Modafinil: the benefits and harms of the popular nootropic


In order not to google you, we carefully and fully quote Prof. Sergey Fage’s enthusiastic opinion about modafinil:

In a recent study, Oxford researchers reviewed all of the English-language literature published over 25 years on modafinil and concluded that the drug significantly improves concentration, goal-directedness, and learning (i.e., intelligence in its purest form) in healthy people without lack of sleep. Solving complex problems becomes easier. There are  no  side effects with this.

Every morning I start with 100-200 mg and do not plan to stop ever.

The first country to distribute free modafinil to all citizens will have a significant competitive advantage in the global economy.

How does modafinil work?

Modafinil is a drug from the class of analeptics (drugs intended to stimulate breathing and blood circulation). Once in the blood, modafinil crosses the blood-brain barrier (enters the brain) and lasts approximately 12 hours.

The effects of this drug are not fully understood, but some of them have been observed scientifically.

Histamine is a mediator that is produced by the human body and plays an important role in many vital functions and the pathogenesis of various disease states. Its most famous role is participation in the body’s allergic reactions.

However, in the central nervous system, it plays the role of a neurotransmitter that is involved in the processes of excitation. Therefore, modafinil, by raising the level of histamine, for example, reduces drowsiness.

If you’re interested in learning more, here’s the  study .

Partial blocking of the reuptake of dopamine, glutamate and norepinephrine, followed by an increase in their production

Drugs like amphetamines and cocaine work in a similar way. The effect is manifested by the fact that a person becomes very collected and concentrated on some thing, it will be difficult to distract him with extraneous stimuli.

But, unlike conventional psychostimulants, modafinil has a low potential for serious abuse and does not develop addiction among first-time users.

Research one and two .

Gamma-aminobutyric acid is the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter of the CNS. Its suppression leads to a decrease in the processes of central inhibition. As a result, a decrease in GABAergic tone leads to an increase in dopamine levels.

Research  on rats.

One of the effects not fully understood. IQ is related to acetylcholine, but modafinil has little or no effect on it. Therefore, it is not known how this drug improves brain function and its cognitive functions. It is possible that after a long period of time this can lead to some side effects.

Study One and Two .

The use of modafinil in medicine

Basically, modafinil is taken to treat hypersomnia (pathological drowsiness) in narcolepsy.

In the US, this drug has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of sleep disorders associated with shift shifts. For example, in the US Army Air Force, this drug has been used in several operations and is being studied for other purposes.

Studies have shown that 600 mg of the active substance was able to maintain the concentration of pilots for 40 hours without sleep, but side effects appeared in the form of dizziness and nausea.

Subsequent studies have shown that 300 mg of modafinil, divided into 3 doses, maintained concentrations at 27% of baseline in airmen deprived of sleep for 37 hours. However, the side effects were minimal.

In a study of 88 hours of sleep deprivation in the military, 400 mg of modafinil per day was found to be beneficial in maintaining combat readiness, but not enough to fully compensate for the lack of sleep.

According to the Journal of the Canadian Medical Society, modafinil has been used by astronauts on the ISS to combat changes in circadian rhythms and reduced sleep quality.

Other Modafinil Uses: Students, Entrepreneurs

However, the use of modafinil has gone beyond the prescriptions of the attending physicians.

In the US, a study was conducted during which 1811 students were interviewed from autumn 2005 to autumn 2006 and found that 34% of students used stimulants (including modafinil) during a period of high study load. These drugs improved memory, understanding, increased interest in the task.

In 2008, Techcrunch magazine named Modafinil “entrepreneurs’ favorite drug.”

It is also very common for foreign doctors to prescribe modafinil for indications that are not approved by regulatory authorities and are not prescribed in the instructions for the drug. Such indications are the use in complex therapy for depressive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and others (Studies on the effect of modafinil on these diseases: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ).

In people with bipolar affective disorder  , modafinil results in relief of depression according to separate criteria . However, at the same time, this drug can provoke the manic phase of this disease . Positive effects have been observed in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but due to high dermatological toxicity, this drug is not used to treat this disease. 

Modafinil has been shown in research to promote weight loss . A 2008 experiment showed that 200 mg of modafinil per day reduced calorie intake by 18%, and 400 mg reduced calorie intake by 38%. It is curious that at the same time, in 2000, the manufacturing company Cephalon filed a patent for the use of modafinil as a means to improve appetite. 

The dangers of taking modafinil

Whatever the positive properties of modafinil, its side effects are very significant. They are relatively more common than most other nootropics, but it should be noted that the effectiveness of modafinil against their background is stronger.

The most common side effect is headache – 34% of all side effects.

Also, the danger is severe depletion of the body . Regular lack of sleep, which is stopped by taking modafinil, leads to serious disorders and imbalances in the body.

An increase in histamine levels reduces the body’s resistance to allergic reactions, which can lead to both banal urticaria, skin peeling, and more serious complications. These include severe allergies involving the liver or blood cells, the formation of edema on the face, lips, legs, throat, Quincke’s edema, Steven-Jones syndrome, erythema multiforme, Lyell’s syndrome, DRESS syndrome and other possible consequences.

Other side effects include insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, dyspeptic disorders, back pain, anxiety, anxiety, fever, shortness of breath, yellowing of the skin and sclera, dark urine .

Contraindications to the use of the drug are individual intolerance to the drug, mandatory consultation with a doctor in the presence of severe cardiovascular diseases, liver pathology.

Modafinil, when used simultaneously with yohimbine, increases heart rate and increases blood pressure.

It also reduces the effect of some birth control pills, which can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.


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