Category: Smart Drugs

Chemical supplements aimed at boosting brain performance.

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

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Does the New Year have you creating resolution lists designed to propel you to better health, wealth and well-being?  If so, you’re far from alone.  If you’re the average American, then according to Nielsen, “staying fit and healthy” topped your list last year — followed closely by “lose weight.”

2015 Nielsen resolutions.png

And — surprise, surprise! — these were the same goals held by most Americans in 2014, as well.

It turns out there’s a reason for the lack of year-to-year progress.  Most people, despite their stated goals, don’t follow any dietary health or weight loss program.  The disconnect between goals and actions explains a lot, doesn’t it?

The other big 2015 goals fell under the general umbrella of “becoming more productive” — which would presumably then allow goal-achievers to set their sights on more fun goals like enjoying life, spending time with family, hobbies, etc.

Achieve Your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

Want to avoid this frustrating trend of “Resolution Recycling”?  Clear the slate — at least your personal slate — so that a “new and noteworthy” goal can top your list for 2017?

Suggestions for turning resolutions into reality range from setting small, achievable goals, to telling others your intentions so you will be held publically accountable.  All great advice.

But how about something even more concrete to help you conquer those goals related to achieving health, fitness and productivity?

Enter Nootropics:  Something “noo” to help you reach your goals!

What is a nootropic?  The word derives from the Greek word noos, which translates roughly to “mind.”  Nootropic is a general term for a class of chemicals — some naturally-occurring, some man-made — that offer cognitive benefits to the human brain.

To  qualify as a nootropic a compound must be only beneficial, non-toxic and follow the hippocratic decree to “do no harm.”

Unlike some media representations (remember the Limitless movie?), nootropics will not give you superpowers… But they can enhance your mental strength and staying power — making you more alert and focused without the side effects associated with better-known stimulant chemicals, like the ever-popular standby, caffeine.

(While definitely a “cognitive enhancer,” caffeine doesn’t qualify as a nootropic because of its negative side effects — the potential for tolerance build up and the post caffeine “crash.”)

Nootropics are best known for improving mental clarity and focus, improving short-term and long-term memory and boosting mood.

Recent research has shown that some nootropics may also provide physical benefits as a nice bonus to their cognition enhancing qualities.  These “smart drugs” also facilitate the body’s metabolic processes related to the production of new tissues and the release of energy from food and fat stores.

Here’s how the physical-cognitive double-whammy works:  Increased blood flow and glucose traveling to the brain are boosts to cognition — but they also promote the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s intracellular fuel.  More fuel means more energy. Studies indicate that this energy boost can result in increased physical activity and performance and and thus, weight loss.

Try these four nootropics, each of which can give a double-bang for your neurological buck, and work through that list of 2016 Resolutions.

Alpha GPC:

  • Alpha GPC is a choline-containing supplement that in higher doses than achieved through natural food sources (like eating eggs and liver) has been linked to increased fat oxidation and muscle gains.
  • Research indicates that most people do not get adequate levels of choline in their diet.
  • Choline aids the transport of dietary fats throughout the body to your cells where they can be burned for energy.  Alpha GPC is a more bioavailable form of the substance, making it easier for you to reach your healthy New Year’s goal.

L-Carnitine:

Mucuna Pruriens:

  • A plant based, natural source of L-Dopa — a precursor to dopamine, that lovely neurotransmitter in our brains that motivates us to “do” (and enjoy doing) life.
  • Dopamine, typically recognized for increasing mental alertness, also possesses antioxidant properties and increases levels of human growth hormone, crucial to protein synthesis and the development of muscle growth.
  • Mucuna Pruriens can increase your levels of dopamine, improve your mood, give you energy to exercise, regulate blood sugar, and lose weight.  Plus it can provide an extra fringe benefit — an increased libido!

Rhodiola Rosea  see Episode #57

  • An adaptogenic herb that acts upon serotonin receptors in the brain.  Most known for its stress reducing and mood enhancing  qualities.
  • Studies show it reduces exercise related fatigue, improves post workout recovery and promotes fatty acid utilization, so you can use those fat stores for energy.  It’s also  been shown to reduce hunger and/or binge and junk eating.
  • It can increase your energy, speed up your exercise related recovery, help you burn fat, all the while making you feel more happy and alert.

Panacea Alert!

Taking nootropics will not magically transform you into a chess champion or an Olympic athlete.  Nothing can compensate for poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep deficits.

And while some nootropics have fast-acting (“acute”) effects, many of their best results — like long-term neuroprotection — are not typically immediate, but build gradually.

Achieve Your 2016 Health and Fitness Goal

Move your body regularly, get adequate rest, eat food that your great grandmother would recognize and try one (or all!) of these supplements.

You will be well on your way to reaching your 2016 goal to “Stay Fit and Healthy” (which we all know is really code for “Look Good Naked”).

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?

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