We are usually opposed to top 10 lists of anything, but we will use this as an opportunity to look into the future and horizon of cognitive enhancement and nootropics over the next 12 months.
The nootropics on this list have been included because they are either finding proponents in the scientific and research world (confirmation that they “work” etc) as well as popularity in the general nootropics community and wider audience as a whole.
Every year we find nootropics and smart drugs increasing in popularity and the top 10 best nootropics of 2017 will undoubtedly surpass the current year.
Here is a quick run-down of the list:
1 and 2. LSD and Psilocybin
3. Beta hydroxybutyrate (Ketone salt)
5. CBD Oil
6. Medicinal mushrooms
7. Methylene blue
9. Vitamin D
Top 10 Best Nootropics of 2017
1 and 2. LSD and Psilocybin – while neither of these are new substances, they seem poised to make a great impact on a wider audience within the United States and western world. It may not be legalized or prescribed within 2017, but the self-created mental barriers against psychedelic drugs are falling.
Although published in 2015, Michael Pollan wrote a New Yorker piece showing positive research for psilocybin as a tool for anxiety and depression. The Rolling Stone published a piece depicting Silicon Valley and Wall Street execs as LSD brandishing businessmen.
But perhaps most promising is the merging of popular personalities with new scientific literature. In 2016, Tim Ferriss helped raise funds for studies at Johns Hopkins university on treatment-resistant depression. We even produced a piece on microdosing psychedelics.
Here is a TED x video from Dr. Carthart-Harris at Imperial College London, who has been studying psychedelic drugs over the past couple years:
3. Beta hydroxybutyrate – another trend within the general health community is using exogenous ketones (in isolation or within nutritional ketosis). Even though humans can produce ketones and beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) ourselves, exogenous ketones (coming from outside ourselves) are finally tasting better than “jet fuel”.
Fasting and using MCT oil as part of butter coffee has been popular for years and one of the main benefits of MCT oil is helping our brain to create BHB. The ketone salt has also grown in popularity from Tim Ferriss’ recommendations and discussions with professionals like Dr. Dom D’Agostino, PhD and Dr. Peter Attia, M.D.
As per Peter Attia’s experience with unflavored ketones, most beta hydroxybutyrate was too hard to stomach for use as a supplement. New formulations from Keto OS (supported by Dom D’Agostino and Tim Ferriss) have made the taste barrier less of a problem.
4. Qualia – at Nootropedia we are generally skeptical of combined nootropic blends and stacks, but Qualia does seem to be relatively ground-breaking within the space. It seems that no expense is too great for their formulation, which means 42 ingredients, 2 parts, and a guidebook on how to use the stack best.
The company that creates Qualia (Neurohacker Collective) has a philosophy that differs from most nootropic stack companies and blends. Firstly, every ingredient is chosen with long-term viability and brain enhancement as opposed to acute stimulation, which may leave you struggling mentally later / the day after.
You can try Qualia here and if you use the code “NOOTROPEDIA” you’ll save 10%. Whether you purchase Qualia or not, keep an eye on the Neurohacker Collective and what they are producing (hint: not only nootropics).
5. CBD Oil – as of December 14, 2016 (and effective January 2017), CBD oil is considered schedule 1 by the U.S. federal government. That could mean that either it has grown in popularity enough that the government feels like making a ruling or (more likely) that outlawing the extract will garner more publicity and growth.
Without going into too much detail, there seem to be benefits of CBD oil for anxiety and depressive symptoms  in addition to neuroprotective effects . The popularity may stem with the taboo connection with THC (and marijuana), but there are a host of positive effects touted by proponents.
6. Medicinal Mushrooms – the class of medicinal mushrooms has been around for thousands of years, but it is making huge inroads within the public realm. Recently Tim Ferriss has given exceptional reviews (and business) to Four Sigmatic, which creates tea and coffee drinks that include lion’s mane, chaga, and reishi mushrooms. Most importantly, this company creates novel products with the adequate dosages from mushroom fruiting bodies.
The most popular of these medicinal mushrooms include lion’s mane mushroom, reishi mushroom, chaga, and cordyceps. Even Natural Stacks (makers of CILTEP) have developed an entire line of medicinal mushroom products.
7. Methylene Blue – this is one of the oldest chemical compounds used for treatment purposes and although most people experience methylene blue from the perspective of fish tank cleaner, it is a multi-use chemical.
We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, who is one of the foremost researchers on methylene blue, for the Brain Optimization Summit where we found that methylene blue (at low doses) can improve memory formation, act as an antioxidant and neuroprotective, and a host of other benefits. Much of Lima’s research was published in the past year.
Combined with growing interest from the nootropics community, it seems methylene blue is poised for popularity if only people can find a safe option. It’s important to use only pharmaceutical grade methylene blue to avoid impurities (like heavy metals) that are in other forms.
8. Fasoracetam – if nootropics had an old aristocracy, the racetam family would be the most successful. The most recent incarnations from the racetam family have included things like phenylpiracetam and coluracetam, but the fasoracetam option is the newest of the lot.
People have used fasoracetam for over two years now, but what makes this appealing in 2017 is the potential validation of the drug via research and analysis. Although many users experience intense focus, concentration and attentiveness, there is no real evidence of efficacy. However, an ADHD study performed on 90 participants was completed this month (December 2016) and the results are forthcoming in 2017 .
9. Vitamin D – most people interested in optimal health (both cognitive and physical) understand the relevance of vitamin D. In recent years, more evidence has shown just how important vitamin D is for our cognitive health. According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick, vitamin D controls over 1,000 genes in the body and nearly 70% of the United States lack adequate levels .
With more knowledge workers staying indoors (especially readers of this site), 2017 is going to be another year of much needed vitamin D supplementation.
10. Modafinil – whether we like it or not, modafinil is here to stay. It may still be illegal to use without a prescription in the USA and many other countries, but more people are being introduced to modafinil than ever before. Even “bad” publicity, such as this mischaracterized BBC documentary, has brought smart drugs and modafinil specifically into the limelight.
When big news outlets cover nootropics and smart drugs they seem to focus in on modafinil and for good reason. It is an incredibly potent drug for acute wakefulness, attention, and concentration. One of the biggest vendors (Modafinil Cat) has recently shut its doors, but Afinil Express still provides the drug here.
The Future of Cognitive Enhancement
These top 10 best nootropics of 2017 will grow in popularity, help more people achieve their goals, and hopefully improve the quality of people's’ lives and work. What many of these drugs really show is an increasing proliferation of compounds both new and old, which are ubiquitous despite their questionable legal status.
Perhaps most exciting about 2017 are the possibilities for individualized cognitive enhancement. As technologies become more sophisticated at providing humans with biological feedback and data, we may find it possible to change our specific cognition in a way only we can benefit from.