Nootropics: What Are They & Do They Work?

Nootropics: What Are They & Do They Work?

Nootropics: sometimes called smart drugs, smart pills, brain boosters, memory-enhancing drugs, or even the natural alternative to Adderal. These brain supplements are natural or synthetic substances that have been linked to enhancing memory and focus.

When people say nootropics, they are often referring to something that is considered a cognitive enhancer. 

The literal definition of the word “nootropic” comes from the Greek word noo, meaning mind, and the French word trope, meaning change [1]

While pharmaceutical drugs like Adderal, Ritalin, and Provigil have the most significant effect on memory and retention, natural supplements are much safer and you might already have them in your pantry. 

The 5 Elements of a True Nootropic

The doctor who invented the term "nootropics," Dr. Corneliue E. Giurgea, gave a list of five criteria that a substance must meet to be considered a true nootropic [2]

  • Enhances memory and the ability to learn
  • Helps the brain function under disruptive conditions, such as hypoxia
  • Protects the brain from chemical and physical assaults, such as those by barbiturates
  • Increases the efficiency of brain function
  • Has little to no side effects

Here is a list of a few nootropics that can help you begin thinking at your best as soon as possible: 


Caffeine is the most widely consumed nootropic and if you are looking for a fast and efficient way to boost your brain function, you might already have it in your pantry [3].

Caffeine is a psychoactive, a term applied to chemical substances that change a person's mental performance by affecting how their brain and nervous system work [4]. Another example of a psychoactive is alcohol, as it also affects the brain and nervous system. 

A low to moderate amount of caffeine (40mg-300mg) increases alertness while decreasing reaction time [5]. Besides being a brain-boosting nootropic, coffee tastes great and has some other great benefits you can read about here!

caffeine molecule

Alpinia Galanga

Alpinia Galanga, commonly known as Siamese ginger, Thai ginger, or galangal is native to Southeast Asia. On its own Alpinia galanga has been studied to have a beneficial effect on mental the “crash” associated with caffeine and improve sustained attention significantly longer than caffeine alone [6]. Adding Alpinia Galanga to your coffee or other caffeine regimes can help improve feelings of energy and focus.

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Just like coffee, the tea you probably already have in your kitchen has naturally occurring nootropics in it as well. L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea [6], but you can take it on its own as a supplement in higher doses. Several studies have shown that taking even 200mg of L-Theanine can have a calming effect without causing drowsiness [7]. Even taking 50mg, which you can do by drinking two cups of tea, has shown to have a positive impact on alpha-brain waves which have a link to creativity [8]. When combined with caffeine, L-Theanine is even more effective, and for this reason, companies often combine it with pre-workouts and other performance-enhancing supplements [6,9]. If you would like a slightly more natural option than a pumped-up pre-workout, check out our vitamin-infused teas for an extra boost! VitaCup’s green tea is naturally high in L-Theanine and is a perfect alternative to coffee if you’re looking for a small boost of energy, balanced by calming feelings. 

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Panax Ginseng

Panax Ginseng is an ancient root vegetable that doubles as an adaptogen as well as a nootropic. You might have heard of the names of some popular ancient herbs in your local health food store, for example, Ashwagandha, Reshi mushroom, and Panax ginseng. 

While also helping to bring us back to center and help the body fight against stress, this ancient herb helps improve calmness and improve brain function [10].

Get Coffee Infused with Panax Ginseng here!


Besides being a thermic food like MCT oil, turmeric works overtime as a nootropic and an anti-inflammatory. The powerhouse ingredient in Turmeric responsible for all of its brain-boosting power is curcumin. Curcumin boosts neurogenesis: the process by which your brain produces new neurons that are essential for learning, memory, and mood [12].  Turmeric also acts as a potent natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and can help protect the brain from harmful inflammation that has been linked to depression and dementia [13].  

Get Turmeric-Infused Coffee Here!

Boost Your Nootropic Intake

A great way to boost your natural nootropic intake is with nootropic supplements or to swap your regular coffee for a coffee with nootropics to boost focus throughout the day. 

Our newest release, the Lightning Blend is infused with Alpinia galanga, an ancient spice from the ginger family; which, when combined with caffeine, allows you to experience the elongated brain-hacking focus of the most widely consumed nootropic in the world. 

With 200mg of natural caffeine from green coffee bean extract, a powerhouse nootropic enhancer, and premium vitamins to boot, razor-sharp performance would be an understatement. 

Instead of just getting through the day, conquer it with VitaCup’s Lightning Blend Coffee.  

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1 comment

Excellent coffee !!

Debra emery

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