If you thought the buzz of downing “cognitive enhancing” drugs was restricted to college kids popping Adderall before their biochemistry final, you better think again. An Adderall-esque drug class called brain enhancing vitamins has gotten off among a specific Silicon Valley set, according to this Fusion article.
Programmers claim nootropics can increase productivity while focusing but aren’t as intense as prescription psychostimulants. Users can make their own nootropics with powders purchased online or in supplement stores, or they could buy “stacks,” or pre-made doses, built to produce specific effects.
Nootropics have been around since the 1970s, but apparently the Silicon Valley “biohacking” movement–through which workaholic techies make an effort to optimize their bodies and basic functions, like 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 several online forums offering recipes and information on users’ drugs associated with preference.
To be clear, the FDA does not approve most nootropics as brain enhancers, though many compounds within these drugs have already been approved as health supplements. The writer in the Fusion piece, Kevin Roose, admits they have been taking nootropics off and on for a month, yet he isn’t totally sure they can be working. Nonetheless, even without getting scientific proved, these drugs have become a cottage industry, including nootropics-based startups for example 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 is certainly commonly found in South Asia), 100 mg of L-theanine (an amino acid located in green leaf tea), and 50 mg of caffeine (about the amount in the can of Diet Coke). In accordance with Fusion, the corporation is “selling ‘five figures’ worth of cognitive supplements 75dexjpky to customers that come with top Silicon Valley executives and Hollywood moguls.”
Whilst the article quotes numerous individuals–from the financial analyst to a software engineer–who state they have experienced success using nootropics, the scientific research on its long-term effects is still thin. To believers, these drugs are nothing but an alternative 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.”