If you’re looking for a real versions of the “limitless pill,” you’re in luck because that’s exactly what I share in this article.
But first I have to be honest with you… there are pills like the one from Limitless, they’re just not quite what you think.
Now, most of you have either heard of or seen the 2011 thriller film Limitless, which stars Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a man who turns his life around using a powerful nootropic drug called NZT-48.
Ever since its release, Limitless has generated a huge deal of interest in nootropics. Many people (including myself) first learned about nootropic “smart drugs” after watching the movie.
All of a sudden, a ton of people became aware that smart drugs (beyond, say, Adderall and a few nootropic alternatives) exist, and a now-thriving market began to appear for them. Of course, people were curious to see if NZT-48 — the “perfect” smart drug — was real in some way.
Today, you can see ads and stories all over the internet with claims about finding NZT-48, and even some products which are named NZT-48 in an attempt to fool people into buying a mediocre product or outright sham.
The fact is, there is no real drug on the market that is exactly like the fictional pill in the movie. However, there are a handful of nootropics on the marketplace that are real and have very noticeable effects and real benefits.
So the question now is: which of these substances bear the most similar effects to NZT-48 from Limitless?
Life Without Limits: Effects of NZT-48
In Limitless, NZT-48 worked miracles for Eddie Morra, who upon being introduced to it changed from a struggling writer into a millionaire stock trader within weeks.
The effects all came from a single pill, but could be considered diverse and individual in nature.
The effects kicked in fast and hard. When Eddie first took NZT, it was as if all of the parts of his brain became seamlessly connected.
He could retrieve memories that he passively formed years ago and turned them into useful opportunities. In a way, it was like a retroactive photographic memory. For example, he could help his landlord’s wife finish a law school paper without any formal training in the field himself.
His energy and motivation were through the roof. After taking the NZT, Eddie was able to not only completely clean his filthy apartment, but he was then able to completely write a novel that he had writer’s block on for months.
He could speak circles around other people with a heightened social ability, impressing his friends and colleagues with his wit and knowledge.
His boosted analytical skills enabled him to see patterns in financial markets that no one else could, leading to his rise as a stock trader and investor. Together, these abilities (and various others) all led Eddie Morra to incredible success.
However, Eddie experienced unusual and alarming side effects, including several-hour long blackouts with no memory retention, as well as a physical addiction leading to painful withdrawal symptoms.
This alone could ban NZT-48 from a traditionalist’s definition of a nootropic, but the incredible effects speak for themselves as parts of a cognitive enhancer.
Now we already established that there isn’t a pill that grants these benefits, but we can certainly see parts of NZT-48 in some of the most powerful nootropic alternatives in the real world.
4 Real-World Equivalents of the Limitless Pill
Below you will find a complete list of my favorite Limitless Pill alternatives. If used wisely, these nootropics can be used to improve your quality of life.
|300 – 500 mg
|0.2 – 0.5 mg
Now, let’s take a closer look at each one.
One drug that is constantly compared to NZT-48 is Modafinil, and the reasons for this are easy to see.
It’s a drug that was originally put on the market for the purpose of enhancing the wakefulness of third-shift workers or those with narcolepsy. Off-label, Modafinil has been used quite notably by silicon valley employees, top students, and other high-achieving individuals to boost their alertness and efficiency while working.
In an article in New York Magazine, Robert Kolker discussed the experiences that a number of people had on Modafinil and how it greatly improved their work performance. One person tried it for standard office work, and found that even tedious tasks became easier to tackle.
“Tasks that were usually soul-crushing now had his undivided attention. He spent hours fine-tuning ad campaigns for his new business, and his output wasn’t just faster and longer—it was better.” -NY Magazine
While not strictly a stimulant, Modafinil increases the speed of thought and helps with focus and attentiveness during tasks. It can act as a mood booster as well, which adds to its ability to help in social situations. It works by boosting the activity of dopamine, serotonin, and histamine in the brain.
This is exactly how I view the instantaneous, noticeable effects of NZT from the film. The user wakes up, much like Eddie did from his dull original state. The user can get to work quickly, and even become the life of the party because of the increase in internal motivation.
Of course, this electric surge isn’t all of what a drug like NZT-48 has to offer. There are more sides to it than you might expect.
As of 2023, a handful of sites sell Modafinil. I recommend this brand.
2. LSD (Micro-dosed)
LSD isn’t just a drug indicated for hippies and counterculture anymore.
Since the boom of interest towards nootropics, many people have started using microdoses, or amounts of LSD that are much smaller than you would normally need to have a full-blown psychedelic trip. The smaller doses do not cause sensory disturbances, but they retain plenty of other useful properties.
According to The Third Wave, a company whose mission is to end the stigma of using psychedelics, LSD microdosing has largely untold benefits to cognitive performance.
A typical day on an LSD microdose can produce “increased creative output, more physical energy, improved emotional balance, and heightened spiritual awareness”.
Similarly to Modafinil, work becomes a whole lot more fun. But not only that, your creativity and ability to think outside the box skyrocket along with a pleasant coffee-like buzz – leading to an easier path getting into “the zone”.
These are all thanks to LSD’s increased activity in the serotonin systems of the brain, as well as a special “cross-wiring” that occurs which causes our neurons to talk to new partners more easily.
These properties can all be seen in NZT-48 in Limitless, as we watched Eddie Morra take on the stock market with a unique approach on pattern observance. And he looked damn happy doing it!
A drug that we have consistently reported is Phenibut, which continues to rank in the top echelon of smart drugs for us and many other enthusiasts out there.
Phenibut is known primarily as a slayer of anxiety and negative thoughts, providing a robust effect lifetime of over 24 hours and having very consistent results if dosed with enough time spacing in between.
What’s more is that not only Phenibut smoothens out general anxiety that can occur throughout the day, but it can remove inhibition similarly to alcohol, but without the side effects. It’s also a mild stimulant, so it helps you relax without feeling sleepy (as you would on Xanax or other benzos).
For this reason, Phenibut is great to take on especially stressful days or even before a party or social gathering, since it acts as a social lubricant with less side effects than alcohol.
The compound works by mimicking the structure of GABA, the neurotransmitter responsible for controlling extra unwanted signals in the brain, or what we perceive as anxiety.
In addition to acting as a beneficial nervous filter, Phenibut acts as a dopamine booster. Many people will feel this as extra confidence and focus, and some will say it works particularly well for enjoying music.
In Limitless, Eddie Morra may not have directly shown any anxiety, but there’s no doubt that he was later unhindered – both professionally and socially.
He became the life of the party when he wanted to, but also a shrewd businessman as he rapidly climbed the ladder of investment banking. All of this confidence radiated from him after taking NZT-48, and did not go away as long as he took it.
As an honorable mention here, desmopressin is a strange drug that has the off-label use as an enhancer of memory retention.
Some users even claim it even provides a photographic memory, which is especially useful when cramming for exams or studying in general.
This is more demonstrated in the Limitless TV series that aired in 2015, where NZT-48 user Brian Finch is able to flip through the pages of a book and instantly memorize its contents.
However, the problem with Desmopressin is the side effect of hyponatremia, or low blood sodium.
Similarly to if you had overloaded on plain water, this lack of electrolytes in the bloodstream can cause nausea, headaches, confusion, and seizures.
This is due to desmopressin’s primary use case in stopping bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis.
Desmopressin is a bit harder to find online, but a few vendors do carry it. Anti-Aging Systems – which is recommended on the Longecity nootropics forum – used to sell it but no longer does. I could not find anyone else selling it.
Can You Combine These Drugs?
Some people might be curious whether all of these limitless effects could be combined into a single “treatment” rather than be confined to single substances. So could you stack Modafinil, LSD, or Phenibut together all at once?
Well, you could, but you need to be extremely careful, as these are some of the most powerful nootropics currently known to man, much like the case in Limitless with NZT. In addition to the fact that certain neurotransmitters are affected to a high degree by each drug, there are possible interactions to consider, and many are unknown.
Certainly, if you wished to try a combination, you would want to reduce the dosage of each drug because most of the ones we listed act in a stimulating manner. Too much of anything stimulating inevitably leads to anxiety – which is what we don’t want from a limitless experience.
However, in theory, Phenibut would pair excellently with LSD as it would promote a positive outlook along with the enhanced flexibility your brain experiences. Also, the serotonergic nature of LSD doesn’t clash with the primarily GABAergic nature of the Phenibut.
Just remember to keep yourself hydrated no matter what you do, as illustrated by a Longecity user who shared their experience being dehydrated while on a combination of Phenibut and Modafinil.
Here’s the truth: there is no perfect, real-world limitless pill like NZT-48 that will make you rich and powerful. However, there are top-notch nootropics available nearly emulate the power of the fantastic compound.
Modafinil and Phenibut come pretty darn close. Desmopressin also looks promising. And after some trials, 1P-LSD appears to be the closest thing to the NZT-48 pill from Limitless that is on the market today.
In the future, we should expect information on how to safely and effectively combine these effects as we continue our journey of transhumanism.