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Modafinil Headaches Guide

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

One of the most commonly reported side effects of modafinil is a headache, but a famous saying implies that "there are no side effects, only effects".

Maybe modafinil headaches are an integral phenomenon when it comes to modafinil usage?

You tried a lot of tricks and tactics and the headaches still persist?

We can help you, today we'll explore modafinil's pharmacology, why it's giving you unwanted headaches and the whole spectrum of tools to mitigate or completely eliminate the unwanted pain, and keep safety high.

Brain made out of pills

Table of Contents

Pharmacology | Headaches | Water | Minerals |

SNS | Dosage | Verdict


Modafinil's pharmacology

If you've already bought modafinil you know that it's a notorious smartdrug in the toolkits of plenty of biohackers.

But we must uncover its mechanism of action (MOA) so we could understand better what might be causing the headaches - if the cons outweigh the pros, than modafinil is useless.

There are still some pieces of info that scientists haven't figured about modafinil, but most of the picture is already clear when it comes to the MOA.

Modafinil alters the central nervous system in various neural pathways:

  • It omits the dopamine reuptake protein like classical stimulants, officially the name of an agent that exerts such an effect is a "dopamine reuptake inhibitor" (DPI), and it makes the neurotransmitter dopamine be more available in the synaptic cleft, a platform of communication between neurons.

* An important caveat to note here is that modafinil's abuse potential is low since it

affects the brain very subtly (So subtly that neuroimaging of brains on modafinil can hardly see any difference in activity compared to brain not on modafinil), that's why the FDA tags it as a schedule IV drug.

It is even hypothesized that modafinil does not modulate the brain's three dopamine pathways and may be interacting with an esoteric dopamine pathway that regulates wakefulness. [1]

  • Modafinil activates glutamatergic pathways thus making neurons more likely to fire whilst disabling GABA, the inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system.

  • Modafinil increased the signaling of two catecholamines neuro circuits - DA (dopamine) and NE which is Norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline), a molecule that has a rule in motivation, attention, fight or flight and more.

Modafinil might make you fearless

A less known effect of modafinil is it's blunting of fearful stimuli.

This study compares brains on modafinil with a placebo group and the conclusions were that there is less of amygdala reactivity when modafinil is taken [2]

The amygdala is a small brain region that mainly processes emotions, and it is less active when exposed to stimuli that usually should make it fire its neurons.


Our recommended vendor offers free samples straight to you, so before you make a purchase you can get acquainted with modafinil to learn if it fits you:


Modafinil and headaches

As you can see modafinil has an intricate mechanism of action, and that's only the pharmacological tip of the iceberg.

On top of that, headaches themselves are somewhat obscure, since scientists do not understand them fully.

Those are 3 common headaches [2]:

"Tension headaches: ...are the most common type of headache among adults and teens. They cause mild to moderate pain and come and go over time. They usually have no other symptoms."
"Migraine headaches: ...are often described as pounding, throbbing pain. They can last from 4 hours to 3 days and usually happen one to four times a month"
"These headaches: ...are the most severe. You could have intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye. It can be throbbing or constant. They’re called cluster headaches because they tend to happen in groups."

There is no one universal cause for an headache, and a lot of components can be the root of the problem.

Water and Modafinil

A reoccurring motif whilst on modafinil is forgetting to drink, or doing it deliberately to omit potty breaks and so making yourself dehydrated - that's a big no no!

Adequate amounts of water are essential for health even outside of modafinil dosing days, the recommended daily water intake for men is 3.7 litters and for women is 2.7 litters.

The majority of the human body is made up of water, and there's a prominent correlation between adequate water intake and brain function - brain cells require 2 times more water than other cells [3].

Like we've mentioned above, when using modafinil one may forget to drink due to the extreme focus and flow - you can use certain productivity apps that'll help you with reminders, also put water near and within your eyesight to remind you to drink frequently.

Another reason modafinil might cause dehydration are the liver and kidneys:

Whenever your body ingests an exogenous molecule, the kidneys push more water outside the body in order to eliminate the drug.

Water with ice

The liver converts modafinil into its inactive metabolites and the kidneys filter the metabolites through the urine, the solution is to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water, more than you drink on non-dosing days, thus your water levels will stay stable and the brain will receive the water it needs.


Modafinil and minerals

Did you know that modafinil depletes the body's minerals?

It does that in two ways, one's indirect, and the other direct:

  • Loss of appetite (indirect) - similarly to stimulants, modafinil may suppress your appetite therefore cause a lack of nutritious food to lubricate your awesome brain gears.

  • Modafinil depletes minerals and amino acids (direct) - as you know moda is a powerful eugeroic drug (wakefulness promoting) some even refer to it as a stimulant.

Every neurotransmitter in the body requires a certain amount of "cofactors" that'll create it, for example, a cofactor for dopamine production is vitamin b6 that helps convert "dopa" into "dopamine".

And the amino acid l-tyrosine that converts into dopa with the help of insulin [4].

You understand the complexity of the complementary molecular relationships in the central nervous system?

If modafinil boosts the production of certain chemicals, it requires the brain to use co-factors and precursors to these chemicals, if these essential nutrients are used too much eventually it means modafinil elicits various deficiencies and that's bad, since other bodily functions may suffer.

Deficiencies may be the cause of your headaches, we recommend you to:

  • Eat extra healthy (vegetables, small fish like sardines, and super-foods like chia seeds and goji berry).

  • Eat regularly, do not skip meals

  • Drink electrolytes filled drinks

  • And if the backlash still persists consider supplementing with a multi-vitamin.


Over-Activating the SNS

Roughly speaking there are two main nervous systems in the body:

  1. The central nervous system (CNS) [4] contains the brain and the spinal cord.

  2. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) [5], basically, it's all the rest of the body,

But there is a pedigree here and subcategories of the PNS - the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS).

When taking modafinil, the body activates the SNS, a nervous system that modulates your fight or flight system, it's an emergency system that responds to stress and makes your body more likely to survive, via mechanisms such as:

  1. Pausing digestive processes

  2. Moving more blood to the muscles

  3. Dilating pupils

  4. Increasing heart rate

Obviously, your body should not be in an excessive state of emergency, it takes a big toll on the body.

There are a few things you can do in order to mitigate modafinil's effect on the SNS and help the PSNS to slow the body down.

  • Doing a meditation or some form of breath exercise.

Personally, when I get an headache even without taking modafinil, I just focus on my breath and the headache disappears,

Meditation is known to be a very effective activity for your brain and mental health, it is even empirically proven that it makes your brain younger [6].

We reckon that meditation can even me a complete substitute to modafinil.

You can try the box breathing method to help calm your nervous system [7]

  • Another thing you can do is take a walk, preferably in nature, which decreases anxiety and negative emotions, and elevates cognition and mental functions.

If you have some time to spend or want to eliminate an headache, we recommend taking a walk, preferably where there are a lot of trees and less pollution for you to get fresh air, and add a breathing exercise or stop and do meditation - that should help your body to regulate itself and reduce the state of emergency caused by modafinil.

Walking is also imperative for brain health since sitting for prolonged hours may be damaging for cognition [8].


Reduce dosage

One of the main reasons people experience negative effects on nootropics and smartdrugs or any other biohacking tool is high dose and over-using, we've talked about it in detail in this article.

When taking modafinil the key to great cognitive enhancement without many side effects that people usually forget about is frequency, modafinil is a pharmaceutical drug officially used for medical conditions - the recommended dose manufacturers are advising is for patients with sleep conditions, not for healthy humans.

Thereby you should forgo the classic dosing protocols because they may be deleterious for you by causing headaches and tolerability issues, and embrace the safe protocols for using modafinil, in the article mentioned above.


Modafinil alternative

However, for some people modafinil may not be suitable, even with precautions, for those we strongly recommend taking a look at the strongest natural nootropic stack on the market - mind lab pro:

This stack contains nootropic substances that promote short term cognitive enhancement via elevating crucial neurotransmitters but also, unlike modafinil, upgrade your brain over time.

The well studied formula is miscellaneous and contains potent and effective extracts, the most prominent composites are:

  • Lions man - known as the "smart mushroom", lions mane reduces neuroinflammation, lowers anxiety, used for centuries and elevates the levels of NGF (neuro growth factor), a neuro peptide that builds new neurons and elevates neuroplasticity.

  • Bacopa monnieri - used for centuries in the ancient Ayurveda, the bacosides in bacopa monnieri are promoting levels of GABA, serotonin, acetylcholine and strong antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx).

They offer a 10% Discount at your first order


The Verdict

We covered various tactics that should help you with a seamless experience and stop modafinil headaches.

We hope you changed your conception about water intake, food and minerals, taking action to reduce the SNS activity and tweak your methodology of modafinil supplementing.

We strongly believe that the science behind reducing modafinil headaches would help you, and this cohesive plan of activities and tactics will complement each other.


Important note: this article may contain affiliate links, with that being said, our articles are always made with good faith and intentions.

Please contact us if you find any outdated information in one of our guides or articles; we put a lot of time and effort into researching, so the info is always scientific literature based from platforms such as NCBI.

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