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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

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 , and increased dopamine has been linked to self control [5].

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 [6].

Piracetam also improves mental functioning and clarity by restoring membrane fluidity while reducing oxidative stress [7].

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 [8].

Lithium appears to encourage GABA in the body while protecting against glutamate-induced toxicity and cell death, related to a number of diseases [9].

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 [10].

It has been observed to demonstrate protective effects against oxidative damage while reversing and prohibiting cognitive impairments [11], and to reduce obsessive behavior [12] by increasing glycine [13]. In other studies, it has increased serotonin, dopamine, and GABA without increasing sleepiness [14] while inducing alpha waves in the mind (brainwaves associated with relaxed alertness) [15], 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 [16]. 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)  [17], and this is believed to be a reason for its ability to increase mental and physical capacity [18].

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 [19].

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://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20428999
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1794001
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615864/
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248201/
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3167234/
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097345
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23395732
  12. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2009/768398
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16493792
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17182482
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22347152
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23272529
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378318
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3660385/