Exposing the Truth About Fictional Smart Drugs
Whether you are a student who wants to be a high achiever or an entrepreneur who feels the stress of a 72-hour work week, the desire to find a shortcut to succeed is a powerful motivator. Eddie Morra promoted the idea in the 2011 movie "Limitless" that one NZT-48 pill a day made him a superhuman. Is there a real-life limitless pill that lets you read books in days, learn a new talent or become a millionaire? While the movie brought attention to smart drugs, cognitive enhancers have been on the market for years. Do they work or is it just well-written fiction?
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What Is a Smart Drug?
Smart drugs, otherwise called nootropics, are prescription or synthetic compounds that are marketed as brain function enhancers that promote processes like memory, clarity, mood, energy and focus. Nootropics are not limitless pills nor are there any such enhancers on the market. Nootropics are becoming more popular among academia and business entrepreneurs as a brain-functioning booster.
What Are Most Common Types of Nootropics?
Here are the most commonly used nootropics on the market:
- Modafinil (marketed as Provigil) is a synthetic stimulus of the nervous system that allows users to promote wakefulness while enhancing cognitive brain function like clarity, focus and memory. Generic formulas include Armodafinil (marketed as Nuvigil) and Adrafinil.
- Methylphenidate (marketed as Ritalin) is a prescription-grade drug that is used to enhance dopamine levels in the brain, which affects memory, attention and thinking.
- Amphetamines are stimulants that alter the brain and central nervous system, which control impulse and hyperactivity. Nootropic users prefer Adderall for clarity and focus.
- Coleus Forskohlii is a natural herbal extract supplement derived from the mint family, which is used for performance, concentration and memory. Products include CILTEP.
- L-theanine is an amino acid that aids in alertness, anxiety, calmness, focus, mental endurance and stress relief. It is commonly found in either black or green tea leaves.
- Bacopa is a plant-based supplement used to enhance focus, memory, mood and anxiety. Bacopa triggers brain chemicals that also enhance learning and thinking skills.
- Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Benefits include alertness, energy, increased brain function and irritability reduction.
- Creatine is an amino acid that works to enhance brain and cell activity. It also produces energy that promotes memory, thinking skills and stress reduction.
- Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal supplement that affects enhanced mood, energy and anxiety. It also reduces stress and fatigue which is beneficial to reduce exhaustion.
- Panex Ginseng is a natural plant-based supplement that has been used for centuries to reduce brain fog while also increasing mental thinking skills and performance.
Do Nootropics Work?
As more people learn more about smart drugs, the question many of them ask is if they work? Do they improve intelligence levels, performance and brain function? While clinical trials have shown some increase in brain enhancement, they are in no way limitless pills. That said, there are some specific benefits that people interested in nootropics should learn more about.
Cognitive psychology encompasses the studies of brain function and mental processes like attention span, memory, language adaption, problem-solving and perception. For a supplement to be a smart drug, it needs to stimulate cognitive functions. Smart drugs, however, do not make you more intelligent. They merely enhance your thought process and cognitive abilities by stimulating known psychologically-based brain functions.
The brain is a complex concept which is why there is confusion as to how synthetic, pharmaceutical and natural stimulants work in conjunction with normal processes. Any company that markets their products as anything other than a cognitive enhancer must be bypassed since they are not setting your expectations to the benefits of their uses.
The executive functions of the prefrontal cortex are of much interest to makers of nootropics as this part of the brain determines and manages cognitive processes and personality traits. This part of the brain is significant as supplement enhancers work in unison with the normal brain cell functioning to manage processes like memory, thought process and reasoning, which can adapt to the supplements being consumed.
Improving Overall Function
Depending on the influence of chemical compounds, circuits often theoretically burn out, which is why people feel stressed or irritable while doing routine tasks. It is why natural supplements like caffeine act as an enhancer for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which restores normalcy to the brain circuits quickly. It is the very reason why people tend to start their mornings off with a cup of coffee to optimize brain activity.
Daily stressors like work, learning or anxiety affect the chemical state of your brain. They reduce your ability to function at the optimal level. Instead of thinking of nootropics as smart drugs, you must think of them as brain activity optimizers. You are not taking the supplements to become smarter but rather to restore your brain to its optimum state. Many of the supplements are not even considered drugs as they are natural enhancers.
While you will never be able to buy a limitless pill that makes you an overnight genius, you will have the ability to develop an advantage over your peers because of the ability to focus, remember critical facts or rely on problem-solving capabilities. The key is to find the ones that promote the best effects on your mental function without doing harm.
Are There Any Harmful Effects?
Some pharmacy-grade drugs like Adderall or Ritalin do have serious and harmful side effects like nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, psychosis, anxiety and migraines. It is important to keep in mind that these medications are used to treat medical conditions like ADHD or narcolepsy. Because they stimulate the nervous system, these types of medications should only be used after seeking medical advice.
There is a great debate over the use of nootropics. Some experts agree that cognitive enhancers promote benefits while others denounce their uses altogether. There are also new cognitive enhancements in clinical trial phases which is why users of smart drug enhancers should be wary of such marketing that guarantees limitless results.