Turning an idea into a reality.
That is what focus and concentration allow us to achieve. Whether it’s a project or an examination, attentiveness is the domain of getting shit done.
While there are many aspects of enhanced mental performance, focus is the most desired aspect of cognition that I come across.
Not only are these nootropics and smart drugs helpful because they allow us to do things, but because they also “feel” good…
But this is the dark side. It is one of the reasons 30% of un-prescribed college students  and 11% of children aged 4 – 17 are taking amphetamine-based Adderall and Ritalin .
If you have gone down that route, nobody can blame you, but they will not be found among my list of top 5 nootropics for focus and concentration.
This isn’t to say ADHD isn’t real or that you shouldn’t listen to your medical doctor. On the contrary, when this condition is serious enough, it can cause major problems, but not something I’d like to use or promote. Here are a few alternatives.
Getting Things Done: The Top 5 Nootropics
1. Caffeine and L-Theanine (with a twist)
The combination of caffeine and L-theanine is the most basic nootropic that you can find. Taking the focus and concentration benefits of caffeine by itself will yield a host of cascading side effects including increased heart rate, blood pressure, and that jittery crash we all loathe.
Adding the L-theanine negates the side effects of caffeine , while at the same time greatly enhancing the focus and concentration aspects . While these alone are a great place to start, adding theobromine may be an interesting twist.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor (makes blood vessels smaller) but theobromine is a vasodilator (makes blood vessels bigger). Theoretically, adding the ingredient will counterbalance this remaining side effect of caffeine. Theobromine is also a raw material for a compound called anandamide , which is a major chemical associated with lateral thinking and creativity.
Here is a pre-made combination of the caffeine, L-theanine, and theobromine. Note that if you’d like to make this yourself, use the ratio 1:2 (caffeine to L-theanine respectively) for optimal results.
Modern incarnation of the grandfather racetam (piracetam), phenylpiracetam simply adds a phenyl group with stimulant-like effects. There is some evidence that phenylpiracetam could be used for focus and concentration in ADHD patients , but it is mostly speculation.
What is most interesting about phenylpiracetam is that the drug interacts with different mechanisms than most other focus drugs or stimulants (dopamine and adrenaline activity). Instead, phenylpiracetam is a cholinergic and GABAminergic with different (albeit subtle) benefits.
While anecdotal (not scientific), I visited the Peak Brain Institute in Los Angeles, California to test the effects of phenylpiracetam on my brain and found striking results. Over 2 days I ran through a battery of tests (primarily QEEG) to get a baseline and then understand the effects using phenylpiracetam (300 mg).
Dr. Andrew Hill (the developer of truBrain and active Reddit member) concluded: “…The eyes opened maps changed quite a lot. You’re making a lot more low beta frequencies, not stress frequencies, but concentration, focus, executive function…and also your alpha came up…we found it’s not regular alpha, it’s fast alpha.”
Without getting too geeky, the QEEG mapping suggested that many brain wave frequencies associated with focus and concentration were improving. Not only was I more focused, but with the fast alpha brain waves, it seemed my brain was in a state of flow with phenylpiracetam.
Whereas the first day Dr. Hill explained there were elements of ADHD-like inattentiveness, the second day “those were completely gone”. While I anticipated this was the case, having some empirical evidence is exciting.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for getting phenylpiracetam at a local pharmacy or supplement shop. Luckily, you don’t need to if you have the right vendor to get a safe batch.
Clocking in at number 3 is Qualia, which is the only pre-made stack on the list and the only one I take regularly. There are many benefits of Qualia, but I’ll focus primarily on the focus and concentration resources within the stack.
Qualia has so many ingredients (42 to be exact), there are already well-known stacks built in, which include:
- Caffeine + L-theanine (mentioned above)
- CILTEP (chemically induced long-term potentiation), which is a community-built stack
In addition, Qualia has rhodiola rosea (an adaptogenic herb) and N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT), which can both be effective for focus and concentration. The latter is one of the more effective (and less risky) ways to modulate dopaminergic activity for cognitive enhancing purposes.
The combination of hordenine HCL and phenylethylamine (PEA) is another focus component of Qualia, but one that worries me slightly. For some it might be overkill, but that will depend on each person’s individual biochemistry.
From personal experience, the first two days on Qualia went well, but there were side effects. Luckily, after that point the side effects subsided and the benefits remained. Note, if you’re interested in trying it out, you can use code “NOOTROPEDIA” to save 10% off.
4. Noopept (Sublingual)
Each chemical compound has psychoactive ingredients that our brain uses in different ways. For some of these ingredients, taking a pill feels differently than injecting into our bloodstream. Luckily, noopept doesn’t require any needles or blood vessels, but instead a flavored liquid.
Noopept enters the bloodstream rapidly, but much of the potency is lost with oral doses (pills or powders)  compared with a sublingual solution (putting drops under your tongue). Because noopept is considered so much more potent than piracetam, it has a stimulatory effect and with similar mechanisms.
Like phenylpiracetam, the reason noopept is one of the top 5 nootropics for focus and concentration, is because it has unique mechanisms. EEG testing (similar to what I did at Peak Brain), confirms this comparison and the uniqueness .
If you try to make your own noopept sublingual solution, this will quickly fall OUT of your top 5 nootropics for focus and concentration… it simply tastes atrocious. Instead, our recommended vendor has a simple cherry flavor (tastes like cough syrup, but that’s a huge step up).
Adding modafinil is done reluctantly because it’s so over-played, but it is an effective substance for the purposes of focus and concentration. As typical with most stimulants, modafinil interacts with dopaminergic and adrenergic functioning .
There are studies suggesting modafinil works on par with amphetamine based drugs for maintaining cognition with sleep deprivation , but modafinil can still be an Adderall alternative due to less addiction potential or feelings of euphoria , which often accompany amphetamines.
Modafinil has garnered a lot of attention as the new tool of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, but it isn’t the Limitless drug some people make it out to be. Proceed with caution as it can come with side effects.
Top 5 Nootropics and Unique Brain Chemistry
Given my many years in the nootropics industry and personal experience, these are the selected top 5 nootropics for focus and concentration. That being said, pay particular attention to the last point: personal experience.
Each person has unique brain chemistry and the results will vary depending on you. Some people can’t stand modafinil or see no effects. The fact is, we are all different and the above top 5 nootropics for focus are merely suggestions to help you get started.
- References (Click to Expand)