Adderall and Ritalin: The Anti-Nootropics
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Oftentimes, one reads on the forums and message boards, about how some potential ‘nootraveller’ has scored one of the above-mentioned drugs and intends to utilise it as a study aid, mistakenly thinking it is a genuine nootropic. Or perhaps they have tried the drug and are raving about its effects.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a study aid these ‘street legal amphetamines’ can certainly provide a much needed boost to the flagging or unmotivated learner, forcing them to sit for hours, whilst they assiduously cram for their upcoming exams.
BUT, when we actually examine the mode of action and the unwanted side-effects, within a neurophysiological framework, we can see that amphetamines (whether legal or not) actually have a negative effect on learning as such, though yes, if you are a crammer then they are a useful tool.
So, what’s the problem?
Adderall and Ritalin are comprised of different salts of amphetamine. Amphetamines are forms of catecholamines within the human body. Catecholamines and their ‘daddy’ cortisol, are primary stress hormones, released (normally) in response to a fight or flight type scenario, or more often (in our hectic, messed up society) inappropriately released in chronic fashion due to chronic stress (from work, family, other environmental factors).
The issue of concern is what cortisol and catecholamines do to the mind, specifically the hippocampus – which as any nootraveller worth their salt, will appreciate is the primary seat of memory and information retention. It has been shown that cortisol has both an acute (short term) and a chronic (long term) effect.
Acute effects are an inhibition of the neurons within the hippocampus. This has been shown in both animal and human studies. If your ‘memory cells’ are being directly inhibited, do you think that they are working optimally? Of course not, it would be a contradiction in terms.
The chronic effects of elevated cortisol are (to the author) far more interesting and damaging. You see years of elevated cortisol (as seen in the geriatric population, due to reduced levels of androgen’s which inhibit cortisol) actually cause a reduction in size (atrophy) of the hippocampus itself. A smaller ‘memory centre’ means that certain old memories are lost and new memories hard to retain. Hence why your Grandma or Grandpa struggles to remember things. Or perhaps they don’t – the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy applies here, just as much as hormonal issues, in my opinion.
Now granted, most of you reading this are not going to be considering the chronic issues associated with elevated cortisol use from Adderall/Ritalin administration. I would HOPE that if you do use these drugs, you do so for no longer than is strictly necessary, due to the potential for abuse and psychosis, etc.
Making the best of a flawed situation
If you are reading this and you give a crap about your physique, you may also consider that amphetamine is a big ‘muscle eater’, which will catabolise your hard-won muscle tissue away from you, in short order.
No, I suspect you will be thinking that a few weeks’ worth of Adderall just to get you over exam season is a justified risk. And you might not be entirely wrong. I mean, who hasn’t taken a risk, to get what they want? I know I have.
But what can be done to counter the negative effects of these amphetamine-based tools? Well I tell you, it’s actually quite simple: REDUCE CORTISOL.
How? By supplementing with Neurochill (our combination of Phosphatidylserine and Bacopa Monnieri extracts). PS works on the body to reduce the negative effects of cortisol such as insulin resistance, whilst Bacopa works on the mind, to halt the inhibition of hippocampal neurones.
In my humble opinion, it is best to take both, since there is a synergistic effect, plus, have you ever tried to sleep whist your body is wired and jumpy? It’s hard work. So take care of both the body and the mind.
Doses: 2-3 capsules of Neurochill, which contains very high concentrations of these ingredients, should certainly do the trick. Take during the evening or when especially stressed.
As a side benefit, Bacopa has been shown to improve learning and memory retention, as well as being a powerful antioxidant (if you subscribe to the endothelial injury hypothesis, you’ll know how important it can be to prevent oxidisation of VLDL and Bacopa does this admirably). It also boosts the immune system – useful when you are sweating over the books, in a stuffy library full of other people doing the same thing!
As a possible alternative to Ritalin and Adderall, Mind Nutrition can offer you, the savvier nootraveller, Sulbutiamine. Dose is 300 – 600mg and I personally find it to be much more effective when co-ingested with caffeine (to your personal tolerance).
Update: We now offer Neurodrive, which is a concentrated formulation of CDP Choline, Sulbutiamine, EGCG, Guarana & Vinpocetine - by far the best alternative to the likes of Adderall.
In conclusion, whilst Adderall and Ritalin may be a viable tool for the crammer, the smart student will have little need of cramming, since they will have been following their own nootropically-assisted study regime for some time already. For those who really need the boost, the side-effects are not to be underestimated and can be largely countered by PS and BM.
Good luck, fellow nootraveller!