How Do Nootropics Make You Feel? I’ll Explain..

Photo courtesy of Guido van Nispen, on

Photo courtesy of Guido van Nispen, on

There is quite a bit of skepticism around the world of Nootropics. It exists largely in the minds and conversations of people who haven’t tried them, and is partially related to a large brain function awareness epidemic that renders 90 out of 100 people you meet on the street unaware of the various brain states they enter throughout the day.

If you talk to people that don’t have an inclination to think about anything related to neuroscience or brain performance, variations between different states of mental performance are either completely unnoticed or under examined to them.

With a few critical exceptions: caffeine. People recognize what it’s like to be caffeinated VS not caffeinated, especially when they are in the former, after waking up early and being in the latter. Some people are absolute zombies until they have that first Starbucks espresso drink.

Then, they down their daily caffeine, and boom, suddenly their brains are working again and they can proceed with their day. And maybe later on, they’ll engage in getting into the state of the other exception: alcohol.

A bit more obvious than caffeine, people know when they’ve had some drinks. Hell, people know when they’ve had one drink. It not only becomes obvious from the outside, but it becomes extremely obvious (and pleasant for most people) on the inside. The state change is obvious.

But when it comes to Nootropics, people actually FORGET that they do this every day of their lives, and thus approach the idea that something they consume can radically change brain performance, with skepticism.

But hand any one of these people a bottle of Cortex, a cap of Aniracetam, or better yet, 50-100MG of Modafinil, and they’ll be on board in a heartbeat. It’ll become noticeable.

How nootropics make you feel

The first time I took a nootropic compound, I was in my mid 20’s, sitting in an office I had rented for a business I was painfully trying to make succeed (which eventually did). It was a nootropic called Acetyl-L-Carnitine, a substance that improves fatty acid usage in brain cell mitochondria.

It was pretty interesting. I felt this obvious surge of brain energy, and a subtle appreciation for colors. I was noticeably more verbally fluent, and I wanted to sit down and work on something that required focus. Hmm. Interesting.

But then as I continued to explore various nootropic compounds, ranging from well studied “smart drugs” like Oxiracetam, to precursors to neurotransmitters like Alpha GPC, I began to realize that the states these compounds put my brain in, were surely giving me the edge compared to my baseline.

Your brain actually changes. The way neurotransmitters function changes. Neurotransmitter receptors get modulated. Speed of neuronal firing increases. Quantity of cerebral bloodflow heightens, and a whole host of other neuronal metabolic things take place.

Some nootropics are subtle to the feel, and present themselves as a noticeable enhancement in working memory, or sentence formation. You’ll be able to hold more information in your mind at once than usual, or your sentences will come out a lot smoother because there is less obstruction.

And some, are extremely obvious and stimulatory, while still providing subtle functional enhancements.

The “feel” of the onset, really depends on the stack, or combination of nutrients/smart drugs you’re taking, but I’ll explain exactly what it’s like for me, when I take Cortex, and get to work. Here on the blog, and throughout the web, I’ve talked about my experiences with other nootropics, so head over here if you want to read about my experience with Adrafinil, or check this out if you’re interested in my experiences with Aniracetam.

How Cortex onsets, effects me, and descends

The generation 1 version of Cortex has 610MG of material. By the time you might be reading this, future iterations of the Cortex nootropic stack might have launched, and quantities will be different, but here are the onset, feel, and effects of Cortex generation 1 for me:

  1. The serving size for Cortex (Gen 1) is 2 capsules. It consists of 4 major nootropic compounds called Uridine Monophosphate, CDP choline, Bacopa Monnieri, and Artichoke Extract. I take 2 capsules on an empty stomach with some water, and I’m off.
  2. About 20 minutes later, I’ll notice my brain starting to wake up. It doesn’t feel like coffee. It feels more like my entire brain is coming alive. Like I have much more control over it. I feel things start to clear up, whereas prior I might have been sitting there ruminating about 20 different things in rapid succession.
  3. At the 30 minute mark, It really begins its onset. The wakefulness turns into full on frontal lobe energy, I get the strong sensation to work on something cerebrally demanding, and I’m super motivated to go run my businesses (I own 2 at this point).
  4. Everything is working faster. Smoother. Better. If I’m on the phone with someone in a business context, which is usually the case moments after I leave my apartment, my words are flowing smoothly, my confidence is solid, and I’m going through the motions to make my dent in whatever situation I’m in to solve a problem or make something happen.
  5. For the ensuing 3-4 hours, this same level of motivation, focus capacity, and intensity (Cortex just makes me a beast) exists, and pushes me to just be uber productive. My verbal fluency stays maxed out, my focus is unrelenting, and I’m motivated to get things done.
  6. At about hour 4, some of the frontal lobe area mental energy dies down, but what remains is still a significant state above my normal working baseline. Awesomely (and this is why I rave about Uridine monophosphate and CDP as a combo so much), my verbal fluency and motivation levels are still pretty high. I’m still operating optimally.
  7. For the ensuing 4-8 hours, or until about 9-10PM at night when I’m winding down, my brain is still working faster. I’m descending back to normal levels of processing speed, working memory, and focus capacity, commensurate with the waning of brain performance and increases of tiredness that would ordinarily exist as the day goes on; but brain performance above baseline still remains. With this stack particularly, I feel optimized until the moment I fall asleep.

Now – this isn’t the case for all nootropic compounds, only the strong ones. Modafinil, Adrafinil, for some people some of the Racetams, and strong cholinergics like Hupezine A tend to last a long time. CDP Choline and Uridine monophosphate have long half lives, which means they remain actively affecting your brain for quite some time.

But not everything is like that. Aniracetam, a smart drug that produces a stimulatory effect with some working memory improvements, only lasts a few hours for most people, if that. It really all depends on what you’re taking.

Oxiracetam, another “racetam” smart drug, lasts about 3 hours for me, and then I’m essentially back to baseline.

The “caffeine/theanine stack,” a combination of 120MG of Caffeine, and 200MG of the amino acid L-theanine, lasts about 2-3 hours, and then I basically feel normal afterwards.

But suffice it to say that with most nootropics, there is actually a “feel” to them. The more you experiment with nootropic compounds, the more you become sensitized to how they effect you.

For most everyday nootropics users, they’ll take their daily cocktail of cognitive enhancers, and within 20-30 minutes, they start feeling sharper, quicker, and more focused.

Generally, the desire to work comes on pretty strong, and you’re ready to just get to it. You don’t really have to motivate yourself, or talk yourself into it. Your brain is already fired up, ready to give you the raw output you need to be productive.

It’s a night and day difference from baseline for most of us, that helps accelerate our professional lives and productivity.


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