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Are Smart Pills Really Smart?

Pop a pill and voila! You have become 'intelligent'. A few years back people laughed at this idea. But in this new era, a slew of smart tablets have invaded the market and promise to make you win hands down in this age of cut throat competition. Scientists are not quite sure as to how these work, but suggest that the brain does have a faster speed and greater mileage when it runs on certain fuels.

An experiment conducted on a 14 year old mentally retarded boy having an IQ of 42 (the average IQ is 100) elicited the success of white pills fed to him, a dozen and a half daily. Within two months his mental age catapulted by one year and five months. Sixty days on brain pills and his mental age increased as much as it had in the last five years, shooting up his IQ levels as never before!

The single ingredient in the magic pill was glutamic acid. About 20% of the human body is proteins and these are complex molecules of polypeptide chains twisted around each other. The monomer units that form the peptide chains are called amino acids, which in the human body are of 20 different types. Glutamic acid is one of these. You procure it from foods. But your body can also synthesize it, by breaking down and assorting other amino acids. Thus, it is not considered indispensable. Yet it seems to have a surprising capacity for empowering brain tissue.

IQ Enhancing Drugs

A slew of drugs functioning as 'cognitive enhancers', are climbing the popularity charts. Nootropics are a controversial class of drugs suggested to boost brain performance by altering the availability of neuro-chemicals, escalating brain cell metabolism, improving oxygen supply to the brain, or stimulating the growth of new neurons. Adderall and Provigil are believed to increase powers of concentration and/or make cognitive breakthroughs. Another drug Modafinil, which is in common use in the US, officially used for treating sleeping disorders, is widely used by students and busy professionals to give their brains a boost.

A word of caution

Although students concur that the so-called 'smart pills' increase their concentration, focus and short-term memory, most of which you require to do well on an IQ test but the package doesn't come without worries. Misuse of pharmaceuticals like Adderall, Ritalin, Strattera and Provigil, peaks around exam time in colleges and even high schools. A survey of University of Delaware business majors found that 90 percent resort to such drugs as a study aid during crunch time such as finals; only about one in four had a legitimate prescription.

There are side effects with every drug. Strattera, for instance may be taken for weeks before it shows any discernable effect -- comes with a warning that it can result in fatal liver failure. The FDA warns, it may abet suicidal tendencies in young people. For a while last year, Canada pulled a form of Adderall from its markets as a result of sudden unexplained deaths in children with cardiac abnormalities. Provigil can decrease the effectiveness of birth control. Ritalin is riddled with cardiac problems.

Thus it is always wise to consult a doctor and test your compatibility with the drug before subscribing to it.

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