Sunday, August 9, 2009

Smart Pills: Should Consultants and/or their clients use them?

I have been using nutritional supplements for a few years now. I have seen and felt the results of these supplements. The topic of smart pills has recently caught my attention. It seems that people are instinctively searching for ways in which to improve themselves. Abraham Maslow, the american psychologist, had written a paper entitled: A theory of human motivation; in this paper, Maslow had suggested that self actualization would be the ultimate need for humans - after their other needs were met: Physiological, safety, love/belonging, Esteem, Self-Actualization.

Here are some definitions of smart pills:

They are called smart pills or brain boosters or, to use the preferred pharmaceutical term, cognitive enhancers.

Any of a variety of substances, including certain vitamins, herbs, and prescription drugs, reputed to improve such mental functions as memory and alertness or to lessen or prevent damage to brain cells.

Here is some interesting info on smart drugs:

A 40-year-old high-level e-commerce executive in the Pacific Northwest — we'll call him Bob — felt he was losing his edge. Although his colleagues saw him as a star, he feared he wouldn't be able to continue the lightning pace and constant multitasking his job required. So he saw his doctor. Now Bob takes Adderall, a prescription amphetamine ordinarily used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"It gives me clarity of thinking and focus," says Bob. He credits the drug with improving both his career and his personal relationships. "I am still getting accolades," he says. He was initially wary of taking any substance with a so-called black-box warning, he says, but after nine months of using Adderall under close supervision by his doctor, he has not developed an addiction, required a dose increase or had any other adverse effects.

Welcome to the brave new world of "cognitive enhancement," a term that typically refers to the use of attention- or memory-boosting prescription drugs, such as Adderall, Ritalin and modafinil (Provigil), along with other performance-raising medications, to improve productivity. College kids have been doing it for years. About 7% of U.S. university students report having taken stimulants "nonmedically" at least once, according to a 2005 study of nearly 11,000 students. On some campuses — primarily private, √©lite schools — a full quarter of students admit to nonmedical drug use in the past year, mainly in an attempt to improve grades.

Smart drugs are used widely off-campus as well: fighter pilots take stimulants to enhance alertness and cognition on critical missions; in the civilian world, executives take beta-blockers to calm nerves, while some time-pressed writers use wakefulness drugs, like modafinil, to meet deadlines. It's become commonplace enough that a group of seven leading bioethicists and neuroscientists published an editorial in the science journal Nature last month advocating the use of performance-boosting drugs. "Cognitive enhancement has much to offer individuals and society," the authors wrote, "and a proper societal response will involve making enhancements available while managing their risks."

Indeed, it would be hard to argue against promoting the use of an intelligence enhancer if it were risk-free and available to everyone. Imagine a legion of cancer researchers on smart drugs, racing toward a cure. Or how about a better class of Wall Street executives, blessed with improved thinking and wiser judgment? Considering the torrent of negative public responses to the Nature editorial, however, many Americans appear to regard enhancement as cheating, unnatural or a rationalization of drug abuse. But ask these bioethicists, and they'll say it's not cheating at all — as long as everyone has fair and free access.

By Karen Kaplan, Times Staff Writers and Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writers
December 20, 2007
Forget sports doping. The next frontier is brain doping.
As Major League Baseball struggles to rid itself of performance-enhancing drugs, people in a range of other fields are reaching for a variety of prescription pills to enhance what counts most in modern life.

Despite the potential side effects, academics, classical musicians, corporate executives, students and even professional poker players have embraced the drugs to clarify their minds, improve their concentration or control their emotions.
"There isn't any question about it -- they made me a much better player," said Paul Phillips, 35, who credited the attention deficit drug Adderall and the narcolepsy pill Provigil with helping him earn more than $2.3 million as a poker player.

In the real world, there are no rules to prevent overachievers from using legally prescribed drugs to operate at peak mental performance. What patient wouldn't want their surgeon to be completely focused during a life-or-death procedure?
"If there were drugs for investment bankers, journalists, teachers and scientists that made them more successful, they would use them too," said Charles E. Yesalis, a doping researcher and emeritus professor at Pennsylvania State University. "Why does anyone think this would be limited to an athlete?"

Dr Ray Sahelian draws a parallel between smart pills and nutritional supplements. Dr Sahelian is a well know doctor and author:

Smart pill by Ray Sahelian, M.D. Do Smart Pills Work?
What is a smart pill? In my opinion, a smart pill is any pill that can improve concentration, focus, wakefulness memory. There are many natural supplements that could be considered smart pills, and many drugs that also fall in this category. As a rule, I think the natural supplements are safer and healthier to ingest over the long term.

Consultants must be good communicators, have great problem solving skills, be creative. At it's essence, consulting is using stretching and using your brain. A consultant sells ideas, smarts, brilliance (and, of course, talks a lot about transforming ideas into action). This is why I believe consultants and even their clients could benefit from using smart pills. Again, I prefe the use of nutritional supplements rather than prescription medicines. Many people who do not suffer with medical conditions use prescription smart drugs. I do not agree with that. For those interested in smart pills, I suggest consulting with your doctor first. (I am referring to nutritional supplements. If you have a condition which requires the use of prescription medicines, this can also be discussed with your doctor.)

I use nutritional supplements only. I would only use prescription medicines if a doctor had prescribed them for me. Certain nutritional supplements have the same properties as prescription medicines but without the side effects. I incorporate supplements, good nutrition, physical, mental and spiritual exercises and training as part of my Self Development regime. You will see from the info above that some people had used smart drugs to help with their mental focus, concentration and moods etc. I have found that my mental and spiritual training has also provided me with those skills. So, therefore, I have strengthened my focus, concentration, motivation through the combined use of - supplements, good nutrition, physical, mental and spiritual training. In this highly competitive world, we need to be the very best that we can possibly be. If we aspire to rise above the mediocre, we have to rise above the crowd and reach for the stars. Smart drugs alongside training would be the key that we would use to unlock the doors to greatness.

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