Smart pills, smart drugs, and brain supplements are but a number of colloquial terms and nicknames that nootropics have gotten since their entry into mainstream marketing channels. This was all the more boosted by popular media in the likes of the movie, Limitless, as well as highly-sensationalized news articles that highlight celebrities (tech billionaires, in particular) who allegedly use them.
But what exactly are nootropics? Are they really worthy of such a seemingly lofty classification?
In this article, we will outline the rise of these smart pills, how they work, and what potential dangers and side effects they might bring about, especially if they are used on a regular basis. After all, in the cutthroat environments of today’s workplaces, who wouldn’t want to miss out on a drug that is claimed to enhance one’s intelligence?
How the Nootropic Phenomenon Began
The term nootropic was conceived only in the 1970s but drugs that center on cognitive enhancement have long been in existence. The first smart pill that was subjected to extensive study was piracetam, which is categorized under a specific type of nootropics called racetams. As it underwent extensive development (variations of it were even conceived, such as oxiracetam and aniracetam), it soon started to be sold in pharmacies worldwide.
Piracetam became particularly popular among university students during the first-half of the 2000s. Since then, with the aid of social media, news articles, and blogs, its rising popularity gained momentum, which doesn’t seem to be showing signs of decreasing any time soon.
How a Smart Pills Functions (and the Popular Misconception about Its Effects)
What you have to know from the outset is that nootropics are supplements. With this knowledge, it’s only apt that your expectations of it shouldn’t at all depart from that fact. Yes, they are essentially able to “improve one’s intelligence”, but in a manner that is not akin to science fiction scenarios that envision instant cognitive enhancement and supermen possessing god-like mental prowess. Below, are the five confirmed, noteworthy benefits of nootropics.
- Enhanced mood and protection from stress.
- Improved memory.
- Improved mental clarity that leads to better focus and concentration.
- Better ability of the nervous system to adapt to aging and other changes.
- Maintenance of brain health.
- Ingredients Found in Most Smart Pills
There are ingredients that serve as common denominators in most nootropics available in the market at present. Gingko biloba is one good example, which has been in wide use since ancient times for its potent way of enhancing brain function. In fact, the other ingredients’ (e.g. Huperzine-A, Bacopa Monnieri, Tryptophan, Choline, and L-Theanine, to name a few) effects are centered on the said benefit as well as the prevention of most ailments that affect the brain.
Other Myths Surrounding Smart Pills that You Should be Aware Of
1. It doesn’t seem to work minutes or hours after popping a pill. – Just because you don’t immediately feel the usual effects associated with smart pills after an intake doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ineffective. Know that the pill’s efficacy (the time it takes to feel the effects and is highly dependent on not only your genes, but your overall body chemistry as well. It works, that much is for certain. What you need to know is the exact time that it starts to kick in.
2. Nootropics do not have side effects. – Anything that influences how your neurons transmit signals is bound to have side effects. The quality of most nootropics available in the market varies, so you have to consider its common side effects every time you decide to purchase a specific brand.
Potential Side Effects of Regular Smart Drug Use
Many nootropic experts as well as none other than the progenitor of piracetam are said to have claimed that high-quality limitless pills rarely bring about any side effects. Even if this is the case, though, there are now widely-accepted nootropics side effects that have been verified as arising due to intake of the said drugs.
Headaches and gastrointestinal issues are the most common. The former is due to the fact that the drug is giving your brain more than its usual share of workload every time it takes effect. The latter, on the other hand, occurs sometimes because your body might detect nootropics as foreign material that it immediately needs to flush out. It’s recommended to follow the advised dosages to address this issue.
Insomnia is another major side effect, but is common only among first-time users. Coming up with a proper schedule of intake is key to preventing this. High blood pressure is listed, but it is considered only as a result of taking in low-quality nootropics.
Legal Issues Regarding Nootropic Use
There are currently no legal restrictions on nootropics in most countries, and you can acquire them without a prescription, as of this writing. In the US, however, this is only applicable for certain types of nootropcs. Racetams, for one, are in wide use, and are not considered as regulated drugs. However, Modafinil is considered as a prescription drug in the said country.