LOS ANGELES, CA --Drugs and supplements touted as making you smarter and more mentally alert are skyrocketing in popularity, but do they really work?
The class of supplements known as nootropics are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so experts recommend caution when using them.
They also note that even if the substances work as intended, they may also cause negative side effects.
Dr. James Giordano, a neurology professor at Georgetown University, said more research is needed "to be able to demonstrate not only the effectiveness of these compounds in real world settings, but also the effects, side effects, and potential burdens and risks."
Nootropic supplements are available from a variety of online companies, with prices ranging anywhere from $55 to $108 for one month's supply.
Some contain common and unsurprising ingredients like caffeine and B vitamins.
Others are full of more exotic stuff like bacopa monnieri, an herb that might improve memory, and rodiala rosea, a root touted as a fatigue-fighter.
Still, some people who use nootropics say they have definitely noticed improvements in memory function and alertness.
Ben Sand, a technology consultant, said his use of nootropics, along with other lifestyle changes like meditation, have made a big difference.
"I do feel like I have an edge in the workplace that, that comes from a kind of holistic approach in using these products in combination with everything else that I'm doing," Sand said.