Are you looking for a safe and effective way to improve your performance at work or in school? You’re not alone. Growing numbers of individuals in the U.S. and around the world are exploring various methods of improving memory, cognitive processing, mental energy, focus and more. One of the key methods many leaders and business executive explore to enhance their performance is the use of nootropics such as adrafinil.

According to Mike Montgomery, a Forbes contributor, nootropics may represent big business opportunities to forward-thinking venture capitalists and others seeking the next big growth industry. And Research and Markets states that the global market for nootropics is expected to increase upwards of $6 billion U.S. by 2024.

In general, nootropics may ultimately prove to have an even wider possible range of benefits. One study conducted by several professors at a Malaysian medical college concluded that understanding naturally-occurring nootropic substances and how they impact cognitive function may ultimately help treat cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The holy grail of nootropics is the substance that provides clear and noticeable improvements in cognitive abilities and concentration without also causing negative side effects. Adrafinil may fit that description for many people.

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What Is Adrafinil?

Originally designed and manufactured in France for people suffering from narcolepsy, adrafinil is a synthetic prodrug. That means the chemical compound is inactive until it is metabolized within the body (or in vivo).

Adrafinil metabolizes into modafinil inside the body. Modafinil is a prescription-only medication in the U.S., while adrafinil can be obtained without a prescription. For the most part, the two substances have pretty much the same effect on the body and mind. The primary difference between the two drugs is that adrafinil takes approximately an hour to produce the desired pharmacological effect, whereas modafinil begins working sooner.

Until September 2011, adrafinil was sold in France as Olmifon. At that point, it was voluntarily withdrawn from the market there. It is currently unscheduled and thus available without a prescription in the U.S., according to Nootropedia.

What Is Adrafinil Used For & It's Benefits?

Adrafinil was intended primarily to help elderly patients by improving symptoms of fatigue and confusion. However, over time, individuals found that the drug helped to stave off fatigue and improve cognition in situations where they needed to stay alert for extended periods of time, such as when working overnight shifts or engaging in long periods of study.

For healthy individuals who use the drug as a performance enhancer, adrafinil helps increase mental alertness, concentration, memory, cognitive abilities, and wakefulness. It is considered a safe stimulant that does not cause anxiety or other unpleasant side effects generally associated with stimulants.

How Does Adrafinil Work?

Dr. Florence Comite, an endocrinologist studying precision medicine and the author of the book Keep It Up, states that the likely mechanism behind nootropics, in general, is the improvement in the functioning of the neuroendocrine system. In other words, these substances help optimize levels of dopamine and other biochemicals that help enhance your brain’s cognitive abilities.

This is true of adrafinil and modafinil, which appear to act as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. In other words, it blocks the mechanism by which dopamine is absorbed by the body and rendered inert, thus prolonging its effects.

The effect of adrafinil on the body’s dopamine regulation system is generally perceived to be gradual and indirect. That’s an important part of its perceived safety, since it puts the brakes on the sense of euphoric well-being that many stimulants and addictive substances produce.

What Does Adrafinil Do?

Long-term modafinil use data is lacking thus far. However, researchers are exploring the prolonged usage of the drug. Professor Barbara Sahakian, at the University of Cambridge, is investigating whether modafinil may help improve mental cognition in people with psychosis.

Zoe Corbyn reports that many Silicon Valley tech startup officers and founders experiment with nootropics and other supplements to help boost cognition, energy and attention. Popular author Timothy Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body) states that he has used modafinil in the past, but believes it to be quite strong in its physical effects. As a result, he limits his use.

Is Adrafinil A stimulant?

Once metabolized in the body, adrafinil operates exactly like a stimulant. It helps keep individuals awake for extended periods of time, permitting them to perform even complex tasks such as piloting a helicopter, as found by one study reported in the Psychopharmacology journal.

Adrafinil and modafinil operate much the same way as amphetamines when it comes to keeping you awake and alert. However, these drugs don’t seem to lead to the many negative side effects associated with amphetamine usage, such as heightened anxiety and increased pulse rate, according to one study published in the European journal Neuropsychopharmacol.

Is Adrafinil Illegal?

In the United States, you can use adrafinil without a prescription. Since it is not scheduled, the way many controlled substances and other medications are, you can usually purchase it over-the-counter in the U.S. It is also readily available in the U.K. and Canada, for the same reasons.

Please be aware that if you’re located in a different country, your laws may differ. You should definitely be sure about adrafinil’s legality in your country before attempting to purchase it online.

Modafinil is a different story altogether. Unlike adrafinil, it is classified as a prescription-only medication, sold under the brand name of Provigil. Because of this, you’ll need to see a doctor to obtain a prescription if you want to try modafinil.

Even though adrafinil is legal to purchase and use in the U.S. and elsewhere, there is one important exception to that rule. The World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits the use of adrafinil as a non-specified stimulant by any competitor who is participating in a covered competition.

Where Can You Buy Adrafinil?

Because adrafinil isn’t considered a controlled substance and is available without a prescription in the U.S., you can purchase it without a doctor’s prescription at a number of outlets. It’s widely available online, for example, and may also be stocked at your local supplement and nutritional health stores.

However, it’s important to be careful when purchasing adrafinil, as with any pharmacological substance. Be sure you’re getting what you bargain for. Also double check to ensure that the source of the drug is reliable and enjoys a good safety record.

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Is Adrafinil The Same As Modafinil?

Before you take the medication, adrafinil is not the same as modafinil, chemically speaking. The two are chemically different and will affect you physically in different ways, at least immediately after consumption.

However, once you take adrafinil by mouth, it begins a process that culminates in metabolization about 45 to 60 minutes later. After your liver has broken it down, adrafinil then becomes chemically identical to modafinil, with similar benefits and effects. Prior to being metabolized, however, adrafinil is an inert substance.

How Long Does It Take For Adrafinil To Kick In?

How long it takes your body to metabolize adrafinil, and thus how long it takes for you to feel its effects, will depend on a few factors. Primarily, metabolization depends on whether you’ve had anything to eat prior to taking the drug and the specific form of the drug you use.

Most people use a tablet or capsule taken by mouth. If you do the same on an empty stomach, adrafinil will metabolize in about an hour. At that point, you should begin to feel the drug’s effects.

How Long Does Adrafinil Stay Active In The Body?

After you ingest the adrafinil, metabolization takes about an hour or so. The effects of adrafinil usually last anywhere from three to four hours after that point. Of course, the exact duration depends on your unique body chemistry as well as the amount of the dose you take.

It’s also a good idea to take your adrafinil in the morning and during the day, in order to avoid interrupting your sleep at night. Because of its potential impact on liver and cardiac function, it’s also advisable not to use adrafinil for any extended period of time. Rather, use it either cyclically (i.e., one week on, one week off) or during short-term projects on an as-needed basis.

What Is The Optimal Dose Of Adrafinil? 

The exact recommended dose for adrafinil depends on a number of factors, specifically height and weight. However, one review published in CNS Drug Reviews suggests a range of 300 to 1200 mg as a generally safe daily dosage. Many of the studies reviewed divided the daily dose into two, one taken in the morning and the other at noon.

If you’re new to adrafinil, it’s a smart idea to start with a low dose of around 100 mg, then gradually titrate the dose upwards as you get accustomed to the effects.

Does Adrafinil Suppress Appetite?

Matt Lehrer, Ph.D. candidate, states that adrafinil does not tend to suppress appetite in most users. In fact, he points out that appetite suppression can be a negative side effect, one that has been commonly associated with amphetamine and other stimulants. However, he adds that adrafinil does make you more physically active, which can aid in weight management.

If you’re experiencing decreased appetite over time, whether by itself or accompanied by nausea, while taking adrafinil, it’s a good idea to stop taking the substance for several days to see if your symptoms ease up.

What Are The Side Effects Of Adrafinil?

Because adrafinil and modafinil are virtually chemically identical after metabolization, it’s important to understand the potential side effects of both drugs before taking them. First, any person with a history of cardiovascular or liver disease should consult with a physician before trying adrafinil, as the drug may worsen these conditions.

Other common side effects of adrafinil and modafinil include insomnia, mood swings and irritability, vertigo, and nausea.

Individuals may rarely experience other side effects. One publication reports a single case of orofacial dyskinesia, or involuntary repetitive movements of the face and mouth while taking modafinil. This condition usually occurs in older institutionalized patients being treated for psychosis. Another study reported two individuals suffered a loss of sexual drive while taking adrafinil.

Last but not least, if you experience any side effects while you’re taking a regular daily dose of adrafinil, stop taking it immediately. Follow up with your regular primary care physician as soon as possible.

Is It Safe To Take Adrafinil?

Many physicians and nootropics enthusiasts believe that there’s no such thing as a “biological free lunch.” Nootropics can help in one area but then make the brain function less effectively in other ways. Additionally, some nootropics create a huge impact on the body initially, but then that impact is followed by an equally resounding physical crash.

In light of these potential effects, it’s very important to do your own research and proceed cautiously when trying nootropics for the first time. However, the general consensus seems to be that adrafinil is a safer, milder entry point into experimenting with cognition-boosting substances.

Final Thoughts

If you want to explore the use of nootropics to help improve your mental and physical alertness, cognitive abilities and memory, but you’re concerned about trying substances that pack a strong punch, adrafinil may be a smart place to start. Given the gradual nature of its impact, adrafinil might give you a more subtle entry point into the world of nootropics.

Remember, it’s crucial to look into your various options before you take a new substance such as adrafinil. If possible, talk to people you know who have tried it for personal, unbiased reviews. Start with a small dose and track your body’s response to various dosage levels until you find what works best for you.