Posts Tagged ‘ashwagandha’
by adminadam in articles
Minimal Effective Stack
1. creatine hcl — 750 mg, AM
2. noopept — 10 mg, AM-12-PM
3. cdp choline — 300 mg, AM-PM
4. modafinil — 200 mg, AM
5. ashwagandha — 600 mg, AM-PM
6. bacopa — 300 mg, AM
7. cod liver oil — 1000 mg, AM-PM
8. melatonin — 500 mcg, PM
- muscle building
- muscle exertion
- general cognition
- extreme focus
- verbal fluency
- absorb information
- memory retrieval
- memory retrieval
- verbal fluency
- eye health
- general cognition
- extreme focus
- stimulant, non-jittery
- reduce cortisol
- general cognition
- memory formation
cod liver oil
- positive mood
- general cognition
- vitamin d
- vitamin a
- sleep quality
- sleep onset
- general cognition
- nicotine (1-2mg a day)
- raw unmodified potato starch
- citrulline malate
by adminadam in articles
- Creatine — 5g powder, AM
- Noopept — 10mg capsule, AM/noon/PM
- CDP-choline — 400mg capsule, AM/PM
- Modafinil — 100-200mg tablet, AM
- Ashwagandha — 570mg capsule, AM/PM
- Rhodiola — 500mg capsule, AM
- Probiotics — one capsule, AM
- Cod Liver Oil — three 650mg soft-gels, AM/PM
- Nicotine Gum — 1mg gum, PM
- Melatonin — 1mg tablet, Night
Changes Since Version 1
I have switched out piracetam for noopept. My main reasoning is to reduce the quantity of both powders and capsules that I consume. So I can cut my total piracetam powder levels from what they were previously — about six grams per day — to just three 10mg capsules per day of noopept.
I have added CPD-choline back in. While I have never experience an acetylcholine-depletion headache from taking racetams, I have heard that CDP-choline helps maintain cognitive abilities under sleep deprivation and also can help with dry eyes, both of which I experience at times.
I have removed Bacopa and added Ashwagandha. This was a hard choice which I took a long time to arrive at. Bacopa is lauded as the only effective, cheap, and safe way to truly improve your memory from a young-healthy subject baseline. But it made me excessively sleepy and caused me extreme stomach upset whenever I consumed it without food. These simple hindrances were what led me to cut it from my stack. While I enjoyed its anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects, I had experienced stronger effects of that nature from Ashwagandha, an all-around resiliency-enhancing herbal supplement also from the Ayurvedic tradition. Ashwagandha improves immunity, reduces stress, and reduces insomnia in many subjects. I have experienced reduced stress and anxiety. Other effects are questionably related to many of the supplements I take, like Modafinil and Creatine for enhanced energy and motivation. Ashwagandha may also be contributing to these positive outcomes.
I have changed from Fish Oil to Cod Liver Oil. Cod Liver Oil is said to contain more Vitamin A and D. I take these soft-gels in ample quantities, sometimes up to nine a day, if I feel like I need the Vitamin D for enhanced immunity or serotonin production in the winter months.
I dropped Lion’s Mane Mushroom after listening to a podcast on the medicinal mushroom industry. It seems that the quality of many of these supplements is suspect, with the greater-guarantees-of-quality brands costing an arm and a leg. I’d prefer to save the money.
I have added Melatonin to the list. In fact, I have always used Melatonin to get to sleep faster, fight insomnia, and serve as an anti-oxidant. Now that I’m using lower doses of 1-2mg per night, I feel more refreshed waking up than I used to when I took between 3mg and 6mg. Research shows that 0.5mg to 1mg is the most effective dose. Melatonin is especially helpful if you are in front of bright screens with blue light in the evening, or if you drink lots of caffeinated beverages, or if you take modafinil mid-day or — heaven forbid — late in the day.
What I’ve Kept the Same
Creatine is a godsend for athletes. I am running regularly now, in addition to lifting weights, and I find I have the energy to give an extra push at the end of nearly all of my workouts because of Creatine. It is also said to boost cognition in individuals with low natural levels of Creatine in their diets.
Modafinil keeps me productive and emotionally-intelligent after late nights spent hanging out with my brother or my girlfriend, or after working to the wee hours of the morning on Linux projects. Speaking of which, check out my new blog: Kernelmastery.com. You might say Modafinil is the Mascot for Kernel Mastery.
Rhodiola I would never abandon. It enhances immunity, fights stress, and helps you fight fatigue. It is a tried-and-true resiliency supplement.
Probiotics for the gut; a healthy gut for a healthy mind.
Nicotine Gum eases my stress, wakes me up on my long drives home from work, and reboots the cognitive engines after a long work day. With Nicotine Gum, I can avoid drinking large quantities of caffeine in the afternoon. Most gums come in two- or four-milligram sizes. Because one milligram is plenty for me, I simply buy the two milligram version and cut the pieces in half. Easy and cheap!
by adminadam in home
Nootropic Stack — Version 3 — May 2015
|anxiolysis, focus||Meditation||10-15 minutes||weekday mornings||breathing exercise: nose 5 sec. in, mouth 10 sec out. repeat x10.|
|memory, focus||Study Japanese||15-20 minutes||weekday mornings||helps discipline in other areas|
|energy, focus, muscle tissue, immune support, balance, flexibility||Taekwondo & Muy Thai||one hour classes||two times per week||self-defense, sparring, board breaking, weapon training, and “forms”|
|anxiolysis, focus, muscle tissue, balance, flexibility||Slacklining||5-30 minutes||once a week on average, more in the summer||excellent for core and leg strength and balance|
|wakefulness, executive function||Modafinil||200-300mg tablet||weekday mornings upon waking||drink lots of water. add salt to maintain electrolytes.|
|wakefulness, anxiolysis||Matcha Green Tea [buy]||4-6 grams powder, mixed in water||from waking through early afternoon||works with cold water. contains calming L-theanine.|
|anxiolysis, immune support, hormonal balance||Ashwagandha [buy]||500mg capsule with 300mg KSM-66 standardized extract and 200mg whole root powder||twice a day||calming and pro-social|
|anxiolysis||Tianeptine Sodium||12.5mg powder||three times a day||powerful depression and anxiety relief|
|anxiolysis, energy||Bromantane||75-100mg powder||weekday mornings upon waking||powerful anxiety relief|
|anxiolysis, energy, immune support||Rhodiola Rosea [buy]||500mg capsule, 3% standardized extract||once a day upon waking||best on empty stomach|
|energy, executive function, muscle tissue||Creatine Monohydrate||5 grams powder||once a day upon waking||increased muscle definition. slight initial muscle bloating.|
|energy, muscle tissue||L-citrulline, DL-malate (2:1 powder)||3 grams powder||once a day upon waking and after taekwondo in the evening||reduces muscle cramping and soreness|
|focus, verbal fluency||Oxiracetam||800-1200mg powder||four times a day||subtly stimulating and anxiolytic|
|focus, memory||CDP-choline||400mg capsule||three times a day||helps with verbal fluency|
|memory, anxiolysis||Bacopa Monnieri [buy]||250mg capsule, standardized to 45% bacosides||twice a day||take with food. memorizing names and kanji quicker.|
|memory, anti-demetia and cognitive function, myelination||Lion’s Mane Mushroom [buy]||500mg capsule||twice a day||just started taking in May. waiting to see effects.|
|memory, reaction speed||Vinpocetine [buy]||10mg tablet||two or three times a day||subtly stimulating. increases cerebral blood flow.|
|anti-inflammation||Turmeric Root||1-2 tbsp powder||once a day upon waking||helps fight and prevent sinus infections|
|turmeric bioavailability||Black Pepper||50-100mg||once a day upon waking||helps with turmeric absorption. reports of modafinil tolerance reduction.|
|serotonin production, immune support||Vitamin D||two liquid drops = 4000 IU||once a day upon waking||take extra when a cold is coming on|
|fluoride detox, metabolism||Iodine [buy]||three liquid drops = 7-8mg||once a day upon waking||fluoride detox symptoms, albeit temporary, suck: acne, fever, nausea|
|gut health||Raw Unmodified Potato Starch [buy]||1 tbsp||twice a day||mixes with water. causes flatulence initially.|
|electrolyte balance||Pink Sea Salt||1/2 tsp||two or three times a day||increases thirst and water retention|
|electrolyte balance, muscle tissue||Potassium (Citrate/Aspartate)||99mg capsule||once a day as needed||helps prevent muscle cramping after workouts|
|sleep quality||Magnesium Glycinate||2 grams powder||once a day before bed||calming. increases amount of dreams at night.|
|muscle tissue, immune support||L-glutamine||2-4 grams powder||once a day upon waking and after taekwondo in the evenings||reduces muscle cramping. reports of anxiety reduction.|
|gut health||Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic [buy]||750mg capsule||once or twice a day||healthy gut, healthy mind!|
|vitamin A/D, omega 3’s||Cod Liver Oil [buy]||two 650mg softgels = 5000 IU vitamin A, 600 IU vitamin D, 30mg EPA, 30mg DHA||once a day upon waking||take extra when a cold is coming on|
|sleep quality||Melatonin [buy]||3mg||20-30 minutes before bed||increases number of dreams at night|
|joint health||Glucosamine and MSM [buy]||two 1500mg tablets = 1500mg glucosamine hydrochloride, 1500mg MSM||once a day upon waking||helps my wife fight arthritis|
|immune support, anti-inflammation||Oregano Essential Oil [buy]||one to two drops, 83% carvacrol||one to three times a day||helps fight colds, infection, parasites, viruses|
|immune support, heavy metal detox||Chlorella Powder||two to three grams||once or twice a day||reports of reduction in allergy symptoms|
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:
- Heart palpilations
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
- 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:
- Modafinil — Modalert, 200mg, weekday mornings. Sometimes 100mg if I slept 8 hours the night before.
- Caffeine/L-theanine — Natural Stacks’ Smart Caffeine, with 100mg Caffeine and 200mg L-theanine per capsule, three or four times per day.
- Decaf Bulletproof Coffee — Upgraded Self, blended with 1 tbsp. organic, grass-fed butter and 1 tbsp. MCT/coconut-oil, mornings.
- Additional L-theanine — Doctor’s Best Suntheanine, 150mg, three or four times per day, whenever I have caffeine, including when taking Smart Caffeine.
- Aniracetam — Powder City powder, 1 gram, every 3-4 hours.
- Noopept — Powder City powder, 30mg, two to three times per day, every 6-8 hours.
- Bacopa Monnieri — Swanson Superior Herbs (BaCognize), standardized to 45% baccosides, 250mg, two or three times per day.
- Ashwagandha — Nutrigold Ashwagandha Gold, 300mg standardized KSM-66 extract with 5% withanolides, plus 200mg whole root powder, two or three capsules per day.
- Vinpocetine — Source Naturals, 10mg, twice per day.
- Iodine — Lugol’s Iodine 2.2% Solution, 4 drops with a glass of water, once a day in the morning.
- Butter Oil / Cod Liver Oil — Green Pastures, BLUE ICE™ Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend, two 750mg capsules each morning.
- Organic Turmeric Root Powder — 1-2 tbsp. mixed with water in the morning, sometimes with black pepper for better absorption.
- Melatonin — Schiff’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.
- Activated Charcoal — Nature’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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Turmeric Root Powder — Contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which aids in digestion.
- Melatonin — Helps me fall asleep quickly even after having taken modafinil and/or caffeine. Also a powerful antioxidant.
- 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!
by adminadam in articles
Nootropics are “Safe” Smart Drugs, supplements which can help you think clearly and focus, remember things better, and boost your mood. These supplements — while admittedly less dramatic — are infinitely safer than adderall but with near-zero side-effects.
If you’re just entering into the field of Nootropics, or are considering taking something to boost your mood or cognition, please keep the following caveats in mind:
- Don’t expect a miracle — this is rule number one. Many of these substances have subtle or gradually-building effects.
- Don’t expect increased motivation — this should come primarily from inside yourself. I think visualization and meditation practice are much more powerful tools for increasing motivation and overall well-being than any of the nootropics listed below.
- Don’t expect a dramatically different experience of reality — again subtle effects are common: Increases in visual information processing, listening comprehension, multitasking ability, reading speed, spatial awareness, feelings of calm, etc., may emerge.
- Sleep, exercise, and diet are your primary Nootropics — don’t neglect these fundamentals.
Here is what I recommend for the curious, new Nootropics user…
PIRACETAM — A water-soluble white powder which is thought to work by increasing acetylcholine uptake and cell-membrane fluidity in the brain. Dissolve 1 to 2 grams into a tall glass of fresh, clean water, stir once or twice, and imbibe.
Many users of Piracetam report noticeable boosts to their verbal fluency, short-term memory, reading comprehension or reading speed, and mental energy. It is also shown to be neuroprotective and can help alleviate the discomfort associated with altitude sickness. Maximum blood-plasma levels of piracetam are reached after one hour, but you may notice its effects within minutes. Up to 10-gram doses have been shown to be non-toxic, producing few side-effects, if any: perhaps a headache and, for some people, irritability.
My recommended doses range anywhere between 1 and 2 grams. (It’s very forgiving stuff.) You can take it two or three times a day as well. I usually recommend redosing every 6 hours or so. My recommended suppliers are Powder City ($12.50 per 100 grams) and New Star Nootropics ($17 per 100 grams). If you take 3 grams of it every day that should last you just over a month (33 days).
ANIRACETAM — A fat-soluble white powder this time, which is thought to work on acetylcholine uptake like piracetam, but also has mood-bossting effects due to its AMPA-kine-type qualities. It re-sensitizes your brain to to neurotransmitter glutamate, hypothetically leading to reduced excitoxicity and more balanced signaling in the brain. It is seen as an anxiolytic racetam, meaning it reduces anxiety, boosts your focus, and calms you.
To consume aniracetam, either mix the powder in with olive oil or some other kind of oil — or else put the powder straight into your mouth and gulp it down with a bunch of water. This is the quickest way because it’s not water-soluble. Keeping it under your tongue momentarily before washing it down is likely to accelerate bioabsoption and lead you to experience the boost in cognition quicker.
Aniracetam has a half-life in the body of 1 to 2 hours, versus Piracetam’s 7 to 8. Aniracetam is significantly more powerful, however, for promoting anxiolysis and short-term memory performance. The ideal starting dose, I feel, is around 800mg; although, I often take 1 or even 1.5 grams at a time. Some researchers may tell you otherwise, but it does not need to be consumed with a source of fat (despite that it is a fat-soluble supplement). Taking it 3 or 4 times a day may be best due to its short half-life. Recommended suppliers are: Powder City ($28 for 100 grams) or New Star Nootropics ($36 for 100 grams) — in either case roughly a 40-day supply.
OXIRACETAM — A water-soluble white powder like Piracetam. Recommended dosages for this one are 800mg to 1.2 grams. It is noted most often for its boosting of spatial awareness and logical thinking, moreso than other Racetam-type compounds. The half-life is 7 hours. Take it two or three times per day.
Oxiracetam is significantly more expensive than the others, however, some users prefer this over piracetam, reporting that it helps more with complex, information-dense tasks. Note: Mileage may vary. I bought 50 grams, a month’s supply, to try from New Star Nootropics for $31. It’s also available from Powder City at $25 for 50 grams.
Oxiracetam, Aniracetam, and Piracetam are my three recommendations for you if you’re just beginning to explore the field of Nootropics. If you notice their effects and feel neutral or even positive in terms of your mood after taking them then this is a good sign. If you feel significantly more anxious, then perhaps the Racetams aren’t for you. But don’t despair — there are many more safe and effective cognition-enhancing supplements under the sun! (See ‘Besides the Racetams’ below.)
Testing out the Racetams:
After taking one of these three entry-level Racetams for the first time, try the following:
- Listen to a song whose words you don’t know by heart — Can you easily pick out the words?
- Try skimming a news article to get the gist — Can you read it while skipping lines or sets of words? Can you read and comprehend it any faster than usual?
- Try going outside and looking at the plants and trees and animals — Do you notice more details than you would normally?
If you don’t notice anything and still feel fine emotionally (i.e. not anxious), try a few more times later on (8 hours later, or the next day). Consider increasing the dosages by 50% or so for your next attempt if you feel fine but don’t notice anything yet. Aniracetam dosage should be increased perhaps by only 10% at a time in my experience; a little bit seems to go much further than with the others.
A little more scientifically…
Many researchers and students of nootropics test and train their cognitive abilities through tasks such as Dual N-Back (about: wikipedia). Try for yourself if you are interested in seeing what these tests are like: Lumosity, Brainscale, Brain N-Back (android app), Dual N-Back (iOS app). These can help you understand and hone your memory over time, regardless of whether you are taking any nootropics.
Besides the Racetams, what else is good for me as a beginner?
Other excellent nootropics include Choline Supplements to accompany the Racetams, L-theanine to accompany caffeine if you’re a coffee drinker, and the Amazing, Adaptogenic Herbs: Ashwagandha, Bacopa, and Rhodiola.
CHOLINE SUPPLEMENTS such as CDP-choline and Alpha-GPC help your brain to be able to produce more acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter. These are often most beneficial when taken with one of the Racetams like I’ve described above, although even these alone can boost verbal fluency and short-term memory. Take 200 to 300 mg of these substances two times a day for best results. Note that overdoing it can lead to some depressive symptoms potentially. Highly recommended if you have little choline in your diet — if you never eat eggs, for instance. Good to combine with Piracetam, Aniracetam, and/or Oxiracetam. The idea is that the Racetams rev up your engine, while Choline supplementation keeps the ‘acetylcholine gas tank’ full.
Fine to combine. In case you’re wondering… Yes, it is okay to consume different Racetams simultaneously if you wish to experiment further. Many researchers do. Each one is purported to act on subtly different mechanisms in the brain. I would still advise you to test them out individually first to get a feel for their different effects, however.
L-THEANINE is a compound in green tea (and other teas) which is relaxing and anxiety-reducing and helps to ameliorate the side-effects of caffeine, namely: anxiety and muscle-tension. I find it helps me remain calm and stay focused when I consume a lot of caffeine. It is recommended that you take two times more L-theanine than caffeine, though, in order to derive the greatest benefits from this powerful combination. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a supplement that contains both ingredients in this 2:1 ratio. I like Natural Stack’s Smart Caffeine. It has 200mg L-theanine and 100mg caffeine per capsule, which is perfect. You should notice greater focus and reduced jitteriness and muscle tension if you typically consume caffeine. Smart Caffeine is around $20 for 60 capsules, but most likely is the highest quality supplement of its kind. Powder City also sells capsules with these same ingredients and proportions. They sell 90 capsules for just $10. I’ve used the Powder City capsules too and they work just as well.
ASHWAGANDHA is an anxiolytic adaptogen (an anxiety and stress-reducing herb) much lauded in Ayurveda. It is also said to increase virility and male fertility, and boost the immune system. It seems to reduce my anxiety and encourage more pro-social tendencies in me, like sustained eye-contact. I use Nutrigold (Ashwagandha Gold). It is $18 for 90 capsules, organic, with a high-potency standardized extract, KSM-66. Very cost effective if you ever get nervous or anxious in social situations. Take two per day.
BACOPA MONNIERI is another ayurvedic herb shown to boost memory and help you fight anxiety. It is one of the most studied herbal nootropics, and one that is a key part of my stack. NOTE: Memory and cognition enhancement aspects of this supplement may take up to 8 weeks of daily use to kick in. Anxiolytic (calming) effects should be apparent early on (similar, but likely less pronounced in this regard, to Ashwagandha). I use the Bacopa with the standardized BaCognize extract from Swanson Superior Herbs. This costs $12 for 90 capsules. Take two per day.
Bacopa and Caffeine with L-theanine are probably the safest bets overall. Very cost effective, too. They’re well-supported in research for memory enhancement (Bacopa) and sustained focus (Caffeine/L-theanine) in non-elderly (and also elderly) populations. Click on the links at the beginning of each respective paragraph to read more research on them from Examine.com.
RHODIOLA ROSEA is a Traditional Chinese Medicine and Scandinavian adaptogenic herb used to fight fatigue and exhaustion. It is a potential neuroprotective agent, and has been shown to boost longevity in animal studies. It is serotonergic, meaning it acts upon serotonin receptors in the brain, and it is reported to enhance general subjective well-being and cognition through its anti-depression and anti-fatigue-type effects. I found this helpful when I hadn’t slept enough; it gave me a boost of energy and also seemed to help me keep my stress levels low. I recommend NOW Foods Rhodiola Rosea. 60 capsules for about $8.50. If you find you like other brands more, just make sure they contain the active compounds at these percentages: 3% Rosavins and 1% Salidroside. This ensures potency. With all Rhodiola supplements, take just ONE dose in the morning. BONUS: Rhodiola may help reduce the symptoms of cessation of smoking. Additionally, some users report it helps them to cycle or go off of caffeine.
After exploring L-theanine, the Racetams, choline, and the adaptogenic herbs, I might consider testing out some of the following newer, and more powerful Racetams:
NOOPEPT is a highly-potent piracetam analogue. It is said to increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Nerve Growth Factor. This means increasing neuro-plasticity, potentially. It is often recommended that you take it for a period of time and then cycle off of it, for instance, two months on, and then one week off. A friend of mine said he noticed some personality changes in himself with noopept: He became much more serious and focused, yet less fun-loving in his own estimation. I feel that noopept is stimulating and helps me to focus on whatever I’m doing. I believe it is helping me retain more information in my short-term memory. It is also said to be neuroprotective and immuno-restorative. Doses of 10mg to 30mg are recommended, twice daily. I got mine from Powder City. If you take 30mg a day, a 1 gram container will last you for a month — and it costs only $5! I believe this one stacks particularly well with aniracetam — where noopept stimulates me and promotes quick and logical thinking, and aniracetam keeps me calm and encourages creativity.
COLURACETAM is a newer piracetam-analogue with the potential for longer-lasting effects on memory. Even tinier doses are used than noopept this time: 3 to 10 mg is suggested for coluracetam for each dose. Research indicates it promotes High Affinity Acetylcholine Uptake, indicating it more directly affects and increases the activity of cholinergic neurons. There is scant evidence of nootropic benefit to healthy populations at this time, but it has been shown to preserve choline uptake into neurons when they are otherwise impaired. A number of intrepid and daring nootropic adventurers who’ve tried it self-reported and indicated they felt similar cognition-boosting effects as with other racetams. Some noted a mood-boost and increased motivation as well. I tried a batch of Powder City’s coluracetam a while back and felt similarly about it, but knowing of its unproven track record and uncertain safety profile, I’ve set this one aside until future studies can substantiate the hype and settle some of the questions surrounding it.
PRAMIRACETAM is a another piracetam analogue, this time with minor evidence of memory-enhancing and neuroprotective effects. It may promote High Affinity Acetylcholine Uptake, but no clinical trials have been conducted on human subjects at the time of this writing. As the editors at Examine.com note, it has structural similarities with both piracetam and choline, and so may break off into these two compounds or similar compounds after crossing the blood-brain barrier. Some users report that this Racetam is amongst the best for sustained focus and concentration. Typical doses are 300 to 600 mg twice a day. WARNING: Do not consume the powder form directly — it burns your mouth and tongue terribly. I recommend you mix and dissolve it into olive oil or another vegetable oil for a couple of minutes, and then maybe drink it down with milk or some other fatty beverage — yogurt could work too, I suppose. (The taste is absolutely wretched!) I got some from Powder City to try. It was $40 for 25 grams, a 20-day supply.
- Want more suggestions? If you’ve tried all of these and are looking for other suggestions of things to experiment with, hit me up at 84adam [at] thrivenotes [dot] com.
- Wondering about certain combinations? See Reddit’s StackAdvice subreddit if you’re planning a combination of various Nootropics to take and want feedback from the community there.
- Tell me more about it all! Check out Reddit’s /r/Nootropics’ A Beginner’s Guide to Nootropics for reliable suppliers, safety information, and more. Highly recommended reading!
- Got feedback? If you’ve got feedback or an experience report for one of the supplements I’ve listed then please comment below!