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Nootropics as Stimulants. What do They Do?

Nootropics is an umbrella term used to describe many types of drugs that have cognitive enhancing effects, and each of these has specific benefits. For example, some nootropic drugs may have relaxation effects used to help consumers sleep at night, while others may be stimulants used to help consumers feel awake and boost energy levels during the day.

In this article, we will be talking specifically about nootropic stimulants, and answering some questions such as: What are nootropic stimulants? How do they work inside the body to create their stimulating effects? Before we can answer these questions, we must take a look at how the human brain regulates energy levels in the first place.

How Nootropics Act As Stimulants

The human mind is essentially a complex system of neurotransmitters that work with each other to communicate through signals and synapses inside the brain. Glutamate, for example, is a type of neurotransmitter that regulates the firing of nerve cells which contribute to making us feel more alert and focused. GABA, on the other hand, is a chemical that stops the shooting of these nerve cells which causes us to feel slow and tired.

Most people who take nootropics lean toward substances that boost neuronal firing rather than those that decrease it.

The Stimulating Neurotransmitters

Acetylcholine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and dopamine are the primary neurotransmitters that contribute to stimulation in the brain. The above neurotransmitters work in precise ways to stimulate nerves and fire messages from one part of the brain to another.

NootropicsDepending on what nootropic you use, the effects that they have on these neurotransmitters and the receptors associated with them will differ. Nooept and racetam nootropics, for example, work mostly with glutamate receptors. As soon as these glutamate receptors become stimulated, they cause positively charged ions to enter nerve cells and lower action potential. This decreased action potential results in less effort required to send messages across the brain, thus reducing the overall energy used.

If the nerve cells in the brain are allowed to fire more efficiently, then information will travel faster within the brain resulting in many cognitive benefits. Some of these benefits include; increased alertness, improved memory, enhanced reaction time, and improved energy levels. All of these benefits occur due to the improvement of neuronal activity inside the brain.

That is only just one example of the many ways in which nootropic substances can work as stimulants. Other nootropics, for example, may increase the release of acetylcholine, dopamine, or norepinephrine. Some other nootropics may also work by inhibiting neurotransmitters in the brain and the chemicals that cause us to feel relaxed such as adenosine, GABA, and serotonin. There are multiple ways that nootropic substances can work inside the mind to stimulate neurons.

A List Of Stimulating Nootropics


Piracetam is known as the first nootropic substance since it was the first to be used as such. Piracetam also remains one of the most popular and potent nootropic drugs on the market today. It is a member of the racetam family and is the original racetam which was used to create some of the other members of the family. Some other racetams include aniracetam, oxiracetam, phenylpiracetam, and pramiracetam.

NootropicsPiracetam is also considered to be a stimulant since it works by binding and increasing the number of AMPA-glutamate receptors on the brains neurons. As explained earlier this allows for improved communication between neurons which result in many benefits such as enhanced reaction time, enhanced learning, and also has a wakefulness effect.

Piracetam also promotes the metabolism of glucose and mitochondrial functionality which also helps to benefit energy levels throughout the day. Even though this doesn’t stimulate the mind directly, it does optimize energy levels allowing neurons to fire at a higher rate for more extended periods of time which results in the stimulation effects.


Noopept is technically not part of the racetam family though it is often compared to racetams since it is so chemically similar to them. This substance also works through the glutamate receptors inside the brain much like how piracetam and other racetams do.  

One significant difference, however, is the potency of this substance. Noopept is scientifically proven to be about 100 times more potent than piracetam for example. Another difference is that noopept effects both the AMPA-glutamate receptors as well as NMDA-glutamate receptors in the brain making it uniquely versatile. This combination allows for noopept to offer a more rounded neurostimulation effect on the mind increasing its effectiveness.


Adrafinil is chemically identical to another nootropic substance called “modafinil.” This substance is often used to promote feelings of wakefulness and alertness in its users. This drug works by affecting adrenergic receptors in the brain which regulate the “sympathetic nervous system” also known as the brains “fight or flight” system.

These adrenergic receptors depend on levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine inside the brain. Catecholamine neurotransmitters stimulate multiple organs in the body that causes us to feel many benefits such as surges in energy, improved mental focus, and alertness, and enhance the flow of oxygen inside the body.

As we touched on a bit earlier, adrafinil is known as a “prodrug” for modafinil. Basically, that means that once adrafinil becomes consumed and absorbed into the liver, it then gets converted into modafinil which then travels to the energy receptors in the brain. The effects and effectiveness of adrafinil are identical to modafinil. However, modafinil is illegal in most countries due to its potency because the liver does not filter it beforehand.


Caffeine is probably the most popular and world-renowned stimulant by far. Used by millions of people worldwide daily in the form of coffee or tea, this drug is an extremely useful stimulant that has many cognitive benefits. Many people and companies use caffeine as a part of their pre-workout supplements since it can provide a mental and physical boost during their workout. Others may drink it in the form of coffee or tea in the morning to help them start the day, and some professionals even use caffeine late at night to help work more extended hours and complete projects for school or work.

NootropicsThe way that caffeine works is that it inhibits a molecular compound called adenosine. Adenosine builds up in the brain throughout the day as a result of excess nerve function. Throughout the day as your mind works more and more, adenosine begins to bind to nerve cell receptors and causes delays in neurotransmission, making electrical impulses slow down. As the day goes on, this effect becomes worse, and this causes one to feel tired, think slower, experience brain fog, and more. Naturally, this is supposed to be a good thing since the buildup of adenosine tells our body when it’s time to rest and recover, but sometimes we need to stay up to work or complete important tasks, and that’s where caffeine comes into play.

Caffeine inhibits adenosine and will allow one to feel more alert and stay awake for more extended periods of time. Also, caffeine can remove adenosine molecules that were bound or built up previously which means its effects can happen almost instantaneously. Once the built-up adenosine becomes detached from the nerve cells, they begin firing faster, and information pathways are cleared allowing the brain to function more efficiently.

How To Use Stimulating Nootropics

NootropicsIt is advised not to use stimulating nootropics too often, and it’s also necessary to consult with a medical professional before beginning any cycles. If purchasing an over the counter medication make sure to read and follow the boxed directions very carefully. Also, try not to take different types of stimulants throughout the day or too close to bedtime. For your brain to function efficiently, it needs to rest, and that means getting a good night sleep of at least 6 hours to recharge your brains batteries. It’s essential to understand even when taking any stimulant that nothing can replace rest.

It’s best to take stimulating nootropics in the morning or before lunch. Many people are sensitive to stimulants of any kind so users should exercise caution before taking any of these nootropics regularly. An excellent way to start taking stimulating nootropics (or any drug for that matter) is to begin with small doses initially, and slowly up the dosage amount as you see that no issues occur.

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