Instant concentration enhancers?
September 15, 2007 3:42 PM   Subscribe

I want to improve my reading and comprehension concentration for a few hours at a time using drugs/chemicals/foods only. Yes I believe you that meditation and exercise are the ideal solutions but I just want to be my usual averagely healthy self when Im not concentrating. I also don't care about negative short-term after-effects.

Ok there's caffeine. Check. What about these energy drinks? Are some better for concentration than others? What about pure Guarana? I heard dark chocolate works for some people as well? What about Gingko? Have there been any studies done about chemically-enhanced concentration? What works for you?
posted by zaebiz to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
(somebody has to say it): Adderol.

Side effects galore. Don't even think about taking it. But it's the one thing that immediately comes to mind as a real non-hype mind altering drug of that capacity.
posted by tmcw at 3:51 PM on September 15, 2007

You want to look into nootropics.

The most popular seems to be Piracetam, often combined with Alpha GPC or something similar. Personally these mellow me out and make me less focused.

I like GABA, it's a safe neuroinhibitor. For me it 'clears' the fog, the effect takes just a few minutes, but only lasts for a few hours. I often find myself able to tolerate boring work, and find myself more focused on the task at hand. For many people it has the opposite effect, making them drowsy or even sleepy.

Also, Omega fish oil type supplements (especially DHA) are excellent, although these can take days to take effect. There are lots of studies about the benefits of taking Omega 3 fatty acids, and not just for the brain.

Caffeine tends to make me more focused, but reduces the quality of my memory, not an optimal solution.

Your mileage may vary, but please do yourself a favor and be cautious. Many nootropics pass right through the blood brain barrier and can mess you up.
posted by parallax7d at 4:31 PM on September 15, 2007

How to Take Ritalin Correctly: advice from the Last Psychiatrist to med students.
posted by RussHy at 4:36 PM on September 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you really don't care about negative effects, methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, and methyphenidate (Ritalin) all improve concentration significantly and measurably. You are wasting your time in the kiddie aisle with stuff that doesn't work particularly well if these are your goals and you don't use these drugs to achieve them. The studies showing these effects were first done in the 50's by the US armed forces.

However, they can cause heart attack and stroke, are extremely habit-forming, and it's unlawful to possess, manufacture or transport them in most places. For these reasons I wouldn't recommend that anyone use them; but you said you didn't care about negative effects.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:47 PM on September 15, 2007

posted by number9dream at 6:28 PM on September 15, 2007

Provigil (modafinil).
posted by nicwolff at 7:03 PM on September 15, 2007

Provigil can be helpful if you have concentration problems that are related to fatigue. I'm not sure how helpful it would be in other circumstances. On the other hand, it has very few side effects and is great for things like all-nighters (not to mention jet lag). Unless you have a specific diagnosis, your insurance won't pay for it (and rightly so).
posted by alms at 7:23 PM on September 15, 2007

Small amounts of nicotine along with caffeine help concentration. Larger amounts of nicotine don't.

Drinking enough water is easy to forget. Get yerself a thermos bottle and tea.
posted by stereo at 10:05 PM on September 15, 2007

Glucose may help with memorization. Choose a source that doesn't come with a lot of fat. I always had a pile of sweets next to me while I was doing exam revision.
posted by tomcooke at 2:45 AM on September 16, 2007

Also, too much sugar actually impairs performance, so you need to get a sense of what works for you.
posted by tomcooke at 2:46 AM on September 16, 2007

Eating a healthy, balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, fresh food and water, and foresaking junk foods and stuff full of crap can go a long way to improving concentration and mental stamina.
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:39 AM on September 16, 2007

Sorry I meant to add: though this doesn't quite compare with hard drugs in giving an 'instant boost', listening to your body and eating a light healthy meal or a piece of fruit when required can really perk you up.
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:44 AM on September 16, 2007

posted by Reggie Digest at 3:53 PM on September 16, 2007

« Older cooking with (mild) allergies   |   Out, out, damn dust! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.