The Smart Drug Revolution: How People Are Discovering the Benefits of These Cognitive Enhancers

01/04/2014 Tags: all, other

Conventional Stimulants

For years, students and success-driven professionals alike have gotten by using traditional stimulants to study longer, increase productivity and meet deadlines. While this might be adequate for some, such productivity aids can be limited in their effectiveness and come with some potentially serious consequences. In excessive dosages even caffeine, the world’s most widely consumed stimulant, can cause a variety of uncomfortable side effects including diarrhoea, heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and dehydration to name but a few. Other individuals have resorted to procuring drugs like Adderall and Ritalin in their search for enhanced brain power. Again these substances are associated with a very real risk of side effects and their ambiguous legal status for non-medical use means these individuals often obtain substandard products from disreputable online pharmacies. Furthermore, the potential for abuse of such substances is huge, and this is illustrated by the recent epidemic of prescription drug abuse among America college students. Pressured to keep up with their peers academically, an alarming number of students are taking these drugs without consulting their doctor, and unfortunately this has led to the deaths of several individuals, as well as the hospitalisation of many more.


The Benefits of Nootropics

There is however an alternative; nootropics. This class of smart drugs can provide many of the same performance boosting effects of traditional stimulants, without the harmful side effects. These supplements are by definition much safer to use, do not cause dependency or addiction, and show extremely low levels of toxicity. Yet despite these benefits and the fact that the first nootropic supplement, Piracetam, was developed as early as 1964, it is only in recent years that their use has become more common with films like Limitless popularising them in the media. Although they may not give you quite the same enhancements as the fictional drug NZT-48 depicted in the film, there are many scientifically rigorous studies that prove their efficacy in enhancing aspects of cognition from memory to attention. On top of that, rather than causing damage to the brain, some nootropics appear to do quite the opposite, exhibiting neuroprotective and anti-ageing properties. It is no wonder then that an increasing number of people are trading in their energy drinks and caffeine tablets for more effective, cleaner, cognitive enhancing supplements.

Nootropics Communities

You will find no shortage of information on the internet about nootropics. The open access movement has allowed anyone with a computer to access a huge resource of scientific journal papers and educate themselves on the use of these supplements. Coupled with the spawning of entire forums and websites dedicated to nootropics, an ever increasing number of people from different professions and backgrounds are benefiting from the competitive and cognitive edge these supplements can offer. These online communities have grown large enough to attract neuroscientists, statisticians and doctors alike, all working to further the discussion about various aspects of nootropics. Such communities have become an invaluable resource for nootropic users, allowing them to share experiences and knowledge with a wide audience. Without such a platform for sharing information, it is unlikely that nootropics would have become as popular or successful as they are today, particularly as the field of medicine is more concerned with restoring individuals to baseline than enhancing them beyond it.


Who Uses Nootropics?

The use of smart drugs appears to be most prominent in academic institutions where the ability to learn and remember information efficiently is often the key to success. Students that are challenged to think creatively may also benefit from the outside of the box thinking these smart drugs can offer. The wide range of benefits associated with these supplements means that smart drugs aren’t just used by students but a whole range of professions. For example, businessmen who travel frequently use these supplements to overcome jetlag, while it also aids those in a managerial position to think with more clarity when making important decisions. Their use however, is not limited to cognitive faculties. Some athletes report that nootropics like phenylpiracetam make an effective pre-workout supplement, helping to decrease recovery time and provide the motivation to carry out challenging exercise routines. It seems that regardless of the profession, nootropics can help practically anyone to excel in whatever they choose to put their mind to.

The benefits that nootropics provide are not only useful to healthy individuals seeking a competitive edge; many of these supplements are also used therapeutically. Nootropics like Picamilon and Phenibut are known to have anxiolytic effects, and may also prove useful in decreasing the symptoms of depression. Others like tryptophan are used to treat steatohepatitis and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, while Huperzine A is used for the muscle weakening condition myasthenia gravis. Some nootropics such as the racetams are even thought to be beneficial in treating neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Piracetam in particular, as one of the first and most well researched supplements, is used for everything from treating blood clots to strokes and craniocerebral trauma.

Of course, the benefits that these supplements can offer have not gone unnoticed by larger institutions. Modafinil for example is being used extensively by government bodies the world over; it has been approved for use in U.S Air Force missions to help pilots maintain concentration, while paramedics in the state of Maryland may use the supplement to perform better after periods of limited rest. Similarly, the French foreign legion is known to use Modafinil for covert missions, and even astronauts aboard the International Space Station take nootropics to help correct disruptions to sleep cycles and reduce the likelihood of making mistakes.



With all the benefits that nootropics can provide us with, both personally and on a societal level, it may be only a matter of time before their use becomes widespread. Scientists are beginning to take notice of these brain boosting supplements, and although the field of medicine has largely ignored them, being primarily cognitive enhancers, there is no doubt that nootropics hold a great amount of potential for the future. While many still have reservations about taking something that can alter brain function, this is no different from taking multivitamins. We are simply providing the brain with what it needs to work at an optimum level.

Though once only the work of science fiction, cognitive enhancement is now very much a reality, but it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll join the many people who are now taking advantage of all the cognitive power their brains are capable of.