It’s clear that the future of cognitive enhancement lies beyond the mechanisms of conventional nootropics. As brilliantly complex as the brain is, it’s ability is limited. Increasing transmission efficacy, supplying and optimizing neurological resources; these are only pieces of a greater puzzle. For us to extend our ability beyond what our rate of evolution permits, we must artificially augment the nervous system. Our biological understanding is a long way away from, things such as, genetic modification being ethically viable, however we are familiar with the processes that stimulate the growth of brain tissue. Interestingly enough, an emerging class of compounds is capable of influencing these processes, they’re called regulatory peptides. The ones we are interested in particular are the synthetic peptides designed to selectively mimic many of the characteristics of those found endogenously in the nervous system. In the context of nootropic application, they are capable of not only producing long-term neurogenerative effects but also acute enhancement in the process and consequently have become increasing popular in the cognitive enhancement community in recent years.

What are Peptides?

Much like proteins, peptides are composed of amino acid chains bound by amidogen. The distinguishing factor simply being size, peptides can by definition only contain 50 amino acids, whereas proteins often extend into the macromolecular territory.

nootropic peptide synthesis

Peptides play an integral role in nearly every biological process and are present in all cellular life. As previously mentioned, nootropic peptides are generally analogous to the peptides naturally produced in nervous tissue and function by mimicking their behavior. This generally entails the inhibition or promotion of various cellular processes.

Popular Nootropic Peptides

nootropic neurotrophic peptide semax

Semax is a heptapeptide and synthetic analogue of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), a compound secreted by the anterior pituitary gland that plays a critical role in hypothalamic function. It is often prescribed in Russia and Ukraine for treating neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunction. Additionally, it is also used for the treatment of stroke, transient ischemic attack, peptic ulcers, optic nerve disease and countless cognitive disorders.

While semax’s nootropic neuroprotective and neurotrophic properties have all been studied quite extensively, Semax’s action mechanism isn’t fully understood. With that said, it is generally accepted that it functions primarily through the antagonization of melanocortin receptors throughout a variety of sites in the brain. Semax also inhibits the efficacy of enzymes related to the degradation of enkephalins and other endogenous regulatory proteins, this is likely responsible for its impressive neuroprotective properties.

Additionally, semax offers a multitude of acute benefits. Note that the following are anecdotal and were gathered from a large sample of user reviews; not all of these are backed by conclusive research:

  • Improved Mood
  • Extreme Cognitive Clarity
  • Moderate Anxiolysis
  • Increased Motivation
  • Improved Verbal Fluency
  • Minor Stimulation
  • Improved Physical Stamina

Unfortunately, due to the complex structure of semax and other medical peptides, they cannot be consumed orally or sublingually and must be taken intranasally or subdermally (specifically intracutaneously, intramuscularly or intravenously). It is recommended that you take semax using a nasal spray unless you are a medical professional or otherwise have an appropriate understanding of safe injection procedures. Naturally, this applies to all of the following peptides.

nootropic neurotrophic peptide selank

Selank is a neurotrophic analog of the endogenously produced peptide Tuftsin and was developed by the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Not only does Selank produce a variety of cognitive enhancing effects, but has also been proven to be an effective anti-depressant and anxiolytic in animal models, though it has yet to be recognized for this purpose in the medical field and rather is to be prescribed for much the same illnesses as Semax. While there are tentative plans for its use, Selank is still in its final stage of clinical trials.

Selanks’s mechanism of action is relatively well understood as it is a derivative of tuftsin. It has been shown to modulate the expression of Interleukin-6 and influence the balance of T-helper-cell cytokines. Consequently, selank actually functions as an immunomodulator. It has also been shown to induce the metabolism of serotonin, influence the concentration of monoamine transmitters and rapidly elevate the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus.

Much like semax, selank offers a variety of acute benefits. Though again, note that the following are anecdotal and were gathered from a large sample of user reviews; not all of these are backed by conclusive research:

  • Strong Anxiolysis
  • Sustained Mood Improvement
  • Increased Short/Long Term Memory
  • Improved Problem Solving Abilities
  • Moderate Calming Effect
  • Improved Sensory Perception*

The effects, of Selank in particular, are quite variable. Many report that it produces incredible mental clarity and anxiolysis, whereas others state that it causes brain fog and agitation.

nootropic neurotrophic peptide cerebrolysin

Cerebrolysin actually consists of a variety of neuropeptides that are extracted and purified from the brain tissue of pigs. It has been found to effectively increase nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). Cerebrolysin is prescribed in Australia and Europe for the treatment of neurological deficiencies caused by stroke and other extreme cardiovascular events, however, it can also be purchased as a nootropic agent.

The most prominent deterrent of using cerebrolysin for the purpose of cognitive enhancement is that it requires intravenous administration, which can be quite dangerous without a proper understanding of the procedure. Technically, it can in fact be administered intranasally like the previously mentioned peptides, however, many of cerebrolysin’s constituents have a very poor bioavailability using this route.

Cerebrolysin offers a variety of acute benefits. Note that the following are anecdotal and were gathered from a large sample of user reviews; not all of these are backed by conclusive research:

  • Greatly Improved Memory (Formation, Recollection and Retention)
  • Problem-Solving Abilities
  • Improved Verbal Fluency

Users report that cerebrolysin can cause fatigue, it is recommended to stack it with something that can counteract this.

nootropic neurotrophic peptide p21 p021 021

P21 (P021 or Peptide 021) is a polypeptide and derivative of cerebrolysin that was developed by Ceretropic. It’s likely the most pronounced constituent of cerebrolysin and, as such, has been speculated to also hold potential for application in cases of Alzheimer’s and stroke-induced nervous degradation. Currently, little research exists on P21, though the research that does exist suggests that this compound is perhaps among the most promising prospects in the search for a cure to neurodegeneration.

Its primary action mechanisms, while complex, are reasonably well understood. P021 functions by inducing dentate gyrus neurogenesis and inhibiting leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression. It vigorously inhibits tau abnormal hyperphosphorylation through the BDNF mediated decrease in glycogen synthase kinase-3β activity. On paper, the neurotrophic profile of P21 seems rather limited compared to that of cerebrolysin, however anecdotally, the benefits (both acute and chronic) appear to be notably superior.

Anecdotally, the most commonly experienced effects of P21 include:

  • Extreme Cognitive Clarity
  • Improved Memory (Formation/Recollection)
  • Improved Mood
  • Increased Motivation
  • Improved Verbal Fluency
  • Improved Motor Skills
  • Pronounced Sensory Enhancement

Currently, P21 is only available through Ceretropic. We are in no way affiliated with them, however, we can testify to the quality of their products as being superb. They have the highest quality control standards of any online nootropic vendor, period. With that said, very little research has been conducted on isolated P21, while the purity of the product can be assured, the risk associated with which cannot be, or at least until further research rolls out.

noopept nootropic neurotrophic peptide

The most popular nootropic peptide by far is noopept. Noopept is an ampakine that is very similar in both structure and function to the racetams, however, due to nucleic differences, it isn’t generally classified as such. As you might expect, it functions primarily through the modulation of the acetylcholine system and AMPA receptors. The neurogenerative effects of noopept really aren’t anything special, however it is a peptide and it’s popularity warrants its mention. Noopept has been observed to exhibit both neurogenerative and neuroprotective effects in animal models. More specifically, it has been found to promote nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus.

The effects of noopept are nearly all acute and few only emerge with cumulative use. The most common effects include:

  • Improved Memory Recall
  • Improved Focus
  • Enhanced Tactile/Visual Acuity
  • Improved Problem Solving Ability

Noopept has been gauged in studies to be approximately 1000 times stronger than piracetam. It is also by far the most cost effective nootropic one can buy, however this often allows people to overlook the adverse effects. Noopept is generally regarded as unhealthy for extended use and can result in serious withdrawal symptoms if taken incorrectly. The most frequently reported side effects include brain fog, anxiety, depressive thoughts, emotional supression and migraines.

Unlike the previously mentioned peptides, noopept can be taken sublingually and orally.


Peptides are by far the most promising category of nootropics in the search for “permanent cognitive enhancers”. However do be wary of the risks when using peptides, while there isn’t evidence for us to suspect that they could be harmful, long-term studies do not exist for any of the previously mentioned compounds and there is little-assured safety.