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An Ultimate Guide to The Best Cognitive Enhancers 2018

An Ultimate Guide to The Best Cognitive Enhancers 2018


- Introduction

- What Are Cognitive Enhancers?

- Over The Counter Vs Illicitly Sold Cognitive Enhancers

- How Cognitive Enhancers Can Boost Your Brainpower

- Conclusion


The world of cognitive enhancers can be a confusing one. 

Often called nootropics or smart pills, cognitive enhancers are substances that can improve mental performance.

We asked our team of nootropic experts to outline the difference between cognitive enhancers and natural nootropics and to break down exactly how they work.

You can find out what they responded with below.

If you are interested in this topic, you may also consider checking out our Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones To Try and Which To Avoid article.


What Are Cognitive Enhancers?

Cognitive enhancer supplements are substances that you can take, or things that you can do, which can enhance your cognition or mental performance.

Simply put, cognitive enhancement means to improve your focus, concentration, memory, creativity, mental energy or any other cognitive function.

‘Cognitive enhancers’ is a phrase that is often used interchangeably with ‘nootropics’.

Over The Counter vs Illicitly Sold Cognitive Enhancers

There are two sorts of cognitive enhancers that are currently available, which we will expand upon in this section.

Type 1: Cognitive Enhancing Drugs Or Pharmaceuticals

cognitive enhancing drugs

The first type are cognitive enhancers made from drugs or pharmaceuticals. These are ‘synthetic cognitive enhancers’, which are also known as ‘smart drugs’. 

These ‘Smart drugs’ are generally bought or sold illicitly, by an unlicensed offshore pharmacy or drug dealer. 

They're also distributed and used quite often at universities, particularly around exam time, as these sorts of cognitive enhancers may be used as ‘study drugs’.

‘Pharmaceutical cognitive enhancers’ include:


Modafinil* is probably the most talked-about ‘synthetic cognitive enhancer’. It is a ‘eugeroic’, but function in a very similar way to a stimulant. It is prescribed for the sleep disorder narcolepsy. See this review of Modafinil.

Modafinil is used to keep people awake and alert and is thus used by some students as a ‘study drug’ to try and help them work into the night.

brain enhancing drugs

Quick Tip: BrainZyme Professional works as a great alternative to synthetic smart drugsQuick Tip:
Most synthetic nootropics such as Adderall, Modafinil and Ritalin's mechanism of action is (by a large degree) to act on the brain neurotransmitter dopamine, of which one pathway has a major motivational component. It can for some also increase wakefulness and decrease appetite.

If you want a powerful natural alternative that works on the same pathway (and thus have similar results with fewer side-effects), you should try BrainZyme® Professional.

Modafinil’s exact mechanism of action isn’t known, but it is believed to prevent the dissipation of dopamine in the brain, as well as increasing histamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels.

However, it may cause some side effects.

People selling Modafinil illegitimately may receive a two-year prison sentence if prosecuted. Modafinil is legal to supply if it has been prescribed by a doctor, but it is not a cognitive enhancer that is available over the counter.


Ritalin, also known as methylphenidate, is a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It may also be used for chronic fatigue, narcolepsy and depression that is resistant to traditional antidepressants.

brain pills

Ritalin works by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Ritalin works in a similar way to amphetamines like Adderall, and may thus prevent sleep for long periods of time. This ‘synthetic cognitive enhancer’ can also have some side effects.

Ritalin is a Class B drug in the UK, and possession without a prescription can lead to a maximum five-year prison sentence or an unlimited fine.

Illegally supplying or producing Ritalin can result in a 14-year prison sentence or an unlimited fine. 

nootropic drugs


Noopept was developed in Russia and claims to boost learning abilities. Some users snort Noopept powder, which is alleged to increase its effects.

This drug is believed to be a cognitive enhancer as it's claimed to aid recall by increasing the levels of a brain receptor chemical called acetylcholine.

The new Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 makes it an offence to sell this 'smart drug' in the UK, with sentences of up to 7 years.

Click here if you'd like to see our Quick Guide to Noopept 2019 article.


Adderall is made from amphetamine salts, and is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

It increases levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, in a similar way to Ritalin.

smart drugs

Adderall is used off-label as a ‘synthetic cognitive enhancer’ because it is meant to increase alertness, improve cognition and help users stay awake. However, it can cause side effects.

You can read this article for more information about Adderall.

In the UK, Adderall is a class B drug like Ritalin.

Possession of this ‘synthetic cognitive enhancer’ can lead to a 5-year prison sentence, and distribution can result in a 14-year sentence. 

This cognitive enhancer is also rarely prescribed, and is far from available over the counter in a pharmacy - it is generally sold by drug dealers or people prescribed it in a foreign country.  

Watch: A Guide To The Best Nootropics Currently On The Market

Type 2: ‘Natural Cognitive Enhancers’

The second type of cognitive enhancers is made from natural-sourced ingredients.

These cognitive enhancers might contain superfoods, amino acids, herbals, vitamins or minerals - and these ‘natural cognitive enhancers’ do not contain any pharmaceuticals or drugs. 

As a result, most of these cognitive enhancers are available over the counter as they do not contain restricted ingredients.

‘Natural cognitive enhancers’ include:


Nootrobox makes numerous ‘natural cognitive enhancers’.

They have been called one of the hottest startups in California by The Times, and are one of the first and leading manufacturers of ‘natural cognitive enhancers’ in America. 

Unfortunately, some of their cognitive enhancers would not be available over the counter in the UK, as they contain the restricted drug vinpocetine.


brain vitamins

This is the UK's first ‘natural cognitive enhancer’ with matcha, guarana, choline and vitamins/minerals, BrainZyme is also a cognitive enhancer that can be bought over the counter as it is not a drug, and is compliant with product regulations in the UK.

BrainZyme can help concentration and motivation**, while some varieties can support memory. BrainZyme is made in the UK, safe, legal and affordable with minimal side effects.

Tim Grivell Reviews BrainZyme

Learn More About BrainZyme "natural cognitive enhancers"

See these articles for more on biohacking with natural nootropics, and what natural nootropics are.

Some of the ingredients that may be used in natural nootropics are:

Matcha Green Tea Powder

Matcha, which is made from specially selected whole green tea leaves ground down to a super fine powder, contains a number of nootropic components which can help the brain such as Theanine.

Guarana Fruit Seeds

vitamins for brain health

Guarana, from a plant native to the Amazon, can positively affect the brain and central nervous system, making you feel less tired and more alert.


Choline, which can be found in broccoli, is required to produce acetylcholine.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating cognitive processes, mood and intelligence.  

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is an incredibly popular supplement that many people take to boost their brain power.


L-Tyrosine, which can be found in avocado, is an amino acid that’s required for the development of dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that influences mood, motivation and performance.

Panax Ginseng

focus supplements

Panax Ginseng, a herbal remedy from China, has a reputation for stimulating brain function and increasing energy.

Acetyl L-Carnitine

Acetyl L-Carnitine, which can be found in asparagus, is a mitochondrial energy optimizer, supporting energy production at the cellular level.


Curcumin has been the subject of a recent BBC documentary and a groundbreaking clinical study linking it to beneficial effects on brain function.


vitamins for memory

Quite often understated due to their 'everyday' nature, vitamins and minerals should not be overlooked, especially in because a substantial number of adults may be deficient in them.

For example, note the UK's National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) data which shows deficiencies in iron across the population (in the data for 2013-2014, 27% of women had low iron intakes A deficiency can have an impact on cognitive function.

Those under stress or not eating properly will also suffer shortfalls in essential nutrients that can support cognitive function.  Cognitive-enhancing vitamins and minerals include:

Vitamin B5 - (Pantothenic acid)

This essential nutrient contributes to normal mental performance and synthesis of some neurotransmitters.

Vitamin B6 - (Pyroxidine)

This essential nutrient contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B12 - (Cobalamin)

This essential nutrient can contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B1 - (Thiamine)

This essential nutrient contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and function of the nervous system.


This essential mineral contributes to normal cognitive function and the immune system.


This essential mineral contributes to normal DNA synthesis and cognitive function.


This essential nutrient contributes to normal cognitive and neurological function.


This essential nutrient contributes to normal psychological and nervous system functioning.

How Cognitive Enhancers Can Boost Your Brainpower

Cognitive enhancers can boost your brain in numerous ways. The best cognitive enhancers can help you think more clearly, concentrate more, have more energy, support your memory, perform better under pressure and lift your mood.

cognitive enhancers

They can also help reduce the ‘afternoon slump’ and alleviate ‘brain fog’. They can work very quickly, with effects within an hour, have very few side effects, and these cognitive enhancers are generally available over the counter without a prescription.

Cognitive enhancers, when formulated properly, can have all of these effects without using any pharmaceuticals or drugs. They can help you be more successful, work harder, study for longer and many other benefits.


This article has examined cognitive enhancers. It has addressed what cognitive enhancers are, what sorts of cognitive enhancers there are, common ‘synthetic cognitive enhancers’ and ‘natural cognitive enhancers’, and how cognitive enhancers can boost your brainpower.

The cognitive enhancer that we recommend is BrainZyme. You can find out why here.

Or, if you liked this article, you should also consider checking out the following related articles:

Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones To Try and Which To Avoid.

The Ultimate Guide to UK Nootropics 2019: All you need to know.

Work Smarter Not Harder: Follow These 16 Tips To be Extremely Productive In 2019.

* = Important note - whilst BrainZyme is scientifically proven to support concentration and mental performance, it is not a replacement for a good diet, moderate exercise or sleep. BrainZyme is also not a drug, medicine or pharmaceutical. It is a natural-sourced, vegan food supplement with ingredients that are scientifically proven to support cognition, concentration, mental performance and reduction of tiredness. You should always consult with your Doctor if you require medical attention.
** = Anecdotally, the improved concentration from BrainZyme enables increased motivation.

Useful Resources:

Cognitive Enhancement: Methods, Ethics, Regulatory Challenges.

The Mental Cost of Cognitive Enhancement.

Prefrontal cortex mediation of cognitive enhancement in rewarding motivational contexts.

Non-pharmacological cognitive enhancement.



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  • Hi Ryan,

    Good question!

    Nootrobox is a very popular supplement in its own right, so I recommend you check out their website and have a look for information on their end.

    If you’re in the UK then you may have some problems importing Nootrobox, so I’d say go for BrainZyme.

    Brain supplements work differently for each brain, so it’s hard to give general advice.

    BrainZyme does have a range of three supplements, all aimed to provide something different, so you should be able to find something that suits you.

    I hope this helps!

    Robert (Mod) on

  • Is brainzyme better than nootrobox?

    Ryan on

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