Nootropic Side Effects: What Can You Expect?

Nootropics have taken the world by storm as an effective way to get an edge in your personal and professional life. But, as with any drugs or supplements, it’s important that you’re well aware of any side effects associated with these nootropics before you begin taking them.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the side effects associated with the most popular nootropics.

Noopept side effects

One of the most popular nootropics of all time, Noopept was developed in 1996 with the hopes of treating cognitive decline in elderly patients. Similar to Piracetam and it’s derivatives, Noopept primarily supports learning and memory retention, making it an ideal nootropic for anyone looking for a slight edge.

While it’s touted for being free of many of the side effects that plague other drugs, there are some Noopept side effects you should be aware of. Some users have reported:

  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Gastrointestinal issues

These side effects tend to be mild, and they’re often associated with taking too much of the nootropic. However, when following Noopept dosage guidelines, most users experience no side effects at all. At this time, there aren’t any known interactions between Noopept and other nootropics.

It’s worth noting that people who are already dealing with hypertension may experience increased blood pressure when taking this nootropic, so it may be best to avoid in that case. Outside of that, all signs to Noopept being a safe and almost entirely side effect free option for those looking for an edge.

Aniracetam side effects

Developed in the late 1970s after the breakthrough development of Piracetam, Aniracetam is a powerful nootropic and mild stimulant that has been used to improve memory forming, memory recall, and learning ability for several decades.

Aniracetam is 2-5 times more potent than its predecessor, and users report that it delivers a slight cognitive boost as well as a calming effect. All of the racetams are non-toxic and should be completely safe for consumption. While the average person doesn’t experience any of these side effects when following dosage guidelines, some people have reported Aniracetam side effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

These side effects are rare, and usually mild, with headaches being the most commonly reported Aniracetam side effect. Since aniracetam is non-toxic, there aren’t any known interactions with this and other drugs. But, be sure to do your research before stacking Aniracetam with other nootropics.

Phenibut side effects

Most commonly seen as Anvifen, Fenibut, or Noofen, Phenibut was originally developed in Russia over 50 years ago. Phenibut is used in many parts of the world as a prescription drug to treat issues with anxiety, PTSD, and insomnia. Beyond its recommended uses, there seem to be some powerful nootropic benefits to Phenibut as well.

Phenibut inhibits overly stimulated neurons by increasing GABA levels, helping to restore balance within your brain. This drug also stimulates dopamine receptors, which play a key role in cognition, focus, and memory formation.

As with any nootropic, it’s important you read up on any side effects before deciding if this drug is right for you. Side effects associated with Phenibut include:

  • Sedation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Allergic reaction

When taken at higher doses (read more about correct Phenibut dosage), users also report motor skill impairment, and a hangover of sorts the next day. Most people report either mild side effects, or no side effects at all, and there are no known interactions of Phenibut and other drugs.

It’s extremely important to note that unlike some nootropics, Phenibut can be habit-forming. While little is known on the long-term effects of Phenibut addiction, at the very least, it can cause some nasty withdrawal symptoms.

Adrafinil side effects

The granddaddy of them all, Adrafinil is one of the most popular and powerful nootropics on the market. A precursor to modafinil, which is a powerful stimulant that’s revered for its wakefulness-promoting effect without the side effects associated with other drugs, Adrafinil is converted into modafinil in the liver.

Studies have suggested that this nootropic helps support memory retention and formation, but it’s used primarily to increase alertness. Modafinil is a popular prescription treatment for narcolepsy.

While this nootropic is considered to be quite safe, there are some Adrafinil side effects you should be aware of before taking it. The most common side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Anxiety

The most common Adrafinil side effect is difficulty sleeping, which is a result of it’s long half-life. To avoid this side effect, take Adrafinil as soon as you wake up, and don’t take another dose until the next morning.

While side effects are generally mild and only affect a small number of users, it’s important to note that there is virtually no research on the long-term effects of Adrafinil. Since this nootropic must be synthesized in the liver into another compound, there seems to be a heightened chance that prolonged usage may lead to liver damage or complications in the future.

Tianeptine side effects

One of the most interesting nootropics on our list is Tianeptine. Tianeptine is available by prescription in many different countries throughout the world under the brand names Coaxil, Stabilon, or Tatinol, and it’s prescribed as an SSRE antidepressant.

There’s growing optimism that the neuroprotective benefits of Tianeptine are the most compelling aspect of this medication. Preliminary research suggests that Tianeptine helps reduce the stress responses in our brains that affect learning and memory retention.

Recently, Tianeptine has come under fire as there have been several overdose deaths related to the drug. While that sounds grave, the truth is Tianeptine is mostly quite safe. 100% of these incidents have been with the Sodium form of Tianeptine, whereas the Sulfate form is infinitely safer. The side effects are mild compared to other antidepressants, and the deaths related to Tianeptine involved incredibly high doses that were many orders of measure higher than the prescribed amount.

Those who do experience Tianeptine side effects complain of issues like:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Unusually vivid dreams

When taken as prescribed, side effects are usually mild or non-existent. While Tianeptine shows promise both as an antidepressant and a nootropic, it’s of the utmost importance to note that it is possible to become addicted to Tianeptine, especially when it’s taken outside of it’s recommended use.

While the side effects might be mild, the jury is still out on whether this potential nootropic is worth the drawbacks associated with its use.

L-Theanine side effects

One of the most beloved and well-used nootropics on the market, L-theanine is packed with a litany of different benefits. Best of all, this substance is natural, affordable, and it stacks well with other nootropics.

While almost all L-theanine research is in its preliminary stages, there are plenty of promising findings related to this compound. In studies, L-theanine appears to be connected to a reduction in anxiety. When stacked with caffeine, some evidence suggests it can also sharpen your thinking and mental acuity.

Best of all, there are virtually no known L-Theanine side effects. On its own, researchers haven’t suggested any potential side effects relating to its use. Keep in mind that when combined with caffeine or other nootropics, it’s entirely possible for you to experience side effects. But those side effects will likely be related to the other substances you’re taking, and not L-Theanine.

For nootropic enthusiasts who are looking for a completely safe nootropic that stacks well with other drugs, L-Theanine may be a great jumping off point for you. You can learn more about this supplement in our guide to L-Theanine dosage.

Citicoline side effects

A naturally occurring brain chemical, Citicoline has risen to prominence in nootropic circles thanks to a growing body of research that suggests that this powerful chemical exhibits many neuroprotective properties.

In other countries, Citicoline is prescribed to those dealing with cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s patients, those suffering from cerebrovascular diseases, and those who have sustained an ischemic stroke. Those who have suffered from a brain injury, in particular, seem to benefit the most from taking Citicoline.

Beyond these uses, Citicoline may also be helpful for patients dealing with ADHD, learning disabilities, or general trouble with memory, learning, or cognition.

While Citicoline is a naturally occurring chemical that’s widely considered to be exceptionally safe for human consumption, there are some Citicoline side effects you should be aware of before you begin supplementing with this nootropic.

Those who experience side effects complain of the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Chest pains
  • Blurred vision

Of course, if you experience any of these side effects, you should discontinue your Citicoline usage immediately and consult with a physician.

Phenylpiracetam side effects

As the most powerful of all the racetam family of nootropics, Phenylpiracetam has developed quite a reputation in the nootropic community. This reputation has been further cemented by the recent ban of Phenylpiracetam by the Olympic committee, who have classified this powerful nootropic as a performance enhancer.

Phenylpiracetam is especially stimulating, and users report significant increases in their energy and attention levels, as well as their problem-solving ability, memory formation, and memory retention. It’s easy to say why Phenylpiracetam has become such a popular nootropic.

Since Phenylpiracetam is a stimulant, it does inherently have some side effects you need to familiarize yourself with before you begin taking the nootropic. The most commonly reported Phenylpiracetam side effects are:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Jitters
  • Headaches

The most common side effects of Phenylpiracetam are insomnia and headaches, and both are fairly easy to remedy. For one, avoiding Phenylpiracetam later in the day is usually all you need to do to fight off any issues of sleeplessness.

Headaches related to the nootropic are often caused by a lack of choline in the brain, which can easily be remedied with a choline supplement. When taking a racetam, most users add a choline supplement to ensure that the brain has the choline it needs for it’s newly increased ACh appetite.

As with any nootropic, if side effects persist, you should discontinue use and look for an alternative as quickly as you can.

Piracetam side effects

One of the first nootropics ever, and still one of the most popular, Piracetam is a mild stimulant that has been prized by the nootropic community for decades. Ideal for users looking to dip their toes into the nootropic pond, Piracetam is relatively mild, although it does deliver some pronounced cognitive, learning, and memory-related benefits that many users swear by.

Approved throughout many European countries for the treatment of age-related degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, Piracetam is available as a dietary supplement without prescription in the United States.

While it’s primarily used by the nootropic community for the support it provides to memory function, there are several other uses for this supplement, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, and even alcoholism.

Since it is a minor stimulant, there’s bound to be some side effects associated with its use. Common Piracetam side effects include:

  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Muscle spasms
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight gain

Side effects are typically extremely mild if they’re experienced at all. But, if you’re experiencing these side effects or any others, you should stop taking Piracetam immediately. While there are no known interactions with Piracetam and other drugs, you should consult with a physician before you begin taking Piracetam to ensure it doesn’t interfere with other medications.

Modafinil side effects

One of the most popular nootropics on the market, modafinil is a powerful wakefulness-promoting agent that’s prescribed to those suffering from narcolepsy, shift-work disorder, or sleep apnea. Modafinil also exhibits some neuroprotective benefits, and it’s become a favorite of nootropic enthusiasts because of its powerful ability to stave off sleepiness and fatigue.

For the most part, modafinil is lauded for providing a similar effect to prescription drugs like Adderall or Ritalin, but without the debilitating and sometimes severe side effects associated with those drugs.

With that said, there are still some modafinil side effects you should be familiar with before you begin taking the drug, including:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Most users experience few side effects from this drug, with the most common of which being headaches, which are reported by over 30% of users. If you experience side effects while taking modafinil, you should consult with your physician immediately.


While nootropics are generally quite safe when taken as directed, it’s important to remember that since every person is different, side effects can vary and may affect some people more than others.

While researchers are constantly learning more about nootropics and any potential side effects, there is much more work to be done in the field before we can definitively say what users can expect in the way of side effects or interactions with different drugs.

As you continue to search for the best nootropic stack for your needs, always keep your health and well-being in mind, and discontinue taking any nootropic that presents moderate to severe side effects.