Health Advice



Why taking smart pills might be dumb -- and dangerous

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

In 2017, Consumer Reports wrote about a company that made up fake testimonials from Stephen Hawking and Denzel Washington and photo-edited fake covers of National Geographic and Time to tout a brain-boosting product's virtues. Unfortunately, such wild pitches for unproven brain supplements have not gone away.

A new study published online in Neurology Clinical Practice reveals that mental focus and memory-boosting supplements available in shops and online may contain unapproved pharmaceutical drugs in potentially dangerous combinations and doses.

Five non-approved drugs, sometimes identified on the labels as "nootropics," "smart drugs" or "cognitive enhancers," as well as drugs that were not mentioned on the labels were found in the supplements tested. And say the researchers, "We found doses of unapproved drugs that were as much as four times higher than what would be considered a typical dose."

Our advice: If you want to boost your cognitive powers, use these well-researched, safe techniques.

1. Eat a Mediterranean diet and get a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. It promotes the release of a hormone that protects you from Alzheimer's, can ease symptoms of cognitive impairment and, according to the Cleveland Clinic, "may increase the thickness of the cerebral cortex, improve the integrity of white matter [and] your brain's ability to form new neural connections."

3. Respect sleep. Get seven to eight hours nightly.


4. Play speed-of-processing games that promote brain agility.

5. Manage your stress response with meditation, exercise and, perhaps, talk therapy.


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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