Developing My First Nootropic Stack

I recently became introduced to a class of drugs known as nootropics. “Smart drugs” as they are sometimes called, or “cognitive enhancers”. They are said to improve mood, focus, memory, alertness, creativity, and problem solving. “Stacking” refers to using multiple nootropics and other supplements to complement each other and improve performance. These are all things I could use some help with lately, and after just a few weeks of experimenting, I’m already very excited by the results.

While researching the original Silk Road hidden website, I began looking at nootropics like piracetam. The subject had intrigued me, and I did a little bit of reading on the subject, but I never followed through on it. More recently I saw an advertisement for a product called OptiMind that had a free trial (just pay $2.95 shipping) for 10 pills.

Nootropic Stack
Nootropic Stack

I decided to give it a shot because I had been having some trouble focusing as the result of a number of issues I’ve been dealing with. As I’ve mentioned before, I was surprised by how good the results were. OptiMind was expensive though, and I knew I could find a cheaper, and possibly more effective alternative (Update 11/23/14, I have since renewed my OptiMind subscription). With my new found focus and ability to remember, I began researching the ingredients of OptiMind and other nootropic supplements.

A friend gave me some piracetam, Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR), aniracetam, sulbutiamine, and a few others. I played with different combinations, and eventually I found the combination of aniracetam and ALCAR to be particularly impressive, especially when I added phosphatidyl choline, a choline supplement. I tried a couple of prescription amphetamines, which really improved matters, but I wanted to stay away from controlled substances due to legal concerns.

Impressions from my initial nootropic experiments

OptiMind Free Trial
OptiMind Free Trial

OptiMind had a good bit of caffeine in it, and combined with my morning coffee I initially got the jitters and shaky hands. I already have problems with insomnia. I knew I needed to get something without caffeine, so I could regulate my caffeine intake manually while still taking the supplements.

The racetam/ALCAR combination seemed to lower my sex drive. This has ups and downs.

On the one hand, I have an unusually high sex drive, and this has caused me some problems in the past. My sexual urges have been a constant distraction for me, and to have them alleviated was in some ways a relief. I usually have sexual fantasies throughout the day, get erections for little to no reason at all, and have a constant urge to either seek female companionship, or “get the poison out”.

While this brought some relief, I was also concerned. When I woke up in the mornings without an erection I thought something was wrong with me. I attribute much of my sense of self worth to my sexual performance, losing any edge on this front was unacceptable. Just the thought of finding myself in the midst of a sexual encounter and not being able to achieve an erection filled me with shame and fear.

On the bright side, this may have just been the result of my ability to concentrate on other things. At one point I found myself flirting with an attractive woman, and realized I needed to adjust myself. I went home with a head full of sexual fantasies, and release became a requirement shortly after I found some privacy. After that, I was able to think clearly again.

Priorities for my Nootropic Stack

You can’t just go on the Internet and ask “What’s the best nootropic for me?”. The answer is different for everybody, depending on their priorities and body chemistry. I had to determine what it was that I wanted to accomplish and how my body reacted to different compounds.

As I described in a recent article, I have an number of issues I’m working to overcome.

  • I’ve got substance abuse issues, so I have to be very careful about substances that have a high potential for abuse.
  • I’ve been having problems in my relationships with women, so I don’t want anything that’s going that’s going to put my sex drive through the roof, or make me overly emotional. Simultaneously, I assign a great deal of my sense of self worth to my sexual performance, so diminishing that is out of the question.
  • I have insomnia, and so I need to be careful about things that will keep me up at night, and preferably find something that will help me sleep.
  • I’m dieting, exercising, and trying to lose weight, so I don’t want anything that is going to negatively impact my workouts, cause me to gain weight, or retain water. If I can find things that will improve my workouts or help me burn fat, even better.
  • I write for a living, so creativity is a must, and the stuff I write about requires study, so I need to be focused and be able to retain information.
  • I’m having a tough time financially, so I needed this to be cost efficient, but since my career is on the line, I didn’t mind spending a few hundred bucks up front to get it right.
  • My writing attracts the attention of enemies, including law enforcement. I can’t be in possession of anything illegal.

Different Types of Nootropics

Peak Nootropics identifies 7 different types of nootropics.


Racetams are the most common class of nootropic drugs. You can pretty easily identify them by their names. Piracetam was the first, then derivatives like aniracetam, oxiracetam, colouracetam, pramiracetam, phenylpiracetam, and others followed.

Ractams increase cognitive ability by stimulating the Acetylcholine receptors (AChR). Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, an endogenous chemical that transmits signals across a synapse from one neuron (brain cell) to another ‘target’ neuron. While the pharmacokinetics are not entirely understood, racetams have a pretty good track record of increasing cognitive function, and memory. They have been prescribed for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and of particular interest to me, alcoholism.

Choline & Acetylcholine Intermediates

Since racetams stimulate Acetylcholine receptors, you may find yourself running short on choline. This can cause headaches and decrease the effectiveness of racetams and other nootropics. It’s been said that as much as 85% of people are choline deficient, and since this chemical is responsible for so much of our brain function, this sorta goes a long way in explaining why I feel surrounded by idiots so frequently, especially when discussing politics.


Ampakines are a new category and a definite area of interest in the nootropic field. It is known that glutamic activity is extremely important for cognitive function. Racetams do have some level of Glutamate activity however not nearly as much as new substances like Sunifram and Unifram.

Glutamate receptors are synaptic receptors located primarily on the membranes of neuronal cells. Glutamate (glutamic acid) is abundant in the human body, but particularly in the nervous system and especially prominent in the human brain where it is the body’s most prominent neurotransmitter, the brain’s main excitatory neurotransmitter, and also the precursor for gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the brain’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter. Glutamate receptors are responsible for the glutamate-mediated postsynaptic excitation of neural cells, and are important for neural communication, memory formation, learning, and regulation.

Synthetic B-Vitamin Derived Nootropics

Sulbutiamine and Pyritinol belong to this group because they are created from modifying B-Vitamins. Sulbutiamine is modified from Vitamin B1 and Pyritinol is created from Vitamin B6. Both of these compounds are great for promoting energy, mood and memory. They may be great when taken alone or added to a stack.

Natural Nootropics

Many people prefer to go the all-natural way when taking nootropic supplements. This is popular because many people do not believe in taking synthetic substances. The problem with this area is that many do not work that well however there are several that are very effective. Huperzine A, Bacopa Monnieri, and Vinpocetine may be exceptions.

Peptide Nootropics

There are several different peptide nootropics available these days, but the most common and best performing one is Noopept, which I’m currently using. Noopept (N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester) is a Russian developed nootropic which is derived from Racetams. Noopept has famously earned the reputation of being 1000 times more potent than Piracetam according to an article published in the Eksperimentalnaia i klinicheskaia farmakologiia scientific journal. This peptide is highly bioavailable and is effective at penetrating the blood-brain barrier meaning that you can take less of it and still achieve substantial results.

Noopept stimulates both AMPA and NDMA receptors responsible for releasing glutamate and Ach receptors which control levels of Acetylcholine. This makes it similar to both racetams and ampakines. Noopept also stimulates the release of Nerve Growth Factor which is a protein necessary for the grown and maintenance of neurons and nerve cells.

Smart Drugs

Smart drugs have the highest potential for abuse, and are often not actually characterized as proper nootropics. Smart drugs work by stimulating the body and mind. There are certain amphetamine based medication like Adderall that work well for this. There are also Eugeroic drugs like Modafinil that also work to stimulate the body and mind.

The Nootropic Stack I’m Currently Taking

I’ve ordered a long list of different supplements in powder form, including

  • Noopept
  • Aniracetam
  • Sinifiram
  • Adrafinil
  • Phosphaditylcholine
  • Choline Barbitrate
  • Sulbutiamine
  • Phenibut
  • Acetyl L Carnatine (ALCAR)
  • gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
  • Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)
  • Taurine
  • L Arginine
  • Yohimbine
  • Muira Puama Bark
  • Horny Goat Weed
  • Gokshura (Tribulus Terrestris)
  • Saw Palmetto Berries
  • Green Tea Extract (45% EGCG)

I also got a miligram digital scale, and some “00” size capsules to put the powders in. No, I’m not presently taking all of this stuff every day.

In the morning I take the following

  • Noopept 20mg
  • Sunifiram 10mg
  • Adrafinil 150mg
  • Sulbutiamine 300mg
  • ALCAR 500mg
  • Phosphaditylcholine 850mg

I repeat this dose in the afternoon, and I occasionally take some more noopept sublingually under the tongue.

In the evenings I take the following

  • Noopept 20mg
  • ALCAR 500mg
  • Sulbutiamine 300mg
  • GABA 1500mg
  • Nature’s Measure “Relax & Sleep” blend of Valarian root 75mg, Chamomile 25mg, Melatonin 200mcg

I am impressed with the results. I am energetic and focused all day long. I sleep like a log at night, and I wake up feeling great in the morning.

The Noopept is a substance you can feel all by itself, and it’s the only substance I’m currently using which I have taken by itself. For future articles I’ll have to try these things individually, but right now I’m really enjoying the combination. Noopept can be difficult to get the dosage right. Too little and you don’t feel it, too much and it will actually fog the brain up instead of bringing the intended clarity. I fear I may be building a tolerance to the substance, as the temptation to take more seems to build by the day. I’ve ordered more aniracetam, and may cycle between the two, in order to limit this phenomenon.

The ALCAR and Phosphaditylcholine combination really compliment the noopept very well. I noticed this difference when I took aniracetam alone, vs when I took it with ALCAR, vs. when I took it with ALCAR and Choline.

I’d have a difficult time saying how much difference the sulbutiamine is making.

Sunifiram seems to give some more energy to the effect, which is useful for alertness and motivation to get things done, especially physical things like exercise and cleaning up. It can also be taken sublingually for more immediate effect.

Adrafinil has some potential for abuse as it metabolizes into Modafinil in the liver. Modafinil is a powerful stimulant, which is a controlled substance in the United States. Adrafinil is not presently regulated in the US, but has similar effects once it is metabolized. This puts some extra strain in the liver, which is undesirable, but presently worth it in my book. This is another substance that you can build up a tolerance to, and so I’ll need to cycle it on and off. This is a terrible shame because it is one of the most noticeable and thoroughly enjoyable portions of this concoction. I feel it kick in, my eyes open wide, my heart beats a bit faster, and motivation becomes bountiful. A little bit sublingually kicks in faster for the occasionally required jump start. I haven’t tried a mega dose, but the cocaine addict in me really wants to.

I cut out the Adrafinil and Sunifram at night to avoid insomnia, which has been a constant problem for me ever since childhood. I instead take GABA and the “Rest & Sleep” blend I picked up at the Dollar Tree. I can’t stress enough what a constant problem sleep has been for me over the years. The “Rest & Sleep” blend was never enough for me, I used to take diphenhydramine almost every night, usually washing it down with a lot of alcohol. This has a huge list of problems by itself, not the least of which was waking up feeling like shit, but it is particularly problematic when taking nootropics I think.

Diphenhydramine is an antichollinergic. The way it helps you sleep is by blocking choline receptors in the brain, causing it to “turn off”, and I’m taking supplements that are supposed to be stimulating those receptors. There isn’t any solid medical research I can find on the subject, but that kind of contraindication can’t be good.

With the GABA I’m falling asleep in a very natural feeling way. I’m not intoxicated or so drowsy that I can no longer function, I just decide to go to bed, I close my eyes, and 8 hours later I wake up feeling great. Not only that, but I’m waking up with erections again, another thing I’d have a hard time over-stressing the importance of. GABA isn’t a nootropic itself, but it has been cited as a possible treatment for ADHD, as well as helping to burn fat, increase libido, relieve anxiety, and promote healthy deeper sleep.

Perhaps the most notable thing about this entire experience is that my urge to drink is near zero. I’ve been drinking alcohol for more than half my life, and in the last 10 years or so it has really been a problem. At times it was an every day blackout type of thing. Every time I have sobered up, it has been a constant struggle not to drink because the urges to do so, particularly at night and in social situations, were overwhelming.

I attribute this to the nootropics because I feel like I’m generally just more in control of my thoughts. Alcohol and sex were both intrusive thoughts, I didn’t ask for them, they just came. It was almost like hearing voices or something. Some annoying lunatic in my brain screaming “Take that shot! Fuck that girl!” while I’m trying to do something rather mundane like read the fuckin news or do some laundry. This isn’t happening anymore and it’s like an obnoxious neighbor just moved out or something, the relief is huge.

I think about what I want to think about. If I want to think about sex, I do, and all the functions of that thought process are readily available. If I want to think about drinking, I can, and I do, but I can put those thoughts aside when I see fit to. If I want to think about exercise, politics, philosophy, romance, or any other subject, I make a choice to do so, and the thoughts are there, uninterrupted.

That really opens up a whole new world for me because it changes my entire perception, specifically, that my perceptions are even capable of changing. People have told me I need to change my perceptions before, and I looked at them like they had two heads. “How the hell can I change my perceptions? I perceive the world as it is!”. Well, that may be the case, but holy shit, do I have some say in the matter?


I get all my nootropics and other supplements at Powder City.

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Christopher Cantwell comedian, writer, voice artist, and Patriot.

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