Nootropics: What are they and why do they work?
Let’s start with the basics of what smart drugs are and what they aren’t. The field of cosmetic psychopharmacology is still in its infancy, but the use of smart drugs is primed to explode during our lifetimes, as researchers gain increasing understanding of which substances affect the brain and how they do so.
For many people, the movie Limitless was a first glimpse into the possibility of “a pill that can make you smarter,” and while that fiction is a long way from reality, the possibilities – in fact, present-day certainties visible in the daily news – are nevertheless extremely exciting.
The term nootropic was first conceived in 1964 by the Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, derived from the Greek words nous, or “mind,” and trepein meaning “to bend/turn”.
“Smart Drugs” is a general term for the class of compounds known as nootropics – chemical substances that enhance cognition and memory or facilitate learning.However, within this general umbrella of “things you can eat that make you smarter,” there are many variations as far as methods of action within the body, perceptible (and measurable) effects, potential for use and abuse, and the spillover impact on the body’s non-cognitive processes.
Why Are Nootropics Just Now Beginning to Go Mainstream?
Many of the most popular “smart drugs” (Piracetam, Sulbutiamine, Ginkgo Biloba, etc.) have been around for decades or even millenia but are still known only in medical circles or among esoteric practicioners of herbal medicine. Why is this? If these compounds have proven cognitive benefits, why are they not ubiquitous? How come every grade-school child gets fluoride for the development of their teeth (despite fluoride’s being a known neurotoxin) but not, say, Piracetam for the development of their brains? Why does the nightly news slant stories to appeal more to a fear-of-change than the promise of a richer cognitive future?
There is no clear answer to this question. Many of the smart drugs have decades of medical research and widespread use behind them, as well as only minor, manageable, or nonexistent side effects, but are still used primarily as a crutch for people already experiencing cognitive decline, rather than as a booster-rocket for people with healthy brains. Unfortunately, there is a bias in Western medicine in favor of prescribing drugs once something bad has already begun, rather than for up-front prevention.
There’s also the principle of “leave well enough alone” – in this case, extended to mean, don’t add unnecessary or unnatural drugs to the human body in place of a normal diet.[Smart Drug Smarts would argue that the average human diet has strayed so far from what is physiologically "normal" that leaving well enough alone is already a failed proposition.] Probably most significantly, use of the term “drug” has a significant negative connotation in our culture. “Drugs” are bad: So proclaimed Richard Nixon in the War on Drugs, and Nancy “No to Drugs” Reagan decades later, and other leaders continuing to present day.
The legitimate demonization of the worst forms of recreational drugs has resulted in a general bias against the elective use of any chemical to alter the body’s processes. Drug enhancement of athletes is considered cheating – despite the fact that many of these physiological shortcuts obviously work. University students and professionals seeking mental enhancements by taking smart drugs are now facing similar scrutiny. However, history has shown that genies don’t stay in bottles.
All ethics aside, there is ample proof that use of smart drugs can profoundly improve human cognition, and where there is an advantage to be gained – even where risks are involved – some people will leap at the chance to capitalize. At Smart Drug Smarts, we anticipate the social tide will continue to turn in favor of elective neural enhancers, and that the beneficial effects to users who choose to make the most of their brains will inevitably outweigh the costs.
Are nootropics safe? Do they really work? Where are the studies? and what are the cheapest ways to acquire them? In the coming weeks and months all shall be explained. Watch out also for news on cognitive enhancements of all modes and methods (bring on the nano-augmentation) on the news page. So, let us not procrastinate further, the journey has begun; I hope to see you on the other side.
A Look at the Best Nootropics in 2013
A new generation of nootropics? Noopept is a nootropic peptide developed and prescribed in Russia. It is derived from the racetam family of compounds and has a common mechanism of action; but is purported to be up to 1000 times more potent than piracetam – being the most popular and most researched nootropic of our generation.
Part of the Ampakine sub-class, the Racetam family of nootropics work in part by binding to glutamate receptors. This augments the neurotransmitter glutamate and enables the more fluent encoding of memory and hence significantly boosts learning capacity. However the Racetam family have only weak to moderate AMPA modulation, and possess many different mechanisms of action. Noopept can lead to:
- Increased creativity
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress
- Augmented levels of focus and motivation
- Higher levels of verbal acuity (I particularly notice this)
- Higher self-esteem (as everything seems easier)
The majority of researchers recommend noopept be taken sublingually, and it is my opinion that this advice should be adhered to (I have experienced the most positive effects) Dosing varies anywhere from 10mg-30mg three times daily, I would strongly advise against mega-dosing as several negative side effects can occur (irritation, sedation, emotional numbness) You may wish to have a chaser at the ready as this chemical tastes like paracetamol made by the devil.
I have taken noopept extensively and would highly recommend it as a nootropic compound. With minimal dosing I experience improved creativity, confidence and verbal acuity. Negatively I am quite confident that noopept reduces my libido and without an obvious mechanism for this effect, more study is warranted to quantify its safety. This substance is not piracetam, and has not been rigorously tested in humans. If you don’t mind being a guinea pig, you won’t mind noopept. Enjoy.
Synthesized in the form of Piracetam in 1964 by the Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB led by Dr Corneliu E. Giurgea; the Racetam family is a class of smart drugs or “nootropics” which share a dpyrrolidone nucleus and possess an affinity with the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid)
Part of the Ampakine chemical sub-class, the Racetam family of nootropics work in part by allosterically binding to AMPA-type glutamate receptors. This augments the neurotransmitter glutamate and enables the more fluent encoding of memory and hence significantly boosts learning capacity.
However, unlike more specific Ampakines, the Racetam family have only weak to moderate AMPA modulation, and possess many different mechanisms of action, these include but are not limited to:
- Improved function of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine via muscarinic cholinergic (ACh) receptors, indicated in memory functionality.
- Increased cell membrane permeability
- Modulation of ion flux and increased neuron excitability
- Increased blood flow and oxygen consumption in the brain.
- Improved mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP production
- Improved glucose metabolism in most cortical regions of the brain.
Although Piracetam is most famous and studied of the Racetam family, several newer and potentially superior Racetams now exist on the market; these Racetams are increasingly popular due to their superior molecular composition and bioavailability and also due to the FDA’s attempt to halt Piracetam production in the USA. A list of these below:
Each analog possesses its own unique action and I encourage any that are interested to investigate these differences before choosing the right Racetam for you. Other Racetams exist but, the three above are commonly available and are relatively affordable. I strongly recommend that you do not purchase Racetams in pill form and instead seek out bulk powders due to their cost effectiveness.
Of the aforementioned Racetams, the most popular is Aniracetam, Many nootropics users come to find that they are “Racetam sensitive” and this lipid soluble Racetam gives me significant/non-placebo effects on as small a dose as 200mg 3x daily; I experience lowered anxiety, increased creativity and verbal acuity, and at 30$ for 50g, that’s 83.3 days of Aniracetam or, 2.5$ a week you can’t go wrong.
When taking either Pramiracetam or Aniracetam, don’t forget to take them with a fat source (they are both fat soluble); an effective co-supplement is a mercury filtered fish oil capsule, but more on that later. Oxiracetam is water soluble and goes down fine with a cup of water.
Don’t stress too much about how well each ‘racetam is absorbed because they are all 100% bioavailable. The fat co-supplements give a small added bonus.
Selegiline (L-Deprenyl), have you heard of it? should you be taking it? Buckle up and get ready to be more bored than a cat with no paws
Selegiline at normal doses is selective irreversible MAO-B inhibitor. MAO-B is an acronym for: Monoamine oxidase B, a protein enzyme located in the mitochondrial outer membrane. It catalyzes the oxidative deamination of biogenic and xenobiotic amines and plays an important role in the metabolism of neuroactive and vasoactive amines in the central nervous system and peripheral tissues.
In other words: Monoamine oxidase B catalyzes the break down (important for you folks) of the neuroactive amines dopamine and phenylethylamine; by its inhibition, less dopamine and phenylethylamine are deaminated, and thus brain-dopamine/phenylethylamine levels significantly increase, and oxidative stress (carcanogenic) is decreased
So, what can Selegiline do for you? as follows:
- Immune-system booster
- Protects DNA from oxidative stress by hydroxyl and peroxyl radical trapping
- Increases production of superoxide dismutase (an enzyme which hinders the production of free-radicals
- At low doses extends the life-expectancy of rats (for all you rats out there) by 20% in clinical trials.
- Enhances drive and Libido
- Increases cognitive performance in Alzheimer’s patients and some healthy individuals.
- At low doses may protect the serotonergic fine axon terminals damaged by the popular recreational drug MDMA (ecstasy) (too high a dose can lead to mortalities and this use is strongly unrecommended)
- Enhances focus and concentration via dopamine interaction in the hippocampus.
- Protects and boosts kidney health and function.
Two forms of Selegiline currently exist on the market, these are Selegiline hydrochloride and Selegiline citrate respectively. The citrate form is greatly more bioavailable and more difficult to come by; but fear not, when consumed with a fatty meal, its hydrochloride sister loses little efficacy.
At the specification of Jozsef Knoll (the original developer of Selegiline) I take 2.5mg of selegiline hydrochloride with a fatty meal, once every three days; however dosing is age-band specific and doses as high as 5mg daily for those over 50 are recommended. It is also important to consume Selegiline early in the morning as you may experience a positive, but long lasting stimulant type effect.
At 2.5mg twice weekly I have noticed a non-placebo boost in libido, motivation and concentration levels and general daytime wakefulness; at some 2$ weekly, there’s little reason not to invest in this life-extending, motivation boosting nootropic which for me is a contender for the king of nootropic chemicals.
A few links of interest:
Vinpocetine is a semisynthetic derivative alkaloid of vincamine an extract of the periwinkle plant. In double-blind placebo trials Vinpocetine has been proven to enhance cerebral blood-flow, and act as a potent neuro-protective agent.
Due to its significant cerebral vasodilative properties, Vinpocetine may help augment brain functions such as concentration and memory by activating cerebral metabolism. In some eastern countries it has been used in various forms to treat cerebrovascular disorders and age-related memory impairment and has recently been indicated in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Vinpocetine has been shown to selectively inhibit voltage-sensitive Na+ channels, resulting in a dose-dependent decrease in evoked extracellular Ca+ ions in striatal nerve endings.The Na+ channel inhibiting properties of vinpocetine are thought to contribute to a general neuroprotective effect through blockade of excitotoxicity and attenuation of neuronal damage induced by cerebral ischemia/reperfusion.
So, what can it do for you?
- Significant memory enhancement
- Potential body-wide vasodilator (handy for you body builders looking for increased blood-flow)
- Improves focus and mental clarity
- Clinically proven neuroprotective qualities.
Vinpocetine is biologically active in minute quantities, with the beginning recommended dose being a tiny 5mg daily; once hypersensitivity is ruled out, one may up the dose to between 10-40mg daily. I have noticed a number of side-effects with this chemical and so I particularly feel it important to establish them, as follows:
Indigestion, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, facial flushing, insomnia, headache, drowsiness and xerostomia (dry mouth) Vinpocetine may also cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Out of the above I have personally experienced xerostomia(dry mouth) facial flushing and brief periods of anxiety.
So, with its high side-effect profile, is this really a nootropic worth taking? In my personal opinion, hell yeah! The mental clarity I experience is second to none. If your brain could take the most refreshing, cleansing shower it had ever experienced, then, the water would be vinpocetine without a doubt; I also appreciate higher degrees of visual clarity and wakefulness – sadly I’ve forgotten if it improved my memory.
Can this truly potent and useful chemical be purchased easily and cheaply? It is available over the counter in numerous vitamin shops around the world and of course from a lot of online retailers (check out Swanson for great details) A month’s supply, at 30mg daily will cost you roughly $8 or $2 a week or 0.285 cents a day… or… you get the message.
All in all, a must buy for anyone looking for improved mental performance and general neuro-protection as they age.
Bacopa monnieri is a creeping herb which thrives in wetlands and muddy shores (in case you wanted to pay it a visit) and is in my opinion, one of the most potent and least covered nootropics on the market today; in India it is used to consecrate newborns in the belief that it will “open the gateway of intelligence” Sounds good right?
Down to the science:
This plant has a number of uses in Ayurveda. It is a traditional treatment for epilepsy and asthma. It has antioxidant properties, reducing oxidation of fats in the bloodstream. However, anti-epilepsy properties seem to be in very high toxic and near lethal doses, so it’s only used—at much lower non-toxic dosage—as an additive to regular epilepsy medication. Studies in humans show that an extract of the plant has anxiolytic properties.
Laboratory studies on rats indicate that extracts of the plant improve memory capacity and motor learning ability. Recent studies suggest bacopa may improve intellectual activity and a randomized clinical trial of 98 healthy older people (over 55 years) showed to Bacopa significantly improve memory acquisition and retention.
So, what can it do for you?
- One of the few nootropics which may actually boost basal intellectualism
- Improved memory acquisition and retention
- Powerful anti-oxidant properties
- Initial stimulant effect
- Increased superoxide dismutase release.
This nootropic is not one to be trifled with lightly. Forty minutes after ingestion I experienced extreme pupil dilation, tachycardia, and something akin to amphetamine like stimulative effects; this experience was mirrored for several subsequent dose administration and then gradually settled out as a tolerance developed. Be careful with this one!
Doses of 250mg twice daily are recommended – from this dose I experienced — although not with such definitive effects as other nootropics — increased creativity, increased memory capacity, reduced anxiety and a general greater disposition to engaging in social activities such as hanging out with friends and speaking to new people.
Is this nootropic for everyone? I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart, or more seriously anyone with heart problems. Take this herb at your own peril and expect potent preliminary effects which slowly taper down to a more tolerable level.
Again, this herb is available at a number of vitamin stores and online retailers, look for a reputable seller, and one with a standardized level of the active alkaloids.
Fish oil is proclaimed to fight cancer, heart-disease, obesity, kidney disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and to also improve cognition, mood, heart-function and endurance. Can fish oil truly be the panacea purported by so many health-practitioners? The answer is yes, and no, if you don’t buy wisely.
Fish cannot produce the essential fatty acids we find so ubiquitous in fish oil: these being EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) Instead, fish accumulate essentially fatty acids through the consumption of micro-algae; this is true of non-predatory fish such as sardines mackerel and in turn are then consumed by larger predatory fish and so the cycle of concentration begins.
However, this process of concentration yields a double-edged sword. By the same biological mechanism which concentrates EPA/DHA levels, are also concentrated a number of harmful pollutants. Nonsense you may be thinking, fish oils and eating fish are part of a healthy life-style; the situation is sadly more grave than you can imagine.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution toxic pollutants have been pumped – in exponential quantities – into our oceans. These pollutants are now – for the first time – beginning to approach cumulative levels which are hazardous to humans. These main pollutants are, but are not limited to:
- Mercury (a neurotoxin and carcinogen)
- PCB (a carcinogen)
- Dioxins (a carcinogen)
These toxic pollutants are seen in organic, oceanic, and fish-farmed fish products around the globe. The larger the fish, the greater the level of concentration. In fact, some health bodies recommend only consuming a single can of tuna a week due to the hazardous levels of mercury they contain
Fish oil, and fish products can without a doubt improve our overall health, but how can we avoid polluting our bodies with mercury, PCB and Dioxins? Well, only buy fish oils that are filtered for both Dioxins and mercury and which are high in both EPA and DHA levels. Don’t consume larger fish species more than once a week, instead aim to consume smaller fish such as sardines, catfish, clams mackerel and the like.
Many experts purport that an EPA/DHA ratio of 6:1 is most beneficial for the alleviation of depression and as an augmenter to concentration; this mechanism is not fully understood, but many claim that a reduction in cortisol levels (stress hormone) due to the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA may be in-part responsible.
I postulate that any reduction in stress/lifting of mood actions a rise in concentration levels and brain-performance, hence I believe this is the ultimate ratio for nootropic use of fish oil.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid precursor metabolized by the enzyme Tyrosine Hydroxylase into Levodopa and subsequently Dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine and norepinephrine antagonists, reuptake inhibitors and precursors have been shown to enhance concentration, drive, and most importantly working memory and executive function via chemical signalers in the prefrontal cortex; the full range of dopamine and norepinephrine functionality still remains unknown.
So, what are the benefits of L-Tyrosine exactly?
- Increased libido through elevated plasma neurotransmitter levels
- Decreased stress levels through regulation of cortisol production
- Increased drive and focus
- Improved working memory and executive function
- May improve symptoms of depression
Although this amino acid appears at face-value to be a cheap, natural way of increasing plasma neurotransmitter levels – there a number of complexities in its consumption. L-tyrosine in its unadulterated form lacks significant bioavailability – with a large % of it being lost in the digestive system.
L-tyrosine also competes poorly in intestinal absorption against other amino acids. Elevated brain-dopamine levels compete for absorption with serotonin and may trigger mild symptoms of depression. A significant portion of L-tyrosine is deanimated in first-pass hepatic metabolism through the MAO-A/B enzymes.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 500mg-1500mg of L-tyrosine up to three times daily for the relief of stress and anxiety. I would recommend ingestion on an empty stomach, with a carbohydrate drink coupled with vitamin C and a B vitamin complex for maximum absorption. For the expert consumer, the purchase of Acetyl-l-tyrosine is preferred due to its greater stability, bioavability and lower doses (250mg per dose)
My l-tyrosine experiences were mainly negative, but this is not to say they will be for you. I believe I am deficient in serotonin and hence increased levels of dopamine are wasted on me. L-tyrosine at 500mg three times daily increased my motivation levels, but also exposed me to significantly increased anxiety, and rebound depression some 3-4 hours after an initial dosing.
All in all I would not recommend this amino-acid to those with a similar neurological disposition to my own.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an acetylated derivative of the amino acid L-carnitine; it possesses both augmented bioavailability and unique properties over the basal L-carnitine molecule. Acetyl-L-carnitine exhibits an array of properties from increased stamina to the donation of its acetyl molecule in the brain to create acetyl-choline a powerful neurotransmitter indicated in memory function and learning.
Recent research has also suggested acetyl-L-carnitine may be a powerful life-extension drug revitalizing mitochondrial energy production via oxidative phosphorylation resulting in increased ATP levels (a key energy source in the body)
So what can Acetyl-L-carnitine do for you?
- Increases average life-span and reinvigorates seniors.
- Increases brain acetyl-choline and thus improves memory and learning
- Has been shown to be more effective than tamoxifen in correcting penile curvature.
- Improves exercise endurance
- May aid in weight-loss.
- Increases sperm mobility.
- May boost testosterone levels
- May alleviate depression
The process of oxidative phosphorylation produces a number of free radicals and can create cellular mutation. In studies: acetyl-L-cartinine failed to increase the average life-span of rats unless coupled with the powerful anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger ALA (alpha lipoic acid) I strongly recommend this synergy.
L-carnitine is produced by the kidneys and patients suffering renal conditions are advised to take this supplement (always check with your GP)
The dose for acetyl-l-carnitine is goal specific however, a starting dose of 500mg three times daily is recommended; to accompany this 125mg of ALA should also be taken three times daily.
The acetyl-l-carnitine/ALA combination is one that I come back to time and time again and it always surprises me just how potent it is. My energy levels go through the roof, my libido increases; I feel content and enthusiastic. Its nootropic effect seems subtle, but, with the myriad of other benefits, who cares.
A final note: I suffer from stomach problems and ALA exaggerates these if I don’t take it with sufficient quantities of water.
Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol is an essential hormone in the human body and is the most biologically available vitamin d supplement. It is converted in your liver and kidneys to prohormone calcidiol and is further converted into calcitriol; this hormone possesses a number of functions: from acting as cytokines to bolster the immune-system to regulating the amount of blood-calcium and remodeling of bones.
Studies have proven that Vitamin d activates and deactivates enzymes in the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid that are involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth; deficiency is directly linked to impaired cognition.
- Promotes healthy bones
- Increases immuo-response and decreases the risk of developing certain cancers.
- May elevate mood
- May improve cognition if deficiency is present
- Regulates calcium levels
Daily intake of vitamin d3 exceeding 10,000iu has been shown to cause toxicity and dosages should be discussed with your doctor. As a majority of vitamin d3 metabolism occurs in the kidneys, people with a history of renal problems and sensitivity should be particularly careful with this supplement.
It is recommended that you take between 600iu and 2,500iu as the upper tolerable dosage. You should tailor your regime to suit your sunlight exposure, with lower doses being sufficient for individuals who are exposed to the sun for several hours a day.
I take 800ui of vitamin d3 daily – although I have experienced no definite effects, it goes without saying that a number of clinical studies have proven that regular vitamin d3 dosing will improve health across a wide spectrum; with this in mind, I will continue to take vitamin d3 for the foreseeable future.
Vitamin supplements – for the last decade it has been common knowledge that vitamin supplementation can play a roll in maintaining and improving overall health and well-being. Today’s vitamin market is saturated with powders, tablets, capsules and liquids – all geared toward one goal: lightening your wallet and emptying your bank account.
How much do you know about vitamins? Can you tell fake from fantastic, extortion from expertise? It is a safe assumption that a majority of consumers are aware of the common vitamins and minerals packed into vitamin products; names such as: Vitamin A, Zinc, Magnesium and so forth. Is such knowledge a warrant for making educated and informed decisions affecting your health either positively or negatively for the rest of your lives? The answer is a resounding no.
Bioavailabity is a term you will see used frequently on The Nootropics Cabinet; it means essentially at what rate, or % is a given chemical absorbed by a living organism, in our case the human body. Did you know that oxide compounds are inorganic and lack significant bioavailability? Reach for your multi-vitamin now and check if they contain the following: Zinc oxide, magnesium oxide, choline bitartrate, potassium chloride – all examples of cheap mass-produced ingredients which sit at the bottom of the bioavailable pile; superior examples of these compounds would be the organic Zinc citrate molecule, or the bioavailable choline citrate compound.
Are the long and short-term health implications of consuming large quantities of inorganic vitamin compounds fully understood? Simply: no. Did you know that consuming too much magnesium may damage your kidneys? and that high doses of vitamin A commonly found in vitamin tablets may be carcinogenic? Or that large daily doses of Vitamin E may decrease rather than increase average life-span and increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer?
I implore everyone reading this article, thoroughly research any product you purchase before you do so. Just because it’s sold, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Lion’s mane (hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s mane or in latin hericium erinaceus is rare fungus found in China, Japan, North America and some parts of Europe. Known for its medicinal properties throughout Asia – Lion’s mane has a plethora of functionalities and may be of profound importance in the world of nootropics and cognitive augmentation.
Lion’s mane contains a number of antioxidants and preliminary data suggests that it may lower blood-glucose levels and hence be of some value to diabetics. Now for the exciting part: hericium erinaceus also contains compounds known as hericenones and erinacines, both of which are suspected to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF).
NGF is a secreted protein which plays a role in the growth, maintenance, and endurance of certain target nerve cells. It also functions as a signaling molecule. NGF has been demonstrated in reducing neural degeneration.. It has also been shown to promote nerve regeneration in rodents
- May increase brain neuron levels and increase neuron branching and thus basal intelligence and memory
- Has been shown to treat and improve symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases
- Lowers blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity
- May increase glial density leading to increased oxygenation.
Lion’s mane is a relatively unexplored herbal supplement in the west and hence toxicity, allergy prevalence and ideal dosing is not established. I have researched the herb extensively and have found some documentation which hinted at raised liver enzymes after a month-long regime. As always: proceed with caution.
A therapeutic dose remains unpublished though current capsules are an average 500mg each and users are advised to take one capsule twice daily.
Modafinil is an analeptic proven to increase daytime wakefulness, be effective in the treatment of narcolepsy and shift-work sleep disorder. Its plethora of chemical mechanisms in vivo are not fully understood. Like other stimulants modafinil increases levels of the monoamines dopamine and norepinephrine but also elevates hypothalamic histamine levels. Modafini also activates glutamatergric circuits while inhibiting GABAergic neurotransmissions.
- Dopamine activity may increase concentration and focus.
- May decrease appetite and be useful in weight loss
- Reduces fatigue without excessive CNS stimulation unlike caffeine.
- Powerful yet non-addicting stimulant.
- Improves mood
- Improves memory
Modafinil’s long-term usage profile has not been established and hence hepatic and renal long-term toxicity is currently unknown. Modafinil has been labeled as a possible cause of the rare dermatological condition: Steven Johnson’s Syndrome; although no more than 6 cases – not all concretely linked to modafinil use alone – have been reported during its life-time.
The recommended dosage for modafinil is a single 200mg tablet taken in the morning, however it is not unheard of for US patients to be prescribed up to 400mg of modafinil daily. In trials modafinil shows little superior efficacy at doses above 200mg.
It’s been a week since I began taking modafinil. I began with a preliminary dose of 150mg which I found to be over-stimulating and I have now found a comfortable dose regime of 50mg twice daily. Although subtle – modafinil lifts the shroud of my fatigue, improves my mood and increases my drive and enthusiasm. All in all this drug is a very mild yet expensive stimulant offering a subtle, yet appreciable effects profile and I would recommend it for anyone with cash to burn.
And so the dawn of brain implants, or smart augmentations has arrived. As scientists begin their testing – in a field of exponential returns – there are individuals out there who will never forget this day (and neither will the rats) The scope and implications of this device are nothing but extraordinary; no mere memory “booster” the implant both intercepted and in-turn replicated the receptor signalers responsible for a specific previously learnt function.
It is not a difficult leap of abstraction to then envisage the future of this device: a compendium of electronically stored memory signalers – we all remember Neo in the matrix, maybe in time we will all know kung-fu. Joking aside – the scope of potential applications for such devices are breath-taking. Long gone will be the days of neurological disorders, of old age and senility and with it the pay checks of those avaricious care home owners.
And forget a photographic memory, how about the crystal mechanical recall of skills and places you’d never experienced, or might even be incapable of imagining. How about an implanted trip to Mars, only to finally realise that the fantasy you had paid for was your real life…
Coconut oil, medium chain fatty acids and monoglycerides have been garnering accolade in organic and health-food circles over the last few years; originally recognized as a dangerous oil, high in saturated fats and indicated in heart-disease – coconut oil is undergoing a dramatic metamorphosis.
The crux of this metamorphosis revolves around two main conceptions: a dated study showing the detrimental effects of coconut oil – this study used hydrogenated coconut oil which produces a high yield of trans-fats now known to enter cellular membranes, inhibit utilization of essential fatty acids and impede cell functionality.
Trans-fats also cause a rise in blood cholesterol. And two that medium chain fatty acids are metabolized by the human body in an identical way to long chain fatty acids. Being medium chain, these acids are readily absorbed directly through the portal vein to the liver, metabolized and used as a first priority fuel source of a similar metabolic potency as ketones.
Coconut oil has been purported to possess a wide array of health benefits. These range from ameliorating heart conditions, acting thermogenically to facilitate weight loss, to coconut oil’s scientifically documented in vitro/in vivo anti microbial and anti viral activity. Of these grandiose benedictions, most can be explained by the presence of lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid which is converted to monolaurin in the human body. I will be adding lauric acid and monolaurin studies to the studies section of this blog shortly.
- Excellent moisturizer with potential anti-aging properties (I use it myself)
- in vivo anti microbial, anti viral, anti fungal properties
- Thermogenic/weight loss potential.
- Can be used topically to speed wound healing (check PubMed)
- Can be used topically to treat a number of fungal and bacterial infections
- Supplies the brain with a powerful energy source
- May improve certain heart conditions
- Excellent hair conditioner
- Great oil for cooking and baking
In general coconut oil is a well tolerated health food whose previous misgivings are fast retreating under an assault of new clinical studies which positively discern between long chain and medium chain fatty acids. I have heard it claimed that large quantities of coconut oil may contribute to fatty deposits in the human liver and I implore anyone intending to take it to further research the subject before doing so.
No official therapeutic dosage currently exists and the speculative dose regimes of vitamin companies to alternative health practitioners varies widely. Puritan’s pride website recommends 4g of coconut oil daily, however a large number of individuals and practitioners recommend a table spoon (14g) or more a day. Logic will nearly always dictate a small initial dose, with incremental dose increases as familiarity develops.
I have been taking coconut for approximately 12 months. I cannot state that it has contributed to any noticeable weight loss as I exercise daily and control my diet accordingly. I have previously suffered from frequent UTI (rare in males) and coconut oil has categorically eliminated these repeated infections and much improved my quality of life as a result.
Last but not least, used a moisturizer, coconut oil leaves my skin soft and smooth and decreases the frequency of spot developments.
Green tea (and indirectly l-theanine) has been used a general health-tonic throughout Asia for untold centuries; renowned for its plethora of medicinal properties – green tea stands intransigently against big-pharma and this defiance and prolific superiority has been its sure route to wide-spread popularity and success.
Although green tea is rich in antioxidants and potentiators of glut4 activity (Glucose transporter type 4) this article will explore the unique amino acid l-theanine and its effects in-vivo. Theanine is glutamine and glutamate analog, and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier rendering it a psychoactive chemical. Able to decrease both physical and mental stress, theanine demonstrates an affinity for the brain inhibitory transmitter GABA.
Its mechanisms of action do not stop there. Akin to the racetam family – theanine has also demonstrated moderate affinity with AMPA receptors and has been shown to increase the monoamine neurotransmitter dopamine. In clinical studies theanine has demonstrated efficacy in promoting alpha-wave brain patterns – associated with meditation, increased concentration and creativity. People debilitated with anxiety disorders take note: l-theanine has been clinically demonstrated to possess significant anxiolytic properties.
- Anxiolytic mechanism may benefit those with anxiety disorders
- Dopamine uptick may improve drive and focus
- AMPA modulation could lead to aniracetam-type properties
- Alpha wave propagation could improve focus and creativity
- Boosts the activity of gamma delta T cells hence increasing immuno-response.
- Potent anti-psychotic for use in schizophrenia
The consumption of green tea in Asian countries may only lead to an average daily exposure of 20mg of l-theanine or less and thus long-term safety in humans has not been established. Rats fed high dose l-theanine for 13 weeks demonstrated no biological abnormalities perhaps indicating that l-theanine is a safe and well tolerated amino acid.
As always precautionary allergy testing is recommended using a minute dose; one safety is established the current recommended dosage is between 50-200mg and electronic scales will be required to accurately ascertain this quantity.
I received an order of l-theanine last week and after an allergy test dosed with 200mg. The effects were more subtle than expected however not psychosomatic. I experienced a slight feeling of tranquility and focusing of thought (in the morning) that is normally unobtainable until the later hours of the day. I will add further experiences as and when I re-dose.
Just what is Idebenone? Those of you who have inquired into this compound will see that the internet is awash with all manner of bizarre and fascinating claims; a more advanced version of CoQ10 is a common claim, a more biologically available version of CoQ10 another – one site even purports (not a surprise since they sell just CoQ10) that idebenone is a synthetic, Indian chemical totally unrelated to CoQ10 and intrinsically dangerous. Confused? Nootropics to the rescue.
Idebenone is a short-chain quinone in comparison to CoQ10 a long chain quinone and as such possesses both superior bioavailability and a faster peak plasma concentration profile. Idebenone is a potent antioxidant which is currently being investigated for its therapeutic role in neuromuscular disorders and unlike CoQ10 has demonstrated an ability to renew cellular ATP levels in abnormal conditions through cytosolic-mitochondrial shuttling.
Idebenone also increased learning and memory in mice studies and has been claimed to activate NGF in the human brain. Finally Idebenone has been shown to uprate the production of the life-extending enzyme: superoxide dismutase in specific cortical regions.
- May benefit neuromuscular disorders
- Improves memory and learning and may increase brain dopamine levels
- Has been indicated to accelerate the turn over of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- Powerful antioxidant
- May improve age related mitochondrial decline
- Increases production of superoxide dismutase
At high doses idebenone has demonstrated an ability to cause cellular death via genomic DNA fragmentation, however the study dose would be near impossible to match in-vivo and lower doses exhibited no such toxicity.
Idebenone has also been theorized to stimulate oxygen radical production in mitochondrial electron transport and some now label it a “pro-oxidant” capable of accelerating the aging process – it is unclear whether its antioxidant profile and production of superoxide dismutase are sufficient to counteract this process or whether an additional antioxidant (ALA) could sufficiently nullify idebenone’s pro-oxidant capacity.
Idebenone is well tolerated and doses range from a mere 70mg up to 200mg or greater. As always one should err on the side of caution and begin with an allergy test.
I cannot comment on Idebenone’s antioxidant capacity. From a single 150 mg dose daily for a week I experienced a noticeable increase in energy and positivity I would normally associate with an uptick of the neurotransmitter serotonin. No side effects were noted.
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