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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

Theanine and GABA Combo

Are you looking for ways to help reduce stress? The good news is that there are a number of amazing, legal supplements that can work for you. You can eliminate your social or general worry and even reduce stress levels. Two of the most effective of these supplements are Theanine and GABA.

Theanine Benefits:

Theanine is the active ingredient found in tea, especially green tea. Theanine actually has a very soothing and calming effect on both mind and body. It is also the main reason why tea does not make someone nervous or jittery (unlike coffee) despite the fact that it contains a fair amount of caffeine. Another major benefit of Theanine is the fact that it helps to even out alpha brain waves. These are the signals that the brain produces when it needs the body to relax. They are excellent for achieving states of calm.

GABA Benefits:

GABA is a neurotransmitter that is produced within the brain. In fact, it is regarded as the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter within the human body. What this function really means is that it helps the brain to relax. It attacks the neurons and receptor sites which are constantly firing or sending signals. This attacking helps to combat a state known as excitability within the brain.

GABA can also be considered as a sleep aid. Many people have difficulty falling asleep which might be due to an over abundance of stress. There have actually been a number of studies linking sleep problems to low levels of GABA within the brain.

Stacking Theanine and GABA Supplements:

Stacking both of these supplements together is a great way to really help both your mind and body relax. Theanine and GABA both attack the issue of relaxation from different angles but the key is that they are both effective. Theanine works by evening out the brain waves and other chemical signals. GABA actually goes in and targets various neurons and neurotransmitter receptor sites to make neuronal firing impossible.

When these two supplements are stacked together it helps to fight off stress, anxiety, and promote improved sleep. These effects will certainly help many people in their daily lives, especially when it is realized that these supplements are both safe, natural substances. Not only this, but they also lead to a feeling of improved focus and intense mental alertness.

GABA vs. Phenibut—Which Actually Affects the Body’s GABA More?

GABA is considered to be the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter within the human body. It is responsible for slowing things down and helping to calm our mind and body. GABA is an essential chemical with a number of benefits. Another supplement known as Phenibut is also thought to act as a precursor to GABA. Although both are very effective, ultimately the real goal is to increase the level of GABA circulating in the brain and body. Which one is more effective as a supplement?

What is Phenibut?

Phenibut is a supplement that was developed in Russia during the Cold War. The timing is one of the reasons why it has escaped the attention of western research for so long. In fact, this supplement has been in widespread use throughout Russia and Eastern Europe since the 1970s. It is also part of the required pack for Russian cosmonauts.

In terms of structure, Phenibut is quite similar to GABA. The main difference is that its creators added a Phenyl ring of molecules to the GABA. This addition changed it into a different compound with one incredible benefit—it is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier quite easily, something which natural GABA is not able to do.

Phenibut Powder Benefits:

The essential benefit of Phenibut Powder is that it absorbs into the bloodstream rather quickly and then enters into the central nervous system by crossing over the aforementioned blood-brain barrier. As it is then transformed into GABA, it has the effect of exerting an overall calm to the brain and body. You will feel the stress just melting away.

GABA Benefits:

Of course, GABA that is actually in the brain is capable of helping you to relax. This relaxation includes lower levels of stress, nervousness, and possibly even feelings of sadness. Overall mood will be enhanced. It is easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

Conclusion—GABA vs. Phenibut:

Assuming the main goal is to actually increase the level of GABA circulating within the brain, then there is no question that Phenibut is a better supplement. As a direct supplement, GABA is simply not able to cross over the blood-brain barrier and enter into the central nervous system.

Nootropics to Help With Sleep

nootropic supplements for sleepIt seems like more and more people are having trouble sleeping. This can be due to a number of factors like poor diet, lack of exercise, artificial stimulants, and other environmental factors. Sometimes, even after getting to sleep it can be difficult to achieve more restful sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Despite all of these issues, there are things which can help. Of course, supplementation can be a wonder worker in this area. There have also been a wide variety of products, devices, and inventions that claim to help. One of these is the new Smart Alarm Clock App for the iPhone.

Description of Smart Alarm Clock App:

This is fairly advanced application designed to be downloaded onto your iPhone. The idea behind it is that it will actually analyze your sleep and then wake you up at the perfect moment, during your lightest sleep phase. This way, you will wake up feeling refreshed.

There are a lot of interesting features included with this app. One of the best is the fact that it can integrate with the Instant Heart Rate app to enable heart rate and pulse measurements when you wake as well as throughout the night. It also displays a resting heart rate graph.

Of course, you can also set a wake up alarm, so that just in case your lightest sleep phase does not occur at a very convenient time, you will still be sure to wake! There are also snooze controls in case you want those few extra minutes as well.

Analysis of Sleep Patterns:

Probably the best features of this app are related to their ability to analyze your sleep. There are a number of screens which can track everything from the time you went to bed to the duration of sleep, rise times, and even the efficiency of your sleep. Take a look at some of the statistics and measurements:

  • Bed time
  • Rise time
  • Alarm time
  • Awake, light, deep+REM percentages
  • Efficiency percentage

There is also a graph that shows how your stages of sleep progressed from awake to light sleep to deep sleep and then awake again. It will be very enlightening to examine these statistics. Seeing how your body undergoes multiple stages of sleep every night can be very valuable information.

Nootropics Can Help With Sleep:

Used in combination with appropriate supplementation, this app can be an excellent tool for tracking and monitoring your sleep. There are a number of excellent Nootropic sleep aids. All of these not only help to promote an improved ability to relax, but also produce more restful and deeper sleep. These include Phenibut, GABA, Picamilon, and L-Theanine. Give them all a try today and then look at your sleep stats again!

Best Nootropics for Anxiety

Anxiety is an important part of human physiology and in many ways is what keeps us from living an accident prone disastrous lifestyle. A natural way of our body telling us we are in a potentially dangerous or harmful situation anxiety is a necessary response that promotes longevity in human life. With all that said; anxiety is often associated with stress and is generally seen in a negative light in most circles. The true villain here is “over-anxiety” and the body’s physical response which can include an increase in perspiration and heartbeat.  If we were anxiety free all the time we would be much more likely to engage in dangerous and potentially life threatening activities that would greatly hamper our life expectancy. So, why am I telling you all of this and how can we use nootropics to curb intense anxiety that may constrain our lives?

Nootropics are often used to enhance memory and improve cognitive function but they have also been shown to have anti-anxiety and stress reducing properties. Specifically there are certain nootropics that when taking in conjunction work synergistically to achieve this desired effect. There are a number of nootropics available that can alleviate anxiety and in many cases a trial and error method of experimentation may be required to find the optimal solution for your needs.

Nootropics for Anxiety

In this analysis of anti-anxiety nootropics we will take a look at a few different nootropic options including theanine, GABA, 5-htp, bacopa, and rhodiola. Theanine is the only nootropic that has the ability to simultaneously increase serotonin and GABA levels, both of which are associated with lowering anxiety levels. Alternatively direct GABA supplementation is more effective in raising GABA levels and 5-htp or bacopa can be more effective in raising serotonin levels. So, if you are looking for a one and done solution theanine seems to be your best option. Rhodiola is one of the only nootropics that specifically halts the breakdown of serotonin in the brain and has shown a significant effectiveness in research, therefore I suggest supplementing with rhodiola in addition to other nootropics in most cases. A combination of rhodiola and either 5-htp (a naturally occurring anti-anxiety and stress reducing amino acid) or bacopa (an herb that has shown to increase serotonin in the brain) is recommended for the best anti-anxiety results with nootropics.

While this recommended combination/stack has shown to be effective and is a good starting point, the topic of nootropics is notorious for being uncharted territory and should be approached with that in mind. This means that one should always pay attention to your body’s individual response and conduct personal research on a supplement or supplements before consuming them.

Nootropic supplementation can be an exciting and often very effective method of attaining your desired results in your personal health related goals. Always pay attention to your products packaging and label information for dosing guidelines and it is recommended you consult a doctor before implementing nootropics in to your daily routine.

Sources

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12467378

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11498727

Phenibut: Nootropic or Not?

Phenibut nootropic supplements help with brain health.One of the beautiful things about supplements is they usually have more than one beneficial purpose. It is especially nice when the benefits of a supplement cross into the nootropic category and provide cognitive enhancement. Occasionally, there is a bit of debate as to whether or not a supplement can be considered a nootropic. A current example is Phenibut, a supplement discovered in the 1960’s with anti-anxiety and calming properties.

Phenibut is a crystallized, powdery GABA derivative that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and, when it enters the brain, acts as a GABA receptor agonist. By acting in a similar fashion as GABA, phenibut helps carry the burden of brain chemicals that can cause stress and tension resulting in an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect. Since it works on the same receptor sites as certain prescription drugs, phenibut is often compared to barbiturates and other substances used for anxiety. The main difference between phenibut and these substances, is that phenibut doesn’t cause drowsiness like most popular anti-anxiety medications can. It’s included in the cosmonaut medical kit as a treatment for stress and anxiety for this exact reason. Phenibut also enhances dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is critical to daily function and helps control movement, emotions, response to rewards, and the brain’s pleasure center.

Phenibut is primarily used for the following:

  • Stress – The overall effect of phenibut on the GABA receptors help blunt the impact of stress.
  • Social Anxiety – Helps reduce tension felt around large or unfamiliar groups
  • Sleeplessness – Phenibut can have a relaxing effect and help bring on sleep in the evening
  • Mood Enhancer – Phenibut is used to enhance mood or help reduce trauma related stress

Without a doubt, phenibut has some properties that could be beneficial to most people. But does it act as a nootropic? Can it help boost cognition? Yes, evidence points to the effects of phenibut enhancing cognition:

  • Improved cross-hemisphere brain communication. Phenibut was used in an animal study to increase the amplitude of response from one side of the brain to other. A single dose of phenibut was effective in improving the response and confirmed the efficacy of phenibut as a supplement used for learning and memory.
  • More relaxed thinking. As a basis for cognitive enhancement, the reduction of stress is key. A state of stress and anxiety puts the body in position where it essentially feels unsafe. Even without adding any additional properties, reducing the amount of stress a person is under and relaxing the mind takes the brain and body out of survival mode and allows other thoughts to flow more freely.
  • Improving sleep quality. Improving sleep also has downstream cognitive benefits. Sleep gives the brain and the body enough time to rest, recover and reset, thus providing an optimal environment for focus, memory, learning and thinking.

If you’re looking to help increase calmness and also boost brain power as well, phenibut is a great supplement to test out.

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19334513
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenibut

How Much GABA Should You Take for Sleep?

gaba-for-sleepHaving trouble sleeping? There could be numerous factors to consider why you are having this problem. But if traditional methods did not work for you to be able to attain that rest and sleep, then maybe you should try taking up a new supplement that might be able to help. One of these supplements that help you sleep better is known as GABA. But what is GABA? GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter in our brain known as a neuroinhibitor. In short, GABA acts as a balance for excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, which most of the time dominates the brain itself. Excitation of the brain leads to issues like restlessness, anxiety, irritability, stress, and insomnia. GABA works to inhibit these issues and keep a check and balance in the brain. It serves to induce analgesia, relaxation, sleep. Thus, GABA supplement is effective in inducing sleep in people lacking it.

GABA Dosage for Sleep

But how are the dosages determined if you want to achieve a good night’s sleep? The standard GABA dosage is 250 mg, or one capsule. However, this might be quite small for some and would not have that much effect for sleep. As a result, some people take as much as 2 grams. Be cautious though, taking more than 2 grams can lead to side effects. Start with the lower dosage and work your way up to a level where you feel comfortable.