It’s what’s inside that counts, the saying goes. But what if on the inside you’re constantly tired, sleepy, stressed, and completely unmotivated?
Unfortunately, this inner exhaustion will reflect on the outside – on your work performance, as well as your personal life. Thus, many decide to get the much-needed boost from a smart pill – one carefully selected from a plethora of cognitive enhancers.
Numbers show that in 15 nations worldwide, the Pharmacological Cognitive Enhancement trend is on the rise. It entails the nonmedical use of substances, i.e. smart pills, in an effort to boost our cognitive functions.
But it is not just about people looking to get a surge of energy and motivation when they need to get through a rough period at work or school. Certain types of smart pills proved to be an effective medication for people diagnosed with a mental impairment, like ADHD, PTSD, or a psychological disorder like anxiety or depression.
To find out more about the smart pill benefits, the history of their use, and learn about the most popular ones, refer to our detailed guide below.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- History of smart pills
- Types of smart pills
- Smart pills benefits and use
- Ultimate list of smart pills
Smart pills are defined as drugs or prescription medication used to treat certain mental disorders, from milder ones such as brain fog, to some more severe like ADHD. They are often referred to as ‘nootropics’ but even though the two terms are often used interchangeably, smart pills and nootropics represent two different types of cognitive enhancers.
A smart pill is prescribed medication used for the treatment of a certain cognition-related impairment. Aside from treating cognitive impairments, smart pills are used by healthy people who are looking to boost their everyday cognitive performance.
On the other hand, nootropics are usually non-prescribed compounds, like vitamins and herbal supplements, which are generally used to provide a daily boost, support optimal brain functioning, and help prevent long-term cognitive decline.
The reason why many mistake one for the other is because in some cases, smart pills benefits overlap with nootropics. Especially when consumed by people who don’t suffer from any neurological impairments, both types of cognitive enhancers may help optimise the overall mental performance of healthy individuals.
Smart pills improve both cognitive functioning as well as well as enhance our focus. Put simply, they help us achieve our true performance.
Here’s what happens:
The main area of the brain effected by smart pills is the prefrontal cortex, where representations of our goals for the future are created. Namely, the prefrontal cortex consists of pyramidal cells that keep each other firing. However in some instances they can become disconnected due to chemical imbalances, or due to being tired, stressed, and overworked.
This is where smart pills kick in – these compounds restore energy needed to enable the cells to fire again. The This is the basics of how cognitive enhancers put the brain in the most optimal state.
The history of cognitive enhancers dates to 1st century AD. As early as the 600s people used natural remedies to boost their brain function and optimize their everyday routine. At that time, it included memorizing lengthy hymns and scriptures, and today we are in search of a solution that will help us concentrate on our work or study.
The first ever chemical synthesis of a cognitive enhancer happened in 1895, when German chemist Hermann Emil Fischer synthesised caffeine in a lab. After this, at the turn of the 20th century, we saw smart pills rise in popularity, with new drugs constantly entering the market.
- During the 1920s, Amphetamine was being researched as an asthma medication when its cognitive benefits were accidentally discovered. In many years that followed, this enhancer was exploited in a number of medical and nonmedical applications, for instance, to enhance alertness in military personnel, treat depression, improve athletic performance, etc.
- 1966 was the year when Dr. Giurgea discovered Piracetam, the very first synthetic nootropic.
- During the 1970s researchers synthesised noopept, which increase attention levels, focus, and mental clarity.
- In 1988 Oxiracetam hit the market – a smart pill which boosts cognitive functions, improves mood and promotes oxygen flow to the brain.
- In 1994 Modafinil was released and immediately caught students’ attention as an effective ‘study pill’.
For more information on the history of both smart pills and nootropics, refer to the infographic we previously created – the history of cognitive enhancers.
For centuries, the focus was on discovering all the possibilities and benefits of cognitive enhancers, for both healthy minds, and those who are diagnosed with milder and more severe impairments. The list of benefits could go one for miles, however we’ve kept the to the most notable ones:
- Improved overall brain health
- Increased cognitive performance
- Long and short-term memory boost
- Enhanced learning process
- Improved focus and attention
- Lengthened attention span
- Increased wakefulness
- Elevated mood
- Motivation boost
- Lowered feelings of depression
- Minimised stress and anxiety
- Postponed appearance of age-induced dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms
- Delayed process of brain aging
To name a few.
When it comes the best smart pill on the market, there are many options available and depends on exactly what you’re looking for.
Peak Mental Performance
What would your life be like if you were more motivated, your thinking were sharper, your attention more focused, and you had endless mental energy to burn?
The right cognitive supplement can do that. And that means you can go longer, get more done, and achieve your goals.
We’re very careful about anything we recommend. It must be effective, evidence-based, and safe.
Smart drugs are usually legally classified in two key areas:
- Prescription smart pills are common psychostimulants that can be purchased and used after receiving a prescription. They are most commonly given to patients diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, as well as narcolepsy. However many healthy people use them as cognitive enhancers due to their proven ability to improve focus, attention, and support the overall process of learning.
- Natural smart pills are made from natural ingredients and generally do not require a prescription.
On the other hand, classification can be conducted in accordance with their specific properties, benefits, and manifestations.
Apart from the legal classifications of smart drugs, there are several classifications around how smart drugs take effect on your body. While this is a current list, new smart drugs continue to be discovered at an increasing rate.
Stimulants are drugs that accelerate the central nervous system (CNS) activity. They have the power to make us feel more awake, alert and focused, providing us with a needed energy boost. Unfortunately, this class encompasses a wide range of drugs, some which are known solely for their side-effects and addictive properties. This is the reason why many steer away from any stimulants, when in fact some greatly benefit our cognitive functioning and can help treat some brain-related impairments and health issues.
· Modafinil (Provigil)
Modafinil is a prescription smart drug most commonly given to narcolepsy patients, as it promotes wakefulness. In addition, users indicate that this smart pill helps them concentrate and boosts their motivation. Owing to Modafinil, the feeling of fatigue is reduced, and people report that their everyday functions improve because they can manage their time and resources better, as a result reaching their goals easier.
Oxford and Harvard University researchers agree that it is beneficial to our problem-solving and decision-making abilities. It can also promote creativity, aiding busy minds to deliver projects and complete tasks in a shorter time frames.
If you’re looking to buy Modafinil we always recommend visiting your local doctor to get a prescription, and can be purchased on sites like AfinilExpress.
Adrafinil is Modafinil’s predecessor, because the scientists tested it as a potential narcolepsy drug. It was first produced in 1974 and immediately showed potential as a wakefulness-promoting compound. Further research showed that Adrafinil is metabolized into its component parts in the liver, that is into inactive modafinil acid. Ultimately, Modafinil has been proclaimed the primary active compound in Adrafinil.
Adrafinil is associated with an increased presence of Orexin, the neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of alertness. This prevents dopamine breakdown by blocking its reuptake and transport, all while increasing serotonin levels. As a result, Adrafinil maintains your mood at an optimal level, keeping you motivated and focused.
In a way, it is similar to Racetams because it activates glutamine pathways, which affects your ability to learn and memorise.
· Armodafinil (Nuvigil)
Nuvigil is the enantiopure compound of modafinil. Some consider it to be more effective in promoting wakefulness in patients who struggle with daytime sleepiness, which occurs as a result of narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and even jet lag. In addition, it is often prescribed to patients with ADHD, depression, and chronic fatigue syndromes.
Amphetamines were initially used for a variety of medical and nonmedical purposes, from treating alertness in military personnel to boosting performance in athletes. Today they are most widely used to treat ADHD. Two of the most common ones produced on the market are Adderall and Vyvanse.
Adderall increases dopamine and noradrenaline availability within the prefrontal cortex, an area in which our memory and attention are controlled. As such, this smart pill improves our mood, makes us feel more awake and attentive. It is also known for its lasting effect – depending on the dose, it can last up to 12 hours. However, note that it is crucial to get confirmation from your doctor on the exact dose you should take.
Vyvanse, also known as Lisdexamfetamin, is effective for ADHD patients as it helps them stay focused and attentive. In some instances, it is prescribed for binge eating disorder, helping people minimise the frequency of binge eating. However it is advised that note that under no circumstances should it be used as a weight loss pill.
· Ritalin (Methylphenidate)
The development of methylphenidate followed amphetamine, and it was intended as another effective ADHD drug. Additionally, it was utilised as an energy, concentration, and alertness booster.
It works by increasing dopamine and noradrenaline levels in the brain, thus improving the speed of processing information, boosting short-term memory, and prolonging attention span. Like Adderall, users are advised to follow prescribed dosage to avoid any unwanted side effects.
· Dexedrine (Dextroamphetamine)
Dexedrine directly affects neural signalling via several neurotransmitter systems, stimulating the central nervous system. It positively affects certain psychologic processes, including focus, attention, energy, and alertness.
It is often associated with Ritalin and Adderall because they are all CNS stimulants and are prescribed for the treatment of similar brain-related conditions. In the past, ADHD patients reported prolonged attention while studying upon Dexedrine consumption, which is why this smart pill is further studied for its concentration and motivation-boosting properties.
One of the most widely known classes of smart drugs on the market, Racetams, have a long history of use and a lot of evidence of their effectiveness. They hasten the chemical exchange between brain cells, directly benefiting our mental clarity and learning process. They are generally not controlled substances and can be purchased without a prescription in a lot of locations globally.
After 50 years of research, Piracetam proved to be safe, non-addictive, and non-toxic. Its molecule is in structure quite similar to Noopept.
Piracetam boosts acetylcholine function, a neurotransmitter responsible for memory consolidation. Consequently, it improves memory in people who suffer from age-related dementia, which is why it is commonly prescribed to Alzheimer’s patients and people struggling with pre-dementia symptoms. When it comes to healthy adults, it is believed to improve focus and memory, enhancing the learning process altogether.
Aniracetam is known as one of the smart pills with the widest array of uses. From benefits for dementia patients and memory boost in adults with healthy brains, to the promotion of brain damage recovery. It also improves the quality of sleep, what affects the overall increase in focus during the day. Because it supports the production of dopamine and serotonin, it elevates our mood and helps fight depression and anxiety.
As well as aniracetam, oxiracetam increases long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. It aids elderly who struggle with dementia and generally boosts long-term memory formation. For patients who have suffered from a stroke, it helps improve verbal fluency and social function.
Most notably, pramiracetam is a strong memory enhancer. It has been shown to improve objective memory, while for those who suffer from memory loss it is potentially a better alternative to memory training.
Phenotropil is an over-the-counter supplement similar in structure to Piracetam (and Noopept). This synthetic smart drug has been used to treat stroke, epilepsy and trauma recovery. A 2005 research paper also demonstrated that patients diagnosed with natural lesions or brain tumours see improvements in cognition. Phenylpiracetam intake can also result in minimised feelings of anxiety and depression. This is one of the more powerful unscheduled Nootropics available.
Nefiracetam is said to be a mix of two other drugs of racetam family – it initially derived from the parent molecule piracetam but is structurally quite similar to aniracetam. It improves memory, but only if supplemented daily.
Cholinergics are a class of smart drugs which directly influence acetylcholine, one of the brain’s primary neurotransmitters which affect the function of the peripheral nervous system. Cholinergics are found in egg yolks and soybeans, and it’s consumption benefits our memory, mood, and attention.
Cholinergics smart pills are also prescribed to patients who are already taking one of the drugs from racetam class, because racetams deplete our brain from cholinergics.
Choline is a natural molecule which can be naturally supplemented with almonds and eggs, but due to a high number of people who suffer from choline deficit, supplements are becoming ever more popular.
It is the primary precursor molecule for Acetylcholine, which is responsible for a range of functions, from muscle control to memory. When we take choline, we improve communication between neurons and nerves in the brain, thus optimising the process of learning and information retention.
Furthermore, choline has been shown to be quite effective in slowing down brain aging, because it improves neuron membrane fluidity.
Sulbutiamine is a synthetic derivate of thiamine available as an over-the-counter drug. In the past, it was used by soldiers to combat the effects of fatigue and loss of mental edge. Today it is known to simultaneously reduce our psycho-behavioural inhibition and improve long and short-term memory.
As their name suggests, smart drugs classified as Dopaminergics directly affect dopamine levels. This neurotransmitter is responsible for good feelings and positive feedback to tasty food, social relationships, even sexual activity, etc. It’s also shown to boost attention levels and alertness.
Yohimbe is a natural smart pill that is derived from the African evergreen tree. Recently, more commonly used by bodybuilders to lose weight, but also used to treat erectile disfunction.
Additionally, researchers suggest it helps those who feel depressed or anxious, especially when these feelings are in relation to certain phobias.
· L-deprenyl (Selegiline)
Selegiline is primarily used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Namely, the symptoms of this disease are a result of low dopamine levels which can be elevated with L-deprenyl supplementation. It can also help combat depression and anxiety, generally improving mood. In healthy people it’s shown to improve memory, focus, and motivation.
Some smart pills fall outside the above mentioned categories, and are as follows.
Noopept is a synthetic smart pill whose effects are evident quite fast, unlike with some other nootropics. Quite often it is grouped together with racetams, while its mechanisms may differ, and it shows a greater affinity for certain brain receptor sites. As such, it produces much faster results than any other racetam.
Noopept is a unique neuropeptide which improves our focus, learning, memory, and direct thinking. Additionally, it boosts BDNF levels, a brain-derived neurotrophic factor that promotes brain cell growth. As such it has also been shown to be beneficial for people requiring treatment for brain damage.
Detailed examination of phenibut reveals that it is a chemical compound similar to GABA. So far, it was most commonly used to treat PTSD, stress, fatigue, and depression, as well as an irregular heartbeat.
Atomoxetine helps extend attention span, improve focus and concentration, which is why it is often prescribed to treat ADHD.
· Universal Nootropic
The majority of smart pills target a limited number of cognitive functions, which is why a group of experts gathered to discover a formula which will empower the entire brain and satisfy the needs of students, athletes, and professionals. Mind Lab Pro® combines 11 natural nootropics to affect all 4 areas of mental performance, unlocking the full potential of your brain. Its carefully designed formula will provide an instant boost, while also delivering long-term benefits.
Even though smart drugs come with a long list of benefits, their misuse can cause negative side effects. Excess use can cause anxiety, fear, headaches, increased blood pressure, and more. Considering this, it is imperative to study usage instructions: how often can you take the pill, the correct dosage and interaction with other medication/supplements.
Regardless of whether you are taking a smart pill just to slightly boost your performance, or you are looking to treat a mental disorder – it is imperative that you consult with your doctor first.