Can nootropics cause brain damage?

Nootropics are a specific subset of drugs that are intended to improve cognitive function. Since by definition nootropics affect the brain in various ways, some people worry that nootropics could cause brain damage.  This worry is especially prevalent when using energy boosting nootropics, since these supplements often contain stimulants.

So, can nootropics cause brain damage? It isn’t clear. While some studies have suggested that nootropics are safe for short-term use of the drug, there is not much data regarding their long-term safety. 

It is also important to remember that not all nootropics work the same. Some nootropics are more likely to cause side effects, or have adverse effects on the brain. 

This article will cover some data about nootropics and brain damage. It also discusses how to reduce your risk. 

Let’s get to it without any further delay. 

Is Nootropic use bad for the brain? 

Now that you have an understanding of nootropics and their popularity, let’s discuss whether they can cause brain damage. 

Let’s start by discussing the differences between the short-term, and long-term effects these nootropics have on the brain.   

Some people aren’t even aware of the effects of nootropics on the brain. 

Let’s now discuss the various mechanisms of these drugs.

The Short-Term Effects 

The short-term research has shown that nootropics are safe and can enhance brain function. 

This was supported by a study published in “PLOS One”. It examined the cognitive and safety effects of Piracetam (a popular nootropic). 

The study concluded that Piracetam is well-tolerated, safe, and does not cause cognitive impairment. 

It is important to remember that the study was only for 14 days. 

There is little data available on long-term cognitive enhancement effects of nootropics such as Piracetam. 

It is also important to remember that different people might experience side effects from certain nootropics. 

What are the risks of using nootropics? 

While nootropics can generally be used safely when taken in moderation there are some risks to consider. 

First, some nootropics may be addictive.   

This is especially true when it comes to prescription nootropics such as Ritalin and Adderall. 

It is important to be aware that these drugs can lead to addiction if you use them regularly. 

There is also the possibility that certain nootropics could have a negative effect on cognitive function. 

Piracetam, for example, has been shown in rats to cause memory loss and associative learning impairment. 

This effect was not seen in humans. 

Modafinil can also impair motor function, making it difficult to fall asleep. 

While nootropics can be considered safe when used for a short time, you should still be aware of the potential dangers. 

What do Nootropics do to the Brain? 

Nootropics increase neurotransmitters in your brain, as briefly stated above. 

These neurotransmitters enable brain cells to communicate more efficiently, which can lead to improved cognitive function.   

Nootropics can also improve blood flow to brain. This results in higher oxygen levels and better nutrition for the neurons. 

Here are some examples of nootropics that aid cognitive function:   

  • Piracetam
  • Aniracetam
  • L-theanine powder
  • Caffeine pills
  • Modafinil
  • Adderall

It is important to differentiate between natural and synthetic nootropics when discussing Nootropics and their effects on the brain. 

Synthetic nootropics (prescription drugs) such as Piracetam may be designed to target specific neurotransmitters within the brain. 

Modafinil, a synthetic nootropic, is an example. It is believed to increase the levels of histamine in the hypothalamus. Modafinil has also been shown to have an effect on dopamine- and norepinephrine levels. 

Natural nootropics such as L-theanine, which are plant-based, work by increasing neurotransmitter production. 

Natural nootropics are therefore often safer than synthetic ones. 

L-theanine, which is often found in green tea, works by boosting GABA levels within the brain. 

It can also increase dopamine levels which can help improve mood, relaxation, motivation, and overall mood. 

However, it is important to remember that certain nootropics can cause cognitive impairment if they are used improperly or for a prolonged period   

Brain Cells & Traumatic Brain Injury 

More research is required to determine the long-term effects nootropics have on the body. 

Some preliminary research has suggested that they might be useful in the treatment of conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

A study focused on Methylene Blue (MB) and its potential to protect brain cells against damage. 

Its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties made it possible to treat TBI-induced Neurodegeneration. 

The researchers also discovered that MB could cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), more easily than other substances. 

However, further research is required to find out if other nootropics can have similar effects. 

While Nootropics are promising in the treatment of TBI, it is important to keep in mind that they are still unregulated and that long-term effects are not fully understood. 

Nootropics For Brain Damage And Brain Injury 

Let’s have a closer look at the most popular nootropics, and how they affect the brain. 


Citicoline, a natural nootropic, is believed to enhance cognitive function by increasing brain neurotransmitter production. 

It has also been proven to protect brain cells against damage, and can be used to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. 

It increases phosphatidylcholine levels in the brain. This is an essential substance for cognitive function. 

Phosphatidylcholine can also help to protect brain cells and encourage neural growth. 

Citicoline is a great choice for anyone looking to improve their cognitive function, mental performance, and protect their brain cells (especially for those with acquired brain injuries). 


Phosphatidylserine, another natural nootropic, is a common choice that can protect brain cells against damage. 

It increases the levels of antioxidants within the brain. This can reduce inflammation and fight harmful free radicals. 

According to Life Extension Magazine research, Phosphatidylserine may also help slow down or reverse the progression of mental decline as a result of age. 

A study published in Advances In Therapy showed that phosphatidylserine may be beneficial for those with Alzheimer’s, depression, or age-related memory loss. 

It was actually found to significantly improve verbal fluency in just four weeks. 

Phosphatidylserine can also be used to treat traumatic brain injuries naturally. 

Bacopa monnieri  

Bacopa monnieri, an herb used in traditional Indian medicine to treat various diseases, has been around for many centuries. 

It works by increasing cognitive function and memory. 

It has been proven effective in the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or age-related memory loss. 

Research published in The Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary, Alternative Medicine showed that bacopa may improve cognitive function and cerebral blood flow. 

Many other studies also show that it is beneficial for memory retention and formation. 

A study showed that 200mg of bacopa daily for 12 weeks can lead to significant memory retention and formation. 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom 

Another natural nootropic compound which can help protect against brain damage is Lion’s Mane Mushroom, also known as Hericium Erinaceus. It has the ability to promote brain tissue growth by boosting the expression of NGF in the brain.

It is often taken by people who are looking for neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. This can improve cognitive function and help those with Alzheimer’s or dementia remember things better. 

The ability of lion’s mane to increase nerve growth factor (NGF) production in the brain is another reason for its use. 

It has been shown to be a useful herbal supplement for brain injuries or other neurological damage, such as stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lion’s mane, a natural nootropic, is great for those who want to improve their cognitive function or protect their brain cells. 

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].