29Nov

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10Aug

Best Nootropic Stacks

best nootropic stacks
Click to expand

A perfect photographic memory, endless focus, and charismatic social abilities—we want it all. Finding the right combination of supplements is an art that requires an understanding of the human body and how supplements affect it. A good stack consists of several supplements that work well on an individual basis. An amazing stack has ingredients that, when taken together, make one another work better. With some research and personal experience, we created the best stacks for memory, studying, and socialization.

Best Nootropic Stack for Memory

Having the ability to recall facts, concepts, and visuals improves overall cognitive capacity by expanding mental infrastructure. If one were to organize every bit of information they know into a lattice framework, it would be clear that more information equates to more connections. Enhanced memory expands this lattice structure to create depth and breadth as well as further overall cognitive capacity.

Optimal Memory Storage

Vinpocetine can improve memory by modulating neurotransmitters and improving cerebral blood flow. [1, 2] Not all of its mechanisms are understood; however, research indicates that vinpocetine supplementation can increase noradrenaline. [3] Increased noradrenaline levels are the most likely mechanism through which the cognitive enhancing characteristics of vinpocetine manifest. [3] Supplementation can also mitigate the synaptic damage that follows excitotoxicity. [4] By inhibiting the IKK kinase complex, vinpocetine can even reduce neural inflammation. [4]

Protect Your Mind

Best known for its memory-related benefits, piracetam also shines as a neuroprotective agent. Piracetam supplementation can increase short-term memory by positively modulating AMPA receptors. [5, 6] Its neuroprotective benefits stem from this mechanism, as ampakines can increase BDNF expression. [7] Neuroplasticity is positively associated with BDNF levels. [8] Modulating AMPA receptors gives piracetam direct memory-boosting properties, while BDNF augmentation gives it potential long-term benefits as well.

With vinpocetine and piracetam both possessing unique, yet synergistic, memory benefits, this stack is hard to beat. Vinpocetine can increase cognition by improving cerebral blood flow and elevating noradrenaline. [1, 2, 3] Meanwhile, piracetam can further the adrenergic properties of vinpocetine by increasing adrenaline secretion via modulating AMPA and NMDA receptor activity. This synergistic mechanism is multiplied when factoring in piracetam’s augmentation of BDNF expression. [7]

Best Nootropic Stack for Studying

When distractions are stretching your attention span, it’s hard to read an entire chapter, let alone remember all of the information. You can enhance your studying abilities by stacking Focus3d, aniracetam, and oxiracetam to boost focus, logic, and memory.

Focus

Focus3d brings wandering thoughts back on track. It contains two types of caffeine, dicaffeine malate and caffeine citrate. Dicaffeine malate tends to be easier on the stomach than traditional caffeine. Caffeine citrate boasts a peak absorption rate of 30 minutes, while other forms of caffeine can take 60-90 minutes to absorb. [9, 10] Both forms of caffeine help shake off brain fog and fatigue by inhibiting the binding of adenosine. [11] Adenosine promotes drowsiness by decreasing brain activity. [12]

Caffeine supplementation improves cognition by inducing an upsurge in plasma levels of dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. [13, 14] Caffeine supplementation increases levels of dopamine and acetylcholine in the prefrontal cortex. [15] This upsurge in catecholamines is the mechanism that facilitates the concentration related benefits of caffeine. [16]

Although similar to caffeine in structure, Theacrine brings unique benefits to the Focus3d blend. Theacrine can raise brain activity to a significant degree. [17] Much like caffeine, Theacrine can modulate the dopaminergic system while inhibiting adenosine absorption. [17] Unlike caffeine, however, tolerance does not build after chronic consumption. [17]

L-Theanine is the counter-weight to the stimulants in Focus3d. This particular amino acid can induce calming effects to compound the focus benefits of the stimulants. [18] By itself, L-Theanine supplementation can enhance memory and attention span. [19] Caffeine alone can improve overall alertness and information recall accuracy. Adding L-Theanine to caffeine improves scores on information recall speed and decreases susceptibility to distractions. [18]

Holistic Thinking

Creativity generates a plethora of ideas and solutions while logic brings those ideas into reality. Holistic thinking is the combination of creativity and logic; it is the ability to put pieces of information together in order to understand a concept. Optimal holistic thinking improves information comprehension by accelerating the conceptualization process. Connecting facts and concepts to familiar information increases comprehension by making the concept feel tangible.

Aniracetam is a wonderful nootropic that can speed up information comprehension. The prefrontal cortex is the brain region responsible for holistic thinking, conscious thought, creativity, and executive functions. [20] Aniracetam supplementation can increase these cognitive functions by elevating extracellular levels of dopamine and serotonin in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. [21] By modulating AMPA and acetylcholine receptors, aniracetam can improve memory formation and recall as well. [21] A sharp memory improves holistic thinking in an indirect yet vital manner. This is because it allows you to make more mental connections by providing more pieces to the metaphorical puzzle.

Oxiracetam

In regards to memory, oxiracetam is the king of the racetam family. Research suggests that the stimulatory nature of oxiracetam allows greater improvements in memory. [22] It is a non-traditional stimulant in that it generally does not cause peripheral effects, and it does not modulate catecholamines. Instead, oxiracetam can increase acetylcholine and glutamate release from active neuronal cells. [23]

Oxiracetam supplementation can improve NMDA receptor formation and sensitivity. [24] These two memory improving mechanisms create a two-fold benefit:  an increase in the amount of the neurotransmitter that stimulates memory formation coupled with more receptors for that neurotransmitter to bind to. In one study, oxiracetam supplementation elevated levels of protein kinase C (PKC) activity in the hippocampus. [25] PKC is a byproduct of learning/memory, thus elevated PKC levels suggest improvements in memory. [26]

Choline

Due to aniracetam and oxiracetam being cholinergic in nature, we recommend adding a choline supplement to the stack. Both racetams utilize acetylcholine, which is synthesized from choline. Insufficient choline intake may result in headaches and/or brain fog. Alpha-GPC and CDP-Choline are the most common choline supplements. Finding an optimal dose is very individual, as dietary choline intake differs from person to person.

Best Nootropic Stack for Socialization

Being in a positive, happy state of mind makes it easier to talk to others. 5-HTP is the go-to supplement for boosting the happy hormone, serotonin. 5-hydroxytryptophan can only convert to serotonin within the body. [27] 5-HTP also passes through the blood-brain barrier. [28] The efficacy of 5-HTP makes it a powerful serotonin precursor and the supplement of choice prior to a social event.

The moment in which you meet someone and immediately forget their name is all too common. A crisp memory prevents the awkward guessing game and makes it easier to recall the details about a person afterward. Bacopa monnieri is an herbal extract with memory boosting and adaptogenic properties. [29, 30] Bacopa monnieri supplementation causes significant improvements in working memory, which means it can help prevent the name-forgetting-phenomena. [29] It can also improve learning speed, memory capacity, and attention span. [31, 32] Although the mechanisms behind its cognitive benefits are not fully understood, its antioxidant properties are likely a major contributor. [33]

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3899677
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16100299
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2073927
  4. http://www.if-pan.krakow.pl/pjp/pdf/2011/3_618.pdf
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/826948
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1372342
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10627576
  8. Belzung, C., Wigmore, P., & Ohio Library and Information Network. (2013;2014;). Neurogenesis and neural plasticity (1st ed.). New York;Berlin;: Springer.
  9. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/578751_2
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824625/pdf/1550-2783-7- 5.pdf
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21970461
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11382868
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8039038
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8201901
  15. http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v27/n2/full/1395880a.html
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824625/?tool=pmcentrez
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22579816
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21303262
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8941956
  21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11597608
  22. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430020506/abstract
  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2602443
  24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1917508/pdf/brjpharm00256-0191.pdf
  25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8246681
  26. http://ane.pl/pdf/5321.pdf
  27. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/5hydroxytryptophan-5htp
  28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445233
  29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18683852
  30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21046986
  31. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11498727
  32. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18611150
  33. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815010
27Jul

What Are Nootropics?

what are nootropics infographic
Click to expand

Your mind is holding you back. The path to achievement would likely be much shorter with a flawless memory, a 160 IQ, and the charisma of James bond. Much like physical abilities, one can improve cognitive abilities with effort, patience, and consistency. Supplements can help expedite the process, and nootropics are the supplements for your journey to cognitive enhancement.

Nootropics Definition

Nootropic: noun- A substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning.

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nootropic

Nootropics are supplements that improve cognition in one way, shape, or form. They are primarily used to improve executive functions, memory, motivation/focus, and calmness. Students, business executives, entrepreneurs, gamers, and technology founders are the main consumers of nootropics; however, most individuals can enjoy the benefits of cognitive enhancement.

Where to Start

Most nootropics can fit into one or more classes: racetams, stimulants, and amino acids. Every member of the racetam family can improve memory formation and recall. However, additional benefits differ between different racetams due to different chemical structures.

Stimulants are the most common type of nootropic, with caffeine being the most well-known nootropic in the world. Stimulants tend to improve alertness by clearing brain fog and combatting the effects of sleep deprivation.

Amino acids are known for benefiting physical gains, but show equal potential for mental gains as well. No two amino acids have similar nootropic properties. Hopefully this article will make the decision making process easier for you.

Racetams

The racetam class of nootropics is the most notorious in the nootropic community. Their primary benefit revolves around memory formation. All racetams have the potential to modulate acetylcholine and glutamate, the two primary neurotransmitters involved in long-term potentiation. [1]

However, each racetam has a unique mechanism to achieve this, giving each unique benefits alongside modulating memory formation.

Piracetam

The original racetam, piracetam, is a good place to start for those interested in diving into the world of nootropics. It is a GABA derivative, but does not affect GABA levels in the brain. [1] Instead, piracetam modulates AMPA and NMDA receptors. [2, 3] It modulates AMPA by increasing the density of AMPA binding sites. [2] Similarly, piracetam can increase NMDA receptor density by up to 20%. [3]

It’s important to understand that the brain will not make new receptors in one day. The memory related benefits of piracetam may take up to 2-3 weeks to be noticeable. [4] Individuals may notice the anxiolytic properties of piracetam much sooner, however. Its calming affects are non-sedative in nature, so it may induce a calm state of mind without causing drowsiness. The anxiolytic affects are likely due to piracetam increasing serotonin concentrations. [1]

Overall, piracetam is the perfect introduction to the racetam family. It can improve memory formation and recall by improving AMPA and NMDA receptor density. The anxiolytic properties of piracetam can increase cognitive performance as well.

Aniracetam

For individuals looking for a supplement that can improve executive functions and memory formation, Aniracetam may be the supplement you’ve been searching for. Aniracetam can improve memory formation by modulating NMDA receptors. [5] Aniracetam can also increase extracellular acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin in the hippocampus to further its memory boosting potential. [5]

Increasing extracellular levels of dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine is how aniracetam can also improve executive function. Increased concentrations of these neurotransmitters in the prefrontal cortex improves logic, creativity, and overall executive functioning. [5] This is also why some individuals feel Aniracetam has minor stimulant properties.

Individuals can experience the benefits of aniracetam even after ceasing supplementation because it can increase the expression of BDNF. [6] Increased levels of BDNF correlate with neuroplasticity. [7] Neuroplasticity enhancement can make it easier to take cognitive functioning to new heights.

Oxiracetam

Supplementing with a stimulatory racetam can improve focus and motivation in addition to boosting memory.  Just like the previous racetams, oxiracetam can increase NMDA and AMPA receptor density. [2] Oxiracetam is the only racetam with the potential to improve NMDA receptor sensitivity as well. [8]

The stimulatory effects of oxiracetam stem from its modulation of acetylcholine and glutamate. [9] This may be how oxiracetam earned the reputation for being the best racetam for memory enhancement. [10] Verbal learning and fluency are the most noted improvements that can occur following oxiracetam supplementation. [11, 12]

Phenylpiracetam

Phenylpiracetam may be the most powerful racetam available. It has psychostimulatory properties, making it useful for alleviating fatigue. [13, 14] Phenylpiracetam can improve every area of cognitive performance by up to 12%. [15] Scores on memory and attention tests show the most improvement following phenylpiracetam supplementation. [14] Its potential to improve motivation and focus make phenylpiracetam useful preworkout as well, as it can improve physical endurance secondary to improving vigilance. [16]

With a half-life of 2.5-3 hours and an absorption rate of less than an hour, phenylpiracetam is perfect before a big test or job interview. [14] However, users report rapidly diminishing effects after supplementing for several consecutive days. It can provide a mental boost to start the week off on the right foot by supercharging Mondays; however, it might not be the best supplement for your daily arsenal.

Stimulants

Fatigue is like a weight vest for the mind. The sluggishness and inability to organize thoughts make staying on task exponentially difficult. Many individuals turn to stimulants to avoid this conundrum. In addition to mitigating fatigue, stimulants can improve focus and processing speed. 

Caffeine is the most common stimulant while caffeine combined with theanine is the most common nootropic stack. Adrafinil has quickly gained popularity due to its potential to reverse fatigue and improve cognition. A variety of individuals looking for a thermogenic supplement that adds an impressive energy boost consider yohimbine a staple in their supplement stack.

Caffeine

87% of Americans consume the most common nootropic: caffeine. Most commonly used to promote wakefulness, caffeine also has several nootropic properties.  

Adenosine is the hormone that promotes sleep and drowsiness when bound to its receptor. Caffeine abolishes exhaustion by inhibiting adenosine. [17] Caffeine consumption increased dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. [18, 19]

Caffeine supplementation can improve working-memory, focus, and vigilance thanks to it augmenting catecholamines. [20, 18, 19] Caffeine supplements increase dopamine in the prefrontal cortex as well. [21] The prefrontal cortex is responsible for cognitive functions such as working-memory and focus. By increasing dopamine in this particular area of the brain, caffeine shows impressive nootropic potential.

Since caffeine’s mechanisms are primarily neural, it can improve strength and lipolysis. [20] Beta-endorphins are responsible for the euphoria many experience during exercise. Beta-endorphins also decrease pain perception. Caffeine increases the amount of beta-endorphins released during a workout, which increases strength and enhances resistance to muscular fatigue. [20] Caffeine improves lipolysis by decreasing muscular dependence on glycogen and increasing muscular oxidation of free-fatty acids. Caffeine further enhances this benefits by augmenting catecholamines which elevate metabolic rate. [20]

Adrafinil

For the overachievers, Adrafinil is widely known for its ability to make brain fog from sleep deprivation a thing of the past. Adrafinil is a eugeroic agent, meaning it increases energy without resulting in stereotypical stimulant activity. [22] It is considered a novel stimulant due to its virtually non-existent peripheral effects. Adrafinil is converted to Modafinil in the liver. Unlike Modafinil, it takes time for adrafinil to accumulate to active levels, with initial effects being noticeable within 45-60 minutes, and peak blood concentration occurring about 90 minutes after consumption. [23]

The exact mechanisms of adrafinil are not fully understood. An increase in overall EEG activity has been observed following adrafinil supplementation. However, research indicates that supplementation increases dopamine and glutamate in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, respectively. [24] As a result, attention, concentration, vigilance, information comprehension, and power of memory recall can be increased by supplementing with adrafinil. [24]

Many individuals consume adrafinil pre-workout to take a break from caffeine. Similar to caffeine, adrafinil helps induce mental tunnel vision. [24] By improving focus and vigilance, it has been found to prolong workouts and dampen the sensation of fatigue. [25]

Yohimbine

Yohimbine is one of the most common fat burners for a reason: it is a powerful thermogenic with some nootropic properties. Its primary thermogenic mechanism consists of blocking alpha-2 noradrenergic receptors which can elevate norepinephrine levels. [26] This can also increase dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine to a lesser degree. [27] Modulating these neurotransmitters increases fatty acid mobilization and increases basal metabolic rate. [28] Research indicates supplementation can increase caloric expenditure during a workout by 29.6%. [28] Much like other stimulants, yohimbine can improve working memory, alertness, and attention span secondary to increased arousal. [29]

Amino Acids

Amino acids are known for their muscle building potential. Did you know that several amino acids also have nootropic benefits?  Since they are the building blocks of protein, every area of the body needs amino acids. This allows most to readily pass the blood-brain barrier, where they begin working their respective nootropic magic.

L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is used to synthesize catecholamines. Supplementing with L-Tyrosine can directly increase dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. [30] Elevating the catecholamines can help nerve communication and improve mood. [30]

Many users report that this amino acid improves their ability to solve difficult problems, such as calculus and physics. Research backs these reports, with improved deep thinking and problem-solving occurring following L-Tyrosine supplementation. [31] Several studies suggest that L-Tyrosine can improve cognitive performance despite psychological stress. [30]

GABA

One of the most important regulatory neurotransmitters, GABA, is an amino acid, yet it is not found in protein sources. It can be found in plant sources, however, as it plays several roles in plant cell signaling. In humans, GABA regulates many physiological and psychological processes.

Although it is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in humans, GABA supplementation does not induce sedation unless consuming very high, inadvisable doses. Glutamate, the primary stimulatory neurotransmitter, is synthesized from GABA and vice versa. [32] Supplementation provides a large supply of both of these essential neurotransmitters which can help balance neurotransmitter levels. For stress-prone individuals, supplementing with GABA can help reduce stress and related symptoms. [33]

L-Theanine

The most popular amino acid in the world of nootropics is L-Theanine. L-Theanine is responsible for the calming effects of tea. Pure L-Theanine powder and capsules are optimal for consistency and controllability purposes. Supplementing with L-Theanine can improve memory and attention span. [34] This likely occurs as a result of L-Theanine increasing alpha-1 brain waves which are associated with relaxation and attention span. [35] Improvements in memory can occur with long-term supplementation, as L-Theanine promotes neurogenesis (cell growth) in the hippocampus. [36]

Caffeine + L-Theanine

It is very common to stack L-Theanine with caffeine. L-Theanine acts to balance out the stimulant effects of caffeine to give a calm sense of focus. [37] Caffeine can improve alertness and mental accuracy. However, the caffeine and L-Theanine stack can improve alertness, attention span, and mental speed and accuracy. [37]  

Closing Thoughts

Developing an understanding of nootropics can seem like a difficult feat in and of itself. It is important to have an introspective understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses in order to figure out which nootropic is best. It takes some trial and error to fine-tune cognition. Nootropics are merely supplements. One would not, logically, drink protein shakes, sit on the couch all day, then expect to put on muscle. Congruently, one cannot take nootropics and expect to become a genius overnight. The trial and error is what furthers one’s understanding of one’s self. Isn’t that the greatest education that can be obtained?

Further Reading

Creating a Latticework of Mental Models:

Mental Models: The Best Way to Make Intelligent Decisions (113 Models Explained)

Racetams:

http://examine.com/supplements/Piracetam/
http://examine.com/supplements/Aniracetam/
http://examine.com/supplements/Oxiracetam/
http://examine.com/supplements/Phenylpiracetam/

Stimulants:

http://examine.com/supplements/Caffeine
http://examine.com/supplements/Adrafinil
http://examine.com/supplements/Modafinil
http://examine.com/supplements/Yohimbine

Amino-Acids:

http://examine.com/supplements/L-Tyrosine
http://examine.com/supplements/Theanine
http://examine.com/supplements/GABA

Sources

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  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1917508/pdf/brjpharm00256-0191.pdf
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2602443
  10. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430020506/abstract
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1414239
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2521069
  13. Bobkov, Yu G., et al. “Pharmacological Characteristics of 4-Phenylpiracetam ? A New Phenyl Analog of Piracetam.” Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine95.4 (1983): 464-7. Web.
  14. Malykh, Andrei G., and M. Reza Sadaie. “Piracetam and Piracetam-Like Drugs: From Basic Science to Novel Clinical Applications to CNS Disorders.” Drugs 70.3 (2010): 287-312. Web.
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  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8039038
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8201901
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  25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15179180
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20Jul

Best Supplements for Socialization

supplements for socialization
Click image for full size.

Improve your sociability to take your life to places you never imagined possible. Social skills affect relationships, careers, and quality of life. Interactions can be broken down into two steps: the introduction and the follow-through. The introduction is crucial to making the right first impression. 

Breaking the ice can be the most challenging feat. Social apprehension only exacerbates the difficulty. The follow through is of equal importance. Landing a job or making a new friend is dependent on your ability to display the best version of you. Conversation is simple. Mastering conversation takes practice.

Breaking The Ice

Research suggests that apprehension and being in a bad mood are the two most common factors that hinder sociability. [1] Apprehension can create an insurmountable barrier standing between you and talking to others. Being in a bad mood from failing an exam, for example, also has a negative impact on sociability. [1, 2]  

Apprehension and boredom are on opposite ends of the spectrum, yet both inhibit sociability. The Yerkes-Dodson law makes this concept easier to digest. Two scientists from the early 1900’s investigated the effects of arousal on cognition. This phenomenon is now known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. Arousal (stimulation) has a bell-curve association with cognitive performance. The balance between over-stimulation and under-stimulation is where the optimal state of mind resides. [3] Low levels of stimulation are often the result of boredom, fatigue, or sadness. [3] Excess stimulation can be internally induced by anger, or externally induced from too much coffee.   Being at either end of the bell curve makes it difficult to break the social barrier.  [3]  

Mood

Caffeine can help overcome under-stimulation and generally alleviate boredom.  The downside is that some individuals experience immediate apprehension due to caffeine sensitivity. Supplements that increase dopamine and serotonin levels can boost arousal without traditional stimulants. [4] Both neurotransmitters also tend to provide a comforting mood boost. [4]

Mucuna Pruriens

Mucuna Pruriens can turn that frown upside down by increasing dopamine and serotonin. [5, 6]  Mucuna Pruriens, also known as Dopa Mucana, converts to dopamine and noradrenaline. [7] Its rich L-DOPA content and high bioavailability synergistically optimize its efficacy. [7] Mood and levels of catecholamines, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, generally have a linear correlation. [4] Furthering its application to sociability, Mucuna Pruriens may decrease cortisol secretion to help combat stress. [6] Serotonin levels can also increase following supplementation; however, this benefit is likely due to the catecholamine systems interacting with the 5-HT system. [5, 4]

5-HTP

One of the best ways to boost serotonin is supplementing with 5-HTP. [8] The body can synthesize 5-HTP via the conversion of tryptophan; however, supplementing with 5-HTP is optimal for those wishing to boost serotonin with maximum efficacy. [9] 5-HTP passes the blood-brain barrier with ease. [9] The sole fate of 5-HTP is serotonin. Tryptophan, on the other hand, is either converted to 5-HTP or niacin. [9] Many users report feeling talkative and an increase in sense of well-being after supplementation.

Calm Your Nerves

Going to a job interview feeling like your heart is trying to beat through your chest while your mind runs is stressful and can be embarrassing. Overstimulation resulting from physical experiences, such as skydiving, affects cognition the same way as feelings of anxiety and anger. [3] Consuming excessive stimulants can lead to over-stimulation causing apprehensive thoughts. Either way, overstimulation often results in impaired attention, memory, and decision-making. [2] It’s important to understand the root of the cause on an individual basis. For example, if social situations induce feelings of insecurity, which are followed by uneasiness, taking your attention elsewhere can help alleviate issues. However, supplements can make it easier to get in the appropriate state of mind.

L-Theanine

Tea is the warm cup of happiness that puts internal calamity on pause. L-Theanine is the amino acid responsible for tea’s relaxation properties. L-Theanine’s anxiolytic benefits reduce the physical and hormonal effects of stress. [10]

Research suggests that apprehension causes cognitive background noise. [11] That background noise is not only distracting, but it can enhance apprehensive feelings. L-Theanine can reduce the mental white noise to make it easier to focus. It does so by increasing brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex. [11]

Bacopa Monnieri

L-Theanine can reduce stress-induced depletion of neurotransmitters; however, Bacopa Monnieri is unique in the anxiolytic class. Stress tends to decrease serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitter levels in the hippocampus and cortex regions are particularly sensitive to stress. [12] Bacopa Monnieri helps support neurotransmitter balance in times when stress cannot be avoided. [12] Put simply, Bacopa Monnieri is perfect for times where cognition is crucial and stress runs high.

Bacopa Monnieri also possesses powerful nootropic properties. [13] Bacopa supplementation results in significant improvements in working memory. Additional improvements in visual information processing, learning speed, memory capacity, mood, and vitality are common when supplementing with Bacopa Monnieri. [13, 14, 15].

Optimizing Conversations: The Most Interesting Man in the World

People with a wide range of interests, a clever sense of humor, and subtle displays of strong intellectual capacity are generally more liked by others. [1] Starting a conversation with someone is the first step to improving sociability. The second step is mastering the conversation that follows the introduction. It is what leaves lasting impressions, it can make or break relationships, and opens doors to job opportunities.

Leaving a positive impression takes practice. Thankfully, if you aren’t the best conversationalist, social acuity can improve with some practice and diligence. Improving attention span, working memory, multitasking, and holistic thinking should be emphasized on the quest to become more sociable. Each of these is vital to improving sociability. If one area is lacking, the others will fall behind as well. [16] Strengthening cognitive weaknesses leads to cognitive greatness.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) handles the aforementioned cognitive functions. [17, 16]  The PFC is the key to cognitive capacity and human mentation. [16] Attempting to understand others activates and necessitates the PFC. [17] The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for the majority of executive functions. [16] Executive functions, also known as cognitive control, guide one’s thoughts, actions, and emotions. [16] Improving executive functions compliments efforts to mitigate apprehension or improving your mood by fixing the problem at its root. Increasing PFC activity can help achieve cognitive balance and destroy social barriers before they are formed. The following supplements can improve PFC activity.

Focus

Energy boosting supplements are generally preferred for improving attention span and focus. The Yerkes-Dodson Law applies heavily here. Too little stimulation decreases attentiveness and inhibits memory formation. Meanwhile, overstimulation results in inattentiveness and decreased cognition. [18]

ALCAR

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a good alternative for individuals that don’t respond well to caffeine. ALCAR is not a traditional stimulant, yet it can provide a nice boost in energy. Studies show ALCAR supplementation correlates with improved attention span. [19] This powerhouse of an amino acid can balance neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine in particular. [20] By modulating catecholamines ALCAR can also improve logic, short-term memory, and long-term memory. [20, 21]

Caffeine + L-Theanine (or Focus3d)

Caffeine is common for those looking to improve focus. Taking caffeine alongside L-Theanine helps alleviate the jitters and anxiousness associated with caffeine. On its own, caffeine can improve alertness and attention span. L-Theanine can improve memory. [22, 23] Combining the two can allow one to reap the benefits of both while also improving the speed and accuracy of mental performance. [22] Focus3d capsules take this combination a step further with additional caffeine sources.

Mental Agility and Multi-Tasking

Juggling multiple thought processes can take conversational abilities to the next level. Being able to listen and comprehend what the other person is saying while applying that information into a lattice of relevant information requires an impressive quick wit. Add thinking of what to say next while also reading between the lines, and it’s easy to see why some people get social apprehension. Several nootropics may make the process easier.

Oxiracetam

Improved verbal comprehension is the first step in maximizing multi-tasking in a social setting. Improving verbal learning efficacy allows more cognitive capacity for the other cognitive functions. Research indicates oxiracetam can improve verbal learning as well as verbal fluency. [24, 25]  In addition to minimizing the tip-of-the-tongue feeling, oxiracetam can increase long-term memory formation and recall. [26] Oxiracetam modulates AMPA receptors which are responsible for memory formation. [27] Many regard it as the most powerful AMPA modulator in the racetam family. [26]

Piracetam

Many individuals use Piracetam, the original racetam, for its short-term memory benefits.  [28] Similar to oxiracetam, piracetam can boost memory formation and recall by modulating AMPA receptors. [27] One study observing participants in a social setting found that piracetam supplementation reduced apprehension without causing sedation. [29] For many, piracetam induces the elusive state of calm focus.

Holistic Thinking

Connecting the dots to paint a portrait improves conversational abilities and verbal fluidity. Enhancing holistic thinking eliminates the need to grasp for words. Research shows that people have a positive correlation with others that have a wide range of interests. [1] Holistic thinking is one of the keys to becoming a master conversationalist.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is best known for its positive effects on holistic thinking. As previously mentioned, connecting ideas via a mental sketchpad occurs in the prefrontal cortex. [16] Aniracetam modulates the release of dopamine and serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. [30] Similar to other racetams, aniracetam can modulate AMPA receptors. [27] Its potential to modulate NMDA receptors synergistically improves the ability to pull and form memories. [30] By modulating dopamine and serotonin, aniracetam can boost mood as well. [31]

Phenylpiracetam

Mental agility and holistic thinking go hand-in-hand. Phenylpiracetam modulates PFC activity, heightening mental agility. [32] Research shows that Phenylpiracetam supplementation can improve every area of cognitive performance by up to 12%, making it one of the most powerful nootropics. [33] Attention span, working memory, and problem-solving show the greatest improvements following phenylpiracetam supplementation. [32] Some individuals develop a tolerance after using phenylpiracetam several days in a row. Others keep phenylpiracetam in their daily nootropic stack and notice zero tolerance-related issues. If you are one of the former individuals, then phenylpiracetam may be better suited for exams and job interviews.  

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3783401 
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cne.920180503/abstract
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4647862/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904493/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15478206
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18955292
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18973898
  8. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/5hydroxytryptophan-5htp
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445233
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23458739
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17272967
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17321089
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11498727
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18611150
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21046986
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8941956
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC137574/
  18. Lupien, S. J., et al. “The Effects of Stress and Stress Hormones on Human Cognition: Implications for the Field of Brain and Cognition.” Brain and Cognition 65.3 (2007): 209-37. Web.
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12213433
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1944900
  21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2178869
  22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988
  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21303262
  24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1414239
  25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2521069
  26. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430020506/abstract
  27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1372342
  28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/826948
  29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/95599
  30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11597608
  31. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11959085
  32. Malykh, Andrei G., and M. Reza Sadaie. “Piracetam and Piracetam-Like Drugs: From Basic Science to Novel Clinical Applications to CNS Disorders.” Drugs 70.3 (2010): 287-312. Web.
  33. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646385
13Jul

Supplements for Creativity

Supplements for Creativity
Click image for full size.

Creativity is essential to living a fulfilling life.  It is also the key to the progression of society.  Seeing potential in everyday things is a beautiful skill.  More importantly, anyone from artists to day traders can improve their creative ability and benefit from a new-found perspective. 

Sleep Paves the Way to Creativity

General creativity involves letting the mind wander to find unexpected connections.  This applies to art, conversations, and even academics.  It’s common knowledge that getting a good night of sleep is crucial to staying sharp between the ears.  During a standard eight hours of sleep, most individuals have up to seven dreams!  Those seven dreams are seven opportunities to improve your creativity.

Dreams allow the mind to think much more visually and creatively.  [1] Lucid dreaming is when an individual is aware he or she is dreaming and can possibly change some aspects of the current dream. [2] One study surveying 334 participants found that lucid dreamers scored higher on creative scores. [2] The same study also found that lucid dreamers were more likely to incorporate real-life events into their dreams. [2]

Stepping into the realm of lucid dreaming opens the door that connects the conscious to the subconscious.  Increased creativity allows you to step out of your normal behavioral patterns to offer a different perspective.  Doing so allows you to see the things that you normally don’t.  Furthermore, there’s no risk!  You can fly without the risk of falling, swim without the risk of drowning, and interact with people without the risk of being awkward.

Supplements Pave the Way to Lucid Dreaming

Dreams occur during the REM stage of sleep. [3] This stage is also the deepest sleep state. Inability to fall asleep, poor sleep quality, and the inability to visualize thoughts are the most common inhibitors of REM sleep and, subsequently, lucid dreaming.

Fall Asleep Faster

Melatonin is the hormone that induces sleep.  It is the go-to supplement for individuals that lay in bed, staring at the wall while they wish sleep would come knocking on the door.  Melatonin supplementation can decrease sleep latency, the time it takes to fall asleep. [4] Unlike many common sleep aids, melatonin rarely leads to morning grogginess.  In fact, in a study observing participants that consumed either melatonin or a placebo, the melatonin group noted improved morning alertness. [4] In addition, melatonin has antioxidant properties and can even acutely improve lipid profiles. [5]

Sleep Quality

Poor sleep quality and the inability to fall asleep go hand in hand. If one cannot fall asleep, then sleep quality cannot be assessed. If falling asleep isn’t the issue, but you wake up often or experience daytime fatigue, glycine may be the supplement for you.  Waking up frequently reduces the amount of REM sleep, in turn preventing lucid dreaming.

Glycine supplementation reduces the amount of time it takes to get into the REM stage of the sleep cycle. [6] Although the mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood, it’s likely due to glycine’s ability to act as a neurotransmitter. [7] One study observing participants struggling with sleep difficulties noted that glycine supplementation improved sleep quality. Improved sleep quality allowed optimal cognitive function despite inhibited sleep.  [6]

Glycine has several nootropic properties which are also likely due to its neurotransmitter properties. Significant improvements in attention span can occur when supplementing with glycine. [8] Additional improvements in memory have been found in both young and middle-aged consumers. [8] Even in times of impaired sleep quality/quantity, glycine can enhance memory. [6] Glycine is known for being a very mild supplement, and it’s perfect for individuals who just want to feel refreshed in the morning instead of taking a supplement that renders them unconscious.

Visualize Your Dreams

Some individuals think visually. For everyone else, there’s DMAE. Information visualization occurs in the part of the brain known as the reticular formation. [1] DMAE supplementation can increase activity in the reticular formation which enhances the ability to think visually. [1] Consuming DMAE before sleep can increase the likelihood of lucid dreaming by improving the ability to visualize thoughts. Since the dream state is when the mind is already operating vividly, supplementing with DMAE acts synergistically to induce lucid dreaming.

Interestingly, DMAE causes arousal during REM sleep, yet it improves sleep quality. [1] In general, arousal and sleep are contradicting; however, DMAE achieves this feat through a mechanism that research has yet to pinpoint. 

Creative Problem-Solving

Difficult problems require unique solutions. Figuring out why a business is failing or simply brainstorming ideas for a research paper requires creative problem solving. After all, no two businesses are similar, and normal papers are dull.

Finding the solution to a problem requires two types of thinking: Divergent Thinking and Convergent Thinking.

An example of divergent thinking is brainstorming. It consists of thinking of all of the possibilities without deeply exploring each topic. Quantity is more important than quality in respect to divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking is finding one solution to one problem. It is the logical, step-by-step path to finding the answer. Math problems are a simple example of convergent thinking. 

Both types of thinking necessitate the area of the brain known as the pre-frontal cortex (PFC). The PFC connects every area of the brain to adjust thoughts and actions according to the current situation or goal. [9, 10] Creative problem-solving increases prefrontal cortex activity significantly. [10, 11] The PFC has 5 major functions in the creative problem-solving process:

  1. Assessing the problem and the goal
  2. Pulling information from the context of the problem [9]
  3. Collecting information from the long-term memory (textbook information, past experiences, etc.) [9]
  4. Connecting #2 and #3 [9]
  5. Visualizing the solution [9]

Supplements for Creative Solutions

Divergent Thinking

Brainstorming is built on a foundation of seemingly random ideas and concepts arranged in a cohesive and applicable nature. Optimal divergent thinking relies on the ability to put together all of the possible solutions to a problem. The purpose of divergent thinking is to come up with solutions that are unique or unconventional. Tesla Motors is a perfect example of utilizing creativity in the form of divergent thinking to develop unforeseen solutions to major world problems.

Aniracetam

Once consumed and absorbed, Aniracetam immediately begins increasing extracellular levels of dopamine and serotonin in the prefrontal cortex. [12] As previously mentioned, the prefrontal cortex is the brain region of interest when it comes to divergent thinking.  [10] In addition to augmenting neurotransmitter release in the PFC, Aniracetam can also increase levels of acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin in the part of the brain responsible for long-term memory known as the hippocampus. [12] Aniracetam supplementation can also modulate a type of receptor that plays major roles in long-term potentiation, NMDA receptors. [12] 

In the long run, Aniracetam can open up new creative pathways in the mind.  Aniracetam is in a class of nootropics known as ampakines. Ampakines can increase the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). [13] BDNF levels have a positive correlation with signal transmission and synaptic plasticity. [14]

The combined effects of Aniracetam are synergistic to improving creativity. Modulating the release of crucial neurotransmitters in the parts of the brain responsible for creativity, logic, and memory offers immediate benefits. Allowing the brain to readily branch out and create new pathways furthers the long-term creative benefits of Aniracetam. Meanwhile, the other benefit of increased BDNF levels, improved signal transmission, improves the efficacy of the previously mentioned mechanisms. [14]

Centrophenoxine

Stacking Aniracetam with a choline source is common practice due to Aniracetam modulating acetylcholine release. Many overlook centrophenoxine as a choline source.  Supplementing with centrophenoxine can quickly and efficiently increase acetylcholine levels in the brain. [15] Centrophenoxine is particularly useful for individuals looking to improve memory as its cholinergic effects have a strong affinity for the hippocampus. [15] Increased blood flow in the brain can also occur following centrophenoxine supplementation. [16] With Aniracetam increasing the activity in the part of the brain that influences creativity and Centrophenoxine improving blood flow to the brain, the combination could provide the optimal stack for creative problem solving.

Convergent Thinking

Divergent thinking necessitates a broad view of topics to develop possible solutions. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, provides the depth that cannot be achieved with divergent thinking.  Focus, logic, and patience are crucial to optimal deep thinking. 

L-Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine supplementation can improve convergent thinking by acting as a precursor to catecholamines. [17, 18] L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is made from phenylalanine.  While the body can produce it, supplementation can cause significant increases in plasma levels of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. [18] Modulating the production of neurotransmitters improves neurotransmitter signaling and can even positively influence mood. L-Tyrosine improves memory, focus, and overall cognitive performance via its effects on catecholamines. [18] The frustration of finding the solution to a difficult problem can be remedied by L-Tyrosine thanks to its ability to improve these areas of cognitive function.  [17]

Final Thoughts

The first step to improving overall creativity is getting enough sleep. If falling asleep is the problem, melatonin may be the solution. For individuals that struggle to stay asleep, supplementing with L-Glycine may be the remedy. After good sleep has been established, lucid dreaming offers an opportunity to delve into the depths of the mind. The dream state is when creativity is at its highest. Supplementing with DMAE can make dreams more vivid, complementing the creative essence of the dream state. Lucid dreaming at night can also improve creativity during the day.

Individuals looking to specifically improve creative problem-solving abilities should try breaking down the process into divergent thinking and convergent thinking. The goal of divergent thinking is to come up with a plethora of possible solutions to a problem. Supplementing with Aniracetam can improve divergent thinking by simultaneously boosting creativity and logic. [12] Convergent thinking acts as the filter for divergent thinking and is the more logical and in-depth of the two ways of thinking. The goal of convergent thinking is to find the best solution to the problem. Supplementing with L-Tyrosine can alleviate the stress of solving difficult problems by improving convergent thinking. [17]

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3173167
  2. https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/IJoDR/article/view/10640
  3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000689939700807X
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18036082
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22212240
  6. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x/full
  7. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x/full
  8. File, Sandra E., Emma Fluck, and Cathy Fernandes. “Beneficial Effects Of Glycine (Bioglycin) On Memory And Attention In Young And Middle-Aged Adults.” Journal Of Clinical Psychopharmacology 19.6 (1999): 5506-512. PsycINFO. Web. 18 Apr. 2016
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107958/
  10. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929313000236
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18266217
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11597608
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10627576
  14. Belzung, C., Wigmore, P., & Ohio Library and Information Network. (2013;2014;). Neurogenesis and neural plasticity (1st ed.). New York;Berlin;: Springer.
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6806676
  16. https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-0028-1108035
  17. http://bernhard-hommel.eu/Food%20for%20creativity%20(Colzato,%20de%20Haan%20&%20Hommel).pdf
  18. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/tyrosine

 

 

6Jul

Top 5 Supplements for Energy


Click image for full size

Adrafinil and Memory Formation

Adrafinil can increase memory formation and recall directly and indirectly. Augmenting glutamate levels can directly enhance memory. [3] Glutamate, which is generally stimulatory, plays major roles in memory formation and recall. GABA tends to inhibit glutamate.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory consolidation. Modulating the neurotransmitter that affects memory formation and inhibiting the neurotransmitter that inhibits memory formation in the area of the brain responsible for memory can drastically enhance memory. [3] Memory formation can be indirectly enhanced through increased attention span as well.

Your morning cup of coffee isn’t working anymore, deadlines are piling up and sleep has become a distant commodity. We’ve all been there: trying to make up for sleep deprivation by drinking gallons of coffee. Usually, you end up shaking like a leaf in autumn while your thoughts race faster than the speed of light.

While caffeine is easily accessible, (usually) delicious, and cheap, there are other supplements that can wake you up in a different way. Some supplements can help you push your body to crush PRs. Other supplements get your mind in the zone, so you can read without having to resist the urge to run a marathon.

Energize Your Mind

Adrafinil

AKA(RS)-2- benzhydrylsulfinylethanehydroxamic acid

This powerful supplement is perfect for staying alert during sleep deprivation. Adrafinil is a prodrug to modafinil. Modafinil is a drug prescribed to people who work swing shifts as well as people suffering from narcolepsy. [1] Adrafinil and Modafinil have nearly identical pharmacological effects. [1] Mental clarity and general wakefulness can become apparent within 45-60 minutes of consumption. [1] The half-life of Modafinil is 15 hours. [2] Effects tend to become more pronounced after taking Adrafinil for several days due to its long half-life.

Adrafinil can cause wakefulness and alertness without the jitters. [2] Adrafinil works by increasing overall brain activity. [2] The overall increase in brain activity is likely the result of Adrafinil augmenting Alpha-1 adrenergic receptors, suppressing GABA (an anxiolytic neurotransmitter), and increasing dopamine and glutamate (stimulatory neurotransmitters). [3]

Adrafinil can have cognitive benefits independent of sleep deprivation. The most improved cognitive function that can occur from Adrafinil supplementation is the ability to comprehend vast amounts of information. [3] Put simply, Adrafinil can improve the ability to digest, conceptualize, and store information. This benefit makes it particularly useful for students and those in the business realm.

Increased attention span can act synergistically with enhanced novel concept conceptualization. By augmenting dopamine, Adrafinil can improve attention, concentration, happiness, and overall energy. [3] Adrafinil has also been associated with improved sociability, communication, patience, and interest in others. [3]

Improved motivation and attention span also carry over to exercise. Adrafinil can augment a class of receptors known as the Alpha-1 Adrenergic receptors. [3] Alpha-1 Adrenergic receptors interact with adrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. By indirectly augmenting adrenaline and norepinephrine, Adrafinil can improve mental vigilance. One study found that supplementing with Adrafinil prior to exercise increased endurance. In that study, participants exercised at 85% of their VO2max. The Adrafinil group had lower ratings of perceived exhaustion which allowed them to exercise longer. [4]

The diverse mechanisms through which Adrafinil can improve cognition allow multiple applications. Students can enjoy its ability to increase memory formation/recall; meanwhile, it can also help business professionals stay sharp between the ears for an entire day. 

Phenylpiracetam

AKAPhenotropil, carphedon, fonturacetam

This powerful nootropic can provide long-lasting energy and focus alongside its memory enhancing potential. Phenylpiracetam is widely regarded as one of the most potent nootropics. It is 30-60x more potent and effective than piracetam, and it is used for a wider range of indications. [5] The benefits of phenylpiracetam are primarily cerebral in nature. However, it can also improve endurance and vigilance. [6]

Phenylpiracetam can improve cognition due to it acting as a psychostimulant. [7] The mechanisms through which its benefits manifest are more efficient and effective than the mechanisms of piracetam. [7] Phenylpiracetam is fully absorbed in less than an hour. Once absorbed, it is able to pass the blood-brain barrier, where it employs its nootropic benefits. The half-life of phenylpiracetam is between 2.5 and 3 hours. [5]

Once it passes the blood-brain barrier, Phenylpiracetam can begin abolishing fatigue and improving cognition. Phenylpiracetam can increase all areas of cognitive function as it increases overall brain activity. [5] One study noted a 12% improvement in all cognitive performance metrics following Phenylpiracetam supplementation. [8]

Longer attention span, enhanced working memory, and improved problem solving can occur following Phenylpiracetam supplementation. [5] Although phenylpiracetam can increase attention span, it generally does not reduce the ability to switch between tasks. [5] 

Phenylpiracetam can boost all areas of cognitive function, making it a solid supplement by itself or as a staple in a supplement stack. Its psychostimulant properties can deliver the extra charge to put you ahead of the game. Enhanced focus and problem solving can increase productivity to give you the edge in school and at work.

Energize Your Body

Yohimbine

AKAYohimbin, Corynine, Quebrachin, Quebrachine, Aphrosol, Yohimex, Yohimbe HCL

Yohimbine is a natural supplement that you shouldn’t underestimate. It is extracted from the pausinytalia yohimbe tree. Yohimbine is one of the most popular ingredients in weight loss supplements. It can increase metabolism, improve performance, and it even has some nootropic properties. [9, 10, 11]

Yohimbine acts as an allosteric modulator of the catecholamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine, epinephrine, and adrenaline. [12] It also decreases the reuptake of these neurotransmitters. [12] Neurotransmitter reuptake is when a synapse reabsorbs and recycles a neurotransmitter that it previously secreted. Decreased catecholamine neurotransmitter reuptake increases their respective concentrations in the brain. Put simply, yohimbine can increase the amount of adrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. It does so without directly increasing the amounts released.

The modulation of catecholamine neurotransmitters allows yohimbine to act as a thermogenic. Yohimbine can increase caloric expenditure during workouts by 29.6% through this mechanism. [9] Additionally, yohimbine can increase plasma concentrations of free fatty acids and glycerol, both of which are indicative of fat mobilization. [9]

Nootropic benefits have been reported following yohimbine supplementation. Its nootropic benefits stem from yohimbine acting as an indirect modulator of dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. [12] Research suggests yohimbine can improve arithmetic task performance which is likely secondary to increased arousal. [11] Increasing dopamine and acetylcholine can improve focus and motivation while increased serotonin levels can boost one’s mood.

Yohimbine is one of the most popular ingredients in weight loss supplements for a reason. Supplementation can provide an impressive boost in energy to power through workouts. Do not underestimate the strength of yohimbine. It is recommended to start with 2.5mg to assess its effects, and only increase as needed. Once individual effects have been assessed, dosage can be increased to 0.2mg/kg body weight (e.g. 14mg/150lb person, 18mg/200lb person, 22mg/250lb person).

Phenylethylamine

AKA: PEA, beta phenylethylamine, phenethylamine, β-phenethylamine, Benzeneethanamine, B-phenylethylamine hcl, 2 phenylethylamine

Supplementing with phenylethylamine can take your physical performance to the next level. It is derived from the amino acid phenylalanine. Cocoa beans are the primary natural source of phenylethylamine. In the body, phenylethylamine is found on every dopamine receptor. Phenylethylamine and tyramine regulate the release of dopamine. [13] 

Phenylethylamine supplementation can modulate catecholaminergic transmission within the central nervous system. [14] Supplementation can increase the efficacy of noradrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. [14] Increased adrenaline and similar neurotransmitters can result in huge boosts in energy and motivation. Adrenaline generally isn’t a neurotransmitter that can ease the difficulty of surmounting a mentally strenuous task. However, Phenylethylamine may help you push through a brutal workout and leave your limits in the past.

The Mild Stimulant

ALCAR

Acetyl L-Carnitine is in a category of its own; it can benefit the mind and the body equally. Relative to the previous supplements, ALCAR is milder in nature. It is not a stereotypical stimulant, making it perfect for individuals who do not normally tolerate stimulants well, yet still want a pick-me-up. L-Carnitine boosts energy by aiding the transportation of lipids from cellular membranes to the mitochondria. In doing so, it can improve cellular metabolism and ATP production. [15] 

Improved cellular metabolism means ALCAR is an indispensable pre-workout ingredient. Its performance-based benefits are two-fold. ALCAR decreases muscular dependence on glycogen, which allows the muscles to preserve their primary fuel. [16] Supplementing with Acetyl L-Carnitine also decreases lactate post-workout. [17] L-Carnitine can increase work output and capacity by 11% by allowing muscle tissue to use two fuels instead of one. [16] Congruently, one study noted an increase in sprint performance by up to 15% in the group that consumed ALCAR prior to exercise. [17] Increased work capacity, as in more reps and sets, plus less lactic acid equals more gains.

Similar to other energy enhancing supplements, ALCAR can modulate neurotransmitters, albeit to a lesser degree than those previously mentioned. [15] Don’t let that dissuade you, as it can increase focus, enhance short-term and long-term memory, and boost your mood. [18, 15] Acetyl L-Carnitine is commonly used to alleviate physical and mental fatigue. [19] It combats fatigue by mildly increasing noradrenaline and serotonin. [15] The mood boosting properties are due to the boost in serotonin, which is also known as the happy hormone.

One study observed the cognitive effects of Acetyl L-Carnitine on children suffering from attention related issues. Their parents and teachers assessed their cognitive changes. The children given Acetyl L-Carnitine had better grades. The ALCAR group also scored higher on behavior and concentration assessments. [18]

Stacks

L-Theanine

Adding L-Theanine to an energy supplement can help avoid the cognitive effects that accompany over-stimulation. L-Theanine is the amino acid that gives tea its relaxation properties. Stacking Theanine with a stimulant allows one to reap benefits that would not occur if consumed independently. For example, the popular caffeine + L-Theanine stack can increase creativity, focus, and learning. [20] Users have reported L-Theanine helps create a calm sense of focus when consumed with other stimulants as well.

Glycine

For times when sleep isn’t an option, adding glycine can help maintain cognitive function. [21] Glycine stacks well with most energy enhancing supplements and has very few side effects.

Vitamin B6

Dopamine synthesis requires a B6 dependent enzyme. [22] Supplementing with additional vitamin B6 can increase the activity of this enzyme which can increase overall dopamine synthesis. [22] Since most stimulants modulate dopamine, B6 can act synergistically with other energy enhancing supplements.

Vitamin B12

This essential vitamin is necessary for cellular energy production. Inadequate intake prevents optimal energy production and can subsequently have adverse effects on cognition. [23] Stacking vitamin B12 with an energy supplement can maximize benefits. 

References

  1. http://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB08925
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11191710
  3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/j.1527-3458.1999.tb00100.x/asset/j.1527-3458.1999.tb00100.x.pdf?v=1&t=ipemv6yt&s=b921b96b62754f8d3d2fbbedf0953064cf0f56d0
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15179180
  5. Malykh, Andrei G., and M. Reza Sadaie. “Piracetam and Piracetam-Like Drugs: From Basic Science to Novel Clinical Applications to CNS Disorders.” Drugs 70.3 (2010): 287-312. Web.
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10746314
  7. Bobkov, Yu G., et al. “Pharmacological Characteristics of 4-Phenylpiracetam ? A New Phenyl Analog of Piracetam.” Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine95.4 (1983): 464-7. Web.
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646385
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2645359/
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15866563
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9004342
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742556/#!po=73.2143
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9671094
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8272197
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22549035#
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099008/
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19341458
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12213433
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17658628
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21303262
  21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22529837
  22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1254699
  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257642/
28Jun

save money

The Most Expensive Products are Not Always the Best

When it comes to supplements, you want to make sure you are getting the best quality available. However, this does not always mean the most expensive option. When shopping for other consumables, individuals often compare prices. Some gravitate toward a branded product because they assume it is better. If it is a better quality product, then they are willing to pay more for it. Even so, a brand name does not always equate to a superior product.

Bulk Powder vs Brands

Part of the cost you pay for a branded product comes from the packaging. You are paying for fancy labels and containers. Powder City is able to keep costs down by removing this element of production. By reducing flashy, useless aspects of product packaging, we are able to offer our products for less and transfer those savings to the customer.

Athletes, experts, and other famous individuals often endorse products to boost that supplement’s popularity. Any company that offers an endorsed product has to pay the endorsee. This is a steep fee that the company transfers to you, the customer. We believe in the quality of our products. As such, we do not waste money on unnecessary and often misleading advertising. Instead, we focus on the purity of our products to ensure you receive the best benefits at the best price.

Another way we are able to keep costs down is via economies of scale. By purchasing large quantities from suppliers, we are able to lock in better prices. Because we are able to secure supplements in bulk for less, we are able to offer the products at a lower rate.

Third Party Testing

To ensure you receive the best quality products, we adhere to a strict Quality Control Process. When we receive products, we hold them in quarantine until a third party tests them. During this phase, the products undergo a series of tests. You can learn more about these specific tests here.

After testing, the product returns to us. If it passes the third party tests, then it moves on to in-house testing. This two-fold process helps guarantee the highest quality product. Supplements go through one last inspection and review before we release them to the public.

We also include a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that provides a summary of these tests and their results. Not all labs allow us to post their COAs to product pages for security and privacy reasons. However, you can always request a third party COA and we will supply it.

This rigorous process allows us to ensure our products efficacy and quality. This helps us build trust and provide peace of mind to our customers. It also saves us from potential headaches and costly problems that arise from inferior quality control processes. 

Smart packaging choices, purchasing in bulk, and adhering to strict quality control standards allows us to provide our customers with superior supplements at a fantastic rate. Customers should always feel secure in the knowledge that the supplement they are taking is of the highest quality without draining their bank account to obtain it.

21Jun

Best Herbal Supplements for Relaxation and Positive Mood

best supplements for relaxation

Whether you are feeling overworked, experiencing high levels of stress, or feeling anxious overall, you may want to consider herbal supplementation to calm your nerves. Stress can cause many issues within the body including increased soreness, upset stomach, lack of sleep, low energy, and poor cognitive function just to name a few.

Herbal supplements are for those looking for a natural way to wind down. Some supplements induce sedation which can improve sleep quality, other supplements provide calming effects without sedation. We put together a list of the best herbal supplements to improve mood, induce relaxation, and improve overall quality of life.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a unique herbal supplement as it functions as an anxiolytic but also increases motivation. This supplement reduces cortisol levels which is the hormone released when the body is under high amounts of stress. Ashwagandha also boosts mood and overall well-being. [1]

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola works by increasing serotonin levels – the neurotransmitter that promotes positive mood. This supplement reduces stress while increasing mental energy. High stress often causes fatigue, using Rhodiola can counteract this effects without over stimulation. [2, 3] Rhodiola Rosea also has many nootropic benefits including improved focus, workload capacity, and social functions. [3]

Damiana

Damiana leaf reduces the physical and mental side effects of stress. Damiana contains Apigenin which is a bioflavonoid that has sedative effects, making this an excellent supplement to take in the evening. [4] When suffering from mood imbalances some individuals may experience low sex drive. Damiana is a potent aphrodisiac which can alleviate these issues and improve sexual health. [5]

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa can increase serotonin and dopamine levels. These neurotransmitters are responsible for positive mood, motivation, excitement, and more. Those who supplement with Bacopa will experience less negative responses to stress. [6] This herbal supplement also possesses nootropic qualities. Taking Bacopa may result in improved memory and verbal learning. [7]

Valerian Root

Sleep deprivation causes many mood imbalances and cognitive issues. Using Valerian root decreases sleep latency. [8] Valerian root also keeps cognitive function intact by reducing cellular damage to the brain caused by stress hormones. [9]

Other Ways to Relieve Stress

  • Exercise
  • Balanced diet
  • Meditation

Review

Many suffer from stress, anxiousness, and sleep deprivation due to today’s busy lifestyles. With the help of a few lifestyle adjustments and herbal supplementation, quality of life is improved. There are many other products out there to assist with stress relief. Here is a complete list of Powder City’s relaxation products.

Sources

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22228617
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7617761
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19501274
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20590480
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17321089
  • https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2007-969430
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24055511

 

17Jun

Top 5 Nootropics of 2016

Nootropics have reached a record peak of interest in 2016, as more people seek out ways to enhance their bodies and minds. To give those of you who are new to nootropics a place to start exploring the variety of nootropics available, we’ve rounded up the top five nootropics of 2016 according to community trends and reports.

Phenibut

Cognitive, anxiolytic, and mood-boosting benefits are what make Phenibut one of the most popular nootropics this year. In a passive avoidance test conducted on rats to measure learning and memory, rats given Phenibut learned to avoid aversive stimuli quicker than non-supplemented rats did. [3] A cat study found that Phenibut suppressed or eradicated fear in anxious cats. [3] The rats given Phenibut also spent less time immobilized during a forced swim test, indicating a lesser feeling of hopelessness and an improved mood. [3]

Adrafinil

Adrafinil has become a very popular nootropic in 2016 for its ability to increase wakefulness and alertness. It is a prodrug to Modafinil, meaning that Adrafinil supplementation leads to increased levels of Modafinil in the body. [5] A rat study showed that Adrafinil increases activity rate by a significant amount. [4] Like other stimulants, Adrafinil also increases wakefulness; however, it does not cause jitters and agitation like most other energy boosters. [4]

Phenylpiracetam

Phenylpiracetam is Piracetam with an extra Phenyl molecule added to it, increasing its efficacy and improving its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier — making it a potent and fast-acting nootropic, and one of 2016’s most popular. [6] Numerous studies show that it improves cognition, with improvements ranging from 12 to 43 percent. [7, 8, 9]

L-Theanine

Heightened focus, increased feelings of relaxation, and decreased stress are the main benefits that make L-Theanine a top nootropic of 2016. Thought to be due to an increase in brain theta waves, L-Theanine increased memory and attention as determined by a panel of cognition tests. [10] In addition to working well on its own, L-Theanine is very synergistic with stimulants such as

So there you have it: the top five nootropics of this year. If enhancing body and mind sounds appealing, there are a number of options to get you started. A Nootropic Sampler pack comes with a variety of nootropics so that you can try them out and see what works best for you. We also offer many capsules so you can take nootropics without any unpleasant tastes. If you’re looking for synergistic combinations of nootropics, check out our variety of functional stacks — they even include citric acid and stevia to mask the taste!

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9195198
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19240853
  3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1527-3458.2001.tb00211.x/pdf
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1527-3458.1999.tb00100.x/pdf
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11191710
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166767
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21626817
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16608112
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646385
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21303262
1Jun

Best Nootropics for Gaming

Staying Alive: Your Nootropic Walkthrough to Gaming

Video games are a popular way to spend free time, but it’s not always the relaxing experience you anticipated. Some games, no matter how many walkthrough guides you reference, seem impossible to beat.

After hours of button mashing, taking breaks, and swearing, you might eventually get lucky and complete your objective. However, this Cro-Magnon approach to gaming achieves little other than frustration and carpal tunnel. There are better ways to improve your gaming prowess so you can enjoy your video games rather than cursing at them.

Gaming and Sleep Deprivation

More often than many would like to admit, gaming can keep you awake well into the wee hours of the morning. The longer you play, the more tired you become. The more tired you are, the more your performance will suffer. If you are at the climax of the game and simply cannot put down the controller, this can result in a vicious cycle of game death, rage, and repeating the same game sequence for hours.

Studies show sleep deprivation has a negative effect on fine motor skills. [1] Fine motor skills determine how coordinated your small muscle groups interact, such as hand-eye coordination. During periods of prolonged wakefulness, your ability to control your hands and fingers based on what you are seeing suffers which directly translates to poor gaming performance. By boosting your energy and your focus, you can avoid mistakes and maintain the finesse you need to execute your plan of attack.

Nootropics for Energy and Focus

The glitch of your nightmares.

Lack of sleep is not the only thing that can hurt your gaming performance. Repeating a level over and over is not only frustrating, it also reduces your drive to complete the sequence.

This lack of focus and motivation are detrimental to video game success. Unless a well-timed glitch comes along, your likelihood of beating the level without energy and focus is slim.

Focus3d Capsules

Your go-to gaming supplement should be Focus3d to improve energy and attention. These capsules contain caffeine citrate, dicaffeine malate, theacrine, and theanine. This potent stack enhances your energy and concentration without making you so jittery you can’t grasp your controller. This supplement also wards off the nervousness that is a side effect of many energy boosters.

Here is how the energy portion of these capsules works. Because caffeine citrate is caffeine anhydrous combined with citric acid, your body absorbs it much faster than caffeine alone. [2] Dicaffeine malate is caffeine combined with malic acid. This prevents the crash that typically follows energy booster consumption. Plus, the addition of malic acid makes this supplement easier on the stomach than standard caffeine. [3]

The theacrine and l-theanine content provide the focus element of these capsules. While theacrine can boost energy, it also provides a boost in motivation, focus, and mood. [4, 5] This allows you to concentrate and stay in a positive frame of mind during difficult levels or boss battles.

The l-theanine ensures that the energy aspect of these capsules does not overwhelm you. Energy supplements can make you shaky and irritable which is not conducive to gaming.

L-theanine cuts out these side effects to provide a smooth, focused energy. [6] Theanine also helps you to relax so that your hands are not wound so tightly around the controller that you need a crowbar to pry your fingers from it. [7]

Caffeine + Theanine Capsules

This combination is the little brother of Focus3d capsules. The same basic idea applies: improve your energy and focus without succumbing to energy booster side effects. If larger supplement stacks intimidate you, this combination of caffeine and l-theanine is a great starting point to improve your gaming skills.

The caffeine content enhances your focus and ability to process information while increasing your energy. [8] It is also able to improve your reaction time. [8] This means you will have quick wits and improved ability to respond to the demands of your game.  The addition of l-theanine cuts out the jitters, improves your mental performance, and reduces your likelihood to fall prey to distractions. [6]

Supplements for Sleep

Playing video games all night can have unwanted side effects, most of which are sleep related. If you need to get your sleep cycles back on track, there are a couple of options available to you.

Valerian Root Extract

If you find you cannot sleep due to racing thoughts or anxiousness, valerian root extract can help. Some video games are downright terrifying.

If your latest survival horror video game is keeping you up at night, valerian can help induce calmness and relaxation. It also helps you fall asleep faster. [9]

Valerian is also great at reducing stress. This supplement is able to decrease and inhibit the release of stress hormones. [10] If your video game is stressing you out, valerian is a great way to calm your nerves. 

Melatonin

Melatonin naturally occurs in the brain, telling your body when it is time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep. By pushing your body outside the normal sleep cycle, you can disturb your circadian rhythm. Supplementing with melatonin signals to your brain that it is time to sleep. As such, it can reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep. [11] Take melatonin close to your desired bedtime to help get your sleep cycles back on track.

Game Over

Whether you need to stay awake to save the princess, improve your dexterity to avoid detection, or get your sleep back in sync, there are supplements available to you.

If you are looking to improve your gaming abilities, take action now. Don’t be like Sarah. Ford that river with confidence and leave your old gaming ways behind in favor of newfound skills.

Sources

  1. http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(08)00712-6/pdfSummary
  2. https://ncimeta.nci.nih.gov/ncimbrowser/ConceptReport.jsp?dictionary=NCI%20MetaThesaurus&code=C0054436
  3. http://www.vitalhealthpartners.com/dicaffeine-malate-review/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23678853
  5. http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v5/n6/abs/nrn1406.html
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988
  7. http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:284103
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006208
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12895671
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24055511
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23691095

About Samantha Bookwalter

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Samantha Bookwalter is an internet marketing specialist. She specializes in web editing, copy editing, copy writing, social media management, content management, HTML, CSS, and other web-related acronyms. Samantha has an affinity for health and fitness; in her free time she enjoys working out with her husband and researching recipes that are not only healthy but delicious too.