Friday, March 17, 2017

Smart Drugs Part 1, Alpha Brain

I loved the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper. In the movie, Cooper's character (Eddie Morra) is given a pill that unlocks the use of 100% of his brain power allowing him to write a novel overnight, learn day trading in days, and eventually run for the US Senate. The thought of taking a pill that could give you "limitless" energy and focus is appealing to industry leaders and Biohackers alike. Some people have resorted to taking amphetamine's which have serious health issues associated with long term use. Nootropics are the safer alternative.

Nootropics 101

Nootropics are commonly referred to as "smart drugs". The truth is they only enhance your existing memory and focus. They do so through several mechanisms. One common way is through Acetylcholine regulation.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, the carrier of chemical messages in your brain. The more neurotransmitters that you have, the more messengers you have to carry the messages between your neurons. Nootropics will often increase Acetylcholine, or its precursors, or decrease the elimination of Acetylcholine because your brain thinks you have enough.

Alpha Brain

The first Nootropic that I had ever experimented with was Alpha BRAIN from Onnit Labs. Among other naturally occurring compounds, Alpha BRAIN contains L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha GPC) which an Acetylcholine precursor, giving your brain more raw materials from which to make Acetylcholine. I find that 2 capsules per day gives me better focus and better recall of names, dates and other sometimes trivial information. Focus is slightly improved, if only that I better recall what I should be doing right now.

Fix Your Diet First

No supplement or drug is going to overcome a month of bad decisions, with the exception, perhaps, of amphetamine's. If you have brain fog, weight gain or are not sleeping well, you need to straighten out your diet first. As I said before Nootropics only enhance your existing memory and focus, do yourself a favor and optimize what you have with real food, moderate exercise and good sleep. Lastly, most Nootropics are not super cheap, so why waste a dose if you are hung over and going to sleep in?

Give Your Brain a Rest

As with all Nootropics, I will introduce breaks between courses. I will typically go with a one to two weeks on, and one week off of any particular Nootropic. I do this for two reasons. As Tim Ferris says, "there is no biological free lunch". Life is about balance. Periods of more focus should be followed by periods of less focus. Secondly, I want to return to baseline before trying another Nootropic.

Stay well engineered,

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These statements or products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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