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ALCAR Benefits

Choline is an essential nutrient that serves as both a nootropic supplement and an athletic performance enhancer. Choline supplements cause the release of acetylcholine, which improves memory and mood as well as allowing better communication between nerve cells and muscle cells.

Since choline has multiple benefits, it makes sense to use as a dietary supplement.  However, using choline on a regular basis or several times a day can cause some people to experience the “choline blues.”

This refers to a slight depressive state that can be stopped by discontinuing use of the supplement for a period of time.  Rather than dealing with the blues, individuals can take an alternative supplement, ALCAR, to experience the same effects.

ALCAR versus Choline

ALCAR, also known as Acetyl-L-carnitine, is a modified amino acid that has a variety of health benefits.  Like Choline, it causes increased production of acetylcholine, as well as dopamine, the feel-good hormone.

Its main function is helping the body to break down fatty acids and produce energy, but it also works as a neuroprotectant, removing damaged fats from the brain and strengthening neural connections.

While Choline can delay fatigue for athletes, ALCAR can actually help with muscle recovery [1].  ALCAR helps to regulate carnitine levels, which are essential for the conversion of fat to energy, while supplemental choline mostly gives an extra boost at the end of a workout or athletic event.

Though they both increase acetylcholine, ALCAR has a few more benefits and doesn’t result in any negative mood reactions.

ALCAR Benefits Continued

A very important benefit of ALCAR is its ability to break down fats, both for energy production and to rid the brain of harmful fatty acids.

It can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, which is why is has such powerful mental effects.  While the supplement can increase alertness and elevate mood, it also protects to brain against deterioration and keeps the nervous system healthy.

Additionally, this supplement can lower blood pressure to improve heart health, reduce anxiety and feelings of stress, and even increase fertility in men.  Most significantly, ALCAR doesn’t produce anything similar to “choline blues” since it boosts dopamine.

ALCAR Benefits Vs Choline

ALCAR is entirely safe in dosages between 300 and 500 milligrams, and shouldn’t produce any noticeable side effects if taken correctly.  It’s natural, has a wide array of benefits, and is perfect for both athletes and nootropic users.

Anyone experiencing the blues while taking choline supplementsshould consider trying ALCAR as an easy way to feel better both physically and mentally.

Sources

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1864226

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