Are Nootropics Safe?

Advance Nootropics recently had a customer inquiry into whether or not nootropics are safe. We have decided to put together a clear and concise blog post to answer these questions. When someone is inquiring about safety they are usually interested in two things, neurotoxicity and hepatoxicity (liver).

I’d like to start off by saying that whenever you put something into your body, whether it be a food, herb or dietary supplement, you are increasing the risk of possible side effects or interactions. One could eat a food, have an unknown allergic reaction and they could die. Is this common or likely to happen? No, but it is always a possibility one should never rule out.

With all of the supplements we sell, we always try to list the common side effects, common dosages and drug interactions and this is all based on common knowledge and history. There has been considerable scientific and medical research on every supplement we sell so with this information one can make a good estimate of possible risks.

So let’s boil down to the facts. Since this blog post goes beyond the scope of supplements we sell I will try to answer this very broad question to the best of my ability. Usually, when one thinks of the term “nootropic” they attribute the term to some sort of cognitive enhancer. These can be put into two different groups, “nootropics” and “smart drugs”.

Smart Drugs Saftey

There is a big difference between nootropics and smart drugs. The terms could be interchangeable to a person unknowledgeable in the cognitive enhancer industry but there is an important distinction between the two.

Smart drugs usually refer to some sort of stimulant based drug or supplement. For instance, I would put caffeine into the “smart drug” category. Phenylalanine (PEA) would also be attributed to this category. Then you have your whole other class of prescription ADHD drugs like Adderall, Modafinil and Ritalin that some are people are taking to “enhance their brain”, which is pretty irresponsible and risky (not to mention illegal).

Smart drugs are not nootropics. They use a stimulant based method of action. By taking a smart drug you are usually increasing or affecting the system of neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine (adrenaline). Smart drugs always have a higher risk level than nootropics. The synthetically made smart drugs almost always have some level or hepatoxicity. Side effects, tolerance and addiction potential should always be considered as a possible risk.

The only smart drug we carry or have carried is Adrafinil. We honestly considered not carrying it due to side effects but nevertheless, there is a demand for this supplement and we like to believe most of our customers are educated and responsible people. Adrafinil is essentially, a precursor of Modafinil, a common ADHD drug, but with higher levels of hepatoxicity. We clearly state on our product page these risks and one should always evaluate these risks and take all recommended steps to minimize interactions.

Nootropics Saftey


Nootropics differ from smart drugs. The definition of nootropics attributes them to be “cognitive enhancers” with “neuroprotective” qualities. So nootropics are supplements that increase your brain power and protect your brain from toxicity by eliminating free radicals in the brain.

I honestly believe that by taking nootropics you are minimizing the risk to getting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzhiemers and Dementia. They can really be a long term solution, unlike smart drugs which should only be taken for short periods of time as needed.

Nootropics pertain to the whole Racetam (Piracetam,Aniracetam,Oxiracetam etc…) family. One can be confident that by taking the recommended dosages, neurotoxicity will be minimal and likely to be quite the opposite. With this said, follow the recommended dosages, because too much of a good thing can be bad.

SSRI’s in high dosages can lead to poisoning your brain with its own natural neurotransmitter (Serotonin Syndrome). This is just an example, and even though this model has not been shown in racetams or nootropics, it is a good idea to view it as a possible risk. Other than common “attack dosaging” don’t megadose and you are likely to be fine.


Reports of nootropic hepatoxicity have been minimal in nootropics. They are known to have very low liver toxicity. You can be confidant that by taking the recommended dosages that any stress on the liver will be very low. With this said, even high dosages of vitamins can cause some level of hepatoxicity. Mixing racetams and nootropics with other medications or drugs like alcohol that are hard on liver will just add increased strain.

Other Side Effects

Nootropics can have a whole range of side effects. No reports of casualties from nootropics alone could be found in our searches. Some common side effects like headaches, nausea and fatigue are usually reduced at higher dosages and are more than likely not life threatening