Two popular nootropic stacks

I’ll start each nootropic post with the two paragraphs below.

Nobody should be putting anything into their body without weighing both the risks and benefits first. What I share on this site is only skimming the surface of nootropics. Nothing I share should be construed as advice. Do your own due diligence and educate yourself.

I want to make one point clear. The boost nootropics provide is only available with continued use. In other words, if you stop taking the nootropics the gains that have been made will begin to diminish back to prior levels.

Caffeine & L-theanine

I started with a simple stack (a stack is a combination of 2 or more supplements) of caffeine and L-theanine. My ratio was 2:1 in favor of L-theanine. I felt the best results with 200 mg of L-theanine and 100 mg of caffeine. At this level I experience the stimulating effects of caffeine but none of the irritating side effects like anxiety, increased blood pressure, and trouble sleeping.

In addition to neutralizing the common side effects of the caffeine, the L-theanine noticeably enhances my attention. I only take this stack when I’m really needing to focus on a project such as writing or research. I also won’t take this stack after 2 pm because I’ll have trouble getting to sleep that night and that is counterproductive in my book. The brain needs sleep.

Racetams

Racetams are considered the oldest nootropics. Dr. Giurgea synthesized piracetam in 1964. However, not all racetams are nootropics. Here are the ones I’ve read about:

I took a stack of phenylpiracetam and choline for one month. I didn’t feel the effects until after taking it every day for ten days. The racetam needs to build up in your body so patience is needed as well as diligence in taking it daily. I noticed clarity of thought when taking this stack as well as an increase in mental endurance.

Choline is needed to help the racetams cross the blood/brain barrier ( choline is one of the rare substances that can cross the blood/brain barrier). Choline helps maintain healthy synapses and membranes in the brain which tend to deteriorate with age. It’s found naturally in many foods but sadly most people don’t eat a healthy diet (a pound of broccoli contains 180 mg of choline) so a supplement is needed.

I took 600 mg of Alpha-GPC once daily for the choline and 200 mg of phenylpiracetam twice a day with the first dose on an empty stomach. thing in the morning. The choline allows the stack to break the blood/brain barrier and thus effective. If you do not have enough choline in your system you either suffer a massive headache or not feel the effects of the stack.

Cautions:

  • If you take L-theanine with piracetam it will inhibit some effects from piracetam. L-theanine is a partial inhibitor of AMPA receptors.
  • Drink plenty of water (you should anyways) when taking piracetams as they have water soluble properties.
  • More is not always better, especially with nootropics. In other words, don’t take crazy amounts of racetams and choline expecting to instantly “feel” it.

Coming up next I’ll post about Forskolin & artichoke extract. Wait, what?

What are nootropics?

As I grow older I’m very aware that my cognitive abilities are declining. I’m not as good with names. I find myself using scratch paper or a calculator to do simple math problems that I used to be able to do in my head. These are just a few examples that have motivated me to make life changes in the hopes of overcoming the cognitive decline.

I know that I’m not the only one that is experiencing a cognitive decline as the research out there agrees with me. In fact, with the advancement of technology, there’s a surge in research about brain health including ways to improve working memory, cognitive flexibility, motivation, attention and much more. It’s very exciting.

One vein of research I’ve spent considerable time in  involves the use of cognitive enhancers or nootropics to be specific. The overall idea is that there are certain amino acids, essential nutrients and other supplements that can aid cognitive decline, even give you an edge over others. Who wouldn’t want to be smarter, have superb recall and be able to grasp all concepts they encounter on a daily basis?

The answer to that question can be found with a few Google searches. Software, tutoring, secret tricks, pills, potions, all available to anyone willing to part with their cash. As an example, while nootropics are a small part, the overall supplement market is a 32 billion dollar industry . Keep in mind that with that potential comes a dark side full of charlatans, unfounded claims and abuse. DO YOUR DUE DILLIGECE!

Before we move further I want to make one point crystal clear. Nobody should be putting anything into their body without weighing both the risks and benefits first. What I share on this site is only skimming the surface of nootropics. Nothing I share should be construed as advice. Do your own due diligence and educate yourself.

To begin, let’s create a working definition of a nootropic. The term was first coined in 1972 by a Romanian chemist and psychologist named Dr. Giurgea. His criteria for a nootropic include:

  • A boost to memory and overall learning ability
  • Provide protection to the brain from injuries, either chemical or physical
  • Aid in controlling the cortex more effective
  • Have no sedative or stimulant effects
  • Possess negligible side effects and no detectable toxicity

There are others who’ve contributed research and requirements to an always debatable definition of nootropic, but I’m using the above. Keep in mind I’m not after a euphoric high or a buzz here. That’s not what nootropics are designed to do, at least the ones I want to use. I’m looking for that mental clarity, the ability to recall data when needed. To instatnly find the right word to use while making my point to others. I want my brain to work the way it did when I was younger.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more of what I’ve found in my time spent studying nootropics. Here’s a quick example. If you’ve ever taken a 5-hour energy shot you’ve used nootropics. I’m not talking about the caffeine, as that has a stimulating effect which doesn’t fit our working definition, but citicoline.

Caffeine is great as a stimulant but is often accompanied by jitters and the inevitable crash. However, if caffeine is taken with the common amino acid L-theanine the result is very different.  The combination has a longer lasting and more beneficial effect which boosts working memory, while reducing distractibility. Who wouldn’t enjoy that from time-to-time?

Click to take the brain quiz

Click to take the brain quiz

Willpower

In his book Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strengths, psychologist Roy Baumeister suggests that we “have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted” as we use it. The good thing, as he points out, is that willpower is like a muscle in that it responds to strengthening exercises.

The biggest downfall of depleted willpower is that we feel other emotions more strongly. As a result, this leads to a one-two punch wherein: “Your willpower is diminished, and your cravings feel stronger than ever.” In other words, the willpower we use to resist one temptation comes from the same resource pool as the self-control exercised resisting another. This helps explain why diets are hard to stick to as well as why addictions can be so gripping.

What to do? Baumeister suggests focusing on one task or self-improvement goal at a time. Trying to attain several objectives at once leaves you with less energy because you use “the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks.” Seems simple enough.

Another suggestion in the book mentioned research that showed changing one habitual behavior – such as using your left hand instead of your right or focusing on sitting up straight instead of slouching – will increase your willpower over time. The good news is that strengthening your willpower in one area leads to benefits in others. However, in order for a true increase in willpower to occur it requires more than a few simple exercises.

Reducing stress is a simple way to keep from depleting willpower. Research showed that during exams, college students’ self-control wanes in almost every area, including diet, personal hygiene and behavior. In addition, temptations they successfully resisted earlier in the semester such as smoking, drinking or staying up late, became much harder to withstand.

Ideally, Baumeister suggests that we can conserve willpower so that it’s available when needed to make a final push. It’s almost to say that willpower is the gas in the tank of success. This makes sense as there’s plenty of research out there that suggests glucose levels  directly impact willpower. In fact, a single act of self-control causes glucose to drop below optimal levels. In turn, the low levels of glucose impair subsequent attempts at self-control.

One last suggestion is something very simple, get plenty of rest. Resting reduces your body’s glucose requirements and improves its ability to use glucose in the bloodstream. Enough rest not only increases glucose levels but wards off mental fatigue which leads to overall poor functioning. While sleep requirements vary slightly for each of us, most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night.

Further reading:

Change is good

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It’s taken me way too long to decide to simplify this aspect of my life but nonetheless, the wheels are in motion. Over the next few months I will close all of Psychtrader except the Market Awareness Profile (MAP).

This has not been an easy decision but one that is due. I’ve been engaged in the financial industry for well over a decade now helping others on the psychological aspects of the markets. While helping others achieve mastery in the financial markets is rewarding, it lacks something. What that is I’m not sure but I believe change will help me define it.

This site is the first step. Secondly, my twitter handle will change from psychtrader to djmphd. The content I share will also change in that it will become less focused on the markets and more on general psychological areas of interest of mine.

I’ll never leave the financial industry as it’s been a defining part of who I am over the last 12 years. In fact, one are of recent focus for me is volatility in the financial markets. Expect more in this area from me in the coming months.

I truly appreciate all that follow and interact with me on Twitter. My hope is that you find even more value from the changes that I’ve put in motion.