Do Nootropics Have Side Effects?: Everything You Need To Know

Nootropics Side Effects


In this article, we’ll discuss Nootropics side effects and Diagnosis.

Every person, be it a working man or a student, has at least once wished of some super pill that can increase productivity.

What if I say that such pills do exist? What if I say that you may have encountered such substances or that you have been consuming them unknowingly?

These substances, Nootropics, also known as Smart Drugs or Cognitive Enhancers boost our brain performance in numerous ways. These substances, be it natural or synthetic when consumed are found to have a beneficial effect on our cognitive capabilities.

But are they completely safe? If they are so effective, do they have some side effects?

If these are the questions lingering in your mind then this article is just for you. 

The use of these smart drugs has been proved advantageous but its continuance is still controversial. Everything in excess leads to a downfall and the Nootropics are no exception to it.

Nootropics are usually classified by their basis of availability and origin. In the present case, Nootropics can be listed as:

  1. Prescribed nootropics
  2. Non-prescribed nootropics

Let’s see what each one has for us.

Prescribed Nootropics

Prescribed Nootropics are not easily available. As their name suggests they require a prescription from a doctor or psychiatrist. They are usually used in Neurocognitive disorders like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s, etc.

Their intake is usually in the pill form and is not recommended for healthy individuals with no cognitive disability. Their otherwise consumption can have major Nootropics side effects like:

  • Insomnia and night-time urination
  • Blurry vision and haziness
  • Blood pressure problems (usually high)
  • Fast heart palpitations
  • Circulatory problems (abnormal blood pressure)
  • Substance abuse or related disorders
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

If their use is continued despite noticing positive effects, a higher risk for impulsive behavior develops which can worsen the pre-existing case.

Non – prescribed Nootropics

Non-prescribed cognitive enhancers are natural or synthetic supplements that are easily available without the need for a prescription. They enhance the brain performance and a range of cognitive functions of a healthy individual.

Unlike the prescribed ones, their use is not just limited to treat neurocognitive disorders but to solve day-to-day problems related to attention, memory retention, learning, etc. 

Some of these commonly include:


Caffeine as a stimulant is consumed by a significant section of the human population, particularly the young working generation and students. It does not involve any self-destructive issues like other stimulants but in fact, its moderate use can be proved as a bonus in cases of:

  • Decreasing mental fatigue
  • Staying awake
  • Increasing mental endurance

However, its use in excess can lead to caffeine addiction reaching a level of intoxication and, in some cases even death. 


It is an amino acid that is found in green/black tea as well as in some supplements. L-thiamine contributes to a relaxed and wide-awake mental state to permit the user a long time to exploit their enhanced state of mental activity.  

No side effects have been found yet to this multitasking substance. 

Omega – 3 Fatty Acids

These are found in fatty fish and also in fish oil supplements. They are usually consumed through diets and supplements rich in it. These fatty acids protect our brains from aging and carry a low risk for side-effects if they are consumed as per the directed instructions.

However, these natural substances can result in major problems like blood clotting if mixed with specific medications or wrong substances.


These drugs affect the working of our neurotransmitters. Research is still under process and no remarkably routine disrupting side effects have been pointed out as yet.

Ginkgo Biloba

Though naturally found in a tree-native to China, this herb is also used to treat various cognitive disorders and vascular diseases all over the world. However, Ginkgo Biloba exhibits plenty of side effects such as:

  • Skin-allergy
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness 


This drug is found as a shrub in China. Its root is used for medicinal purposes and is consumed orally to improve cognitive skills such as learning capacity and faster memory function. This mainly happens due to an increase in the speed of firing neurons in the brain.

The most common Nootropics side effects of ginseng are:

  • Insomnia
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rashes and skin allergy

It can also interact with various other medications that can result in harmful drug interactions. Hence, consultation with a doctor is necessary before consumption.


It is the root of the rose plant and imparts positive effects on one’s neurocognitive ability. Rhodiola has been found to have a positive effect on a person’s mood as it casts its effect on our neurotransmitters by making us less prone to any kind of stress. Though this drug is still under study, some common side effects of it are as follows:

  • May include allergy and skin irritability
  • Sleeping problems
  • Blood pressure fluctuations
  • Can cause anxiety and occasional headaches


This substance is very popular among athletes. It allows an individual to improve exercise performance and also gain muscle mass in fitness enthusiasts. However, there is no supporting scientific evidence for its use. 

Its side-effects include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Might cause irregular heartbeat in some people

Are Nootropics harmful?

Not all of them. Some of them can lead to lasting adverse effects on our health because of their scientific properties and the user’s personality traits, brain chemistry, and tolerance level. Thus, what suits one, might not suit another. Although there are some promising nootropics drugs with exceptional potential under the research phase. 

Why do people yet consume Nootropics despite several side effects?

Many pieces of research have proposed that most of the users experience just a placebo effect, i.e., a positive effect experienced after an inactive treatment administered in such a way that a person thinks he or she is receiving active treatment. 

Some people value their intelligence capabilities more than a day to day health problems like the ones mentioned above. People who work in intensive work environments or students who are burdened with tight deadlines and vital assignments can achieve a great deal of quicker success if they consume nootropics. This proves as reason enough to consume nootropics.


Popping pills is not always the right solution to your problems. There are other ways to boost our brain progress and optimize cognitive functions. Start acquiring proper sleep, performing physical and mental exercises, eating nutritious and balanced meals, and doing yoga for managing stress levels.