Cognitive Enhancing Drugs – Are Nootropics Worth Trying?

Cognitive Enhancing Drugs: The Best Way to Boost Your Brain?

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Cognitive Enhancing Drugs that Boost Your Brain

I have wondered this ever since I watched the movie Limitless. If you haven’t seen it, Limitless is about a guy that gets hold of a drug that basically makes your brain work at full capacity. A fantasy story that really only adults could really relate to. After seeing the movie, I wondered if there are any cognitive enhancing drugs or supplements available out there that can provide the same sort of results as the drug from Limitless.

Just imagine the possibilities, being incredibly focused, not feeling fatigued, being incredibly alert.  All sounds too good to be true.


What is it?

Adderall one of the most well known cognitive enhancing drugs is a stimulant tablet comprised of a mix of amphetamine salts. More commonly it is prescribed to sufferers of ADHD or attention Cognitive Enhancing Drugs: The Best Way to Boost Your Brain? adderallhyperactivity disorder. But Adderall of recent times has started being used as a cognitive enhancer by people who actually do not suffer from ADHD but want to boost their brain function.

Usually people  who are burning themselves out and need a way to burn themselves out even more! Of course using Adderall in this way is not in guidance with any doctors recommendations and any doctor suggesting as such would be in big trouble so to speak.

College campuses have become awash with students desperate for a miracle pill that will enable them to carry out a late night epic cram session. The drug taken regularly enables the user to maintain focus and not feel the need to sleep for about 8-10 hours.

Adderall is probably the most popular drug being used at the moment albeit illegally to enhance cognitive function.

Side effects?

Cognitive Enhancing Drugs: The Best Way to Boost Your Brain? adderallOf course Adderall has its side effects. If you are thinking of starting Adderall (something which I do not condone) think to yourself, are the possible perceived benefits of using this drug better than the possible side effects?

Fear, anxiety, tremors, blood pressure increase, heart rate increase, heart palpitations ( which can continue well after you have stopped taking them), nervousness, restlessness, excitability, dizziness. Adderall is a drug that is habit forming and regular use can lead to a dependence on the drug.

Modafinil (Provigil)

What is it?

Cognitive Enhancing Drugs: The Best Way to Boost Your Brain? provigilThis cognitive enhancing drug promotes wakefulness by stimulating the brain, exactly how it stimulates the brain is not known, it is thought it works its magic by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Modafinil is used to ‘improve wakefulness’ in patients that suffer from excessive sleepiness caused by sleep apnea, narcolepsy or  who for example do late night shift work as their sleep patterns are bound to be messed up, hence the name ‘Shift work sleep disorder‘.

‘Mark’ a university student who would take Modafinil during his studies told me “When I was on this stuff if I went out drinking, I’d have one drink, then another drink which was normal, but because the Modafinil made me so sharp and energised I would somehow get drunk much more faster. It was so weird, not only that, time felt like it was flying by, for example one minute I’d be here talking to you and then the next minute I’d be in another corner of the room talking to somebody else and I would not for the life of me remember how the hell I got there. It was like having a short blackout. Soon after that experience I decided to stop drinking.”

Side effects?

As many cognitive enhancing drugs do, this has side effects such as hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behaviour, depression, anxiety, aggression, chest pain, heart palpitations, white patches or sores inside your mouth or on the lips, easy bruising or bleeding, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness, fever, sore throat, red skin rash, headache, dizziness, diarrhoea, insomnia, nervousness and vomiting.


Vitamin B12

What is it?

Vitamin B12 is not considered a drug, but is very effective in boosting your brain.

B12 is one of eight B-group vitamins, which are essential for bodily functions such as energy production and the creation of red blood cells. Cognitive Enhancing Drugs: The Best Way to Boost Your Brain? vitamin b12Vitamin B12 also helps to keep nerve cells healthy and assists in the production of DNA. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is present in many foods such as eggs, cheese, liver, shellfish, but for convenience they can be bought in tablet form.

B12 converts the carbohydrates you eat into glucose, which in turn leads to energy production in the body and the obvious decrease in tiredness and fatigue in the body which gives the feeling of alertness and focus. Vitamin B12 has a tonne of benefits other than boosting feelings of alertness such as

  • Helping to regulate your nervous system, lowering depression, stress, and shrinkage of the brain.
  • Maintains health of the digestive system. Vitamin B12 helps to improve high cholesterol levels which can protect against heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • Helps to improve the skin, nails, and hair. With it’s assistance in cell reproduction it helps with the renewing of the skin.

..but it is more widely known for its ability to assist the body in boosting brain function and alertness.

Easily the safest option of the three cognitive enhancing drugs and supplements, no prescription necessary, B12 can be bought from any decent health food shop, which means you don’t have to risk buying from a shady looking website that may just be sending you fake pills!


Side effects?

What makes B12 different is that there have been no common side effects reported for it when used in small doses. If you stick to the dosages on the label you should be fine. Any side effects would be very rare and if you do notice anything worrying then do consult your doctor.


So there you have it. It is possible to crank up the volume on your brain with cognitive enhancing drugs, but it isn’t very safe. If you are thinking of going down the route of Adderall or Modafinil, do so with caution as those side effects look quite serious.

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