Back in 2011, a film called Limitless (see a trailer for the film here if you missed it) explored the possibility of a "smart pill" that could turn anyone into a genius. In the film, Bradley Cooper plays a struggling writer who lives in poverty and can't get past his writer's block to finish his novel. This all changes when a friend offers him a 'Limitless' pill called NZT-48.
He tries it, and suddenly he finds that he has the full resources of his mind available to him. He can remember everything he's ever learned, and he can learn new things (like entire foreign languages) almost overnight. Naturally, he uses his newfound 'Limitless' power to make millions in the stock market, and just as naturally (because this is a movie) there are nefarious bad guys who don't want him to get away with having such an unfair advantage.
Is This Just Science Fiction, or Is There a Real-Life Limitless Pill?
A smart drug this powerful and effective is just science fiction. So far, science has not yet developed a magical limitless pill that can instantly turn anyone into a genius.
But scientists are working on such things, and the emerging science of nootropics (brain-enhancing supplements) is providing for many people a significant first step in that direction. In this article, we'll examine the world of "smart drugs," and how natural nootropics supplements actually can help you to effectively use more of your brain's power to be the utmost version of yourself and gain a competitive edge.
Is the idea of a nootropics 'limitless' pill real?
As an idea, yes.
In reality, not yet.
But science and medicine are working on it in terms of prescription drugs, and bio-scientists and nutritionists are working on it in terms of creatine effective natural nootropic supplements. In this article, we'll present a number of their approaches to finding a real-life 'Limitless' pill.
Chances are you already take one or more 'smart drugs'
If all of this strikes you as sounding too close to the world of science fiction, you should know that if you're a statistically typical Brit you already use one or more nootropic ("brain enhancing") substances to "perk up" your brain and keep it sharp during the day.
For example, do you drink coffee, or black tea? Both contain caffeine, which is one of the most proven natural nootropic substances in the world. Even small quantities of it have been shown in clinical tests to wake us up and improve both concentration and focus. Tea also contains L-Theanine, which amplifies the brain-boosting qualities of caffeine and allows it to provide sharper mental focus for longer periods of time.
If you still consume nicotine, whether in the form of cigarettes of "vape" liquids that contain it, well, that's a nootropic substance, too. Nicotine is a potent parasympathomimetic stimulant that causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and also increases the production of dopamine (the "pleasure chemical") in the brain.
So to some extent these new smart drugs that are making headlines are not new at all. They're just the latest version of a Do It Yourself self-improvement trend that has probably been present in human beings since they emerged from caves. There is, after all, some evidence that early man chewed kola nuts and other natural substances for their energy-boosting effects.
Which 'smart drugs' and 'clever pills' are people taking in their search for a new 'Limitless' pill?
There is little question that people in all walks of life feel that they are under pressure these days to perform better and to be more productive. We see this in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in London's stock market equivalent, The City. "Smart drugs" have become almost commonplace in the worlds of sports, financial and technological innovation. Everyone is looking for an "edge," however slight, that can help them to outperform their competition.
Even Tour de France riders and other athletes use certain natural nootropics to enhance their performance because they are both legal and effective.
So naturally some people are going to experiment with promising smart drugs to see whether they can provide them with such an "edge." Wanting to perform better is a very natural human trait, and the quest for self-improvement has always driven people to experiment with "off label" uses of both pharmaceutical drugs and natural supplements.
Psychopharmaceutical medications are being taken as nootropic smart drugs
We’ll start off this paragraph by explaining that we absolutely do not recommend the use of Psychopharmaceutical medications as brain enhancing drugs. Our point is to explain how and why they are being used and to highlight the natural nootropic alternatives that are far safer and can be just as effective.
Ritalin, a drug commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is regularly taken by students trying to sharpen their minds before taking exams. Adderall, another drug developed to treat ADHD, is being consumed by stock traders and tech engineers in the hope that it will boost their brain power and give them that "edge."
Modafinil, another prescription medication that is being widely used as a smart drug, isn't a stimulant per se but it does increase the production of dopamine in the brain, and has been shown to improve motivation and clarity. It's also non-addictive, which is an improvement over amphetamine-based drugs. The plot of the movie "Limitless" was supposedly based on Modafinil, although in real life its effects are not nearly as dramatic as those experienced by Bradley Cooper's character in the film.
One problem with the first two medications above, of course, is that both are amphetamine-based, and thus powerful stimulants that may come with undesirable side effects, not the least of which is that they have addictive properties. A problem with all three is that they are controlled medications, and many doctors are not comfortable writing a prescription for them for "off-label" use.
Some people are even experimenting with psychedelics as "brain boosters"
Have you heard of "microdosing"? It's the practice of ingesting small quantities of psychedelic substances such as LSD, mescaline, and hallucinogenic mushrooms in an attempt to "jumpstart" the brain and make it more productive.
Yes, as strange as it may seem, the world of international business is now full of people who start their work day by ingesting a tiny, tiny quantity of LSD. These doses are so low (technically, they are called "sub-therapeutic") that they don't produce the effect of getting the person "high" the same way that larger doses would, but they are strong enough to produce an effect that many feel sharpens their minds and makes them more creative.
The drawbacks of this approach to "brain boosting" should be obvious – these are still prohibited, addictive and dangerous substances, and possession of them can lead to hefty fines or even prison time.
Fortunately, there are much safer approaches to increasing your brain power, and we'll present some of them in the following sections.
The rise of nootropic supplements as an effective alternative to real-life Limitless' pills
We’ve already covered caffeine as a natural nootropic widely proven to be effective at boosting brain power and mental performance, but what about other nootropic supplements that do the same thing? Better still, did you know that caffeine, when ‘stacked’ with these other nootropics can be even more powerful, long-lasting and effective without the shakey side effects?
If you’re new to nootropics and want to know the basics - we have a more in-depth beginners guide to natural nootropics.
For a deeper dive into nootropics, you can also read more about how they work in our article 'What Do Nootropics Do'.
We all know that too much caffeine in one go is a terrible thing - you can end up crashing and feel less focussed and able to concentrate than you did in the first place.
Also - a cup of coffee may not be the answer. In order to be effective, you would have to down it immediately, rather than sipping over 20 minutes, so a caffeine supplement is the way forward.
L-Theanine (or sometimes just theanine) is a natural nootropic compound in green tea can help to ‘smooth out’ the effects of caffeine so that you get longer-lasting focus without the shakes and crash.
Green tea does not have much caffeine so you would need to have green tea and coffee to get the desired benefit of longer, increased focus. It’s easier to take caffeine and L-theanine supplements.
There are other nootropics you may not have heard of that when combined or ‘stacked’ with caffeine and L-theanine
So, now we have covered the focus part - what natural nootropics can help with memory?
Combining caffeine with L-Theanine will help with concentration, but what about improving memory?
Tyrosine can lift brain fog and is also very effective at times when you need your brain to function better than usual - such as when memorising a speech to recite, revising for exams or to get the extra edge in a sporting event or at the gym.
Tyrosine supports the creation of natural brain chemicals that affect mood and stress responses. This is why it is so effective in improving cognitive ability. Stacked with caffeine and theanine, focus, concentration and memory are improved.
For more information on tyrosine and its effects, read our guide: tyrosine for focus and concentration.
Periods where focus, high concentration, motivation and improved memory are needed often come hand in hand with increased stress levels and this is where rhodiola rosea comes in.
This natural supplement is becoming more and more popular in nootropic stacks for memory and focus - for good reason. It has been proven to increase mental performance and motivation even throughout stressful and physically strenuous periods.
In the world of natural nootropics, rhodiola is now widely recognised as a powerful "brain booster".
Rhodiola, stacked with caffeine, theanine and tyrosine is an effective stack for improved mental performance.
For more information, read our article: ‘What is Rhodiola Rosea?’.
The above is a much more advanced stack and it you are new to nootropics, we recommend a pre-stacked natural nootropic supplement such as Neuro Focus Plus.
Conclusion - can natural nootropics give me an edge?
Nootropics are natural substances that affect the body and brain in a positive fashion. And yes, they really can improve your concentration, your ability to focus, and your ability to handle stress that might otherwise affect you and lower your productivity.
'Stacking' nootropic supplements can make them more effective
A common term you'll hear more of as you learn more about nootropics is "stacks." This is the process of combining ingredients that not only complement each other, they enhance each others' effect. For example, L-Theanine and caffeine are great on their own, but their effect is greatly increased by combining or "stacking" them.
We're experts at nootropic stacking here at Utmost Me. We specialise in researching and finding the most effective natural supplements available, and then we work with scientists and doctors to find the most effective way to "stack" them and make them even more powerful. The result is that our 100% natural, vegan, and gluten-free products are considered the best in the nootropic market.
What do we recommend if you're looking for a "smart drug"
We think a good place to start is with our Neuro Focus Plus formulation. It is an advanced natural nootropics stack and only uses premium ingredients. Neuro Focus Plus has been developed by Dr’s, bio-scientists and expert nutritionists.
Combine this with good rest and regular exercise during the day, and we're pretty sure you'll see a dramatic rise in your mental clarity and productivity. Probably not as dramatic as Bradley Cooper's in Limitless, but give us time – we're working on it.