Laurence Lee

September 16, 2022 in Uncategorized

Ritalin (Methylphenidate) has been prescribed for many years to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the tablet's popularity has risen tremendously due to its natural ability to accelerate brain/cognitive function in healthy individuals. 

Below I expand on its properties and analyze its ability to function as a nootropic.

What Is Methylphenidate?

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a smart drug that has stimulating and calming effects on the nervous system. Its calming effects are most often used to combat symptoms of ADHD in children, while its stimulating effect help with sleeping disorders like narcolepsy in adults.

When used in healthy adults, the stimulating effects improve concentration, attention, focus, and listening skills. 

It also promotes wakefulness, reduces brain fog, and reduces impulsiveness.

 I found evidence showing that it does this by affecting two neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine) that play quite a significant role in optimal brain functioning.

I explain this further below:

Ritalin affects norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain, which are important for concentration. Methylphenidate increases these neurotransmitters' activities by preventing their reabsorption into the brain. When dopamine and norepinephrine increase, the user is driven to concentrate on the task at hand. This stimulation of the brain can make them feel energized, pay more attention, and not feel fatigued. Ritalin does this gradually, so users are not faced with a sudden burst of energy followed by burnout. This is the main reason why the product is considered an effective nootropic.

Is Methylphenidate (Ritalin) Safe?

The effects of Ritalin have been well-documented in numerous research studies. It has been verified as a safe substance if used in recommended doses and produced results that:

  • Increased attentiveness and performance in academics
  • Improved control and functioning over ADHD symptoms
  • Increased levels of concentration

These effects are obviously quite beneficial to those who need to accelerate brain function, but safety is always a concern when using a synthetic agent. After analyzing data related to Ritalin safety, I found that there are potential changes that occur in the nervous system after use. This is because the product directly affects neurotransmitters, causing the body to naturally increase or decrease their availability to suit optimal brain function.

While this action can have a beneficial effect on the brain, there are no studies focused on the safety parameters linked to the extended or very long-term use of Ritalin in healthy individuals. However, there is compelling evidence that shows that the product helps improve working memory, problem-solving, and planning without major side effects when used on a short-term basis. So, essentially it is safe when used short term.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) Use Experience  

There are mixed user reviews about their experience with the supplement.

Those with ADHD say that it helped them stay on track, decreased their idle thoughts, and increased their attentiveness. 

They also state that they hardly felt side effects, and the mild ones they did experience were short-lived. 

Healthy individuals who took Ritalin also found that they were able to tackle tasks easier than usual. A study showed that this boost in cognitive function was due to the increase in dopamine. However, dosage guidelines must always be followed as high doses of Ritalin can make the user feel too excited, jittery, and over-energized, which leads to burnout.  

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) Side Effects

Like all treatments, Ritalin can also cause side effects, although not all individuals get them. These common side effects may occur in more than 1 in 100 users. I have also included tips to manage these side effects.

  • Trouble sleeping: Take the last dose of Ritalin more than six hours before going to bed
  • Loss of appetite: Users can take the tablet with a meal
  • Nausea/vomiting: Stick to eating simple meals and avoid rich/spicy food for a while. It may help to take the tablet with food to reduce nausea. If this doesn't work, take frequent sips of water to keep hydrated.  
  • Headaches: Use a cold or warm compress to the back of the neck. Rest and drink lots of water. Users can take paracetamol.  
  • Dry mouth: Try chewing sugar-free bubblegum and staying hydrated. Eating citrus fruits can also help

Users can also feel anxious, aggressive, or irritable; however, these feelings fade as they get used to the medication. When taking Ritalin as a nootropic, be sure to start with the lowest dose to avoid serious side effects.

Who Can Take Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Individuals who have been diagnosed with attention-deficient issues can take Ritalin as per their doctor's recommendation. Since Ritalin is effective for increasing concentration, attentiveness, and wakefulness, healthy individuals can also take it as a smart drug. However, these users would have to get a prescription as Ritalin is not available over the counter for purchase. Ritalin can be taken by individuals who do not have other contraindicating medications in their treatment plans.


  • Increased focus for a longer period of time
  • Increased motivation
  • Able to concentrate and is attentive
  • Promotes memory
  • Prevents afternoon drowsiness 
  • School or work performance increases 


  • Feeling jittery
  • Headaches
  • Feeling irritable
  • Unable to sleep
  • Loss of appetite

What Is Better: Adderall or Ritalin?

The active ingredient in Ritalin is methylphenidate, while Adderall's is an amphetamine. These stimulants have the same effect on the brain. 

Ritalin is available in three forms:

  • Instant release (3-4 hours)
  • Sustained release (6-8 hours)
  • Long-acting (8 hours)

This allows users to create a supplemental plan that suits their exact brain enhancement needs/goals. Adderall, on the other hand, only comes in two forms: extended-release (12 hours) and instant release (4 to 6 hours). In my opinion, Ritalin is the better choice as it is available in versions that are more customizable to user preferences.


How Long Should You Stay on Methylphenidate (Ritalin)?

I did not find any clinical studies that evaluated the effectiveness of Ritalin for more than 4 weeks. So, most users should stay on the supplement for about 4 weeks.

How Does Ritalin Feel?

Since it's a stimulant supplement, it will increase the user's excitement and alertness. The supplement allows them to concentrate easily and pay more attention, which is why it's used as a brain enhancer. Many users also report having a tingly feeling under their skin. It may make them slightly overstimulated for the first time; however, the feeling will pass.

How Much Does Ritalin Cost?

Ritalin can be around $34.51 if the user has a coupon for it. Normal retail price is usually $54.88 for 30 tablets, according to GoodRx. Generic methylphenidate is usually cheaper and is covered by most insurance plans. 

About the author 

Laurence Lee

Lee is a neuroscientist who has dedicated his career to understanding the inner workings of the brain. He has seen firsthand the power of these supplements in improving cognitive function and believes that more people should be aware of their benefits. In his articles, Lee shares his extensive knowledge on the subject and provides unbiased reviews of different products.

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