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Beyond Caffeine: Discovering Alternative Nootropics for Improved Focus and Memory

ByDave Stopher

May 28, 2024

Caffeine has long been recognised for its cognitive enhancement benefits, including improved alertness and concentration. In recent years, there’s been a growing embracement of it, without the guilt. Why? Because it has so many other benefits too, with coffee providing fiber and positive gut health.

However, the pursuit of cognitive excellence goes beyond this widely consumed stimulant, with booming online communities like Reddit. These substances are sought after for their potential to sharpen focus, enhance memory and provide an edge.

This article looks into the world of alternative nootropics that offer similar benefits but come with varying degrees of controversy.

Promising Alternative Nootropics


Off the bat, Nicotine is a controversial one. It’s long been associated with smoking cigarettes, but that ignores what Nicotine is without the tar around it. Snus is a form of moist powdered tobacco, for example, that is a way to ingest the substance without smoking it. The same goes for nicotine pouches.

So, why? Nicotine have gained attention for their potential cognitive benefits, particularly in terms of improved attention and memory. This is true, and these alternative products deliver nicotine in a methodical and measured way. However, they are not without their own risks, as they can cause receding gums and addiction.

This is the most controversial one on the list, but what isn’t controversial are the cognitive benefits.


Found naturally in tea, L-theanine has been shown to enhance focus and reduce anxiety, especially when combined with caffeine. Its favourable safety profile makes it an appealing option for those seeking a mild but effective cognitive boost without the jitters often associated with caffeine alone. Ever wondered why Matcha tea doesn’t make you jittery, but still boosts energy? That’s because it contains high amounts of L-theanine to complement the caffeine — a dream team.

Bacopa Monnieri

This herb has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and has recently caught the attention of modern science. Studies suggest that Bacopa Monnieri may significantly improve memory and cognitive function. However, it is important to note that it can cause side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals.


Originally developed as a prescription medication for narcolepsy, Modafinil has gained popularity as a nootropic due to its ability to increase alertness and cognitive function, particularly in individuals who are sleep-deprived. However, its use as a cognitive enhancer remains controversial, with it being heavily prescription-protected depending on your jurisdiction, and it comes with potential side effects and legal considerations that should not be overlooked. Modafinil is not “all upside” like caffeine is.


The world of alternative nootropics presents exciting possibilities for those seeking to enhance their cognitive function beyond caffeination. However, it is important to approach these substances with caution and to consult your doctor before jumping into things. Try to stick with things that have a lot of scientific backing (not just one new recent study).

While the promise of improved focus and memory is alluring, prioritising safety and legality should always be at the forefront of any decision.