March 2004
Everyone else is taking performance-enhancing drugs—why not you?

...But unlike, say, the Oakland Raiders' defensive line, you'll do it right. None of that testicle-shrinking, forehead-enlarging smack. What you'll want to try are the ingenious new mixes of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and herbs that go by such Jetson -esque names as smart drugs, nootropics, nutraceuticals, and ergogenics, but which I will refer to as Things That Make You Feel Better and Think Sharper. Don't be frightened. I'm going to take all this stuff first.

I'll ingest it regularly for at least thirty days, and then I'll file my report. Of course, a drug that makes me feel like the spawn of Stephen Jay Gould and Marion Jones might make you break out in hives. If that happens, duh , stop. You know your body better than anyone. Sure, this is territory uncharted by the FDA. But then again, so is your daily multivitamin.


What it is: A fine-tuned smart cocktail featuring B vitamins, the amino acid taurine, laboratory-enhanced ginseng, and a mix of neuroamino acids described as "brain polishers."

Provenance: Developed to help athletes train harder and recover faster. Stimulates the release of endorphins, the neurotransmitter responsible for "runner's high." Also lowers cortisol, a tissue-damaging hormone the body pumps out under stress.

What it claims to do: Increase mental awareness, energy, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity while decreasing lactic-acid buildup in muscles.

But does it deliver? Sweet Jesus, yes. Within minutes of mixing the Tang-colored powder with water and drinking it, I have the desire to complete every task I've been avoiding for the past several months and do sets of push-ups in between. It's a nicely amped feeling, with none of the jittery highs and jolting lows of less-refined stimulants like caffeine or guarana. Later, I kick ass in a two-hour swim practice.

Side effects: First-time users might get a niacin flush, a hot, prickly sensation on the skin. Suffer through; this one-time reaction simply means that your body really needs those B vitamins. The second side effect is longer-lived: a total, almost infantilizing dependency on the two-dollar-per-pack powder.

Off-label use: Best hangover cure ever.

Where to buy:; $38 for a box of twenty.
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