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Nootropics: Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Smart Drugs and Language Learning…

Smart Drugs. Yes. And with the recent news about Thailand clamping down on rock star Sek Loso’s drug habit, DRUGS being supported on a Thai language site might come as a surprise.

But here’s the thing. It’s no secret that my main aim is to find the best methods and materials to learn Thai. Whatever they are.

To do this, over the years I’ve shared many posts on how to increase your chances of success with learning the Thai language.

The basics? Use good materials, eat healthy, get lots of sleep, study daily, surround yourself with all things Thai language, and never ever give up.

Learning languages is a lengthily process. Sure, you can get a jump into a foreign language with a mere 100 top words and an understanding of the basic sentence structure, but there is no quick fix to real fluency. You must do the time.

And here’s a second ‘but’. Many expats learning Thai these days are of the retirement age. And a sizable chunk of those have never successfully learned a second language.

Right away we have older, sluggish brains struggling to learn a tonal language. So even with their best efforts, the often slow to zilch progress sometimes results in a lack of confidence, leading to the eventual waning of the motivation to study Thai.

And if that’s where you are right now, you might want to look into the benefits of Nootropics. Yeah. The D word. Drugs.

Smart drugs and learning Thai…

Always on the lookout for anything to help with memory and motivation, when I came across Nootropics (Smart Drugs) I immediately thought of language learning.

Just what are Nootropics? I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty details of Nootropics in this post, but in a nutshell (and some wiki scraping)…

In 1964, Dr. Corneliu Giurgea synthetised Piracetam, labeling it as a Nootropic. Nootropics are also known as smart drugs, memory enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers.

Now, I’m a lightweight with drugs. I can barely handle mild painkillers without passing out. Regardless, I do try to keep an open mind on anything that’ll help with my Thai studies. Okokok… I do draw the line at a sleeping dictionary (but never say never).

Dr. Giurgea’s much touted ‘basic characteristics of Nootropics’ eased my mind:

  • They should enhance learning and memory.
  • They should enhance the resistance of learned behaviors/memories to conditions which tend to disrupt them (e.g. electroconvulsive shock, hypoxia).
  • They should protect the brain against various physical or chemical injuries (e.g. barbiturates, scopalamine).
  • They should increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms.
  • They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e.g. sedation, motor stimulation) and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity.

Sweet. Now curious to try Smart Drugs, I discovered that due to Nootropics being relatively safe they are legal most everywhere. Most specifically, Thailand. And like many drugs in Thailand, Nootropics are easily purchased over the counter.

Finding Nootropics in my area was not easy but I was eventually able to locate a needed stash by phone.

Note: Not all Nootropics are available in Thailand, but enough.

I jumped right in with Piracetam, which is apparently the best documented Nootropic around. After more googling I added Letchin, L-Carnitine, Hydergine, a range of vitamins, and Melatonin to help me sleep.


I experienced an improvement in focus, my motivation revved, and a increase in my short-term memory was noticeable. A plus, I felt sense of euphoria, I became less of an introvert/hermit, and the world around me brightened. Brilliant.

And then I had two glasses of wine. Thunk. The bright colours dulled as did my brain.

Good to know.

Apparently there are differing opinions on consuming alcohol and Nootropics. Some say it’s ok, others say no.

The combination of alcohol and Piracetam didn’t work for me so I’m taking a Nootropics break while on holiday. But, I’ll be back in the Smart Drug saddle after the new year. And that’s a promise.

And sure, I’ll write about my experiences with learning languages while on Nootropics. In vivid detail. I’ll also expand on the safety as well as the cautions of Smart Drugs too (so please don’t worry about the D word – too much).

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from a knowledgeable Nootropics tester:

Your capacity for attention is largely dependent on you. Self-discipline still plays a role in the larger scheme of things. Yes. Caffeine, Piracetam and ALCAR will help you stay focused – by staving off lethargy and fatigue. But none of that will matter if you lack the discipline to stay off Facebook.

Nootropics: Smart drugs, memory enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers. Mighty fine.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.


  1. Catherine you’ve come up with another interesting post which immediately sent me off to Google the term ‘nootropics’.

    It is a type of drug which works by stimulating the brain by increasing its supply of neurochemicals and oxygen. Sounds the perfect thing for shift workers as well as language learners.

    How much did your supply of Piracetam cost in Thailand?…I’m very interested to know.

    Sek Loso…my favourite Thai music artist. What a waste of a great talent and relationship.

  2. Catherine – I’m still shocked about the Loso drugs scandal, your link is the first I’d read about it, and it does lead me to an interesting question with a Thai language term at its core.

    Loso’s name comes from the Thai term for Low Society, Lo-so, that being the opposite of a word they use for the elite or better put high society class of Thais, Hi-so. The interesting question (to me at least) is whether a lo-so or hi-so type of person is more liable to fall into the drugs trap. Loso (real name Seksan Sukpimai), despite his stage name, is really a hi-so type of guy due to the vast money he’s made from his music. Does his current alleged drug problem make him Sek Loso or Sek Hiso?

  3. Thanks Martyn. Since about September I’ve had to pull all planned posts due to the Thai flood crisis but my patience only lasts so long. So, it’s ho ho ho and drugs for Xmas!

    I don’t have the prices here but you can get a bucket of Piracetam online for about US$30 or less. And depending, the powder should last 3-6 months or more.

    Capsules are of course more expensive (anywhere you buy them).

    I wanted to settle on a ‘stack’ (more on that later) before I purchased bucket loads so at the moment I’m dealing with capsules only. My first bill was in the 1000-2000 baht range. But to see what works, I’m playing around with several Nootropics so I’m thinking the total should be way less when I get my stack sorted.

    Btw: In the UK, you can get a few Nootropic mixes at local health food stores (British students have been using them for years apparently) but they are many times more expensive than what you can get online. Regardless, they’d be something to sample while you are waiting to get back to Thailand in Feb.

  4. “Does his current alleged drug problem make him Sek Loso or Sek Hiso?”

    Heh heh… I’m out of the hi-so / lo-so loop so I’ll have to pass on answering that one.

    What I find interesting about the scandal is Thailand’s reaction. If the west started forcing all their drug induced performers to clean up… well… well…

    QUOTE: …the ONCB met yesterday with 20 entertainment companies, including Sek’s former employer GMM Grammy, to have them sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ensure their artists set a good example for the public and stay away from drugs. The eight-point MoU includes a two-year ban on publicity for any addicted artist, a job contract prohibiting drug abuse, a new opportunity for the rehabilitated artist, and an award ceremony for artists that set good examples.

  5. Like so many drugs, Nootropics is ancient Greek :
    νόος : mind
    τρέπω : turn (towards)

    Today is Asian pride day, so let’s find another name.

    “Turn towards” is not very catchy (and kind of understatement), I suggest เพิ่ม (to increase, to boost)
    Now can you imagine how many words we have for “mind” ?!

    Lets’s learn Thai faster with Cat’s สติเพิ่ม !!
    Or in a more pedantic Sanskrit tone :
    Lets’s learn Thai faster with Cat’s สฺมฺฤติเพิ่ม !!

    Asian pride day, I must translate the motto.
    จะเรียนแร็วๆกับ กมลาเพิ่ม ของแมวดุร้าย
    For the sake of using ฤ, another pure Sanskrit one :
    จะเรียนแร็วๆกับ ฤทัยเพิ่ม ของแมวดุร้าย

    ปฏิภาณ : sharp-witted
    จะเรียนแร็วๆกับ ปฏิภาณ ของแมวดุร้าย

  6. Sua noy, I love it! I didn’t ask the pharmacist for her opinion of what Nootropics do (in Thai). But apparent was how much she believes in Nootropics. The previous pharmacists (where I struck out) all gave me knowing grins (I’m used to those). The more I tried to explain, the bigger their grins got.

  7. Cat, Definitely a new one to me. Smart drugs…Seems like it might just be a winner. The cost seems good but I might watch your progress for a while before I give them a go.

    As good as they sound I’m surprised I have never heard of them before, then again there was a time when I didn’t know about Thailand either .

    Merry Christmas Cat!

  8. Talen, years back I read about the inroads into improving the aging congregation (lol) but assumed the price would be beyond my means so didn’t pursue it further. I was sooooooooo wrong.

    As soon as I’m back in Thailand… and as soon as the New Years is over… I’ll get stuck into it. Totally. And as you know, I’m anal like that.

    Merry Xmas back :-)

  9. Cat, if I’d had Smart Drugs I may not have been dumb enough to drop a 30 kg BBQ plate on my foot….now I just need plain old drugs ;)

  10. Snap, ouch! That’s not good. I hope getting drugs in Australia is as easy as in Thailand (goes a long way to taking the pain away :-)

  11. What dosage of Piracetam did you use?

  12. On my first round I was taking larger amounts. Not really sure how much to take, I got up to 4800 mg per day. This round I’m taking lot less due to two weeks of insomnia (didn’t want to waste it but wanted it in my system). Oddly enough, the Melatonin created the insomnia.

  13. Hello there – I recently moved to Phuket, Thailand and in an effort to find a Nootropics, I stumbled across your blog post. Can you advise where about I will find them? Local pharmacy? Thank you!

  14. Hi Liz. I don’t live in Phuket so I’m afraid I can’t help. But hopefully someone else here can.

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