Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Can Nootropics Trigger Headaches? (Expert Analysis)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: August 2, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

Nootropic pills have been a favorite of mine for increasing motivation and attention during exercises. As a professional fitness trainer, I've seen many clients achieve their goals faster by utilizing these supplements.

There are many side effects associated with these products, but can nootropics cause headaches?

I took a few weeks and went through a vast amount of research to understand more about how nootropics cause headaches. I also consulted a doctor friend who shed some light on the topic and provided me with the information in this article.

Quick Summary

  • Some nootropics contain stimulants like coffee, which can cause headaches if consumed excessively.
  • To prevent the danger factors that may come with certain substances, you should always examine anecdotal evidence and research the quality, ingredients, and production procedures.

What Are Nootropics?

White Nootropics supplement spilled from container

Nootropics, known as "smart drugs," are medications and supplements that promise to improve cognitive function by enhancing brain function, including memory, concentration, mental function, creativity, and others [1].

Many nootropics are used as single supplements, such as Ashwagandha and lion's mane, although a nootropic stack is also available.

Nootropic stacks, also known as nootropic formulations, are a mixture of many efficient nootropic compounds that operate as cognitive enhancement products through various brain pathways.

These are a few reasons why you might need to gain the cognitive-enhancing advantages of nootropics, whether for a quick boost in brainpower and working memory or long-term cognitive performance and health.

Some of the most important advantages of nootropics are:

  • Mood stabilization
  • Memory enhancement
  • Brain fog elimination
  • Increasing energy (without the stimulants)
  • Increasing cognitive abilities and mental health
  • Stress management
  • Promotes learning and motivation
  • Brain restoration
  • Neuroprotection

Nootropics provide both short-term and long-term advantages for cognitive decline. Their side effects are usually mild and infrequent.

How Do Nootropics Cause Headaches?

Pouring nootropics on hand

Nootropics cause headaches when two that don't interact well are stacked together. Nootropic stimulants may also cause headaches.

Since a headache is a symptom of overactivity in your cerebral blood vessels, peripheral nerves, or muscular tissue, it's also simple to see how some nootropics may induce headaches.

For instance, certain nootropics increase cerebral blood flow dramatically.

They expand your blood arteries, increasing blood flow and, by default, oxygen delivery.

As your vessels enlarge, you may have slight headaches [2].

Blood artery dilatation may also impose minor pressure on other portions of your brain, producing nerve or muscle discomfort.

Other nootropics stimulate neuronal activation. If they enhance activity among all nerves, you will most likely experience discomfort around your head.

There are several more explanations why nootropics may induce headaches that we do not completely know.

Certain chemicals appear to cause headaches more consistently than others. A handful has been linked to severe headaches in certain people.

Various nootropic compounds appear to promote blood vessel constriction, brain cell agony, irritation, and hypertension, all of which are primary causes of headaches [3].

Which Nootropics Cause Headaches?

Choices between supplement pills or nootropics

Nootropics that cause headaches include Huperzine A, Ginkgo Biloba, Vinpocetine, and Modanofil.

The term "nootropics" refers to a vast range of natural nootropics and synthetic substances whose effects and safety vary widely.

However, certain nootropics appear to produce headaches more frequently than others.

Taking too many portions too regularly may lead to an overdose, which can cause side effects, including headaches.

The maximum daily consumption varies widely depending on the nootropic, for example:

  • Citicoline: The safe daily dose varies from 500 to 2000 mg. Anything over 2000 mg may result in headaches [4].
  • Caffeine: Anything over 400 mg daily may induce adverse effects [5].

Here is a list of the most common nootropics that cause headaches:

In our experience, these nootropics are most likely to induce headaches. The final three can trigger severe and long-lasting headaches; therefore, we do not advise them to any of our clients.

Risk Factors For Nootropic Headaches

Man having headache while massaging head

A lot occurs between when a nootropic plant grows in the ground and when a user takes it in a pill. These intermediate factors may increase the likelihood of headaches.

Here are a few of the most important risk indicators to consider when assessing whether or not a nootropic will produce adverse effects:

1. Anecdotal Evidence & Research

One of the greatest methods to check nootropic safety is to look at other people's experiences and the science behind it. This may be divided into two categories:

  • Anecdotal evidence: Some nootropics were taken for hundreds, if not thousands, of years with minimal to no adverse effects. Some nootropics are also used by individuals all over the globe today, and they solely report positive results.
  • Scientific evidence: Anecdotal evidence is great, but scientific research is better. If a nootropic was studied in big, reliable human clinical studies and found to have no negative side effects, then it is great to try it out.

That's all there is to it when it comes to determining nootropic tolerability.

2. Quality

The grade of nootropic substances varies dramatically. Two components that appear to be the same might have wildly different effects. Here's how:

  • A good nootropic plant can be cultivated in a harmful environment contaminated with pollution and heavy metals. As a result, taking it as a pill is futile and poses health hazards.

“Poor-quality nootropic herbs may be produced in toxic settings (think automobile pollution), resulting in a herbal extract and powder containing concentrated toxic metals like mercury and cadmium.”

- Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, Chemist and Psychologist

  • To cut expenses, a manufacturer may employ a low-cost, synthetic variant of vitamins. However, this substance may be difficult for some people to digest and may even induce adverse effects such as headaches.

When you use a nootropic herb with high-quality substances, its safety may be better than inexpensive nootropics.

Standardized herbs, labeled nootropics, and natural components, for example, provide cofactors and enzymes in types your body perceives as food and, therefore, can easily absorb.

3. Ingredients & Formulation

Health professional giving nootropics supplement

When it comes to the quality of every supplement, it all comes down to its nootropic formulas.

Not all nootropics should be combined.

A bad combination might result in headaches and other unpleasant nootropic side effects.

4. Production Guidelines

Even though a nootropic has high-quality components, it might be contaminated with chemicals and other toxins if manufactured in an unclean and unhealthy environment.

To avoid receiving such nootropics, search for GMP accreditation on the package. GMP is an abbreviation for Good Manufacturing Practices.

It supervises production quality and assures that the nootropic product is manufactured in a safe and clean environment with good manufacturing standards [13].


Cab Brain Supplements Cause Headaches?

Yes, brain supplements may cause headaches. This is caused by several factors, such as stimulant-containing nootropics or using premade nootropic stacks that do not complement each other.

Why Are My Supplements Giving Me Headaches?

Your supplements may be giving you headaches because of the massive levels of fat-soluble vitamins contained in them that accumulate in the body. Excessive vitamin A, for example, might cause headaches.

Can Too Much Vitamin D Cause Migraines?

No. Too much vitamin D cannot cause migraines as there is no link found between migraine and blood vitamin D levels.

Final Thoughts

Many nootropic supplements in the market contain ingredients and contaminating substances that may cause side effects such as headaches.

It is upon us to do the research and identify the few that are safe for consumption and provide their effects without the adverse effects.

However, no need to worry as we have already done the hard part for you. We've tested and tried numerous nootropics and came up with a list of the ones that are safe and more beneficial.

Our results demonstrated that these nootropics last most of the day and give excellent clarity, stamina, focus, and attention required to complete daily tasks.


Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Learn More