We’ve all watched the 2011 Hollywood blockbuster Limitless. The official tag line of the hit movie is ‘everything is possible when you open your mind.’ If you’re living under a rock, the movie is centered around the inhuman abilities a character played by Bradley Cooper gains after using the mysterious NZT-48 pill. The beginning of the movie portrays Cooper as a sluggish, struggling author in New York with a serious case of writers’ block. He learns about this new magical pill that his brother-in-law has been developing. When he tries it, the drug hacks his brain like nothing else.
When he is on the drug, his focus goes from zero to a hundred real quick. He becomes smarter, more creative and more capable than anyone else (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP-ZwmCPBAs ). Cooper was able to act like a superman – recalling everything he’s ever read or seen, beating the stock market, solving complex equations and learning new languages. What an amazing concept, right? After what Cooper accomplished in that movie, people were left wondering where they can get some.
Apparently, there was more to the movie than just fiction. The movie mainstreamed an idea that had ticked the interest of Silicon Valley biohackers. It wasn’t long before there was a huge spike in search traffic for “Brain Pill like Limitless.”
News of a new magic pill hitting the market graced the internet soon after the movie became a huge hit. There was a lot more hype around smart drugs. Websites and nightly news started writing trend pieces and airing stories about programmers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, bankers and college kids taking smart drugs to stay productive and focused. A TV show was even created!
The CBS TV Show Limitless starring Jake Donovan is like a sequel to the movie. Bradley Cooper even makes a guest appearance on comedy-drama television series based on his movie. In the 22-episode show that aired from September 2015 to April 2016, Donovan takes the Limitless pill and uses his profound abilities of intelligence and memory to help solve complex cases with the FBI.
The infatuation with the NZT pill is based around the effort exerted and the abilities gained. We all want to be faster, better and smarter. If you’re like most people, you want to gain the maximum results with minimum effort. It’s just like playing the lottery. I can’t think of many folks who would shun the chance to accomplish a little bit more daily.
Some supplement manufacturers have looked to cash in on the public interest and the success of the movie by coming up with their own version of NZT-48 pill. According to these companies, by taking their magic pills, you can dominate life just like Bradley Cooper. They claim that their products can safely improve focus, memory and mental performance.
This is a question we get a lot. I hate to break it to you, but a real NZT-48 pill does NOT exist. Remember it’s just a fictional pill from a movie and Cooper pretty much becomes superman. So don’t expect to buy anything online and be Spiderman and Batman combined. Just like any industry, some brain supplements work and some don’t.
The various Limitless-styled smart drugs I have come across make outrageous claims that aren’t science-backed. Some even fail to list how much of each ingredient is present inside their capsules. Since they are marketed as a type of supplement and not a drug, they don’t need FDA approval.
However, there is an alternative. Nootropics are definitely a thing. They constitute a novel type of cognitive boosting supplements that exert a beneficial influence on brain function. Nootropics stacks are blends of different components/ingredients. They purportedly increase dopamine flow within the brain and fight off daytime sleepiness.
One product that has garnered accolades from doctors is Modafinil (sold under the brand name Provigil). There have been several comparisons of NZT-48 to Modafinil. It is the closest real-world NZT-48 and the only clinically proven smart drug with a good deal of evidence to back up the effectiveness. Rolling stone even regarded this smart drug as the one the movie Limitless was based on.
It was further made popular by Dave Asprey who is a long-time Modafinil user. He shared his experience with Modafinil in this blog post. (https://blog.daveasprey.com/why-you-are-suffering-from-a-modafinil-deficiency/ ). Other experts who have endorsed it include Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Tim Ferris. So could popping these pills to concentrate be the new normal in the near future? Let’s find out.
Modafinil is a prescription drug technically classified as a Schedule 4 substance under US Law. For context, prescription drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall are Schedule 2 drugs. In this classification system, Schedule 1 substances are the harshest and most restricted/controlled. Modafinil is primarily employed in the management of extreme sleepiness due to narcolepsy, sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder. But let’s be honest, that’s not why you’re interested in this smart pill.
Studies show that Modafinil can help increase motivation, fight fatigue, help maintain a sharper focus and improve reaction time. The smart drug is marketed as a cure for brain fog and drowsiness to the professionally sleep-deprived. Shift workers, touring musicians, fighter pilots and long-haul truckers happen to capitalize on this remedy to achieve additional agility in daily tasks. Basically, the drug is prescribed to people who need to stay awake and alert for times/durations not considered normal. The dosage depends on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Simply put, Modafinil temporarily knocks out your sleep-wake cycle, suppressing the feelings of tiredness and lethargy. Modafinil acts as an inhibitor to glutamate and GABA pathway. GABA is responsible for applying the brakes to keep the whole system in check. In other words, it is a neural inhibitor. Using Modafinil suppresses/downregulates your brain’s own system for regulating usage. It is a bio-hack that allows you to be more focused, do more and operate at high levels. Without pharmaceutical intervention, it would be difficult to achieve all these.
The brain supplement industry is growing steadily at 8 percent per year according to a recent report by Grand View Research. Folks from all walks of life have benefited greatly from using Modafinil. The same year that Limitless hit theaters, over 650k+ people in the US had Modafinil prescriptions. A year later, the number had tripled. In 2019, Modafinil is one of the most prescribed medications in the United States.
Generally, Modafinil is considered safe if taken as recommended. But just like anything that alters your brain’s chemistry, you should use it with caution. While the smart drug isn’t considered addictive, some scientists have raised concerns that it might be psychologically addictive. Also, there are no concrete studies on the side effects of Modafinil, meaning the long-term effects on your brain are unknown. But since it first use years ago, there is on record no incidences of death from long-term usage.
What is known is that this smart drug may lead to unpleasant short-term side effects. Normally, you would expect such a pill to help you focus really well on work or studies. However, some people report that Modafinil makes them focus on the wrong thing, such as spending hours on their smartphones or playing video games. Others have reported dehydration, nervousness, reduced appetite, nausea and trouble sleeping. All these are all manageable side effects, but if they persist/worsen, consult your doctor.
In the film, Cooper crashed and became helpless when he got off his little clear pills. To help prevent withdrawal symptoms of Modafinil, consider lowering your dose slowly.
To be safe, it’s best to abide by US laws and regulation for Modafinil and use only with a doctor’s supervision. Also, since it can be purchased online, do due diligence before buying from a trusted source.
Wouldn’t your job be going better if you could actually concentrate? Do you wish you could keep your mind sharp at all times? Well, I do! While the real-life NZT-48 pill doesn’t exist, Modafinil which is the closest brain pill like limitless will help you achieve almost similar results. It won’t be as easy as it seems in the movie, and it will probably take you a couple of weeks before you begin witnessing results.