Posts Tagged ADHD

[WEB SITE] Nootropics: Types, safety, and risks of smart drugs

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Nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are a class of substances that can boost brain performance. They are sometimes called cognition enhancers or memory enhancing substances.

Prescription nootropics are medications that have stimulant effects. They can counteract the symptoms of medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Nonprescription substances that can enhance brain performance or focus — such as caffeine and creatine — are also considered nootropics. They do not treat diseases but may have some effects on thinking, memory, or other mental functions.

This article looks at prescription and nonprescription smart drugs, including their uses, side effects, and safety warnings.

Prescription nootropics

a woman taking nootropics at her desk.

A person may take a nootropic to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, or dementia.

Prescription nootropics include:

  • modafinil (Provigil), a stimulant that addresses the sudden drowsiness of narcolepsy
  • Adderall, which contains amphetamines to treat ADHD
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin), a stimulant that can manage symptoms of narcolepsy and ADHD
  • memantine (Axura), which treats symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

While these can be effective in treating specific medical conditions, a person should not take them without a prescription.

Like any prescription medications, they carry risks of side effects and interactions, and a person should only take them under a doctor’s care.

Common side effects of prescription nootropics include:

Some evidence suggests that people who use prescription nootropics to improve brain function have a higher risk of impulsive behaviors, such as risky sexual practices.

Healthcare providers should work closely with people taking prescription nootropics to manage any side effects and monitor their condition.

Over-the-counter nootropics

The term “nootropic” can also refer to natural or synthetic supplements that boost mental performance. The following sections discuss nootropics that do not require a prescription.

Caffeine

Many people consume beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee or tea, because of their stimulant effects. Studies suggest that caffeine is safe for most people in moderate amounts.

Having a regular cup of coffee or tea may be a good way to boost mental focus. However, extreme amounts of caffeine may not be safe.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that people consume no more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day. This is the amount in 4–5 cups of coffee.

Caffeine pills and powders can contain extremely high amounts of the stimulant. Taking them can lead to a caffeine overdose and even death, in rare cases.

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant may need to limit or avoid caffeine intake. Studies have found that consuming 4 or more servings of caffeine a day is linked to a higher risk of pregnancy loss.

L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid that occurs in black and green teas. People can also take l-theanine supplements.

A 2016 review reported that l-theanine may increase alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves may contribute to a relaxed yet alert mental state.

L-theanine may work well when paired with caffeine. Some evidence suggests that this combination helps boost cognitive performance and alertness. Anyone looking to consume l-theanine in tea should keep the FDA’s caffeine guidelines in mind.

There are no dosage guidelines for l-theanine, but many supplements recommend taking 100–400 mg per day.

Omega-3 fatty acids

person at desk holding omega 3 supplements in palm

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are important to fight against brain aging.

These polyunsaturated fats are found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements. This type of fat is important for brain health, and a person must get it from their diet.

Omega-3s help build membranes around the body’s cells, including the neurons. These fats are important for repairing and renewing brain cells.

A 2015 review found that omega-3 fatty acids protect against brain aging. Other research has concluded that omega-3s are important for brain and nervous system function.

However, a large analysis found “no benefit for cognitive function with omega‐3 [polyunsaturated fatty acids] supplementation among cognitively healthy older people.” The authors recommend further long term studies.

A person can get omega-3 supplements in various forms, including fish oil, krill oil, and algal oil.

These supplements carry a low risk of side effects when a person takes them as directed, but they may interact with medications that affect blood clotting. Ask a doctor before taking them.

Racetams

Racetams are synthetic compounds that can affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Some nootropic racetams include:

  • piracetam
  • pramiracetam
  • phenylpiracetam
  • aniracetam

A study conducted in rats suggests that piracetam may have neuroprotective effects.

One review states that “Some of the studies suggested there may be some benefit from piracetam, but, overall, the evidence is not consistent or positive enough to support its use for dementia or cognitive impairment.” Confirming this will require more research.

There is no set dosage for racetams, so a person should follow instructions and consult a healthcare provider. Overall, studies have no found adverse effects of taking racetams as directed.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China, Japan, and Korea. Its leaves are available as an herbal supplement.

2016 study found that gingko biloba is “potentially beneficial” for improving brain function, but confirming this will require more research.

Ginkgo biloba may help with dementia symptoms, according to one review, which reported the effects occurring in people who took more than 200 mg per day for at least 5 months.

However, the review’s authors note that more research is needed. Also, with prescription nootropics available, ginkgo biloba may not be the most safe or effective option.

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng is a perennial shrub that grows in China and parts of Siberia. People use its roots for medicinal purposes.

People should not confuse Panax ginseng with other types of ginseng, such as Siberian or American varieties. These are different plants with different uses.

2018 review reports that Panax ginseng may help prevent certain brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. It also may help with brain recovery after a stroke.

Panax ginseng interacts with many medications, so consult a doctor before taking it. A typical dosage for mental function is 100–600 mg once or twice a day.

Rhodiola

Some evidence suggests that Rhodiola rosea L., also known as rhodiola or roseroot, can help with cognitive ability.

One review reported that rhodiola may have neuroprotective effects and may help treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Another review found that rhodiola helped regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, having a positive effect on mood.

Rhodiola capsules have varying strengths. Usually, a person takes a capsule once or twice daily.

Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid, which is a building block of protein. This supplement is popular among athletes because it may help improve exercise performance. It may also have some effects on mental ability.

A 2018 review found that taking creatine appears to help with short term memory and reasoning. Whether it helps the brain in other ways is unclear.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition report that creatine supplementation of up to 30 grams per day is safe for healthy people to take for 5 years.

Another 2018 review notes that there has been limited research into whether this supplement is safe and effective for adolescent athletes.

Do nootropics work?

Some small studies show that some nootropic supplements can affect the brain. But there is a lack of evidence from large, controlled studies to show that some of these supplements consistently work and are completely safe.

Because of the lack of research, experts cannot say with certainty that over-the-counter nootropics improve thinking or brain function — or that everyone can safely use them.

For example, one report on cognitive enhancers found that there is not enough evidence to indicate that they are safe and effective for healthy people. The researchers also point to ethical concerns.

However, there is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can benefit the brain and overall health. In addition, caffeine can improve mental focus in the short term.

Notes on the safety of nootropics

doctor and patient in office discussing adrenal cancer

A person should talk to a doctor about any interactions supplements may have with existing medications.

Also, some supplements may not contain what their labels say. A study of rhodiola products, for example, found that some contain contaminants or other ingredients not listed on the label.

For this reason, it is important to only purchase supplements from reputable companies that undergo independent testing.

BUYING NOOTROPICSA prescription is necessary for some nootropics, such as Provigil and Adderall. Over-the-counter nootropics are available in some supermarkets and drug stores, or people can choose between brands online:

Not all of these supplements are recommended by healthcare providers and some may interact with medications. Always speak to a doctor before trying a supplement.

Summary

Many doctors agree that the best way to boost brain function is to get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and manage stress.

For people who want to boost their cognitive function, nootropic supplements may help, in some cases. Anyone interested in trying a nootropic should consult a healthcare professional about the best options.

 

via Nootropics: Types, safety, and risks of smart drugs

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[NEWS] Struggling to focus? This new brain training app may help

In a world in which our brains are almost constantly overstimulated, many of us may find it challenging to stay focused for extended periods. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have now developed an app that trains the mind to maintain concentration.

This newly developed brain-training app could effectively improve your concentration and other cognitive skills.

Research suggests that a newly developed brain training app may improve our concentration and other cognitive skills.

Many, if not most, of us spend our days rapidly switching between competing tasks. We call this “multitasking,” and take pride in how efficient we are in dealing with multiple problems at the same time.

However, multitasking requires that we quickly redirect our focus from one activity to another and then back again, which, in time, can have a detrimental effect on our ability to concentrate.

“We’ve all experienced coming home from work feeling that we’ve been busy all day but unsure what we actually did,” says Prof. Barbara Sahakian from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.

“Most of us spend our time answering emails, looking at text messages, searching social media, trying to multitask. But, instead of getting a lot done, we sometimes struggle to complete even a single task and fail to achieve our goal for the day,” she adds, noting that we may even find it difficult to stay focused on pleasant, relaxing activities, such as watching TV.

Yet, she continues, “For complex tasks, we need to get in the ‘flow’ and stay focused.” So, how can we re-teach our minds to stay focused?

Prof. Sahakian and colleagues believe that they may have found an effective and uncomplicated solution to this problem.

The research team has developed a brain training app called “Decoder,” which can help users improve their concentration, memory, and numerical skills.

The scientists have recently conducted a study to test the effectiveness of their new app, and they now report their results in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

An app that improves concentration

In the study, Prof. Sahakian and team worked with a cohort of 75 young and healthy adult participants. The trial spanned 4 weeks, and all the participants took a special test measuring their concentration skills at both the beginning and the end of the study.

As part of the trial, the researchers divided the participants into three groups. They asked one group to play the new Decoder training game, while the second group had to play Bingo, and the third group received no game to play.

Those in the first two groups played their respective games during eight 1-hour sessions over the 4 weeks, and they did so under the researchers’ supervision.

At the end of the trial period, the researchers found that the participants who had played Decoder demonstrated better attention skills than both the participants who had played Bingo and those who had played no game at all.

The researchers state that these improvements were “significant” and comparable to the effects of medication that doctors prescribe for the treatment of attention-impairing conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

App could help with ADHD

In the next step of the trial, Prof. Sahakian and team wanted to test whether Decoder could boost concentration without negatively affecting a person’s ability to shift their attention effectively from one task to another.

To do so, they asked participants who had used Decoder and Bingo to take the Trail Making Test (TMT), which assesses individuals’ attention-shifting capacity. The researchers found that Decoder players performed better on the TMT than Bingo players.

Finally, participants who played Decoder reported higher rates of enjoyment while participating in this activity, as well as stronger motivation and better alertness throughout all their sessions.

“Many people tell me that they have trouble focusing their attention. Decoder should help them improve their ability to do this,” says Prof. Sahakian.

“In addition to healthy people, we hope that the game will be beneficial for patients who have impairments in attention, including those with ADHD or traumatic brain injury. We plan to start a study with traumatic brain injury patients this year,” the researcher also notes.

An ‘evidence-based game’

Cambridge Enterprise recently licensed the new game to app developer Peak, who specialize in the release of brain training apps. Peak have adapted Decoder for the iPad platform, and the game is now available from the App Store as part of the Peak Brain Training package.

George Savulich, another of the current study’s authors, notes that, unlike other apps that claim to train the brain but do not necessarily deliver on their promise, he and his colleagues based the development of Decoder on hard scientific evidence.

Many brain training apps on the market are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence. Our evidence-based game is developed interactively […]. The level of difficulty is matched to the individual player, and participants enjoy the challenge of the cognitive training.”

George Savulich

“Peak’s version of Decoder is even more challenging than our original test game, so it will allow players to continue to gain even larger benefits in performance over time,” Prof. Sahakian adds.

“By licensing our game, we hope it can reach a wide audience who are able to benefit by improving their attention,” she says.

via Struggling to focus? This new brain training app may help

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[WEB SITE] Beyond VR Games – VR Techs Applied to Medical Treatment such Psychotherapy, Mock Surgery

The field to which VR is most actively applied is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The field to which VR is most actively applied is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Seoul, Korea – 22 November 2017 – 9:45am –Choi Mun-hee

Virtual reality (VR) is used in various areas in hospitals such as medical treatment, the education of medical staffs and the enhancement of the convenience and safety of those who visit hospitals.

According to the medical world on November 21, VR is touching various medical fields such as medical education through virtual surgery, virtual rehabilitation treatment and the like. Especially, the field of mental health medicine is garnering much attention and an exposure treatment method which treats various phobias and addictions by using VR is already in a clinical utilization stage.

An exposure therapy is a behavioral therapy that develops emotional tolerance in a deliberate and painful situation for patients suffering from psychological distress that occurs in certain situations. VR is receiving much attention from medical staffs in that it allows precise control over a situation that doctors want to expose patients to. The field to which VR is most actively applied is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VR is actively used to treat patients suffering from the avoidance and re-experiencing of traumatic situations such as war or traffic accidents and anxiety about such situations.

Gil Hospital of Gachon University will establish the ‘Virtual Reality Therapy Center’ in January of next year and treat PTSD and panic disorder patients in earnest. In the future, the hospital is planning to expand VR treatment areas to mild cognitive impairment or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “In order to treat PTSD and panic disorder, patients and therapists must go to sites which trigger PTSD and panic disorder or be exposed to stimuli that spark off stress but it is practically or physically impossible,” said professor Cho Seong-jin, a professor of mental health medicine in Gil Hospital. “VR can enable patients to reach a treatment stage by repeatedly giving stimuli in accordance with patients’ conditions.”

Sejong Hospital recently launched a VR application to let patients take a tour of examination rooms, wards, the checkup center and surgery center before visiting the hospital in person. ‘Cancer Hospital VR’ App was released by Samsung Seoul Hospital. The application guides patients about the hospital’s major facilities. VR can help patients reduce their anxiety and stress by taking a look at places where they will be treated and their medical procedures. Bundang Hospital of Seoul National University came up with the results of the application of a VR video for child patients. That is to say, the hospital developed a VR video that allows children close to undergoing surgery to experience surgical procedures with “Pororo” Character popular among kids in a VR world. So the hospital could reduce children’s anxiety before anesthesia 40% in actual surgery.

Gangnam Severance Hospital which has operated a virtual reality clinic since 2005 is developing technology to manage mental health via VR in cooperation with Samsung Electronics. The hospital and the IT giant will jointly develop diagnostic kits and chairs to analyze psychological states with VR devices, a VR mental health program including psychological evaluation, education and training processes, and an artificial intelligence diagnosis system among others with the goal of commercializing them next year.

 

via Beyond VR Games: VR Techs Applied to Medical Treatment such Psychotherapy, Mock Surgery | BusinessKorea

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[WEB PAGE] Adding ADHD drug to therapy improves cognitive outcomes in traumatic brain injury patients

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CREDIT: INDIANA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

INDIANAPOLIS – A combination of the stimulant drug methylphenidate with a process known as cognitive-behavioral rehabilitation is a promising option to help people who suffer from persistent cognitive problems following traumatic brain injury, researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have reported.

The study, believed to be the first to systematically compare the combination therapy to alternative treatments, was published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a Nature publication.

The researchers, led by Brenna McDonald, PsyD, associate professor of radiology and imaging sciences, and Thomas McAllister, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, compared the effectiveness of two forms of cognitive therapy with and without the use of methylphenidate, a drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and better known by its trade name, Ritalin.

“We found that the combination of methylphenidate and Memory and Attention Adaptation Training resulted in significantly better results in attention, episodic and working memory, and executive functioning after traumatic brain injury,” said Dr. McDonald.

In the Memory and Attention Adaptation Training intervention – also used to assist patients with cognitive issues following breast cancer chemotherapy – therapists work with patients to help them develop behaviors and strategies to improve performance in memory and other cognitive tasks. In this study, this “metacognitive” approach was compared with Attention Builders Training, which Dr. McDonald likened to more of a “drill and practice” approach.

The 71 participants who completed the six-week trial were adults who had experienced a traumatic brain injury of at least mild severity – a blow to the head with some alteration of consciousness – at least four months previously, and who either complained of having cognitive problems, or who had been identified with cognitive problems in testing.

The participants were divided into four groups: the two cognitive therapy approaches with the drug therapy, and the two approaches with placebo. After six weeks, the researchers found that participants in the combination metacognitive-Ritalin group improved significantly better in word list learning, nonverbal learning and measures of attention-related and executive function.

However, Dr. McDonald cautioned that due to the relatively small number of participants in the each of the four arms of the trial – 17 to 19 people each – the results of the trial should be considered preliminary.

Nonetheless, she said, the work breaks new ground in providing evidence for the combination therapy.

“There have been a few small studies suggesting methylphenidate could help with attention and executive function after traumatic brain injury, which makes senses because it’s used to improve attention and focus. But this is the first to test it in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy for treatment in traumatic brain injury,” said Dr. McDonald.

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In addition to Drs. McDonald and McAllister, researchers contributing to the study were Gwen C. Sprehn, Flora M. Hammond, Jaroslaw Harezlak, Li Xing, Rachel N. Wall, and Andrew J. Saykin of the IU School of Medicine; Laura A. Flashman, Carrie L. Kruck, and Karen L. Gillock of the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College; David B. Arciniegas of the Baylor College of Medicine; Robert J. Ferguson of the Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Arthur C. Maerlender of the University of Nebraska and Kim Frey of Craig Hospital, Englewood, Colorado.

This study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD047242). Dr. Arciniegas receives research support from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (H133A120020, H133A130047) and Department of Veterans Affairs (CX000239) and receives compensation from American Psychiatric Association Publishing.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Source: Adding ADHD drug to therapy improves cognitive outcomes in traumatic brain injury patients | EurekAlert! Science News

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