With artificial intelligence and robotics becoming more sophisticated, the iron quality amongst knowledge workers is creativity. In fact, 60% of the world’s best CEOs believe creativity is the most important quality among leaders .
As important as creativity can be, it’s a hard skill to define. Whereas creativity seems like moments of insight and inspiration, it’s really putting various ideas together in compatible ways. It is memory.
One of the reasons I use memory pills is for the increased learning ability and memory, but also to be more creative and fluent with ideas. In this guide, we’ll overview how memory pills work, how they can help you, and a few suggestions.
At the end of this guide, I’ll provide a list of memory pill suggestions for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users along with links on where to buy them safely.
How Do Memory Pills Work?
The term “memory pills” is a bit vague. There are many pills that improve memory, but for our purposes, we will focus on nootropics that are commonly available over the counter or online.
Because there are many types of memory pills, they all work slightly differently. One main mechanism is via the cholinergic system. This system utilizes the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine and is responsible for many things including memory formation and learning.
A classic example of a cholinergic memory pill is called piracetam. This early nootropic helps to increase acetylcholine uptake and utilization in the hippocampus region of the brain . The hippocampus is a part of the brain where memories are stored and increased usage of acetylcholine helps to create memories (at least in animals).
Beyond improving the choline system within the brain, piracetam also increases membrane fluidity  and provides more blood flow and oxygen to the brain . A lot goes on in a memory pill.
Creativity and Memory Pills
Working memory is a specific type of short-term memory, which influences creativity. Our working memory is the number of ideas or facts we can hold in our brain at any one point. Even when creative ideas seem very unique, they are usually the product of other ideas combining.
Nootropics and memory pills that can increase working memory, therefore influence creativity. This is one of the reasons modafinil is so popular. This drug not only increases focus and concentration, but also improves working memory in some studies .
Racetam Memory Pills: An Aristocratic Family
Most nootropics enthusiasts have heard of the racetam family. The piracetam smart drug we mentioned earlier was the grandfather of this family, which now includes nearly a dozen similar nootropics each with varying effects.
This family is known for memory enhancing effects, which is why they have become so popular over the past few decades.
Here is a breakdown of these various memory pills and their effects:
Piracetam – this nootropic was developed in the 1960s and has decades of research. Though much of it is in animals, the drug is safe to take and is usually a good starting point. The effects can be subtle (i.e: not “felt”) and work over a period of 4 – 12 weeks.
Aniracetam – the second in the racetam family, aniracetam is fast-acting and fat soluble. Some people note stimulation and reduced anxiety because this drug is far more potent than piracetam. Jesse Lawler told me he uses this for creativity purposes.
Oxiracetam – most studies find oxiracetam to be great for neuroprotection and reversing brain related trauma . Anecdotally, it’s considered a great nootropic for programmers, though it is slightly more expensive than the first two.
Phenylpiracetam – this is the first racetam with highly stimulative properties. The added “phenyl” group with piracetam can increase alertness and concentration so much that the Olympic Anti-Doping committee has banned participants from using the drug.
I tested phenylpiracetam with a QEEG test and found it helped with focus and acted as an ADD medication while boosting my creativity and flow state. I love phenylpiracetam.
Coluracetam – the memory enhancing effects of coluracetam are slightly different than others. By using a mechanism called “high affinity choline uptake” (HACU), coluracetam has a potent stimulant and memory enhancing effect. It’s most notably used as a sublingual (under the tongue) solution, but human studies are seriously lacking.
Fasoracetam – one of the latest of the racetam family, fasoracetam has been recently tested as an alternative for amphetamine based ADHD medication . Most of the evidence on this new drug is anecdotal, but promising nonetheless.
Pramiracetam – horrid tasting in powder form, this subtle racetam change was the first stimulating racetam of choice for the nootropics community only 4 – 5 years ago.
Other Cholinergic Memory Nootropics
Beyond these racetam drugs, there are others with different structures and effects, which interact with the cholinergic system (and thus memory). Some of these are nutrients and raw materials to create more acetylcholine, while others help this brain chemical do its job. No need to remember all of these, but it’s good to be aware:
- CDP Choline – good source of raw choline. Most value for the price.
- Alpha GPC – the best source of raw choline, but can be expensive
- Centrophenoxine – new (but popular) nootropic drug for memory; prodrug for DMAE
- DMAE – molecule for improving cognition, though not well-absorbed alone
- Uridine – nutrient associated with cholinergic function
- PRL-8-53 – experimental drug with promising (though few) scientific results
- Huperzine A – natural extract, which prevents acetylcholine degradation
Non-Cholinergic Memory Drugs
We have spent a lot of time on cholinergic compounds, which improve memory formation and learning, but we haven’t discussed the many other mechanisms by which we improve our memory.
Many nootropics (including a list of ancient herbal remedies) don’t seriously impact the cholinergic system, but instead have a different “mechanism of action” (how it works).
Bacopa Monnieri – used by Indian people for thousands of years, this Ayurvedic herb has been well-researched for improving memory formation and learning over the long-term . Much of the research has been subsidized by the Indian government, so we have a clear picture of bacopa from a research perspective. It seems to have antioxidant and cerebral blood flow benefits . Link.
Ginkgo Biloba – famous among traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo biloba is is a plant extracted for cognitive effects with plenty of research. Usually ginkgo is used to prevent memory decline and improve short term memory recall . Link.
Noopept – oddly, noopept gets classified as a racetam when it is not. This peptide increases the creation of different brain chemicals including BDNF and NGF (useful for learning) .
Long Term Memory Protection
Enhancing memory, learning ability, and creativity are one thing, but preventative memory protection is something different. People of all ages can take advantage of neuroprotective substances and many of the above mentioned drugs are protective in their own way.
These secondary memory pills and supplements can go a long way in protecting your brain over the long term.
- Fish Oil (DHA / EPA) – stimulates neurogenesis (creating new brain cells). Few people eat enough fish so a DHA / EPA supplement works well.
- Creatine – not just for bodybuilders. Creatine provides ATP (energy) for the cells mitochondria, which aids in longevity and anti-fatigue (especially for vegans).
- Vitamin B12 – over time, vitamin B12 drops in elderly. Anyone over 50-60 should be taking a vitamin B12 supplement.
- CoQ10 – basic mitochondrial support for preserving long-term brain health
- PQQ – molecule useful for mitochondrial support (and better alongside CoQ10)
- Magnesium – aids in synaptic plasticity for memory effects. Go with bioavailable magnesium like glycinate or threonate.
Which Memory Pills Should I Buy?
At this point, I’ve thrown out 23 various nootropic compounds and smart drugs to enhance your memory formation and learning so I’m sure you’re still a bit puzzled. For those who have a significant interest, go ahead and enjoy buying the different options and trying them out!
But if you want a little push in the right direction, here are some basic suggestions.
- Intermediate (Click to Expand)
- Advanced (Click to Expand)
- References (Click to Expand)