United States Military Explores Possibility of Nootropic Use

You may be skeptical to the validity of nootropics, but the US Military certainly isn’t. In December, 2010, the Unites States Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory published a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of nootropic supplements and how to best utilize them. A meta-analysis compares and contrasts multiple studies in order to draw reliable conclusions. The meta-analysis beings by stating,


“The U.S. military is constantly striving for optimal physical and mental performance from its warfighters. One strategy to improve cognitive performance that is inevitably discussed involves the use of pharmaceuticals. Currently, there are a number of pharmaceuticals available that have potential to enhance cognitive functioning.”

This meta-analysis examines nootropics which lower anxiety, improve attention, memory, and combat operational stressors such as sleep deprivation, fatigue, heat stress, cold temperature, and malnutrition. One nootropic they focused on was Modafinil. The analysis stated,

“Modafinil may have cognitive enhancement properties in healthy young adults under normal circumstances. Specifically, Modafinil may enhance sustained attention, attention interference, working memory, spatial planning, and executive function. Furthermore, a 100mg dose of Modafinil promotes cognition to a greater extent than a high dose of 200mg. “

The analysis also considered the ethical consequences surrounding off-label nootropic use.

“The FDA acknowledges that is does not regulate the practice of medicine and an approved drug may be prescribed by a clinician for purposes other than its explicit labeling. In a Supreme Court decision in 2001, off-label use was deemed “accepted and necessary” and could be considered “state of the art” treatment”

The analysis concluded by acknowledging that nootropics do have a role in improving the cognition of soldiers. It read,

“The fact remains that much is asked of Soldiers – dangerous missions under very difficult circumstances and extreme environments. The use of cognitive enhancing agents in a manner that is voluntary, safe, scientifically valid, controlled, and part of a comprehensive plan does have a role.”

You can read the full met-analysis here.

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