Limitless Pill: Does it Exist and Should You Use It?
We’re all looking for that mental edge. Whether we’re in our office, university, or gym, being on top of the game means having next-level focus and attention to detail. Coffee can only go so far, but what if there was a real-life limitless pill you could take that instantly upgraded your memory, attention, and cognitive ability?
The movie Limitless, with its NZT pill, and Lucy sparked an interest in the idea that there is a supplement or wonder drug out there that can turn you into a super genius overnight. That’s just Hollywood, right? Does the NZT pill actually exist? Are nootropic supplements cognitive enhancers? Do they improve cognitive abilities?
Searching For a Real Limitless Pill
You can get lost down the long rabbit hole of the internet if you try to find a smart pill that actually improves cognitive performance. You’ll find yourself on forums with people citing anecdotal information from their personal experiences with supposed Limitless supplements. Many recommendations don’t have the scientific backing; again, it’s just user reviews. As for actual studies, it can be tough to decipher the information out there.
Scientists aren’t looking for Limitless pills for the average student or modern-day executive. They are looking for ways to improve the cognitive health of those who are suffering from degenerative diseases or conditions that rob people of their ability to think. So the question remains…
Is there a Limitless Pill?
In short, you’re not going to find a smart pill or blue powder that pushes your brain into the next stage of evolution. Think about it: If there was an actual Limitless pill or Lucy-esque supplement, do you think the general public would have access? With that said, there are three Limitless-like supplements that have shown promise in the areas of cognitive enhancement, especially memory, focus, and attention span. They are often called nootropics.
Modafinil: The Potent Stimulant
Modafinil, perhaps better known by its brand name Provigil, is an FDA-approved drug for keeping you awake. In other words, it’s a potent stimulant. It was designed for people with sleep disorders such as narcolepsy to help them stay awake during the day. Aside from helping you avoid midday snoozes, Modafinil might help to enhance cognitive performance and executive functioning.
Modafinil works by increasing levels of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). It boosts serotonin (improves mood), glutamate (supports nerve cells), and orexin (promotes wakefulness and arousal). Modafinil also decreases a sleep compound in the body called gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA). So what can this do for your mental ability?
One study published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin gave Modafinil to patients with schizophrenia to see if it would improve their cognitive performance and functional outcome – two things that those suffering from schizophrenia historically struggle with. Researchers confirmed that Modafinil was effective in enhancing the attention to detail, cognitive ability, and executive functioning in schizophrenic subjects.
What about people who don’t have mental disabilities – Can Modafinil help? Seems so. A study published in European Neuropsychopharmacology wanted to see the effects of Modafinil on healthy subjects without sleep disorders. Researchers concluded that the usage of Modafinil does help to increase your attention span, enhance the learning process, and improve your working memory.
Modafinil harmful side effects
Supplementing with a stimulant that is a prescription strength is bound to come with a few side effects, especially if you abuse the drug. The most common side effects that have been witnessed in studies and reported by users include the following:
- Sleep disorders such as insomnia
- Dry mouth
- A headache
- Susceptibility to illness (e.g., the common cold)
Modafinil Dosage and Where to Buy
Modafinil is a regulated FDA-approved drug, which means that you’ll need a prescription (in the United States) if you want to buy the real thing. If you’re able to get a prescription, your doctor will prescribe a dosage of either 100mg or 200mg.
Let’s say you can’t get your hands on that slip of paper, what then? Modafinil is available online. One of the most popular distributors that ships internationally is AfinilExpress. It’s important to note that when you buy a drug online, you’re taking a risk as you don’t know where it’s being sourced. Unregulated online purchases from shady sources could mean you’re getting the wrong drug or just a sugar pill. Do your research and make sure you’re buying from a legitimate source.
CILTeP: The Memory Enhancer
CILTeP is a shorter and easier way to say “chemically induced long-term potentiation.” It is a blend of nootropic or brain-boosting ingredients and it has become extremely popular thanks to brain hackers like Tim Ferriss promoting it on his podcast.
As the name suggests, CILTeP is used to trigger Long-Term Potentiation in the brain, which is one of the core processes for improving focus, alertness, and most importantly, memory. Long-Term Potentiation, or LTP, improves communication between neurons, helping to improve cognitive performance and memory formation.
As for CILTeP, what does the science say behind the ingredients within its formula? CILTeP contains Forskolin, which has been shown to increase cyclic adenosine monophosphate. the cAMP has been shown in several studies to have a special relationship with neurons and it plays an important role in the formation of working and long-term memories. Not only can Forskolin increase levels of cAMP, but it can also block Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4), a compound that is known for decreasing levels of cAMP.
CILTeP also contains L-Phenylalanine, which has been shown to convert into dopamine and epinephrine (adrenaline), both of which are key for mood, learning, and memory formation. You’ll also find Acetyl-L-Carnitine in CILTeP, a well-known natural supplement for supposedly improving the learning process and memory formation in older brains.
What about CILTeP as a whole? Has it been studied in the lab? Not yet; however, if you look at all of the individual ingredients and the science behind them, it is safe to assume that CILTeP will have a positive effect on your cognitive performance.
CILTeP harmful side effects
Just like with Modafinil, CILTeP is bound to have a few side effects, but user reports say that they are not too common as all of the ingredients found within are natural. What’s more, since one serving is split between three capsules, you can assess your tolerance by starting with one capsule at a time. Here are the most commonly reported side effects of CILTeP:
- Physical drowsiness
- Extreme mental fatigue (feeling mentally tired after using it)
- Reduced choline levels
- Stomach pain
CILTeP Dosage and Where to Buy
Unless CILTeP decides to revamp its formula adding a new nootropic or taking one away, here is the formula and dosage level you can expect for one serving (three capsules):
- Artichoke extract: 900 mg
- Forskolin: 20 mg
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine, or ALCAR: 750 mg
- L-Phenylalanine: 500 mg
- Vitamin B6: 5 mg
Since CILTeP is a dietary supplement, you can easily buy it – no prescription needed – but from what users are saying, it’s impossible to find in a store. You’ll need to buy it online. Two of the most popular spots to purchase CILTeP include Amazon and the Natural Stacks website.
Phenylpiracetam: The Oldest Nootropic
Our final nootropic supplement is Phenylpiracetam. It’s a stimulant-based nootropic that is often sold under the names of Phenotropil and Carphedon. Phenylpiracetam actually has a long history that begins with the foundation compound known as Piracetam. Developed in the 60s, Piracetam was the subject of an animal-based study published in Neurobiology of Aging. Researchers discovered that providing rats with a supplement mixture of Piracetam and choline resulted in a decrease in memory disturbances and an increase in memory formation.
What about human studies? According to a research review of several studies, the results are mixed yet promising. It is confirmed that Piracetam can increase cerebral blood flow and has a direct effect on neurons. Some studies have demonstrated that Piracetam can trigger an increase in task-related blood flow, improve response time on written testing, and support cognitive recovery for stroke victims.
The problem with Piracetam is bioavailability. It’s notorious for being difficult to digest and assimilate, which means your body can’t do much with it. However, when you add a phenyl group to Piracetam, you get Phenylpiracetam, a nootropic that has been reported to have a high level of bioavailability. Do you still get the same cognitive benefits with you to add that phenyl group to increase assimilation?
All of the studies focusing on Phenylpiracetam are the result of improving cognitive performance after a traumatic injury or surgery. Still, given the results, Phenylpiracetam as a study-aid or productivity supplement has immense potential. In one animal-based study, Phenylpiracetam was shown to be an effective neuroprotective agent. Rats demonstrated a higher level of motor function as well as cognitive ability with a focus on memory after being injected with Phenylpiracetam. Overall, the rats who were given Phenylpiracetam showed a lower rate of mortality compared to the control group.
One study published in the Russian journal Zhurnal Nevrologii Psikhiatrii gave Phenylpiracetam to patients who suffered from brain lesions or trauma. The subjects receiving Phenylpiracetam showed a dramatic improvement in motor coordination as well as higher-level brain functions, specifically memory and attention span.
That same journal published another study, which provided stroke victims with Phenylpiracetam. Researchers confirmed that the neurologic ability and daily living activities of the subjects were significantly improved, especially when compared to the group taking a placebo. As a powerful nootropic, it’s no surprise that some official organizations are wagging a finger at Phenylpiracetam. For those interested in hitting the bodybuilding stage or getting into professional sports, take note that Phenylpiracetam has been banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).
Phenylpiracetam Negative Side Effects
As Phenylpiracetam has been used in studies dating back several years, it’s going to have a more complete collection of potential side effects. Most of the side effects are echoed on forums and in user reviews. Do not take more than recommended and you can avoid the worst of the following:
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia
- Vivid dreams
- Brain fog
- Increased body temperature
- A headache
- Muscle tension
- Clenching of the jaw
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal distress
Phenylpiracetam Dosage and Where to Buy
In some countries such as Russia, Phenylpiracetam requires a prescription, but in the United States, you can easily purchase it online. Available dosages are between 100 mg and 200 mg. Depending on the brand, you may take two to three servings per day, but no more than 600 mg. One of the most popular sites to purchase Phenylpiracetam is at Nootropics Depot, but again, be sure to do your own research into the website. Don’t be afraid to write customer support, asking where the Phenylpiracetam is sourced.
Are Smart Drugs Safe?
Outside of the common side effects listed above, can Limitless-esque smart drugs pose a risk to your health, especially when taken over the long term? Depending on when you begin to take these supposed smart drugs, you might be putting your cognitive health and performance at risk. Our brains don’t stop developing when we reach 21; rather, they continue to grow, mature, and develop well into our 30s.
Research has suggested that when young people begin taking these smart drugs, they could hamper their ability to effectively switch mental tasks. What’s more, working memory could be impaired. The body could become dependent upon certain smart drug ingredients, suppressing the natural production of serotonin, for example.
Are Smart Drugs Worth It?
The benefits of Modafinil, CILTeP, and Phenylpiracetam are clear: they can improve cognitive ability and performance. However, it’s important to look at the setting of each smart drug was used. Modafinil and Phenylpiracetam were provided to patients with disorders or trauma. And while CILTeP is all natural, the fact that it can make you feel mentally exhausted the next day is a cause for concern.
If you are older than 30 and interested in boosting your cognitive performance, increasing brain power, mental clarity and focus, one of these three Limitless-like pills might help, but it’s important to consider the negative side effects. Speak to your doctor, and try taking less than the recommended amount to see how your body reacts. In the end, there’s always tried and true coffee.