Piracetam, Noopept, Theanine and Caffeine: Hack your Brain for Increased Productivity

You’re going to run a marathon. You’ve already decided. Well, in your heart at least, because you still haven’t gotten off the couch to start that elaborate training routine you’ve come up with.

So what do you do in the meantime? Dream up how great it will be when you finally run. The adrenaline as you pass over the finish line, the cheers from your friend and family, the pride that you’ll feel. Dreaming big will make sure that you act big, won’t it? After all, you need concrete goals to get anywhere.

Take those big dreams, toss in some supplements for focus, maybe a few more supplements for concentration, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to succeed. Right?

Unfortunately some recent studies indicate not necessarily [1]. One study had some participants envision a happy resolution to a crisis in another country, while the rest were just asked to state the facts of the crisis. When later asked to donate $25 or more, it turns out the participants who only recited cold facts were much more likely to donate.

The results were repeated in two more trials. One used similar procedures (this time related to donating time to a charity) while the other replaced stating the facts with imagining wasting time — establishing that it wasn’t stating facts that increased will to act, but it was positive dreaming that reduced it.

The takeaway here is that, to a certain extent, positive fantasies reduce the amount of effort you’re willing to put into making that fantasy come true. The downside is that it’s not exactly easy to quit daydreaming. Every second you spend distracted from a task is very likely a second you’re going to spend imagining how great it will feel once you finish.

Fortunately with nootropics, it’s not just a matter of you trying to force yourself to focus. By adding a few crucial supplements for focus to your daily routine, you can watch your concentration skyrocket. Less time dreaming, more time doing — what more could you ask for?

Piracetam

Start off your pursuit of boosted concentration with piracetam powder, one of the oldest and most widely researched nootropics out there. Before we go any further on its concentration-boosting benefits, take a moment to consider that piracetam also shows promise for positive effects on cognition, learning, and memory [1]. If your area-of-needed focus is academic or otherwise cognitively oriented, you’re looking at added benefits from piracetam straight from the get go.

On to its benefits for focus and concentration: Piracetam has repeatedly shown itself to benefit both, allowing users to participate in tasks for longer, less interrupted stints — it makes cognitive flow easier. Piracetam, an AMPA modulator, induces this effect by increasing the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain [2]. Communication between brain hemispheres is boosted, manifesting as a feeling of focus and clarity.

Noopept

If piracetam isn’t quite cutting it or you’re just looking to up your edge even further, check out noopept. It’s actually derived from the racetam family, meaning that it has some similarities to piracetam. It’s definitely its own beast though, and you’ll find a clear cut illustration of the differences before you even start to read up on the effects. While a typical piracetam dose will run between 1 to 3 grams, noopept powder is about a thousand times stronger, working efficiently at doses as small as 10 mg [3].

This might make you think it’s simply a jacked up piracetam, but noopept has its own distinct effects. Noopept is touted for anti-anxiety benefits in addition to its cognitive gains [4]. The upshot of this is that you spend less time worrying — if you aren’t worrying, it’s a heck of a lot easier to stop working. Add in the facts that noopept has shown to be neuroprotective and that its effects actually build over time [5], and you’re looking at a very potent productivity aid.

Caffeine and Theanine

Last but not least, a knock-out combo that will see your morning coffee benefiting you in completely new ways. While both of the following are effective supplements for concentration on their own, mixing l-theanine and caffeine powder will produce a synergistic effect that goes well beyond what you’d get from taking either individually.

Theanine is actually an amino acid that you’ve probably come across before without realizing it: it’s found in green tea. Taken on its own, it affects both your GABA and glutumate receptors, and is well-documented for having calming, relaxing effects [6].

Caffeine on its own stimulates a whole slew of neurotransmitters, but leaves you feeling wired and sets you up for an eventual crash. Together? Theanine takes the edge off of caffeine, smooths out the comedown, and makes it much easier to focus. A trialed study found that participants on a combination of theanine and caffeine were much better at focusing on difficult cognitive tasks [7]. So next time you grab a coffee to give yourself energy boosts, add in some theanine – and unlock your full potential.

Focus and concentration don’t come easy, and even with nootropic supplementation require discipline and practice. With the right stack, though, it’s possible to “hack” your brain into increased productivity. Experiment with combinations and compounds, find what works best for you, and boot those endless daydreams out of your head!

Sources

  1. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201302/positive-fantasies-can-reduce-future-effort
  2. http://examine.com/supplements/Piracetam/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12596521
  4. http://examine.com/supplements/Noopept/
  5. http://www.braintropic.com/noopept/
  6. http://examine.com/supplements/Theanine/
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988

Want to See Results? Track the Progress of your Nootropic Stacks

If you’ve never taken nootropics, it’s a good thing you came upon this article. If you have, which is more likely, how have they worked? For most, answering this question takes some thinking, and the answers are rarely impressive, generally faltering somewhere between “I feel smarter and more productive” and “nothing happened at all.”

This response is fine if you want to blindly ingest supplements and hope for the best but not if you want to get the most out of your experience. To get the most out of your experience, you need to look at your progress the same way athletes look at their training — by collecting data and tracking it to provide yourself with concrete benchmarks to improve upon.

What is Tracking?

When I’m not writing, I’m usually out training someone. Beyond the yelling (I like to call it motivation) and knowledge I provide, a lot of my job comes down to documenting what my clients are doing when they’re with me.  And their job (it’s a team effort) is tracking what they’re doing when they’re not with me, specifically by keeping note of what they eat daily.

If I go into a session with no idea of what we did at the prior workout, there’s nothing to build upon. Each workout may as well be the first as we awkwardly try to remember how many repetitions were performed, for how many sets, and with how much weight. The same thing applies to a client keeping track of their diet — sure they ate well yesterday, but how did they gain weight if they only had salad and water this week? Probably because they forgot to keep note of the extra-fat, extra-everything meals they had on those other days.

You are, or will be, on a diet of a different kind, made up of compounds meant to improve the powerhouse that is your brain.

Why Should you Track Mental Performance?

Benefits and Effects – Being familiar with the way a compound affects you allows you to make better decisions about when to supplement with it. I know to take aniracetam when I need inspiration because it gives me a flood of ideas, but not to take it when I’m trying to settle down mentally.

MoneyNootropics aren’t expensive when you compare their cost to their benefits, but if you continue using a compound that doesn’t work with your biology, you’re throwing money away.

Stacks – Because it’s your biology, only you can find out what mix of supplements works best for you. There are some combinations I’ve discovered that put me in the most perfect state of mind, but I only realized that by documenting my results.

How do you Track your Results?

You’ll need to document your cognitive ability as it stands without nootropics, so taking baseline assessments is necessary. I recommend pulling up a spreadsheet and creating a row entitled “Baseline.”  If you don’t have spreadsheet software Google Drive let’s you make spreadsheets for free.

Skip the first row, and name the columns:

Date

Alertness

Focus

Working Memory

Long-Term Memory

Reasoning

Mental Clarity

Mood

Dose Taken

Alertness, mental clarity, and mood are subjective and I suggest marking them 1-10, 10 being best and 1 being nonexistent/bad mood. Memory, concentration and reasoning can be tested subjectively at Cambridge Brain Sciences.

To measure working memory try “paired associates,” “digit span,” or the  “monkey ladder” tests. For long-term memory, you can complete the above tests as well as “spatial span.” Reasoning is best tested with “odd one out,” and “double trouble” is good to measure concentration.

After you run through each of these tests, record your results in the appropriate column.

What Next?

Now that you have your baseline, you’ll have an idea of what kind of improvements you’re making with each compound. To track each compound properly, write the name of the substance in its own row, and only test one at a time until you know for sure what it is doing and how it affects you. I suggest revisiting the spreadsheet at least once a week and noting any changes. Remember to track the dose as well to know how more or less affects you, and consider a “tolerance” column for appropriate compounds like phenibut.

This breakdown is by no means a comprehensive guide to tracking your performance, but it’s an easy place to start. For results that are a bit more thorough (and for a good mental workout), try out Dual-N-Back, a free game that shows you where you are mentally while being enjoyable. I’d try to explain it, but it’s better if you try it out. If you decide to add this to your data-collection, add a column labeled “Dual-N-Back,” and mark your results there.

These simple steps can have an enormous impact on the quality of your results while keeping you optimistic about the benefits you’re seeing. The little bit of effort that goes into tracking can save you a lot of headache in the long run and cut down on trial and error.  Optimizing your cognition requires you to be proactive, but so does anything worth achieving.

A Six-Part Neuroprotective Stack for Longevity and Cognition

Priceless memories are often a computer crash away from being lost forever. Those crashes seem to come out of nowhere too, but that’s normally not the case.

First, you push your hard drive, not giving it any mind until the clicking starts. The clicking that lets you know things are going south, but that gets ignored, and before you know it, bad sectors (the parts that hold information) have filled up every inch of space until the drive no longer works and you have an oversized paperweight that used to house your cherished data.

Like your computer, your brain can accumulate damage over time that leads to failure, and no matter how quickly damage comes on, it’s usually a long time in the making and at a much higher cost.

This stack of six compounds is designed to prevent that damage from happening by protecting neurons, the basic building blocks of the Central Nervous System that transmit information throughout the body. When neurons die all sorts of cognitive complications arise [1].

Ashwagandha Extract – Intelligence and Protection

Ashwagandha extract is an Ayurvedic supplement revered for its use as an anxiolytic, cognition enhancer, and for its neuroprotective qualities, and for good reason since it protects neurons from oxidative stress. It does this by suppressing cortisol release while simultaneously activating choline acetyltransferase (an enzyme necessary in the production of the neurotransmitter choline), in turn causing enhanced serotonergic signaling and protection from neuronal death [2].

In other words, it protects brain cells and helps prevent health complications associated with neuronal death [1] by increasing the amount of chemicals related to a positive mood (serotonin) and decreasing those that promote stress and its related neurodegenerative chemicals (cortisol).

The most amazing benefit of Ashwagandha extract is the fact that it increases the growth of axons and dendrites [3]!

Axons and dendrites are the parts of neurons that transmit information between one another and the better their ability to do this, the more intelligence you have.

Already off to an impressive start, right?

Alpha GPC Powder – Free Radical Protection Plus Self Control

A choline supplement usually taken for nootropic purposes, Alpha GPC acts as a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Low supplies of acetylcholine have been associated with age related memory loss. Acetylcholine protects from free radicals and increases antioxidant production [4].

Alpha GPC powder can also help those that have trouble with self control and being overly impulsive. This impressive effect happens due to Alpha GPC’s ability to increase dopamine, serotonin, and GABA in the frontal cortex of the brain – the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses and decision making. The disruption of this area of the brain is the reason for impulsive behaviors [5], and increased dopamine has been linked to self control [6].

Not only is Alpha GPC powder much more than an “add on” to your nootropic stack, it has the ability to potentiate the next compound in this stack, piracetam.

Piracetam – Mental Clarity

Perhaps the most popular nootropic, piracetam offers benefits like increased communication between the two hemispheres of the brain by enhancing acetylcholine usage, improving long term memory, attention, and creativity [7].

Piracetam also improves mental functioning and clarity by restoring membrane fluidity while reducing oxidative stress [8].

Lithium orotate – Mood and Mental Protection

Lithium orotate is a mineral used to for a variety of conditions including attention disorders and it has shown effectiveness at lesser doses than lithium carbonate (its drug form requiring prescription) due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier [9].

Lithium appears to encourage GABA in the body while protecting against glutamate-induced toxicity and cell death, related to a number of diseases [10].

People that supplement with lithium orotate report having more self-control and improved mood.

Theanine Supplement – Promotes Health and Calm Focus

Theanine is another component of this stack that causes significant reversal of glutamate-induced toxicity [11].

It has been observed to demonstrate protective effects against oxidative damage while reversing and prohibiting cognitive impairments [12], and to reduce obsessive behavior [13] by increasing glycine [14]. In other studies, it has increased serotonin, dopamine, and GABA without increasing sleepiness [15] while inducing alpha waves in the mind (brainwaves associated with relaxed alertness) [16], promoting the perfect state of calm and mental focus.

Rhodiola Supplement – Adaptation and Longevity

Rhodiola rosea is another adaptogen in this stack, and Rhodiola’s upregulation of Neuropeptide Y is a big reason why [17]. This neuropeptide is a molecule in the brain that restores calm after stressful events, the stimulation of which both relaxes you and increases your ability to handle stress (like exercise for your stress-response)  [18], and this is believed to be a reason for its ability to increase mental and physical capacity [19].

Like many of this stack’s other supplements, Rhodiola has demonstrated antioxidant effects, but what’s really amazing are the results of a study that demonstrated Rhodiola has life-extending abilities [20].

The benefits of this stack compound upon one another and make for powerful neuroprotection while improving mental health.

Remember, it’s never too early to start taking care of your mind, but it can be too late.

Sources:

  1. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/ninds_neuron.htm#death
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19444606
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12395110
  4. http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/4/336.full
  5. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=175211&resultClick=1
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20428999
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1794001
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615864/
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248201/
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3167234/
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097345
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23395732
  13. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2009/768398
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16493792
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17182482
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22347152
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23272529
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378318
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3660385/

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
  4. http://www.aromamd.net/edu_enhance_memory.pdf

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/

Nootropics and Creativity: How to Safely Boost your Artistic Side

Nootropics and Creativity

Whether you’re looking to kickstart your novel, paint the next Mona Lisa, or devise a brilliant business plan for your new start-up, creativity is important. It is also no secret that creativity can be a notoriously fickle thing—completely there one day, then gone the next.

It seems like sometimes no matter how devoted you are, no matter how hard you try, there’s just nothing there and everything you try to think up comes out feeling flat. Here’s where nootropics can offer you a quick edge.

Since nootropics are a class of smart drugs designed to benignly tweak your brain performance, there’s a good chance that there’s one out there that will pluck your creativity strings just the right way. Take a look at some of the best compounds for giving you an artistic boost when your muse just refuses to show up.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is the next step up from Piracetam on the ladder of nootropics. It also produces very distinct effects. It’s cited as the best anti-anxiety nootropic, and as a nootropic that enhances creativity. How exactly does it accomplish this?

First off, Aniracetam is an AMPA modulator. This fact means that in one way or another it enhances the functioning of your AMPA receptors, which are excitatory receptors linked to mood and memory [1]. Secondly, it increases blood flow in the association context—the payoff being that holistic thinking becomes easier [1]. It’s also somewhat anxiolytic; reduced anxiety is something any stumped creative type could use [2].

There are also a few secondary effects that help creativity. Aniracetam can also make vision sharper and more vivid, boost literary fluidity (easier reading!), and make it easier to grasp abstract concepts [2]. Chalk it up to improved communication between brain hemispheres, which is one more way that Aniracetam enhances cognition [3].

The trade off? Naturally creative types may find their thinking taking on a more logical edge thanks to boosted right brain activity, while more literal-minded users will see their logical thought processes become a bit more abstract. It’s a great tool whether you’re looking to enhance your creative project, or just tackle it from a slightly shifted neurological perspective.

Phenibut

Phenibut doesn’t “cause” creativity, but it certainly primes you for it! One of the most important aspects of creativity is flow—the ability to shut everything out and focus entirely on the task at hand. Easier said than done. Your worst enemy? Outside thoughts, stress, worries, doubts…all the small grievances that you’re probably trying to get away from with creativity in the first place.

Phenibut benefits the aspiring artist in two ways. First, it hits your GABA-B receptors, which affect stress and calmness [4]. The overall effect is a soothed, tranquil, present feeling, the sort you might get from exercise or meditation. Studies have also shown that it decreases your inability to act in a negative emotional situation. Like, say, feeling stuck because you can’t generate a new creative idea [5].

Secondly, phenibut has been shown to stimulate dopamine [6]. Tweaked dopamine means a heightened sense of pleasure and meaning from all your sensory input. This is important to creativity in its own right, but dopamine has also been specifically proven to have a strong correlation to creativity. Evidence-based reports even cite phenibut as having mild benefits for memory recall: important if you’re working on an elaborate creative project [7].

Making sure you’re taking a safe amount of phenibut will ensure you aren’t left with a disrupted dopamine system the next day. Dose responsibly and cycle your phenibut often, and you’ll be on your way to having a sure-fire nootropic shortcut to a creative headspace. Dosing irresponsibly can result in many side effects.

Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is a thiamine derived compound created in Japan to combat asthenia, a chronic fatigue that is mentally, not physically, based [8]. Since thiamine is B-vitamin based, that’s exactly what sulbutiamine will reverse! After a safe dose, look for boosted levels of energy that’ll help you complete all your unfinished tasks, creative or otherwise. In other words, it’s been proven to be effective at reducing mental fatigue [9].

It’s important to consider more factors than just “feeling creative” when looking to enhance creativity — focus and energy are crucial even to the most creative mind. Thanks to sulbutiamine, you can make sure you aren’t too worn down to dream.

However, the list of creativity-specific benefits you get from this nootropic don’t stop there. It’s been shown to reduce psycho-behavioral inhibitions — in other words, it eases your conditioned fears [10]. If there’s something you avoid or get stressed by, sulbutiamine makes it easier to approach. So long writer’s block!

Coluracetam

Coluracetam is one of the newest compounds to hit the market, and is the latest iteration in the veritable racetam family. How does it help with creativity? It’s all in the name. Coluracetam is alleged to have ‘’sensory enhancing properties”—colors, for instance look richer.

It’s also alleged to enhance sounds, brighten vision, and thrust the user into an anxiety-dampened, creativity-free headspace. It achieves all this by being the first choline uptake enhancer; it makes the brain turn choline into learning-and-information neurotransmitter acetylcholine faster and more fully [11]. That means you are able to take in more sensory information at once, while simultaneously having more “raw data” to commit to memory.

While the anecdotal feedback on the substance has been very positive so far, it’s worth considering that coluracetam is a very young nootropic, and the clinical research on it is slim at best. While there are no indications that it will deviate from the racetam trend by being anything other than safe and non-toxic, it’s worth using some caution if you’re considering picking some up.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re too tired to focus, out of imaginative ideas, or just not quite as fired up about creativity as you used to be, nootropics offer something to benefit you. Read up on your substance of choice, take the recommended dose, and see for yourself how quickly you can get that brush back in your hand!

Sources

Aniracetam:

[1] – http://examine.com/supplements/Aniracetam/

[2] – http://www.braintropic.com/racetam-comparison/

[3] – http://www.smartdrugsforthought.com/what-is-aniracetam/

Phenibut:

[4] – http://www.raysahelian.com/phenibut.html

[5] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17944107

[6] – http://www.phenibutforanxiety.com/thescienceofphenibut.php

[7] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11830761

Sulbutiamine:

[8] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447

[9] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12973384

[10] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447

Coluracetam:

[11] – http://examine.com/supplements/Coluracetam/

Part 2: Top 5 Nootropic Supplements for Day of Test

It’s the day of the big test. You’ve kept up with your work all semester, spent the last week studying your heart out…and still aren’t completely confident. You want to perform the best you possibly can.b

This is where nootropics come in. A “smart drug” class of cognitive enhancers, there are a broad range of selections depending what brain functions you’re looking to improve. So if you’re a student, here are the five best nootropics to supplement with on the day of the test.

Caffeine

Caffeine should be familiar to just about anybody. There’s nothing quite like that morning cup of coffee to give you a crucial energy boost. Caffeine mostly works by antagonizing adenosine production: a neurotransmitter that causes sedation and drowsiness. By blocking it, caffeine gives you that alert, stimulated edge.

Caffeine does more than just make you feel more alert though, and are in fact a viable nootropic. In one study, caffeine-dosed mice performed significantly better than a control group at recognizing objects. A caffeine supplement is great all-around foundation to any test-acing nootropic stack.

Piracetam

Nootropics can help when cramming for tests

Nootropics can help when cramming for tests

Piracetam is one of the most widely researched nootropics, and the original ‘racetam nootropic. Piracetam boosts membrane fluidity, and has been found to increase communication between the brain’s hemispheres. This pays off on the academic end by boosting focus and alertness. It also increases blood flow in the brain, which translates into boosted efficiency. Best of all, it’s synergistic with caffeine: take them together for a boosted, enhanced effect on both ends.

Choline

Choline is a nutrient which functions as a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is crucial to learning and cognition, and performance in both areas is limited by low choline levels. Not only does choline pair well with piracetam, it can give you same-day boosts in acetylcholine activity.

Studies have shown that healthy amounts of CDP choline significantly boost verbal recall and visual memory. Since acetylcholine underpins everything your brain is going to be doing while taking a test, you can’t really go wrong with a nice dose of a choline supplement.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 shows up in a typical diet, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting enough of it. Recent studies have found that B-12 deficiency are fairly common, and can have pretty bad consequences. Included among them is impaired cognition.

Odds are you could be heading into your test with low B-12 — and there’s no need for that, since it’s a safe, inexpensive supplement. It also pairs well with piracetam, caffeine supplements, and choline supplements.

Trials have found that boosting deficient B-12 levels can improve memory and cognition, and even alleviate depression. Use it to make sure your brain is in peak performance mode for your test.

Bacopa Monnieri

You can round off the above supplements by dosing with bacopa the night before the test. Bacopa is an herb native to India long known to aid memory, concentration, and learning. Bacopa monnieri benefits cognition in several ways, most notably improving memory and recollection.

Studies have not only suggested that it improves memory retention (increased ability to remember new information), but significantly improved working memory. This means the brain gets better at recalling stored information.

To get ideal bacopa benefits, it’s best to take it the night before the test. It’s non-toxic and interacts well with other nootropics, but it can make you sleepy! Not exactly what you’re looking for on test day. Also, before bed bacopa will help you better retain all the information you’ve been cramming.

Any of the five supplements listed above will give you that crucial extra edge to let you do as well as possible on that big important test. You’ve worked hard all semester – why do any less than your best? With that nootropic boost, you’re primed to maximize your ability to get a killer grade.

Part 1: Top 4 Nootropic Supplements for Studying

There’s nothing quite like that feeling when you realize it’s only a week before exams and you haven’t done nearly enough studying. That’s where cram sessions come in — or, if you really want an edge, nootropics.

Nootropics are a class of legal “smart drugs” that enhance cognition in various ways. They’re an ideal choice for students looking for that extra boost. There are dozens of nootropics to choose from, with benefits ranging from increased focus to improved memory.

But with so many options, which are the most helpful, and which is the right one for you? After all, what’s a choline supplement? How is melatonin powder going to help you remember information? Here’s a look at the four top nootropics for studying.

Piracetam

Piracetam, which often comes in the form of piracetam powder, is one of the oldest and most widely-studied nootropics. It’s been clinically cited as a useful compound to slow or reverse cognitive decline, and anecdotal reports claim that it boosts focus, memory, and even mood. Before using piracetam, make sure to learn how to take piracetam powder.

The exact mechanisms of piracetam’s actions aren’t completely understood. What is known is that by antagonizing uptake of particular glucose, piracetam increases membrane fluidity. This increase pays off with improved long-term memory and improved communication between the brain’s hemispheres.

Piracetam’s effects on focus and memory can be subtle, and tend to become more obvious after extended use. Trials with patients found few recall-ability differences from the control group after 7 days, but notable enhancements after 14. So if you’re looking cram info with piracetam so you can ace that final, it’s best to start taking it early.

One thing to watch out for: piracetam use burns through choline, a nutrient important for the brain. This use manifests as headaches, so if you want to beef up your studying ability with minimum side effects, it’s recommended you take piracetam with a choline source.

Choline

Choline can be a useful nootropic in its own right, and even without piracetam is a viable option to enhance your academic performance. Choline supplements can be ingested in various forms, including CDP Choline and Alpha-GPC, each of with affect the brain slightly differently. They all have one thing in common, though: they’re processed into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter crucial to learning and memory.

Even though choline can be found in a healthy diet, 90% of the US population is at least somewhat deficient in choline. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, and memory problems. Supplement with a good choline source, and you’re back in business: a healthy brain primed to take in information and actually retain it.

The main downside to choline is that too much of it can affect you similarly to the ways too little can. Balance here is the key — if you can maintain that, it’s an excellent all-around supplement to keep your brain working at tip-top learning levels.

Galantamine

Galamintine supplements are yet another option for the ambitious student looking to optimize. Extract the active ingredient from organic or synthetic flowers (galanthus caucasicus), and you’ve got a galamantine supplement. Galamantine inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine – and by doing so, notably improves your REM sleep.

The scholastic payoff? Those are the phases of sleep where memories are formed and retained. Are you a rough sleeper? Missing sleep to study?

Toss a galamantine supplement into the mix, and you’re looking at deep, restful sleep that lets you form memories better than ever. A galamantime supplement before bed is the perfect way to conclude and get the most out of heavy study session.

Melatonin

Last up is melatonin powder. You might have heard of melatonin power for its most common use — to regulate sleep cycles. Melatonin is a neurohormone naturally released by the body to regulate sleep cycles. When your brain thinks it’s time for you to go to sleep, it releases melatonin. Melatonin powder let’s you take control of this cycle. Take a healthy dose before bed, and you can severely cut down on sleep latency, or the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

This lets you more or less have control over your sleep cycle. Melatonin powder is the perfect supplement to pair with any or all of the above. By taking it you can ensure you get the most possible sleep each night, which not only lets you retain that days studying better, but leaves you more refreshed for the next day.

Conclusion

All of the nootropics discussed here are very much on the safe side, and the best way to determine how they work for you in particular is to carefully trial them. They’re also safe to take together, so once you’ve figured out which work best for you, you can create your own ideal study-boosting nootropic stack. Time to ace those finals.

How to Make your own Neurochill to Save Money

alternatives to neurochillNootropics that offer relaxation and anti-stress benefits are as popular as nootropics that give you a superhuman brain boost. The reason is simple – we all want to be able to calm down.

There are individual nootropics like l-theanine or 5-htp that can reduce stress on their own, but Neurochill, a blend from MindNutrition, is receiving a lot of attention as a quality supplement to help curb stress, induce relaxation, and improve mood.

What is Neurochill?

Unlike many supplement blends, Neurochill only has 3 ingredients: phosphatidylserine, inositol and bacopa. Let’s look at what each of these do independent of one another.

  • Phosphatidylserine – Relieves symptoms of age-related cognitive impairment, improves mood, aids memory, and improves sports performance.
  • Inositol – Helps the body move and use things like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, and helps mood and anxiety.
  • Bacopa monnieri – Helps with memory problems, anxiety, learning, and concentration.

Taken together in a blend like Neurochill, these supplements create a synergistic effect that can help you to relax while improving your cognitive function at the same time. The relaxation offered by Neurochill is also free from drowsiness, so you can actually function.

But is Neurochill the best way to take these supplements?

Bulk vs. Blends

bulk powder vs. nootropics blends

Many individuals opt to buy bulk powders to make their own variation of popular stacks

Nootropic blends can be a great way to make nootropics easy and hassle free, but as with all blends, you pay extra for convenience. The ingredients in Neurochill can actually be bought in bulk and result in a significant savings over purchasing the pre-capped blend.

Here’s the ingredient breakdown on Neurochill’s label for one serving (2 capsules):
MN Chill Formulation (inositol, phosphatidylserine 50%, bacopa monnieri 50% bacosides) 1264mg

Since Neurochill only has 3 ingredients (unlike other supplement blends that contain a lengthy list of ingredients) it will be very easy to mix your own.

However, all three ingredients are mixed in a proprietary blend, so there’s a little guesswork involved with the exact amount of each ingredient. On the other hand, each of them has a similar recommended dosage, so we can assume that an equal amount of each is going into the blend.

Since each bottle of 90 capsules costs $49.95, we’ll calculate the cost per dose based on the 2 capsules per dose recommendation.

Total Cost Per Bottle Capsules Cost Per Dose
 $49.95

90 (45 doses)

 $1.11

Buy in Bulk and Save

My supplement source of choice has each of these available in bulk, so the cost can be greatly reduced by purchasing in bulk and blending them together on your own.

Each of these supplements are available in large quantities, so the savings can be huge. When ordered at the maximum quantity and calculated based on the cost per dose, the bulk costs are below:

Ingredient Estimated Amount/dose Cost Per 45 Doses Cost Per Dose
Inositol 421.3mg $0.67 $0.01
Phosphatidylserine 20%* 421.3mg $13.95 $0.31
Bacopa 20%* 421.3mg $4.95 $0.11
Total Cost Per Bottle and Dose Equivalent $19.57 $0.42

*These are in Neurochill at 50% so the equivalent dose was multiplied to calculate a relevant total dosage.

So by ordering in bulk you can spend as little as $19.57 per bottle vs. $49.95 – a savings of $30.38 per month! If you were going to use this for a whole year, your savings would be over $350!

The initial costs of bulk supplements can be a deterrent for many people, but if you find a good blend like Neurochill, the savings over time of buying in bulk more than makes up for the investment. Taking bulk supplements can be just as easy as pre-made blends, too. With gel caps and a capping machine, you can quickly cap hundreds of capsules and set yourself up for months!