Smart Drugs,

#088: Jesse’s Ritalin Self-Experiment

August 07, 2015

Methylphenidate, which has been featured a few times before on Smart Drug Smarts, makes a comeback in this week’s episode.  Join Jesse as he preps for and conducts an “n=1” self-experiment, his first-ever Ritalin experience (conducted with a little help from a friend).  Along the way, we talk to a few other users — both prescription and non-prescription users — who present their own subjective experiences, and help Jesse evaluate his.  What results does the experiment yield?  Tune in to find out.

REM sleep — another familiar name in the world of cognitive enhancement — also finds its way back in this episode and reemphasizes its place in every biohacker’s toolkit.

Links mentioned in this episode.

PS: This episode was based on a handful of listener requests… Want to chime in, stay tuned, and always know what’s going on?  Join the Smart Drug Smarts mailing list and be first to know about anything/everything we’ve got up our sleeves.

Show Notes
  • 00:00:43

    Introducing the single-subject scientific experiment.

  • 00:01:52

    This Week In Neuroscience: Emotions and sleep.

  • 00:03:21

    The listener interaction section.

  • 00:05:52

    A quick follow-up on last week's episode

  • 00:06:22

    Prepping for the self-experiment - the background.

  • 00:07:59

    A friend in need is a friend indeed - Mr. Speak-n-Spell.

  • 00:10:03

    Let the experiment begin.

  • 00:10:35

    45 minutes in - Jesse's initial reactions to Methylphenidate.

  • 00:11:20

    Self-experiment observation # 1.

  • 00:11:37

    Mr. Speak-n-Spell - part deux aka The Protocol.

  • 00:13:12

    Self-experiment observation # 2.

  • 00:13:47

    A prescription user's experience with Methylphenidate.

  • 00:15:39

    Three and a half hours after the experiment began.

  • 00:17:18

    Self-experiment observation # 3.

  • 00:18:17

    The Return of Mr. Speak-n-Spell.

  • 00:18:39

    Ritalin in history - Paul Erdos - A mathematical monk.

  • 00:20:54

    Non-cognitive uses for Methylphenidate.

  • 00:23:09

    Self-experiment observation # 4.

  • 00:25:05

    The final analysis.

  • 00:29:06

    Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick: Evolution of the eye.


  1. Andrei says:

    Jesse, you mention that there are other nootropics/supplements that provide stimulation, along with a slight mood boost, which allow you to feel a mental reward for completing certain tasks. I’d like to know which ones these are, as you are the only person I’ve seen explain this particular drawback that I experience as well when taking strong stimulants.

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Hi there Andrei – I generally get a modest mood-boosting effect from each of the following… Aniracetam, the ‘afinils (Mod-, Armod-, and Adraf-), and — believe it or not, even Caffeine + L-theanine. I don’t suppose that the mechanisms of action are the same in each case; it’s probably always dopamine to some extent — even caffeine promotes dopamine. But I don’t get the same mood-boost from mere coffee, so I expect in the latter case, the GABA-promotion of L-theanine is involved as well. Large grain of salt, though: I hesitate to draw ironclad conclusions from my one-time use of Methylphenidate.

  2. PunkVegFest says:

    Ritalin does open up your airways like sinuses and lungs. It can even stop an asthma attack. There has been some research done where they looked at what medications were bought together and asthma medication and Ritalin frequently got prescribed together. If you do a search for the correlation between ADHD and asthma you’ll come across some very interesting papers. Interesting only because there is no obvious way these two should be connected. Chinese medicine identifies breathing and mental function as related through the metal element as well as pooping or expulsion in general and Ritalin makes you want to poop. Coffee has also been shown to aid against an asthma attack

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