Author: Hannah Sabih

Hannah believes there's nothing 8 hours of sleep and some kale can't cure (yes, she's from California). She's an avid runner, reader, and traveler, who brings you the latest and greatest in neuroscience via our social media channels.

We’ve got a pretty hefty archive of This Week in Neuroscience (TWIN) and Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick (RLRG) links. And heaps of those links are pretty darn interesting. To stop these nuggets from being lost to the ages, every month we’ll be looking back at what we were reading and sharing a year or two or three (!) ago.

Episode 96 – Know Your Neurotransmitters:  Noradrenaline

TWIN:  Young children have less available working memory

Have you ever tried to get young children to remember multiple things?  Whether that’s not to touch hot objects, or how to play gently with the dog, things seem to go in one ear and out the other.

Turns out, neuroscience has an explanation for why adults have a better working memory than children.  While children do use the same area of the brain as adults when using short-term memory, there’s less activity in the brain.  Most adults can remember up to seven items in their short term memory at one time, but for young children, that number is more like one or two.

So next time you’re frustrated with your kindergartener for forgetting what you told her five minutes ago, remember:  she’s not ignoring you, she really can’t remember.

RLRG:  The protein that senses magnetic fields

It seems clear that animals can sense things that humans can’t.  Think of birds that migrate thousands of miles or animals that clear an area before an earthquake.

Scientist have long known that animals as diverse as sea turtles, butterflies, and wolves can sense the major north-south magnetic fields.

But thanks to a new discovery, we now know exactly which protein lets them do this.

This discovery isn’t the only news though.  It’s mired in a dispute over which collaborator was entitled to publish the findings first.  Drama, drama, drama.

Episode 97 – Emotional Intelligence

TWIN:  Part of your intelligence is genetically determined

You probably know a family that just seems blessed in the intelligence department.  Part of the reason why turns out to be three different genetic variants.

But before you start calling this genetic advantage unfair, although the genetic variants have statistical significance, even when all three are expressed optimally, that only translates to an extra 1.8 IQ points.

RLRG:  Test your emotional intelligence

IQ isn’t the only type of intelligence.  There’s also emotional intelligence, your ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others.

Wondering if you’re emotionally smart?  Then take the test!

Episode 98 – Adderall Perspectives

TWIN:  A new way to fight aging in the brain

Scientists have long known how to turn other cells into brain cells.  The problem for researching age-related diseases is that turning cells into brain cells would re-set the cell’s age — they’d go back to being “babies.”

New research has solved this problem.  Scientists have been able to turn skin cells into brain cells without resetting cellular age.

The upshot:  researchers will be able to more easily test medicine to fight age-related diseases.

RLRG:  A big, bloody brain cake

Just in time for October 31st, a way to combine celebrating Halloween with your love for neuroscience and the brain.

Metro.co.uk has a recipe for a huge cake — red velvet on the inside, bloody brain on the outside.  It looks scarily realistic, too.

Bloody brain cake

Episode 99 – Psychedelics:  New Perspective

TWIN:  Sleep protects you from catching a cold

Being sick is the ultimate anti-nootropic.  Unfortunately, nothing protects you 100%, but sleep could drastically reduce your chances of getting sick.

People who sleep less than 6 hours a night are more than four times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep 7 hours or more.

And it’s not just run of the mill colds that sleep protects you from.  Getting enough deep sleep may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.  Beta-amyloid plaques are a precursor to Alzheimer’s.  People who have the most beta-amyloid plaques in their brains have the hardest time getting into and maintain deep sleep.

RLRG:  A fasting mimicking diet keeps you alive longer

In numerous studies, fasting and caloric restriction prolong the lives of animals.  But food is one of the great human pleasures, and it’s no fun being on a permanent limited-calorie diet.

The good news is that Professor Valter Longo has found the 80/20 of fasting: the fasting mimicking diet.  Just five days is enough to slow down aging.

Here’s how it works:

  • Day 1:  Eat 1,090 calories, of which 10% should be protein, 56% fat, and 34% carbs.
  • Days 2 – 5:  Eat 725 calories, of which 9% should be protein, 44% fat, and 47% carbs.

If you’re generally pretty healthy, do this five-day “fast” once every 3 – 6 months.  If you’re obese or have other health risk factors, you can do this diet much more frequently, up to once every 2 weeks.

Episode 100 – Card-carrying Genius

TWIN:  Your brain activity is a fingerprint

Everyone knows that fingerprints and retinas are ways to identify a unique individual.  Turns out, you can also identify people based on their brain activity.

Regardless of what activities you’re doing, certain brain regions activate together, in a way that is unique to each human.  This is based on the activity in your brain, not the physical structure.

RLRG:  Toddler temperament is influenced by gut bacteria

Scientists studying young children found a significant correlation between the diversity of gut microbes and disposition.

Children who have the most diverse gut bacteria had more pleasant moods and were more curious, sociable, and impulsive.

Clearly, there’s communication between gut bacteria and the brain.  Still to be discovered:  which one starts the conversation.

PS:  For more neuroscience, sign up for Brain Breakfast — brain boosting goodness delivered to your inbox every week.

Pretty much every episode of Smart Drug Smarts covers yet another way to make your brain even better and healthier.  Some are things you’re already doing, some are things you’ve heard about but haven’t tried, and some are things you never even knew were cognitive enhancers (methylene blue, anyone?).

So, just how dedicated are you to improving your brain? Pick your poison (errr…  cure for lackluster gray matter) — we’ve got options from easy, like blueberries, to out there, like DMT.

Easy Cognitive Enhancers

Alpha-GPC

Want better memory and focus and a longer attention span?

One option to make sure you’re getting enough choline.  Choline is an essential precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays essential roles in activating muscles, attention, responsiveness to sensory stimuli, motivation, learning, memory, and REM sleep.

Alpha-GPC is a great source of choline because it has a large amount of choline by weight (it’s 40% choline) and is very polar, so passes through the blood-brain barrier easily.  It’s also extremely safe – fewer than 1% of people experience side effects, with the most common being upset stomach and headache.

If you’re ready to start taking Alpha-GPC, the recommended dose is 200mg per day.

Blueberries

You’re probably already eating blueberries.  And if you’re aren’t, well why the heck not?!

It shouldn’t take much convincing:  Not only are they delicious, but they are also fantastic for your brain.  They boost long-term memory, short-term memory (aka working memory), and access to words and concepts.  They reverse loss of balance and coordination in older rats and improve memory and concentration in children.

Inspired to eat more blueberries?  There isn’t a magic amount, but eating half a cup of blueberries a few times a week should give you all the benefits.  Look for:  fresh, whole blueberries, frozen fruit, 100% pure blueberry juice (no concentrates), or freeze-dried blueberry powder.  Avoid:  juices with added sugar or that are made from concentrate and baked or cooked blueberries, since exposure to heat degrades flavonoids.

Melatonin

Melatonin, the sleep hormone, makes you fall and stay asleep.  Environmental levels of lightness affect your circadian rhythm, which, in turn, affects melatonin production, so that melatonin is actively produced at night, when it’s dark.

Among other indignities that occur as you age, your pineal gland is calcifying, meaning it’s producing less melatonin at night.  This is why older adults have a hard time staying asleep — they produce enough melatonin to fall asleep, but not enough to stay asleep throughout the night.

Melatonin is very safe (it’s something your own body produces after all), but taking the right dose is tricky.  The ideal dose — 0.3mg — of melatonin is very small, which is quickly metabolized by your body.  So if you take 0.3 mg of melatonin before bed, you’ll fall asleep easily, but it won’t be enough to keep you asleep throughout the night.

So what should you do?  Look for pills with between 0.3 – 1mg of melatonin and try to find a time release option, like this time-release melatonin supplement, so that your body is exposed to low levels of melatonin throughout the night.

What you should not do is take a megadose of melatonin.  Many companies sell pills of 3mg and higher, which is 10x the recommended dose.  There’s no danger of overdosing, but you’ll blow out your melatonin receptors, meaning that melatonin supplements will stop being effective.

Gratitude

Ah, gratitude.  It’s one of the buzzwords of the moment, it seems. But turns out those hippies were on to something.

Regularly practicing gratitude has a host of benefits, including better interpersonal relationships, faster recovery from heart surgery, better sleep quality and duration, fewer PTSD symptoms, and protection against future cognitive trauma.  And the most incredible benefit:  living up to 10 years longer.

Here’s how to get the benefits of gratitude:

  • Small doses of regular gratitude are better than occasional big bursts of gratitude (think buying someone flowers vs. an expensive piece of jewelry).
  • Write thank you notes and give them to people who aren’t expecting them.
  • Keep a weekly gratitude journal.  It’s actually more effective than a daily one.
  • Focus on what you’re grateful for, and let go of small, daily annoyances.
  • Notice small things people have done to give you a better life, like running water, a working car, or a good cup of coffee.
  • Take a moment in transition times, like while waiting for the coffee to brew, to focus on gratitude for 30 seconds.

Unconventional Brain Boosts

Ketosis

Who knew that fat could be so good for you?  Ketosis a state in which your brain draws energy from ketone bodies, instead of glucose, its usual energy-source.  Being in ketosis makes you feel more lucid and your thinking sharper, and who wouldn’t want that?

So, here’s how to get in ketosis, according to Dr. Dominic D’Agostino:

  • Follow a modified ketogenic diet, with 65-70% of calories coming from fat.
  • Consume 150-200g fiber per day.
  • Start intermittent fasting.
  • Spend time out in the sun.
  • Take MCT oil and ketone salts.
  • Finally, supplement with 4-8g of salt and magnesium before bed.  This isn’t going to put you into ketosis, but will make sure your body has everything it needs while you’re in that state.

Nicotine

Nicotine has a reputation as an evil drug that’s not entirely deserved.  Granted, smoking cigarettes is really awful, but nicotine is only one of 500 – 700 chemicals in tobacco (which turn into more than 7,000 when tobacco is smoked).

The unique thing about nicotine as a smart drug is that it’s both a stimulant and a relaxant — it keeps you alert when you’re tired, but calms you down when you’re stressed.  It also increases focus, helps you sustain attention, controls hunger, and reduces pain.

But, there is a catch.  It’s really addictive.  More addictive than heroin, actually.  And, long term use causes blood vessels to constrict, which is no bueno for your heart.

Verdict:  if you want to try nicotine, use the patch or nicotine gum, and don’t use it every day.

Hypnosis

Does hypnosis seem a bit woo-woo to you?  Well, get over it, because hypnosis has real, concrete benefits, including:  controlling pain, reducing swelling and other signs of physical trauma, improving cognitive performance, and changing the way we are able to use our brains.

Even better:  you can learn to hypnotize yourself for all these benefits.  Of course, if you have no experience with hypnosis, getting started with a trained professional can make things easier.  And once someone has helped take you into an experience of hypnosis, it will be easier for you to return to that state of mind on your own.

Reality check:  Unfortunately, although all children are hypnotizable, only two-thirds of adults are.  So if you’re in the non-hypnotizable group, keep reading for a different brain boost to try.

Out There Mental Maximizers

Psychedelics

We got to talk to two psychedelics experts Dr. Dennis McKenna and Dr. Rick Strassman about natural psychedelics and DMT, respectively.  Psychedelics are under a lot of misconceptions, but they have therapeutic potential we’re only just beginning to understand.  And besides being possible treatments for everything from PTSD to depression, psychedelics can boost creativity and lead to new ways of thinking for healthy users.

Curious about trying psychedelics?  Here’s Dr. McKenna’s recommendations:

  • Do your research.  Start with Erowid.org, the best online resource on psychedelics.  Find out what to expect from a trip, how long it will last, and any contraindications.
  • Start with the smallest active dose possible.  See how it goes.  You can always take more next time.
  • Make sure you’re in a positive mindset and in a safe and comfortable place, preferably with a sober babysitter if you’re new to psychedelics.
  • Avoid psychedelics if:  you’re on SSRIs, you have a genetic proclivity to schizophrenia, you have an underlying mental illness, or you’re in a fragile psychological place.
  • Relax and be open to the experience!

Methylene Blue

Here’s a weird cognitive enhancer:  methylene blue, which has been used as a textile dye and a parasite treatment for fish.

But it’s so much more than that.  It’s a memory enhancer, antioxidant, and neuroprotectant.  It improves the oxygen consumption of cells, increasing cellular energy, which in turn enhances memory — both long- and short-term — as well as being neuroprotective and antioxidant.

Be careful:  methylene blue has a hormetic dose response, meaning low doses are beneficial, while high doses are dangerous, and can even be fatal.  Never take more than 5mg per kilogram of body weight (and less if you are obese).

PS:  Want more cognitive enhancing goodness?  Get our free, weekly newsletter!

We’re back with another installment of “cool stuff we’ve learned from neuroscientists.”  And we had plenty to choose from:  ketamine, LSD, Cannabidiol, and chocolate (oh yeah!).  Without further ado, here’s the best of what we’ve learned in the last three months…

Things You Should Be Doing

Exercise

Well duh you say, everyone knows exercise is good for your health.  But did you know exercise is equally important for your brain?  Exercise causes the growth of both neurons and synapses (connections between neurons), particularly in the parts of the brain responsible for memory and creative thinking.

Two things to remember:

  1. Complex movement (as opposed to a simple, repetitive movement like running on a treadmill) is your best bet for improving cognitive function.  Think body weight training intervals or trail running.
  2. Frequency is more important than intensity for cognitive function and longevity.  You’ll get more cognitive benefits from moving more every day than going into “beast mode” on the weekends.

Deliberate practice

We’ve all heard the maxim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert.  Well, turns out that number is hardly scientific — what’s really important is spending a lot of time practicing, and making sure that practice is deliberate.

What’s deliberate practice?  It’s practicing a skill in a way that pushes you to improve as much as possible, through the right sequence of training, often guided by a teacher.  It’s constantly analyzing and measuring your performance, getting feedback quickly and early, and changing what you’re doing based on that feedback.  For a long time.  (It’s not really fun — but no one ever said being an expert was a walk in the park.)

Not being obese

There’s literally nothing good to be said about being obese.  Obviously, it’s horrible for your physical health.  But it’s also bad for your brain.  Obesity impairs episodic memory (the ability to remember previous events), working memory (short-term memory), and executive function (the ability to switch between tasks, focus, and filter out distractions).  The good news is, if you’re exercising regularly (see above), it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be obese.

Things You Should Be Eating

Chocolate

This has to be the easiest recommendation to implement.  Eat more chocolate.  Why?  People who eat a small amount of chocolate at least once a week perform better cognitively on tasks measuring working memory, abstract reasoning, visual-spatial memory, and ability to multitask.

Aim to eat 25-50 grams (4-8 small squares) a week.  Dark chocolate is better because it has more flavanols (the brain-boosting component of chocolate), but milk chocolate will still give you some benefits.

Souvenaid

Ok, this one is something to keep an eye out for in the future, but drinking 125 mL of a medical food called Souvenaid protects against Alzheimer’s-related memory loss.  Seems like a simple thing to avoid dementia, right?  Souvenaid is a mix of phospholipids, antioxidants, vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, choline, DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid), and uridine.  (Beware:  simply taking each of these components as separate supplements probably won’t result in the same protective benefits.)

Supplements You Should Be Taking

Ginseng

If you want a better memory, take Ginseng.  It’s really that simple.  Ginseng improves memory, boosts your mood, and improves cognitive function despite mental fatigue.  It’s even better for mitigating mental fatigue than Modafinil.

To take:

Take 400mg a day (it’s actually more effective than a higher dose of 600mg).  For the full benefits, look for Asian ginseng, that boost both short- and long-term memory.  Make sure you’re taking pure supplements from a reputable brand.  Both Ginsana and Cereboost are high quality.  Two words of caution:  don’t take it too late in the day because it might disrupt your sleep, and talk to your doctor if you have diabetes.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa might be the best natural extract out there for cognition.  It’s an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, promotes synaptogenesis, is adaptogenic (helps the body adapt to stress), and reduces beta-amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.  It improves memory and helps you learn faster.

To take:

Take 300mg a day of a supplement that has 55% bacosides (the active compounds in Bacopa). The best brands are KeenMind and Synapsa.  Take Bacopa in the morning or early afternoon to avoid disrupting your sleep and with food to avoid stomach upset.

If You’re Going to Do Drugs, Take These

Cannabidiol

Not the same as marijuana, it’s just one of the active compounds (not psychedelic though), and is actually derived from industrial hemp.  Among its myriad benefits, it’s:  antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, neuroprotective, blocks tumor growth, promotes bone regrowth in broken bones, minimizes muscle cramps, and is a sleep aid.  On the cognitive side, it’s neuroprotective and can increase focus.

To take:

Methods of administration:

  • Transdermal.  Effective delivery with a localized relaxation effect, but you will smell a certain way.
  • Oral.
  • Vaping.  Quick and efficacious delivery, but there’s a risk of cancer.

Dosing:

  • To focus:  10-20 milligrams
  • To sleep:  40-50 milligrams

LSD

Only you can decide if you want to experience an acid trip (although Steve Jobs described it as “one of the most things” in his life).  But the post-trip, long-term benefits are where LSD really shines.  You can expect some personality changes, becoming more open, more community-minded, and feeling more connected to nature.  Even better for the brain, you’ll see greater cognitive flexibility, and the growth of new, permanent connections in your brain, particularly the cortex, the brain area responsible for cognition.

Plus, even if you have a bad trip, your brain will still benefit in the long run.

Ketamine

Ketamine has a bad rap.  And we’re certainly not suggesting you fall down a K-Hole as a casual weekend activity.  But, if you’re suffering from depression, it’s a treatment option to be aware of.  Unlike traditional antidepressant therapies, ketamine works almost immediately, offering relief from symptoms within two hours, and lasting up to two weeks.

Very Important Warning

Do not just buy some ketamine from your local drug dealer.  Street ketamine can be cut with all sorts of nasty stuff, and this treatment should really be administered under the supervision of a doctor.

PS:  For more of the best of neuroscience, sign up for Brain Breakfast — brain-boosting goodness delivered to your inbox every week.

Do you have a nootropics skeptic in your life?

Are you tired of having to explain that no, there is no “limitless” drug, and yes, nootropics really do work, and yes they’re perfectly safe?  Then step right up because after answering the same old questions about nootropics for the hundredth time, we’ve put together a cheatsheet of comebacks and rebuttals you can swipe the next time you come across a skeptic.


How to Talk to Skeptics About Nootropics Infographic

Know someone else who needs help talking to a nootropics naysayer?  You can embed the infographic using the code below.  Don’t forget to link back to us!

Add this image to your site:

Smart Drug Smarts is dedicated to the relentless improvement of your brain.  But for someone wading into our back-catalog of episodes looking to improve his or her brain right now: information overload.

It makes for some great listening, but there’s a lot of information — over 600 minutes of interviews — to distill in order to get to actual tips you can implement.  So we’ve rounded up the best, most actionable kernels of wisdom we’ve learned in the past three months.

If you’ve been listening the whole time, have you been taking notes every minute?  Probably not.

If you’ve missed a few episodes, here’s a quick and dirty way to play catch-up.

And if you’ve never even heard of the podcast, you can still use these tips to improve your brain.  😉

You can thank us later.

How to Form Habits

  1. It’s easier to make a new habit than to break an old one.   So, instead of trying to quit a bad habit cold turkey, replace it with a new, better habit.  Example: Every afternoon, you reach for a Snickers bar.  Instead of skipping an afternoon snack, replace it with something healthier.
  2. Make new habits effortless.  If you have to think about it, you probably won’t stick with it.   Continuing the eating healthier example, it’s easier if you just don’t keep any Snickers around than if you rely on your willpower to not eat the Snickers in front of you.
  3. Prepare for moments of weakness.   Think about situations that will stress your willpower, and prepare for them, so you’re ready when they arise and they don’t derail your new habit.  If you’re trying to quit smoking, think about everyday situations that trigger your desire for a cigarette and how you can neutralize any cravings.
  4. Timing is key.  The best time to start a new habit is during periods of transition, when your normal routine is already changing.  So if you have a big move or new job coming up, you might want to wait to start that new exercise habit until then.

Eat More Turmeric

  1. Turmeric is amazing.  Is there anything turmeric can’t do?  It’s an adaptogen plant that provides a host of benefits, from reducing psychological stress to regulating the immune system to calming inflammation.  It’s also a powerful antioxidant.
  2. All things being equal, cooking with turmeric is better than taking a supplement.  Your body can more easily absorb curcumin (the active substance in turmeric) when it’s cooked with fat.  Start with 1 teaspoon dried turmeric or ⅛ teaspoon fresh.
  3. There are lots of delicious ways to cook with turmeric. turmeric latte and this Moroccan lamb and pumpkin stew.
  4. You’d rather take a curcumin supplement?  For best results, look for supplements that have 95% extract of “curcuminoids,” with 5% “preserved volatile oils.”

You Should Be Fasting

  1. Benefits of Fasting:  Improved cardiovascular health, reduced cancer risk, gene repair, increased longevity, and better cognitive clarity.
  2. There are multiple fasting protocols, but all of them have been found to provide benefits, so experiment to find the best one for you.
    1. Feeding Window.  Restrict your daily eating to a limited number of hours.  Fast anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day.  Example: You only eat between 12pm and 8pm.
    2. 24-Hour Fast.  Don’t eat for 24 hours.  You can do this anywhere from once a month to twice a week.
    3. Alternate-Day Fast.  Don’t eat (or severely restrict your calories) every second day.  On eating days, eat as much as you want.
  3. The transition period is the worst.  When you’re transitioning to fasting, it’s normal to feel lethargic or find yourself becoming angry more easily.  Fight through it at the beginning, and you’ll find your body has adjusted and your energy levels and emotions will rebound.  (How long “the beginning” is will depend very much on the fasting protocol you follow.)

Try These Natural Compounds

  1. Schizandra.  (See Episode 118.)  Schizandra makes the body’s stress response more efficient.  If your cortisol levels are too high, it will lower them — and vice versa.
  2. White Sage.  Supports learning, while diminishing anxiety.
  3. Ginseng.  (All three types: American, Chinese, and Korean)  Ginseng is a powerful adaptogen that helps the body cope with stress, particularly physical.
  4. Chia.  Yes, the little seeds that you can paint on the outside of pottery animals.  (Who knew?)  It’s also a natural treatment for stroke.  Mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 10 tablespoons water until it forms liquid jello.  Drink it twice a day following a stroke for 6 months.  That amount can taper down to once a day after a couple of months.

Smell and Cognitive Decline Are Linked

  1. Being unable to tell the difference between smells is one of the first clinically diagnosable symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, due to the intimate connection between smell and memory.

Learn anything new and surprising?  Off to stock up your kitchen pantry with turmeric and chia seeds?  Tweet us and let us know!

It’s been an exciting year here at Smart Drug Smarts.  With 2016 hurtling towards us faster than the neuronal impulse in a well-sheathed axon (you knew we’d say something like that, right?) we thought a quick retrospective might be in order.


Podcast Milestones

Ep-100-SDS

Top Episodes of 2015

Episode 81: Optimizing Your Sleep
Optimize-Your-Sleep

Episode 74: Know Your Neurotransmitters: Dopamine
Neurontransmitters-Dopamine

Episode 66: Starvation and Its Benefits
Starvation-benefits

Episode 93: Semen — The World’s Sexist Antidepressant
semen

Episode 83: Aniracetam – First of the Ampakines
Aniracetam-first-ampakines

Future Plans

We’re working on an expanded version of our Smart Drugs Library. We can’t give too much away just yet, but we’re pretty darn excited, and this guy is going to be making a grand appearance. Nerd Otter Avatar

We’ve got a book in the works for late 2016.  Yes, with chapters, pages, and the ability to paper-cut yourself!  And a whoooole dollop of neuroscience.  🙂


The Team

We’ve worked all over the place.

Jesse
Jesse: I had to record one podcast episode with a T-shirt over both my head and the microphone, because I’d just gotten the lease on a new house, and it had hard floors and ceilings and literally no furniture, but it was the only quiet place with working Internet that I had to record the call — so the T-shirt was the best I could do to dampen the echoing noise of reflected sound. Pretty ridiculous.
Hannah
Hannah: For strangest place, it has to be a tie between a dessert-themed cat cafe in Saigon and a train through the Serbian countryside. The best place hands down was on the deck of a house overlooking the ocean in Hawaii (shoutout to going on vacation with your parents!).
Rhiannan (1)
Rhiannan: The Yen Cafe, Ho Chi Minh. Found it accidentally with Jesse one day. Feels like you’re hanging out in an oversized tree house, and we had the whole upstairs to ourselves for the day. Bonus: we were asked to take a break to have our palms read.
Michelle
Michelle: My daughter’s middle school band pep rally performance. It was a painful experience — between the butt numbing bleachers, the spotty WiFi, and the deafening band, which made up for lack of skill with enthusiasm and decibels approaching dangerous levels…not my most productive work experience.

We’ve been around the world

Total Countries Visited: 27

Hannah
12
Rhiannan
9
Jesse
5
Michelle
1 (But doesn’t her hometown of “Sammamish” sound exotic?  Well, strange anyway…try saying it eight times fast.)

We love drugs (smart drugs, that is)

Jesse

Synthetic: Sulbutiamine; Natural: Lemon Balm.
Hannah

Nexus.  It’s my first time taking a racetam and I love it!
Rhiannan

Caffeine, Omega-3s, and Nexus.
Michelle

Mitogen – it’s chock full of all the things needed to sustain and augment a healthy brain.

And, we’ve read some great books!

Hannah

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
Michelle

Stumped on what to get your favorite smarty pants this holiday season?

Fear not!  We’ve put together a short list of “favorite things” that help us stay smart.

For Your Parents…

Cognitive enhancers for brains that have been around the block.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine’s not just for bodybuilders!  Check out Episode 75, Creatine: Brains and Brawn? to learn more about the cognitive benefits of creatine.

Phosphatidylserine

Studies show that phosphatidylserine supplementation results in significant improvement in cognition for older brains. Listen to Episode 79, Phosphatidylserine: Extra Oomph, Even For Young Brains to learn more about the benefits of phosphatidylserine.

For Teen or College Student…

Give the gift of sleep. Teenagers and young adult students are among most sleep deprived populations. Sleep is critical for memory consolidation and systemic repair of both body and brain.

Natural Calm

DIY Sleep Stack

Get crafty and put together the perfect stack to promote a great night’s sleep.
L-tryptophan: 500 – 1000mg
5HTP: 50 – 100mg
Vitamin B6: 50mg
Sustained Release Melatonin: 0.3mg

For more on the importance of sleep and tips on how to maximize your snoozing, Dr. Christopher Winter and Dr. Kirk Parsley both have a lot to say on the subject.

For Your Lady Friend…

Because holiday stress is real.

Sensory Deprivation Tank

Instead of a massage, treat her to a sensory deprivation float experience. Tip: You can usually find a great deal on Living Social or Groupon.

Check out Episode 49 for a discussion on the benefits of sensory deprivation tanks.

For Your Beau…

Give him a night he’ll never forget…with a supplement designed to promote Lucid Dreaming.

Galantanmine

Galantanmine is often used by Lucid Dreaming hobbyists to make intense, vivid dreams more likely.  (Don’t know about Lucid Dreams?  Check out Episode #59 with Dr. Deirdre Barrett.)  This can be strong stuff, and can disrupt your sleep if you take it at the start of a full night’s sleep.  The “best practice” approach is to set your alarm to wake you after you’ve gotten a few good sleep cycles in the bag — maybe 5-6 hours after your bedtime — and take a quick dose of Galantanmine and go back to sleep.  Then buckle up for some action-packed dreams!

For Your Best Friend…

Everyone’s busy these days, especially around the holiday season, so give the gift of energy to keep them going.

Methylated B Vitamin

Research shows that as much as 40 percent of the population is deficient in Vitamin B12. B12 is integral to how your body produces energy, keeping your cells fed, happy, and healthy. Low energy and mood are common symptoms of a B12 deficiency. B12 is also very neuro-protective – specifically protecting your brain and nerve cell myelin.

Kimera Koffee

What could be better than coffee and nootropics?

What are Nootropics?

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding nootropics and cognitive enhancers.  The two terms are often used interchangeably, but if you want to get really technical about it — and let’s face it, we do — then nootropic refers only to a narrow category of cognitive enhancing supplements.

A substance must meet five tough criteria to be considered an honest-to-goodness nootropic.

Read on for the official definition of a true nootropic, the difference between nootropics and “cognitive enhancers,” and our homegrown Smart Drug Smarts definition.  (Hat-tip to Abelard Lindsay for stating this nicely in Episode #85.)

what-are-nootropics

Psst!  Want to share the lowdown on nootropics? You can embed the infographic using the code below.  Don’t forget to link back to us!

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