The 4 Best Modafinil Alternatives in 2019
In this article, we will cover some of the alternative drugs that can be taken in place of Modafinil, known by the common brand name of Provigil.
Note: the article gets pretty technical, and explains the reasons why you should take each Modafinil alternative, and how they work. To sum things up, here are the top 3 alternatives to Modafinil (and Armodafinil):
- Adrafinil (duh). Cheaper. Legal. And converts to Modafinil in your liver. This one is a no brainer.
- Fluorenol. Another wakefulness promoting agent, it targets similar receptors in the brain (histamine). The effects are shorter, so it’s less likely to disturb your sleep.
- Pitosolant. Another wakefulness drug, also targeting the histamine receptors. New research is very promising; it has the benefits of Modafinil, without the side effects.
- Qualia (honorable mention). Qualia is my favorite nootropic stack, and I take it about 2-3 times per week. With a long list of natural ingredients, it’s better than Modafinil for overall brain health.
A suitable alternative to Modafinil maintains eugeroic characteristics while keeping side effects the same or milder, as well as avoiding legal and logistical complication.
What is Modafinil (and Why Do People Take It?)
We love Modafinil here at Corpina. The research surrounding it, the nootropic effects, and the sheer interest from the public.
To quickly recap on what Modafinil does, it’s primarily an effective eugeroic, or wakefulness-enhancing drug.
This is highly useful when extra alertness is needed during the day, especially when you’re sleep-deprived.
In addition, Modafinil is known for giving its users extra motivation and focus for their tasks at hand.
Clearly, these effects are highly sought after by swarms of people, especially those who need to think and perform efficiently on a daily basis.
Just last month we did a review of a well known distributor of generic Modafinil, Duckdose, so hesitant buyers can feel more confident about trying it.
Few people could argue about the attractiveness of Modafinil, with its great strength and reliability, to the ambitious folks of the world.
BUT, it’s not perfect!
It’s hard to accept it but Modafinil has a few noticeable drawbacks.
Not all people will care about them, but we must take these cons into consideration for our quest in exploring nootropics.
While it is certainly not the time to drop Modafinil as a nootropic for most of us, as it is still an incredibly effective drug, we want to shed some light on similar substances out there that act in a similar fashion.
Not only can we enable some users to avoid potential downsides, but we can experiment with substances that can effectively be an alternative to Modafinil for cognitive enhancement.
What are the downsides to using Modafinil?
First and foremost, there are the infamous legal restrictions on Modafinil, as well as its more potent brother substance, arModafinil.
Modafinil is generally not allowed to be purchased without a prescription in most countries and international trade has been greatly inhibited.
One example of trade restriction was back in 2015 when Sun Pharma, as well as other companies in India were barred from shipping generic products into the United States, including their well-known Modafinil products.
To summarize – it can be difficult to access a supply of Modafinil.
There are services such as Duckdose and AfinilExpress, both of which ship in products from India to their countries, but some customs laws are harder to bypass than others, especially in many European and middle-eastern countries.
2. Long duration of effects
While the long lasting power of Modafinil’s effects is considered beneficial to many, it can also be a serious drawback.
From what we’ve researched, both regular Modafinil and arModafinil have half-lives that are between 12 and 15 hours.
This means that a user may have to take a tablet of either substance in and early time of day in order to easily fall asleep in the evening.
Individuals that are sensitive to stimulation may especially suffer from insomnia, even beyond a typical day length after ingesting Modafinil.
To most people, this is nitpicking, to be honest. Long half-life is not often complained about with Modafinil. But it does offer room for improvement and opportunity to try alternative eugeroic substances.
Some people simply don’t respond to Modafinil. Even with a full dose, a person’s body chemistry might lead to a scenario where Modafinil is metabolised too quickly.
This doesn’t induce a response in the nervous system, or produces tolerance too quickly. If this is the case, (again, a rare one), then other drugs need to be considered to achieve effects.
Modafinil tolerence could be linked to its mechanism of action involving the dopamine pathways of the brain, where downregulation of receptors should be avoided on a chronic basis.
What do we look for in alternatives?
Now that we’ve seen some of the drawbacks with Modafinil use, we can begin to explore the properties in alternative drugs that we want to see.
The most obvious traits we want to see are less hoops with legality and availability, with the optional traits of shorter half life for sensitive sleepers and different mechanisms of action for non responders.
NOT suitable: Ritalin, Adderall
Before talking about what IS suitable as a Modafinil alternative, we need to clarify what ISN’T.
AVOID: ADHD Medication
Common medications prescribed generally for ADHD, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (Amphetamine salts) do provide extra wakefulness and focus to most people.
However, they also cause side effects such as heart palpitations, nervousness, and lack of appetite.
In addition, they are even more regulated by governments than Modafinil, being generally in higher schedules in drug control laws.
Don’t forget, we’re seeking LESS regulation and LESS side effects.
If you’re already taking Adderall, Modafinil is a great substitute. But here we’re trying to move farther away from ADHD meds, not towards them.
Adrafinil is what we call a metabolic precursor (or prodrug) to Modafinil, and is chemically very similar to it.
According to an article from BrainProTips, Adrafinil is taken orally, then it is neutralized by stomach acid, and given an extra hydrogen atom to its amide group in the liver, effectively converting it to Modafinil within the body.
Thus, it can treated as a sort of bio-hack to a bio-hack.
Unlike its downstream sibling, Adrafinil is readily available online from supplement sellers.
There are much less legal restrictions associated with Adrafinil because it is technically a different drug and not commonly prescribed by doctors.
Most countries, including the United States and United Kingdom, legally permit anyone to possess and use Adrafinil.
Adrafinil has similar effects as Modafinil, but it has the drawback of of a longer onset. Its effects originate from the Modafinil that is produced as the liver metabolizes it.
This means, it can take a much longer time to kick in and much higher doses are required to reach desired effects. Sources to buy this substance include Star Nootropics (formally known as New Star Nootropics), AbsorbYourHealth, and Ceretropic.
Ceretropic may be unique in that they offer two forms of Adrafinil – light and dark, that they claim work better for different people.
For instance, one person might metabolize and use dark Adrafinil better than light Adrafinil.
One of the ways Modafinil is thought to work is by increasing levels of histamine in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that among other things, influences the sleep-wake cycle.
This mechanism of action can notably be extended to other known substances.