The Future of Medicine: What To Know About Smart Drugs & Nootropics

Speed of Recall We’re not pulling any punches on this list because there are plenty of myths about smart drugs. But we’re presenting the facts too… Darren Ryding - December 20, 2023
Verywell Mind

Speed of Recall

We’re not pulling any punches on this list because there are plenty of myths about smart drugs. But we’re presenting the facts too and some indeed have benefits. There is evidence that Ashwagandha helps to improve the speed of recall as well as reduce anxiety (via Prevention).

Ayurvedic supplements tend to have a better reputation than the likes of modafinil. Bacopa Monnieri extract is another of these that has a proven track record of improving memory functions. Meanwhile, Omega-3 supplements also can help to improve the speed of recall and reactions.

Verywell Health

Increased Brain Blood Flow

Some people will question how smart drugs supposedly enhance the brain’s output. There are a couple of explanations that reveal why it may work. First, they reportedly increased the flow of blood to the brain which increases the oxidation levels. This also allows the easier transportation of chemicals like dopamine.

Meanwhile, other nootropics trigger the body’s adrenaline levels and this also spikes the brain to transmit quicker. Some medical experts question whether it is safe to artificially induce this response. There’s a lot of work to be done regarding smart drugs but it’s a fascinating area (via Amen Clinics).


Cumulative Effect

Critics of the current smart drug trends say that it’s pointless unless users take over long periods. Most of the benefits of nootropics reportedly only occur through a cumulative effect. Sure, there are exceptions like the instant boost that caffeine provides but many of them won’t work quickly.

The other problem with long-term smart drug use is an increased dependency on them. This is especially dangerous for young people as their brains are still developing. We must understand that smart drugs are here to stay but it’s crucial to use them properly so there are no ill effects (via ADF).

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FDA Approval

The FDA raised eyebrows over the past couple of years with the speed at which they’re approving smart drugs. However, experts observed that there is often little to no proof that these drugs work. Nuplazid is one example associated with Parkinson’s Disease but there’s no evidence of its effectiveness (via PBS).

One massive problem is that unintended users attempt to hack prescription drugs’ perceived benefits and use them as nootropics. The FDA has a responsibility to ensure that they’re legalizing safe substances. This also includes educating people about the myths regarding certain smart drugs.


High Blood Pressure

Earlier we explained how some smart drugs work to increase the blood flow to the brain. But this can have a serious side effect of increasing blood pressure. They may also speed up the heart rate and affect the vision. Prescription drugs like Modafinil and Adderall can produce this effect.

That’s why it’s crucial to consult a doctor before using nootropics like these. It’s risky to use them because the side effects can cause serious consequences. High blood pressure may lead to strokes or heart attacks so it’s very serious. Young people don’t think this way when they’re using them (via Medical News Today).


Youth Problems

As we can see, the 18-25 group is one of the key demographics behind the rise of smart drugs. However, increasingly younger teenagers are turning to these substances as they try to gain a competitive edge. This is problematic because their brains are still developing so it’s extremely risky.

Remember, these are mostly prescription drugs so it’s not wise for parents to allow their children to use them. Even coffee is risky for teenagers and many doctors recommend that they don’t drink it until they turn 18. This is something that we should be aware of as nootropics cement their place in society (via Healthline).

Medical News Today

Oxidative Stress Protection

Oxidative stress is the unwanted production of free radicals in the brain. Free radicals are reactive chemicals that come from imbalances in the body. The problem is that they can cause diseases and long-term damage. There’s a belief that some smart drugs may protect against oxidative stress.

Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that fight against these processes. Meanwhile, gotu kola is a popular plant with multiple benefits. Reportedly, it can protect against heavy metals as well as reducing free radicals in the brain. Usually, people consume gotu kola in capsule or tea form (via Mount Sinai).

Peace Valley Recovery

Quality Control

One of the current issues with nootropic consumption is that people are sourcing them from the internet. They’re turning to Amazon or even the deep web because they can’t buy them over the counter. The issue with this is that there is no quality control and this is extremely risky.

Even the FDA isn’t infallible but it can’t approve drugs that may actively kill or hurt people. Many students are buying these prescription drugs online and they have serious side effects that they don’t consider. Regulation is crucial so that young people don’t tempt fate (via Web MD).



Addiction or over-dependence on smart drugs can become a genuine problem. If people take stimulant drugs they may unconsciously develop the former issue. That’s why it’s impossible to buy them over the counter without a prescription. However, many users don’t realize this before they obtain them.

It’s also possible to become dependent without addictive cravings. After using smart drugs a tolerance may develop over time. This means that it will ironically become more challenging to focus without using them. It’s also likely that users will take more to regain the same effect (via The Woods At Parkside).

News Medical

Sleep Disorders

Nootropic users often take them because they want to stave off drowsiness and remain alert. That’s why they’re using the likes of Modafinil or Adderall. However, the reverse effect is that they may unwittingly trigger sleep disorders. Insomnia and unusual physical tiredness are commonly reported as long-term side effects.

Nobody wants to deal with these but they’re a genuine risk. ADHD medications are particularly risky in this regard because pharmacists create them to engage with the body’s chemical imbalances. That’s why it’s important to consult a medical expert before recklessly using them without a prescription (via Turnbridge).


Scientific American

Brain Wave Modulation

Some smart drug proponents profess that they promote brain wave modulation. The brain produces patterns of neuronal activity when we do different tasks. Scientists are aware of four distinct categories ranging from most to least activity. Brain wave modulation attempts to manipulate and fine-tune these frequencies (via Scientific American).

This is a controversial topic because many experts decry this and say there’s no evidence to validate this yet. Many also believe that meditation and other holistic practices are as effective as using nootropics for this purpose. Only time will tell if smart drugs can aid brain wave modulation.

The Varsity

Further Research Required

One of the most important points to note about smart drugs is that we need to do more research to understand them. The reality is that they are the future and their increased use is resulting in their normalization. It’s naive to try to change the course of history because it’s not going to happen.

Scientists will play a big part in uncovering the truth about smart drugs. We’ll learn what works and what’s pointless or even dangerous for us to consume. It’s also important for legislators to carefully regulate them but not to turn them into fetishized banned substances like illegal drugs (via The Varsity).