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Don’t take memory pills, they keep you awake and tire out the brain

india Updated: Feb 28, 2012 02:26 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Hindustan Times
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With just two days to go for boards exams, memory pills are selling like hot cakes at pharmacies across the city.

In their last-minute struggle to remember all they can, students are buying memory pills off the counter. Delhi chemists have reported a 25-30 per cent rise in the sale of such drugs since mid-January.

“We have been selling both allopathic as well as ayurvedic drugs for memory improvement depending on the need of the customer. This is not an unusual phenomena at this time of the year. Demands for memory pills always rise before the board exams,” said Ravi Inder Mohan, a pharmacist at Garg Chemists in Lajpat Nagar.

Neurologists, psychiatrists and internal medicine experts, all believe that that memory pills are nothing but a psychological gimmick.

"These pills can only make deep holes in the pockets. There is no evidence to suggest that memory pills work wonders in short-term use," said Dr Samir Parikh, head of psychiatry at Max Healthcare.

“These pills are generally prescribed to old patients whose brains have started degenerating. There is no evidence to suggest that the pills make any difference to an average individual,” he said.

Experts believe that nothing works over a short period of time. The only way is to train your memory — read and re-read. Even teaching practices must change.

Senior neurologist at Medanta Medicity in Gurgaon Dr Sumit Singh calls these memory pills “costly placebos”. “These drugs only help enhance confidence, not memory.

When one consumes the drug, one feels confident of remembering more. But that confidence is in the drug and not on one’s own memory,” said Singh. “These drugs help one feel less sleepy but it is actually fatiguing the brain. So by the time one sits to write the exam, he is tired mentally,” he added.

Many doctors feel that taking memory pills is an absolute no-no. “These pills actually reduce the child’s recall memory as the brain is tired after staying awake for long hours,” said Dr S. Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo hospital.

“If the child sleeps well before the exam, it will be a lot more useful. A good eight-hour sleep will relax the brain and keep one fresh and will help a lot in concentrating during the actual exam,” Chatterjee added.