Nootropics Vs Smart Drugs
Nootropics vs Smart Drugs
This is a different type of battle in front of us today! The Nootropics vs Smart Drugs debate has been ongoing for the last few years with safety and effectiveness being two of the hottest topics.
For us, safety comes first, but if you can find a product that is both safe to use and has good nootropic capabilities, then you are onto a really good thing.
So what exactly are we looking for to settle the Nootropics vs Smart Drugs dispute?
Firstly, how do you define a nootropic and a smart drug? What is the difference between the two? And just how safe are smart drugs?
All this and more will be examined a little closer.
What Are Nootropics?
The history of nootropics goes back to the 1960’s and 70’s when the Romanian neuroscientist Corneliu E. Giurgea was researching and discovering what later became nootropics.
They didn’t even exist before he synthesized the nootropic Piracetam.
The way he defined a nootropic has had a lasting effect on how we define a nootropic today.
His guidelines for what is a Nootropic are as follows:
- It should enhance memory and learning
- Help the brain to resist learned behaviors and memory to conditions that would disrupt them
- Protect the brain against physical and chemical injury
- It should increase the efficiency of the cortical/subcortical control mechanisms
- It should lack the pharmacology of psychotropic drugs as well as have few to zero side effects
- A nootropic should also have very low toxicity
These guidelines mean there aren’t a lot of genuine nootropics around. Most products fail in at least one of these areas if not more. Natural ingredients such as Huperzine-A and Citicoline cover all of the above.
This is also the case for synthetically produced nootropics such as Piracetam.
There are some products that are often compared to nootropics because they do a lot of the same things but fall down when it comes to the comparison to psychotropic drugs. Modafinil is just one product that falls into this category but we will get to that a little later.
Most nootropics are made up of a natural formula and provide a natural and lasting boost to your cognition and attention span, or protect the brain from cognitive decline and the effects of aging.
The best nootropics we have found feature in our top nootropics supplements article here.
You are most likely to use a nootropic if you are looking for a way of enhancing your mental capabilities in a safe and effective way.
What Are Smart Drugs?
Comparing them to nootropics, which are a more natural choice for many people, smart drugs are more likely to prescribed to treat a certain type of condition relating to the mental functioning of the user. Some are used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD for example, at least that is their intended use.
Often when people think of smart drugs, they think of the film Limitless. The film itself has been linked to smart drugs such as Modafinil of which have less dramatic capabilities of course.
Their intention isn’t to increase your intelligence but to enhance the way you memorize information and focus on tasks amongst other uses.
Just a couple of the places where smart drugs are so common are at Universities as students use them in the hope that a smart drug will help them to study for longer with better levels of concentration.
People in Silicon Valley use them to help them deal with the pressures of their job and even staff as high up the ladder as you can think of are known to partake.
Are Smart Drugs Safe?
Just because they are relatively popular does not mean they are without controversy. The safety of smart drugs is a much-disputed topic.
A true nootropic will not be cause for concern when it comes to safety – this is laid out in the guidelines from Giurgea himself.
The list of side effects that can be caused as a result of taking a smart drug cannot be taken lightly.
Their main intention is to relieve you of the symptoms of certain brain-related disorders so if you are abusing this you could be open to the side effects such as headaches, anxiety, sleepless nights, increased heart rate, blood pressure raised and even fear amongst other side effects.
Yes, a smart drug might give a boost that is faster acting than an alternative, but is the potential cost worth it?
There isn’t enough research to ensure there are no long terms effects from using smart drugs, so is it worth risking potential damage to your brain?
Taking a smart drug might enhance your concentration on a certain task. But, it might also shut you off from the rest of the world and stops you from being able to interact in a normal manner.
Risk of Buying Smart Drugs
Part of what puts us off of smart drugs is the fact that in order to buy them you often have to source them from less than reputable companies and websites.
There are more than enough horror stories available online. These involve people who have purchased smart drugs from a website to be sent a product from places like India where the product isn’t safe to use.
Many of the places do not have the facilities to make a safe product. You should be looking for a company that uses FDA approved facilities as a sign of safe conditions and quality. Otherwise, they are pretty much regulating themselves, a scary thought.
What Are Some Effective Nootropic Ingredients?
Often you see Caffeine and L-Theanine combined in a nootropic. This can be beneficial since they work together.
Caffeine is often thought to stimulate your brain and is often included in nootropics to help you stay alert and focused.
Whilst L-Theanine is good for promoting brain health as well as giving a calming effect which is why it is often combined with caffeine as it stops the user from feeling the effects of caffeine.
In our opinion, a good nootropic doesn’t actually need caffeine. It can often work as a red herring to mask a list of inferior ingredients. What you will be experiencing is a caffeine high and not necessarily a lasting effect.
There are plenty of brilliant nootropic ingredients that enhance memory and focus as well as promoting brain health.
For a list of our top nootropics ingredients, check out our top nootropics article here.
Nootropics vs Smart Drugs: What Are Racetams?
To put it simply, Racetams are a version of nootropics, a synthetic version to be precise. They are a type of cognitive enhancing drugs that have been combined due to their ability to enhance brain function.
Often associated with giving the brain more energy as well as enhancing memory and brain health. Basically the same effect a standard nootropic ingredient has.
The first synthesized nootropic was Piracetam and was discovered by Giurgea. This is the nootropic that the first guidelines were based upon.
How Do Racetams Work?
In general, they work by affecting acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that has a role in the brain. Many of your cognitive functions are affected by this. So, by enhancing their production and condition, your brain is enhanced.
They help to maintain brain health, cerebral circulation as well as give the brain much-needed oxygen and nutrients that it needs for it to work at the closest you can get to an optimal state. This also helps with your memory and cognitive performance.
Essentially, boosting acetylcholine helps to protect your brain and enhance it.
Piracetam is considered to be one of the most effective racetams and it has been proven to enhance your cognitive functioning as well as reducing cognitive decline.
What Side Effects Do Racetams Have?
This is where it can get a little worrying. Although racetams are considered to be a nootropic. The fact that they are synthetic makes them less natural than a single ingredient.
The side effects of using Piracetam, for example, include headaches, depression as well as anxiety.
Are Natural Ingredients Comparable To Piracetam?
Many effective ingredients are far less likely to have any side effects and are completely natural. Take Bacopa Monnieri for example.
This natural ingredient contains antioxidants which are great for brain health and it even helps your brain to communicate more effectively with your body.
This means the information moving around your brain is done so more effectively, enhancing your cognitive functioning.
It also helps to maintain brain health by its anti-inflammatory capabilities. Inflammation is often linked to cognitive decline so anything that can counter this is of real benefit to your brains health.
These benefits are similar to that of many Racetams. Yet they are considered to be a lot safer.
It would take a lot of Bacopa Monnieri to produce any side effects so it is, therefore, a lot safer to consume.
Bacopa Monnieri is found in one of the best nootropic supplements we have seen – Mind Lab Pro. To find out more about this Nootropic that has some of the best ingredients, all at optimal dosages, check out our in-depth review.
So, Is Modafinil Safe Then?
This smart drug as we mentioned earlier has been doing the rounds for some time now. But for every story that says they are low risk when consumed, there is another that warns of the dangers.
The fact that it is illegal to sell Modafinil in the UK raises a few eyebrows for a start. Sure, it is not illegal to buy them but reputable organizations do warn against purchasing them online as well.
Check out this article on the BBC by Benjamin Zand who tried Modafinil as part of an experiment. There are whole sections discussing the fact that taking it did help them to focus and concentrate but on the wrong things.
When trying to complete some work, he was concentrating intensely – on his smartphone.
That is a disappointment, but what about the side effects?
Benjamin describes how he later experienced headaches, a lack of appetite and itchy lumps on his arm and leg.
It gets even worse and Benjamin only took Modafinil three times!
There are accounts of people having positive experiences with this smart drug. But why would you risk the side effects when there are perfectly natural and safe nootropics. The accounts of side effects are so rare with many true nootropics, you will be hard-pressed to find information on anyone who has had a negative experience.
Other accounts of using Modafinil suggest it even changes the behaviors of the user. Often making them easily agitated and aggressive, even trying to start a conversation can be pointless.
For some of you, this might explain why your housemate is an a$$hole. If not, they have no excuse!
Sure, it can enhance the way you retain information, but it can be at the expense of those around you.
Caffeine vs Modafinil
Modafinil is intended for the use of those who suffer from narcolepsy. So the idea is that it increases the wakefulness and focus.
Anyone who uses them recreationally with the intention of enhancing their mental state does so at their own risk.
The effects of Modafinil are supposed to last for longer than caffeine but the side effects are potentially a lot worse. Caffeine gives you a boost that makes you feel alert and focused but after a few hours it effects do wear off.
Caffeine works by heightening your dopamine levels which keep you focused.
Because caffeine is safer to use it can be used for extended periods, whereas Modafinil is not recommended for continuous use by many medical experts.
If you think about it – coffee is consumed 7 days a week several times a day by a large portion of people for a reason.
The fact is though, a good nootropic doesn’t need stimulants to work. The effects of this either wear off of are too risky.
A good nootropic can deliver the effects of enhanced memory and focus using natural ingredients. As well as providing brain health promoters with zero side effects.
Out list of top nootropics gives you an idea of what such a product looks like.
What Are The Long-Term Effects of Using Nootropics and Smart Drugs?
The long-term effect of using a good nootropic is that your brain is in a better condition. This is because many of them contain ingredients that actively protect the brain and maintain its health to fight the effects of cognitive decline.
Because the ingredients in a nootropic must be low in toxicity and free of side effects. This is part of the definition of what makes a nootropic.
Therefore the long term effects of using nootropics are only that you are left with a brain in better condition than before.
Of course they must be within an optimal dosage range in order to be effective. Any ingredient that is dosed too highly can cause side effects. But that it the case for anything – even too much water can kill you!
The long-term effects of Smart Drug, however, is a different story. Many authorities provide words of caution when commenting on the long-term effects of smart drugs.
What About The Evidence?
There isn’t enough knowledge when it comes to these side effects since using smart drugs in this long-term is more of a recent trend.
The risk is thought to be higher for young brains (young isn’t restricted to teenagers, it is often thought that a young brain is anything up to your late twenties and early thirties). It is thought that different smart drugs have the potential to damage and kill nerve cells, according to www.news-medical.com.
We don’t like to put anything into our body that we are not certain about. Why would you take the risk? Especially when you don’t have to.
Dr. Peter Morgan of Yale University speaks on the possible effects of Modafinil:
“If somebody takes modafinil long-term, they may develop some of the same deficits in slow-wave sleep as cocaine users,” he says. “Slow-wave sleep is the deep sleep that we tend to get early in the night. But by taking a stimulant that forces the body to be awake more than it wants to be, you’re disrupting its ability to regulate how much sleep it gets and the kind of sleep it gets, so it never feels properly refreshed.” Source: The Guardian.com.
Why would you use anything that stops you from living a normal life? The article also discusses how we consolidate our memories during sleep. So if we are not getting the usual high quality of sleep how can we remember information in the same way? That makes Modafinil potentially ineffective long term and shows it can work against itself.
Until we are told there are no potential side effects, we won’t touch it. If you are a long-term reader of ours, you probably know that already – that’s why we are the CLEAN Lean Machine!
Nootropics vs Smart Drugs: Are Nootropics Better Than Smart Drugs?
In our opinion – yes! Because they offer very similar effects to smart drugs, but without the risk. So a nootropic will deliver a safe memory enhancing and focus boosting effect, but won’t keep you up at night or make your skin feel itchy.
We are very aware that everyone is different. Some people might have a different tolerance and experience when it comes to smart drugs. It is possible that they will work for you and you won’t have any lasting side effects.
But that is part of the risk, you might not know until you have started to feel the negative side effects that often come with smart drugs.
Alternatively, a good, natural nootropic (like Mind Lab Pro) will not put you at risk of side effects. That goes for the short term as well as long-term.
Nootropics vs Smart Drugs Conclusion
Having analyzed the evidence for and against, we cannot recommend the use of any smart drugs. If a nootropic effectively has the same effect with no risks then there isn’t really anything decision to make there.
The fact that smart drugs come with a reputation means they are fashionable with students amongst other demographics of users. But these are also the type of consumers who may not worry so much about the risks.
If you are like us at CLM, you care about what effect a supplement might have on your body. The same goes for smart drugs.
To wrap up our Nootropics vs Smart Drugs debate, you want it to get to work and be effective. But it is also best to stick to the facts and use proven ingredients that are backed up by numerous studies and research.
With all of this in mind, nootropics are safer and just as effective.
But, there are still many inferior products on the market today. Just like with any other type of supplement or product.
We have taken the strain out of searching for the best nootropic supplements and have compiled what we believe to be the top nootropics around.
To find out more and to see what made our number 1 spot…
Professional b-boy (breakdancer) and all-round health, fitness, weightlifting, calisthenics, climbing and movement addict since childhood! Raised by health and nutrition obsessed parents, he’s keen to research and question everything. Oliver absolutely loves learning, optimizing and improving himself and his performance and has a passion for helping others to achieve the same!