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May 29, 2004 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I've been reading about Nootropics, or "smart drugs" for a little while, digging around in I wanted to ask if anyone in the mefi-verse has used some of the latest nootropics and what their experiences were. I won't go into the complexities of my situation save to say that I'd like to increase my focus and mental acuity during the conclusion of a long, life-draining project that rhymes with "dissertation." Thanks.
posted by mecran01 to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Well I don't want to tell anyone to be taking drugs without consultation... but if I were I'd suggest a d-amphetamine based solution (Dexedrine, Adderall).

I looked into nootropics and it seems if there's any kind of improvement it's psychological. I also used the "if it really worked people would be taking it all across campuses". So if I were to use something it'd be what everyone else was using to stay focused, alert and mentally acute.

Just remember to not take more than one pill of anything you're not prescribed the first time.
posted by geoff. at 7:11 AM on May 29, 2004

That was terrible sentence structure. If you're not prescribed, just remember to not take more than one pill.
posted by geoff. at 8:16 AM on May 29, 2004

I wanted to ask if anyone in the mefi-verse has used some of the latest nootropics and what their experiences were.

Ok, thanks for the adderall tip. I've used it, and it's not bad, but it's a little strong and sorta expensive, at $30/month prescribed.
posted by mecran01 at 4:21 PM on May 29, 2004

I haven't tried it personally, but look into 2C-D.
posted by Gyan at 4:57 PM on May 29, 2004

2c-d, administered rectally, and it burns! Hmm...

Erowid Experience Vaults: 2C-D - Psychedelic Tea:

"I am seeing a trend here. All psychedelics that I have not been too excited about turn out to be amazing. This was certainly the case for 2C-T-2 and now 2C-D. Funny though, all psychedelics that I WAS very excited about turned out to be not too good, such as Iprocetyl and MDMA. The only exceptions to this so far were DPT and DiPT ? I loved them both on paper, and I loved them even more after trying them.

But anyways, on to the report!

5 mg of 4-Methyl-2,5-Dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C-D) were very easily dissolved in 5 ml of water. No stirring or anything required. This was then loaded into a clean, needle-less syringe and administered rectally. I am 120 lbs, VERY sensitive to all Phenethylamines I tried, and to me, rectal dosages usually have effects equal to the double of that dose taken orally (so, in this case, the effects are the equivalent of 10 mg oral). Now, I usually take my Phenethylamines orally since that is, in my opinion, the best way to take them. However, since 2C-D isn?t very potent in relation to its price, I decided I will go with this route since it was just a ?test drive.?

And what a test drive it was!

First, this is THE most uncomfortable compound I have taken rectally. It had a significant burn (nothing serious -- certainly not like the nose burn -- but still annoying). It was also trying to force itself out. But within 5 minutes the discomfort suddenly passed and I was left in a very relaxed state with a very clear mind.

And in fact, this state kept intensifying over the next hour. By 20 minutes I was most definitely feeling it. There was an almost shocking sharpening of the senses. Thoughts flowed at ease. At that time, I decided to take a walk. I took my mp3 player with me (I had music by Metric on it"
posted by mecran01 at 6:48 PM on May 29, 2004

Adderall being the new coffee on campus, I've given it a few tries with term paper deadlines looming. Although I was more productive for several hours, when I went back to read and edit what I had written, I found nearly all of it to be useless. It was all very stream-of-consciousness, and I jumped from topic to topic with no real focus. It looked like the minutes of a focus group brainstormming session more than it did an academic, let alone defensible, thesis. So my recommendation is this: avant-garde automatic writing, Adderall Good. Well-structured, carfully thought out thesis papers, Adderall Bad.
posted by ChasFile at 7:05 PM on May 29, 2004

My god. Injecting drugs up your anus is even more pathetic than injecting drugs into a major vein. When you've reached that point in your life, you know you've failed the game.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:32 PM on May 29, 2004

I'd like to increase my focus and mental acuity during the conclusion of a long, life-draining project that rhymes with "dissertation."

Before you begin the drugs: is it asinine to recommend eight hours of sleep a night, regular exercise, and healthy meals?

I'm not trying to be a smartass. I think it could help if you're not doing it already.

Then again, I usually get about six hours of sleep a night.
posted by tss at 9:12 PM on May 29, 2004

geoff.> If you're not prescribed, just remember to not take more than one pill.

I think there's something in that for all of us.

... possibly not something good, but I digress.
posted by snarfodox at 11:58 PM on May 29, 2004

I'd like to increase my focus and mental acuity

Buy a box of Emergen-C or make smoothies with bananas and spirulina. It doesn't have to have a name two miles long to work.
posted by scarabic at 12:03 AM on May 30, 2004

I've tried the two popular nootropics at the time, about 2-3 years ago (yes, im always trying something weird) and got nothing but side-effects. A lot of the science behind most nootropics is kinda shady or somewhere in the placebo area.

As far as the "if they worked, we'd all be taking them" argument may speak volumes, but an effective dose is pretty damn expensive, especially when you have to take this stuff for weeks/months before it really kicks in. If it works at all.

On the flip-side, some of the science behind nootropics is solid, but the implementation is bad. Maybe in 20 years we're have kick-ass nootropics, which of course will be banned at every university.

Also, there are some assumptions out there that just don't work. Okay, lets say I can magically make more choline in your brain, that doesn't mean it'll do anything but sit there. Assuming that it will change into other brain chemicals and make a difference is really pushing it. Its like assuming the because food keeps you alive, eating more food will make you extra alive!

I'm probably being too harsh on nootropics, but unless you got a few grand and 6 months to a year finding your proper "cocktail" then don't bother. Most nootropic users will probably admit good old mnemonic devices work just as well if not better than playing with all those neat chemicals in your brain.

Also, I believe some of this stuff will be coming from overseas because of US law, so you may be playing with your health.
posted by skallas at 12:53 AM on May 30, 2004

While tangential, Brain Waves might be a helpful browse.
posted by Gyan at 6:17 AM on May 30, 2004

I have to say that, having taken adderal on prescription for about a year, ChasFile's experience above is not even remotely reflective of my own. In fact, if he hadn't used the word adderal, I would be sure he was talking about a completely different substance.

But, mecran01, good on you if the amount you need only costs you $30/month.

That said, I don't take it anymore.
posted by bingo at 11:00 AM on May 30, 2004

scientific studies have proved that herbal supplements of gingko biloba and ginseng combined have a definite positive impact on memory and concentration - they're being promoted specifically for alzheimers patients, but (see erowid for more details on both of these supplements as well) many students recommend them. I've been taking both daily and, well, I don't know whether it's psychosomatic that because I think they're helping me, I'm therefore able to concentrate better, or if they're actually helping me focus more, but hey, either way, they seem very good!

they're perfectly legal, safe when taken in the recommended dosages, and available at your local health-food shop and in many pharmacists shops too. YMMV, of course, but they're very commonly used for exactly the kind of purpose you're looking for, and aren't such a great health risk as other options mentioned.
posted by kitschbitch at 4:40 AM on May 31, 2004 [1 favorite]

In 1988, I experimineted with amino acid supplements as a means of improving mental acuity and reducing my need for sleep.

I took large quantities (somewhat less than advocated by the R.U. Sirius crowd, quite a bit more than the recommendation on the bottle) of choline, inositol, and another trendy one that I'd read about. I noticed no obvious effects; but since I was taking chemicals that were fundamental to biochemistry, I figured the results might be subtle or delayed.

Eventually, I decided that was probably true: I needed no more than four or five hours of sleep a night, and I found myself able to concentrate on things I would have found frighteningly boring, before. (Most notably, "programming" register machines using a self-defined logical calculus. Not my idea, BTW.)

But I also noticed something else: Nothing seemed to be funny anymore.

Let me elaborate on that: I could tell when things were funny. I could watch a movie or a TV show, or hear the guys in the control room tell a joke, and think, "That's funny." But I wouldn't laugh. It wouldn't make me feel happy.
I'd lost my sense of humor.

So I stopped. That was sometime in September of that year. But that was also about the time my life started to fall apart in other ways. By mid-October, I was a basket case: constantly anxious, barely able to sleep at all, uninterested in eating (I lost something like 35 lbs over a month and a half), reduced to tears at the slightest provocation, brain tortured by paranoid ideations.

I didn't draw a connection at the time. But a couple of years later, when I told the first part of this story on the old Factsheet Five BBS, someone came back to tell me that large doses of these amino acids had been associated with anxiety, paranoia, and emotional instability....

The moral: Especially when what's at stake is your future (i.e., your dissertation), you screw with this stuff at your peril. Exercise, good diet, and the judicious application of relatively benign aids like caffeine/guaranine/mateine, gingko, and ginseng, is probably a much wiser tack when all things are considered.
posted by lodurr at 6:12 AM on May 31, 2004 [2 favorites]

You can even try as something as simple as taking a b-complex vitamin daily, especially if you don't eat well (fast foods, etc)
posted by skallas at 4:10 PM on May 31, 2004

Many thanks, once again, for the good insights. I am definitely going to start exercising more, and will use some minor, mild herbal stuff as mentioned above. In addition I'm setting an appointment to see a shrink, and may experiment briefly with Vipocetine. Again, many thanks.
posted by mecran01 at 8:42 AM on June 1, 2004

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