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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/

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

Powerful Anxiolytic Nootropic Combo: Rhodiola Rosea and Piracetam Supplement Stack

rhodiola plus piracetam for stress and cognitionIf the stress you’re feeling these days is hindering your ability to focus your thoughts at work or school, know you’re not alone.

In a ComPsych report published in Yahoo Finance, it was found that 62 percent of employees at work have significantly high levels of stress that have them feeling out of control or extremely fatigued.

And if you’re a student, you most likely have a multitude of stressors coming at you from every direction. A full semester of cramming, researching, and test taking can wreak havoc, leaving many students with difficulty concentrating, sleeping, or staying motivated.

If all this talk of stress has you feeling more stressed out, there are two supplements that when used in combination can help you to manage or alleviate much of your stress and improve your ability to focus while studying or working.

Rhodiola Rosea for Stress and Anxiety

Rhodiola Rosea supplement comes from an herb that grows in arctic regions of the world and dates as far back as the Vikings who credited the root as a source of endurance and strength while sailing.

Many studies have been done on this herb and Rhodiola has been found to have the ability to fight fatigue, enhance mental function and acuity, as well as improve sports performance.

Rhodiola is classified as an adaptogenic herb which means that it works through the adrenal glands to produce adjustments in the body that combat and increase resistance to stress without unwarranted side effects.

Rhodiola has also been studied as a positive aid for mood problems; so when you are feeling the effects of a stressful job or the pressure to get the grades, Rhodiola can aid the body in its response to both physical and emotional stressors.

Piracetam for Cognition

Piracetam, which typically comes in the form of piracetam powder is a widely-utilized and highly-recognized nootropic in the racetam family. This popular nootropic works by improving the function of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine through ACh receptors which are used in the memory process.

It has also been found to increase oxygen consumption to the brain which translates to a higher level of brain functioning. Think of it this way: consider the way our bodies function when we are stressed out. We take short, bated breaths from our chest and before we know it, we’re exhausted, we can’t concentrate, and our heads are pounding.

The brain functions in much the same way. Without its proper intake of oxygen, it doesn’t receive or produce commands correctly and it certainly isn’t doing anything at the speed we need it to.

Piracetam increases oxygen levels in the brain, allowing it to function at an accelerated level without the jitters or excitability of other stimulants. It continues to be one of the most popular nootropics as a result of its long list of benefits and few side effects.

Piracetam is one of the few nootropics that has little to no adverse effects when taken for long periods of time which translates to no heavy let downs or symptoms of withdrawl. What more could a college student cramming for a test or a stressed out worker putting in long hours wish for?

Powerful Anxiolytic Nootropic Combo

Now combine the two. An adaptogenic herb that helps your body more effectively respond to both stress and melancholy alongside a powerful cognitive enhancer that increases oxygen to the brain for optimal performance and focus.

Both mind and body are addressed, leaving the stress behind and allowing your mind to focus on getting the job done.

Dosages will vary from person to person and Rhodiola can be taken from 150mg, 3x daily up to 1-2g (total) daily safely with no reported side effects. Most positive effects were reported when taken morning, afternoon, and evening. The suggested serving for Piracetam is 2g, 1 to 2 times daily.

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