Artichoke Extract and Forskolin: The Ciltep Stack

Artichoke Extract and Forskolin: The Ciltep Stack

Biohackers are largely responsible for uncovering synergistic combinations such as Artichoke Extract and Forskolin, but they do so at their own risk. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

During the past couple of years, plenty of study aids and memory enhancing supplements have come onto the nootropic scene, but not many of them have lived up to the hype they arrived with.

One of those “newcomers”, CILTEP, just so happens to be one of the supplements whose theory lives up to its practice, and that’s why it has quickly become one of the most popular choices in mental enhancement.


CILTEP is not a compound itself, but rather a stack of two compounds. The combination was first brought to the attention of the nootropics community in 2011 thanks to a member of the Longecity forum going by the moniker Abelard Lindsay, although studies done in 2003 pointed towards this method of supplementation some time before he did [1].

His intentions, naturally, were to improve learning and his ability to remember, and, through some self-experimentation and reviewing scientific papers, he discovered the substantially beneficial results brought on by the combination of artichoke extract and forskolin.

Since then a much deeper understanding of the combination that makes up CILTEP has developed through feedback in the nootropic community.


The name CILTEP is actually an acronym for Chemically Induced Long-Term Potentiation. The name is convenient, because long-term potentiation is exactly what CILTEP was designed to induce. Long-term potentiation is a process in which neurons grow and extend dendrites toward other neurons to strengthen the firing of the electrical signals between them, and the better dendrites can do that, the better your ability to learn [2]. This process is crucial in long-term memory, and when it was blocked in mice they were actually incapable of forming new long term memories and learning [1].

Artichoke Extract

Because CILTEP is very new in the science world (and technically theoretical) and is not a single compound but a combination of several, there aren’t many (if any) studies on it, but there are plenty on the supplements that make it up, so we’ll look at them individually instead.

The first supplement in CILTEP, Artichoke extract, is responsible for the compound’s main mechanism of action. Artichoke extract increases mental efficiency by inhibiting Phosphodiesterase-4, or PDE-4, an enzyme that breaks down cAMP molecules (brain signals) and reduces more effective brain activity.

Because of their ability to prevent the breakdown of cAMP, PDE-4 inhibitors like Artichoke Extract have significant cognitive enhancing effects, like improving long-term memory [3], increasing mental alertness [4], increasing cognition [5], and offering neuroprotection [6].


Forskolin is the next compound making up this stack, and it is responsible for increasing cAMP, CILTEP’s second mechanism of action [1]. This results in a magnification of the effects achieved by using a PDE-4 inhibitor, and increased improvements in cognitive functioning, particularly in the areas of memory formation and the retention of new information, far beyond what Artichoke Etract or any PDE-4 can do on its own.

New Additions to CILTEP

Those two supplements are what serve as the base of CILTEP, but the stack has evolved somewhat since it was first introduced, and since then a dopamine enhancer is typically added alongside Artichoke Extract and Forskolin to further increase the effects of this stack, but this is purely optional. If you were to add a dopamine enhancer, keep in mind that activating the D2 receptor can reduce cAMP levels [7], which is exactly the opposite of what we want, and while activating just the D1 receptors (the ones we want to target) is difficult, it can be done indirectly via the NMDA receptor.

This can be achieved with ampakines and most of the racetams, piracetam appears to be the best choice for racetams. This increase in dopamine has been known to cause burn out, and taking a supplement that supports natural dopamine production, like Acetyl-L-Carnitine(ALCAR), is advised.

Another addition to the CILTEP stack is Phenylalanine. While it isn’t one hundred percent critical to the effectiveness of the stack, it extends the effectiveness of CILTEP by preventing daytime sleepiness caused by Forskolin, a common side effect of substances that are anti-cholinergic [8] [9], by increasing levels of acetylcholine in the brain [10]. So, in terms of productivity, it is definitely an important component.

Benefits of CILTEP

You may find caffeine improves the results of the CILTEP stack. (CC BY 2.0)

There is a reason CILTEP has become so popular: it’s extensive list of benefits. Some of them include:

  • Increase in social skills
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased memory
  • Increased speed of learning
  • Focus and alertness of a long-term period (normally 8-14 hours)

CILTEP Side Effects

Other than sleepiness, not many side effects have been seen, although PDE-4 inhibitors are known to cause nausea in high amounts, but only over the standard dosage.


Artichoke extract: 900mg

Forskolin: 4mg

Phenylalanine: 500mg (lower doses work as well)

ALCAR: 800mg (200mg:1mg ALCAR:Forskolin)

Caffeine (optional but some users find it optimizes results): 200mg

All of these should be taken on an empty stomach.



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