Are smart drugs a smart choice?

26 September 2011 -


It’s not just lack of sleep that causes underperformance at work. Whether you’re subdued, stressed or sad, there is a pill to help you out. Our testers took the tablets for one week…

It was a weird week. Monday morning began with five professionals at our test office swallowing smart drugs in the hope they’d improve their sleep, increase their energy levels and boost their memory.

We spent the next four days testing five products from Mind Nutrition – an online retailer. Results were very mixed: some drugs had no effect; one was mildly effective but caused unpleasant side effects; while one was seemingly so successful, our tester worried he was getting hooked. At the end of the trial, our testers’ Friday-night beer seemed mercifully humdrum. This is what they thought…

Sulbutiamine (stimulant)

Male, 44 years

6ft 6in, 20st 0lbs

I didn’t get a hit at all from these – in fact, if anything, they made me feel worse. I was lethargic by 5pm, which is pretty normal for me. Will I be taking this stuff again? No. I think that it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo to be honest.

PM Rating: 0/5

Picamilon (anxiety reliever)

Male, 35 years

5ft 10in, 10st 3lbs

I do worry, but much of the time my anxiety is much ado about very little. These pills got rid of it. By Monday lunchtime, I was serene, and the feeling of calm lasted as long as I was on the pills. And that was the problem: once they wore off, my anxiety was slightly worse than before. For this reason, I’d be slightly wary of them.

PM Rating: 4/5

Oxiracetam (learning enhancer)

Female, 24 years

5ft 6in, 9st 11lbs

I remembered smaller, less-urgent tasks without having to go back to my to-do list. I also had more clarity of mind, although the changes were minor overall. Sadly, the pills gave me slight nausea and a headache in the evening, so I won’t be taking them again.

PM Rating: 3/5

Bacopa monnieri (sedative)

Male, 27 years

5ft 10in, 12st 10lbs
I often struggle to sleep, and the stress of organising my forthcoming wedding has made my insomnia worse. Bacopa was not strong enough to remedy it. While it did seem to relax me at first, on further testing, the drug did not seem to have any beneficial effects.

PM Rating: 3/5

Neurostim (memory enhancer)

Male, 29 years

5ft 11in, 10st 7lbs

Ironically, I forgot to take this on Day 1 of test week, which suggests I may have needed a heavier dosage! But I stuck to the guidelines, only to find no noticeable effect. That said, there were no side effects either.

PM Rating: 2/5

Powered by Professional Manager