Herbs And Mind Enhancing Foods Drugs
The brain is a physical organ just like the heart or lungs or liver and, as such, its functioning can be affected by our environment, particularly the substances we put in our bodies. I first became aware of smart drugs from an article in Omni magazine some twenty years ago while I was attending college. It was also at that time that I was becoming aware of health foods, and the article so impressed me that, while other students were taking speed and No-Doz to cram for exams, I was gobbling hand-fuls of vitamins. While my approach was undoubtedly too haphazard and belated to have had much effect, it certainly set me on the right path.
But it wasn't until a few years ago that a number of books began coming out extolling the virtues of synthetic drugs that could actually reverse aging, prevent Alzheimer's, or improve the functioning of the brain. I began taking notes, thinking the information, when summarized, would amount to no more than a few dozen pages. Even though I only worked on it occasionally and in my spare time, it didn't take long for the research to swell to its current size.
My enthusiasm for the project was tempered by the fact that many of these books downplayed or ignored the side effects of these drugs, some of which were quite serious. Compounding my frustration was the fact that none was very comprehensive and none could be used for easy reference by the reader. I vowed to remedy that situation. The result is this site, which deals with over 400 various substances ranging from basic foods to the newest wonder drugs, from the most commonplace substances to the most obscure - by far the most complete work on the subject.
The chapters are arranged progressively, beginning with the safest and most natural substances and ending with synthetic drugs and additives that are experimental and potentially hazardous.
The entries for the substances are alphabetized by popular name within the appropriate chapter, and include such information as alternative names and forms (scientific, brand names, and so forth), sources (such as foods), effects (benefits), precautions (side effects, interactions, overdosage, medical conditions that may render the substance ineffective or toxic), and dosage. In the interest of brevity, I have eliminated much of the history, folklore, background, and detailed analysis of individual studies, dealing only with that information that can help the reader evaluate each substance.
This site does not contain a discussion of how the brain works and the various theories of aging. Neither does it deal with all the vitamins and nutritional supplements required by the human body- only those that have more-or-less direct effects on the brain. It should also be noted that all of the substances mentioned in this book are secondary to the two most important brain-boosters: physical exercise and mental exercise. It is essential to keep challenging yourself throughout life so that the mind and body remain in peak condition.
It seems rather ironic that, with new strides in medical and nutritional science enabling us to live longer and more productive lives, most people would rather not live to a ripe old age. This fear of old age is based on a basic misconception - that the elderly are invariably frail in mind and body. Too often, however, the ravages of age are no more than the accumulated results of a lifetime of poor health habits. Though some decline in abilities is inevitable, the picture is not as dire as it was once thought.
Though smart-drug proponents and the media will often tout a particular substance as a new "wonder drug," the truth is that there is probably no such thing. The human mind - not to mention the human body and the process of aging - is too complex for any single pill to be considered a cure-all, as there are inevitable side effects of any medicine, natural or man-made. The Fountain of Youth is not so much a single herb, or vitamin, or pill, but a way of life, a holistic view that takes into account all aspects of nutrition and health.