Welcome to Best Brain Pills, a guide to the nootropics that help people’s minds function better.

Best Brain Pills – ADHD Meds, Piracetam, or Modafinil?

There are many articles floating around out there on the internet, usually in the area reserved for targeted ads, that claim to know which brain pill on the market is the best brain pill on the market.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the phrase ‘best brain pill’ doesn’t cover any of the bases you’d want an informative article to cover. The human brain is a large and complex thing, and there are many different kinds of pills, supplements, and medications that you can take to improve or affect different areas and functions. Many more of those pills, supplements and medications you take when it breaks down or glitches, to help control harmful or disorienting symptoms of various mental diseases.

If you’ve ever searched up anything about enhancing your brain with supplements, up to and including ‘best brain pill’, you’ll know that there are three main phrases that have been bandied about a lot.

‘Brain enhancing drugs’, ‘Smart drugs’, and ‘Nootropics’

All three of these rather uninformative phrases refer to pills or tablets taken to allegedly improve memory, learning, focus, attention, and other cognitive skills, but the terminology got murky somewhere along the line.

Recently, ‘nootropic’ has started being used to describe anything that boosts your brain power, but according to the original definition of the word, that’s incorrect.

Nootropics are classically defined as something that a) improves brain health, and b) does no harm. So, while many treatments being advertised online and on TV can be classified as nootropics, some of them don’t fit the bill because of the dangerous and damaging side effects they also confer upon the unwary consumer. In fact, most of the results you might get from searching ‘best brain pills’ are similarly not that great, let alone the best.

The ‘no harm’ part has been forgotten by some of the brain enhancing drugs out there, and so to avoid any confusion, I offer you these three definitive definitions:

  • Nootropics – safe supplements that can be both natural or artificial. They boost brain activity with no or low possibility of side effects, and if a side effect does arise, it is mild and only inconveniencing. The most likely contender for being the best brain pill out there.
  • Smart drugs – supplements that can be both natural or artificial. They boost brain activity with a possibility of side effects, and these side effects are more severe than those of nootropics but are still manageable.
  • Brain enhancing drug – the steroids of the mental world, these are compounds that can be both artificial or natural that are not recommended for casual consumption. If taken over a long period of time, they can and will result in permanent and debilitating damage, and if taken wrongly, they can and will result in injury, illness, and death. So far from being the best brain pill that they loop around and punch the actual best brain pill in the face.

Please take care when you’re out there on the web or in the world shopping for something to help that in progress novel or craft project of yours along. Take all care when planning on taking anything, be it a nootropic, smart drug, or brain enhancer, and do your research before buying. Make sure your so-called ‘best brain pill’ really is the best brain pill for you.
With that safety lesson out of the way, let’s dive in to the most popular kinds of drugs out there. They fall into three categories: ADHD medication, piracetam, and modafinil.

ADHD Medication

To understand how ADHD medication can work on a healthy person, one must first understand how it works on a person with ADHD.
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is when a person a) cannot focus on one thing very effectively or at all, and b) has an undue amount of energy and restlessness, resulting in them switching between points of interest like a hummingbird between flowers.

To make things a little more confusing, there are actually two kinds of ADHD: inattentive and hyperactive.

People with inattentive ADHD tend to be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, frequently switch from one activity to another.

People with hyperactive ADHD tend to fidget an excessive amount, talk nonstop, dash around, touch or play with anything they can get their hands on, blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences.

The different ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin are classified as stimulants, and deal with these symptoms by increasing the neurotransmitters known as dopamine and norepinephrine, which are associated with pleasure, movement, and attention. They have a calming and focusing effect on people affected with ADHD, and are helpful for the inattentiveness, poor memory, impulsiveness, and mood swings experienced by those people.

For people that don’t have ADHD, these drugs reportedly make them feel alert and mentally clear. They are legal only with a doctor’s prescription since they’re considered highly addictive, and over time a tolerance is built up, resulting in the need to take more at a time to get the same level of effect.

It’s recommended that you use them sparingly, if at all, for many different studies have shown that students who abuse prescription stimulants actually have lower GPAs than those who don’t.

They’re usually taken daily and come in tablets and pills of various dosages; when prescribed by doctors, dopamine is steadily increased to provide a gradual easing into the higher doses.

Exercise due caution if taking stimulants; they are known to increase blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as decrease appetite and sleep. Abuse of stimulants can lead to malnutrition and its consequences, feelings of hostility and paranoia, and at high doses, cardiovascular complications, including stroke.

Piracetam

Piracetam, also known as Nootropil, Nootropyl, and Lucetam, is derived from the chemical GABA, which is ironically found in the human brain, and was developed by the same scientist who first used the term nootropics.

It has been around since the 1960’s and is used by people worldwide for a variety of reasons, the most prevalent of these being to increase memory retention and recollection. With a history of being used to treat cognitive impairment, it’s said to improve learning, memory, and concentration, waking up the brain’ according to enthusiasts.

Regular users of Piracetam report that it doesn’t cause toxicity even at high doses, and it is popular on college campuses as a study drug, even though it’s not approved as either medication or as a supplement in the US.

Even though piracetam supplementation in healthy people is understudied, preliminary evidence suggests that healthy people experience little to no cognitive benefit, and as such, it is understood to be most effective for older people.

It’s been found to reduce the chances of a breath-holding spell in children, enhance cellular membrane fluidity, and prevent blood clotting on par with aspirin.

Despite these endorsements, the use of Piracetam to increase brain function is actually frowned upon by most experts on brain function. It’s also not legal to buy it in the US, and if you want to take Piracetam, you have to order it online.

Modafinil

Modafinil, also known as Provigil, Modalert, and Alertec, was originally made and marketed for sleep disorders, and has been prescribed in the US for this reason since 1998. It was found only by chance to help with focus and concentration, and it is only approved for the treatment of narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea.

24 studies done between 1990 and 2014 were recently reviewed by researchers at the University of Oxford to gauge how Modafinil actually benefits cognition. They found that, while the results were uneven and inconclusive, the method by which the results were judged had an effect on the ruling.

People charged with doing simple tasks did not exhibit much of an increase in brain function after taking Modafinil, but their performance on complex and difficult tasks after taking the drug was significantly better than those who were given a placebo. This suggests that it may affect “higher cognitive functions—mainly executive functions but also attention and learning,” explains study co-author Ruairidh Battleday.

However, despite these apparent good results, it’s recommended that you don’t run to the pharmacy just yet. The long term effects of taking Modafinil haven’t been studied conclusively or in-depth yet; to the contrary and in direct opposition to the many claims that Modafinil is completely safe, 50% of modafinil users report a number of short term side effects, such as mild to severe headaches, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, nervousness, hypertension, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Long-term use of Modafinil hasn’t been studied in depth, but PET scans show it affects the same areas of the brain that are stimulated by substance abuse. In addition, it significantly upsets sleep cycles, and the point at which a person might become acclimated to its effects and be forced to take more hasn’t been accurately reported.

So Which One is Right for Me? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

Just like nobody can tell you how your brain works, you yourself have to decide which of these medications works the best for stimulating the various areas of your brain. You’ll have to shop around and see which one affects you most and in the right ways

There are a few pointers we can give, though

Before you rush out to the store or onto the web to buy ANY kind of pill, do your research. Find out which side-effects are the most likely and most reported and carefully weigh the pros and cons; if you use this pill to ace an exam, for instance, will it be worth the horrible, gut-wrenching, grueling stomachache that might follow?
In addition, one must consider how a brain pill might interact with any other medication they might be taking. Always ask your doctor about what is and isn’t safe, even if it might be embarrassing or awkward for you.

Let’s go over the pros and cons of the three listed above one more time

ADHD medication are stimulants, which increase dopamine and norepinephrine, the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure, movement, and attention. They have a calming and focusing effect on people with ADHD, and help with inattentiveness, poor memory, impulsiveness, and mood swings.

On the other hand, they’re only legal to take if you have a prescription. They’re highly addictive, and one grows tolerant of them, leading to the person needing to take more. Studies show that the GPAs of people that take ADHD medication and other stimulants are lower than those who don’t.

They increase blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as decrease appetite and sleep. Abuse of stimulants can lead to malnutrition and its consequences, feelings of hostility and paranoia, and at high doses, cardiovascular complications, including stroke

Piracetam is used to increase memory, learning, and concentration. It is not reported to be toxic even at high doses, but healthy people are reported to not get that much of a boost from it, and it is understood to be most effective for older people. It’s been found to reduce the chances of a breath-holding spell in children, enhance cellular membrane fluidity, and prevent blood clotting on par with aspirin

Despite these endorsements, the use of Piracetam to increase brain function is actually frowned upon by most experts on brain function. It’s also not legal to buy it in the US, and if you want to take Piracetam, you have to order it online.

Modafinil increases focus and concentration, as well as deals with sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea. A recent study by the University of Oxford shows that performance on complex and difficult tasks was significantly better after taking Modafinil.

Conversely, you have to consider that the long term effects of Modafinil haven’t been studies very well. It significantly upsets sleep cycles, and 50% of Modafinil users report a number of short term side effects, such as mild to severe headaches, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, nervousness, hypertension, decreased appetite, and weight loss. PET scans show it affects the same areas of the brain that are stimulated by substance abuse

Once again, the utmost caution must be taken when consuming any kind of drug or supplement. Take care, be safe, and go kick that project that’s giving you so much trouble in the behind!