Smart drugs, or nootropics, can be fantastic aids for brain enhancement, and they are becoming very popular. Drugs like modafinil have taken Silicon Valley by storm. Walk on any college campus these days and you’re likely to find students amped up on Adderall to study for tests.
First, let me say this: I am NOT an expert on nootropics, but I’ve used cognitive enhancers extensively and I have a lot of personal insight on their use. I am also wary of the ways in which some of these substances have been used – particularly those on the pharmaceutical end of the spectrum. Adderall, though effective at inducing wakefulness, is a highly addictive amphetamine, and this can take a toll on your entire body and your mind.
My goal here is to give you some real life insight on using these substances to help you make better decisions about what you are putting in your body.
So let’s get you acquainted with the world of nootropics, the positives and negatives of smart drugs, and responsible protocols for each.
The first time I took Modafinil, I felt like I was superman . . . for a few hours. Not shitting you, my girlfriend’s phone was on vibrate in the bedroom on the other side of my house, and I heard it going off. I also built an entire website that day, wrote 5 client plans, and completed 2 blogs.
Modafinil enhances dopamine release, but it does not bind to your receptors in the way that cocaine or amphetamines do. So it is not addictive and far safer. It is normally prescribed for those with shift sleep disorder (those who work overnight).
Legally, you do need a prescription for it in the United States, but you can order generic modafinil fairly inexpensively from India. I do not promote breaking the law, so you should seek a prescription from your doctor before doing so.
You can, however, buy Adrafinil legally without a prescription, and your liver will convert this to modafinil in about an hour, but this could definitely put your liver health in jeopardy so I strongly suggest that you do not try this often.
If you have bad reactions to NSAIDS or an auto-immune condition, you should not take modafinil because it could cause a life threatening immune reaction. I’ve stopped taking Modafinil because I have Ulcerative Colitis and I noticed that it would put me on the edge of a flare.
Here’s the other thing: you get very focused on Modafinil, but you can find yourself focusing on the wrong things: video games, your phone, Game of Thrones episode summaries… This was one of the problems for me – hours would go by and I’d find myself on random web sites.
Modafinil can also give you a serious headache if you are not properly hydrated. I learned this the hard way, and you do not know hell until you’ve had one of these headaches.
I would also avoid taking Modafinil or any other pharmaceutical if I were under age 25. This is about how long it takes your brain to develop fully and irregular releases of brain chemicals could definitely have an impact on development.
Finally, as always, be safe and speak to your doctor. He or she knows better. I’m just some blogger ok? You don’t know me and you shouldn’t listen to random dudes from the internet without researching what they say!
Ok, let’s move on.
As I said, I’m not a big fan of Adderall. I’ve taken it a few times and it does make you feel pretty good. But I’ve also seen it from the other side when I was a Teachers’ Assistant at UC Santa Barbara administering tests. Most of my students looked like they were tweaking the F out. Sweating, grinding their teeth, and fidgeting through their exams. It really wasn’t a good look.
Anyways, the other reason I hate Adderall is because it is an amphetamine, which allows it to bind to your dopamine receptors, causing a very high chance of addiction.
Adderall and other amphetamines can also cause rhabdomyolysis. This is where your muscle tissues start to break down and flood your kidneys with toxins. This normally happens during intense exercise, so do not use this as a pre workout.
Amphetamines in general are also known to cause inflammation of the liver aka hepatitis.
Not the best choice here. Stop taking it kids. There’s better things out there.
I really like L-Theanine. It’s an amino acid that helps you destress, relax, and improves the quality of your sleep. It also helps to alleviate some of the stimulant effect of other substances like caffeine.
Despite this, when 200mg of L-Theanine is combined with 100 mg of caffeine, some amazing things happen. The crazy, shaking effect that caffeine gives goes away, and you end up with an amazing extended caffeine high without a prescription or life threatening consequences.
Where can you find L-Theanine? It’s found in trace amounts in tea leaves, with Green Tea bearing the highest concentration. You can also find it as a supplement at most health food stores.
Racetams have been highly researched and are generally safe. The original Racetam, Piracetam, is the most highly studied. Nevertheless, Piracetam is not the strongest nootropic. I’ve taken it, and I didn’t get a whole lot out of it.
It’s analogs Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Pramiracetam are far more effective but far less researched. Early reviews show that each has amazing benefits with Pramiracetam being the strongest.
The Racetams are legal in the United States and you do not require a prescription to get them, but if you live in Australia or the UK a prescription is required.
If you decide to take a Racetam, you should also supplement with Choline. Choline uptake increases with Racetam use and the two are known to work synergistically together, increasing their effectiveness.
Psychedelics (LSD, Psilocybin, and Mescaline)
Ok, now we are venturing into some murky waters. I will keep my comments about my own use to myself…
People have been taking psychedelics for a long time, and we are well aware of their effects on the brain. But did you know that there are thousands of well paid people taking them while they are at work?
Recently, people have begun taking psychedelics at very low doses below the inebriation threshold. At these doses, these substances are actually known to increase cognitive sharpness, memory, and wakefulness.
The key here is to maximize the cognitive benefits without getting the onset of impairing effects while you’re in the middle of an important project or meeting (yeah, not good).
It’s also illegal, so try this at your own risk. If for some reason you want to know about size of doses for purely informational purposes, you can find them here.
Just remember what I said about dudes on the internet.
Alpha-GPC or Alpha-glycerophosphocholine is one of the most popular brain enhancing supplements on the market. There are a couple of known benefits to taking Alpha GPC.
The first, for the purposes of this article are it’s brain enhancing effects. Alpha GPC has been demonstrated to have significant benefits for enhancing cognition. 1
Alpha GPC is also known for it’s effect on increasing growth hormone production, which is why Dynatropin contains it. The problem with many of the substances known to increase growth hormone release is that they get deteriorated by stomach acid.
One of the benefits of taking Dynatropin for this purpose is that all of it’s ingredients are protected by liposomal technology for maximum absorption.
This is my favorite nootropic at the moment. I stuck this stuff in here because I absolutely love it. This tasty goo contains Guarana, Maca, Methylcobalamin, Hesperidin, Rhodiola Rosea, and Green Tea Extract all in one solution.
Guarana contains caffeine for alertness while the Green Tea Extract offers l-theanine to help reduce and jittery effects. You get lasting energy from the Methylcobalamin, which is a form of vitamin B12. Hesperidin helps with reducing stress and is a neuroprotectant. Finally, Rhodiola and Maca are adaptogens that help the body to adapt to stress.
This stuff helps me to stay focused for hours, and I tend to use later in the day toward the afternoon when I don’t want to drink a cup of coffee. I also take it before every podcast and before any important meeting.
Proceeds from Clear Mind & Energy go to help the Warrior Angels Foundation, which helps to connect veterans with effective treatments for traumatic brain injury outside of the VA system.
Caffeine and Energy Drinks
These are probably the most used and most common “brain enhancements” that people use. Who hasn’t downed one of these before doing something important?
As a Marine Corps veteran, I have lots of experience with energy drinks. They’ve always made me feel like a Rhesus Monkey on crack, and after a couple of hours, I’m more tired than I was before. Plus, a lot of these drinks have tons of sugar or artificial sweetener. Hardly performance enhancers.
There are many other nootropics not covered in this article. Hell, there’s thousands of websites out there dedicated to finding new nootropics out there. As I said, I am in no way an expert. I can just give you insight into my own experience with each. Do your research, stay safe, talk to your doctor, and avoid breaking the law