What Is Modafinil Made Of?

Written on December 25, 2022 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

If you don't already know by now, Modafinil is an extremely popular off-label smart drug and cognitive enhancer that is widely used by students and professionals.

In this article I'll try to dive a little deeper into what modafinil is really made of.

So without further ado, let's just get started, shall we?

What Is Modafinil Made Of?

Modafinil is a relatively new type of smart drug that has become really popular in recent years (probably due to the movie; Limitless).

Modafinil was developed by a French scientist and was first used as a treatment for Narcolepsy in 1986. Soon after that, it started to be used off-label for various other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, depression, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and shift work sleep disorder.

Modafinil improves focus and concentration while promoting wakefulness. It is extensively used for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy.

It is also prescribed for other conditions such as depression, obesity and obstructive sleep apnea.

It helps regulate the levels of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. Neurotransmitters are basically chemicals that your brain releases to communicate with other neurons.

The way it works is by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine in your prefrontal cortex which enhances concentration and improves mood. It also blocks the re-uptake of GABA which helps you feel more relaxed.

Modafinil is one of the most expensive smart drugs around ($8.15 per unit).

It is sold under various brand names such as; Alertec, Modalert, Modavigil, Provigil and others.

The main active ingredient is..... You guessed it... Modafinil.

That being said, there are usually inactive ingredients in the pills as well. Ingredients such as;

  • Croscarmellose sodium (used as a disintegrant in the pills)
  • Lactose monohydrate (used as a filler and stabilizer)
  • Magnesium stearate (used as an emulsifier, binder and thickener)
  • Microcrystalline cellulose (used as a texturizer)
  • Povidone (used to disperse the drug)
  • Pregelatinized starch (used as a stabilizer to help increase shelf life)

Croscarmellose sodium

Croscarmellose sodium is a commonly used pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical additive. It's employed in drug capsules, tablets, and granules as a disintegrant. The chemical name for this ingredient is carboxymethylcellulose sodium. The E number of this additive in Europe is E462.

Croscarmellose sodium fulfills four main functions in pharmaceutical formulations which are;

  • Reduces tablet toxicity
  • Reduces tablet friability (the amount of powder that's released into the air when a compressed tablet is broken apart)
  • Helps to control tablet disintegration
  • Controls the release of active ingredients from pharmaceutical tablets.

Lactose monohydrate

Lactose is a carbohydrate found in milk and other dairy products that is used in many pharmaceuticals. It's also an additive in non-pharmaceutical food products.

It has a number of uses in pharmaceutical formulations which are;

  • As a filler and stabilizer
  • To help control tablet disintegration
  • As a binder

Magnesium stearate

Magnesium stearate is a chemical compound of magnesium and stearic acid, which is used in the pharmaceutical industry to aid the compression of powder into tablets.

It's also employed as an anti-adherent substance for pills that contain several ingredients.

It has the following uses;

  • As an emulsifier
  • To control tablet disintegration and release properties

Microcrystalline cellulose

Microcrystalline cellulose is another fairly common pharmaceutical additive.

It's generally used in tablets, capsules, ointments, and suspensions as a disintegrant.

Microcrystalline cellulose works by breaking down into smaller pieces when exposed to moisture.

These smaller particles then swell up and help to break down the tablet into smaller particles that can be easily disintegrated and absorbed.

Povidone (polyvinylpyrrolidone)

Polyvinylpyrrolidone, also known as povidone, is used in pharmaceutical formulations as an additive, binder, texturized, and emulsifier.

It's also used to help increase the stability of pharmaceutical products.

Povidone has a number of uses in tablet formulations including;

  • As an additive, binder, and emulsifier
  • To control tablet disintegration and release properties
  • As a texturizer

Pregelatinized starch

Pregelatinized starch is a starch that has been processed so it can be easily combined with water.

It's used in tablet formulations to help control the disintegration and dissolution of tablets.

Tablet disintegration is the breaking down of the tablet structure into small particles when exposed to fluids such as saliva, gastric juices, or intestinal juices.

Inactive ingredients can also play a role in delaying the release of active pharmaceutical ingredients from the tablet formulation.

When these types of inactive ingredients are included in combination with other additives such as povidone or microcrystalline cellulose, they help to delay the tablet's disintegration and dissolution process which in turn helps to control when active ingredients are released.

Microcrystalline cellulose works in this way by slowing down the rate of tablet disintegration and dissolution which in turn reduces the risk that inactive ingredients will be prematurely exposed to fluids in the stomach.