Nootropic Smart Pills Overview: Effects, Side Effects & Natural Smart Pills
This article will discuss ‘smart pills’. It will examine what ‘smart pills’ are, their potential effects, examples of 'smart pills', what 'smart pills' are made of, whether 'smart pills' are legal, the potential side-effects of ‘smart pills’, and weigh up the differences between pharmaceutical 'smart pills' and natural 'smart pills'.
Pills For Your Brain?
A ‘smart pill’, in the sense that we will be talking about, is a pill that’s purported to improve your cognitive abilities in some way. It acts on your brain, and may be able to help with concentration, tiredness, motivation and so on.
Smart pills are generally equated with nootropics, which is defined as a substance that acts on the mind in a way that improves cognitive function. In most cases this is correct, pills for your brain that improve cognition are nootropics.
Watch: The Ultimate Guide to UK Nootropics.
However, in many cases the word 'nootropic' is used to refer only to pharmaceutical 'smart pills', such as Modafinil or Piracetam*. This is not entirely fair: there are many 'natural smart pills' for your brain, also called 'natural nootropics', available that are comparable in results to their pharmaceutical counterparts. Take a look at our favourite natural smart pill.
What Effects Can Smart Pills Have?
‘Smart pills' generally have effects like helping you concentrate, improving your energy levels, improving alertness, and numerous other benefits. In addition, pills for your brain can help you think more clearly, help your memory or motivation and other important facets of cognition.
'Smart pills' may also help increase your productivity: they can help you think clearly under pressure, improve your mood for long stints spent working and many other positive things.
However, it's important to bear in mind that pills for your brain won’t directly make you more intelligent. They can improve cognitive functions that are associated with some aspects of intelligence, but this doesn't directly translate to a greater intellect.
What Sorts Of Smart Pills Are There?
There are many different kinds of 'smart pills', but they roughly fall into two categories: Pharmaceutical 'smart pills', and natural 'smart pills'.
Many pharmaceutical pills for your brain are strong stimulants, such as Adderall or Ritalin*. These two drugs, while chemically distinct, have similar effects and work in similar ways. They can both improve wakefulness and alertness significantly, and might also increase concentration, as they increase levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.
Modafinil* is another pharmaceutical 'smart drug' that has similar effects to the aforementioned two. Its exact method of action is not known, but it does increase the levels of some neurotransmitters that Ritalin and Adderall also boost. Modafinil is not a traditional stimulant - it is technically known as a ‘eugeroic’, or wakefulness-promoting agent.
There are other ‘smart drugs’ available, such as piracetam. Piracetam is another sort of ‘smart pill’ whose exact method of action is unknown. It affects neurological function in an undetermined way without explicitly being a sedative or stimulant. Similarly, ‘smart drugs’ like Noopept are even less well-researched, with very little public information is available on its methods of action. It does seem to function in a similar way to Piracetam, however. Regardless, these pills for your brain are quite under-researched and, in our opinion, should be avoided unless prescribed by a doctor.
In contrast, natural 'smart pills', known also as natural nootropics, are made from non-pharmaceutical ingredient. These pills are able to help your brain by supporting concentration, motivation, clearer thinking, and many other areas of cognition. These natural nootropics are much less likely to cause side effects but are often equal in their benefits when compared with pharmaceutical 'smart pills'
What Are Smart Pills Made Of?
Pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’, as mentioned earlier, may be made of one of many kinds of drugs. Adderall, for example, is made of amphetamine salts, namely amphetamine, amphetamine aspartate and dextroamphetamine. This is why this pharmaceutical smart pill has intense stimulant effects for your brain.
Ritalin is made from methylphenidate, a substituted amphetamine, and has similar (though reportedly less intense) effects. Most other ‘smart drugs’ have chemical compositions related to the nervous system - Piracetam is derived from the neurotransmitter GABA for instance.
Conversely, natural nootropics are made from non-pharmaceutical ingredients. These may include super foods, herbal ingredients and vitamins. Popular ingredients include matcha tea, which contains theanine and EGCGs; guarana, which can improve alertness naturally; ginkgo, which can help with cognitive function; and vitamins in the B group, that are necessary for good brain health and can help relieve 'brain fog'.
Are Smart Pills Legal?
As this is an article written in Britain, this section will only focus on British law. Taking that into account, in many instances pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ are not legal. In fact, some (like Adderall and Ritalin) are controlled substances. Possession of either of those drugs can be punished with prison time. Other ‘smart drugs’ are in more of a grey area - the sale of Modafinil, Piracetam and Noopept are illegal in the UK as of 2016, but possession does not seem to be punishable.
Most non-pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ are not illegal to possess in Britain, however. This is because they contain food supplement quality ingredients, that are generally legal to buy, sell and possess. There are some rare exceptions such as Bacopa Monnieri, so some caution must be taken, but most British brain supplements are made legitimately within regulations.
What Side Effects Can Smart Pills Have?
With most pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’, there are many potential side effects that users might encounter. They, of course, vary based upon the ‘smart pill’ that you use, but common side effects include headaches, sleep problems, stomach trouble, nervousness and restlessness or agitation.
Many pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ can have more severe problems associated with them, and might cause psychological or cardiovascular issues for example. Addiction is also a legitimate worry for users of more intense ‘smart drugs’.
In contrast, non-pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ avoid the vast majority of these effects. Some 'smart pills' may cause trouble sleeping if they contain lots of caffeine, and may cause stomach trouble or mild headaches if an ingredient disagrees with the user. However, effects like these can often be counteracted by increasing water intake, and there is generally no risk of a more severe side effect (such as a psychological problem) from using a natural nootropic.
Pharmaceutical Smart Pills Versus Natural Nootropics
As mentioned earlier, the two primary sorts of ‘smart pills’ you might encounter are pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’, and natural 'smart pills'.
In our evaluation, we believe that pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ are highly impactful. If you take a drug like Adderall, you will feel amped-up, and full of energy. As a result, people who use them frequently become restless, fidgety or over-focused, which can frequently be detrimental to productivity. Moreover, as mentioned, there are numerous side effects associated with these ‘smart drugs’, many of which that can be highly severe.
Natural 'smart pills' are impactful too, but in a different way. They have strong effects, providing concentration, energy and motivation. However, their effects are not as acute as a pharmaceutical ‘smart pill', meaning they will not cause restlessness or nervousness. Additionally the side effects tend to be much less severe: they are largely mild and transient. And, there is no risk of addiction as a result of using natural nootropics, in contrast with drugs like Adderall or Ritalin.
Furthermore, there are far fewer legal issues associated with natural nootropics when compared with ‘smart drugs’. Many pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ are controlled substances, and those that aren’t have been legislated against by the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act. They are in a grey area: they're currently illegal to sell to people without prescriptions, and may become illegal to possess.
In contrast, there aren’t any legal risks to buying a well-made natural nootropic. And, there is little chance of a legal risk arising: it would be almost impossible for the government to ban something as innocuous as matcha tea for instance, as it has been used for so long and is proven to be safe. Take a look at our favourite smart pill, that contains matcha tea.
Even if a drug isn't strictly illegal to possess, though, their users may be punished by organisations even if the government has not criminalised their use. Pharmaceutical ‘smart drugs’ are often screened for in drugs test, and athletes have been penalised for using Modafinil when possession isn't punished under law.
On the other hand, natural nootropics are generally not tested for, and people who use them are not punished, as their ingredients have been widely accepted. This makes them much safer to use if you are concerned about being drugs tested, for a sports tournament or a particularly well-scrutinised job for example.
Finally, ‘smart drugs’ are often under-researched. As mentioned previously, scientists don’t even know how some popular ‘smart drugs’ like Modafinil and Piracetam work. It’s also not known what the long-term effects of using these drugs will be, particularly when used by healthy individuals without a prescription for these drugs.
Natural nootropics avoid this problem. Their ingredients have often been used by humans for hundreds of years before their nootropic effects were codified, as is the case with matcha tea and guarana. This ensures that the long-term risks of their use is low, as they have stood the test of time.
This article has illustrated some key points related to ‘smart pills’, both in the form of pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’ and natural 'smart pills'. It has addressed what exactly a ‘smart pill’ is and what effects they can have, before summarising what sorts of ‘smart pills’ there are, what they might contain, if ‘smart pills’ are legal, what side effects they might have, and the key benefits that natural nootropics have over pharmaceutical ‘smart pills’.
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