Custom Acetylcholine Enhancing Stack

This is a post sent in to us by Eric Balaster of Pure Nootropics. I thank him for taking the time to write this. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Most beginners to nootropics typically start with one of two combinations. The first is caffeine and L-theanine, which has a variety of studies that can prove the synergy between the two. The other includes piracetam and choline, which was one of the first nootropic stacks developed in the 1970s. Since then, thousands of people have found piracetam useful for preventing neurological decline and improving memory.

The supplementation of choline with piracetam strongly improves the effects in both animal and human trials. However, utilizing the right choline source can make the effects even more pronounced. The objective of the choline supplementation is to provide a precursor to acetylcholine, but this custom stack can prove more beneficial.

All Angles of Acetylcholine

My custom acetylcholine enhancing stack for use with racetams is particularly useful because it attacks all angles of the neurotransmitter. Rather than simply providing raw materials for acetylcholine synthesis, it is useful to consider enzyme blockers and synergistic compounds that can increase cognitive function.

CDP Choline

CDP choline is not the most efficient choline source by weight, but there are a number of advantages. Alternatives like soy lecithin and choline bitartrate are poorly absorbed and utilized for acetylcholine synthesis in the brain. CDP choline has the added benefit of creating cytidine, which is quickly converted into uridine [1]. Many studies point towards uridine for providing positive neuro protective capabilities as well, which makes it nearly as useful as choline.

Dosage: 200 – 525 mg / day

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Although CDP choline provides some raw materials for choline and uridine production, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is also a useful agent. It is a basic amino acid that provides a number of physiological benefits (especially for vegetarians), but is particularly useful for acetylcholine synthesis [2] to aid CDP choline.

Dosage: 500 – 750 mg / day

Spanish Sage

To compound the supplemented choline, Spanish sage is an excellent inhibitor of cholinesterase, which is the enzyme responsible for preventing full acetylcholine usage. Only small doses are required to have the desired effect [3], but young and healthy adults [4] respond well to this natural herb.

Dosage: 200 – 300 mg dried sage leaf / day

Diet and Tracking Your Stack

Depending on the types of foods that you eat, getting enough choline might not be a huge problem. There is a lot of choline in eggs, dairy products, and even some vegetables, so your supplementation will vary largely depending on your dietary intake. Furthermore, it is useful to track your cognitive abilities throughout the experimentation phase. You may find through subjective testing that your doses of these ingredients are too high (and thus causing a headache).

The only way to really know whether the piracetam and choline stack is working to improve your memory is through significant cognitive testing. Using enzyme inhibitors and the right types of choline for synergistic interaction can vastly improve the efficacy of nootropics.

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10974208
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6790669
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20937617

About the Author

Eric Balaster is a self-described biohacker and nootropic lover. He has turned his interest of biology and physiology into a business called Pure Nootropics that offers independent third-party smart drugs for safe and convenient consumption.

Mind-Body Connection Stack Critique

A reader recently wrote in asking for my input on their theoretical stack. After looking it over I realized this was a fairly extensive question that deserved a detailed response.

Many nootropic stacks are geared toward boosting one particular thing, usually memory or intelligence. But what about a stack that doesn’t stimulate a certain area per-se so much as give you an all-around platform for mental and physical health?

Keeping your brain and body healthy while building a strong mind and body connection is a sure fire way to see cognitive improvements across the board. It’s not just about enhancing your brain: it’s about giving your body the nutritional tools to keep itself in tip-top shape. Supplementation can be tricky, though, since overstimulation of one part of your brain can have negative effects on others.

If you’re looking for a more holistic stack, it’s crucial you have the right mix of supplements taken at the right time in the right combinations. With that in mind, here’s a three-part daily stack designed to maximize your brain’s own innate potential.

Morning (before meal):

Caffeine 50 mg
L-theanine 100 mg
Noopept 20 mg
Lion’s Mane Extract 1000 mg

Morning (after meal):

Pramiracetam 250 mg
Choline Bitarte 500 mg

Before work-out (or other exercise):

Rhodiola Rosea 250 mg
ALCAR 500 mg
Ashwaganda Root 950 mg
Lion’s Mane 1000 mg

Evening, before bed

L-theanine 100 mg
Valerian Root 200 mg
Magnesium 400 mg
GABA 400mg

Now it’s time for a closer examination of the how and why of this stack. Essentially, it’s targeting three crucial aspects of holistic health: focus, energy, and rest. A substance-by-substance breakdown of how you’re benefitting from this stack:

FOCUS

Caffeine/Theanine: Caffeine’s stimulatory effects aren’t exactly a secret; caffeine is the most common nootropic, even though it’s not usually perceived as such.  Here’s the thing: it’s way more than a jittery energy booster that makes you crash a few hours later.

Caffeine increases levels of numerous neurotransmitters – norepinephrine, acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and glutamate [1]. All of these are associated with focus and mental performance. Its critical downside is its notorious “crash”. This is where a theanine supplement comes in.

Theanine, found naturally in green tea, boosts and normalizes your GABA function [2]. Broken down, this has a calming affect which is directly synergistic with caffeine. Add a spoonful of a theanine in your morning coffee and you’re basically looking at all the benefits of caffeine minus the crash and jitteriness [3]. It’s hands-down the ideal way to kick off your daily nootropic regime. Take theanine on its own in the evening to settle into a calm, relaxed state.

Noopept: An offspring of the esteemed racetam family, noopept has shown to have dramatic impacts on memory and cognition with little to no side effects [4]. Even better, noopept powder also boosts neuroprotective effects. So you’re not only improving your focus with a daily dose of a noopept powder – you’re making your brain safer and stronger.

Lion’s Mane Extract: Extract from lion’s mane mushrooms has a unique function: it stimulates nerve growth factor, or NGF [5]. NGF belongs to a family of proteins that play a part in maintaining and regenerating neurons during our adult life. Bad news is as we age, our body produces less and less.

Lion’s mane, however, ensures high levels. Absence of NGF has been linked to age related memory loss [6], so if you’re looking for long-term upkeep of your cognitive health, lion’s mane is crucial. You’ll want to take it again later, since cumulative dosing is more effective.

Pramiracetam/Choline: Pramiracetam, usually found in the form of pramiracetam powder, is a bit different from other substances on this list in that it’s fat-soluble. In other words, pramiracetam powder won’t get metabolized correctly if it isn’t broken down by some fat or oil. This makes it an ideal substance to follow up with after a meal. Taking pramiracetam with a choline source boosts pramiracetam powder’s efficacy while simultaneously keeping your acetylcholine levels from dropping too low.

ENERGY/PRE-WORKOUT

Rhodiola Rosea: Rhodiola Rosea is derived from a flower that has been used for centuries to prevent fatigue. As an adaptogen, it both stabilizes your physiological processes and reduces stress on cells. It gives you energy, boosts focus, and allows your body to work harder and longer with less fatigue [7]. It’s an ideal supplement to any physical activity – which is itself crucial to a healthy mind-body connection.

ALCAR: ALCAR, or acetylcarnitine, is an essential nutrient, which means your body needs it but doesn’t naturally produce it. ALCAR will give your physiological processes an all-around boost. Cells rebuild faster (great for exercise,) immune functions are boosted (maintains health,) and mental and physical energy increase [8]. It does all this by getting fatty acids to your mitochondria (cellular power houses) faster.

Ashwaganda Root: Like the other two energy-boosting compounds, Ashwagandha root extract reduces cellular stress, allowing you to do more at least cost. It’ll also boost your immune functions, grant some neuroprotective benefits, and increase physical energy [9]. Crucially, it also indirectly promotes testosterone production: important for sexual health, overall energy, and muscle building [10].

REST

Valerian Root: While its mechanisms aren’t completely understood, valerian root functions by affecting your GABA system. This is the neurotransmitter responsible in large part for mood and calmness. At low doses, valerian has a calming effect, while at higher doses it’s been hailed as a sedative [11]. Either way, it’s a great way to transition into restful part of your day and prepare for sleep. You’ll want to take this and the rest of this part of the stack no more than an hour before bed.

Magnesium: Magnesium isn’t naturally produced in the body, but has a whole slew of benefits when you sufficiently supplement with it. It allows your muscles to relax (they tense up if you’re low on magnesium) and helps your body produce protein [12]. In other words, it’s a great way to follow up a strenuous day and make sure your body fully maximizes its recovery phase.

GABA: As you may have guessed from the name, GABA directly affects your GABA transmitters, meaning it will work synergistically with your valerian and theanine supplements. On its own, it’s a powerful amino acid that helps reduce stress and anxiety while increasing nerve signaling. Cap off your stack with this to make sure your sleeping body is doing everything it can to recover and prepare for the next day.

Remember, as with any stack, it’s important to cycle your nootropics to maintain maximum efficiency. Look to take a day or two off every few weeks, or to cycle your nootropics individually.

SOURCES:

  1.  http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1182710-overview
  2.  http://www.drhoffman.com/page.cfm/417
  3. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/8/1572S.long
  4.  http://examine.com/supplements/Noopept/
  5.  http://examine.com/supplements/Yamabushitake/
  6. http://curezone.org/forums/am.asp?i=587180
  7. http://examine.com/supplements/Rhodiola+Rosea/
  8. http://examine.com/supplements/L-Carnitine/
  9. http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/jun2006_report_ashwa_01.htm
  10.  http://nutrientjournal.com/ashwagandha-extrac-may-suppress-cortisol-increased-testosterone/
  11. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/
  12. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional

Memory, Sleep, and Concentration Stack

A reader wrote in looking for advice on creating a stack for memory, sleep, and concentration. This person suffers from low moods and problems sleeping. They also often build a tolerance to nootropics quickly. This person is looking to create a new stack as they have had success in the past with nootropics, but experienced sleep disruption and wants to avoid that.

Since the list of nootropics they gave was so extensive, I decided to dedicate an entire blog post to this topic in hopes of helping them and others suffering from similar issues.

The nootropic stacks are as follows:

Morning Stack

Caffeine Anhydrous 100 mg
L-Theanine 50 mg
Aniracetam 750 mg
Alpha GPC 200 mg
Creatine HCl 750 mg
Sulbutiamine 200 mg
Vinpocetine 5 mg  (3 days on, 1 off)
Huperzine A 1% 100 mcg  (every fourth day)
Noopept 50 mg  (cycle with pramiracetam every 2 weeks)
Pramiracetam 200 mg  (cycle with noopept every 2 weeks)
Stevia 95% Steviosides 500 mg

Afternoon Stack

Aniracetam 750 mg
Sulbutiamine 200 mg
Vinpocetine 5 mg  (3 days on, 1 off)
Huperzine A 1% 100 mcg  (every fourth day)
PEA 200 mg
Phosphatidylserine 100 mg
NALT 500 mg

Before Bed

L-theanine 100 mg (3 days on, 1 off)
Phenibut 500 mg (every 4th day)
Phosphatidylserine 100 mg

If you’re designing a stack for concentration, energy, and sleep, you want to keep a few things in mind. First off, it’s crucial that you dose up with energy-boosting supplements in the morning without overloading on anything that will cause a crash during the day. Come afternoon, you want a mild energy boost that’ll get you through your day without leaving you overstimulated for sleep. Your evening stack should be mild so it doesn’t cause dependency. The stack above should cover all the requested areas very well. Substances are paired to work as synergistically as possible, while a few are cycled for safety/dependency reasons. Here’s a brief overview of each portion of the stack.

Morning Stack

Stacking caffeine and l-theanine in the morning should work synergistically to boost baseline cognitive function while minimizing over-stimulation [1]. Paired with Aniracetam, this will be great for verbal fluency, reduced anxiety, and increased memory [2, 6]. And the aniracetam will in turn be even more effective when stacked with alpha GPC.

Creatine is a great supplement for your mind and body so long as you keep the doses reasonable, and will help maintain energy levels throughout the day without overstimulation [2]. Look for sulbutiamine to combat fatigue, boost dopamine (pleasure neurotransmitter) and reduced inhibitions – making for easier immersion in conversation [3]. Sulbutiamine powder may taste vile, but it’s a fantastic way to boost energy without any jittery side effects.

As far as memory goes, Vinpocetine and Huperzine are both great choices; they are cycled here to disrupt your body adapting to them, and because long-term impacts of Huperzine are not very well studied [4]. They’ll pair well with pramiracetam or noopept, which are both great for boosting memory, concentration, and focus.

You should cycle them to prevent your brain from adapting; plus pramiracetam has the potential for a toxic buildup of nitric oxide [6]. Stevia is another great compound that has been shown to reduce stress levels; it is great for offsetting any overstimulation you might get for other compounds. Plus it can help to mask the bitter flavor that comes with most nootropics.

Starting your day off like this should give you a well-rounded cognitive start to your day while promoting healthy energy levels.

Afternoon Stack

The afternoon stack should work in synergy with your morning stack, which is why you will be redosing the aniracetam and sulbutiamine powders as both see improved effects when taken cumulatively. You’ll also repeat your vinpocetine/huperzine cycle here, since they’re more effective when their doses are split up throughout the day.

Beta Phenylethylamine (PEA) will give a mild energy boost and, taken in the afternoon, should set you up for more restful sleep come nighttime. Phosphatidylserine should take any edge off while priming you for sleep. And, finally, NALT is added because it will help your body produce dopamine and noradrenaline [7], crucial neurotransmitters for energy and focus (the PEA should boost dopamine stimulation even further [6]).

You’ll be primed for maximizing this production thanks to your morning stack. Overall, this part of the stack will take your morning edge and allow it to mellow out while still giving you a sufficient energy boost to stay productive throughout the day.

Before Bed

For the final part of the stack, I added phenibut. L-theanine will relax you and is beneficial to your GABA system, which helps regulate mood and stress. Take phenibut powder every fourth day; since it hits your GABA-B receptors, it works synergistically with l-theanine, and will provide you with a very deep, restful sleep [9].

Phosphatidyl Serine for Sleep

The downside is that tolerance and dependence build fast, while efficiency declines, so keep this to every fourth day to maximize efficiency.  Then you can round it off with one last dose of phosphatidylserine to boost relaxation and improve memory formation while you sleep [10].

One concern with such an elaborate stack is the actual measurement and consumption of the powders. Weighing out fifteen or so nootropics (not to mention swallowing them) is going to get a bit arduous even for the most dedicated nootropic enthusiasts.

Fortunately, you can put your powders in capsules, and there is an inexpensive machine that makes the process quick and easy. For this stack you’ll want to get a machine that works with size 00 capsules – they hold about 800 mg give or take a bit.

The entire process of capping takes about five minutes and gives you 24 capsules each go-round – almost enough for an entire month. It’s a heck of a lot easier than measuring out each substance day to day, and has the added bonus of making the worse-tasting nootropics (hello, sulbutiamine powder) much easier to take.

SOURCES

  1. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/8/1572S.long
  2. http://examine.com/supplements/Aniracetam/
  3. http://examine.com/supplements/Sulbutiamine/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3781107/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8557218
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1767242
  7. http://examine.com/supplements/L-Tyrosine/
  8. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/phosphatidylserine/faq-20057764
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11830761
  10. http://examine.com/supplements/Phosphatidylserine/