13 Risky “Nootropics”

…that a Biohacker should think twice about before taking

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But often they don’t, in modernity, much of the medical and scientific institution wipe their collective ass with the Hippocratic Oath. This is why Biohackers need to take extreme ownership of their own health and practice rigorous risk management.

For better or for worse, the internet has created a thriving and vast wild, wild west health supplement market. On the internet, you can buy or sell whatever the hell you want, it’s quite the libertarian wet dream come true. You can yield this unprecedented freedom of choice to empower your health or you can impulsively punch those Buy Now! buttons and ingest things that may actually do more harm than good.

Rational skepticism should be your default mindset when considering ordering or consuming supplements (and also really when taking your doctor’s advice).

  • Spend a minimum of 60 minutes researching the science supporting a supplement (read abstracts on Pubmed, read articles, watch Youtube videos and listen to podcasts).
  • Consider the sentiment of a meaningful abundance of anecdotes (skim testimonials and forum discussions online, watch Youtube vlogs, read verified Amazon reviews, etc).
  • Listen to your own logic, reasoning, and intuition.

Here I’ll list some popular supplements and drugs that can be found for sale across the internet which fall into a higher risk category — but too often the websites selling them aren’t honest about their downsides. Before using any of these, consider alternative supplements and biohacks…


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Listen: 5-HTP the Womanly Antidepressant Cofactor that could Kill You!

This is a commonly sold remedy for improving mood or managing symptoms of depression but rigorous research done indicates that it’s not a very good monotherapy for depression, it didn’t outperform placebo when used alone for depression. The real concern with it though is Serotonin Syndrome, 5-HTP spikes the neurotransmitter Serotonin, too much Serotonin results in a bunch of nasty symptoms leading up to and possibly including death (in rare conditions). A few capsules of 5-HTP is not going kill you but combining 5-HTP with other serotonin boosters (St. John’s Wort, Amphetamines, Ecstasy, MDMA or some pharmaceuticals) is risky.
There are much better solutions to regulating mood and addressing depression. Pass on 5-HTP.


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Watch: The WORST tasting smart drug… (Adrafinil vs Modafinil Review)

This nasty tasting drug is the pharmacological antecedent to Modafinil. Developed in the 1970s, it’s an anti-narcolepsy drug that doesn’t enhance cognition, wakefulness, and motivation nearly as much as Modafinil does. There’s also some liver damage risk if you’re taking it regularly. Since it’s off-patent it’s very cheap and for some reason, a lot of newer biohackers order and try it. Like most things from the 1970s, Adrafinil belongs in the dustbin of history!

Amphetamines (Ritalin, Adderal, Vyvanse)

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Watch: Adult ADHD Cured! The Four Pillars of Maintaining Focus, Motivation and Memory

To keep rowdy kids sedated in painfully boring public school classrooms big pharma created this category of amphetamine-based ADHD drugs for little 10-year-old Tommy and Sussy to take daily. Amphetamines probably do help some struggling with ADHD but doctors are way too willing to prescribe them for frustrated parents. But they have a number of well-documented side-effects
Sleep issues
Decreased appetite.
Stomachaches and headaches.
Addiction risk.
Unless your doctor can thoroughly explain why you should be using these ADHD drugs, don’t take them. If you need a little extra energy, motivation, and focus there are a lot safer options.


This is an injectable drug for cognitive decline, it may really be helpful for Grannies who keep forgetting her grandchildren’s names but I’m baffled that otherwise healthy biohackers choose to use it for an uptick in cognition. It’s formulated from pig brains and I have my doubts about injecting other animals’ DNA into my body.

If peptides pique your curiosity, look into BPC-157, this anti-aging peptide is derived from natural human gastric pentapeptides and works by optimizing the Gut-Brain axis.


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Listen: DMAE vs Centrophenoxine: Double Edge Swords for Hacking the ACh System

This pseudo-Nootropic is way too popular considering its concerning side effects

  • DMAE may cause birth defects.
  • DMAE can disrupt the metabolism and function of the acetylcholine system.
  • DMAE often causes hyperactivity along with several other unpleasant symptoms.


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Listen: Fasoracetam the Used Panties Vending Machine of Racetams

While ostensibly a Racetam, it’s really an unpredictable, unproven research chemical that needs a lot more science done before people should be taking it.


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This nutriceutical is often found in cheapo Nootropic stacks because it’s extremely cheap (costing about 2 cents for a month’s supply) and potent in very small amounts. It is stimulating, it will give you an energetic buzz but the problem is that it hangs around in your system for at least 24 hours. As it bioaccumulates, it causes gastrointestinal problems along with cardiac and hypotension issues. Pass on a Nootropic stack with Huperzine if it contains more than 50 micrograms per dose.


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Watch: Kratom: an Opioid based Non-Nootropic Performance Enhancer with a Dark Side…

This is an extremely popular (and extremely unregulated) herb from Southeast Asia. For many, it’s a benign opioid that helps with pain, recovery from trauma and addiction. The big problem is that it’s addictive, countless casual users develop a dependency and experience withdrawal when they cut back. Every year a handful of people die of an overdose after combining Kratom with other recreational drugs and/or booze.
Only a single Kratom source that I’m aware of lab tests their product for purity. A plethora of negative side effects are reported online by users, perhaps this is because so much Kratom sold is untested and likely tainted by toxins.


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Listen: Metformin: This AMPK/mTOR Longevity Hack Stinks!

This Diabetes drug is highly contentious among biohackers. If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic you should probably use Metformin, it’s one of the few drugs that actually help Diabetics. There’s some concern about it causing Mitochondrial dysfunction and if you’re going to use it you need to supplement extra B-Vitamins as it affects B-Vitamins’ metabolism in the body. If you’re an anti-aging enthusiast listen to some of the podcasts where it’s debated before using it.

There are a lot better supplemental options for empowering longevity, like C60 Olive Oil, a safe super-antioxidizing form of high-absorption carbon which impressed longevity researchers worldwide when it nearly doubled lifespan in a landmark study.


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Watch: Modafinil: The Military Grade Smart Drug and Why it Made Me Hallucinate…

This is a nearly a house-hold name drug, popularized, perhaps by the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper, as a smart drug. Modafinil will probably make you feel a lot smarter as it’s a potent cognitive enhancer that will make you very awake for 8–12 hours. But, nearly a 3rd of biohackers report some kind of negative effect from it…

  • It causes a major histamine dump; this can result in annoying autoimmune symptoms like itchiness, rashes, soreness, etc.
  • It’s an anti-empathy drug for many. It makes you less sociable, maybe even anti-social.
  • Steep tolerance curve; use it multiple times a week and it won’t be such a potent smart drug.

A safer Nootropic would be something like NMN, this is a high bioavailability version of Vitamin B3 which supports Mitochondrial and epigenetic function, this results in a highly praised energizing and cognition-enhancing effect.


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Watch: Phenibut as a Nootropic: The Socially Lubricating Anti Anxiety Smart Drug Cosmonauts Used

An admission, Phenibut is one of my favorite drugs. It can’t be called a Nootropic is it doesn’t enhance cognition or memory. It’s a Gabaergic anxiolytic that pharmacologically works a lot like alcohol. I use it as a socially lubricating alternative to booze and I’ve had some amazing late nights out on the town dosed on Phenibut.
But, being a Gabaergic, it’s addictive, particularly for those with chronic anxiety and stress issues who use it daily and become dependent.


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Watch: Tianeptine Review: A Happiness Hacking Antidepressant (But Not for Stoics)

This opioid-based antidepressant can be bought a number of places online, I tried it and it does make life feel a lot peachier. But, unless you suffer from treatment-resistant depression you probably shouldn’t use it as a shortcut to happiness. It’s addictive and can be dangerous, at least one death has resulted from an overdose.


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Watch: HMB vs Yohimbine HCL (Workout Supplement Comparison)

This African herb, often found in pre-workout stacks, can superpower your gym performance. But it does so by spiking Adrenalin, unless I’m doing something athletic or being chased by a tiger I don’t want my Adrenalin spiked. If you’re going to take Yohimbine as a pre-workout or for an epic horizontal session with your partner don’t take more than 5–10 milligrams.

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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