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Medical Improving the brain through chemistry

  1. Nov 7, 2009 #1
    Are there any pharmaceuticals which improve normal brain functioning over the long term?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2009 #2


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    If brain function is normal, what is there to improve upon? Pharmaceuticals need to treat disorders or they won't get FDA approval, so the answer is no.
  4. Nov 8, 2009 #3
    There's a number of different drugs, they are called nootropics, but nothing that would permanently raise your IQ ten points.

    My muscle & lung function is normal, but I can't run marathons... Is there nothing to improve upon?

    That's a good point. FDA criteria are extremely stringent and getting FDA approval is extremely expensive. A full set of field trials for a new drug would run into hundreds of millions of dollars. Obviously, pharma companies aren't going to get into trials & such unless there's a market, i.e. there's a disorder to treat and a bunch of sick people who can be made to pay through their noses for the medicine. Nootropics don't stand much chance of getting designed/noticed/approved just because of their beneficial effects.

    Many nootropics originally became popular as treatments for senile dementia/Alzheimers (Ergoloid, Vinpocetine), or as stimulants suitable to treat ADD or sleep disorders (Ritalin, Modafinil). It is not uncommon for a drug to be considered nootropic on the basis of pharmacology and efficacy at treatment of some specific disorder, and yet to have little to no scientific evidence whether it really "works" - because no one ever found money to do large double-blind studies of the drug on healthy adults.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  5. Nov 8, 2009 #4

    To create "bigger than life people which do bigger than life things". For the same reason power athletes resort to anabolic steroids , gene doping. For the same reason male endurance athletes take Tamoxifen.

    In the future, enhancement at molecular level may very well prove to be "the big equalizer". A chance for the less genetically gifted ones (nevertheless, functioning in normal parameters) to enjoy swimming with the sharks.
  6. Nov 8, 2009 #5


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    If it has no evidence it works, then it doesn't fit the criteria of this forum. There are a lot of drugs that have chemical compositions that you might think would make them work, but when tested, they do not have the desired effect at all.

    So, I guess given your argument, I will clarify my point. If function is normal, there will not be a legal, approved, tested for safety and efficacy pharmaceutical. Discussion of illegal and untested drugs is not permitted at these forums.
  7. Nov 9, 2009 #6
    This is clearly false. Caffeine is legal, approved, tested for safety and efficacy, and it improves cognitive ability in the short run. There are numerous pharmaceuticals that fit these criteria wrt muscle performance. Anabolic steroids are legal (as long as you have a prescription and you don't try to participate in sports competitions), they are thoroughly tested and known to work. Same with human growth hormone.

    It will be hard to find a drug that is approved by FDA specifically for performance enhancement purposes, for reasons I put forth in my earlier post (too expensive). There's also another factor. Pharma companies need FDA approval to market their products as drugs, but not as dietary supplements.
  8. Nov 9, 2009 #7
    There are also a lot of drugs which have chemical compositions that you'd think they work, and they do. Steroid hormones are such a class of compounds.

    I wonder what is the origin of this policy. Not that I contest the rule, and Im not talking about un-tested drugs.

    The reality is that performance enhancement drugs are widely used today. Yet most of the ppl who could provide *very valuable* input regarding the advantages and risks associated with their uses are adopting an "ostrich policy". It happens, but we prefer to ignore it.

    The potential uneducated user is then left to resort to obscure web sites, which may present incorrect data, and more often than not are driven by marketing and promotion of certain classes of compounds. This is more dangerous than presenting the man objective data.
  9. Nov 9, 2009 #8


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    People like that should visit a medical professional and not go onto a forum to find 'objective data', it is not our aim to advocate illicit use of drugs.

    Moonbear addressed the question in post #2.
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