advertisement

Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Sharpening Brainpower?

I've been reading about brain-boosting drugs that can improve concentration and give you a mental edge. Is there anything natural that can do the same things?

A
Answer (Published 2/1/2008)

I've seen the reports about the increasing use of prescription drugs to enhance memory, concentration and help students focus when cramming for exams. Most of the drugs are stimulants, primarily medications prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Aging Gracefully - It's not about the lines on the face, it's about the wisdom behind them. Celebrate what you have achieved, learned, and earned - join the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide and discover the advantages of aging gracefully. Start your 14-day free trial now!

While there is no doubt that these drugs can improve concentration, there's a big downside. One of them, Adderall, is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, and can be habit-forming. Side effects include nervousness, sleeping problems, headaches, appetite suppression, and interference with sex drive. To my knowledge, there have been no large scale studies of how routine use of these drugs affects healthy adults over time.

Not quite in the same category are drugs which some musicians use to counteract performance anxiety during concerts or recording sessions. The one that is mentioned most is the beta blocker Inderal, a medication for high blood pressure. Using a beta blocker occasionally for stage fright seems to me reasonable and safe. It is not at all like the use of steroids by some athletes to enhance performance, or the brain-boosting drugs that are becoming so popular with students, academics, executives and, I've read, professional poker players. Beta blockers prevent such symptoms as sweating, trembling, pounding heart, dry mouth, (and butterflies in the stomach) that can interfere with performance.(I would also recommend mind-body techniques, such as hypnotherapy, biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, and, especially, breathing exercises, all of which can be very effective for performance anxiety.)

If you want to give your brain a natural boost, my recommendation would be to take two to three grams of fish oil daily instead of drugs. You won't see immediate results, but over time the change can be dramatic.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Follow Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet and save 30%. Start your 14-day free trial now!

Stay Connected with Dr. Weil
Promote the health of your body, mind and spirit - sign up for Dr. Weil's FREE newsletters today!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

 
Copyright © 2016 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here

  

Q & A Library



Q
Sharpening Brainpower?

I've been reading about brain-boosting drugs that can improve concentration and give you a mental edge. Is there anything natural that can do the same things?

A
Answer (Published 2/1/2008)

I've seen the reports about the increasing use of prescription drugs to enhance memory, concentration and help students focus when cramming for exams. Most of the drugs are stimulants, primarily medications prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Aging Gracefully - It's not about the lines on the face, it's about the wisdom behind them. Celebrate what you have achieved, learned, and earned - join the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide and discover the advantages of aging gracefully. Start your 14-day free trial now!

While there is no doubt that these drugs can improve concentration, there's a big downside. One of them, Adderall, is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, and can be habit-forming. Side effects include nervousness, sleeping problems, headaches, appetite suppression, and interference with sex drive. To my knowledge, there have been no large scale studies of how routine use of these drugs affects healthy adults over time.

Not quite in the same category are drugs which some musicians use to counteract performance anxiety during concerts or recording sessions. The one that is mentioned most is the beta blocker Inderal, a medication for high blood pressure. Using a beta blocker occasionally for stage fright seems to me reasonable and safe. It is not at all like the use of steroids by some athletes to enhance performance, or the brain-boosting drugs that are becoming so popular with students, academics, executives and, I've read, professional poker players. Beta blockers prevent such symptoms as sweating, trembling, pounding heart, dry mouth, (and butterflies in the stomach) that can interfere with performance.(I would also recommend mind-body techniques, such as hypnotherapy, biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, and, especially, breathing exercises, all of which can be very effective for performance anxiety.)

If you want to give your brain a natural boost, my recommendation would be to take two to three grams of fish oil daily instead of drugs. You won't see immediate results, but over time the change can be dramatic.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.