Smart drugs: All-natural brain enhancers made by mother nature

Can nicotine keep Alzheimer's at bay? Dave Asprey explains how natural drugs can create super humans.

  • Nootropics are colloquially known as 'smart drugs' – substances that increase cognitive function in healthy people. The word nootropic is a combination of two Greek words, noos meaning 'mind' and tropein meaning 'towards'.
  • Dave Asprey discusses two naturally occurring smart drugs: Caffeine and nicotine. The latter might be a surprise, but while smoking, chewing tobacco and vaping have negative health consequences, there's evidence to suggest microdosing one milligram of nicotine, about 5% to 10% of a cigarette's worth, may protect against Alzheimer's.
  • Beyond naturally occurring smart drugs, Asprey discusses aniracetam, a pharmaceutical cognitive enhancer pioneered in Russia that may improve memory input and recall.
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Want a shortcut to better living? Psychedelics may be it.

LSD may help us change our lives by spurring perspective shifts.

  • Psilocybin trip may turn banal insights into "sticky" and "revealed truths" that change the way we live our lives.
  • For instance, LSD may be able to help smokers cut their addiction. How so? By allowing them to have a perspective shift on its effects.
  • Sometimes the insights made during psychotherapy, after years of counseling, can be made with an LSD trip in a single afternoon.
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Why are intelligent people more likely to abuse drugs?

The downsides of drug abuse are so clear that one would imagine smarter folks would stay away from them. The research suggests otherwise.

Photo credit: Itay Kabalo on Unsplash
  • Numerous studies have confirmed the link between intelligence and substance abuse.
  • However, the mechanism for this correlation has been difficult to pin down.
  • Why would more intelligent people, who should ostensibly know better, practice such a risky habit?
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  • The opioid crisis in this country has drawn the attention of several presidential candidates.
  • A few of the largest, most well thought out plans are examined here.
  • Experts agree a huge investment in treatment is needed over a long period of time.
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How psychedelics work: Fire the conductor, let the orchestra play

Michael Pollan explains what goes on during the mental fireworks of a psychedelic experience.

  • If your ego had a "location" in the brain, it would be the default mode network, where much of your self-critical mind chatter happens. Taking psychedelics down-regulates this brain network.
  • Researchers describe the effect of psychedelics as "letting the brain off its leash", or firing the conductor to let the orchestra play. Without the default mode network acting as a dictator, areas of the brain that don't normally interact meet, producing phenomena like hallucinations and synesthesia.
  • An overactive ego may be what punishes those of us plagued with anxiety, addiction and mental health disorders. Psychedelics can have a beneficial effect by temporarily killing the ego, jogging the brain out of negative thinking patterns.
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