Posts Tagged ‘health’

11
Jul

Minimal Effective Stack

by adminadam in articles

The Stack

  1. Creatine
  2. Piracetam
  3. Modafinil
  4. Bacopa
  5. Rhodiola
  6. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
  7. Probiotics
  8. Fish Oil
  9. Nicotine Gum/Patches/E-Cig

Reasoning

A smaller stack is cheaper and more convenient to travel with. It’s also fast to prepare and consume. Here are the steps:

  1. If creatine and piracetam are in powdered form, mix with water (and perhaps sea salt) first thing in the morning and imbibe. If in tablet form, take in Step Two instead — perhaps still with sea salt. Salt really is key support for staying hydrated while on modafinil, and/or if you are doing a ketogenic diet. Creatine boosts executive function while piracetam enhances verbal fluidity, short-term memory, and focus.
  2. Drink more water with your modafinil and rhodiola. Modafinil boosts executive function and allows you to obliterate fatigue and physical exhaustion for up to 12 hours. Rhodiola is a super-herb from the Arctic regions of the world: Alaska, Canada, Siberia. It has been a treasured (and well-guarded) medicinal herb for millenia for its adaptogenic and resiliency-enhancing properties. As it may be somewhat stimulating, take it only in the morning.
  3. Wait a minute. Eat some fat (butter, bacon, avocado) — maybe with salt on it — and then proceed to step 4. Fat fuels your brain and aids in the absorption of nutrients and supplements, especially bacopa. Protein is good too, of course. Do not take bacopa on an empty stomach. It will give you nausea and diarrhea, I can guarantee it.
  4. Drink more water with your bacopa, lion’s mane, probiotics, and fish oil. Bacopa and lion’s mane both boost memory. Bacopa may act as a vasodilator (increasing cerebral bloodflow). Bacopa reduces cortisol and thus may make you sleepy. If so, you are advised to take it only in the evenings before bed. Lion’s mane mushrooms boost Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and likely boost the immune system too, as most mushrooms are adaptogenic and confer their resiliency to us when we consume them. Probiotics and fish oil will make you smarter and happier as well (happy gut; happy mind). These provide healthy gut bacteria, healthy fats (omega 3’s, EPA/DHA), and vitamins A and D.
  5. Take a “smoke” break if you get sleepy after lunch. Nicotine — if you so choose to use it — may help you retain focus and boost cognitive function if you experience afternoon sleepiness, and is less prone than caffeine to disturb your sleep at night. I use the 2mg Nicotrol gum, cut in two. Usually one piece per day, two at most. If you are not used to nicotine, I recommend you spit out the gum or remove the patch as soon as you feel its effects. Should be a kind of bright buzzing stimulating energy in your brain after ~5 minutes of chewing the gum. If you overdo it be prepared to get dizzy and vomit. Start small and also watch for nicotine cravings.

Where to Buy, Dosages, Pro-Tips

  1. CREATINE — Creatine Monohydrate Micronized Powder from Powder City; BioCreatine Capsules from Natural Stacks. Take between 2.5 and 7.5 grams first thing in the morning. Note: BioCreatine has Himalayan salt in it; adjust morning ‘salting’ routine accordingly.
  2. PIRACETAM — Piracetam Powder (100g tub) from Powder City; Piracetam Capsules (1-month supply for $29.66 if you take x6 per day like me) from Powder City. You can take up to 10 grams a day of piracetam and feel no negative side effects. Lower LD50 than salt, apparently! I recommend 2-3 grams three times per day for optimal results.
  3. MODAFINIL — Modafinil/Provigil from ModUP.net (33% discount if you pay with bitcoin). Take 1/2 pill (100mg) if starting for the first time on modafinil. It can be quite intense and cause irritability, upset stomach, dehydration, and headaches if you take too much for your body or if you don’t stay hydrated and remember to eat. Remember to eat! Modafinil suppresses the appetite. Lasts around 12 hours. Does not usually prevent you from sleeping after 8 hours, although it may be difficult. You are advised to take 1/2 to 1 pill immediately upon waking. Then chug a gallon half-gallon of water — with salt!
  4. BACOPA — Bacopa Monnieri Capsules from Swanson Superior Herbs. Take bacopa with food. 250mg twice a day. Just once at night if you get too sleepy taking it during the day time.
  5. RHODIOLA — Rhodiola Rosea Capsules from NOW Foods. Take one per day upon waking.
  6. LION’S MANE MUSHROOM — Lion’s Mane Mushroom Capsules from Swanson Superior Herbs. Take one AM, one PM.
  7. PROBIOTICS — Primal Defense ULTRA Capsules from Garden of Life. Take 1-2 capsules per day.
  8. FISH OIL — Organic Lemon-Zest Fish Oil from Barlean’s; Cod Liver Oil Softgels from NOW Foods. Take 1 tbsp fish oil or 2 capsules cod liver oil per day.
  9. NICOTINE — 2mg Nicotine Gum from Nicotrol. Use as needed.

###

19
Sep

My Current Stack

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!

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! : )

16
Jun

Opening the Third Eye

by adminadam in articles, education

Naturally detoxify your pineal gland.

The pineal gland acts as the spiritual center of your brain. It produces both melatonin and DMT, otherwise known as the “spirit molecule”. It helps you to sleep, dream, and transcend the atomized, materialist world we live in. Unfortunately, through the constant abuse that is our everyday consumption and absorption of contaminated food, water, and air, the pineal gland calcifies, or hardens. This results in a major diminishing of its potential. It produces far less of the wonderful substances and hormones, like melatonin, that it should. Part of the reason that pineal gland calcification is such an issue is due to the fact that the pineal gland is a small (tiny) gland which is, however, exposed to some of the greatest volumes of blood-flow of any gland or organ in the body. Note: It is not behind the blood-brain barrier, although it is still considered part of the brain.

The major culprits in the calcification process are the halides (fluoride, bromide, and chloride). Also harmful are: mercury, pesticides, and excess calcium, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. With this in mind it is advisable to avoid fluoridated water and toothpaste, high-mercury fish, non-organic food and produce, and similarly it is recommended to eat (and drink) moderately, eat fresh, eat organic, and ingest some of the following very beneficial and decalcifying natural foods and supplements:

Iodine is a proven detoxifying, decalcifying element. It is also something many people are deficient in around the world. In fact Americans used to consume much higher amounts of iodine, in addition to being given supplements like Lugol’s Solution for a wide variety of ailments, particularly metabolic ones. Iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and concomitantly it very efficiently flushes halides like fluoride out of your system — if you have enough of it, that is. If you begin supplementing with iodine, you may in fact notice just how good of a job it’s doing: you happen to come down with a variety curious and gruesome symptoms — nausea, acne, and fevers. These are actually the symptoms of fluoridism, bromidism, and chloridism; acute doses of these halides are being released into your system all of a sudden as a result of the detoxification process with iodine. You don’t feel such symptoms normally because A) you don’t (probably) consume acute doses of these halides, and B) because these toxins have been building up and hiding away in your fatty tissues, in your bones, and in calcium deposits all throughout your body for YEARS! Note that I am talking about detox symptoms that can occur upon starting supplementing iodine a la Iodoral, which is a substantial boost of 12.5mg of iodine per tablet. This amount is actually roughly equivalent to the average daily dose a Japanese person gets from their diet. Interestingly, Japanese people also have significantly lower rates of metabolic syndrome, thyroid issues (hyper-, hypo-, goiters), and also of breast cancer than we Westerners do. They get this bounty of iodine through kelp and seaweeds primarily. Other good food-based sources include cranberries, potatoes (with the skin), and yogurt.

A word to the wise if you are going to pursue supplementation with what we might call ‘acute’ doses of iodine, it is good to keep some things in mind: 1) the detox symptoms (which may be caused by a Herxheimer reaction due to bromine release) are temporary, 2) they are most likely a sign that you are detoxing from large quantities of halides, 3) the symptoms you feel as this is happening can be attenuated significantly, and 4) the way to do this, to ease your detox process, is to drink lots and lots of fresh, natural water, consume extra Vitamin C and some unrefined salt (good for bromine detox), and also supplement magnesium and calcium to ease the fluoride detox process, one which leeches calcium from your body on its way out, forming calcium-fluoride before being excreted.

Melatonin supplementation may be helpful in the decalcification process. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant which gobbles up damaging free-radicals and is helpful in falling and staying asleep.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar such as Bragg’s contains malic acid, which is a powerful detoxifier. Remember to buy your vinegar raw — and go organic if you can. I put about a half-tablespoon of it into a tall glass of water and imbibe it. (I find this aids my digestion as well.)

Garlic acts as a decalcifier and is also an immune-booster and a natural antibiotic. I eat raw garlic finely chopped up — I actually swallow this with lots of water without chewing any of the pieces. This helps me avoid the burning sensation and intense flavors taking over my mouth. FYI, leaving your garlic to air out for a while after you chop it up allows for more of the essential oils and beneficial compounds in it to activate.

Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic that is apparently able to break through the calcium shells that harmful bacteria build around themselves within the pineal gland. Cool, huh?

Organic beets (and beet powder) contain high levels of naturally occurring boron, which is a powerful detoxifying agent and cleanser for the pineal gland. Eat the beats or mix the powder into a glass of your filtered or distilled (non-fluoridated) drinking water.

Cilantro, raw lemon juice, raw cacao, and chaga mushrooms are all said to be positive contributors in this fight as well, for various reasons. Cilantro as a general detoxifying food, the lemon juice for its citric acid, raw cacao for its high antioxidant content, and the chaga mushroom for its multiple phytonutrients and high melanin content. These are all probably very healthy for you otherwise as well. The superfood Chlorella, a species of single-cell green algae, is also great for detoxing (pulling heavy metals out of the body) and is packed with nutrients.

For cost effectiveness, try the apple cider vinegar, garlic, beets, and iodine-supplement route. From my research these are all superfoods (or supersupplements) that will boost your immune system and metabolism as they help you detoxify your body and decalcify your mind.

pineal-gland


SOURCE 1: Waking Times article on Detoxifying the Pineal Gland
SOURCE 2: Decalcifypinealgland.com, How-To article
SOURCE 3: Iodoral Iodine 12.5mg Tablets, Amazon Link
SOURCE 4: Lugol’s Iodine 2.2% Solution, Amazon Link

23
Jan

Nootropics, i.e. “Safe” Smart Drugs

by adminadam in articles

Nootropics (say “New-Trow-Pics”) are drugs that provide some form of cognitive enhancement and yet are shown to be, if not neuroprotective, at least non-toxic and safe to use. These drugs work by A) making certain neurochemicals more available in the brain, B) by increasing the brain’s oxygen supply, or C) by stimulating nerve growth.

I first became interested in smart drugs (and subsequently nootropics) when a friend in college told me she took Adderall occasionally to boost her productivity (a non-ADHD-related use). She told me she could easily stay awake for 24+ hours and feel alert, clean her dorm room from top to bottom, write a paper or two, and so on. It should be noted, however, that in speaking of nootropics, we should not include Adderall, because it has numerous potential side-effects that may stem from non-prescription use: addiction, heart problems, depression, nausea, etc. (source: webmd)

A powerful and commonly-used smart drug these days is Modafinil. It is a “wakefulness promoting agent”, meaning it keeps you awake and alert, and is prescribed generally for narcolepsy and other sleeping disorders, in addition to ADD. It is has been used by soldiers on long missions and even by Canadian astronauts serving on the International Space Station. As noted by Andrew McMillan, a Journalist for Rolling Stones (Australia) who experimented with the drug, while it may not be addictive, after three consecutive days on the drug — staying up for 79 out 90 hours:

I felt as though I’m not making sense, and that those around me are acutely aware of this. I feel in control, but my mind is racing faster than my mouth can keep up. … Around 2am, I note that I’ve got an impending feeling of doom going on. Like I’m riding this too far, and it’s about to start doing some serious damage.

After sleeping a full-night’s sleep and erasing some of his sleep debt, he remarks further:

I reflect on how my views toward modafinil have veered between utter devotion to, now, in the cold light of day, a realisation that it’s probably not a good idea to be taking that shit on consecutive days.

Despite the illegality of off-label use in most places, one study in the journal Nature estimated that up to 25% of students at some campuses had taken neuroenhancing drugs like Modafinil in the past year. Many students have reported that it helps them to stay alert and perform — both mentally and physically — and that when final exams approach, the temptation to ‘take something’ can be overwhelming.

It seems that, as it may not be a safe long-term solution to the desire to enhance cognitive function, perhaps it is best to look at other (and more legal) options for those that would like to improve their memory, accelerate their learning, or simply be able to work longer each day. These nootropics should all be milder, safer, and more effective over the long-term, according to my research:

      1. PIRACETAM + CDP-CHOLINE — Piracetam is a safe and effective cognitive enhancer that is thought to restore membrane fluidity of compromised neuronal cells (helping with neuro- transmission, protection, and plasticity). It was first used in the 1960’s to combat motion sickness. Its companion (I’ve listed them together intentionally) is CDP-Choline, which is a choline supplement, so it increases the amount of choline available to the brain. (Choline, or Acetylcholine, more properly, is one of the primary neurotransmitters in your brain; without sufficient choline, your brain can’t function well.) [Read more about both of these substances, including how they work together, at SmarterNootropics.com]
      2. ANIRACETAM + CDP-CHOLINE — Similar to Piracetam, being in the “racetam” family, but this is a fat-soluble version, so it won’t dissolve in water. Aniracetam is purported to have an anxiolytic (read: anxiety-reducing) effect as well as the memory and word recall-boosting effects like that of piracetam. [See more here: smarternootropics.com/table-of-contents/aniracetam/.]
      3. PYRITINOL — Pyritinol is a modified form of vitamin-B6. It is two B6 molecules combined together so that — when broken down by your body — they can easily cross the blood/brain barrier to help with neurotransmitter synthesis. It has been shown to improve reaction time in individuals in time-based tests and is used to help treat dementia in some places in Europe. It has been in use as a nootropic since the 1990’s. (Interesting to note that it is also known as an effective “hangover cure”.)
      4. MAGNESIUM L-THREONATE — While magnesium is apparently one of the most deficient minerals in the American diet, eating foods high in the mineral and taking supplements is unlikely to positively impact your brain for the reason that these forms of magnesium cannot easily pass through the blood/brain barrier. With this challenge and the knowledge that in-brain magnesium is vital to synapse density, recognition memory, and spatial working memory, MIT sought to find a form that can easily get where it needs to go, hence: Magnesium L-Threonate, or MgT. In lab animals given it it led to 18% improvements in short-term memory and 100% improvements in long-term memory. It is currently being tested in human trials.

There we have it — four nootropics for the uninitiated to look into! Please let me know in the comments if you have insights into (or experience related to) these or other cognitive enhancers.

28
Jul
17
Apr

Wired Review: Vibram 5 Fingers

by adminadam in education, videos

“The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.”
— Buddha

18
Dec

Geriatrics, Gerontology, & Maintenance

by adminadam in articles, videos

Important Points

  • Geriatrics works on treating pathology – cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease – but much too late in the game to extend lifespan.
  • Gerontology attempts to prevent aging by adjusting a very complex system, the metabolism (see picture below). This can have many unwanted side effects. Thus, progress in this field is very difficult.
  • Example of a Metabolic Process Diagram [Click to Englarge]

    Simplified Metabolic Diagram

  • Maintenance and rejuvenation extend lifespan by repairing damage, a process which can be repeated and, itself, improved upon in a parallel process to overall technological progress. All this without altering or disrupting the metabolism.
  • Longevity Escape Velocity (L.E.V.): Even marginal rates of advancement in treatment efficacy can exponentially increase life span when considered over periods in which patients receive rejuvenations every 20 years; each treatment removes greater amounts of damage, more comprehensively.
  • Key Claim of L.E.V.: Eventually our ability to maintain health will hit a threshold at which our medical technology will effectively increase average life span by one year each year (or more). This will eliminate any diminishing returns in damage repair efforts; we will be able to repair more damage in one year than can actually be accumulated during that year. This is what de Grey refers to as “the Methuselarity”.