The search for NZT 48 in the real world. Limitless Pill, anyone?
Who doesn’t want a “magic pill?” While the expression is usually just figurative and is mildly preposterous, there surely are a great many people who believe that such things truly exist. There are even more people who know better, but truly WISH that these things existed. In fact, a multi-billion dollar industry thrives on the dreams and aspirations of the many hopeful people in quest of the holy grail in pharmaceuticals: the ultimate performance enhancer that would give them a mental advantage over everyone else.
But surely, a great many commercially-available products are already helping athletes enjoy a competitive edge over their rivals. So why all the fuss about finding a magic pill? The answer lies in the nature of most humans to harbor a greater desire to be superior in the most important aspect of their humanity that makes the species superior to all other life forms: the human mind. Indeed, the challenge to develop products that make people smarter and become virtual super-heroes due to their superior intelligence, has become an entire discipline of its own. This is the pharmaceutical realm of Nootropics.
Do Nootropics Work?
A nootropic is any ingested agent that can elicit an enhancement in cognitive function. To put it plainly, nootropics are substances that shift your brain into high gear or cause an immediate improvement of your intellectual abilities. Before anything else, however, it is important to establish that actual nootropics cannot do the dark magic of transforming a stupid person into a smart one. Rather, these substances enable people to better utilize the abilities they already have by motivating them and causing them to focus so they can accomplish more tasks in less time.
But do magic pills really exist? Do nootropics work? Loosely speaking, the most widely used and innocuous stimulant is the caffeine in your cup of java. Caffeine has a proven advantageous effect on alertness and overall cognitive function, including memory – thereby causing coffee to become the most popular and mainstream, nootropic there is.
Closer to the fringe, there is also documented evidence that the nicotine in your pack of smokes demonstrates a nootropic effect as it can improve fine motor ability, awareness, and even episodic and working memory. Over the edge, there are restricted or illegal drugs like amphetamines, and the various other substances that are taken for recreational purposes by people who enjoy … well, . . . getting high or momentarily hotwiring their brains.
While all these substances surely have some ability to crank up performance levels of what you are already capable of, none of them can function the way the fictitious drug, NZT 48 as depicted in the 2011 Neil Burger motion picture “Limitless” does. In this film the main character played by Bradley Cooper acquires amazing abilities by taking the wonder drug which does much more than the best nootropics in the real world can ever do. In the film, the drug NZT 48 enables people to access their entire brain instead of only a tiny fraction of it by targeting “identified receptors in the brain that act on specific circuits,” – whatever that’s supposed to mean.
A real “Limitless Pill?”
While cinema offers entertainment, relaxation, and even information, it can also cause impressionable audiences to get strange ideas such as believing zombies are real. In the same way, watching the movie Limitless has caused people to believe NZT 48, the limitless pill is really a thing, and can be purchased somewhere if you know where to look. In their pursuit of this quick fix, many people do extensive investigation into the available preparations that most closely approximate the effects that NZT 48 had on the main character in the film.
Surely, no actual drug can even come close to the limitless pill featured in the movie. However, the top real world contenders for such a title are legally registered stimulant drugs like amphetamines which includes Adderall, dextroamphetamine, and lisdexamfetamine; Eugeroics like armodafinil and modafinil; Methylphenidate; and, of course, the caffeine and nicotine that countless people rely on to get their motors running day after day without needing a prescription.
There is also a host of other medications that are not necessarily stimulants, but improve brain function and memory. Among these are Levodopa, L-Thianine, Tolcapone, and Atomoxetine.
Positioned in the market as cognitive enhancing drugs, the pharmaceutical preparations called Racetams are noted for their efficacy in improving learning memory, focus, mood and energy levels, and overall brain health. As such, they are also widely regarded as nootropic drugs. The most popular Racetams are Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Aniracetam. Phenylpiracetam and Oxiracetam are also classified as stimulants. Levetiracetam and Seletracetam are used therapeutically as anticonvulsants, but also produce a nootropic effect. While Racetams are not regarded as frontline nootropic drugs, their action is similar to that of the fictitious NZT 48 drug described in the movie Limitless which is to interact with receptors in the brain.
Not to be discounted is the influence of nutrition on brain development and cognitive function. Too much advertising already bombards consumers with misleading suggestions that specific food products, many of which are infant formulas, will boost brain development and help you raise genius kids who will excel in school and professional life. In truth, these vitamins and mineral supplements merely ensure that the child is not deficient in any dietary essential he would need to attain his full potential. That potential is a product of genetics and environment, and will not be enhanced by taking any more nutrition than is required. Thus, even if peanuts might truly be “brain food,” you can’t get progressively smarter by eating more and more peanuts.
There are, however, some naturally-occurring substances that have known nootropic properties, and are often regarded as herbal drugs, dietary supplements, or “nutraceuticals.” The closest alternative medicine and fitness store to where you live is very likely to offer herbal preparations with Ginkgo biloba extract. This widely-used herb is believed to enhance cognitive function in healthy people, and is also the source of the extract, EGb 761, a preparation being considered as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Ginseng, which is already widely used in the West as an invigorating tonic and even a drug meant to improve sexual prowess, has also been found to possess nootropic qualities, although studies are still currently preliminary. The dietary supplement Bacopa monnieri is touted as a dietary supplement due to some preliminary evidence on its memory-enhancing effects.
If it works . . .
The top nootropics USA health stores are typically stocked with might belong to various categories ranging from research-based pharmaceutical products that target neuro-receptors to natural extracts taken directly from medicinal plants. The best nootropics may be those that the user wholeheartedly believes in, and subconsciously helps to make it work. Whether your best nootropics could be regarded as memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive, or even intelligence enhancers, the important aspect in nootropic efficacy is the desire and willingness to become smarter. This kind of determination can generate the necessary motivation and discipline required to demonstrate improved cognitive performance.
In effect, each one of us may already possess that wondrous “Limitless Pill” that serves as our individual and personalized magic bullet. What remains to be done is making a decision to take that pill.