5 of the Top Nootropics Developed or Used in Russia – Updated for 2024

Updated on February 9, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
Exploring the impact of nootropics developed and used in Russia on neural connections.

Are you looking to boost your cognitive function and enhance your mental performance?

Look no further than nootropics from Russia, which have gained popularity for their effectiveness in improving memory, focus, and overall brain health. In this article, we will explore the top nootropics developed or commonly used in the Russian Federation as of 2024, backed by factual data and scientific research. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or someone looking to optimize their cognitive abilities, these cognitive enhancers and smart drugs are worth considering.

So, let’s dive in and discover nootropics that can unlock your brain’s full potential, even if you’re not a Moscovite.

  • Semax — Best to help regulate metabolic processes in the nerve cells
  • Phenylpiracetam — Great impact on the energy metabolism in the brain
  • Noopept — Best for keeping nerve cells of the brain healthy
  • Cerebrolysin — Great for boosting alertness
  • Picamilon — Best nootropic for relieving stress and anxiety

Semax is a synthetic peptide that is known for its cognitive-enhancing properties. It helps improve memory, focus, and mental clarity. Semax promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that plays a crucial role in synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis.

Semax was originally developed in Russia as an experimental drug to prevent and treat circulatory disorders, but was later identified as a “cognitive enhancer”. It helps prevent oxidative degeneration. Research showed that patients in various stages of oxidative stress have seen stabilized progression.(1) Their risks to further strokes have also reduced when treated with Semax, which took effect to improve their blood circulation. It was shown that Semax exerts nootropic and analgesic activities following intraperitoneal administration.


  • Improves cognitive function
  • Increases focus and attention
  • Enhances memory and learning ability
  • Boosts motivation and mood
  • Has neuroprotective effects


  • May cause side effects such as headache, dizziness, and nasal irritation

Semax mimics a natural brain chemical called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). It is used in Russia to treat stroke, brain injury, and cognitive disorders. Semax enhances memory, attention, and mental performance by stimulating the production of BDNF. It also has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.

2. Phenylpiracetam

Phenylpiracetam was developed in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It was created by adding a phenyl group to Piracetam, another nootropic compound. One of the most notable uses of Phenylpiracetam was its inclusion in the medical kit of Soviet cosmonauts. The drug was intended to help them endure the prolonged stress, cold temperatures, and the demanding environment of space travel. It was believed to enhance physical performance, reduce stress, improve immunity, and increase tolerance to cold.

Phenylpiracetam is a potent cognitive enhancer that belongs to the racetam family of nootropics. It provides a wide range of cognitive benefits, including increased focus, improved memory, enhanced learning capacity, and heightened mental energy. Phenylpiracetam also has stimulant-like effects, making it popular among students and professionals.

As its name suggests, it is a phenyl-derivative of piracetam. Phenylpiracetam is reported to be more neuroprotective than piracetam is, but also possesses psychostimulatory properties and is reported to enhance physical performance. Phenylpiracetam increases concentration, motivation, memory, physical performance, and is highly bioavailable.(2) Once digested, it quickly gets absorbed and crosses the blood-brain barrier. Phenylpiracetam modulates neuroreceptors. It’s been shown to increase the density of receptors for GABA, NMDA, dopamine, and acetylcholine. More neuroreceptors result in more of each neurotransmitter being able to bind to neurons, affecting alertness, cognition, memory, recall, mood, and relieving anxiety.


  • Promotes heightened alertness and concentration
  • Improves memory and learning
  • Enhances physical performance and stamina
  • Increases motivation and drive


  • May lead to tolerance and dependence with long-term use
  • May have minor side effects including insomnia, irritability, and headaches in some people

Phenylpiracetam has been shown to reverse the depressant effects of the benzodiazepine diazepam, increase operant behavior, inhibit post-rotational nystagmus, prevent retrograde amnesia, and have anticonvulsant properties.

3. Noopept

One of the originals from Russia: Noopept–it’s a peptide-based nootropic that is known for its neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects. It works by increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, which is crucial for learning and memory. Noopept also exhibits antioxidant properties, protecting the brain against oxidative damage.

Noopept enhances cognitive function by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as acetylcholine and glutamate.(3) It also has neuroprotective effects, which help protect the brain from damage caused by aging or oxidative stress. Some studies have found that Noopept improves memory, focus, and other cognitive functions, while others have found that it can reduce anxiety and improve mood.


  • Improves mental clarity, memory and learning ability
  • Enhances mood, focus, and attention
  • Helps relieve stress and anxiety


  • May not be significantly effective for everyone
  • May cause headaches, irritability, and fatigue for some users

Noopept enhances memory, learning, and cognition by increasing the expression of BDNF and nerve growth factor (NGF), two proteins that support the health and function of brain cells. It is widely used in Russia as a treatment for cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases.

4. Cerebrolysin

Cerebrolysin is a powerful nootropic peptide that is derived from pig brain tissue. It contains a complex mixture of peptides, amino acids, and neurotrophic factors that promote brain health and function. Cerebrolysin has been shown to improve memory, enhance cognitive abilities, and protect against neurodegenerative disorders.

Cerebrolysin possesses neuroprotective and neurotrophic repair properties. Clinical trials have reported that cerebrolysin improves cognitive function in older people with memory problems and in those with schizophrenia, although the effects are modest.(4) It is administered by injection and is often used to treat stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. Cerebrolysin improves cognitive function and recovery by stimulating the growth and repair of neurons and synapses, as well as reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.


  • Improves cognitive function and memory
  • Enhances learning ability
  • Has neuroregenerative effects
  • Has a positive impact on brain health and aging


  • Requires injection for administration
  • May cause nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions in some users

According to clinical trials, Cerebrolysin is safe and well-tolerated by patients. Side effects are rare and usually mild.

5. Picamilon

Picamilon is a unique nootropic that combines GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) with niacin. It acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the brain and improving cognitive function. Picamilon is often used to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve overall mental performance.

Picamilon is useful for lowering anxiety and stress, improving mood, increasing cerebral circulation, improving memory and learning, and addiction recovery. It works primarily through increasing GABA levels in the brain, which typically cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, making direct supplementation ineffective.(5) However, Picamilon gets around this by attaching a Vitamin B3 (niacin) molecule to a GABA molecule. The B3 molecule allows the GABA molecule to cross into the brain and start taking action.


  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Improves mood and relaxation
  • Increases focus and mental clarity


  • May lead to tolerance and dependence with long-term use

Studies from Russia demonstrate that Picamilon improves nervous control, recovery time after work, blood pressure, and memory. The drug even shows benefits in treating brain trauma.

How Do Nootropics Work?

These class of nootropics work by modulating various neurotransmitters, promoting neuroplasticity, and enhancing brain cell function. Here are some key mechanisms of action:

Neurotransmitter Modulation: Nootropics can increase levels of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin, which play crucial roles in cognitive function.

Neuroprotection: Many nootropics popular in Russia have antioxidant properties and can protect brain cells against oxidative stress and neurodegeneration.

Enhancing Blood Flow: Some nootropics have vasodilatory effects, which increase blood flow to the brain, providing essential nutrients and oxygen for optimal brain function.

Promoting Neuroplasticity: Nootropics can enhance neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and rewire neural connections, leading to improved learning, memory, and cognitive flexibility.

The mechanisms of action of nootropics are not fully understood, but studies suggest that they work by increasing the brain’s supply of glucose and oxygen, having antihypoxic effects, and protecting brain tissue from neurotoxicity.

What to Consider Before Buying

Assessing several critical factors before purchasing a nootropic that is popular in Russia can significantly influence the benefits and outcomes of their use.

1. Specific Cognitive Needs

Consider your specific cognitive goals. Are you looking to improve memory, enhance concentration, or boost problem-solving skills? The right nootropic should match your targeted cognitive needs.

2. Dosage and Administration

Evaluate the recommended dosage and method of administration. Some nootropics might require a gradual increase in dosage to achieve the desired effect, while others might be more effective if taken in a certain form or at specific times.

3. Interaction with Other Supplements or Medications

Be aware of potential interactions with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Some nootropic compounds can interact with other substances in ways that might diminish their effectiveness or amplify side effects.

4. Long-Term Use and Tolerance

Understand the implications of long-term use. Some nootropics may lead to tolerance over time, necessitating higher doses for the same cognitive effect, which could increase the risk of side effects.

Research the legal status of the nootropic in your region and consider any ethical implications, such as if you’re a competing student or professional, where cognitive enhancers might be regulated.

How We Determined the Optimal Product

We employed a comprehensive evaluation process to identify the top Russian products. Factors such as efficacy, ingredient integrity, brand reputation, transparency, production standards, consumer reviews, cost, and value were considered. Our thorough assessment of these elements has led us to compile a reliable list of the best of the best.


We conducted an in-depth analysis of clinical trials and user experiences to measure cognitive enhancement, focusing on attention, memory, and mental agility.


We meticulously examined each formula, emphasizing scientifically supported, natural, and superior quality ingredients that boost cognitive function.

Scientific Backing

We consulted peer-reviewed research and meta-analyses to substantiate the efficiency of primary ingredients in cognitive enhancement.


We evaluated optimal dosages and ingredient proportions, ensuring they align with existing research for peak effectiveness.


We confirmed the safety of each ingredient, considering potential adverse effects and interactions, and verifying compliance with regulatory standards. Ingredients approved by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Health were prioritized.

Brand Reputation

We assessed brands’ credibility and reliability through customer ratings, expert recommendations, and company background.

Product Transparency

We appreciated thorough ingredient disclosure, encompassing sources and quantities, fostering knowledgeable consumer decision-making.

Manufacturing Standards

We scrutinized manufacturing norms, favoring products produced in certified facilities and adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Consumer Reviews

We analyzed genuine customer opinions, valuing testimonials that describe cognitive enhancement and mental improvements.


We compared product costs, ensuring they were competitive and corresponded with the quality and efficacy of the nootropic.


We evaluated overall value, considering the balance of cost, quality, and efficacy to ensure optimal return on investment.

In Summary

These nootropics offer a wide range of cognitive-enhancing benefits, from improving memory and focus to reducing stress and anxiety. These powerful compounds have gained popularity among students, professionals, and individuals looking to enhance their cognitive abilities. Whether you are seeking improved mental performance or want to protect your brain health, nootropics popular in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe can be an excellent addition to your cognitive enhancement regimen.

It’s important to note that while these nootropics have shown promising results in research and anecdotal reports, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific health needs and help you determine the best approach to enhance your cognitive function.


Are Russian style nootropics safe to use?

These nootropics have been extensively studied in Russia and are generally considered safe when used as directed. However, it’s important to purchase high-quality products from reputable sources to ensure purity and potency. Additionally, it’s advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase to assess your individual tolerance and minimize the risk of side effects.

Can these nootropics be used by everyone?

While these nootropics are generally safe, they may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as cardiovascular issues, liver or kidney problems, or those taking medications, should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating nootropics into their routine. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid these substances.

How long does it take to see the effects of smart drugs/nootropics?

The onset and duration of effects can vary depending on the specific nootropic and individual factors such as metabolism. Some Russian smart drugs may provide immediate effects, while others may require consistent use over time to experience noticeable benefits. It’s important to follow the recommended dosage guidelines and allow sufficient time for the nootropic to accumulate and exert its effects.

Are there any potential side effects of Russian smart drugs?

Smart Drugs developed by Russian scientists are generally well-tolerated, but like any supplement, they may have potential side effects. Common side effects include headaches, gastrointestinal upset, insomnia, and irritability. It’s essential to start with a low dose and monitor your body’s response. If you experience any adverse effects, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.

Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Koroleva, S. V., and N. F. Myasoedov. “Semax as a universal drug for therapy and research.” Biology Bulletin 45 (2018): 589-600. ↩
  2. Zvejniece, Liga, et al. “Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory activity of DAT inhibitor R-phenylpiracetam in experimental models of inflammation in male mice.” Inflammopharmacology 28 (2020): 1283-1292. ↩
  3. Ostrovskaia, R. U., et al. “The original novel nootropic and neuroprotective agent noopept.” Eksperimental’naia i Klinicheskaia Farmakologiia 65.5 (2002): 66-72. ↩
  4. Chen, Ning, et al. “Cerebrolysin for vascular dementia.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1 (2013). ↩
  5. Zakharov, V. V., I. V. Borodulina, and N. V. Vakhnina. “Treatment of patients with chronic cerebral ischemia: experience of using the combined neuroprotective drug Picamilon Ginkgo.” Zhurnal Nevrologii i Psikhiatrii Imeni SS Korsakova 122.9 (2022): 95-103. ↩