Nootropics can be natural, synthetic, or prescription. In fact, the commonly prescribed Ritalin and Adderall are considered nootropics. There are also many synthetic options hitting the market now, but research surrounding their long-term effects is still developing. So while synthetic options like Modafinil, Adrafinil, and Piracetam can seem tempting for those struggling with severe brain fog or fatigue, in functional medicine we strive to uncover and treat the underlying cause and try natural solutions before synthetic ones.
Luckily, there is also a wide range of natural nootropics—many of which you might already be familiar with—that have been used in alternative medicine for years.
These natural smart drugs include herbs, like adaptogens, as well as compounds that are commonly found in healthy foods. The biggest difference between these natural nootropics and synthetic and prescription options is how quickly they take effect. So while medications and synthetic drugs offer a quicker reaction time, they also have more intense side effects and require a prescription.