-L-Carnitine 499 mg
Methyl B-12 1000 mg
Super Omega 3-6-9 1200 mg
Lion’s Mane 300 mg
Multi-vitamin (Eve)

With dinner:

Super Omega 3-6-9 1200
Multi-vitamin (Eve)

To help with sleep:

9pm: Bacopa Extract 225 mg x 3
10.30-11pm: L-Tryptophan 500 mg

Piracetam is relatively cheap but Pramiracetam and others can be expensive. To keep costs down, if I’m not studying that day I skip both Pramiracetam and Hydergine but take the rest of the stack. Depending, I also bounce around with caffeine pills.

To find the perfect study stack I plan on adding even more Nootropics to the above mix. In future posts I’ll discuss: Aniracetam, Sulbutiamine, Oxiracetam, Pyritinol, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Picamilon, Rhodiola, etc…

The Nootropic effects I’ve experienced so far…

Study: With my second stack I didn’t notice that much of a difference in my memory or motivation. It was only after I switched to my third stack, and later added Hydergine, that I felt a mega surge to study my language lessons.

And I mean a SURGE.

If I take Hydergine and a friend drops by I get antsy and want to race away, back to my lessons. And it doesn’t matter if I take Piracetam, Pramiracetam, or both together, Hydergine is the key.

Smarts: I might not be smarter but I think I am. Heh.

Get-up-and-go: My experience with Nootropics has opened me up to a bigger world; I’m no longer as introverted as before. Being body to body with hordes doesn’t bother me as much so I’ve gone for the Skytrain in a big way. Yes. Me. The “I only travel by taxi” lass.

Tedium: On a more mundane note, doing small chores is not longer as tedious. I usually resent doing dishes but now I find myself standing over the sink saying, “I’m not going to do dishes” … followed by … “Ok. Here I am. But I’m not going to wash them all”. Soon enough, POOF, the dishes get done.

Ah: And here’s another unexpected side effect (but in no way mundane). If you like sex then you are going to love love love Nootropics.

Nootropics: Smart drugs, memory enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers. Mighty fine.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.


  1. Catherine – Your post reads like you’ve turned into a pill popping sex maniac who is on first name terms with every pharmacist in your district and can remember every piece of graffiti on every wall. Maybe you’ve sprayed a few yourself during sleepless nights.

    Nootropics do seem a complicated thing. That is getting the balance just right. A major in Chemistry would seem a must. However, they are obviously working for you. Keep popping, both pills and your partner’s eyes.

    Would M150 or Red Bull drinks also be an aid?

  2. Martyn, it does seem that way but after being a health nut over the years (on and off) I’m used to taking handfuls of vitamins.

    As for the sex… well well…

    Nootropics do seem complicated but that could be because: 1) with all the different Nootropics and such there are a zillion stack combos, and 2) many writing about Nootropics are chemistry, law, and medical majors in uni.

    These guys and gals are as sharp as all get out and even they are seeing improvements with memory and motivation while taking some of the toughest tests in the land.

    But the more I read, seems like the average Joe/Joette could get away with just Piracetam, Hydergine, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and either a load of eggs or Choline.

    Sure, you could try M150 and Red Bull but they aren’t Nootropics. They are just sugar and caffeine with a few other bits thrown in. I don’t consume sugar due to the eventual crash and weight gain so I try and avoid energy drinks of those type. Note: I have had fun with energy drinks in the past – mostly when running around with Bangkok taxi drivers.

  3. More information about Nootropics, by James South (biochemist)

    Nootropics – Reviewing The Smart-Drugs
    James South – My Personal Supplement Regime

  4. Danyelle Franciosa

    February 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Nootropics sounds unfamiliar to me and I am happy to know about it. By the way this kind of drug is it safe or not? love to try it.

  5. Danyelle, the older Nootropics are known to be safe. I’m assuming all are but until more research is done… but, I’m only going for the tried and true. Piracetam came out in the 1960’s and has the most research backing it. Oxiracetam, Pramiracetam and Aniracetam arrived in the 1970’s. So, they aren’t actually a mystery to the medical profession. The top link I shared above your comment gives an educated look into their history (and safety).

  6. Quote: Nootropics – Lack of toxicity

    The action of the PIR-nootropics has been studied in a broad range of animals; goldfish, mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, marmosets, monkeys and humans. The toxicity of PIR and its “cousins” is amazingly low- almost non-existent.

  7. Cat, I really wonder what good all these pills really do other than relieve you of money. Sure the pills may have some effect with energy and sleep but can they really help in the learning process and it seems there is always another pill to add.

    I remember years ago there was an interview with the American actor Nick Nolte and when asked about his health regime he took the interviewer into a special room he had that looked like a science lab. He proceeded to show the interviewer all kinds of pills and liquids and went through his daily regime which was extensive.

    He not only took pills and drinks but self injected as well…he was taking about 80 pills a day and self injecting 4 times a day as well as drinking various drinks throughout the day.

    At the end of tghe interview I came away thinking the guy was bat shit crazy and looked as if he was on drugs ( may have been )

    I don’t think pills are the answer….maybe something for your sleep problems as I think a decent nights rest is the best thing for learning.

  8. I forgot to mention….the sex aspect of nootropics has me very interested :P

  9. Here is part of the Nolte interview…it has much more to do with aging and health but I’m sure a lot of the same pills are involved….My recollection of the interview was a bit off he doesn’t seem too bad but I still think he’s nuts.


  10. Talen, Watching that video, Nick Nolte started to pay serious attention to his health because he was having problems. I looked at his list of pills and didn’t see any Nootropics (although some nutrients are loosely put under the label).

    James South (the biochemist I linked to in the comments) was seriously ill as a child and had nowhere to go but up. The consensus is that he increased his quality of life by taking Nootropics (amongst others).

    Have my studies improved? I’d say by at least 200%.

    But even with the Nootropics I’m crap at maths so it could very well be 195%.

    “I forgot to mention….the sex aspect of nootropics has me very interested”

    So you’ll pay good money for better sex but not for a better brain? lol…

    Note: I didn’t even know visitors could put a YouTube video in comments. I have links blocked (even I can’t add them) so I’ll have to look at the code. Nice!

  11. “Known to be safe”? How many times has that been said and later turned out to be grossly untrue? I had a quick look around and it seems that the long-term health effects of these drugs are not particularly clear, though that’s not so very different from a huge number of other pharmaceuticals. The whole pharmaceutical industry, especially with regard to psycho-active drugs, is to a large degree a mixture of snake oil, fraud and wishful thinking.

    That said, it’s obviously true that lots of people do report improved abilities with these drugs but then if you gave them pressed chalk dust in fancy packaging, they’d also report improved abilities. How far do they actually work is, I think, open to question. And I can’t help wondering how much it mirrors the situation of the guy who never does weights wanting to take steroids as a short cut. It’s true that the majority of steroids are fairly low-risk and they do work (though I doubt many who take cognitive enhancers would also approve of injecting testosterone to put 20 kilos on one’s bench press) but in almost all cases, the gym neophyte will be better off just sorting out a decent programme and a decent diet. I would imagine that for almost all (potential) users, it would be wiser to plan one’s learning more carefully and to learn how to learn, before reaching for a pharmaceutical solution, though sadly our culture is increasingly turning to (often little understood) pharmaceuticals as a first, rather than a last, response.

  12. Dan, if you look at it that way, sure, life isn’t safe. Sugar can kill you as can caffeine. And what about jogging? Health nuts drop dead all the time.

    The Nootropics on my list have been around for 50 years give or take. If they were a worry (like Adderall, Ritalin, or Modafinil, which I do avoid), then it’d already be known. Can more studies be done? Absolutely. But as there isn’t a ton of money in Nootropics we’ll be waiting a long time. It’s the way of this world and I can’t wait another 50 years.

    Btw: If you want a more detailed answer then why not post questions on the forum I mentioned above? Or even better, contact the many scientists who’ve spent their working lives in search of the perfect Nootropic.

    Nootropics are not just for the healthy (we just want sharper lives). Google Nootropics + Alzheimer’s + brain injuries.

  13. Jessica Scott

    March 2, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Catherine have you tried using L-Theanine in your Nootropic “stack”, or using Aniracetam instead of Pramiracetam? I ask because I’ve been told, and read numerous times that Aniracetam and Piracetam work together fairly well. Piracetam is supposed to help you recall things that you already know, where as Aniracetam is supposed to help you absorb new things (if I’m not mistaken). So using the two together when studying should be essentially beneficial.

    L-Theanine, which can be found in Green Tea, is reported to have calming effects however it also seems to heighten or increase the GABA receptors. It also has effects on the AMPA and NMDA which Piracetam also effects. I added the L-Theanine to my Nootropic regimen nearing a month ago and have noticed a nice increase in my recall.

    I haven’t tried Lion’s Mane nor use ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine).The only reason I haven’t tried Lion’s Mane is due to how expensive it is, and how you need to take it for a few months before noticing the effects (at least that’s what I was initially told, and read). As to why I haven’t taken ALCAR, I have a low appetite naturally it seems, and when I would take ALCAR it would almost deminish completely or I would have nausea after eating.

    Smart Drugs for Thought has a downloadable PDF on their “Piracetam-Research” page near the top. It actually has a lot of information regarding Piracetam and the other Racetams. As Catherine said, Dan, most of the Racetam’s have little to no side effects. In fact with Piracetam, the only side effect would be headaches, and these more often than not are caused by low ACh (Acetyl-Choline) levels.

    Another thing about Piracetam is it stimulates your ATP (similar to Creatine) so working out while on Piracetam could provide more benefits than just enhancing the Nootropic benefits. Piracetam stimulates your Corpus Callosum (the area of your brain that sends communications between the two hemispheres) which in my opinion is likely why people see improvements with memory recall as well as improved verbal skills (speaking is as much logical as it is intuitive).

  14. Hi Jessica, I added Aniracetam a few days ago. I need to recall new vocabulary and phrases so it seemed logical to add.

    I found a stack that has Piracetam, Aniracetam, and Pramiracetam together. Is it overkill?

    I haven’t tried L-Theanine but I do drink green tea on and off (sometimes I’m in the mood for Earl Grey instead). As green tea does work for me I’ll order L-Theanine as well.

    The pdf at Smart Drugs for Thought looks interesting. Ta! There are articles about Nootropics in Google Scholar but a great deal are dry and some are locked behind Elsevier. The pdf you shared looks more like what I need.

    I also read that about Lion’s Mane (takes months). I’ve been advised to upgrade to a better product so when I look around the expense might be a bit much.

    Agreed, ALCAR does cause a loss of appetite. I have a naturally low appetite too and lately I’m having to force myself to eat. I often wander off, leaving meals half eaten. No nausea though. I’m trying to get around it by upping my protein.

    Coming across Nootropics has been an exciting adventure for me. Right away I started being more outgoing, which is a huge change (as I mentioned, I have a hermit nature). And using Bacopa (another Nootropic) as a sleep aid has been brilliant in combating insomnia and that drat bird screaming outside my windows 24-7. Any additional benefits will be pure gravy.

    Thank you so much for adding your suggestions to this post! These are early days for me and I have sooooo much more to learn.

  15. Correction… I do have L-Theanine but it’s in a product called Theanine Serene™ with Relora®.

    Last year I took Relora on its own to help me sleep (they are marketing it for weight loss but it works as a sleep aid for some). Later I purchased Theanine Serene™ with Relora®.

    I stopped taking it in the new year when I got into Nootropics and came across the advice on Melatonin, which didn’t work for long. That’s when I switched to Bacopa and L-Tryptophan.

    Over the years I’ve tried a wide range of sleep aids. Getting enough sleep is a constant battle because what works for months will all of a sudden stop working.

  16. Pramiracetam with the rest of the stack isn’t necessarily overkill. If anything slowly taper onto Aniracetam and see how it effects you. You can eventually (once Aniracetam has been taken for around a month) begin “toying” with your Pramiracetam dosage and lower it if need be to see how well Aniracetam and Piracetam work together.

    Piracetam is great for recalling vocabulary words, and key phrases. I’ve noticed old vocab words, and the new ones that I find from my courses are sticking and much more fluidly recalled.

    Most of my intake of L-Theanine happens to come from Green Tea, and occasionally a drink that contains L-Theanine (if you check in your local gas station you’ll be surprised to find there is a few drinks that do happen to contain L-Theanine).

    I have difficulties getting to sleep most nights, when I had first started taking Piracetam I was taking it in the afternoon and it in itself gave me a bit of trouble falling to sleep. I eventually read about others taking their Piracetam earlier in the day, and then taking some of their Choline later in the evening. I can say that I can take Piracetam late in the evening now and fall asleep with no trouble, however it wasn’t like this until my body had adjusted to Piracetam.

    I’m glad you found the PDF useful, I remember when I first started into the Nootropic world I had a hard time finding articles, texts, and information regarding Piracetam aside from Wiki. Their (Smart Drugs for Thought) research page actually has a lot of researches listed, and on their “What is Piracetam” page they go into more specific details as to how Piracetam works dosing and its benefits.

    Upping your Protein should help significantly with your appetite, and most sources of Protein contain Glutamate (I believe it’s an Amino Acid that deals with the flavor of proteins) so it will also help your Piracetam in its functionality. However if it (ALCAR) is giving you as much problems as it was giving myself it might be best to cut it out. A healthy diet and a proactive mind go hand in hand together. As well as proper exercise.

    I personally haven’t noticed if L-Theanine helps me go to sleep, I can say my sleeping is a lot more resting, but that could be due to a variety of things working in conjuncture with one another (exercising, dieting, Nootropics, and supplements). But many do report that L-Theanine has mildly helped them with sleeping.

    You sleep aids slowly losing their effectiveness could easily be due to your body becoming more adjusted to them being your system and “fighting off” drowsiness. Maybe running a cycle of a few safe and effective ways of finding sleep every few months could help prevent this?

    Sorry to hear about that bird, my neighbors are akin to your bird either they are playing music loudly all through the day or just shouting loudly amongst one another.

  17. Thanks Jessica. I’ll go through the rest of Smart Drugs for Thought this weekend. I’ve had a time wading through all the information + misinformation on forums. What’s needed is one site pointing to the really decent resources.

    Ooops. I didn’t taper into Aniracetam. I went with half my Piracetam dose. I’ll back off.

    Have you read about brain fog with Aniracetam? Some posts mention a 3 day stint until it clears. Fingers crossed as today is day 3… I’ve been struggling to get my latest post out and at first I thought it was due to the Common Koel screeching all night and the jackhammers pounding all day. That, plus a cold/flu that’s threating (a lot of people in Bangkok are sick).

    I buy PepsiMax and CokeZero (when I can get them) but stay away from most drinks in Thai stores and petrol stations because they are loaded down with sugar. I’m not a fan of sugar. Power drinks are very popular in Thailand, especially with truck and taxi drivers, so plenty are around. In the west you can get sugar free power drinks but not here.

    Except for Bacopa Extract, I haven’t taken any Nootropics after 2 or 3 in the afternoon and only on occasion. I mostly take my last dose around lunchtime because I zealously guard my sleep. I’ll give it a few more months and then try it…

    Theanine Serene™ with Relora® doesn’t knock me out. It acts similar to Bacopa in that it quiets my mind, allowing me to slide into sleep (my preference). I also depend upon a decent set of earphones plugged into my iPhone, and at times, an eye mask.

    Cycling sleep remedies is a great idea. I have several to use so when I notice a slow down I’ll switch before it gets bad. Because when it’s bad, I’m totally useless.

    Neighbors can be a bane! I’m lucky with mine (knock on wood). But that darn jackhammer and bird are driving me bananas…

  18. Cat, The full interview with Nolte Nootropics were discussed but most of what he takes is primarily for health.

    As far as tasking pills though I almost think that if we eat properly then we should be getting the maximum of nutrients we need to do well in life … And yes sex is always more interesting than a growing brain…unless of course it’s tied to sex :P

    I just did a Carnegie Mellon intelligence test and did very well and there was nothing on the whole test about sex but a few of the math problems did excite me a lil.

  19. Talen, being healthy is a big part of the Nootropics regime for many. And I might be speaking too soon… but… not last year but November of the year before I started getting colds every month. You might recall me doing all that whingeing…

    It went on for a year and was tedious. All the man had to do was cough and I got sick. Well, along with half of Bangkok he’s been down with a cold/flu this past week. But, other than feeling hot yesterday (in sympathy perhaps) I’m ok.

    This is either due to pure good luck, or the regiment I started along with the Nootropics. But what I’m doing is simple really and nothing like what Nolte is up to. I just upped my vitamins and concentrated on being healthy.

    There was nothing about sex on the Carnegie test? For shame :-D

  20. Hi there,

    I have attention deficit disorder and have been currently taking Ritalin which has helped to brighten me up as my type of attention deficit leaves me unfocussed, scatter brained and my memory is really bad. My mood can drop in a flash as well from feeling one minute okay and then the next suicidal for no apparent reason and even when i feel that way i am aware that there is no logical or rational reason morally for me to feel that.

    So right now i’m looking into nootropics to see if they can help my mad brain to balance and function better! I’m taking Ritalin (15mg once or twice daily as required), zinc, magnesium, iron, multivitamin, D3 vitamin, B vitamin complex, L-Tyrosine and Omega-3 fish oil.
    I bought 1200mg Piracetam capsules to try and was looking for advice on what to take and how to take them to help me function better. Should i purchase Hydergine and Choline? My diet is really good for protein just now as i’m on a new exercise regime which requires it. Thanks

  21. Hi Michael. I’m afraid I can’t advise on what to take as I’m awfully new to Nootropics. But Jessica (if she’s still reading this post) might have some tips for you.

    Have you checked out longecity.org? A number of their members have ADD/HD and they’re sharing stacks and answering questions. Nootropics seem to work quite well for them.

    After reading a zillion forum posts, I can say this with confidence: Trialling the different Nootropics is the only sure way to find out which ones work for you.

  22. I’ve heard of people using Hydergine and Piracetam together. Choline is generally a must as Piracetam uses it by exciting the ACh receptors. You can find a good amount of information from Smart Drugs for Thought at http://www.smartdrugsforthought.com they have a Research page with a downloadable PDF for you to look over and read a bit more detailed information regarding Piracetam, as well as a “What is Piracetam” page that goes into dosing and how it generally works. From what I read of what you plan on taking you should see improved memory along with the Piracetam and Choline source of your choice.

    Michael your mood dropping could be some form of bipolar (I AM NO DOCTOR!) and likely needs treatment. You can always try L-Theanine, Panax Ginseng, and Picamilon as they are commonly used for anxiety. Piracetam is used by some to help ease depression and anxiety as well. Be careful with the amount of choline you take as too much has been reported to cause depression as well. I generally take around 620mg of Choline Bitartrate a day, along with 4,800mg of Piracetam and have yet to experience any depression.

    Hehe Catherine ;) of course I still read this from time to time. I’m very busy lately unfortunately.

  23. Jessica, thank you SO much for stopping by to help out! Busy, I know. House guests are arriving tonight and things (needed things) are breaking around me. The ac, the fridge, and more… oh dear.

    I’ve had good luck with Hydergine and Piracetam. And L-Theanine was great for calming my nerves (and putting me to sleep). I didn’t realise Picamilon helped quiet the nerves as well. I have some here so I’ll see how it works.

    Again, ta :-)

  24. Picamilon is one I haven’t yet gotten to try. Though I know it has been used to help with anxiety, and migraines. I saw it mentioned in a lot of places that it caused a few people to fall asleep easier.

    I believe I recently read that ginger has anti-anxiety effects, though I could be mistaken. I generally always used ginger to make tea when I was coming down with a cold.

    Thank you Catherine! It’s always a pleasure dropping by and seeing how things are going for you and how you are helping new Nootropic users!

    How has the Aniracetam/Piracetam been treating you? Sorry to hear about all your AC and fridge going on the fritz, I imagine that is very discomforting with how the weather is. I hope at least your fridge gets tended to soon, fresh fruits and vegetables are essential! ;)

  25. Hi Jessica! Apologies for such a late reply. I have guests and we are running around, having a blast.

    I believe when it’s all said and done the simplest (Piracetam, Hydergine, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine + vitamins) will be what I settle on. Trying out some of the others is fine when I’m out of the country but they wouldn’t work as staples. In saying that, there’s a great deal available over the counter here so I haven’t exhausted the variations yet!

    It’s been so very strange being without a fridge so I’m hoping it’ll get fixed soon. Ice in a cooler lasts a day and a bit – I’ve discovered just how unpleasant soggy bacon is.

  26. Jessica, I was racing to enjoy Cambodia and didn’t answer your question properly. Aniracetam didn’t work out for me. I was totally zonked for the four days I tried it. And from what I’ve read, some people do well on Aniracetam while others get brain fog. So on to the next!

  27. Nooooooooooo!tropic

    July 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    I started my own experimentation with nootropics and supplements recently, partially to see if I can actually get measurably smarter, and partially to just feel better and more healthy. Have had some depressive episodes in the past and tend to be a bit moody and easily irritated. Also have had poor intestinal/stomach health for a while, possibly IBS.

    Apart from nootropics, some things I do for brain health are
    1. Dual N Back (proven in a number of tests to increase working memory and fluid intelligence), the software is called Brain Workshop and is 100% free with no ads, and no funny stuff.

    2. Mindfulness and meditation. Started out with Zen meditation, but switched to vipassana – Zen meditation felt nice and gave me lots of energy, but over time it made me too spaced out to function well. I found Vipassana is much more structured, and harder for me, with slower but more steady progress and greater ‘grounding’.

    3. “Mindful stretching”. Sort of like Yoga with deep diaphragmic breathing, but for my level, which is about as flexible as a refrigerator.

    4. Light physical exercise (power walking/light jogging).

    Experiencing some good results overall (I don’t get sick as often as I used to, and my stomach health is lots better), but still have some fine tuning to do, as my irritability remains and my mood is not 100% stable yet.

    Pill stack right now:
    Piracetam 3 times daily. 1600 + 800 + 800 mg

    Curmin (a Thai brand, containing extracted curcuminoids from turmeric). 2 pills per day (this stuff is so expensive I don’t think I can keep it up, but the benefits of curcumin from preliminary tests are very promising, google it and see). Considering ordering concentrated curcumin powder from overseas.

    Turmeric powder pills: 3 pills before breakfast, lunch, dinner

    GNC Salmon oil: 1000 mg 3 times daily

    Boots Ginkgo Biloba, 2 x 1 pill (breakfast and lunch)

    Rhodiola Rosea “as needed” based on concentration level, usually once or twice daily. If I take it late in the evening I seem to have trouble falling asleep. Same with ginkgo.

    Lecithin (for choline): 1 tab 3 times daily.

    Fluids: Green tea/white tea/gotu kola tea/ginger tea (according to mood) – lots and lots of pure, clean water.

    Diet: Reduced carbs. Focus on raw/steamed greens and proteins (of all kinds). I eat the equivalent of 1 walnut and a handful of pumpkin seeds per day.

    Been interested in trying other racetams than piracetam (which I already found locally in the generic Noocetam). Do you get your other racetams locally or from overseas? Could you share your source?

    Many thanks in advance.

  28. Hi Marty, Dual N Back, Mindfulness Meditation, and morning walks are on my to-do list but with life getting in the way I’ve had trouble getting them going. Lame excuse, I know.

    I haven’t heard of Mindful stretching but I’ll absolutely look into it.

    Curcumin is new to me (where are you getting it?) And while I haven’t tried Turmeric, I have read about the benefits.

    Ginkgo didn’t do much for me (perhaps I didn’t take it long enough).

    The rest I do take (on and off). Green tea – absolutely. Caffeine from coffee is like zooooom thunk crash. Whereas green tea is a slow burn of energy. And I drink a huge amount of water (piracetam demands it). Ditto on taking Lecithin (some Choline gives me headaches + I eat a fair amount of eggs anyway). And cheers for reduced carbs! Carbs make me tired and hungry so they’ve been out of my life for awhile (but I do splurge on holidays, etc).

    I have to be careful of the Piracetam dosage. I went for the megga dose discussed on the longecity.org forums and ended up depressed, cranky, with headaches. I took a break and now I’m at 2 capsules in the morning and 2 by 2pm. Any later than that and I lay awake mumbling to myself.

    “end to be a bit moody and easily irritated” Have you tried Theanine, Acetyl Tyrosine, or Tyrosine? They help with moods. I also keep Kalms on hand.

    Available in Thailand (that I’ve found) are: Hydergine (sometimes it works amazingly well, sometimes not), Vinpocetine (didn’t try it long enough), Pyritinol (Encephabol in Thailand). I didn’t know about Noocetam – ta!

    A new combo I’m trialling is Neuro Optimizer from Jarrow. It does have CDP-Choline but it’s not bothering me so far…

    I’ll email you my sources (it’ll take awhile to compile locations).

  29. Noooooooooo!tropic

    July 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    In the clip below is an introduction to Mindful Movements. Essentially, if you just learn deep breathing, you can combine any type of stretching with it, and you’ll get similar benefits and results of better blood flow/oxygenation, and increased bodily awareness/mindfulness. I guess the concept borders on Tai Chi and Yoga, too.

    The leg rotation movement was a little tricky at first, but with some practice it got easier.


    I bought both Curmin (it’s a trade name, the capsules contain curcumin as well as other extracted curcuminoids from turmeric) and piracetam (Noocetam is not yet another racetam, it is just the trade name of this particular generic piracetam made in Thailand) from a pharmacy in Chiang Mai (blister packs of 10 x 800 mg @ 40 baht/pack, so, 5 baht/gram). I am sure you can find both Curmin and Noocetam in Bangkok too if you ask around, as they are both manufactured in Thailand.

    -Have you tried Theanine, Acetyl Tyrosine, or Tyrosine?-

    Nope, not familiar with any of them – I will research them to see what they may offer me, many thanks for the tip.

    Yesterday I took two 4.8 g doses of piracetam and felt a pronounced, positive effect for the first time. Previously I did lower, 800 mg – 1.6 g doses and apart from some head tension and getting tired afterwards, I did not feel any amazing effects at those levels. Typical. Wish I were the type who could do with just 800 mg three times a day, 4.8 g three times a day could get too expensive…

    By the way, many thanks for your email. :)

  30. Marty, thanks for the video – I seriously need to get into mindful meditation to assist with concentration in my Thai studies. Piracetam if wonderful for motivation and concentration but I can always use improvement. Thinking… I just might write a post asking for help get myself kickstarted with a meditation regime… maybe shaming myself into it will work…

    If you are going through almost 5g of piracetam a day then bulk would be the way to go as buying the 800-1600 tabs is indeed expensive. As I mentioned, I’m at lower doses. In the past few days I’ve been upping my intake but the result has been restless nights. Last night was a killer (not enough sleep).

  31. hello everyone
    I am new to the Nootropics scene…
    I have started on Piracetam 800mg twice a day taken with Lecithin and ALCAR 250mg with my morning dose only for some extra energy as I was very tired for the first few days of taking Piracetam.

    I have noticed that my mind and conversation skills are sharper which is a great improvement on the general brain fog and lack of concentration I was experiencing previously.

    The only racetams I can get here in CNX are Piracetam and Hydergine, I’ve tried to get some others but the pharmacies I’ve tried do not stock them or can not get them.

    Noooooooooo!tropic where do you get your Piracetam as I was charged 750bht for 30 tabs in CNX!!!?

    Catherine, hows does Hydergine stack with Piracetam? What are the effects of this combo?

    BTW – have you seen the film called Limitless? it’s a must see for Nootropics fans!

  32. My basic stack is Piracetam, ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine), Super Omega 3-6-9, and a multi-vitamin. Always looking to tweak, I add others on top of those.

    When I first added Hydergine it was brilliant but then fizzled out. I’ve taken breaks from Hydergine but never experienced that initial WOW. And reading the forums, seems the reaction is typical of many of the nootropics. For me, only my base stack with Piracetam has been steady.

    When I’m traveling I tend to pare down what I’m taking (not sure what’s legal where). So at the moment it’s Piracetam, a multi, Super Omega 3-6-9, and Jarrow’s Neuro Optimizer (saves taking handfuls too).

    No, I haven’t seen Limitless but I’ll certainly check it out.

  33. Noooooooooo!tropic

    August 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Limitless: Standing at Thapae Gate facing Doi Suthep, walk down Rachadamnoen Road. The first pharmacy on your left occasionally has Noocetam, which is a Thai produced generic of piracetam, at the prices stated.

    Can I ask in return where in CNX you bought hydergine, and how much it was?

    Also interested in finding a good, not too expensive supply of fish based Omega 3 in CNX… I bought Salmon Oil from GNC at Central Kat Suan Kaew, and one of the bottles seemed to contain slightly rancid pills, not to mention the price was rather steep (1400 baht).


  34. Hi, thanks for your replies

    Noooooooooo!tropic, Hydergine is available at the big pharmacy just south from Thaepae Gate and it is not expensive, they also stock various fish oils and lecithin brands too

    It’s early days for me on nootropics but I am seeing positive results, it may take a while to find a dose that works for me but I will experiment with

    Piracetam, Hydergine, Alcar, Omega 3,6,9 and a Choline source

    Chok Dee!

  35. It’s taken me all this time to try out turmeric (had it in the spice rack, but wanted fresher). After reading about dosage (Margaret’s Corner was an interesting resource), to heated cold pressed coconut oil (helps with digestion) I added 1 tsp turmeric, powdered chocolate, cinnamon, and Xylitol (sugarless sweetener). People were complaining about the taste (which is why I added so much) but I’m finding it pleasant. A treat even.

    I did come across a time-realease version – Thorne Research, Meriva-SR, Curcumin Phytosome – but it’s quite pricy at US$34+

    My present regime is piracetam and ALCAR plus the CILTEP stack being discussed at longecity.org. It consists of Artichoke, Forskolin, and L-Phenylalanine. And a few other things…

  36. Enric G. Torrents

    September 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Great post Catherine!!!! I am a neuroscience student very interested in this topic, really looking forward for more updates on your experience with nootropics and learning languages.

  37. Enric, I’ve come a long way with nootropics but I find that there’s such a long way to go yet. One problem is reading/discovering a new nootropic, ordering, then by the time it’s arrived I’ve already latched onto yet another nootropic. I’m running out of space…

  38. Noooooooooo!tropic

    October 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    With the risk of coming off as a killjoy, I am not so sure that regular turmeric powder will do very much as a nootropic – then again, it is pretty much guaranteed not to hurt you either!

    It’s the curcuminoids that gives noticable effects, and the curcuminoid concentration in turmeric powder is just a couple of percent, and of those percent, not very much is absorbed outside of your digestive system. What you want is for the curcuminoids to enter your bloodstream so they can work their magic all over the body.

    Curcuminoid extract is sold locally in Thailand as/by the brand Curmin. My first two bottles I got from local pharmacies in CNX, and the initial asking price was a whooping 600 baht, but managed to discount it down to 500 the first time with hardly any effort, and 450 the second time (I bought a big load of Piracetam at that time as well).

    Later, in CNX airport, I found a shop specifically selling Curmin products (their main product line is curcumin-based cosmetics), and if you become a member there, which is free, you get the bottles for just 250 baht, which is still not cheap, but more reasonable.

    The positive effects noticed in clinical trials were for 1 g (1000 mg) of curcuminoids per day, so just eating a tablespoon of turmeric now and then, while still a little helpful for your intestinal tract (helps against flatulence and has some minor antioxidant/antibacterial activity), will not have a nootropic effect, hardly enters your bloodstream, and is unlikely to have any effect on the brain.

    Since a while, I am drinking a 60 ml bottle each of Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort, gotu kola) บัวบก and Houttuynia cordata (lizard tail, fishwort) คาวทอง (you can find Centella Asiatica drink in almost any market in Thailand, and also buy bundles of its fresh leaves with stems to make your own drink or tincture, if you prefer that, look for instructions on Youtube).

    From the viewpoint of cold science, Centella Asiatica is a confirmed mild anxiolytic and has also shown a positive effect on neuron regeneration in rats, can reduce varicose vains and cellulites, and a poultice of the leaves can be used to assist in wound healing, in order to minimize scar tissue.

    It is traditionally eaten raw by yogis in India, as it is said to cleanse your body, improve meditation quality and enhance your memory. In China, it has been popular as a supposed longevity plant. Thais have it down as a refresher, that is supposed to cool your body down – enhance the ‘cold element’ according to their traditional medicine system. Thais also claim it helps reduce the pain of being dumped by your GF/BF.

    I’ve noticed that Centella and Coffee don’t mix so well for me, so I’ve simply cut back a lot on coffee, and make sure that I don’t drink any coffee until after 2 hours after taking Centella. Centella does appear to noticeably increase bloodflow to the brain, I can feel subtle cranial pressure after taking it. Maybe the effect is potentiated by the fish oil and piracetam I also take?

    Houttuynia Cordata (fishwort), in Thai คาวทอง is something as unusual as a naturally fish-smelling leaf that acts as an immune system booster, and is popularly drunk in Japan as part of a tea (dokudami) for health and weight loss (it inhibits the absorption of fatty acids – so it is probably best to take it well apart from your fish oil and any other beneficial fats). It is also used in adjunction with radio therapy against cancer because of its immune system boosting properties. The smell/taste is not for everyone, but I have the ability to shut off my sense of taste temporarily (similar to how you can pinch your nose to reduce the sense of taste/smell). By recommendation of the guy who sells it CNX, I drink it in the evenings, he said it helps him sleep, and I have also slept well since I started taking it. The Vietnamese make a salad of it, and in Northern Thailand the leaves are eaten raw together with the Lanna variety of ‘laap’.

    I am currently on the lookout for seeds or seedlings of Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) which is another plant that has nootropic effects and also has been used in the Ayurvedic system for a long time. But it is not well-known by the average Thai, none of the people I’ve asked know what I mean even when I tell them the two names I have seen for it in Thai.

  39. Thanks for your detailed comment – always a help :-)

    “…not so sure that regular turmeric powder will do very much as a nootropic” … Have you skimmed through Margaret’s Corner? I’ve read both opinions but I’m willing to try most anything.

    Centella asiatica and Houttuynia cordata – I’ve had pennywort at the local restaurant I go to. It was just placed in a small container to nibble on.

    For Bacopa Monnieri seeds, these people seem to supply them: Behuria Agro Farm

  40. Paraplants.com in Australia has Bacopa seeds. I’m going to give them a try.

  41. I’m currently taking CDP Choline which I got shipped in from iHerb in Singapore and a good B vitamin. I must say I really like CDP choline, it has improved my mood and my concentration and another pleasant effect is an improved erection!

    I will be off to the Pharmacy tomorrow to look for some Centella as this sounds like it’s worth a try as I only take 250mg of CDP Choline every other day

    chok dee!

  42. I assumed that the headaches I got early on were from Choline – pity! But Centella, I will try. When my life slows down I’ll see if I can find the drink without sugar (I’m assuming a sweetener has been added and I don’t go there).

  43. Hi all! Limitless, have you tried using Alpha-GPC or Choline Bitartrate? I noticed when I started using Citicoline (CDP Choline) that my breath started to carry a faint fishy odour, so I discontinued use and began using Alpha GPC.

    What is your experience Catherine and others, with Pramiracetam? I recently ordered a bottle of Neuro Vortex – Pramiracetam from Smart Drugs for Thought off of Amazon, and received it just this past week. I’m noticing that I’m remembering a lot of my dreams, as well as past memories and words that I had long since forgotten. I’m curious as to the fact about the dreams, and if any one else had noticed this?

  44. Heather, I have pram but still need to spend decent time with it. I have it on its own plus in a product called Brain Octane Pram Supercharged.

    The 50mgs of caffeine in Brain Octane made me too nervous so I quit after a few days (others on longecity.org had the same problem). There was a suggestion to add L-theanine to cut the jitters. The capsules do have L-theanine, but perhaps not enough so I’ll trial that once I’m back from a trip (trying out different nootropics when traveling doesn’t work for me).

    So Neuro Vortex is 100% Pramiracetam?

    I’m a fairly avid dreamer normally but I have noticed an increase in weirdness (which I like).

  45. Heather, I don’t notice a fishy odour with CDP Choline, it’s the first source of choline Ive tried (apart from Lecithin) and I’m quite happy with it although I’ve read that overdoing it can cause the “choline blues” so I only take 250mg every other day to prevent this

    I’ve also taken Milk Thistle tincture for a month to clean out and rebuild the liver as a build up of toxins in the liver can cause brain fog, poor concentration, low energy and low mood, these were my main symptoms and the reason I started experimenting with Nootropics and I can report that they have now completely dissapeared!

    The Pramiracetam interests me a great deal, does it have any side effects like insomnia? I had to stop taking Piracetam as it would take me hours to fall asleep, even after taking something to help me sleep!

    I took my first Cenetella this morning so I’m waiting to feel the effects on this one as I type…

  46. Catherine, Neuro Vortex – Pramiracetam is pure and uncut. L-Theanine is really good for helping with jitters from caffeine, stimulants, and other drugs. I believe L-Theanine is gabaergic as well, so it has positive benefits with taking with Piracetam.

    Limitless, I haven’t had any troubles with Pramiracetam keeping me awake, although I generally take it earlier in the day with my breakfast and again after lunch. I don’t think everyone experiences the fishy odour, but I had seen that there were a few others who experienced it. Pramiracetam also increases the rate that choline is processed by Neurons, which if one was taking Piracetam as well could increase the efficiency of the Piracetam.

    I’m noticing that in the past several days since I received my package of Pramiracetam my long term memory has significantly improved. I’m remembering a bit more of the things that I had learned while attending college.

  47. I am new to this whole nootropics thing, i am a college student and have consider taking pramiracetam. I was order one from the smart-drug website,where do you order yours from Catherine? you seems to know a lot about this. Thank you for educating me from most of your post.

  48. I’m getting my first order for Pramiracetam, Aniracetam and Subultiamine shipped to Thailand from Mind Nutrition based in the UK, they seem to be a little bit more expensive than some others but they have a very impressive website, a lot of good reviews and hopefully that equals top quality products

  49. I initially found Smart Drugs for Thought through Amazon and their reviews on their are pretty good. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main?ie=UTF8&asin=&isAmazonFulfilled=&isCBA=&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&orderID=&seller=AAM4RA238L6CJ this is the link to their reviews if you were interested in seeing how other customers feel about them.

  50. Becky, you can get Pram from superiornutraceuticals.com, smartpowders.com, cerebralhealth.com, amazon.com and ebay. And as Limitless mentioned, Mind Nutrition.

  51. Has anyone here used Ashwagandha? I’ve been pulliin out all the stops, struggling to adjust from a killer quick trip to the US. After five days with nothing much working, last night I tried out Ashwagandha. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but I finally slept (waking up only a couple of times). This morning, as per instructions, I took Ashwagandha again and feel a wonderful calmness (even with the caffeine I’ve ingested to prepare for a Thai class).

    Ashwagandha: Uses and Benefits

    Ashwagandha in particular is known for its ability to calm, and some research indicates this herb can be used to promote sleep. In Texas, researchers noted the similarities in the sleep-inducing properties of ashwagandha and the calming effects of the well-known amino acid GABA. Likewise, ashwagandha has also been shown to ease anxiety or restlessness, as well as to reduce the symptoms of drug withdrawal. Its ability to stabilize moods and encourage adrenal recovery is highly valued by many herbalists.

    But the benefits of ashwagandha extend far beyond mood. In India it is also used to help older patients with mental agility, cognitive ability, and memory. It is also known for its ability to fight off cold and cough symptoms.

  52. Hey,

    I’m really sorry if you’ve already mentioned it but I can’t seem to find out where to buy nootropics in Thailand. Acetyl L-carnitine and choline are easy to find but the racetams are much harder. Please, let me know.

    Thanks for your time.



  53. Mark, I only know Bangkok. The one I shop at is just off Victory Monument. I don’t have the name of it – email me for better directions – but there’s a row of pharmacies on a street coming off the roundabout. Think of a circle with Phahonyotin heading north at the top. Two streets back on the left is the one (I believe). It’s on the Phahonyotin side. A pharmacy on the pet side of JJ Market (facing the park) also stocks nootropics. Many pharmacies do. Just take a list in and ask.

  54. UPDATE: I’m trying out CILTEP™ from Natural Stacks. A review will be forthcoming.

  55. Great Nootropic Catherine. You seem to have a good grasp on nootropic supplements. May I ask which source you find your nootropics?

    The pramiracetam and piracetam I think could be swapped out for noopept as a cheaper alternative. Also adding in an ampakine like sunifiram may be helpful. Have you tried sunifiram?

    I think the lions mane is also a very good addition. I have heard it works like a nootropic but mainly improves nerve growth factors.

    Anyway, your stack looks really great. It is good to know more people are paying attention to their brain health. With the alarming rate of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases more people should pay attention to protecting their brains. I think increased pollutants in our environment and food supply are causing this. We have tools to help fight this.

  56. Welcome to WLT Jessica. A lot of nootropics can be found in Thailand at various pharmacies. I got mine at Victory Monument (but people might need to wait until the anti-government protests are over before venturing that way).

    I ended up dropping Lions Mane. It read like a good idea but it did nothing for me (might not have used it long enough).

    I’ve moved on mostly from pramiracetam and piracetam. CILTEP + Phenylpiracetam + caffeine (coffee and/or tea) is a new sweet-spot for me.

    I would love to try Sunifiram but I don’t have any yet. At the moment I’m reviewing CILTEP from Natural Stacks.

  57. I am so glad that this article mentioned exercising. So few people recognize the cognitive benefits exercising can have. It’s been shown to increase BDNF.

    Also, one thing that I’ve tried, and recommend, that’s not on here is adrafinil. It’s basically a legal, no prescription required version of adrafinil.

  58. Stephen, adrafinil does sound interesting. I’m on Wellbutrin at the moment and from what Erowid is saying, I need to wait until I’m off to get the full wack.

  59. I went to a few pharmacies : best deals seem to be at Peerah pharmacy, mentioned before : green one on Ratchadamnoen, first one on the left when you come from Tha Pae gate, opposite Black Canyon Coffee.
    As of January 2016, hydergine generic is 150 thb the box (250 tablets), piracetam is 40 thb for 10 tablets

  60. Thank you for the update. And apologies (I replied via email).
    What is the strength of the piracetam?

  61. Can I legally import nootropics into Thailand for personal use? I purchased some noopept which I can find little to no information about regarding its legality in Thailand.

  62. Bill, as long as it’s an approved nootropic and doesn’t go over the dosage listed. I believe one month’s supply is the limit (but would need to verify).

  63. I’ve read that Modafinal (a nootropic) has been approved in Thailand. You can’t buy it here but you can get a local doctor to write you a script and get it shipped in (30 days supply only).

    Piracetam is over the counter in Thailand, as are many others, so no doctor would be needed. But that 30 days supply rule would need to be followed (if it still stands).

  64. After a search …

    “Piracetam is legal over the counter and there are locally made generic equivalent not as expensive as the imports. Brand names include Mancetam, Mempil, noocetam”

    “Oxiracetam and aniracetam are approved for use in Thailand but no one seems to be importing it and no local brands AFAIK”

    OTC in Thailand, I’ve purchased Piracetam, Hydergine, Theanine, Pyritinol, and others.

  65. Hello everyone,

    Where do you guys buy all you stock? What shop would you recommend in BKK?
    The Victory Monument area as discussed before?

    Thank you

  66. Tim, I haven’t lived in BKK for awhile but I do know that the place at Victory Monument is still selling nootropics.

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