What Are Nootropics? The Real-Life Limitless Pill

What Are Nootropics? The Real-Life Limitless Pill

November 28, 2018

Nootropics (aka “smart drugs”) are, without question, the most promising up-and-coming niche of dietary supplements.

As time evolves and we gain a better understanding of the mind (brain), it’s only natural that we will continue to discover nutrients and compounds that can help us think clearer, focus more precisely, and reduce our risk of neurodegenerative disease.

After all, we live in a world where people are constantly sleep deprived, working long, exhaustive hours at the office, and overlooking the importance of what they put in their bodies.

This leads to cognitive decline and generally unfavorable conditions for the mind.

The brain is the most powerful and complex organ in the human body; it’s about time we start nourishing it and taking advantage of the “next level” of consciousness.

Nootropics may very well be the gatekeeper that allows you to do just that.

Read on to learn how smart drugs and these real-life Limitless ingredients work and how they can help you tap into your true cognitive potential.

What Exactly Are Nootropics?

The term “nootropic” originates from Greek words that translate to “mind-bending.” In 1972, Romanian chemist Corneliu Giurgea coined the term “nootropic” after creating a compound called piracetam (which is currently sold as an over-the-counter nootropic supplement). [1]

As such, we can broadly define a nootropic as any substance that alters the mind in a beneficial way, generally through biochemical and neurophysiological changes.
Fast forward to the 21st century and nootropics are rapidly becoming a popular niche in the dietary supplement realm. In fact, in 2015 alone, nootropics accounted for more than one billion U.S. dollars of global supplement sales! (Check out this statistic here)

It’s important to note that pharmaceutical nootropics exist as well, but we are more so talking strictly about nutritional supplements and compounds that are available over-the-counter in this instance (especially compounds that are naturally occurring).

For example, pharmaceutical selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like citalopram and sertraline, are not naturally occuring compounds, but they can help treat depression and have “nootropic” qualities.

Even psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin have nootropic qualities, but they aren’t readily available over-the-counter for safety reasons.

By the same token, drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are controlled substances in the U.S., since they generally have much harsher side effects than “natural” nootropics; while methylphenidate and amphetamine salts definitely produce mind-altering effects, it’s not legal to use them without a prescription.

In future articles, we will talk more about why the illicit use of stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin is often more harmful than it is beneficial.

Hence, it’s important to make the distinction that nootropic supplements are meant to be beneficial without producing the side effects and withdrawals many people experience from pharmaceutical nootropics and psychedelics.

How Nootropics Can Help You

So, why are people gaining so much interest in smart drugs/nootropics? Well, who doesn’t love the idea of being mentally and physically sharper, more productive, and more motivated every day, and protecting their brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

This is the potential that nootropics present; no matter who you are, the right nootropics can benefit your life and longevity.

Many people are quick to write-off dietary supplements as being products that only fitness enthusiast and gym bros use, but the reality is that nootropics can enhance your well-being and mental function regardless of what your background is.

In other words, whether you’re a student, business professional, desk jockey, construction worker, athlete, stay-at-home parent, or someone who just needs a morning pick-me-up, then nootropics can help.

The mind is ultimately the basis for everything that we do, so having the right mindset is key to being productive, happy, and fulfilled in life.

If your current daily routine has you feeling groggy, apathetic, irritable, and just generally not motivated to do much, then chances are your mindset needs to change. Taking the right nootropic can set the foundation for making that change happen.

Put simply, nootropic supplements feed your brain with the nutrients and compounds that help optimize your cognitive function and mental acuity so you can attack every day with a better sense of clarity, motivation, and ambition. In turn, you’ll feel revitalized, less stressed, and more driven.

Surely, after reading the last paragraph you’re skepticism about the promising benefits of nootropics likely grew. After all, feeling and performing better on a daily basis reqiures a total lifestyle change and more than just popping a pill.

To reiterate, nootropics are not meant to be seen as “miracle drugs.” Nootropic supplements, are, however, a natural aid for optimal mental function, healthy mood, and enhanced vitality. [2]

But how do nootropics work to accomplish these life-changing benefits?

How Do Nootropics Work?

Nootropics work through a multitude of different pathways, but the most common mechanism is by altering neurotransmitter balance throughout the central nervous system (CNS).

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that your nerve cells (neurons) use to communicate critical information with each other. These messengers are ultimately what tell your brain (and rest of your body) to carry out certain actions.

More appropriately, neurotransmitters are either excitatory or inhibitory on action potentials; the former work to “stimulate” the brain, while the latter help “calm” the brain. The key with neurotransmitters is that it’s all about finding the right balance.

Every neurotransmitter in the body serves a purpose, whether it’s to calm you down, help you focus, enhance your mood, or amp you up. This is another way that nootropics can be so beneficial, as you can selectively target certain neurotransmitters at any time of the day.

In addition, nootropics may even work by altering the physical structure of brain tissue over time, leading to higher “baseline” cognitive function. [3]

Examples of How Nootropics Work

Recall from earlier the first compound that was called a nootropic: Piracetam. This nootropic is thought to increase the activity of the excitatory neurotransmitters glutamate and acetylcholine, both of which enhance arousal, memory recall, and motivation. [4]

Another example of how nootropics work is the way L-tyrosine increases dopamine levels. [5]

Dopamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter that promotes reward-driven behaviors. Hence, dopamine plays a major role in attention and motivation.  

The most relevant example of dopamine in action is the satisfying and sometimes blissful feeling you experience while eating a big meal after you’ve been starving all day.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s nootropics, such as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and L-theanine, that increase the activity of inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin. [6]

In turn, taking nootropics can help you feel more calm and at ease.

Why Use Nootropics?

Want to feel less anxious and reduce stress? There’s a nootropic for that.

How about feeling more alert and focused while you study for exams? Well, there’s also a nootropic for that.

Need more motivation to hit the gym and eat healthy? Yes, there’s a nootropic for that too.

The list goes on and on, but is that really a surprise given that nootopics are literally nutrients for your brain?

The reality is that nootropics are like the real-life limitless ingredient.

That may sound a little grandiloquent, but here’s a way to look at it: If you’re currently only able to use about 5% of your brain’s full potential and can still solve intricate Physics problems, then “unlocking” even the next half of a percentile would produce significantly enhance your mental faculties.

Nootropics might just be what you need to do that.

What Is the Limitless Ingredient?

It’s safe to say that everyone who has seen Limitless (the 2011 hit movie starring Bradley Cooper) thinks to themselves, “I wonder if the limitless pill really exists?”

Crazily enough, the idea of a real-life limitless pill is not as farfetched as you might imagine. Frankly, with the world of nootropics and smart drugs growing at a rapid pace, it’s not a matter of if the limitless pill is real, but when we will discover it.

In fact, many people initially foray into the world of smart drugs and nootropics after they watch Limitless. They are eager to learn more about how they, like Cooper’s character Eddie Morra, can “unlock” their brain and a higher consciousness.

If you haven’t seen Limitless, it’s a film based around a fictional drug called NZT-48 (aka “the limitless pill”).

In the movie, Eddie Morra, a has-been writer starts using the drug and it instantly helps him tap into a higher level of consciousness, like nothing he’s ever experienced. He’s able to write thousands of words in a matter of minutes and basically kick ass at everything in his life. (Ironically, the drugs also gets him into a lot of trouble later in the film.)

As of now, however, the reality is that NZT-48 is not an actual drug. Does this mean a drug or nootropic similar to NZT-48 will never be discovered or created?

Of course not.

The theoretical concept of a real-life limitless pill is actually quite reasonable from a scientific standpoint; however, it will be years/decades before a smart drug like NZT-48 is ever synthesized or discovered (not to mention whether or not it would be proven safe for use it’s anybody’s guess at this point).

Is There a Real-Life Limitless Ingredient?

Something to consider right off the bat with regards to a real-life limitless ingredient, especially something as stimulating as NZT-48 is portrayed to be, is that it will inevtiably cause you to “crash” as it wears off. In fact, this is what leads to the plight Eddie Morra faces in Limitless, as he is essentially addicted to NZT-48 and can barely function without it.

Heck, most people can barely handle the brain fog and apathy they experience if they go one day without their usual pot of coffee.

This is one reason why the use of narcotics and “uppers” leads to an increased risk of suicide.7 The extreme high you experience after using something like methampetamine or cocaine is going to have a reciprocal low once the drug leaves your system.

Some drugs, like Adderall XR, have a lengthy half-life, which is why those who use it illicitly often experience a long, debiliating crash after the high wears off.

This is, again, where nootropics prevail. The right nootropics will not make you go through crazy withdrawals over give you debilitating side effects like many drugs do. In fact, nootropics you find in Primal One products are both safe and effective when take daily.

Moreover, research suggests that certain nootropics, like ashwagandha extract, actually become more beneficial when taken continously for extended periods of time.8

In terms of potency and cognitive benefits, here are some of the best real-life limitless ingredients/nootropics that we recommend:

 - An adaptogenic herbal extract that helps reduce stress and enhance mood

 - A highly bioavailable form of choline which helps increase acetylcholine, thereby boosting focus and mental acuity

 - The perfect combination for supporting lasting energy and motivation without jitters and crashing

Nootropic Key Takeaways

The key thing to takeaway from this article is that supplemental nootropics (“smart drugs”) act like real-life limitless ingredients by:

  • Optimizing chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) balance throughout the brain and body
  • Enhancing cognitive function, including mental acuity, focus, memory, and learning
  • Supporting healthy mood and reduce stress/anxiety
  • Increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain
  • Attenuating oxidative stress and inflammation in neurons
  • Decreasing the risk of neurodegenerative disease and cognitive dysfunction

Remember, though, the big difference between natural nootropic supplements and the “limitless pill” is that the best nootropics are not addictive and won’t produce harsh side effects. As discussed throughout this article, a compound like NZT-48 is so stimulatory that you would face some serious withdrawal and lows if you ever used it.  

Nootropic supplements are the more practical real-life limitless ingredient since you can use them daily without the associated consequences many mind-altering drugs produce.


1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4541214 Giurgea, C. (1972). Pharmacology of integrative activity of the brain. Attempt at nootropic concept in psychopharmacology. Actualites pharmacologiques, 25, 115.

2.  https://www.ijarbs.com/pdfcopy/feb2016/ijarbs37.pdf Babija. B, Chinnu Shaji, Jessel Aleyas, Jiju.V, Santhosh. M. Mathews. A Review on Nootropics. Int. J. Adv. Res. Biol. Sci. (2016). 3(2): 272-277

3.  Firstova, I., Dolotov, O. V., Kondrakhin, A., Dubynina, E. V., Grivennikov, I. A., & Kovalev, G. I. (2009). Effects of nootropic drugs on hippocampal and cortical BDNF levels in mice with different exploratory behavior efficacy. Eksperimental'naia i klinicheskaia farmakologiia, 72(6), 3-6.

4.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0165017394900116 Gouliaev AH, Senning A. Piracetam and other structurally related nootropics. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1994 May;19(2):180-222.

5.  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00426-017-0957-4 Kühn, S., Düzel, S., Colzato, L., Norman, K., Gallinat, J., Brandmaier, A. M., ... & Widaman, K. F. (2017). Food for thought: association between dietary tyrosine and cognitive performance in younger and older adults. Psychological research, 1-10.

6.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/13558789_5-Hydroxytryptophan_A_Clinically-Effective_Serotonin_Precursor Birdsall, T. C. (1998). 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor. Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic, 3(4), 271-280.

7.  Allebeck, P., Allgulander, C., & Fisher, L. D. (1988). Predictors of completed suicide in a cohort of 50,465 young men: role of personality and deviant behaviour. Bmj, 297(6642), 176-178.

8.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10956379 Mishra, L. C., Singh, B. B., & Dagenais, S. (2000). Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Alternative medicine review, 5(4), 334-346.

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