If you’re like most people, you probably wouldn’t mind being a little sharper, remembering more things, and thinking more clearly.
In recent years, there’s been a massive rise in supplements marketed for these very reasons.
They’re called ‘nootropics’ and one of the most common is Adrafinil.
As is the case with so many nootropics, though, most people have no idea what Adrafinil is or how it works. They just know that it’s supposed to ‘make you smarter’ and ‘become more productive’.
In fact, if you buy into all the hype and marketing claims, Adrafinil can change your entire life (for the better)!
As it turns out, though, it’s not that simple…
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Adrafinil, including what it is, how it works, and most importantly, why it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.
Adrafinil may not make you smarter, but reading this article definitely will.
What Is Adrafinil?
Adrafinil is a synthetic nootropic compound which is the precursor to Modafinil, a commonly prescribed drug for narcolepsy and chronic fatigue.
Chemically, Adrafinil is quite similar to it’s chemical cousin, Modafinil, but the slight differences are enough to make it considerably less potent.
Adrafinil was used for the very same purposes until Modafinil was invented and approved.
These days, you’ll find Adrafinil sold among nootropic supplements, with the general claims that it can:
- enhance cognitive function
- help you focus
- make you more productive
Some of these claims may be true to some extent, but most of the companies that sell Adrafinil aren’t telling the whole story.
It just doesn’t work anywhere near as well as Modafinil. But more on that later. Let’s talk about how it does work…
How Does Adrafinil Work?
Adrafinil is simply a precursor to Modafinil.
When you take Adrafinil, some of it gets converted into Modafinil which induces a state of alertness and completely obliterates the desire (or perceived need) to sleep.
When Modafinil was first invented, nobody had any idea how it worked. The scientific consensus was that it probably worked by influencing the action of neurotransmitters like Glutamate and Histamine.
Ultimately, the precise mechanism by which Modafinil (and therefore Adrafinil) works isn’t entirely clear, but it appears to be the result of a complex series of interactions between several important neurotransmitters.
Adrafinil is a stimulant, but it doesn’t work like Amphetamine-based stimulants. Instead of causing hyperactivity and making you feel like you have a ton of energy, it simply wards of sleepiness.
So, you’re not over-stimulated, but you’re DEFINITELY not tired.
Users of Adrafinil often prefer this type of stimulation over the more common amphetamine-based stimulants which tend to cause all sorts of negative side effects (jitters, anxiety, paranoia, etc.).
Adrafinil doesn’t do any of that.
Is There Any Actual Research On Adrafinil?
Here’s the thing about Adrafinil…
There have been absolutely no studies in humans, just a bunch of animal studies.
There’s no doubt about it.
What remains a mystery, however, is just how much Adrafinil gets converted into active Modafinil. That’s what really matters in the end.
There are no human studies upon which to draw conclusions about what constitutes a clinical dose of Adrafinil, but anecdotal reports place the average dosage range in between 300 and 900mg.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that taking higher doses (in the 900mg range) increases the likelihood of negative side effects.
Now, let’s talk about some of those side effects…
Are There Any Side Effects With Adrafinil?
Because it is a stimulant, albeit a mild one, Adrafinil does come with some potential side effects:
Basically the same as any other stimulant, but side effects are rare when taking normal doses.
In one study, chronic use of Adrafinil caused orofacial dyskinesia, a condition characterized by involuntary movements of the mouth and face.
The dose used in this case study was 900mg/day for 10 months straight.
So, that would be an EXCELLENT reason NOT to use Adrafinil for any extended period of time.
Or, at the very least, use a much lower dose.
Does Adrafinil Impact Liver Function?
Since Adrafinil must be metabolized into Modafinil in the liver, there is some concern over the impact it has on liver health.
The conversion to Modafinil is said to cause an increase in liver enzyme activity which can potentially be harmful in the long-term.
Although there really aren’t any studies showing a damaging effect of Adrafinil on liver function, it’s something to keep in mind.
Long-term, continuous use of Adrafinil is ill-advised for a few reasons. Elevating liver enzymes is just one of them.
How Does Adrafinil Compare To Modafinil?
As you can probably imagine, Adrafinil is considerably weaker than Modafinil. Since there are zero studies comparing the two drugs, dose for dose, in human subjects, it’s tough to say how much weaker it really is.
You might be thinking that you can just take way more Adrafinil and get the same effects as Modafinil, but that’s actually not the case. Trust me, as I’ll discuss shortly, I know.
The truth is, the notion that Adrafinil is simply a ‘lesser version’ of Modafinil is a bit of an over-simplification.
If that were the case, you actually would be able to just take a bunch of Adrafinil and feel like you just popped a Modafinil, but as anecdotal evidence tells us, it doesn’t work like that.
Clearly there are differences in the way the drugs are metabolized that make Modafinil so much more effective than Adrafinil. It’s just a matter of potency.
My Personal Experience With Adrafinil (And Modafinil)
I first became interested in Modafinil after reading about how it was given to military pilots to keep them awake and functional for more than 24 hours.
Since Modafinil is a prescription medication that you have to either get from your doctor or order from overseas, I decided to experiment with Adrafinil.
I used doses ranging from 300-1200mg. At the lower doses, I didn’t notice much. At the higher doses, the effects were more apparent, but overwhelming by any means.
Wakefulness is how I would describe it. You’re not overly energized or ultra focused like you get with amphetamine-based stimulants such as Adderall. You just lack the need/want/desire for sleep.
To be honest, Adrafinil was disappointing for me. It didn’t help me get more done. It just kept me up.
More recently, however, I tried Modafinil and I now understand fully why one was approved (Modafinil) and the other was just kind of left alone.
Modafinil works WAY better than Adrafinil.
The wakefullness properties of Modafinil are extremely apparent at 100-200mg doses for me and it provides more in the way of motivation and focus than Adrafinil.
I’ve taken as much as 400mg, but I would not recommend that. It’s just over-kill and doesn’t help you be more productive or get much more done.
The simplest way to describe the difference between Adrafinil and Modafinil is this:
They both help ward of sleep and keep you awake, but Modafinil is WAY more powerful.
Is Adrafinil Legal?
Here’s where it gets a little complicated…
Adrafinil is widely sold a dietary supplement. Just run a google search and you’ll find a ton of online retailers selling it along with other nootropic supplements.
Under US law, Adrafinil is not considered a dietary ingredient. It is an unapproved drug, meaning anyone who sells it specifically for the purposes of human consumption is technically violating the law.
The funny thing is even most retailers have no idea.
Most people are aware that Modafinil is a prescription-only drug, but since Adrafinil was never approved in the US, they think it’s okay to sell it.
This has created something of a legal gray area.
As an unscheduled substance, Adrafinil is legal to sell, buy, or possess, but it can’t legally be labeled as a dietary supplement.
If this sounds confusing, that’s because it is!
To put it simply…
As a consumer, you’re free to go buy as much Adrafinil as you want. If you’re a retailer, you may want to be careful.
It is worth mentioning, however, that Adrafinil is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for use in competitive sports. If you’re a high level athlete who is subject to WADA testing standards, you should stay away.
Fortunately, for most people, WADA’s rules don’t matter. It’s not a governing body, or even an organization that does actual research. It’s an independent organization which sets standards for athletes and only has authority within the realm of high level sports.
If you’re not an athlete, who cares what WADA says?
Supplements To Consider Instead
If you’re thinking about using Adrafinil for the purposes of improving your cognitive abilities and ultimately becoming more productive (why else would you consider it?), there are some all-natural supplements that you may want to consider first.
These supplements lack stimulant properties, but have each been clinically proven to enhance aspects of cognitive function in healthy, human subjects.
I’m not suggesting that these supplements will suddenly turn you into an ultra-productive genius, but neither will smart drugs like Adrafinil.
Instead, these safe, natural substances can give you a slight mental edge.
If you’re already a hard-working, motivated individual, that may be all you need to get the end results you want.
If you’re lazy, you’re screwed either way. There are no drugs, supplements, or research chemicals which can reverse laziness in the long-term.
With that said, let’s talk about some natural alternatives to Adrafinil that actually work…
Alpha GPC is a choline-containing phospholipid which is considered the most efficient form of Choline.
Choline is required for the production of Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain which plays a critical role in memory and learning.
Naturally, most of the research on Alpha GPC has investigated how it can potentially help people with cognitive impairments like Dementia.
However, it does appear to favorably impact cognitive performance in healthy subjects as well.
More studies are certainly needed in this area, but out of all the Choline-sources that are alleged to improve cognitive abilities, Alpha GPC is definitely the most scientifically sound.
The clinically effective dose is 600-1200mg/day.
Phosphatidylserine is a major component of cell membranes. It is critical to maintaining the structural integrity of brain cells and, because of this, it has been investigated as cognitive enhancer.
Like Alpha GPC, most of the studies on PS have focused on people with some sort of cognitive deficit, but one study found that it improves cognitive function in normal, healthy people.
Beyond supporting brain-function, Phosphatidylserine also has stress-reducing properties.
It has been shown to reduce Cortisol (stress hormone) levels as well as perceived (mental) stress.
In one study, supplementation with PS improved drive accuracy in golfers quite dramatically which was primarily attributed to reduced stress.
The clinically effective dose is anywhere from 200-800mg/day.
Bacopa Monnieri is one of the few herbal supplements that can rightfully be considered a nootropic.
It has been used for thousands of years throughout ancient systems of medicine for the purposes of cognitive enhancement, but unlike most ancient homeopathic remedies, it actually works.
The clinically effective dose is anywhere from 150-500mg/day, depending on the quality of the extract.
The Bottom Line On Adrafinil
Adrafinil does work for promoting wakefullness and warding off sleep, but it’s nowhere near as effective as Modafinil.
The impact is subtle and may only be noticeable at higher doses.
Unfortunately, due to concerns about how Adrafinil is metabolized by the liver, the consensus is that you probably shouldn’t use it on a continual basis.
The truth is, if you want to enhance your own cognitive abilities, there are better alternatives. Some are other drugs (like Modafinil) and some are natural supplements.
You can give Adrafinil a shot if you want, but if you’re like me, you may be disappointed. If you do decide to give it a shot, though, I’d love to hear about your experience!
Have Anything To Add About Adrafinil? Comment Below…