Ask the Experts

Should I Try Smart Pills for My ADHD?

“I hear a lot these days about nootropics as a treatment for ADHD. What are they, and do they help symptoms of attention deficit?”

Nootropics are substances that enhance cognition and memory, and facilitate learning. They are also known as “smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers.” These can take the form of pharmaceutical medications, nutritional supplements, or herbs.

Psychostimulants, like Ritalin, are nootropics that help with ADHD symptoms. The effects of other nootropics are much less predictable. The web advertises smart supplements that claim to be beneficial for ADHD symptoms, but the evidence for this is scant. Small studies have shown positive effects with an herb called ginkgo biloba and a supplement called phosphatidyl serine, but the research is only preliminary. These two are generally safe to take. I advise caution about taking any pharmaceutical nootropic until more research is done.