Should you thought the trend of downing “cognitive enhancing” drugs was restricted to college kids popping Adderall before their biochemistry final, reconsider that thought. An Adderall-esque drug class called brain enhancers has gotten off among a certain Silicon Valley set, based on this Fusion article.
Programmers claim nootropics can increase productivity and concentration but aren’t as intense as prescription psychostimulants. Users could make their particular nootropics with powders purchased online or in supplement stores, or they are able to buy “stacks,” or pre-made doses, created to produce specific effects.
Nootropics have been around ever since the 1970s, but apparently the Silicon Valley “biohacking” movement–through which workaholic techies try to optimize their health and basic functions, for example eating, for max productivity–has given these so-called brain enhancers a brand new life. As Fusion notes, “the nootropics community is surprisingly large and involved,” with numerous online forums offering recipes and knowledge on users’ drugs associated with preference.
Being clear, the FDA fails to approve most nootropics as brain enhancers, though many compounds within these drugs are already approved as dietary supplements. The author of the Fusion piece, Kevin Roose, admits he has been taking nootropics on / off for any month, yet he isn’t totally sure they may be working. Nonetheless, even without having to be scientific proved, these drugs have become a cottage industry, including nootropics-based startups such as truBrain, Nootrobrain, Nootro, and Nootrobox.
Nootrobox was started by Geoffrey Woo, a Stanford computer science graduate, and makes a stack called RISE. For $29 (plus shipping) the purchaser gets 30 capsules, each containing 350 mg of bacopa monnieri powder (a medicinal herb that may be commonly seen in South Asia), 100 mg of L-theanine (an amino acid present in green tea extract), and 50 mg of caffeine (about the amount inside a can of Diet Coke). According to Fusion, the organization is “selling ‘five figures’ worth of cognitive supplements 75dexjpky to customers that come with top Silicon Valley executives and Hollywood moguls.”
As the article quotes a variety of individuals–coming from a financial analyst into a software engineer–who claim to have experienced success using nootropics, the scientific research on its long-term effects continues to be thin. To believers, these prescription medication is simply a substitute to get a stimulant that is already in widespread use: caffeine. But Silicon Valley being what exactly it is, even something as mundane as caffeine is ripe for “disruption.”