At the beginning of 2014, by listening to a podcast by entrepreneur and author Tim Ferris, I first came across so called nootropics. Nootropics, also referred to as ‘smart drugs’ are drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve one or more aspects of mental function, such as memory, motivation, and attention. The word nootropic was coined in 1972 by the Romanian Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea and is derived from the Greek words νους nous, or “mind,” and τρέπεινtrepein meaning to bend or turn. [Wikipedia]
Intrigued by the claims that they can increase focus, motivation and brain power I started experimenting with various “smart drugs” which, much like the one in the hollywood movie ‘Limitless‘, are supposed to turn one into some sort of super human.
I tested three different smart drugs that I stood out during my research. Forskolin + artichoke extract, Aniracetam and Alpha Brain. When first testing these three nootropics I made sure my day consistent roughly of the same activities, which was working on a project on a weekend day on my laptop, to keep the variables similar to better gage which drug worked best.
Forskolin + Artichoke Extract
The combination of Forskolin + Artichoke Extract, definitely managed to keep me alert and driven throughout the day. I did not feel particularly creative or inspired but I did get a huge amount of work done and when I was finished with the project I wanted to do more and started the next project I had in mind. On the other hand I couldn’t really sit still and always felt like I had to do something. It definitely has a “speed” like component and I felt like I took a drug. Hence I wouldn’t recommend it for regular use but for powering through a one off work load though I would definitely recommend it.
Aniracetam, probably the most chemical out of the three smart drugs I tested, had less of a speed like effect than Forskolin + Artichoke Extract but I managed to get the same amount of work done, with the same level of motivation. Again I didn’t feel particularly creative or overly focussed but it did, without a doubt, help me to be more productive. What made me a bit wary of aniracetam to begin with is that is it a high chemical drug used to treat alzheimers and therefore also carries a range of potential side effects. I prefer products with more natural ingredients so I am not a big fan of aniracetam.
Alpha Brain, by Onnit, was actually the first nootropic I tested. I sat down in a cafe on a Saturday morning with a book on entrepreneurship followed by working on my start up project at the time. I took two Alpha Brain pills with a cup of tea and it didn’t take long until it’s effects kicked in. I was extremely focussed and, inspired by the book I was reading, came up with various ways to improve the project I was working on. I blasted through the book in 2 hours and then jumped on my laptop. My ability to concentrate and my drive to work was greatly enhanced. I was genuinely impressed by Alpha Brain.
I take it almost every day at work now and feel slightly less of a profound affect that I did when I first took it, but my focus is substantially enhanced and so is my creativity. The only side affect that I have experienced, and this is a commonly known affect of Alpha Brain, is that when taking them I experience very vivid and sometimes lucid dreams. Having spoken to other people that have tested the drug not everyone enjoys that side effect. I on the other hand quite enjoy finding out what is lurking around in my subconscious.
For more information on Alpha Brain visit the Onnit Website.