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  • Piracetam (Avigilen, Cerebroforte, Cerebrospan, Cetam, Dinagen, Encefalux, Encetrop, Euvifor, Gabacet, Genogris, Meo-Puren, Nootron, Nootropil, Normabrain, Norzetam, Novocetam, Pirrozil, Psycoton, Stimucortex and UCB-6215) The most popular smart drug among all available alternatives appears to be piracetam, most likely due to its low price and variety of uses. The fact that it has been around for some time may also have helped it originate a following. It is utilized to treat several pathologies or syndromes such as alcoholism, dementia and stroke, but allegedly also improves memory and learning in healthy humans. It is supposed to increase the flow of information between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, through the corpus callosum, therefore helping in creative problem solving. It has no known serious side effects, although insomnia, headaches, nausea and stomach disturbances are possible. It has no known toxicity. Piracetam has a synergistic effect with DMAE, centrophenoxine, choline and hydergine, which means that the effects of piracetam are amplified when taken at the same time with these drugs.


  • Hydergine (Circanol, Coristin, D-Ergotox Forte, L.U.T., Dacoren, Deapril-ST, Decme, Decril, Defluina, DHE, DHET, Dihydroergotoxine, Dulcion, Enirant, Ergodesit, Ergohydrin, Ergoloid Mesylates, Ergoplus, Insibrin, Nehydrin, Novofluen, Orphol, Perenan, Progeril, Redergin, Simactil, Sponsin, Trigot and Unergol) Hydergine is mainly used to treat senility. It allegedly improves intelligence and performance on memory intensive tasks as well as preventing various type of brain deterioration. Its ability to combat brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen has lead to its use as an emergency treatment for stroke patients. Known side effects are mild nausea, dizziness and headaches, but hydergine is considered virtually non-toxic. A danger of adverse reactions still exists at very high doses and people suffering from psychosis should not use it. It must be noted that the daily dose should be divided into three equal doses and that the effects may not be noticeable until after several months of use (unless a high dosage is taken, which is not recommended). The legal status of hydergine is similar to that of piracetam.


  • Vasopressin (Diapid, LVP, Lypressin, Postacton, Syntopressin, Adiuretin, SD, DAV Ritter, DDAVP, Desmopressin, Desmospray, Minirin and AVP) A widely used prescription drug called Diapid (a trade name for vasopressin) is furthermore known for its nootropic effects. Diapid incorporates a natural hormone that is believed to facilitate the procedure of learning new information. It has been used to treat several conditions leading to memory impairment. Vasopressin is taken in the form of a nasal spray - two to four sniffs three times a day. Its results are immediate and noticeable; a clear-headed feeling and increased attention are among the reported effects. Continuous use is discouraged, since side effects include headaches, nose irritation or abdominal cramps. People with diagnosed hypertension or cardiovascular problems are also advised to proceed with caution.


  • Centrophenoxine (Lucidril) Centrophenoxine is know for its anti-aging effects (lab experiments on rats report a 30% increase in life span) and for its intelligence boosting properties. It clears out a particular cellular waste called liposfucin which impedes optimal neural performance. Potential side effects include excitability, muscle stiffness or headaches.


  • DMAE - Dimethylaminoethanol Marketed under the brand name Deanol-Riker in Europe and widely available as a nutritional supplement in the US, DMAE enhances intelligence, memory, energy levels and learning, extends life span and even elevates mood. Its effects are usually noticeable within half an hour after ingestion (more quickly when taken as a liquid) and continue for a few hours. Some people have reported a buildup of tolerance to DMAE after several weeks of use. Said tolerance wears off after a few weeks of discontinued use, however. Adverse contraindications are rare, but minor side effects include muscle tension and hypertension. Overdosing may also cause insomnia or dull-headedness - it is critical to notice that DMAE may cause the opposite of the desired effect when overdosed. However, unlike caffeine, DMAE does not cause nervousness nor depression and is a much safer and better general purpose stimulant than coffee.
  • It's quite remarkable to note that one can justify the use of nootropics perfectly well, although one could make an equally convincing case of why they are inherently harmful for the human metabolism. The first opinion would hold that function should dominate form and, to use a blatant computer science analogy, that minor glitches in the execution do not necessarily mean that a program is worthless. Bill Gates could, in fact, make a very good case of the bugs in any program being essential features of that application, although justifying headaches and nausea as desirable results of a dose of piracetam would be dubious at best. The second group would proceed on the grounds that mucking around with the neurochemical basis of the nervous system translates into looking for trouble, period. They would justify their claims by further pointing out that it would be simply irresponsible and possibly suicidal for one to introduce foreign agents into one's metabolism since said chemicals could have completely unpredictable and possibly disastrous effects on one's brain. To continue using successive and vaguely related computer analogies, this group would liken any neurochemical to a bug in the operating system of a gigantic mission-critical server with thousands of clients depending on it, the server symbolizing the brain while the clients substitute for the various organs and metabolic systems throughout the body. Should the hub go down as a result of an unexpected effect of the bug, the whole system would have to shut down. Insanity, amnesia, psychosis or worse, with no system operator to help get the network running again.

    Smart drugs happen to be the least dangerous in this respect, since they are manufactured to certain specifications and lab tests give us at least a vague idea of what they are supposed to, and what they might, do. Still, both of the above arguments apply.

    Are smart nutrients any better? They are, after all, nutrients. How different can they be from a slice of cheese cake, except being less tasty and doing more for you than what your mother claimed spinach would?

    What about herbs? Surely they are as natural as ..... something that is very, very natural. If natural selection has allowed them to flourish, then we need not be concerned about their dangers, correct?

    It may be somewhat relevant to note that natural selection has also allowed leopards and carbon monoxide to form part of our ecosystem, although neither would be considered particularly beneficial for one's existence despite their 'natural' quality.