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CNS Drugs is a one-stop shop for all important information about the drug treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders. The journal takes a bench to bedside approach, covering topics from basic pharmacology and disease pathology to drugs in development and guidelines for clinical practice.


The central nervous system directs the functions of all tissues of the body. The peripheral nervous system receives thousands of sensory inputs and transmits them to the brain via the spinal cord. The brain processes this incoming information and discards 99% as unimportant. After sensory information has been evaluated, selected areas of the central nervous system initiate nerve impulses to organs or tissue to make an appropriate response.

Chemical influences are capable of producing a myriad of effects on the activity and function of the central nervous system. Since our knowledge of different regions of brain function and the neurotransmitters in the brain is limited, the explanations for the mechanisms of drug action may be vague. The known neurotransmitters are: acetylcholine which is involved with memory and learning; norepinephrine which is involved with mania-depression and emotions; and serotonin which is involved with biological rhythms, sleep, emotion, and pain.

Central Nervous System Stimulants:

Stimulants are drugs that exert their action through excitation of the central nervous system. Psychic stimulants include caffeine, cocaine, and various amphetamines. These drugs are used to enhance mental alertness and reduce drowsiness and fatigue. However, increasing the dosage of caffeine above 200 mg (about 2 cups of coffee) does not increase mental performance but may increase nervousness, irritability, tremors, and headache. Heavy coffee drinkers become psychically dependent upon caffeine. If caffeine is withheld, a person may experience mild withdrawal symptoms characterized by irritability, nervousness, and headache.


The stimulation caused by amphetamines is caused by excessive release of norepinephrine from storage sites in the peripheral nervous system. It is not known whether the same action occurs in the central nervous system. Two other theories for their action are that they are degraded slower than norepinephrine or that they could act on serotonin receptor sites.

Therapeutic doses of amphetamine elevate mood, reduce feelings of fatigue and hunger, facilitate powers of concentration, and increase the desire and capacity to carry out work. They induce exhilarating feelings of power, strength, energy, self-assertion, focus and enhanced motivation. The need to sleep or eat is diminished.

Levoamphetamine (Benzedrine), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), and methamphetamine (Methedrine) are collectively referred to as amphetamines.

Benzedrine is a mixture of both the dextro and levoamphetamine isomers. The dextro isomer is several times more potent than the levo isomer.


Structural Formula


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