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The Ultimate Guide to UK Nootropics 2019: Uses, Side Effects & More!

The Ultimate Guide to UK Nootropics 2019: Uses, Side Effects & More!

If you are here, chances are you are looking to learn more about nootropics (commonly referred to as study drugs, smart drugs and cognitive enhancers).

The good news is that you are the right place.

We, like you, have noticed that life seems to be getting busier, more competitive and more fast-paced.

No wonder then, that the demand for nootropics is through the roof.

Hundreds of companies and brands have come into the market to meet this demand, but it has meant that consumers can feel paralysed by all the different brands and claims that companies make.

That's why we are here to help.

We asked our team of experts, who between them have over 25 years of experience in nootropics, to answer the most common questions people have about nootropics.

Do you agree with them? Is there anything else that you would add? Let us know by commenting at the end of this article.

If you're interested in the topic of nootropics, you should also consider checking out our Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones To Try and Which To Avoid article.


What Is A Nootropic?

Who In The UK Is Using Nootropics?

What Are The Most Common Nootropics In Britain?

Why Are More People Using Nootropics?

What Side-Effects Can Nootropics Cause?

Which Nootropics Are Legal In The UK?

Our Favourite Nootropic of 2019


smart drugs 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.

Watch: Can Drugs Make You Smarter | Earth Lab

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.

supplements for concentration

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

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.

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’.


best brain supplements

Why Are More People Using Nootropics?

There are several reasons why more people are using nootropics.

As mentioned, in the UK many nootropics users are students.

This is thanks to numerous factors: rising tuition fees are 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.

cognitive enhancing drugs

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 fewer resources.

Nootropics for anxiety, specifically for performance anxiety at either work or university is also another common reason that people may opt for nootropics.

It is not uncommon for people to take nootropics for job interviews, to negate the anxiety that usually comes along with that.

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.

Others simply turn to nootropics for focus - either short-term or long-term lack of concentration is common, and I'm sure that you've experienced it at least once.

Another common reason to take nootropics is for motivation - simply having the energy and drive to get out of bed and perform tasks that you don't want to do.

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.

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 side effects, such as hyperthermia and cardiovascular problems. 

modafinil uk

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.

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.”

brain tablets

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.

brain supplements uk

Our Favourite Nootropic

Personally, we prefer natural brain food supplement nootropics rather than pharmaceuticals.

The reason for this is:

  • They tend to be better value for money.
  • Come with fewer side effects.
  • Contributes to a healthier lifestyle.
  • Are just as effective as pharmaceuticals.

Our favourite brain food supplement nootropic is BrainZyme. You can find out why here.

Or, you can watch the following review compilation video to learn more.


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.

We have learnt that most synthetic nootropics (such as Adderall, Modafinil and Ritalin) work on the dopamine pathway.

For a natural alternative that works on the same pathway, and therefore has similar results with fewer side-effects, you should try BrainZyme Professional.

If you're interested in the topic of nootropics, you should also consider checking out the following related articles:

The Ultimate 2019 Adderall UK Guide: Legality, Alternatives & More.

The Ultimate Modafinil UK Guide: Effects, Side Effects, Dosage and More.

A Quick Guide To Noopept | Nootropics Review.

* = 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.

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  • Hi Maria,

    I’d advise staying away from online (unregistered) pharmacies that sell Modafinil and Adderall without prescriptions.

    These are usually unregulated and there’s no guarantee on the quality of the products.

    I’d recommend instead buying from reputable companies, such as BrainZyme.

    We have a range of three different nootropics, so I’m sure you’ll find one for you and we have one the best return policies in the world (100% satisfaction guarantee for 365 days), meaning you can buy our products with peace of mind.

    If you’d like to talk over your specific situation, I should be able to give you some more advice. You can email me at or give me a call on 0131 6050168.

    I hope this helps :)

    Robert (Mod) on

  • Where’s the best place to buy nootropics?

    Maria on

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