My Current Stack

Sep 19th, 2014 by adminadam in articles

Nootropics are substances which either boost some aspect of your cognition and mental performance or stabilize your mood — all with either negligible or zero negative side effects. Think of them as safe smart drugs if you wish. Most of the substances in my stack (i.e., daily regimen) below are considered to be nootropics. While some aren’t generally thought of as “smart”, others aren’t necessarily considered to have negligible side effects either. I include them in the interest of transparency. All together they help me perform better at work and at home.

Hey, that’s not a nootropic!

Some nootropic enthusiasts and researchers would object to my including Modafinil or Activated Charcoal in the list. Just as a quick example, in Modafinil’s case, going by the ‘Safe’ criterion of the definition of nootropics, it’s a pretty easy one to discount. Just look at this short, incomplete list of possible side-effects:

  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpilations
  • Irritability
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Nausea
  • Etc. (The list goes on…)

Surely it should be used with discretion. Activated Charcoal on the other hand, simply has very few effects in general, and likely very insubstantial and/or indirect impacts on cognition and mental performance. One might say it’s not so ‘Smart’, although it’s definitely a ‘Safe’ one. I use it for detox from various substances such as gluten and sulfates, certain pathogens, and to treat nausea and indigestion — and this absolutely helps me perform better when I eat or drink something that’s not good for me, for instance.

Iodine is another one that may not have proven cognition-boosting effects for the general population either, but it’s really good for fluoride, bromide, and chloride detox. So if you’re exposed to high amounts of these guys, iodine might be helpful for you, especially in terms of thyroid and metabolic health.

Now for the list… Debate away in the comments if you object to any of what I include. And feel free to ask questions, either in the comments or via email! I can be reached at 84adam [at] thrivenotes [dot] com if you want to speak with me one-on-one.

SECTION I — What do I take?

My current stack includes the following:

  1. ModafinilModalert, 200mg, weekday mornings. Sometimes 100mg if I slept 8 hours the night before.
  2. Caffeine/L-theanineNatural Stacks’ Smart Caffeine, with 100mg Caffeine and 200mg L-theanine per capsule, three or four times per day.
  3. Decaf Bulletproof CoffeeUpgraded Self, blended with 1 tbsp. organic, grass-fed butter and 1 tbsp. MCT/coconut-oil, mornings.
  4. Additional L-theanineDoctor’s Best Suntheanine, 150mg, three or four times per day, whenever I have caffeine, including when taking Smart Caffeine.
  5. AniracetamPowder City powder, 1 gram, every 3-4 hours.
  6. NoopeptPowder City powder, 30mg, two to three times per day, every 6-8 hours.
  7. Bacopa MonnieriSwanson Superior Herbs (BaCognize), standardized to 45% baccosides, 250mg, two or three times per day.
  8. AshwagandhaNutrigold Ashwagandha Gold, 300mg standardized KSM-66 extract with 5% withanolides, plus 200mg whole root powder, two or three capsules per day.
  9. VinpocetineSource Naturals, 10mg, twice per day.
  10. IodineLugol’s Iodine 2.2% Solution, 4 drops with a glass of water, once a day in the morning.
  11. Butter Oil / Cod Liver OilGreen Pastures, BLUE ICE™ Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend, two 750mg capsules each morning.
  12. Organic Turmeric Root Powder — 1-2 tbsp. mixed with water in the morning, sometimes with black pepper for better absorption.
  13. MelatoninSchiff’s Melatonin Ultra/Knock-Out, 3mg, one or two capsules, 30+ minutes before bed. Also contains L-theanine, GABA, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, and Chamomile and Valerian Root extracts.
  14. Activated CharcoalNature’s Way, one or two capsules as necessary, with lots of water, usually in the evening.

AND DON’T FORGET…

  • Exercise: At least 20 minutes per day. I do various body-weight exercises, push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, planks, squats, and lunges, plus 3-5 minutes of splits-stretch each morning. I also run or walk for 10-12 minutes every morning. I occasionally hop on the slackline too.
  • Sleep: I sleep 6.5 or 7 hours per week night on average, 8-10 hours on weekend nights.
  • Meditation/Relaxation/Relationships: I meditate on affirmations and gratitude for a couple minutes on most days. I also do deep and slow belly-breaths as needed, between 3 and 5 in a row when I am feeling anxious or stressed. In all my interpersonal interactions I focus on positive, appropriate eye-contact, and respectful personal boundaries, namely: not making assumptions about anyone/anything; waiting for people to say what they want to say; stating my needs effectively; and generally being affirming for others as well as for myself.

SECTION II — Why do I take it?

NOTE: Please click the name of each compound to see general information from Examine.com, including information on the supplements’ efficacy, typical dosages, interactions with other drugs, and side-effects. Exceptions include Bulletproof Coffee, Butter/Cod Liver Oil, and Activated Charcoal: Bulletproof Coffee links to the Bulletproof Exec page which tells the story behind the development of the coffee and the inclusion of the butter and coconut oils; Butter Oil and Cod Liver Oil links to the Weston A. Price Foundation page on the benefits of Cod Liver Oil; and Activated Charcoal links to the Nature’s Way product page again.

  1. Modafinil — Modafinil is a very powerful anti-fatigue, anti-exhaustion drug. It’s used by pro-athletes who want to exercise harder, top-executives who want to work longer hours, and college students who want to pull all-nighters. It is used more and more around the world because it basically allows you to not feel the effects from not sleeping enough. On top of that, it’s safer than many alternatives, namely: Adderall and Ritalin. As I stated earlier, however, it does have a number of possible, negative side-effects, like heart palpitations and insomnia. For more warnings, see r/Nootropics’ Modafinil Warnings. For me the worst thing that happens is if I don’t drink about 2 liters of water in the first half of the day, or let’s say within 6 hours of taking my 200mg modafinil tablet, I get stomach pain from dehydration. I really demands of you that you chug your water. As for the benefits, with modafinil, I can work 11-13 hour days as a teacher, stay focused, and get home with enough energy to spend quality time with my wife, make and eat dinner, and get ready for bed. It’s really astonishing how much my work capacity has increased since starting taking modafinil. Initially my main problem was simply trying to stay focused for 12 hours of straight work per day. Now I can do it just fine, but really it was an emotionally taxing endeavor for the first year or so. This has more to do with my growing into my job and learning how much I love exercise and sleep and their benefits, however. Since becoming more accustomed to my job, and since beginning daily body-weight exercise, and maybe eating a bit better (more fat and less carbs and no sugar or gluten), I have the emotional staying power to fully take advantage of what modafinil brings to the table. Since I know it is a drug to which one can become tolerant, I take breaks on the weekends and during breaks from school. Usually I do 5 days on of 200mg. Sometimes I’ll make one of those days a 100mg day, but only when I feel fully rested and healthy. A final point on the benefits — it also seems to make me more confident and serious in my work. These are positive outcomes for me, however, I have seen studies in which participants taking modafinil were shown to be overestimating their own abilities at a statistically significant level above placebo/control-group. If I can track it down I’ll link to the study. Just be aware that it could have this confidence/arrogance-boosting effect for you, too!
  2. Caffeine/L-theanine — I used to drink coffee all day long every day, up to 8 strong cups. I had a lot of nervous-energy and muscle tension. Over the last 6 months I’ve cut back significantly by switching to Smart Caffeine and by paying attention to my caffeine intake. Smart Caffeine, or caffeine taken with L-theanine, doesn’t lead to the same jitteriness or muscle tension because L-theanine basically counterbalances, or negates, the negative side-effects of caffeine. The result for me is much greater focus when I need to get work done. I’m not as antsy. I am happy to report that with this I’ve cut my caffeine from an average of probably 800 to 1000mg daily to 300-400mg daily. My sleep quality is improving with this, too.
  3. Decaf Bulletproof Coffee — Since adding this to my stack in the past 3 months or so, I’ve noticed more mental energy, and a rush of it at that, when I drink this while taking my other nootropics. The coffee here is free of mold-toxins and full of antioxidants. When combined with the fats in the form of butter and coconut oil it not only tastes good, but it also feeds healthy gut bacteria while giving your brain ample energy in the form of ketone-bodies, the most easily absorbed form of energy which your brain can immediately put to good use. I usually forgo breakfast because the fats provide my brain with enough fuel that I don’t feel hungry. I’m effectively doing intermittent fasting every day because of this; I eat dinner, go to sleep, wake up, drink bulletproof coffee, and then don’t eat again until lunch (around 18 hours fasting). This allows healing to take place throughout my body as it’s not digesting food. See Dr. Mercola’s Intermittent Fasting Infographic for more on this aspect. For those who are curious, yes, I do use the Upgraded Brain Octane Oil, which is basically super-concentrated MCT oil with just the C-8 MCT, a specific Medium-Chain Triglyceride found in coconut oil which is most easily utilized by the brain. Supposedly this makes it 18 times more powerful than regular coconut oil.
  4. L-theanine — I take extra L-theanine for added calm and to balance out the fact that modafinil sometimes makes me irritable. Also, knowing that L-theanine has a short half-life, I take extra to help account for caffeine’s long (6-8 hour) half-life. This is also nice to have on hand in case I’m out drinking caffeinated coffee somewhere.
  5. Aniracetam — One of the most important nootropics in my stack. It greatly reduces my anxiety, wakes up my brain almost immediately, and helps me focus and remember things. Some users report that it helps them with creativity as well. When I take it I fill a 1 gram scoop with the powder and place it under my tongue for about 30 seconds or a minute before drinking it down with water. Holding it under the tongue allows it to take effect more quickly as it can absorb through the gums. If you read more on aniracetam you will certainly hear about its awful taste. Personally, while I didn’t particularly like the taste, at this point it’s no different than say white flour to me. I guess I’m just used to it. As far as its mechanism of action, it is thought to increases acetylcholine uptake in the brain, as well as to reduce desensitization to glutamate at AMPA receptor sites. This amounts to (temporarily) greater information processing abilities, enhanced memory, and a reduction in social anxiety and stress. The effects last for about 2-3 hours, so I take it numerous times, perhaps up to 5 times per day.
  6. Noopept — A Russian compound based on Piracetam and used to treat age-related cognitive decline. Noopept seems to stimulate NGF and BDNF in animal studies, but has not conclusively been shown to produce the same effects in humans. For me it seems to improve my focus and short/medium-term memory. It also gives me a boost in mental energy, albeit in a more subtle and targeted way than caffeine or modafinil; I feel ready to process more information. Visual information processing is also increased for me; text seems to pop or jump off of the pages. Like with aniracetam, I hold the powder under my tongue for a minute before drinking it down. This one doesn’t really taste like anything. I believe noopept pairs well with aniracetam. Noopept is more brainy and aniracetam more zen, but they both enhance cognition generally. They are both neuroprotective and, additionally, are potential stalwarts against depression, according to the acetylcholine-depression hypothesis. Basically, the -racetams (aniracetam, noopept, piracetam, etc.) rev up your brain and cause it to use more acetylcholine. Depleting acetylcholine more quickly this way could potentially lead you to feel happier overall.
  7. Bacopa Monnieri — Bacopa is a safe and effective herbal supplement shown to enhance memory. It is also thought to be an anti-oxidant, a weak acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, a cerebral blood flow activator, and a neurotransmitter modulator (especially for serotonin). This means that it can potentially help you deal with stress, increase blood flow to the brain, and maintain good levels of important neurotransmitters like serotonin (mood-boosting) and acetylcholine (helps with information processing amongst other things).
  8. Ashwagandha — A powerful anxiolytic herb (stress/anxiety-reducer), it also can help boost testosterone levels and general immune function. I noticed that eye-contact became easier after I started taking it. Generally, my social anxieties have been greatly reduced since beginning taking Ashwagandha, Aniracetam, and L-theanine. Exercise helps a lot with this issue too, of course!
  9. Vinpocetine — Increases cerebral blood flow. When taking it the first few times it feels like an intense rush of blood to the head. Knowing to expect this, having heard about it from my friend, it was exhilarating taking it. After about a week the intensity of this feeling dropped off; now it’s just energizing.
  10. Iodine — Iodine is essential for thyroid function and detox. Specifically, it helps oust nasty halides (fluoride, bromide, and chloride) from your glands, bones, and fatty tissues. Good for pineal health and metabolism. May prevent hypothyroidism and help with fatigue and sluggishness too.
  11. Butter Oil / Cod Liver Oil — My wife and I take this for Omega 3’s, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D. Also, good fat is brain fuel!
  12. Turmeric Root Powder — Contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which aids in digestion.
  13. Melatonin — Helps me fall asleep quickly even after having taken modafinil and/or caffeine. Also a powerful antioxidant.
  14. Activated Charcoal — Helps with detox from things like sulfates in wine and inflammatory substances like gluten (which allows for a lot of allergens and other toxins to enter your system through your gut lining). I take one or two when I feel it’s needed with lots of water, but never along with other nootropics, as it can potentially interfere with their absorption.

SECTION III — Future Possibilities

I may add some new substances over time. I see great potential in the following two supplements, based on the reading I’ve done:

  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is an antioxidative supplement which boosts glutathione levels in the body. This promotes effective detox, even of substances which are difficult to get rid of, like acetaminophen in the liver. Glutathione is a cancer fighting molecule as well. In addition to taking an NAC supplement, you can boost your glutathione levels with food. The cruciferous family of vegetables is one of the richest food sources of glutathione. The most potent vegetable is Brussels sprouts. Others include: cauliflower, broccoli (particularly the flowers, not the stem), cabbage, kale, bok choy, cress, mustard, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabi. I may consider buying an NAC supplement in the future to do some extra liver detox. I can also just eat more Brussels sprouts, of course! (Good thing I like ’em!)
  • Creatine — According to Examine.com, it just works. Creatine provides your body with phosphocreatine, which in turn is converted into ATP to power your cells and your brain. Strenuous exercise and stress can deplete ATP quickly, so it can greatly improve stamina, recovery time, and energy levels to supplement creatine. I have taken a creatine supplement in the past and it seemed to boost my endurance quite a bit when doing P90x3 and T25 workouts. I would like to try it again in the future, maybe with a powder from the Hard Rhino brand. 20 grams each day for the first week followed by 5g each day afterwards is the quick way for you to reach maximal effect with creatine. I will likely try this after a couple of months as I’m just starting to get used to my current stack — plus I may want to tweak some things here or there before adding a 15th supplement.

Thanks for reading!

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