Smart pill products available over the counter and without a prescription, a review of their benefits and adverse effects, do natural smart pills work, are they better than those by prescription? by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
September 28 2016

What is a smart pill? In my opinion, it is any tablet or capsule that can improve concentration, focus, wakefulness, cognitive function and memory. There are many natural supplements that could be considered smart pills, and many drugs that also fall in this category. As a rule, I think the natural supplements are safer and healthier to ingest over the long. The following are some natural nutrients and herbs that I consider to have brain enhancing properties:


Smart pill options, legal, over the counter, and without a prescription
Acetylcarnitine comes in dosages of 250 to 500 mg but I prefer using 100 mg or so if used daily.

Alpha lipoic acid is more of an antioxidant, but this supplement can increase alertness and visual acuity.
Carnosine helps with alertness and mood.

Choline comes in a dosage range of 250 to 500 mg.

CDP-choline is more potent than choline itself but more expensive, and CDP-Choline is available for sale.

Trimethylglycine comes if dosages of 750. A portion of a trimethylglycine 750 mg pill is preferable since the full 750 mg may cause insomnia over several days of use.

Bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb becoming more popular.

Ginkgo biloba is used widely in many smart pill formulas. When sold alone, it is found in 40 and 60 mg capsules or tablets. I suggest no more than 40 mg two or three times a week.
Vinpocetine could help improve oxygen flow in the brain.


I actually prefer a combination formula that I have formulated called Mind Power Rx which includes the herbal extracts and nutrients listed above.







Brain steroids - Smart Pill Drugs
Seen by some ambitious students as the winner's edge, smart drugs can be purchased on many campuses for as little as $3 per pill. These drugs represent only the first primitive, halting generation of cognitive enhancers. These smart pill drugs include Adderall, which was originally aimed at people with attention-deficit disorder, and Provigil, which was aimed at narcoleptics, who fall asleep uncontrollably. In the healthy, this class of drugs variously aids concentration, alertness, focus, short-term memory and wakefulness useful qualities in students working on complex term papers and pulling all-nighters before exams.


Smart-pill use has not been the focus of much data collection. Richard Restak, a Washington neurologist and president of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, has written extensively about smart drugs in his 2003 book, "The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind," as well as his forthcoming "The Naked Brain: How the Neurosociety Is Changing How We Live, Work and Love."
Smart pills used more frequently by students
The use of pharmaceutical small pills to boost performance is mainly confined to certain groups -- notably students cramming for exams. Popular smart pill choices include drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, such as Ritalin, or methylphenidate, made by Novartis AG and others. Another favorite is modafinil, the active ingredient in Cephalon Inc's narcolepsy medicine Provigil. Many people do not realize that natural options are available that are safer and as effective.


Adderall, Ritalin, Focalin, Vyvanse are some of the smart drugs used by college students. In my opinion these are not safe.


Smart Pill for diagnosis

An electronic capsule that becomes a sort of mini-laboratory when swallowed has expanded the diagnostic potential for gastrointestinal disorders. The wireless device, about the size of a large vitamin pill, journeys along the gastrointestinal tract collecting data and transmitting it to a receiver worn on the patient's belt or around the neck. When this smart pill capsule is passed from the body in a couple of days, the patient brings the cell-phone-sized receiver back to the doctor, who downloads the data to a computer. There's no need to retrieve the capsule itself it's disposable. By measuring pH, pressure and its progress through the stomach, intestines and bowel, the $500 device is designed to diagnose a condition called gastroparesis, which causes the stomach to empty slowly. Doctors like the capsule because it can be given at the office and is reliable and noninvasive, said David Barthel, president and chief executive of SmartPill Corp., the Buffalo-based company that developed it.



I have read some interesting claims for the smart pills Piracetam, Aniracetam and Oxiracetam, Pyritinol, also known as pyrithioxine, regarding enhancement of mental acuity and memory for older individuals. I am in my mid-50's. These smart pills are available online from companies that import the bulk powder from Chinese manufacturers and test them as to heavy metal levels, etc. What is your opinion as to the efficacy and safety of these smart pills?
   I have not studied aniracetam and oxiracetam, so I don't know much about them. There is some piracetam info here. I like the natural herbs and nutrients since they provide good benefits with a fraction of the potential side effects of the prescription medications.


Additional smart pills and information
Pyroglutamate is also known as 2-oxo-pyrrolidone carboxylic acid
Advanced ginkgo smart is a combination of several smart herbs and nutrients