What Is Ritalin?
Ritalin often seems like the unpopular younger sibling of Modafinil and Adderall, but Ritalin is a powerful nootropic in its own right.
But, what is Ritalin?
How does it work?
What is Ritalin used for?
Who uses it and what are the side effects?
Learn all of this and more in our handy Ritalin guide written by our team of nootropic experts.
If you're interested in this topic, you could also consider checking out our The Ultimate Modafinil UK Guide: Effects, Side Effects, Dosage and More article.
Ritalin is the brand name for Methylphenidate, a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. Methylphenidate was first made in 1944, and was first approved for use by adults in the 1950s.
It was initially marketed as a ‘pep pill’: a stimulant stronger than caffeine, but less intense than the then-commonplace amphetamines.
Ritalin was not widely used until the 1960s, where it was approved in America as a treatment for underachieving schoolchildren.
Amidst a wave of Cold War concern about the performance of American schoolchildren, Ritalin quickly grew in popularity.
How Does Ritalin Work?
Ritalin works in a way similar to Adderall, which you can read about here. Ritalin functions by boosting dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Dopamine is the ‘pleasure neurotransmitter’, which boosts various aspects but is most famously associated with pleasant feelings.
It can also improve central nervous system performance, among many other things.
Norepinephrine is the ‘fight or flight’ neurotransmitter.
It has many of the effects you might imagine from adrenaline: improving alertness, wakefulness, and generally preparing the body for a dangerous situation.
Excess norepinephrine can have some negative symptoms, like headaches and sweating.
Ritalin works by inhibiting the dissipation of these neurotransmitters in the brain.
Adderall has this effect too but also increases the release of these neurotransmitters.
This might mean Adderall has more intense effects and might be the reason Ritalin was marketed as less intense than amphetamines like Adderall.
Adderall's effects tend to last longer than Ritalin by several hours.
To see more comparisons between Ritalin and Adderall, you should check out our 'The Ultimate Ritalin Vs Adderall 2019 Guide: Which is Best for Studying?' guide
Who Uses Ritalin?
Ritalin is prescribed to treat several disorders.
It’s used by both children and adults suffering from attention-deficit issues, or problems with fatigue.
Ritalin might be used by people with ADD, narcolepsy, chronic fatigue and like disorders. It may also be prescribed to treat depression if it’s resistant to conventional antidepressants.
Ritalin is also used off-label as a ‘smart drug’, by people who feel they need a boost to their cognitive performance.
The increase to wakefulness and alertness can allow people to work for longer, and the boost to dopamine might make work more pleasurable.
Thus, Ritalin is sometimes used by people like students, shift workers, pilots or others who must be alert and concentrate for long periods of time.
However, there are now ‘natural nootropics’ available which fulfil the same purposes as ‘‘smart drugs’, without side effects or legal issues.
As it is a stimulant and boosts dopamine levels, Ritalin may be used as a recreational drug in some instances.
Ritalin’s Side Effects
Most studies on Ritalin’s side effects are conducted with people who have been prescribed it for a disorder.
This means the results of these studies might not be applicable to people using Ritalin as a ‘smart drug’, as they do not have a medical condition that requires its use.
Taking this into account, documentation and studies indicate that the most common side effects of Ritalin are headaches, decreased appetite, stomach ache, nervousness, trouble sleeping and nausea.
More serious side effects might include seizures, problems with vision, cardiovascular issues or circulation problems.
The NHS says that increases in blood pressure, increases in heart rate, loss of appetite (which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain), trouble sleeping, headaches, stomach aches and mood swings are among the common side effects associated with the drug.
Other studies of Ritalin's side effects have found that it can, rarely, cause psychological problems.
It can activate or exacerbate pre-existing mental issues and is sometimes associated with hypomanic or manic symptoms and paranoid psychosis.
While quite uncommon, it's important to bear these symptoms in mind as potential side effects of Ritalin, should you encounter them while taking it.
Consult with your doctor prior to using Ritalin, prescribed or off-label, if you suffer from psychiatric problems, heart issues or problems with your vision.
To avoid side effects with smart drugs, try a natural nootropic such as BrainZyme.
Other Issues With Ritalin
Ritalin is illegal to possess without a prescription in the UK, and it is categorised as a ‘Class B’ substance.
Illicit possession is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
Similarly, it’s illegal to supply Ritalin to people without a prescription, and this is punishable by a 14-year prison sentence or an unlimited fine.
Because of this, it’s important to consider that Ritalin bought online might be from an illicit source or ‘rogue’ pharmacy, who may sell impure or adulterated products.
Ritalin may have some potential for addiction.
Most studies seem to indicate a low chance of it happening, but as Ritalin boosts dopamine in the brain, it may be able to cause dependence or addiction.
It affects your brain in a similar way to cocaine.
As awareness of the use of ‘smart drugs’ like Ritalin rises, it may be tested for more commonly by employers or educational institutions.
Some articles in the media have encouraged the idea of ‘smart drug’ testing, and this may be adopted if attention towards ‘smart drugs’ continues to grow.
Options Other Than Ritalin?
If you want to take a 'smart drug', but would also like to avoid the side effects or legal issues associated with Ritalin, then consider a ‘natural nootropic’ like BrainZyme.
'Natural nootropics' are fast growing in popularity among both experienced nootropic and new users. Why? Because they can deliver similar results but by using natural, herbal or protein-based ingredients.
BrainZyme, for example, uses Tyrosine, which has been found to boost dopamine in the brain in a similar way to Ritalin.
But, as it's from a naturally occurring protein rather than a synthetic pharmaceutical, it can arguably cause less of the side-effects associated with Ritalin.
To learn more about how BrainZyme makes a great Ritalin alternative, we suggest you click here.
Alternatively, you can check out the following related articles:
The Ultimate Ritalin Vs Adderall 2019 Guide: Which is Best for Studying?
Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones To Try and Which To Avoid.
The 7 Best Modafinil Alternatives To Boost Your Brain in 2019.