Posts Tagged ‘bacopa monnieri’

27
Apr

Beginner and Intermediate Nootropics

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…

The Racetams:

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.

Intermediate Nootropics:

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.

Further Resources:

  • 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!

Happy Experimenting! : )