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PROJECT: WIDEAWAKE
December 5, 2011 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Besides coffee and caffeine, what is the best over-the-counter, widely-available stimulant?

Does it contain taurine?
Phenylalanine?
Guarana?
Yerba Mate?

Ideally, you're telling me about something I can buy in a common drug store or online, for not too much money, and it's something I've never heard of (i.e. I know about Red Bull, thanks).
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ginseng?
posted by ambrosen at 3:03 PM on December 5, 2011


Neurosonic is pretty good http://drinkneuro.com/products/sonic
posted by KateViolet at 3:05 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nicotine, such as in a lozenge?
I used to buy Provigil (modafinil) online from Europe but gave it up in favor of Vyvanse or Adderall, which are much harder to obtain online.
posted by acidic at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2011


Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) which you have to ask the pharmacist for, but you don't need a prescription in most places (here in Oregon you do).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yogi Tea "Slim Life". Its supposed to be ginseng and stevia but I wonder. I drink it rarely!
posted by fshgrl at 3:19 PM on December 5, 2011


Rhodiola!
posted by birdbone at 3:35 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seconding pseudoephedrine. I can't even take it anymore because it keeps me up all night.
posted by something something at 3:57 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Taking a multi-b vitamin complex can effectively boost energy levels, although there's no stimulant involved. Safe, easy to get, very cheap.
posted by clockzero at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll second the Neurosonic suggestion. I had my doubts but it was actually not bad and had some zing to it.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:02 PM on December 5, 2011


I swear by yerba mate these days. I find that it gives me focus but not the jitters—perfect.
posted by divisjm at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might also consider what the term "stimulant" means to you. What are you trying to "stimulate"? That might help us narrow the choices down.
posted by telstar at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2011


You can buy coca leaves from amazon. A cup of coca tea is a nice mild buzz, maybe a litte more like nicotine then caffeine, and with much less of a crash when it wears off.

You should be able to get ma huang at a health food store. It is a Chinese herb with good source of ephedra. I find it a little more jittery and intense then I like.

Yohimbe is an African bark, and can also probably be found at the health food store, probably as an extract. It will also make your pupils dilate and make you look crazy. It is also a vasodilator, and used as an aphrodisiac. Avoid it if you have any issues with high blood pressure. Actually probably avoid all of these if you do, but yohimbe in particular.

Cathinone is pretty great, but unfortunately, is not legal in the U.S. Khat is pretty easy to grow though.
posted by St. Sorryass at 4:59 PM on December 5, 2011


Loose yerba mate is terrific.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:13 PM on December 5, 2011


Theobromine is a stimulant. But considering its toxicity, you probably can't get it in pure form.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:15 PM on December 5, 2011


A new one I tried recently is catuaba bark. The plant is in the same genus as coca, but the shredded bark, not the leaves are used. The tea tastes pleasantly herby-tannic and mixes well with honey.

No one has mentioned betel. Very widely used in Asia/Pacific. Completely legal, but chewing it stains the teeth black.
posted by telstar at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2011


The main ingredient in Bronkaid and Primatene is ephedrine sulfate.

Ephedrine sulfate is a serious stimulant that is used to stop asthma attacks. As someone with lifelong asthma, I keep a package in the car as a medicine of last resort. IMHO, it's much stronger than pseudoephedrine.

You don't need a prescription to buy it, but it is behind the counter. It is found behind the counter because ephedrine sulfate is a key precursor to crystal meth.

It will absolutely keep you awake, but you need to be careful not to take too much.
posted by Argyle at 5:46 PM on December 5, 2011


No one has mentioned betel. Very widely used in Asia/Pacific. Completely legal, but chewing it stains the teeth black.

Not a betel-chewer, but a boss was. If you don't use lime with it, it won't stain your teeth, and I don't think it will make the disgusting red spit, either. I get the impression that it's a pretty mild buzz.
posted by momus_window at 6:01 PM on December 5, 2011


I too was chiming in to say something with Ephedrine. We used to go to truck stops and get the "asthma medicine" with ephedrine in them (aka Trucker's speed). Get super speedy on that stuff and drink all night. Not one of my best choices for a weekend activity, but what can I say. I was young.
posted by ephemerista at 6:03 PM on December 5, 2011


You could create an ECA stack with OTC pills, but I don't really recommend it. It made my heart race and it made me feel very ill. I think it can cause heart attacks if you take too much or have a weak heart.

If you do decide to take ephedrine (as ECA or alone), I recommend starting with a low dose to see how well you tolerate it. Be careful, it can be dangerous.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2011


I drank these during a marathon exam session. I found them at a health food store. Don't drink coffee or soda. They kept me alert but it may have also been the pungent smell of apple cider vinegar.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 6:41 PM on December 5, 2011


Adrafinil is an unregulated cousin of modafinil and can be purchased from online importers. It's fairly good at promoting wakefulness, but seems inferior to modafinil in terms of improving focus.

Seconding ephedrine/pseudoephedrine (especially the former), but avoid them if you have any preexisting heart conditions (irregular heartbeat, hypertension, etc).
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:09 PM on December 5, 2011


Ginger works as a stimulant. I drink ginger tea (from crystals like this which I get at the Chinese supermarket) during essay time. For me, it's not as strong a stimulant as caffeine but it works pretty well without the same jittery/anxious effect. YMMV
posted by vanitas at 7:37 PM on December 5, 2011


dephlogisticated: " Seconding ephedrine/pseudoephedrine (especially the former), but avoid them if you have any preexisting heart conditions (irregular heartbeat, hypertension, etc)."

Just stressing this. Sudafed made my heart go nuts and landed me in the ER. Be careful of an alternative drug to pseudoephedrine called phenylephrine - it can have the same effects.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:41 PM on December 5, 2011


Depends on what kind of stimulation you are looking for. Before getting diagnosed for ADHD, the only thing that worked for me was ephedrine (and the awful wired-ness that goes with it) or guzzling green tea.
posted by gjc at 7:53 PM on December 5, 2011


I'm a big fan of Yerba Mate.

I brew it strong from loose tea, using a french press. It's nice because it doesn't make me tense at all, which is the standard side effect of caffeine. But coffee and Monster taste better of course.
posted by colinshark at 9:10 PM on December 5, 2011


L-tyrosine, ALCAR, CDP-Choline can all be found at health stores.
(L-tyrosine and CDP are ingredients in 5-hour energy).
posted by pickingoutathermos at 10:16 PM on December 5, 2011


Chewing gum, believe it or not. Although its effects last only about 20 minutes.
posted by consilience at 10:38 PM on December 5, 2011


I am drinking altogether too many of those Five-Hour Energy Shots lately, and it's... working. Yes. Working. A lot of the things listed above do not do much for me. I didn't even know Sudafed *could* have any stimulant effect. But the Energy Shot things are... working. Yes. They are working. (I am absurdly bouncy and not sleeping a ridiculous amount, that is.)

I've also found of late that vitamin D has increased my wakefulness in general. I live in Seattle and am known to be chronically deficient anyway, so that may not help you, and I don't think it would do much as a quick fix. But it does seem to be helping me in the longer term.

And, though it's not available at your local drugstore, everyone above is right about modafinil. I love it for focus and energy, and I wish it were more readily available. At least I have my stupid Five Hour Energy Shots.
posted by Because at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2011


I use energy shots like Because, but I buy RipIt brand ones at the dollar store. They work like a charm for staying awake anytime. I only drink 1/3 to 1/2 of them (so a couple of them will last a week), mainly in the mornings. Once I've had my shower I'm not groggy at all.
posted by cp311 at 3:07 PM on December 6, 2011


(I know it has caffeine, sorry, but they work perfectly for me and cost $1.)
posted by cp311 at 3:07 PM on December 6, 2011


I can attest to Ginko working - seems to increase circulation slightly?
My fingers and toes don't get cold when I've had it, either.

(There used to be a V8 Fruit and Vege Juice 'Startup orchard blend + ginko' - it was odd to find it actually had enough Ginko to work!)
posted by Elysum at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2011


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