This article will examine nootropics in the UK. We will briefly look at what nootropics are and who might be using nootropics in Britain. Then, we will examine the most common nootropics in Britain, and address why people are using nootropics more frequently. We will also cover the side-effects associated with popular nootropics. Finally, we will examine the legality of nootropics in the UK.
What Is A Nootropic?
A ‘nootropic’ is defined as a substance that “act[s] on the mind, in such a way as to improve cognitive function.” Nootropics might be foods, drinks, supplements, drugs or other substances, and they can improve things like concentration, motivation, wakefulness, performance under pressure or even your mood.
Who In The UK Is Using Nootropics?
As nootropics are meant to improve cognitive function, most are used by people who routinely do mentally-taxing things. This might include doctors, office workers, computer programmers or other busy professionals. However, the largest market for nootropics is in universities: many students and academics in the UK use nootropics to keep up with demanding workloads, or study for longer around exams.
Moreover, many nootropics can improve wakefulness, meaning they might be used by people who must be aware for long periods of time. Shift workers, emergency services personnel, or security guards might be applicable. Interestingly, the British military has also trialled nootropics as ‘stay awake’ pills.
What Are The Most Common Nootropics In Britain?
The most commonly-used nootropics are ‘smart drugs’*. Perhaps the most popular is Modafinil: The Tab found that around 20% of students used Modafinil in 2014, translating to almost 460,000 users in total. Also in the ‘smart drugs’ category are nootropics like Adderall and Ritalin, which are quite widely used but seem to be viewed with greater scepticism than Modafinil. There are many more ‘smart drugs’ available, like Noopept and Piracetam. However, Modafinil, Adderall and Ritalin are the most common pharmaceutical nootropics in the UK
Natural nootropic supplements are an alternative option to ‘smart drugs’ - they are less frequently used than ‘smart drugs’, but are quickly growing in popularity. They might use natural ingredients with nootropic properties, such as matcha tea, guarana, and choline from natural sources like broccoli. These sorts of nootropics do not use pharmaceuticals, which sets them apart from ‘smart drugs’.
Companies like HVMN have dominated this market in America. However, there are very few homegrown natural nootropics in Britain (excluding BrainZyme). This means that many British customers must import nootropics, and as a result they may not be compliant with British laws and regulations.
Why Are More People Using Nootropics?
There are several reasons why more people in Britain are using nootropics.
As mentioned, in the UK many nootropics users are students. This is thanks to numerous factors: rising tuition fees is placing greater pressure on students to succeed; many students are stressed about their futures, meaning they want to excel academically to secure better jobs; and, students have to juggle many other things alongside studying, meaning those less able to cope might feel they need a nootropic.
Other nootropics users have similar concerns. Money is tighter, prices are rising, and wages may not always be enough, so some people may use nootropics to work longer or harder to help make ends meet.
Competition in the workplace is also higher, and as a result some people who want to secure a promotion may use nootropics to boost their productivity.
Many workers in demanding jobs are also being placed under more pressure. Cuts to public spending mean doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers and many other vital professions are being told to get larger amounts of work done with less resources. As a result, their working lives may become more stressful, or they may need to work additional hours. This may in turn lead to nootropic use to keep up with a higher workload.
What Side-Effects Can Nootropics Cause?
While there are many valid reasons that someone might start using nootropics, it’s important to also bear in mind the side-effects associated with them.
Amongst the most common sorts of nootropics in the UK, ‘smart drugs’, there are very many side effects that you might encounter. Modafinil commonly causes headaches, sleep problems, chest pains and other issues. More severely, its use can cause acute rashes, and Modafinil can cause or worsen mental problems. These are rare problems, but potential issues nonetheless. Read more here.
Adderall is another nootropic that has the potential for side-effects. It commonly causes nervousness and stomach problems. Adderall has also been known to have rarer, more severe severe side effects, such as hyperthermia and cardiovascular problems. See this article for more.
Ritalin is often cited as having similar side-effects to Adderall, with headaches, nervousness and stomach problems again being common. Like Adderall, Ritalin has several less likely side effects that can be quite dangerous, such as heart issues and problems with mental health. You can read more on this here.
Conversely, many natural nootropics in the UK have much less severe side effects. People report problems such as increased thirst, and rare instances of headaches as the result of using natural nootropics. There are very few, if any, natural nootropics that can cause the more severe side effects mentioned.
Which Nootropics Are Legal In The UK?
In the UK, nootropic ‘smart drugs’ are not legal following the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act. Many are controlled substances as is the case for Adderall, but the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act also made it:
“An offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, possess on custodial premises, import or export psychoactive substances; that is, any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect.”
Note that food and drink and medical products are exempted from this Act, as well as people working in medical or research fields. As a result, any psychoactive drug is illegal to supply, import or export without a proper license or prescription.
However, this also means that most natural nootropics are perfectly legal to produce or supply, as they do not contain psychoactive drugs. This has some exceptions where ingredients are prohibited under British law, such as yohimbine or bacopa monnieri. But, in most cases, they are legal to produce and supply.
The Best Nootropics In The UK
In our opinion, the best nootropic you can find in the UK is a healthy lifestyle. Eating a fulfilling, balanced diet, exercise, avoiding stress and sleeping well are all great ways to keep your brain performing at its top capacity.
However, if you want something that's able to support you when life gets hectic, we would strongly recommend using a natural nootropic like BrainZyme, rather than a 'smart drug'.
We say this because most smart drugs can cause very severe side effects, which can be life-threatening in severe circumstances. In contrast, natural nootropics are just as effective, while having a much wider margin of safety and costing less than 'smart drugs'. In our opinion, this makes natural nootropics the best option available for someone in the UK looking for a way to boost their brain.
This article has examined nootropics in the UK, covering what nootropics are, who uses them, common nootropics in the UK, why people in the UK use nootropics, the side-effects associated with common nootropics, and the legality of many nootropics in the UK.
Our Favourite Natural Nootropic