Cog­ni­tive Cap­sules


Men's Health (UK) - - Time -

Be­gin­ning in Sil­i­con Val­ley and spread­ing across the US, the once techy trend of dos­ing with mind­boost­ing drugs – or nootrop­ics – has now spread to work­places here in the UK. But while they’re no sub­sti­tute for a healthy life­style, re­cent re­search sug­gests the right kind of self-med­i­ca­tion can help your brain shift into a higher gear as you age.

First let’s ex­am­ine the mar­ket. The number of neuro-ac­tive pills cur­rently on of­fer is un­prece­dented, but Modafinil – an Fda-ap­proved sub­stance orig­i­nally de­vel­oped to treat nar­colepsy – has the great­est body of ev­i­dence. It works by in­creas­ing lev­els of cer­tain mood­boost­ing neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, such as dopamine and nor­ep­i­neph­rine, stim­u­lat­ing neu­ral ac­tiv­ity in the same way as am­phet­a­mines, just without the un­wanted side ef­fects or the P45 at home-time. A sys­tem­atic re­view of stud­ies pub­lished in the jour­nal Euro­pean Neu­ropsy­chophar­ma­col­ogy found it has sig­nif­i­cant brain-en­hanc­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to im­prove ex­ec­u­tive func­tion, at­ten­tion, mem­ory and learn­ing.

But a long-term leg-up to ca­reer­crush­ing con­cen­tra­tion this, un­for­tu­nately, is not. Ev­i­dence sug­gests the most read­ily avail­able nootrop­ics – in­clud­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs such as Ad­der­all and Ri­talin, and some il­le­gal recre­ational drugs – can be highly ad­dic­tive, and when taken in high doses over a sus­tained pe­riod can ac­tu­ally break down mus­cle mass and re­duce cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. When it comes to smart drugs, just say no.

For those who want to boost their brain­power without syn­thetic sup­ple­men­ta­tion, CILTEP – a blend of nat­u­ral com­pound forskolin (thought to aid weight­loss and pre­vent some can­cers) and ar­ti­choke ex­tract – may be just the tonic. It is avail­able as cap­sules (£35 evo­lu­tionor­gan­ and is thought to boost ‘synap­tic plas­tic­ity’, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Neu­ro­phys­i­ol­ogy. Ev­i­dence, at last, that it is en­tirely pos­si­ble to drug your way to a younger brain without the ac­com­pa­ny­ing come­down. We’ll have two, thanks.

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