Best Nootropic Stack: You Are Being Tricked (and How to Stop)

Best Nootropic Stack At a Glance

A nootropic stack is the combination of two or more cognitive enhancing compounds where the ingredients are better together than the sum of its parts.

In essence, finding a well formulated nootropic stack is the equivalent of 1 + 1 = 3.

Many companies that sell nootropics will try to prey upon your desire to find the best nootropic stack, but there is no such thing.

Each individual must test and determine the right combination of ingredients to get the maximum cognitive response.

In this article, I will show you how to find the best nootropics for your unique brain and biochemistry (and how to cycle them to avoid building tolerance).

I’ll cover the best premade nootropic stacks and specifically some of the best nootropic stacks of 2019 for you to consider.

Why Everyone is Wrong About the Best Nootropic Stack

There is no one size fits all nootropic stack. Nearly everyone who shares the “best stack” has some form of ulterior motive.

Either they are sharing the nootropic stack from the perspective of having you buy something (i.e., a referral link that provides them a commision when you buy).

Or an individual has a great subjective experience with a nootropic stack and believes (incorrectly) that everyone will be the same.

Each individual brain is different and everyone must go through some work to identify which nootropics will be most effective for you.

To some people this may seem unappealing. It is obviously easier to trust someone, buy the pills, and hope (and believe) it really is the best.

This may seem like a shortcut, but it is not.

How Nootropic Stacks Work

Nootropic stacks work in a few different ways:

  • Improved absorption
  • Decreased side effects
  • Increased potency

The most common example of a well-studied nootropic stack that works is caffeine + L-theanine.

The L-theanine helps to negate side effects of caffeine (such as anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate) [1].

A review of 11 studies found that the attention and focus from caffeine + l-theanine was improved over caffeine alone. This is synergy between ingredients.

This is also why the combination is one of the first recommendations by the Reddit community [2].

This simple nootropic stack falls under multiple categories of decreased side effects and increased potency.

Nootropic Stacks and Absorption

The caffeine and L-theanine nootropic stack is powerful, but it does not influence absorption at all.

Many nootropic stacks include one ingredient that is beneficial (but poorly absorbed) with something that allows the ingredient to be absorbed more efficiently.

Curcumin (a polyphenol found in turmeric root) is a powerful tool for neurogenesis [3], anti-inflammation [4], and even Alzheimer’s disease [5].

The problem is that curcumin does not absorb well in the body unless it has a synergistic ingredient like piperine (black pepper extract).

A study on curcumin found that piperine could increase the absorption by 2000% [6]. This is one of the main ways to use a nootropic stack.

A Nootropic Stack for Every Goal

Just like there are different nootropics that affect different brains, there are also different goals.

Each person has varying cognitive goals that influence what nootropic stack is best (and on what particular day).

A few of these goal categories are:

  • Focus and Concentration
  • Creativity
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Memory and learning
  • Longevity and healthspan

We’ll try to breakdown each of these categories and provide some great nootropic stacks that you can use.

Focus and Concentration

As we mentioned earlier, the combination of caffeine and L-theanine is highly effective for improving focus and concentration.

For people who prefer to avoid caffeine (or just want an alternative alongside it), we formulated Elevate with numerous concentration enhancing ingredients like rhodiola rosea and acetyl-L-carnitine.

Rhodiola is an adaptogen, which is used at high altitudes to help the body handle stress [7]. It also happens to increase concentration reliably.

nootropic stack


Achieving greater creativity is much more challenging with nootropics than focus and concentration.

A favorite creativity compound for me is phenylpiracetam (a compound related to the piracetam drug).

People often combine racetams with choline. In theory, phenylpiracetam increases uptake of acetylcholine (a brain chemical that helps memory) and choline supplies the raw materials. I get it here.

A couple years ago I strapped on a QEEG brain mapping device and learned from Dr. Andrew Hill that my brain was showing signs similar to a flow state, which included added creativity.

Another common creativity nootropic includes microdosing psychedelics. This is common across Silicon Valley and Wall Street, but few people stack psychedelics with something else.

If you plan to microdose psychedelics for creativity, here is a stack that may be able to help:

  • 0.2 grams psilocybin
  • 500 mg lion’s mane mushroom extract (get it here)
  • 100 mg niacin

This protocol can be used by itself. It may be worthwhile to tweak the doses to achieve your level of “perfect”.

This stack is considered an epigenetic neurogenesis stack from Paul Stamets. You can see the MAPS conference where he mentions this here:

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are both different, but fall within the category of mood disorders. For any kind of mood enhancement, cannabidiol (CBD) is an exceptional ingredient.

In one study, the use of CBD tinctures (better absorption) helped reduce anxiety during a speech in people who suffer from social phobia [8].

We produced a whole piece on using CBD oil for anxiety and even for pain relief. I obviously get it here.

Some of the best nootropics for treating anxiety are traditional herbal medicines. Ashwagandha is a cornerstone of Ayurvedic Indian medicine and anxiety reducer [9].

Another is St. John’s Wort, which is as good (without the side effects) as prescription drugs for depression according to a study on 5500 patients [10].

Memory and learning

For memory and learning, one of the best places to start is lion’s mane mushroom. This medicinal mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and it can help increase neurogenesis (developing new neurons).

Within the neurogenesis stack we mentioned earlier (including psilocybin and niacin), it is a powerful tool for memory and learning.

Another basic memory and learning nootropic stack is piracetam and choline. Piracetam is a synthetic drug, but the one that kicked off the nootropic popularity in the 1960s.

Not everyone needs choline to go with piracetam. You may be able to acquire adequate choline from eggs or organ meat supplements (liver has a lot).

Longevity and healthspan

One of the best things you can do to increase longevity and age in a healthy way is improve the health of your mitochondria.

A simple set of ingredients that can achieve that is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and PQQ. Together the ingredients work synergistically to enhance mitochondrial health [11].

For those who want to get a bit more advanced, longevity expert Dr. David Sinclair [12] discussed his longevity regimen in a recent podcast:

  • 1 gram Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)
  • 500 mg Resveratrol
  • 1 gram Metformin

The first two are relatively well-studied and moderate risks (whereas we do not suggest the metformin).

Best Premade Nootropic Stack

There are many readers who simply don’t have the time (or patience) to navigate through all of the options I’ve provided above.

I get it.

Your goal may not be to go down the rabbit hole of cognitive enhancement and nootropics, but rather reliably improve your performance in whatever role you have.

I’m biased when it comes to premade nootropic stacks. I spent 6 years educating people on nootropics and cognitive enhancement before I formulated my own.

Elevate – Full disclosure: I formulated and sell this premade stack. The reason I did so was because I was tired of companies creating poorly made nootropics that just dump stimulants into your brain.

The purpose of Elevate is to fully upgrade the health of your mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cells) so that you improve performance at the root while maintaining longevity.

Qualia / Qualia Mind – This is a powerful all-encompassing nootropic stack formulated by the Neurohacker Collective. The team that put this together is phenomenal.

I’ve had a chance to work with them and they have an R&D department with naturopathic doctors and research scientists. No other brand has this. Check out my video below.

Alpha Brain – Formulated by Onnit Labs, this was one of the first nootropics on the scene. Generally, I like this for beginners, but do not use it myself.

They conducted an independent study (which I applaud) [13], but their results were not much better than bacopa monnieri alone.

Purely for the sake of money, I’d purchase bacopa monnieri alone. If you want to get the whole thing, Alpha Brain isn’t outrageously priced, though.

CILTEP – This is one of the few nootropic stacks formulated by the nootropic community. The acronym stands for chemically induced long-term potentiation.

Members of the Longecity forum created the stack and then a company called Natural Stacks licensed it and started selling online.

How to Cycle Nootropics: The Best Nootropic Stack of 2019

Whether or not 2019 will be the year of cycling nootropics, I do not know. What I do know is that cycling nootropics is one of the most sustainable and powerful practices.

The concept of cycling nootropics is to use different compounds on different days to avoid overwhelming the brain every single day.

For example, caffeine is a great tool for improving focus, but if you drink coffee every day, it will lose the effect.

If you find a different nootropic (for example nicotine or microdosing psychedelics) to use, then you can avoid that problem.

Certain nootropics, such as creatine monohydrate or bacopa monnieri, need to be taken daily in order for their effects to be experienced.

Most nootropics that are stimulatory in nature can be cycled for maximum effect. Here is an example of one week:

Day 1:

Elevate, and a cup of coffee

Day 2:

Nicotine gum (0.5 mg)

Day 3:

Phenylpiracetam (100 mg)

Day 4:

Microdosing psilocybin (0.2 grams)

Day 5:

Elevate and a cup of coffee

Day 6 / 7:

Rest days (no stimulatory nootropics)

The best nootropic stack of 2019 is the sustainable one. Using nootropics and burning out after a few weeks doesn’t do anybody any good.

The only way to upregulate your mental performance consistently is to cycle nootropics and find the right nootropic stack for your unique brain and needs.