Smart Pills For Study
The need to excel in college has always driven a majority of students to use prescription drugs and psychoactive substances for stimulation to combat fatigue, improve concentration, and gain additional energy. This article gives you information on why and how these stimulants work in enhancing cognitive performance.
The so-called “smart pill” has always been around college campuses and taken by students who pull all-nighters for mid-term exams and finals, researching, and writing term papers and book reports. Also known as “smart drugs,” these pills have become increasingly popular and are now more prevalent than they were 30, 40 or even 50 decades ago.
In Switzerland, recent research showed that one in seven healthy Swiss college students use prescriptive medication and legal or illegal drugs to enhance cognitive performance. This neuroenhancement is brought about by stimulant drugs like amphetamines and methylphenidate which are commonly used to treat those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHA to induce focus and calm in patients.
When these stimulants are used by otherwise healthy individuals, however, they can increase attention, focus, and wakefulness, thus making them the preferred drugs to take to memorize more information and write papers faster, among other academic requirements. Increasing tolerance for and availability of these stimulants have begun to present a rapidly developing drug problem.
Memory-enhancing pills are to college students as anabolic steroids are to athletes. Some believe that using these stimulants, which are commonly referred to as “study pills,” is really no different from taking other socially- and legally-accepted stimulants such as caffeine in coffee, sodas, energy drinks, and tea. Unfortunately, these “smart” pills, while keeping you alert, have more serious side effects than a cup of coffee.
How Smart Drugs Work
These “smart drugs” are pharmaceutical grade medications which have always come with prescriptions. Other substances used as brain function boosters without major adverse side effects are commonly called “nootropics” or “nutraceuticals.” The former originally meant mind enhancement drugs but have since been known as supplement with brain-enhancing benefits while the latter refer to medically-beneficial supplements.
Although no conclusions have been made on how smart pills stimulate the brain, some early research indicates they act on different systems of the body simultaneously. One possible action is the increase of blood flow to and from the brain which enables it to use more of the oxygen being transported. Another is the increase of adrenalin levels which can result in the effects from drinking caffeine that keeps you awake for longer.
Still, other nootropics would seem to increase amounts of particular chemicals like the neurotransmitter dopamine that the brain releases and has been associated with dependency or addiction. Most of these smart pills can be highly-addictive and may prove hazardous to the health of college age people since their brains continue to develop well into their middle twenties.
Use Your Discretion
According to Philadelphia’s Drexel University College of Medicine neuroscientist Dr. Wen-Jun Gao, a person’s brain develops until he/she in into his/her 20s and (even) 30s, particularly that area in the brain involved in decision-making and planning known as the prefrontal cortex. While the release of brain chemicals can be made faster by a smart drug to improve motivation, memory, and learning, it is only on a short-term basis.
Still, according to Gao, any drug which stimulates the release of a certain chemical too much, like dopamine, as mentioned, can cause problems so use your discretion. Not all brain-enhancing supplements are going to make drug addicts or dependants out of people, though, because there are some which don’t have prescription strength and are not loaded with chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, and other additives.
Creatine and Theanine
Creatine supplements, for instance, have long been used by gym users for enhancing physical performance. In a placebo-controlled test, researchers subjected participants to take five grams of Creatine daily over a six week period to enhance memory and intelligence exam scores. The result was positive for both purposes particularly with some tasks which required speedy mental processing.
Theanine, commonly known as L-theanine, found in mushrooms and green tea and sold as dietary supplements in the U.S. has been granted the status of GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has been shown to prevent brain dysfunction induced by an accumulation of beta-amyloids. Theanine is also protective against strokes and improves sleep quality in those with ADHD.
Passionflower and DHA
Passionflower supplements are taken for their calming effects on anxiety attacks. Some use it for treating insomnia, withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines or opiates, and neuralgia, the pain that occurs in a nerve’s pathway that can be triggered by infection, shingles, syphilis or injury. Passionflower has also been effective in reducing apprehension in patients who are due for surgery and dental treatment.
Docosahexaenoic acid, a.k.a. DHA, is the Omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA) found in seaweed and cold water fish, particularly salmon, that can help improve memory and protect against some psychiatric disorders. Various surveys have indicated that people who have insufficient levels of DHA have existing conditions of depression. DHA supplementation can help protect against dementia and progression of Alzheimer’s. Read more in our DHA article here.
Additionally, DHA supplements have been shown to improve infantile cognitive development, mild cognitive impairment, memory, concentration, learning, and focus. DHA, a key factor in the development of the eyes and brain, is one of the EFAs recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Be Wise When Buying Smart Pills
Because more and more people, especially college students or those in medical and law schools, are turning to brain-enhancing supplements, they have become an accessible target for counterfeiting. Buying pills that make you smarter online exposes you to the risk of purchasing not only counterfeit but adulterated and substandard products sold by black market sellers as well.
Smart pills purchased online, unless from reputable manufacturers, are likely to have no benefits to the user or may actually be hazardous to health. When you purchase smart pills, or other drugs on the internet for that matter, make sure you transact only with legitimate pharmacies. Online sellers of smart pills should have detailed product information, accessible customer service, and return and shipping policies.
What to Do Before Taking Smart Pills
Smart pills that are considered dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and while these are easier to obtain because their majority does not require a doctor’s prescription to purchase, you are also at risk for scammers. To remedy this possible predicament, ensure that the product has a money back guarantee, a legitimate set of contact details like phone numbers, and a label that you can verify. Always buy from reputable sources. Take a look at the reviews we have done on a wide range of brain supplements here.
Before taking a smart pill, consult your doctor. Most of these pills come as dietary supplements and taking them is not exactly a bad idea for as long as your doctor gives you the go signal, you have read and understood the pros and cons of taking them, and you closely monitor any effects. Being smarter is a good thing but not when it comes with risks that may endanger your health or your life.