Guest post written by: Guy Razi
I spent five-and-a-half years at university. Throughout that time I performed well but always wished there was some way to improve my memory, thinking and imagination. As with most campuses, an underground market of Adderall and Modafinil existed, but given the possibility of strong side effects I never indulged. During the final 3 weeks leading up to my thesis defense I lived on green tea, black coffee and as little sleep as I could tolerate.
Less than a month after graduation, I mentioned how tough it had been to a friend and how glad I was it was over. Someone asked me if I had tried noots. I didn’t know what I was being asked. He explained that nootropics are non-pharmaceutical grade cognitive enhancers. I wondered why I never heard anyone mention these in the last 5 years.
That night, I Googled nootropics and fell into a rabbit hole of racetams, exotic chemicals, PubMed, Examine, research articles, herbs and adaptogens. I realized immediately that this was something I had to figure out.
I ordered a scale and began weighing and measuring different chemicals and ingesting them. This was done haphazardly and the effects were all over the map.
When I began stacking (mixing) different nootropics to enhance the overall effect, I began to mix placebo pills into my batches and I’d measure focus and memory using basic internet games and around when I needed a coffee at work. Not the most scientific study but miles ahead of most people who ingest recreational chemicals.
Over time, people began asking me for samples during projects or for big negotiations. I’d make them a week’s supply. Then they’d come back and ask for more, and I realized I had hit upon a winning combination.
It took years of trial and error, research and testing formulas against placebo pills. When 87% of the first trial team decided they would buy a second batch and began handing cash over- the business was born.
Now, we are playing with the brain here so let’s use common sense. Use the supplement as directed, 2-4 pills/day for 5 days/week for up to 3 months. Take 1 month off to let your body reset. Habituation leads to a poor effect. Make sure you’re over 18 and preferably over 21, as we don’t know if this influences how brains grow- and that basically goes for every supplement on the market except fish oil. Make sure you’re in reasonably good physical and mental health and you aren’t pregnant.
Philosophically speaking, you can crank the brain (or the heart, the muscles or most bodily systems) to 11/10 for a few hours and nothing bad happens if you are healthy. On the other hand if you crank the system to 17/10, there will be consequences. This is one of the reasons why avoiding habituation and cycling your nootropics every few months is important.
So, what’s in them? My first stop was the natural aisle. Taking natural substances that can get past the blood brain-barrier felt safer because dosage guidelines are established. After all, if we’ve been taking an herb, root or mushroom for over 4000 years, we know the danger is minimized. A research chemical developed 25 years ago may or may not have long-term consequences to your brain.
Ginkgo biloba is a Chinese herb which improves memory, cerebral blood flow, dopamine and serotonin sensitivity, and slows cognitive decline. Even small doses have measurable effects. Lion’s mane mushroom is in almost everything I take now. When I first came across the data I was floored I hadn’t heard of this before. Yamabushitake stops cognitive decline, prevents plaques from building, improves memory, reduces depression and anxiety, helps build new neurons and myelin and improves blood values. Doses are relatively high, generally over 1g, to get measurable effects but they are well worth it. This is the backbone of most stacks I make now. Alpha-GPC is a choline provider. In all the mitochondria throughout your body, acetylcholine is needed to move or to provide energy. For a more detailed explanation, watch this video:
A textbook 150lb human needs 3.2-6.6g of choline/day, depending on how much physical and mental activity they are performing. Whenever you are going to overclock the brain, giving it some extra raw material to burn through makes sense. Lastly, a racetam. The racetam family has been at the heart of the nootropics revolution since the beginning in the 1950s, when Soviet scientists wanted to develop a sleep drug and instead made a molecule that improved memory. For the flagship product, coluracetam was added, the most powerful racetam that is currently legal under WADA. Some racetams have been banned by this organization and wouldn’t it be terrible to win an event and be stripped of a medal because of the cognitive enhancer you took for your creative side project?
Beyond memory, cognition, mood and creativity, some friends approached me and asked for something their parents could take to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. This was a tall order but I dove into PubMed to see what could be done. This research led to an all-natural product designed to maximize the brain’s longevity. The brain ages through systemic inflammation and a build-up of proteins that cannot be flushed out. Reducing inflammation and getting these proteins out increases cognitive longevity.
I started with lion’s mane mushroom, given its known effects of preventing plaque build-up and helping to construct new brain cells. I added curcumin to reduce inflammation. Curcumin is hard to absorb on its own, but in the presence of black pepper the body takes it in. The herbs rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha were both added in sufficient doses to have effects. Ashwagandha reduces stress and improves mood while balancing brain chemistry and rhodiola reduces fatigue and depression while improving physical and mental endurance. Keep in mind, the goal of this stack is to keep one sharp for as many years as possible.
All nootropics should be taken with a fatty source since fat easily passes the blood-brain barrier. I recommend eating fish with your nootropics in the morning. If you do bulletproof coffee, take it with MCT oil. If you are doing intermittent fasting and not eating until the evening, you can take the nootropics in the morning. They will not absorb as well but some will still pass. The other option would be to take them with a fish-oil or krill-oil capsule, just to get some fat to maximize absorption.
If you have any questions about nootropics or my stacks, please contact me at Guy@mxel.com
Also, if you decide to try any of the products, the code robb5 at checkout will get you 5% off.
Guy Razi is a Physical Therapist and Kinesiologist who has turned his efforts to optimizing human performance in mental and physical domains. Having competed in elite fencing, wrestling and powerlifting he is well aware of the demands on athletes. As time went on, he started his business to rehabilitate clients and later to enhance and optimize with supplements.