Best Adderall Alternatives

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In a world of distractions and competition, it’s only natural to want to strive for more. When it comes to cognitive and physical improvement, Adderall meets much of the user’s “needs” and is often thought of as a nootropic. Some people use Adderall for medical purposes, while others do not necessarily need Adderall to work but take Adderall to gain an edge in work or school.

As you will come to learn, there are safer and non-addictive ways to achieve the desired effects. But let’s first focus on what Adderall is, so you know what to replace with.

What is Adderall? #

Adderall is a drug combination containing four salts of the two amphetamines. Its incredibly effective for ADHD, as well as in boosting focus, enhancing concentration, and enhancing performance.

“Adderall is a combination medication containing four salts of amphetamine. Adderall is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is also used as an athletic performance enhancer and cognitive enhancer, and recreationally as an aphrodisiac and euphoriant. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the phenethylamine class. Adderall is generally well-tolerated and effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.

At therapeutic doses, Adderall causes emotional and cognitive effects such as euphoria, change in desire for sex, increased wakefulness, and improved cognitive control. At these doses, it induces physical effects such as a faster reaction time, fatigue resistance, and increased muscle strength.

In contrast, much larger doses of Adderall can impair cognitive control, cause rapid muscle breakdown, or induce a psychosis (e.g., delusions and paranoia).” [1]

Still, Adderall is one of the world’s most prescribed stimulants, with many doctors seeing it as the optimal solution to manage narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and other sleep-related disorders. However, many consider its side effects to be too much, causing Adderall to solve a problem while creating another one.

Adderall is also highly addictive, and there are many unfortunate cases of children checking for Adderall addiction in rehabilitation. Especially in the US, this is a real problem.

Fortunately, other substances act similarly and are significantly safer than Adderall. Although most of them are not as powerful, some are surprisingly effective and come very close to achieving the same effects.

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What Are the Uses of Adderall? #

Adderall has been prescribed for some people, many people use it off-label. It may vary from those who use it for purposes off-label. Some people may enjoy its socially enhancing effects, while others may use it as a tool in life to achieve more.

You may use it, or you may intend to use it. The main question you should ask yourself is, “What do I want to get out of the experience?”. Some solutions might work better for you than others, and potency isn’t all.

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What Are the Adderall Alternatives? #

Adderall is not a sustainable solution, whether it is used to treat mental problems or to gain an edge in work or school as a cognitive enhancer. Also, ordering Adderall online is illegal, which is why it is best to look for legal alternatives to Adderall that meets your needs. With some of the best Adderall alternatives that are both safer and more effective for your purposes, you can easily get the same benefits.

Natural Adderall Alternatives #

L-Theanine & Caffeine #

L-theanine is an amino acid widely consumed through green tea.

As a nootropic, L-Theanine is not precisely known for its stimulating effects, although the usual way it is consumed would make you believe it is responsible for stimulation. Green tea also contains caffeine, which is part of the experience’s stimulation.

Through its action on alpha brain waves, L-Theanine produces a state of mindful relaxation, the same that is affected during meditation.

However, the amount of L-theanine found in green tea is too low, and you’d have to drink about four cups of tea to eat a moderate dose of L-theanine. This would make it difficult for you to identify the effects of L-theanine, as you would also consume abundant quantities of caffeine.

Supplementing L-theanine with caffeine, or alternatively, with your usual cup of coffee, is effective in increasing focus and energy levels, minus the “stimulating jitters” that results from caffeine sometimes. L-theanine cancels the jitters or the over stimulation some people tend to get as a reaction to caffeine.

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Noopept #

Noopept is a racetam-like nootropic that improves memory, focus, and boosts brain function, in addition having neuroprotective properties. It has soothing effects on anxiety, and while it differs significantly from Adderall, it can help to serve similar purposes.

It’s beneficial in the areas of social anxiety, information processing, and learning.

Instead of being toxic to the brain, as is the case with Adderall, Noopept encourages the growth, maintenance, and longevity of brain cells (NGF & BDNF). It’s also very inexpensive.

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Phenylpiracetam #

Racetams are popular among the nootropic community, especially Phenylpiracetam, said to be the one closest to Adderall in both its effects and structure.

It is a derivative of piracetam with an added phenyl group.

It was developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences and said to be up to thousands of times higher in potency than Piracetam, also producing noticeable stimulating effects.

Phenylpiracetam is widely and easily available to purchase online. It is one of, if not the most, potent compounds from the racetam family of nootropics and one of the more powerful, potent smart drugs available.

The chemical resemblance of Phenylpiracetam to Adderall is responsible for creating effects that, although somewhat different, can be compared with stimulants.

It is also known that Phenylpiracetam decreases anxiety and helps in the treatment of depression.

During his 200-day space travel, Aleksandr Serebrov took Phenylpiracetam and thought of its effect to be an “equalizer of the entire organism” and praised his ability to “exclude impulsiveness and irritability.”

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Aniracetam #

Originally intended to treat memory disorders, Aniracetam is currently one of the racetams that many people use for improving concentration and focus.

It has the function of stimulating specific (AMPA and Glutamate) receptors in the brain. The slight structural difference from other racetams makes aniracetam a fat-soluble compound that has different properties in the human body.

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Modafinil and Adrafinil

Modafinil is a prescription wakefulness enhancer.

It’s a smart drug that increases productivity and cognitive function – with much lesser potential side effects. It’s considered to be the short-term effects closest to Adderall.

Interestingly, Modafinil does not belong to the drug stimulant class, as its effects may lead you to believe. Modafinil is a wakefulness-enhancing agent and is different from Adderall mechanism of action.

Adderall increases dopamine and norepinephrine activity and causes histamine, serotonin, and epinephrine to be released. This leads to a similar feeling to the response to fight or flight, creating intense stimulation and excitement.

Modafinil inhibits GABA production and increases dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, and orexin, though much more gentle than traditional stimulants like Adderall.

As a result, the effects are mild, with the peak effects lasting about 6 hours, while the entire experience is up to 12 hours, followed by an afterglow period.

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What’s Adrafinil?

Adrafinil is a Modafinil prodrug, meaning the body is metabolizing it through the liver into Modafinil.

This means that in terms of effects, they are almost the same.

Modafinil peaks around the 60-90 minute mark somewhere, whereas Adrafinil may take about 2 hours to take effect as it needs to be processed first by the liver.

It is reported that Adrafinil is about three times less potent than Modafinil in terms of dosage comparison.

A typical dose of Modafinil ranges from 100 mg to 200 mg, although for many people, lower or higher doses are just as effective.

Adrafinil dosage ranges anywhere from 300 mg to 600mg, with some community members saying they take doses of up to 1,200mg.

I personally have never taken more than 600mg neither would I recommend that.

Adderall has a real therapeutic value, but its long-term and short-term side effects cost too much. The diversity of natural and synthetic cognitive enhancers makes experimentation a wiser choice, whether you’re currently using or plan to use Adderall in the future.

In selecting the best alternative for Adderall, you have to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all choice that can work well for everyone.

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Adderall vs Modafinil #

Concerning the “battle” between Modafinil and Adderall, the winner is definitely Modafinil, for two reasons: first, Modafinil is as effective as Adderall. Some might even call Modafinil better for productivity and learning because of its non-euphoric nature, laser-like focus on one experience, and prolonged effects.

Another reason why Modafinil is the best Adderall alternative is that Modafinil has low addictive potential, fewer side effects, and a nearly non-existent crash. After prolonged use, Adderall causes changes in the brain, leading to addiction and damage that can take a long time to mend.

In fact, when it comes to Adderall, if you go past a certain threshold, you will experience difficulty in completing tasks. Adderall will also make you feel drained after the effects have been worn off, after a few hours after the last dose.

Usually follow cognitive dysphoria and mental fatigue, which is not exactly the best idea when it comes to productivity or long-term study.

Modafinil half-life (the time it takes half the substance to leave the body) is 15 hours and should be taken early in the day to avoid night-sleeping difficulty. Even after prolonged use, one or two days of tiredness would be experienced if one were to stop. It is back to normal after that. Nothing like Adderall’s symptoms of depression and withdrawal.

Modafinil, however, is also a prescription drug.

Related: 6 Best Natural Nootropic Supplements

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6 Best Natural Nootropic Supplements


Whether you’ve just come across the term ‘Nootropics‘ and wondering what the hell it means, or you’ve been supplementing with them for a long time already, the following guide is insightful for both cases.

William Cole, a “functional medicine practitioner” (a term I haven’t heard until today but very intrigued by for sounding very promising) wrote as an introduction to compilation:

Brain and neurological problems have reached the highest numbers in human history. Anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, depression, ADD, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis are just some of the brain conditions affecting nearly everyone on planet Earth in some way. Why is this happening? What are we doing as a society that could have triggered such a massive epidemic—one that threatens the quality and quantity of countless lives? My job as a functional medicine practitioner is to get to the root cause of health problems, especially brain and neurological issues like the ones mentioned above. And although multifaceted and complex, one exciting tool we use to improve and support optimal brain function is nootropics.

And in that introduction is another exciting fact, is that in their practice of improving and supporting optimal brain function, in such an important field, is the use of nootropics.

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What Are Nootropics?

Although we already have a progressive Nootropics 101 page to answer that What Are Nootropics question, this is more focused on the list in hand.

So what are nootropics? I’m glad you asked! They’re fancy-sounding, but “nootropic” is just a term for a broad range of supplements, drugs, or other substances that may have the ability to enhance cognitive function.

Also referred to as smart drugs, the goal of nootropics is to improve memory and cognitive performance in otherwise healthy individuals—hence the nickname. They have also been praised for their neuroprotective benefits. In other words, they not only claim to boost brain power, but they also may protect your brain from deterioration over time.

Natural Nootropics versus Pharmaceutical Nootropics

Nootropics can be natural, synthetic, or prescription. In fact, the commonly prescribed Ritalin and Adderall are considered nootropics. There are also many synthetic options hitting the market now, but research surrounding their long-term effects is still developing. So while synthetic options like Modafinil, Adrafinil, and Piracetam can seem tempting for those struggling with severe brain fog or fatigue, in functional medicine we strive to uncover and treat the underlying cause and try natural solutions before synthetic ones.

Luckily, there is also a wide range of natural nootropics—many of which you might already be familiar with—that have been used in alternative medicine for years.

So while medications and synthetic drugs offer a quicker reaction time, they also have more intense side effects and require a prescription.

Nootropic Supplements, Drinks, Ingredients

If you’re just looking to dip your toes into the world of nootropics and boost brain performance, including natural nootropics in your wellness routine is the way to go.

These can be easily accessed, and you’d be surprised by how many you are probably already familiar with.

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Best Natural Nootropics List

1. Caffeine

Everyone’s favorite, caffeine is the superstar nootropic. Found in coffee, green tea, and chocolate, chances are you’ve been using this for your morning boost for years. You can also find caffeine supplements if you aren’t a fan of any of the usual vehicles. Caffeine helps you feel more alert and wakes you up by blocking your brain’s adenosine receptors.

2. L-Theanine

If caffeine alone just isn’t cutting it, add in this amino acid to boost the benefits of both of these nootropics. L-theanine and caffeine are both naturally occurring in tea, especially green tea, making this beverage the better choice over coffee if you are wanting the boost of both, sazwq\q

L-theanine is a natural amino acid, often called the “natural xanax”. It almost only exists in green tea leaves. It works brilliantly in unwinding and relaxing the body and brain without causing drowsiness, while reducing stress and increasing cognitive function. Due to not causing drowsiness, it is the perfect choice to combine with stimulants of any sort to take the edge off.

3. Creatine

This amino acid is used by your body to make protein and promote muscle growth, making it a popular supplement among athletes. It is also considered great fuel for your brain because it binds with phosphate in your brain to give energy to your brain’s cells for increased short-term memory.

4. Ginkgo biloba

You can’t expect me to get through a list of herbs without mentioning at least one adaptogen. The leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree have been shown to be a powerful brain booster. Not only has this been shown to improve memory, but it can also alleviate stress by decreasing your stress hormone, cortisol.

5. Panax ginseng

This other superstar adaptogen works to improve memory by reducing oxidative stress to promote brain-protecting nitric oxide. Research has further shown this adaptogens brain-boosting power with its ability to prevent age-related memory loss and improve long-term memory.

6. Curcumin

You may have 99 problems, but curcumin has probably already solved 98 of them—and you can add improved cognitive performance to that list. This compound in turmeric has been shown to improve working memory with consistent long-term supplementation. Curcumin can also increase BDNF, reduce oxidative stress, and inhibit inflammatory cytokines.

How To Use Nootropics?

The amazing thing about natural nootropics is that you can easily add them to your daily wellness routine. Most of these herbs and compounds can be found in supplement form from any natural food or vitamin store and even online. You can also find adaptogens and turmeric in powder form, which you can add to various smoothies, elixirs, or recipes.

While these natural smart drugs are considered generally safe, it’s still important to remember that the research surrounding them as nootropics is limited and still developing. Since everyone is different, depending on your health case, you may be more sensitive to certain nootropics, such as L-theanine or caffeine. Some people, for example, have specific gene mutations that make metabolizing caffeine more difficult. My advice is to start slow, listen to your body, adjust accordingly, and always tell your doctor about your supplement use.

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About the author:

Dr. Will Cole, leading functional-medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam at and locally in Pittsburgh. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing health programs for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders, and brain problems.Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional-medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the author of Ketotarian in which he melds the powerful benefits of the ketogenic and plant-based diets.

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Inside The Fragmented Minds of People With Dissociative Identity Disorder

The condition was formerly known as “multiple personality disorder,” and the medical field is still in disagreement on whether it is real. But does ‘real’ matter when a diagnosis can help?

by Shayla Love, I heard it on the Vice podcast and went to find the original article. Very insightful.

he lights dimmed at a movie theater about 100 miles northeast of London, in a city of more than 100,000 people. I had traveled nearly 3,500 miles from New York to watch The Three Faces of Eve, a black-and-white movie from 1957. The film, about a woman with multiple personality disorder, is based on a real case study and subsequent book authored by her psychiatrists. In the seat next to me was Lizzie Green*, a woman diagnosed with the same condition, though it’s now called dissociative identity disorder, or DID.

Movies aren’t kind to DID. Fight Club, Sybil, Primal Fear, Hide and Seek, Black Swan, Secret Window, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—in films like these, when someone has a hidden personality, it’s usually a violent one that commits unspeakable acts, while the character has no memory of their actions.

“They’re all horror films, aren’t they?” Green, a thin woman in her mid 60s, said to me. “They use a mental disorder to make a very good horror movie.” She paused, and smiled begrudgingly. “I watched Split, and I think it’s a very good film. But I don’t like them doing it.”

Dissociation—a feeling of being disconnected from your thoughts and feelings, often described as seeing yourself from an outside perspective—isn’t rare. According to the US national nonprofit Mental Health America, about a third of all people say they’ve once felt they were watching themselves from afar, as if in a movie.

But when dissociation becomes more extreme, it crosses into surreal territory, becoming Hollywood fodder. Severe dissociation can include psychogenic amnesia, when a person can’t remember personal information with no seeming physical cause, or dissociative fugue state, when a person loses his or her identity altogether—as if they’ve just stepped out of their body and walked away. With DID, it’s more like a person’s body is a boardinghouse filled with many guests, and you’re not quite sure who will come to the door when you knock.

DID affects an estimated .01 to 1 percent of the general population, but it’s a condition that many researchers still disagree on. Its history is fraught with tales of false memories and Satanic cults; only three paragraphs into WebMD’s page on DID, a subheading asks: “Is Dissociative Identity Disorder Real?” To this day, only some believe it is, while others believe it’s a disorder brought on by the power of suggestion and scary stories. Clinicians don’t doubt the suffering of people who get a DID diagnosis, but they can’t agree on where the suffering originates, and that conflict has had major implications for how people with DID are treated.

How does one prove that a mental disorder is “real”? Scientists can look to the brain, case studies, symptoms, and treatments, all to find evidence of a distinct disease. But the disagreements around DID highlight the subjective nature of our categorizations of illness, especially mental ones. Historical context and culture have clearly influenced our understanding of illnesses and their prevalence. In the case of DID, the legacy of multiple personality disorder continues to seep into the work of those treating the disorder as well as those who have it.

In my discussions with people who study DID and treat patients who have it, some said that the diagnosis wasn’t a real thing—that it was just another way to talk about the symptoms of other disorders, like PTSD or bipolar disorder (an illness characterized by mood swings and confusing behavior). Yet others vehemently insisted that DID was a disorder unto itself, perverted by what we’ve seen in the movies but very real, caused by the worst kinds of childhood trauma—such as what Green eventually uncovered in her own mind.

Throughout the movie, I peeked at Green’s face, trying to gauge if she was upset at the way DID was being portrayed onscreen. Joanne Woodward played Eve White, an exceedingly timid woman who gets headaches and seeks out a psychiatrist after she starts blacking out and losing track of time.

While Eve is talking to her doctor, an alternate personality, who goes by Eve Black, emerges. Black is the opposite of White in every way: She’s reckless, outgoing, and cares little about family or the rules of society. The two personalities wrestle for control over Eve’s body. Toward the end of the movie, Jane, a third, mild-mannered “alter,” enters the mix. Eve’s therapist uses hypnosis to reveal a trauma in Eve’s past: She was forced to kiss her grandmother’s dead body during an open-casket funeral. After reckoning with this experience, Eve White and Black disappear. Jane, now a single “integrated” person, cinematically lives happily ever after.

I thought the movie was a bit overwrought. But Green surprised me by saying that the moments when Eve switched from White to Black weren’t far off from her own experience with DID. Green too discovered a previously unknown traumatic past when she was 39, and said there were many different alters coexisting in her head.

A few hours earlier, I had climbed into the front seat of Green’s midsize SUV, and we drove a short distance to her home, making polite conversation about my train ride and how I was enjoying my stay in London. A spray of plants framed her one-story house, and bees were audibly buzzing from one blooming flower to the next. Inside, the decor was clean and bright, and the sun poured in through the windows.

Green led me to a sitting room, where she sat curled up, catlike, in a chair across from me. Her husband brought out lunch on a tray: cheese melted on bread for her, hummus on bread for me (she had been thoughtful enough ask about my dietary restrictions in advance). It was a strangely cheery environment in which to begin talking about dark subjects, but in a way, it mirrored the unsettling contrasts of her childhood. She was born in the early 1950s in England on a farm that was incredibly isolated, she said, five fields off from any sort of road. “If the abuse hadn’t been going on, it would have been a blissful situation,” she told me. “Absolutely blissful.”

Green said she was sexually abused starting at a young age, until she was 16. She thinks it was by her father, as well as others. She doesn’t have any direct memories of the abuse; instead, her alters, which she called her “parts,” do. They all inhabit the same body, so they are her memories. But before, they were compartmentalized, she said, locked behind closed doors in her head.

“I would not have use of my brain, and there were parts that did,” she said. “We always finished with the part that would get us back into bed, and there was a part who came and lay on her tummy, and her job was to empty the brain of everything that happened, so that when I woke up in the morning, I would have absolutely no memory. No single part could have held the whole abuse situation, because we wouldn’t have been able to. The whole thing had to be this fragmented for us to be able to stay sane.”

As she talked, Green switched pronouns, going between “I” and “we” to refer to herself. (If she had her way, she said, she’d always use “we”—it feels more accurate. But she uses “I” to make others comfortable.)

Green told me she didn’t realize she had no complete memories of her childhood until she was 39, when the emotional trauma of a death in her family started to break down the dissociative walls she had put up. She started to get tiny snippets of memories back but didn’t know what to think of them. She thought perhaps she was going crazy.

She would find herself walking like she did when she was a toddler, with her feet turned inward. Or she’d find herself wanting to eat only baby food. Other times, she could only sleep on the floor in the corner of her room. Until that point, Green had been a busy, productive adult. She had four children. She’d consistently held a job.

One day at the library she picked up the book The Flock by Joan Frances Casey and read it cover to cover. It was about a woman who had DID, and the symptoms sounded just like the puzzling experiences she had been having. “I just couldn’t put it down,” she told me.

The book suggested writing to your inner child, and so Green began to write letters to herself. Ten to 12 parts wrote back, each with different handwriting styles. “Memories were coming up, and the more and more dysfunctional we became,” she said. “It was awful, absolutely awful, because it was just chaos.”

After some internet research, she went to a psychiatric conference where she said she first heard the description of structural dissociation: when a person is divided into parts that do the everyday living, separate from parts who were abused.

“I was living in this mad world,” she said. “Parts were writing down these terrible things that apparently happened to us. It was hell, and my head the whole time was like World War III. When I heard this description of structural dissociation and understood these other parts were children stopped back in time, like trauma has literally just happened to them, it began to make sense.”

n 1973, the book Sybil was published, which told the story of a woman’s tormented childhood, repressed memories, and multiple personalities. The book sold millions of copies, and when it was turned into a popular television movie in 1976, 40 million Americans watched. Movies like The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil brought multiple personality disorder to the masses. Whereas tales like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were fiction, these films claimed to be based on “true stories.” The idea that memories of trauma could be hidden and excavated through repressed memory therapy or regression hypnosis swept through the country, opening the possibility that anyone could have a history of terrible abuse and just not remember it. Before the 1970s, there were very few known cases of multiple personality disorder; by 1990 there were at least 20,000 confirmed diagnoses, “with estimates of as many as two million more,” according to a 1998 New York Times article.

But doubts from psychiatrists, and then patients themselves, quickly crept in. If traumatic memories could be so easily shut away, how could you explain the symptoms of people with PTSD, who couldn’t turn off the deluge of traumatic memories? Was it really possible that so many people had suffered through horrific events as children, and were just now, collectively, remembering them? Researchers simultaneously began to study false memories—the idea that with suggestion, a person could sincerely believe something had happened to them in their past.

Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive psychologist now at the University of California, Irvine, was a leading figure in this work, and published many studies on how a suggestion could lodge itself in someone’s mind and become a memory. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was formed in 1992 as a space for Loftus and others to probe the fallible nature of memory, and her book The Myth of Repressed Memory was published in 1994. One of her studies from 1995 showed that 29 percent of people to whom she provided a false childhood memory would later say that they “remembered” it and provide additional details.

Examples of “implanted” memories and personalities started to make the news. “The courts don’t know what to do with it,” said George B. Greaves, a clinical and forensic psychologist, about multiple personality disorder in the New York Times in 1994. “The field right now is just in chaos.”

In 1997, a woman named Sheri Storm filed a malpractice suit against her therapist Kenneth Olson, claiming that her diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, and her more than 200 alternate personalities, were induced by his suggestion. She had initially sought therapy for insomnia and anxiety.

“She had ‘remembered’ being sexually abused by her father at the age of three and forced to engage in bestiality and satanic ritual abuse that included the slaughtering and consumption of human babies,” wrote the Emory University psychologist Scott Lilienfeld in an article about Storm’s case in 2007. “According to her psychiatrist, these traumatic experiences had generated alternative personalities, or alters, within Storm’s mind.”

In transcripts of Storm’s therapy sessions, Lilienfeld wrote, Olson dominates the conversation. Storm doesn’t provide any information of other personalities, but Olson identifies them and talks with them.

In 1997, another one of Olson’s patients, Nadean Cool, received a $2.4 million settlement after she sued him for malpractice. She said that using hypnosis and suggestion, he led her to believe she had been abused in a Satanic cult and was witness to all kinds of violent activities. He had diagnosed her with multiple personalities, which included “a duck, Satan, and angels who talked to God,” the LA Times reported.

At a 1998 American Psychological Association meeting, the psychologist Robert Rieber said that he had reviewed the 25-year-old tapes of therapy sessions with Shirley Mason—the real Sybil—and that he thought her many personalities were also “implanted by her own psychiatrist, eager to break ground in the research of multiple personality disorder,” the Times reported. Rieber’s announcement called into question one of the most famous examples of “real” multiple personalities.

Four years prior, in 1994, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) had already discontinued including the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder and replaced it with DID. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), which writes the DSM, continues to distance DID from multiple personality disorder.

On its website, in a Q&A, the APA says that people with DID have a lack of connection to their memories, emotions, and senses, and to regard those people as having multiple personalities isn’t quite right. In its rebranded form, DID was not caused by false memories or an influx of new personalities, but a disruption of a personality that was already there, a kind of fracturing of the self. They “do not have more than one personality,” the APA wrote, “but rather less than one personality.”

uch of the current skepticism around DID comes from the scandals of multiple personality disorder and its messy genesis in the DSM. The contemporary debate boils down to two sides that argue for differing explanations of DID: One is called the “trauma model,” and the other the “sociocognitive model,” also referred to as the “fantasy model.”

The trauma model describes a relationship between a history of trauma and dissociation, and explains the fragmenting of the self as a response to this trauma. The sociocognitive model argues that DID is influenced by other factors, such as therapists, the media, preexisting ideas about multiple personality disorder, and misinterpretation of other mental and physical health considerations. In essence, the sociocognitive model is an updated version of the idea that DID is brought on through suggestion, while the trauma model posits that an experience of trauma is mostly what leads to DID.

Studies that try to determine if DID is explained by the trauma model or the sociocognitive model can have mixed results. Some have found that there is a consistent relationship between trauma and dissociation, and that dissociation isn’t associated with suggestibility, or being prone to believe what others say.

Simone Reinders, a neuroscientist at King’s College London, has been looking for, and finding, differences in the brains of people diagnosed with DID. She’s seen variation in the brain’s blood flow for different areas and changes in brain physiology compared with controls. She has also seen differing brain activity when people with DID were in one identity state or another.

But Lilienfeld, who wrote about Storm’s case after meeting her, told me that the majority of people with DID sincerely believe they have multiple, indwelling personalities, and in these studies, they are compared with people who are trying to simulate DID, but don’t really believe it to be true. This, according to him, would reflect in their brain scans, and account for the differences. What the brain imaging revealed, he told me, isn’t DID, it’s their belief in DID. “My take on DID is that it is a disorder of belief,” he said. Lilienfeld said that when psychologists have tried to see if people with DID have memories that only one alter has access to—which would prove they were truly distinct from each other—they haven’t been successful.

“The fact that people believe they possess different ‘personalities’ is not the same as their actually possessing different personalities that are separated by amnesic barriers so that one personality is unaware of what another personality has learned or experienced,” Steven Jay Lynn, the director of clinical training at the Psychological Clinic at Binghamton University, and another sociocognitive-model proponent, told me.

Lynn doesn’t think DID is necessarily the fault of a therapist, and he said people with DID don’t need to be highly suggestible. He’s begun to suspect that other long-ignored physical factors, like sleep issues, may play a role: Consistently bad sleep may produce dreamlike experiences and feelings of unreality. And other psychiatric conditions may be interpreted as DID. He told me we shouldn’t ignore the influence of genetics, which might make a person more prone to feelings of dissociation.

“What I am saying is that many influences can interact and conspire to form a compelling narrative of multiple selves,” he went on. “In short, neither trauma alone, nor media alone, nor suggestibility alone, can fully explain many cases of dissociative identity disorder. What is clear is that we need to better understand the role of multiple determinants in the case of this disorder, as is typically the case with any complex psychological disorder.” As can happen in academic disagreements, I found passionate responses published by Lilienfeld to Reinders’s work, and then responses from Reinders to Lilienfeld’s responses. The bickering and callouts can be found both in papers that favor the trauma model and in ones that argue for the sociocognitive model.

For a disorder in which patients have trouble figuring out the truth about their experience of a dissociated self, the research can feel equally fragmented in its conclusions about what people are feeling and why. People may have already had one diagnosis— multiple personality disorder—taken from them and thrown in the scrap pile, and yet the battles rage on in the fight to define DID. “I don’t understand what the controversy is about DID,” Reinders told me over the phone. “It has been included in the DSM for decades now. There is a huge amount of research available [on it], empirical research, and case studies. My data, among other people’s data, has shown that neuroanatomical changes in DID are similar to those in PTSD.”

Reinders had another theory about the resistance: She thinks that DID, and the kinds of trauma that she thinks cause it, reveal an underbelly of our world that few want to acknowledge, like childhood sexual abuse.

“For me, that might be an explanation for why critics don’t want to believe that DID exists, because it shows them the darkness of our society,” she said.

I asked Green what she would say to people who believe DID comes about by suggestion of a therapist. Was she understanding her childhood trauma this way because a therapist was providing her the idea? “I would talk about something, but never, ever, ever did he suggest this might have happened,” she told me. “It had to come from me.”

Sarah Palmer

The day after I met with Green, I sat with Ruby King* in a hotel cafe in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London. She was soft-spoken and seemed a little nervous. After a splash of milk and a thoughtful stir of her tea, she said her first psychiatrist told her she had severe depression and anxiety, but possibly also symptoms of a complex dissociative disorder. King is a doctor, but she had to go home and look up what a dissociative disorder was. That was 15 years ago.

King is in her late 50s and, like Green, grew up in a small village in England. She said her father was abusive to her, her mother, and her brothers, though until she was an adult, she didn’t remember any of the abuse against herself. “I genuinely would have told you that I’d got off lightly and that most of the harm was done to my mother and my brothers, and I’d somehow escaped,” she told me.

She considered herself her mother’s protector. She tried to stop arguments from progressing to physical violence, and it consumed her childhood. “I watched from the stairs a lot to see how bad the situation was,” she said. “Once, he had his hands around her throat and was throttling her, so I ran down screaming and broke the whole thing up. When you had that kind of responsibility, you sleep like crap, with your eyes still watching, still listening, still on alert, even when you’re asleep.”

King didn’t notice symptoms until her 40s, when her mother died; before that, she had gone to medical school, gotten married, and become a doctor. She tried going to therapy, but still felt unsettled and depressed, trying to hold it together.

“Just press on and keep going and try to be a good wife, a good doctor, a good mother,” she explained of her attitude. “Keep all the plates in the air. But it was getting harder and harder. I was more and more weary, lacking in energy, struggling to concentrate.” About seven years after her mother died, her father died. A couple of weeks later, King said the “wheels came off completely.” “I had what you’d call a breakdown,” she told me. “I was in a heap on the floor. Could barely speak. Didn’t know how to put a load of washing on. Couldn’t voluntarily drink or eat unless somebody’d put it in front of me.”

She was taken to the hospital and she began to have flashbacks that popped up in rapid succession. “I picture it like I was holding all these balloons underwater, and they just started coming up,” she said.

In the hospital, she was living in flashbacks most of the time. This meant reliving previously unknown memories of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and the accompanying terror, pain, and other emotions. Sometimes she didn’t know her name, sometimes she referred to herself with her maiden name. She felt younger and shorter, as if she were the same age and height she was when an incident took place.

“I honestly thought I was going mad,” she said. “Completely and utterly mad.”

Sarah Palmer

Richard Loewenstein saw his first DID patient when he was a research associate at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the early 1980s. He had been referred to a patient in the refractory affective disorders unit, where patients with mood disorders who didn’t respond to any medications were sent for experimental treatments.

The patient had been in a lithium study that hadn’t helped her much, and Loewenstein was conducting an exit interview with her. One of the nurses told him the patient had said she had multiple personalities, and Loewenstein responded, “She doesn’t have that. She’s bipolar. When she shifts high, she must feel like one person. When she shifts low, she must feel like another.”

But as their interview was coming to an end, just to rule it out, he said, “If there’s anybody else in that body who wants to talk to me, I’d be happy to talk to them.”

“And she began to shift states,” he told me. “It was completely different from TV, and it was completely different from what was in the old textbooks. Rather than seeing somebody who was kind of like a revolving door, actually what I saw were states that overlapped each other and one state would emerge through another state.”

Loewenstein is now the medical director and founder of the trauma disorders program at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He told me that movies and repressed-memory lawsuits associated with multiple personality disorder have damaged the public and clinicians’ understanding of DID. “They’re not separate people,” he told me. “All the stuff that people get excited about, the names and the accents, and one’s a seven foot, winged monkey that only speaks Vietnamese—those are all completely secondary [symptoms]. It is a disorder of being betrayed by the people who you would hope would have cared for you in a loving way in your childhood.”

At his center, there are around 300 admissions a year, and about 80 percent have DID, he said. “Far from being an anomaly and far from being rare, it’s actually a common and severe psychiatric disorder, but it is not recognized.” He told me most clinicians just don’t know what to look for.

Only a minority of patients come to see him with elaborate stories of different personalities, and for Loewenstein, it’s not a very good prognostic sign. True DID, he said, is hidden. It’s subtle. It’s not dramatic. A lot of people don’t show symptoms until adulthood, which show up as upsetting thoughts, lapses in memory, anxiety, depression, and feelings of dissociation.

Loewenstein believes that DID should be understood as a childhood-onset post-traumatic developmental disorder. It happens when children have early, extreme traumatic experiences and don’t develop a sense of self that is unified across different situations, emotions, or contexts. And while many of his patients also have PTSD, depression, substance abuse problems, or suicidal ideation at the same time, he said that DID is a condition on its own.

He agreed that society could influence the interpretation of DID— but culture and historical context always make their way into the expression of mental disorders. Schizophrenics living today may have delusions about surveillance on the internet, whereas in the 19th century that delusion may have focused on the telegraph. The AIDS crisis fueled delusions and obsessions in the 1990s, whereas before it might have been tuberculosis that was doing the same. Loewenstein told me that he’s done longitudinal studies in which he’s looked at patients over time being treated elsewhere compared with people receiving his treatment model. He says that people get better his way, albeit slowly. “Their PTSD symptoms get better,” he said. “They get less dissociative. They get less separated between their different states. They’re less self-destructive.”

“Rather than trying to suppress the states, we try to get them to communicate more, to be more related to each other, to be more empathic with each other, to be more coordinated and cooperating,” he explained. 

King said her therapy was a bit like family therapy, but the family was all the parts inside her, and it was similar to the technique Loewenstein describes. She now knows that her parts are her, just at different ages. Each part became separated to deal with a specific memory or experience. She said that what she’s gone through does feel like a form of PTSD, but that it’s more complicated because it took place during her developmental ages.

When Green eventually found a therapist who specialized in DID, she would give each part a little bit of time in the driver’s seat of her consciousness, which also meant doing things that a young version of herself would want to do, like watching Teletubbies or coloring. On trips, she used to have to pack three big bags, filled with dolls, teddy bears, coloring books, and different clothes for each part. To me, talking to Green felt like talking to one person; no other parts came out. She said that once she had given each part its own time, their needs weren’t as dominant. Now when she goes away, she can just bring adult clothes (though occasionally she’ll still bring one stuffed animal).

I asked Green if she thought she was the leading character of the cast that’s in her head. She used to, she told me, because she was the one who held monopoly on her body for most years. But now, she thinks she’s just one part of many.

“In some ways, I am the most superficial part, because I have the least connection to the original child, who holds all the ingredients of being a real person,” she said. “I do see me as a part, just a part.”

Sarah Palmer

Denial and doubt in itself can cause just as much harm as the symptoms of an illness. When you’re suffering and you don’t feel like what you’re going through is valid, understood, or exists at all, it can take a powerful psychological toll.

Loewenstein said that he leaves deciding what’s real to the philosophers; his job is to make people feel better. “The mind has its own reality and, by the way, medical disorders are social constructions also,” he told me. “All of our disorders, psychiatric and medical, are at some level social constructions.”

That a diagnosis can come and go from the DSM shows that our understanding of mental illnesses is always changing and evolving. The DSM has been referred to as the “bible” for the field of psychology; it’s a book rooted in faith and human constructs, rather than objective facts. In 2013, the former director of NIMH, Thomas Insel, wrote that the DSM was “at best, a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each.” It gave patients and clinicians a set of words to use, and made sure people were using the same words, but it didn’t mean those words were valid. Unlike cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, mental disorders exist via a patient’s description; we don’t yet have blood or brain tests that can give definitive results for anxiety, depression, bipolar, or really any psychological condition.

Insel announced that the NIMH would be leaving the DSM behind and launching the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)— an attempt to classify mental illness through more objective means like genetics or brain imaging. “It is critical to realize that we cannot succeed if we use DSM categories as the ‘gold standard,’” Insel wrote. And yet, until the RDoC matures and becomes a tool we can use—it’s currently still being researched— the DSM is the best we have when it comes to defining and diagnosing mental health.

However imperfect, it’s important to know when our categories are helping or hurting. Sometimes when you accept a diagnosis, your world shrinks in on itself. Everything becomes pathologized and restricted; people can get caught up in what will make them sicker. They only interact with others who are suffering in similar ways. Their world gets smaller. But that’s not what I saw in Green. At the end of The Three Faces of Eve, Green made her way to the front of the theater. She had agreed ahead of time to answer questions from the audience about DID. I observed her speaking from my seat in the back row. She looked confident and her voice didn’t waver.

During the Q&A, she said that getting her diagnosis, and finding a voice in advocacy for DID, had expanded her life. It’s full of family, travel, grandchildren, events, and collaboration. A DID diagnosis had improved things for her, whether or not she can prove she has it, or that her memories really took place. King told me the same: “My psychiatrist always made it quite clear, and I agreed with him, that nothing that I’d come up with could ever be presented in court… But if [a] person either believes those things happened or they actually did happen, then they clearly need help of some kind, don’t they? So I think that’s the part to start from, and not go into the forensic side.”

Loewenstein and Reinders may say that DID stems from trauma, while Lynn and Lilienfeld think there is a more complex origin story, but they all feel that the way multiple personalities is depicted in movies isn’t true to what’s it’s really like. They believe that, as with all health issues, its causes are probably multifactorial, and often comorbid with other disorders. Most important, and this goes for all mental disorders, they believe in the subjective experience of the sufferer, no matter what the diagnosis is.

“Diagnosis, in and of itself, is only helpful if it assists the people with that label, isn’t it?” King said. “It’s only helpful if it serves a purpose for that person’s journey. For me it has, because it’s helped me to understand. It’s helped me to not feel mad.”

The researchers will continue to look for and debate a biomarker in the brain, or definitive criteria of symptom presentation. In the meantime, we—the suffering, and the witnesses to suffering—may have to come to terms with how big a role belief plays, and will continue to play, in the labeling and the experience of disease. As well as with the knowledge that for each person, getting a diagnosis will mean different things. Some will find a cage, and many others, their freedom.

*This name has been changed to protect the person’s identity because of the sensitive nature of the information she shared. (source)

Also from our Nootropics blog:

Israel Approves MDMA Compassionate Use to Treat PTSD

Do Smart Drugs Really Work?

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Categorized as Resources

Israel Approves MDMA ‘Compassionate Use’ to Treat PTSD

MDMA, the principal ingredient in the party drug ecstasy, is about to give a lifeline to some of the worst sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Israel—and the U.S. could be just years behind in launching similar clinical treatments using the substance.

Israel’s Ministry of Health has approved the use of MDMA, a psychoactive drug, for use on dozens of patients, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. While the drug is still on the country’s law books as dangerous for recreational use, it is now being administered as treatment for compassionate use.

In compassionate cases the drug will be made available to patients outside of clinical trials if they have not responded sufficiently to other medications or treatments.

Callum Paton

Some 50 patients are due to take the medication at one of four hospitals around Israel. The patients, who have all been diagnosed with PTSD during a course of psychiatric treatment, will be given the drug three times over the course of a number of sessions under close supervision.

2.1 million tablets of the drug seized by U.S. Customs July 26, 2000 in Los Angeles, CA.

MDMA makes people feel euphoric, a sensation that made its use synonymous with rave culture and EDM, because it floods the body with serotonin.

Serotonin is produced by nerve cells. When levels are low it can lead to depression and disrupt other physiological processes.

The launching of the new Israeli initiative is a direct result of groundbreaking research in the U.S. The Middle Eastern nation approved the program after sending a representative to the California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for training.

MDMA has been illegal in the U.S. since 1985 but the findings of clinical trials, ongoing with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval since 2001, have shown that the drug enhances the treatment of PTSD in a clinical setting.

PTSD affects 8 million Americans, CNN reported. Symptoms include flashbacks and troubling thoughts that can lead to erratic behavior, substance abuse, problems at home and even suicide.

Individuals who have served in the armed forces or as firefighters or police officers disproportionately suffer from PTSD, which is predominantly treated with psychotherapy and prescription drugs, most often antidepressants.

Israel could now be two years ahead of the U.S. In 2017 the FDA characterized the new therapy as a “breakthrough.” The designation puts it on course to be final approval as a treatment in 2017.      

The Israeli study, which will take place at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and the psychiatric hospital in Be’er Yaakov, will involve 14 patients. However, there is a waiting list of 600 people suffering from PTSD – from a range of traumas including military combat, abuse, sexual assault, and traffic accidents – who are eager to take part in this medical trial, which is the second of its kind in Israel.

The previous trial, which was conducted at the Be’er Yaakov hospital, involved ten patients in Israel as part of a global trial involving 107 people. The results were promising and were the basis for declaring MDMA a “breakthrough treatment.” A year after the trials, 68 percent of patients experience a dramatic decrease in symptoms, and some were completely asymptomatic.

The new trial is being led by Dr. Revital Amiaz, a psychiatrist who directs the ambulatory services at the psychiatric department at the Sheba Medical Center. Amiaz previously conducted a study on the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. She believes that MDMA has treatment potential for PTSD sufferers. What convinced her in part was her personal experience, having been administered MDMA in the United States as part of a study of caregivers.

Original source by Ido Efrati

Categorized as Resources Tagged

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:

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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.