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Friday, December 6, 2019

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Neurofuse or Neuromyth? The new study drug


When kinesiology sophomore Chang Li needed to get a paper done, he took a pill to stay focused and awake.

That pill was Adderall, and it’s a medication he’s not prescribed to. That was the first and only time he’s taken it, so far.

“(Adderall) works really well. It really does,” Li said. While he does have a bottle supply of the pill, he adds that he only takes it when he needs it.

“So far I haven’t (needed) it,” Li said. At least, not until he had to write his paper.

Adderall, a stimulant used to treat attention hyperactivity disorder, is one of many pills students have traditionally used to help them study. However, a new pill has entered the market recently, and it’s being compared to the pill in the film “Limitless”, starring Bradley Cooper. That pill is Neurofuse.

Neurofuse may not help students focus as much as it did with Cooper’s character, who managed to learn several languages within a few days while under the influence. In fact, Pharmacology Associate Professor Maria Victoria Tejada-Simon said it would be hard to tell if Neurofuse would work well at all.

“For all these supplements that are not really regulated, we do not know that the ingredients are the right ones and in what amounts,” Tejada-Simon said.

Thirteen ingredients are included in the pill, which promises to help the user improve on their “brain health, memory, focus, energy and well-being.”

“When this type of supplements make these claims, I am always worried that people might think, ‘Well, most of the stuff in there is coming from natural sources, such as plants, so how bad can it be?’,” Tejada-Simon said.

One example Tejada-Simon gives is the use of Ephedra. The New York Times reported that a total of 164 deaths resulted from the diet supplement in the time frame from 1994 to 2004.

“When ephedrine was used in weight loss supplements, people did not realize that although it is a natural compound coming from a plant, it is a very potent compound that gave many bad surprises with very bad consequences,” Tejada-Simon said. “Now, put together several of these compounds and the consequences could be disastrous.”

Tejada-Simon said that assuming that the ingredients are able to do what they claim to do, people need to remember that for most of the ingredients, there is either no evidence or the evidence is inconclusive. Moreover, that is not including a normal population.

“The more important issue here is that we do not have any idea whether all those ingredients put together produce adverse side effects,” Tejada-Simon said. “Let alone the dose that they are recommending you to take, scaling the pills up to four a day.”

Of the ingredients, there was one that was found the most effective. In the April 2000 scholarly issue of Phytomedicine, the journal states that phytoadaptogens – a class of drugs that increase the capacity to adapt to stressful conditions – have been medically in use since the 1960s. Moreover, four of the drugs were heavily researched.

One of the drugs, Rhodiola rosea, has been found to have the most pronounced effect on mental fatigue, according the scholarly article.

While the article mentions that no adverse effects were observed, Tejada-Simon said it is unknown what short or long terms effects the pill can have.

“All chemical compounds do not have the same effect in people,” Tejada-Simon said. “Some of us are more vulnerable to certain drugs than others.”

Some of those ingredients have side effects of their own, such as gastrointestinal disorders and dizziness. Although Tejada-Simon said that the interaction between components have not been established. That is due to the nil of studies that have yet to be done.

“One thing alone might work, but in combination with other ingredients, (the drug) might cause real damage,” Tejada-Simon said.

In January, Brain Report published a review of the pill, in which the reviewer said “the ingredient profile is pretty legit and filled with proven ingredients.”

However, the reviewer admits he was not a fan that a proprietary blend was used because, “you can’t tell exactly how much of each ingredient is in the formula,” according to his review.

The pill is not FDA approved and Tejeda-Simon said she would not recommend a student to take it. Even if the pills were FDA approved, serious problems can still occur.

Li said that since Neurofuse is not FDA approved, it’s something that worries him.

“If they don’t approve (it) I’m sure there are reasons for it, unless they’re being lazy,” Li said. “But as far as focusing, with that aside of FDA approval, if people can take Adderall for their ADD and what not, then why can’t students take those?”

Li said he questioned if Neurofuse has been known to be addictive, since Adderall is known to be addictive, according to DrugAbuse.gov.  Moreover, since the reviewer in the Brain Report article utilized Neurofuse to exercise and work out, Li said he has heard about others utilizing Adderall for the same thing.

“It took me a while to be able to focus at the gym, too,” Li said, who used to take pre-workout supplements. “But it really depends on what kind of person you are.”

Despite the blend and the expensive price tag, the reviewer recommended the pill.

“It provided a solid combination of long-lasting energy, focus and overall mental clarity,” the review said.

Tejeda-Simon recommends a different route.

“I know that is going to sound like a cliché, but (it’s better to) improve your diet and exercise habits and (use) brain-training exercises to wake up and stimulate your brain to boost your memory,” Tejeda-Simon said. “I am also a big believer in good sleeping habits. Sleep is like the reset and consolidation button for our brains.”

Li said he has tried various methods to help keep himself focused and awake and said he thinks the most important thing is eating, taking a break when needed and actually getting sleep.

“When I take a power nap, I notice a big difference,” Li said. “I definitely wake up with more energy, (my) brain refreshed, and I try to limit my coffee.”

Although students say they need motivation, Li said it’s something he can’t really depend on. Instead, students should use discipline.

“Discipline is something that you can train. It’s something you can actually depend on,” Li said. “If you have discipline, you don’t need these pills.”

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