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Take Your Pills - Netflix Documentary Talks Brain-Boosting Nootropics

By Dave Wright | |

If you are interested in cognitive enhancement, you may be interested in Take Your Pills, a 2018 Netflix Original documentary. Take Your Pills explores the use of  stimulants to boost brainpower. It also touches on the mental performance-enhancing potential of nootropic supplements in our competitive modern era.

Take Your Pills - Documentary Synopsis

The Netflix documentary Take Your Pills features a segment on nootropics, like the pill pictured.

From executive producers Maria Shriver and Christina Schwarzenegger, and Directed by Alison Klayman, the Netflix documentary Take Your Pills is first and foremost about the $13 billion industry of synthetic stimulant smart pills.

This documentary movie looks at stimulants from a historical and societal perspective. It identifies the broad cross-section of individuals that takes stimulants, discovers their reasons and motivations for taking them, and then questions the ramifications of widespread stimulant use in our modern age.

Take Your Pills premiered at the 2018 South By Southwest (SXSW) festival.

On Stimulants

Take Your Pills begins by delving into the history of stimulants. First it covers the development of stimulant substances. This includes how these smart pills' positive effects were reverse-engineered into dubious health applications including for congestion, mood and weight management.

Take Your Pills also details the spread of stimulants as “pep pills” among many different types of people.  It details stimulant use from a personal perspective, including stories of students, factory workers, military pilots, jazz musicians, programmers, homemakers, athletes and others.

While Take Your Pills touches on various reasons and purposes behind people taking stimulants, it primarily focuses on ADHD.

The documentary notes that attention issues are rising. In fact, it points out that 11% of children in America now have a doctor-diagnosed attention disorder.

  • Take Your Pills notes the difficulty in diagnosing attention problems, questions stimulants’ appropriateness in addressing such issues, and reports on the benefits of properly utilized prescription stimulants (focusing primarily on Adderall).

At times, Take Your Pills seems to glamorize the use of stimulants. It discusses them for performance enhancement, euphoria, alertness, and cognitive function, in compelling terms.

However, the documentary also covers some negatives associated with stimulants. Among them, potential risks and side effects, including addiction. Take Your Pills even covers some of the ethical questions of using stimulants in competitive settings.

Netflix's Take Your Pills documentary does a good job explaining how stimulants work within the catecholamine system. It concisely conveys that stimulant formulas may sharpen cognition by:
  1. enhancing release of catecholamine brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine;
  2. blocking these neurotransmitters' reuptake to sustain their activity

Perhaps the most significant point the Take Your Pills Netflix documentary makes on stimulants:

In a University of Pennsylvania clinical trial investigating the effects of stimulants vs. placebo in college students, subjects were tested for learning ability across a large battery of cognitive tests.

  • At the study's conclusion researchers found no significant difference between stimulant and placebo, except for one self-reported question asking subjects if they felt the stimulants were effective.

In other words, according to one study, a stimulant “smart pill” may not improve cognition. Instead, stimulants' single most universal effect may be helping students feel like they are doing better.

Feeling better about one's cognitive performance may seem like a mild effect. However, it appears to be linked with significant cognitive performance enhancements.


Take Your Pills' history of stimulants includes commentary on Benzedrine, pictured, an early stimulant presented in inhaler form and initially used to help with nasal congestion. By Prosopee (Own work) <CC BY-SA 3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Did you know? The Take Your Pills documentary covers the widespread use of stimulants among college students. Along the way, it reveals a surprising discovery: The first article about stimulant abuse in a college setting appeared in a Time Magazine article way back in 1937.

On Nootropics

Take Your Pills also includes a segment on nootropic supplements. Specifically it features AlternaScript, a health tech startup based in Austin, Texas. AlternaScript makes a nootropic brain supplement called OptiMind.

Whether or not AlternaScript had a hand in making or producing the Take Your Pills documentary is uncertain.

However, it may be worth noting that when the documentary switches gears to nootropics, it only talks about one supplement company -- AlternaScript.

Rather than reporting on the evidence-backed nootropics themselves, and how they may help cognitive performance, the documentary's segment on nootropics instead focuses on AlternaScript’s mission statement and office operations.

Regardless, the Take Your Pills segment on AlternaScript hits upon some powerful truths about nootropic cognitive enhancers.

AlternaScript's founders declare that nootropics are not the same as drugs, and point out a key differentiator: That nootropic supplements are designed to help healthy people to become the optimal versions of themselves. 

Further, the founders note that nootropics can be healthy for the brain, and can be taken every day.

  • As a strong punctuation to the Take Your Pills documentary nootropic segment, AlternaScript’s CEO boldly proclaims: “Cognitive enhancement is not going away. It is the future of the human species.”

It may be questionable that Take Your Pills features OptiMind, only.

When the documentary takes a critical stance of cognitive performance enhancers, it is calling out prescription stimulant medications. However, the OptiMind nootropic supplement contains caffeine, which is itself a stimulant.

  • This begs the question: With its anti-stimulant stance, why did Take Your Pills not cover more nootropic supplements, especially clean-label, stimulant-free formulas, instead of just stimulant-driven OptiMind?


Take Your Pills is a timely documentary that offers an insightful analysis of modern society’s increasing reliance on stimulants for competitive cognitive performance. The film raises questions about stimulant use and abuse, remaining largely neutral, with a slightly negative spin.

When it gets to nootropics, however, Take Your Pills offers only a cursory mention of a single brain supplement manufacturer.

While it hits at nootropics' potential, the documentary barely scratches the surface of natural brain-boosters -- possibly setting the stage for a nootropic-oriented sequel in the future.

Mind Lab Pro® shares several nootropics with the brain supplement featured in Take Your Pills documentary.

One key difference:  Mind Lab Pro® is carefully formulated to be 100% stimulant-free, instead focusing on cognitive enhancers that elevate brainpower without jitters, crashes or other potential side effects and risks.

Additional relevant differences are related to Mind Lab Pro®'s formula quality and transparent label -- which shows dosages of all nootropics in the product, rather than hiding them in a proprietary blend.

Formula features like these make Mind Lab Pro®  the best nootropic supplement ever developed. It is an excellent nootropic choice for beginners and experienced users alike.

The world's first Universal Nootropic™, Mind Lab Pro® can help anyone who wants to improve brainpower without stimulants.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article is an opinion and explanation of current research given by the author. It is not an expression of a medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on as such.

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