Do Smart Drugs Really Work?

If you never heard of Nootropics before, Nootropics 101 might be a good quick start to familiarize yourself with this universe.

By Eve Watling for Newsweek (not that I have any doubt whatsoever)

Nootropics are drugs, supplements and other substances believed to enhance brain power.

There are nootropics designed to boost memory, concentration, motivation and even happiness. The term encompasses a number of substances, both natural and synthesised, over the counter and prescription, legal and illegal.

The common kitchen spice turmeric can be a nootropic, but so can Ritalin, Sunifiram, even LSD.

The word nootropics is a portmanteau of the Greek words nous (“mind”) and trepein (“to bend or turn”).

It was coined in 1972 by Romanian scientist Corneliu Giurgea, who invented Piracetam, an early cognition-enhancing drug said to improve memory and learning. Giurgea was clear about the radical potential of nootropics: “Man will not wait passively for millions of years before evolution offers him a better brain.”

The thought of bypassing natural brain chemistry to suppress unwanted feelings and enhance creativity, memory and other brain functions, has long been the stuff of science fiction, from Brave New World to Flowers for Algernon to the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie Limitless. It’s growing appeal is understandable as regulations around cannabis loosen and options for optimizing our minds and bodies for peak performance grow.

A 2017 International Journal of Drug Policy study found that nearly 30 percent of Americans said they had used smart drugs at least once in the last year, up from 20 percent in 2015.

The culture of self-improvement dovetails with an unstable jobs market increasingly built on freelance work and zero-hour contracts. In this climate, the imperative to be better version of yourself can seem less like a bonus and more like a necessity. “There has been a lot of interest in improving cognitive capacity as job markets and higher education get more competitive,” Dr. Kimberly R. Urban, who has researched the effects of Ritalin on developing brains, told Newsweek . “People are desperate for any edge they can get that they feel may give them a better chance of success.”

Bradley Cooper in 2011’s ‘Limitless,’ which explores nootropic use.

Globally, the market for brain supplements is expected to grow from $2.3 billion in 2015 to $11.6 billion by 2024. To meet that rising demand, a nootropics industry has built up in San Francisco, where hyper-efficient creativity is seen as the Holy Grail and other performance-enhancing strategies, like sleep tracking and intermittent fasting, are all the rage.

While they’re garnering millions in sales and investment dollars, these companies aren’t without controversy: A study commissioned by HVMN found that one of its supplement was less effective than coffee. One NIH report connected nootropics to an increased likelihood of obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictive behaviors.

*cough* no reference *cough*

And there’s the ethical dilemma: if they work, do nootropics give an unfair advantage to students and workers who can afford to use them?

Combinations of nootropics, designed to create the perfect individual recipe for peak performance, are known as “stacks.”

How Do Nootropics Work?

Nootropic aficionados are known to mix and match a bewildering array of cognitive enhancers, depending on their own individual brain chemistry and life goals. These cocktails, designed to create the perfect individual recipe for peak performance, are known as “stacks.”

There’s an infinite combination of stacks, and because everybody’s brain chemistry is different, the only way to know which cocktail works for you is to experiment. On the Reddit thread r/Nootropics, users discuss their stacks, ask for advice and even post pictures of their crowded medicine cabinets. One user listed his stack for turning into a morning person, which includes the amino acid arginine (said to improve circulation), ginkgo biloba (for better brain function) and bromelain, a compound derived from pineapple said to boost the immune system. His stack also includes more traditional biohacks like saunas, cardio training and drinking coffee.

One redditor asked about taking stacks while pregnant; another wondered if DNA testing made anyone alter their nootropics usage. Some users admit spending hundreds of dollars on their stacks every year.

David Pearce, cofounder of the nootropics advocate group Humanity Plus, takes a cocktail of nootropics that includes the antidepressant amineptine and the Parkinson’s drug selegiline, which also works as a mood enhancer. (Pearce also downs zero-calorie Red Bull.) “My main personal interest has been in finding sustainable mood-brighteners that don’t impair intellectual function—and ideally, sharpen it,” he told Newsweek. He says these drugs make him “function better in a harsh Darwinian world.”

But he does see the downside to the lack of regulation: “A vast unregulated drug experiment is currently unfolding across the world with the growth of online pharmacies selling all kinds of pills and supplements,” Pearce says. “Many of the scientific studies often cited are small, unreplicated, poorly controlled, and don’t disclose source of funding. [And] publication bias is endemic.”

“Acute action and long-term effects of nootropics aren’t always carefully distinguished,” he adds: “the brain has an incredibly complex web of negative feedback mechanisms. Online merchants are obviously trying to make a profit, so they aren’t impartial sources of information.”

Research into some gentler nootropics, like the L-theanine compound found in green tea, generally indicate improvements in brain function.

Are Nootropics Regulated?

Most nootropics are classified as dietary supplements, not medications, which means that the claims made on their labels undergo much less scrutiny than prescription pharmaceuticals.

“Over-the-counter supplements have no FDA oversight, so companies can put basically whatever they want in them,” explains Urban. “Studies have shown multivitamin concentrations vary by sometimes 50 percent or more. When it comes to supplements containing things like caffeine or other stimulants, that variability can be toxic.”

She cites the weight-loss supplement Hydroxycut, which was recalled by the FDA in 2009 after it was linked to serious liver injuries and at least one death.

Some nootropics that require a prescription, like Ritalin and Adderall, are often bought via online “gray” markets. They cause alertness and productivity in users who don’t have ADHD, making them an extremely popular study drug, but both substances can be seriously addictive. Urban’s research shows that Ritalin can harm the developing prefrontal cortex in young people, leading to problems with memory and multitasking. According to one study, some 1.3 million teens reported misusing ADHD drugs in the last month alone.

Experimenting to find a good nootropic stack can backfire, causing side effects and mood swings.

Are Nootropics Safe?

A number of Silicon Valley whizzs swear by nootropics—Dave Asprey, author of the best-selling The Bulletproof Diet , who takes 15 supplements a day, including Piracetam. And artists have been using brain-boosting drugs for centuries. Poet W.H. Auden, who took amphetamines for 20 years, called drugs “labor-saving devices,” although he acknowledged “these mechanisms are very crude, liable to injure… and constantly breaking down.”

Research into some gentler nootropics, like the L-theanine compound found in green tea, generally indicate improvements in brain function, although not by much. It’s also hard to know how much of the benefits users report are simply the result of the placebo effect.

Experimenting to find a good stack can backfire, causing side effects and mood swings. “The biggest risk seems to be from altering different aspects of cognition in different ways,” says Urban. “For example, focus may improve but creative thinking could be impaired.”

Users thrilled at the prospect of hacking their brain chemistry should be wary, some nootropics are addictive and have dangerous long-term side effects.

Psychostimulants like Ritalin and Adderall can raise blood pressure, impair appetite, cause insomnia and lead to cardiac problems, says Urban, while improper use of ampakines, which are being investigated as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, can actually kill neurons.

There are a range of gentle nootropics without such scary side effects, although they might not be that effective either. “There are multiple over-the-counter herbal, vitamin nootropic cocktails. I doubt these would have any serious negative repercussions, but they are not going to have much of an impact on cognition, beyond giving a bit of an energy boost from caffeine,” says Urban.

Do nootropics give an unfair advantage to students and workers who can afford to use them?

Are Nootropics The Way of The Future?

The rise of nootropics pose a larger question: most people accept some kind of chemical intervention in their lives, whether its being anaesthetized before surgery or having a beer to loosen up after work. But with greater scientific advancement bringing us newer and more profound ways to improve our consciousness, a future of superhumans hopped up on nootropics seems increasingly likely.

Pearce sees nootropics as a step on the path to eliminating depression and anxiety and unleashing the person’s full potential. He acknowledges that suffering teaches us, but insists that, “Even if we judge that many nasty emotions can be functionally useful, I think the key question to ask is whether they are functionally indispensable or whether we can replace them by more civilized alternatives.”

He prefers to envision a state of well-being that preserves critical insight, rather than a zonked-out high. “Critically, I think we should be free to choose lifelong gradients of intelligent bliss.”

Pearce admits, though, that nootropics aren’t for everyone. “When transhumanists talk of overcoming suffering, aging and our human intellectual limitations, we would do well always to stress the word ‘voluntary.’ Most suffering in the world today is involuntary. Mastery of our genetic source code promises a world where we’ll be free to choose whether to suffer or not. Later this century and beyond, the level of suffering in the biosphere will be an adjustable parameter.”

Urban is uncertain how successful humans can be in determining their own limitations. “I think the idea of popping a pill to become smarter is easy and appealing to people, but the brain isn’t that simple,” she says. “And there are many aspects to ‘intelligence.’ You cannot just boost brain function across the board permanently or even for a long period of time. Even the studies that showed Ritalin improving attention and focus in adults mentioned that it could negatively impact impulsiveness, and didn’t improve all aspects of cognitive performance.”

Also from the blog:

Back to Nootropics Information homepage.

Paul Stamet’s Niacin & Lion’s Mane Nootropic Stack Improved My Cognition & Jiu Jitsu Performance

Paul Stamet’s Niacin-Lion’s Mane Protocol: Good News, It Works!

By James Whelan

I’m a huge fan of nootropics, substances alleged to increase mental performance. The problem with most nootropics is that they have no measurable effect. I call this the “effectiveness problem” and I find it is common to virtually all commercially available supplements.

As the name implies, a supplement typically replenishes a deficit. Even genuinely useful supplements are rarely effective for those of us lucky enough to afford a balanced diet.

The number of supplements that a particular person can benefit from taking regularly is extremely small, and the benefits rarely persist after replenishing the deficit.

“Supplement” is also a legal term used to imply that a substance is a type of food, and therefore not subject to regulation as a pharmaceutical.

Nootropics promise to improve the function of the brain beyond it’s normal healthy state.

Caffeine increases alertness by altering the brain’s natural state rather that addressing a deficit. This is in contrast to Iodine which can prevent or reverse mental retardation, but cannot improve cognitive function in a healthy person.

Despite research to the contrary, most of us believe that we will be happier and better off with a raised IQ. The idea that the brain can be improved beyond it’s natural state is extremely seductive.

The Formula

Lion’s Mane” is a true nootropic because it permanently enhances cognition by improving the brain’s ability to alter itself structurally. The extract is alleged to improve improve the body’s ability to cover nerve tissues with myelin, which is a crucial factor in nerve growth. If true, this property could heal nerve damage and increase a person’s ability to learn. This means that Lion’s Mane consumption could lead too increased quality of life and economic productivity. In my personal experiment with lion’s mane, I have found this to be the case.

“The next quantum leap in the evolution of the human species?”

During my three years at law school and during a subsequent 2 year period, I suffered weekly severe epileptic seizures which left me feeling disoriented and harmed my memory. Despite 2 seizure free years to recover, I found that lion’s mane improves the faculties I lost during my illness. My verbal fluency, my ability to recall nouns, my sense of wellbeing, and my Jiu Jitsu performance are all noticeably improved by lion’s mane. Additionally, my written output improves in terms of quality and volume when I take lion’s mane.

I discovered lion’s mane because of Paul Stamets. Paul is a mycologist who specializes in psychedelic and mushrooms, and medicinal applications for compounds found in mushrooms. Stamet’s claims about lion’s mane on the Joe Rogan Experience lead me to investigate further and I decided to take lion’s mane after discovering that it was dirt cheap. The good experience I had with Lion’s Mane (LM) lead me to take Stame’s claims more seriously. My newfound respect made me curious about his experiments with psilocybin and niacin.

Artists interpretation of my 2017 mental state

Stamets hypothesizes that niacin’s ability to stimulate the peripheral nervous system could extend the nootropic benefits of lion’s mane and psilocybin to the entire body rather than limiting them to the central nervous system. If this were possible, it could strengthen the mind/body connection and counter the effects of degenerative nerve diseases. Stamets is very enthusiastic about the potential of this “stack”, in a lecture to other mycologists Stamets goes further, saying that the combination of these three compounds is potentially a second step in the process that began when humans first tried psilocybin.

Sure why not

Stamets advocates the “stoned ape” hypothesis, the idea that contact with entheogens caused the cultural explosion that took place in the late paleolithic period. His claim that the niacin, psilocybin, lion’s mane, stack(NPLS) could produce a shift in human progress equivalent to the original emergence of art and culture 100k years ago, is too bold to ignore.

Stamets mentions NPLS often, but never goes into much detail. He has mentioned the idea multiple times over a number of years, always with great enthusiasm. From what we have heard it seems that the psilocybin component of the stack is a non hallucinogenic dose equivalent to a silicon valley style microdose, the niacin dose must be fairly large to produce an uncomfortable dermal flush ( around 100-1000mg depending on sensitivity) and presumably the lion’s mane dose is 300mg (equivalent to the daily dose recommended by Host Defense Stamets’ supplement company). This is reasonable to suppose because Stamets claims that the regimen will be physically unpleasant rather than recreational.

The inciting incident.

We can also deduce the intended frequency of the an NPLS dose based on Stamet’s comments. Stamets believes that the optimal micro dosing regimen is 5 days on 2 days off (to avoid psilocybin tolerance), and the optimal lion’s mane dose is daily (based on Host Defense product recommendations). Optimal niacin dosage, should be high but not daily due to the possibility of tolerance destroying the flush effect and the risk of side effects. 3–5 days per week seems reasonable. Finally, lion’s mane and the microdose can be taken in at the convenience of the “NPLS”er and the niacin should be taken ten minutes later, so that the flush coincides with the effects of the other two substances. In my opinion the above and its variations, can safely be called the Stamets NPLS protocol. So now that the details are clarified, let me tell you how this worked for me.

I suddenly gained the flexibility to perform this useful move.

NPLS markedly improved my mental and athletic performance. After 20 minutes the itchy niacin flush covered my entire body and made me feel like my skin was slightly sunburned. Curiously, the itchy burning feeling quickly gave way to the feeling of being in a hot bath. I became acutely aware of my entire body, and realized that many of the smaller muscles of my back and neck were cramped. As I noticed the cramps I found I was able to get rid of them and as I did, my overall level of physical comfort increased. I found myself becoming more flexible and discovering new points of articulation in my back and shoulders. I assumed that these improvement would go away quickly, similar to the loose feeling one gets from a massage. To my surprise, the increased flexibility and body control seems to be permanent.

The change in my body awareness caused a noticeable change in my Jiu Jitsu performance. I am suddenly able to perform granby rolls effortlessly, and have an improved sense of balance. Previously, my back was too stiff to perform a correct granby roll. The most obvious improvement is in my “hand fighting”, I am much more coordinated now and have improved shoulder mobility which allows me to control my opponent’s arms more effectively. I’m free of stiffness in my hips and shoulders despite training 5–6 days per week. My training partners noticed the difference immediately, and noted that my moments have improved and that my repertoire of moments has changed. I recharge eScooters as a hobby and my ability to climb over fences and natural obstacles has also increased. All this came from one session.

Not exactly a “party drug.”

I strongly recommend lions mane, especially to epileptics recovering from post ictal trauma. I also recommend NPLS to anyone interested in experimenting with nootropics. Although I have not seen anything to remotely suggest that NPLS can launch a second wave of Stoned Ape style evolution, I found it a very powerful tool for dissolving ambient muscle stiffness, relieving cramps, and increasing athletic coordination.

Of the three NPLS ingredients Stamets only sells this one.

Check out the original post by James on here.

Melatonin for Sleep: How Effective Is It?

By Mary Squillace published at the Bulletproof Blog

Key Points:

  • Melatonin activates by light and dark.
  • Melatonin can be obtained from plants and used as a supplement.
  • When supplementing with melatonin, 0.3 mcg is the ideal dosage.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pop a pill for better sleep? A pill that’s non-habit-forming, doesn’t require a prescription, and doesn’t make you do strange things like eat in your sleep? Well, maybe you can. While more satisfying zzz’s in pill form sounds too good to be true, there’s promising evidence that melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone in our bodies, can be harnessed as a supplement for better sleep.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a multitasking hormone produced by the brain’s pinecone-shaped pineal gland. [1

Melatonin plays several roles in the body, including helping to regulate blood pressure, boost immune function, and manage cortisol levels. [2] [3]

But melatonin is probably best known for its soporific powers. Chief among its responsibilities is regulating the body’s circadian rhythm so it knows when to rest and when to wake up. That’s why melatonin is often referred to as the body’s sleep hormone.

How Does Melatonin Work?

Melatonin is controlled by light and darkness. When we’re awake and the sun’s out, we don’t produce any melatonin. But at night, the onset of darkness signals to our pineal gland to release melatonin into the bloodstream.

Your melatonin levels begin to increase about two hours before you go to bed, typically around 9 p.m., and peak about five hours later. As melatonin levels rise throughout our body — it’s found in a variety of our organs, including our eyes, bones, ovaries/testes and gut — our body knows it’s time to drift off to Slumber Town. [4] [5]

Supplementing with Melatonin

Humans aren’t the only organism that produces melatonin. It’s also found in meat (eggs and fish are particularly high in melatonin compared to other animal products) [6] as well as leaves and seeds, in which it protects plants from oxidative and environmental stress. As a result, many plants are a good source of melatonin. But melatonin is also extracted from these leaves and seeds and conveniently packed into melatonin supplements, for all of your sleep-hacking needs. [7]

Melatonin Pills

Melatonin supplements are used to treat a variety of sleep and circadian rhythm disorders, ranging from insomnia to jet lag. It also makes sleep more efficient and helps people fall asleep faster.

Melatonin supplements work the same as the melatonin we naturally produce works. Ingested melatonin simply adds to our melatonin levels, so people who are melatonin-deficient will likely experience the biggest benefit from supplementing with melatonin.

And according to research, there’s no need to worry that supplements will interfere with your body’s ability to produce melatonin on its own.

Melatonin Dosage

To get the most out of melatonin supplements, take them one to two hours before you hit the sack. [8] [9]

You’ll see melatonin recommended in a range of doses, starting at around 0.5 milligrams up to 10 milligrams for people with sleep disorders, with the most common dosage being around 3 milligrams. But even this is probably way more than you need. You’re better off basing your melatonin intake on increments that mirror how much melatonin our bodies produce at night. According to clinical studies, the optimal dose is 0.3 milligrams

Melatonin Side Effects

Overall, the side effects of melatonin are pretty toothless. Unlike other sleep aids, like benzodiazepines and z-drugs (think: Ambien and Lunesta), melatonin does not cause dependence or withdrawal symptoms. [11]

The most commonly reported melatonin side effect is daytime drowsiness. Other melatonin side effects include nausea, headache, and dizziness. [12]

If course, if you’re taking other medications, you should check with your physician before popping a melatonin. It has been known to interact with some antidepressants, blood pressure medications, sedatives, antibiotics, and antihistamines. [13]

Melatonin Overdose

Even though the overwhelming verdict is that melatonin is safe, you can have too much of a good thing. Overdosing on melatonin has not been shown to be fatal, but it can produce the aforementioned side effects, like dizziness and grogginess. In one known case, after taking 24 milligrams of melatonin, a man became lethargic and disoriented, but returned to normal and did not continue to have issues once he lowered his dosage.

In addition, large doses could potentially cause amenorrhea (skipped periods) in women, due to it suppressing gonadotropin-releasing hormones, but if you can easily remedy this side effect by simply stopping your melatonin supplements. [17]

Original article is found here

FDA Approves Fasoracetam as ADHD Treatment

Fasoracetam Approved as ADHD Treatment

Remember all the notes following descriptions of Fasoracetam when it was first coming around as a “potential ADHD treatment”, but the FDA delaying approval, and being stuck at stage 3 trials for what seems like 20 years? Check this out. It seems to have finally received the FDA’s approval as a “non-stimulant ADHD Treatment”:

Jul. 19, 2018 9:34 AM ET
About: Aevi Genomic Medicine, … (GNMX)
By: Niloofer Shaikh, SA News Editor 

Aevi Genomic Medicine (GNMX) has received positive feedback from the FDA provisionally indicating that AEVI-004 is a novel co-crystal of lead drug AEVI-001 (fasoracetam) with enhanced physical and chemical properties.

FDA provisionally agreed existing AEVI-001 toxicology and pathology studies are acceptable to support clinical development with AEVI-004, with minimal preclinical bridging studies

AEVI-001 is an oral non-stimulant pan-selective activator/modulator of mGluRs for the potential treatment of ADHD and other glutamate receptor-linked neuropsychiatric disorders.

AEVI-004 is also an oral non-stimulant pan-selective activator/modulator of mGluRs, but with several distinct advantages over AEVI-001, including better stability and better manufacturability owing to a significantly higher melting point.

AEVI-004 is expected to have composition of matter patents extending to 2039 and should be listed as a novel drug substance in the FDA Orange Book.

Seeking Alpha

That is very interesting to hear. Pretty much what happened is that they formulated an “enhanced” version with fasoracetam being the lead drug and is said to be further improving the effects.

The FDA finally are convicned and now GNMX will be manufacturing this new bumped up Fasoracetam version, and will have composition patent “extending until 2039”.

I am curious to see how is this going to unfold. I am actually ADHD and have used Fasoracetam for a while to experiment and measure its effectiveness on me both for ADHD and GABA regulation. I haven’t seen tremendous effect but it was notable enough to be worthy of further examination.

Realization: I’ll be getting my Fasoracetam through insurance soon enough instead of paying for it!

Any thoughts on this?

10 Best Natural Nootropics of 2018


To be honest, I was hesitating for quite some time about whether or not I should actually publish my retake this list of 10 best natural nootropics of 2018 mainly because it was an article written and published by the team of Nootropics Depot itself.

But once I allowed myself an open-minded approach, reading thoroughly, I started seeing a lot of sense in the list. By the time I read through it all, I had realized I have purchased 7 out of the ten items on the list.

And all those purchases were from ND, but none of which had been due to advertisements. Rather, they were based on my own choice and interest as I have placed multiple orders from Nootropics Depot over the past couple of years.

The more I read and analyze the content, the more I realize how it is indeed enlisting some of what I think is amongst the best natural nootropics of…ever.

The team at Nootropics Depot managed to build a brand that stands out from any other manufacturer, and that is something, I can almost guarantee, is acknowledged worldwide. I liked their brand upon discovering the website for the first time, I liked it more after receiving my first box of nootropics traveling all the way from Arizona to Dubai, and I maintained the same level of admiration even after having my ShareASale application declined. If anything, I am now able to see the bigger picture as well as to what led it to the undeniably successful level they’re operating at today.

To compile the list, they use customer data to analyze product popularity, customer feedback, scientific research, as well as their own team’s expertise. In other words, you can safely say that the list was based on the nootropic community coexisting online on reddit’ nootropics, longevity, and whatever platform where nootropics are in discussion, opinions forming, knowledge growing, and endless research shares.

The list is in no particular order; therefore, I will rearrange it to best of my knowledge and experience, and push the 3 I haven’t had the chance to try to the bottom of the list for this apparent reason. And possibly to further push them to my cart from there.

These are the top 10 Best Natural Nootropics in 2018 according to ND, and in no specific order:

10 Best Natural Nootropics

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract (Hericium Erinaceus)

It didn’t take me more than two(hundred) seconds to figure out whether Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract or the next nootropic would make the #1 best natural nootropic of 2018. I knew the answer immediately when I compared it to the rest and realized that I had not run out of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract (specifically, ND’s) since the very first time I bought it. This has got to give it quite the credit. Especially when knowing there is no psychedelic or psychostimulant effect of supplementing with it, although that is to some degree debatable.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a unique, down-to-definition nootropic. It is one of the few nootropics I know of that support, as well as promote neurogenesis. And that means exactly just what it implies: it is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem cells and progenitor cells, nootropically speaking.In other words, it supports the regeneration and birth of neurons within the brain — a discovery that led to most of the speculation about it today.

It is also the main reason why I had been taking it throughout the past year. Secondary to that comes a collection of benefits such as enhanced neuroplasticity, improving depression, cognitive function, antioxidant, and the list goes on and on. You can read more in-depth about it in its respective page since it had earned one.

Cognizin Citicoline

Again I notice that it didn’t take me long to decide whether Citicoline would rank at number two or three given the significant benefits I have personally experienced from both nootropics, as well as from those going to appear later in the list. I had used Citicoline for about six months before I decided to “upgrade” to the better choline source known as Alpha-GPC. I then started using Alpha-GPC as the replacement as my choline source for nearly a year – and still doing so today, taking 300mg per day, and occasionally might increase to 600 mg as desired.

However, I had already decided a while ago that once my large (120ct I believe) runs out, I am switching back to Cognizin Citicoline.
I was convinced to perceive the outcome of Alpha-GPC to win over that of Citicoline. But to my surprise, it turns out I much prefer and enjoy the benefits of Citicoline overall when comparing it to that of Alpha-GPC. But I wasn’t able to decide and tell until I had stopped supplementing with Citicoline for a while. Taking it after such a long and experimental break, upon taking Citicoline I felt as if I had finally put in the last piece of the missing puzzle. And by the way, turns out even that last piece doesn’t solve that puzzle of ours.

But if anything, citicoline will at least be a helping factor and will increase your chances of getting there, in comparison to other nootropics. Experienced users, especially the wiser, such as you and I (we deserve pride ok), already know about the phenomenon of racetam headaches. IF you are new to this, in short, the racetam class of nootropics, and possibly some of the most effective nootropics in the market as of now, are racetams.
They are fantastic for different conditions. Moving onto the next one of the list.

Bacopa Monnieri Extract

Bacopa Monnieri is one of the most interesting natural nootropics in my stack. The amount of studies and research on this flower is endless. Moreover, it’s another nootropic that has been in still is, in use today in Ayurvedic medicine. When it comes to something trusted and practiced in ayurvedic I almost instantly buy into it, I wouldn’t even have to see the facts, although I did, nevertheless.

Bacopa is known for its benefits on memory and secondly for its relaxing effect. “Sedating” some would say – which I only agree with if I had been awake for two days straight.

Most people use it once a day at 300mg, and ideally, results should be notable in about four weeks or so. I used it for a few months at 150mg per day, and for another few at 300mg per day, until I stopped due to the curiosity of trying the next nootropic, I found back then.

Today I rarely use it, but when I do, instead of 300mg I would take 700 mg in one dose for the calming and hippie peaceful vibe in puts me in. For which I agree on it being on this list. However, I feel I have to mention that I found it to be most effective at the lowest dose (I believe it’s around 150mg – I was taking it as one of the ingredients in Mindlab Pro). But I was consistent with a daily intake of it for way over 4-5 months. Next one on my hit list:

Ashwagandha KSM-66

I never realized how much of a natural gangster Ashwagandha sounds like when you add that KSM-66 next to it in the subheading.

Ashwagandha is a very effective adaptogen that people, again, take it on a daily basis and allow adaptation to it over time and is often spoken of as ‘that one natural nootropic that diminishes stress.

Ashwagandha works on the GABA neurotransmitter which is what results in stress and anxiety reduction.
It’s usually taken at 300mg once a day. I remember the first time taking ashwagandha I felt like I was in a bubblegum euphoric heaven without the bubblegum artificial plasticizing smell (which I like, btw).

I was amazed by how strong it had affected me, especially while knowing that my GABA receptors aren’t the easiest to poke and tweak after years of self-medicating with GABA supplements and medications. But that only happened on the very first time I took it. I’ve taken it many many times after but never felt as strong of an effect as the first time. It probably had a lot to do with my subconscious anticipation – I have to say.

I still have and take Ashwagandha every now and then, more often than not double the dose and take 600mg instead of 300mg, but I limit it to once or max twice a week. Reestablishing GABA relationship is not something I have on my mind….for the time being.

Longvida Curcumin Extract

To be honest, I haven’t quite noticed any measurable effects when I used to take curcumin, but I do believe the literature on it. Now after reading a bit more into it, I realize that it might have been the bioavailability of the brand that I had of curcumin, which I am gonna stop typing now, go to the kitchen, take a couple tablets and read the leaflet again – it had been over a year since I had last use it.

Hm. To my surprise, turns out I finished my first bottle and bought another one. I completely forgot about that. I got it from the Netherlands while in a rush going (late) after my flight – that’s why my brain probably did not process that scenario.

But if I had finished one and bought another, it must have been good….

Now curcumin extract is very popular and available in many different places and often for a low price depending on what you settle on when it comes to quality.

What intrigued me about Longvida is that they made it precisely to increase its bioavailability to the maximum. Curcumin’s bioavailability is “one of its most significant drawbacks.” Here’s what they had to say about it. I haven’t dived that deep into it to be in a place of forming or circulating my analysis.

“Longvida is a specialized extract of turmeric that addresses one of Curcumin’s most significant drawbacks: bioavailability.

On paper, the effects of Curcumin are fantastic. Unfortunately, various studies have come to the consensus that regular Curcumin does not absorb readily in the body. There have been multiple solutions to this problem, the most popular of which is by using a bioavailability enhancer from black pepper called Piperine. This seems to work reasonably well, but the permeation of Curcumin through the blood-brain barrier and into the brain is still relatively low with this combination of Curcumin and Piperine. Verdure Sciences figured out a way to put the Curcumin molecule into a solid lipid particle called an SLCP. The SLCP acts as a sort of micro-capsule which can transport Curcumin through the blood-brain barrier and into the brain. Due to this, Longvida is one of the few formulations of Curcumin that can exert a significant effect on our brains.

So why do we want Curcumin in our brains? To start, Curcumin has excellent oxidation and inflammation regulating effects in the brain, which help with overall brain health and cognitive function. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance DHA synthesis. This is beneficial as DHA makes up a large portion of our brain and it has been demonstrated that elevated levels of DHA can boost cognition. Curcumin also regulates glutamatergic function in the brain. This is important for keeping our brains in tip-top shape, especially during periods of high stress. As the cherry on top, Curcumin can enhance brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) significantly. BDNF is a primary regulator of neuroplasticity and cognition. By boosting BDNF levels, we can expect a significant boost in cognitive health support.”

They had me at BDNF.

PS: the brand I have is Solgar. It wasn’t precisely produced with a nootropical objective in mind.

Prima Purified Shilajit Extract

Now with Shilajit, quoting ND, its an “interesting natural substance. Shilajit oozes out of rocks high up in various mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, during summer months. The current theory is that it is composed of humification products of various plants and mosses. This would explain its complex chemical makeup and the presence of various humic compounds such as fulvic acid. This also explains the often high heavy metal levels found in crude Shilajit that is widely available. This is because the rocks that Shilajit oozes out of can be significant sources of heavy metals.”

This sold it to me without really processing all of that. Today I noticed the second part of the description where it talks about how shilajit increases the bioavailability of CoQ10 which is one of my favorite nootropics. Therefore, I’m going to pause this section here and take my daily CoQ10 now with Shilajit, which I haven’t in a while. I will continue writing this once done with the rest of the list. As to personal experience with previous use, I wouldn’t add it on this list.

The science behind it sounds compelling and makes a lot of sense nevertheless. It explains that the most notable effects of Shilajit are cell rejuvenation, which in turn boosts overall cognitive function. That is supposed to be sent to our mitochondria, and by so promote healthy levels of oxidation in there. Thereby, the mitochondria produce more ATP, and ATP is one of the significant sources of energy for our cells. And that’s how Shilajit is enhancing cognition overall.

The more efficiently our mitochondria run, the more ATP they can produce. ATP is one of the primary energy sources for our cells, and thus by allowing our mitochondria to produce more ATP, Shilajit can enhance cell function. Similar to Creatine, this should boost overall brain function.”

Polygala Tenuifolia 20:1 Extract

This is one of the newer to the inventory I believe, so I haven’t had the chance to try it yet. Therefore I can’t share a personal opinion. According to Nootropic Depot though, Polygala is a serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.

“This mechanism of action results in calm focus and a significant increase in energy levels. It also helps support healthy stress levels. These effects are further enhanced by Polygala tenuifolia ability to enhance neuroplasticity.” then go further into explaining;

Neuroplasticity is a process by which brains grow and adapt. In certain parts of the brains, such as the hippocampus, neuroplasticity is a crucial regulator of mood. Often, the low mood can be traced back to decreased neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. Not only does neuroplasticity influence mood and well-being, but it is also one of the primary mechanisms through which memories are formed.

What makes Polygala especially interesting is that it is also an NMDA receptor blocker. It has been shown that blocking the NMDA system can make monoamine systems, such as the dopaminergic system, more sensitive. This should, in the context of Polygala tenuifolia, promote even higher levels of focus in conjunction with its triple reuptake inhibitor effect. The NMDA receptor also plays a crucial role in memory processing“,

“….Polygala tenuifolia, in addition to supporting memory, boosting focus, promoting healthy stress levels, and relaxation, also help protect the brain. It does this by promoting healthy levels of oxidation in the brain.”

Judging by this description, I wouldn’t be surprised that it made it to the list, sitting at the top as the best natural nootropic off the list. I’m very curious now.


Caffeine & L-Theanine Combination

If you’ve made it far enough in your nootropics journey to be reading this sentence, then it goes without a saying why combining caffeine with l-theanine would make it to the list. In case you didn’t, you can read about it here.

The only combination I use of this 100:200 mg caffeine/theanine ratio is Nootropic Depot’s, so I’ve seen and can understand why a company or consumer would want an enhanced version of the supplement.

Frankly, I don’t respond very well to caffeine so having my bulletproof coffee in the morning keeps me away from using caffeine/theanine. I do, nevertheless, take l-theanine with my coffee every day.

However, ND list this in as an enhanced formula with 150mg caffeine instead of the commonly known 100:200mg ratio. Additionally, they are using a technology called ZumXR that enhances the absorption and delivery of both in a way that they complement each other even more than they do when taken together, which now is almost going to be called “the old fashioned way.”

They explain more about the extended release saying: “DynaMAX utilizes a slightly higher ratio of caffeine to L-theanine than the regular 1:2, with 150mg caffeine to 200mg L-theanine. This ratio preserves the calming effects of L-theanine but allows the caffeine to exert a little bit more stimulation.

In addition to this, we decided to add Dynamine methylliberine, a novel derivative of caffeine made by Compound Solutions, Inc. which is found in small amounts in coffee beans.

When it came to to the caffeine forms, we also decided to come up with a unique caffeine blend that combines instant release anhydrous caffeine with both delayed and extended release microencapsulated caffeine using the ZumXR technology. The result is quick and powerful, but the smooth effect that we are willing to bet can stand up to a good cup of coffee and far surpasses mainstream energy drinks!

Upon taking DynaMAX, after about 15 minutes, Dynamine methylliberine starts working its magic. This is usually experienced as a mood lift with gentle stimulation. After about another 15 minutes, the caffeine kicks in which gets potentiated by the Dynamine methylliberine. This results in quite a profound sense of stimulation and focus. However, before it becomes overwhelming, the L-Theanine steps in and smooths out this stimulation.

After about two hours, when the effects seem to be decreasing a little bit, the delayed release caffeine kicks in. This can be experienced as a quick jolt of energy that will keep you locked into whatever you are focusing or working on. The extended caffeine then carries the effects all the way to the 8-hour mark, letting you down slowly without much of a crash.”

They continue onto saying “consider DynaMAX as a coffee alternative or energy drink alternative, or like a bit more advanced version of the tried and true combination of caffeine/L-theanine.”

Nigella Sativa Extract (Black Seed Oil)

Talks about black seed oil as a nootropic has been circulating for a while on Reddit and such platforms. But outside the nootropic community, black seed oil has been in use for many years. If anything, I’m almost sure it was more widely used back in the day than it is today.

I remember my grandma stuffing it in foods whenever she found the opportunity to do so. Little did I know she was all about nootropics…

Now in our current days, researchers studied the seeds extracts with all the fancy pansy technologies that weren’t accessible to our ancestors back then. They were able to prove its beneficial effects of producing a calming effect and reducing stress, as well as supporting memory.

A little science from the ND guys explains: “most commercial black seed oils have around a maximum of 1% thymoquinone, which is in stark contrast to our black seed oil extract that has a large 5% thymoquinone…..the main benefit of thymoquinone is a pronounced calming effect that does not affect cloud cognition. This is great as it allows for a more relaxed focus which can be a great asset during times of high stress. Furthermore, it is also a great immune system booster. Again, this will help during periods of high stress where the chances of getting sick are much higher than usual. At this point, the added benefits of significant boosts to cognition is just the cherry on top for black seed oil extract.”

And quite frankly it makes a lot of sense based on my readings on black seed oil. Last but not least (because the list is not structured as to 1 being the top one):

Cordyceps Mushroom

Now out of all the nootropics mentioned, this one I have yet to hear of. But the fact that its a mushroom extract, I’m gonna allow myself the pleasure of finding out why it made it to the list of 10 best nootropics of 2018. The description written on cordyceps mushroom on ND’s article makes me very open to it:

“Cordyceps is a unique, stringy, and bright orange mushroom. Cordyceps has very pronounced effects on endurance and overall energy levels. However, it is often overlooked as a brain health supplement. The fact of the matter is that Cordyceps mushrooms have a unique ability to support cognitive health.”

They go on to explain the mechanism of action on how those benefits are achieved: “one of the major pathways by which memories are encoded in the process of long-term potentiation (LTP). LTP is the process by which stimulation of the NMDA receptor causes a signaling cascade in glutamatergic neurons which ultimately leads to the insertion of AMPA receptors on these neurons.

Activation of AMPA receptors makes the likelihood of the NMDA receptor getting activated much higher. As we mentioned earlier, activation of NMDA receptors during the process of LTP can lead to the insertion of an AMPA receptor. Since AMPA receptor activation increases the sensitivity of NMDA receptors, the more AMPA receptors there are means, the more readily LTP will occur. The basic premise of LTP is that the neuron keeps forming stronger connections through NMDA and AMPA receptors.

What makes Cordyceps unique, is that one of the compounds contained in it, cordycepin, makes AMPA receptors more sensitive. Through this mechanism of action, cordycepin can make the process of LTP much more likely to occur, and thereby can produce a significant cognition-enhancing effect. Due to its unique mechanism of action, in addition to the endurance-enhancing effects and overall health-boosting effects, we believe Cordyceps is one of the best natural nootropics available to buy.”

Although the list ends here, I feel like MindLab Pro deserves to be on the list as well due to the fact that it has 13 different, natural nootropics. I can barely split a piracetam or noopept capsule in half – evenly…and they somehow manage to shove all 13 nootropics into the capsule. Nothing beats that product in terms of convenience. Nothing.

Original Nootropic Depot’s article can be found here.

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