| cognitive support

How to Improve Brain Function | Enhance Your Nervous System Naturally

By Christopher Walker

The brain and the nervous system are obviously very critical components to your health, as the brain controls and connects all areas of the body, and the nervous system comprises the main communication pathways within all of your body.

When brain health is superior, all other areas of your health — especially your hormonal balance — will function better. 

But more importantly, a healthier brain means better, more intelligent thinking, along with a happier mood and general well-being with a greater enjoyment of life.

Table Of Contents:

The Brain Is Central To Everything:

brain is central to everything

The brain is the primary controller of everything in your body, and while there are other “brains” in your body (like the gut brain, or the heart brain), the one in your head is the master regulator. Because of this, there is an interplay between your brain receiving information from the other parts of your body and then sending signals based on that feedback.

One great example is your pituitary gland, which controls almost all of the hormones in your body based on the signals your brain receives about its internal and external environment.

When stress and inflammation are high in the body, the pituitary gets these signals and naturally lowers production of the hormones involved in growth and maintenance, in order to direct more energy towards surviving and overcoming the immediate threat. Proper pituitary function is critical for health, but this involves reduction of stress and inflammation so that it gets the appropriate signals.

READ MORE: The Low Cortisol Lifestyle | UMZU's guide To Fighting Stress

In addition, the pineal gland is also critical for controlling states of consciousness that allow your body and mind to work together to allow you to experience the world in a certain way. For example, the pineal gland produces the melatonin that regulates your body’s circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.

In addition to all of this, the nervous system is the main way that the body quickly communicates with itself. Similar to how your brain sends an electrical signal to tell a muscle to contract, your brain also sends electrical signals all over the body to unify all the different parts of the body into one coherent organism.

Improving Your Brain And Nervous System:

improving brain function

The health of your brain and nervous system comes down to many factors, but the overarching, big picture is based around the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin acts more like the “hibernation hormone” rather than the “happy hormone”, and its action in the brain and body is to slow things down and prevent your body from overextending itself.

It pushes the body more towards the hibernation state — the low energy, inhibition state — and the “play it safe and follow the rules” mentality (aka the authoritarian/learned helplessness state).

On the other hand, dopamine signals energy production to speed up and is elevated when the body is in a healthy state. It motivates us and drives us to act, rather than sleep, as it excites cells into higher states and creates the “explore and seek reward” behavior (aka the “awakened” state).

On a practical level, this means we want to steer our bodies’ away from food and lifestyles that promote excessive serotonin, and instead, move more towards the dopamine state. This is where protein foods with specific amino acid profiles shine, especially foods like bone broth and collagen or gelatin.

These foods contain higher amounts of anti-inflammatory amino acids like glycine, proline and alanine and contain very low amounts of the inflammatory amino acids tryptophan, cysteine and methionine (of which tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin). This helps to reduce the production of serotonin, while simultaneously reducing stress levels and inflammation.

In addition, dopaminergic supplements like dopa mucuna can help to increase dopamine, and even dark chocolate has been shown to keep dopamine levels high. Since dark chocolate is one of the foods highest in polyphenols, it is a good idea to include it in your regular diet.

To help push your brain more towards the dopamine state, in conjunction with generally reducing stress, you want to ensure adequate consumption of carbohydrates. The brain prefers to run on glucose, and certain parts of it actually can’t run on anything but glucose.

There is evidence that ketones are easily used by the brain, and while this is true, getting into a natural state of high ketones in your body (a state called “ketosis) is a huge stressor to your body, as adrenaline and cortisol rise to prevent glucose from being burned. However, by consuming sources of medium-chain fats (which easily get converted into ketones), like coconut oil, or by supplementing with exogenous ketones, you can achieve the benefits for your brain while continuing to consume a high-carb diet.

Note* - The only type of exogenous ketones that we recommend using for supplementation if you decide to take this route are beta-hydroxy-butyrate (BHB) and acetoacetate. Do not use excessive amounts of acetone. 

In addition to this, it is important to get enough choline in your diet. Your body can convert choline into a compound called “phosphatidylcholine,” an important nutrient for brain and cognitive function. You can also supplement with Alpha GPC or CDP choline, which are forms of choline that specifically improve brain function. Another similar compound is phosphatidylserine, or PS, which is abundant in the brain and also helps with overall brain health and stress reduction.

LEARN MORE: The Last Guide You'll Ever Need For Sleep (How To Get A Perfect Night Of Sleep)

Finally, the practice of meditation — focusing on your breath and quieting your mind — has many benefits not only for the physical health of your brain but also for your experience of the world and ability to focus. Similar to how exercise trains your muscles to be stronger, meditation trains your control over thoughts and allows you to experience more of life than you can when too many thoughts are cluttering your experience.

Action Steps For Improving Brain Function:

action steps for improving brain function

  • Consume more bone broth and gelatin/collagen in general and whenever you eat meat.
  • Consider supplementing with dopaminergic supplements, like dopa mucuna, or eating more dopamine boosting foods like dark chocolates.
  • Consume at least one to two grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight.
  • Consume sources of medium-chain fats, like coconut oil.
  • Consider supplementing with exogenous ketones and phosphatidylserine.
  • Eat enough choline from egg yolks, beef liver or supplementation.
  • Train your brain through meditation for 15 minutes per day.

Dopa Mucuna

Now I want to go a little bit outside of my discussion related directly to brain enhancement and talk about one of my other interests, cognitive enhancers.  You see, being a competitive guy that likes to push things pretty close to the limit, I started to get serious about academics while still in high school.

In college, I was fortunate enough to attend a really high quality undergraduate program where I completed a degree in neuroscience in less than 3/4 of the time it normally takes.  The reason I mention this is that it lends credibility to my level of experience in pushing myself mentally.  My undergraduate experience taught me how to push past my preconceived limits to really get shit done.

At times, I have derived a great deal of satisfaction from drilling down my ability to execute that maximum amount of cognitive work for extended periods of time.  In order to do this, I have experienced a multitude of different compounds that fall into the cognitive enhancement or nootropic category.

Additionally I have many friends who are successful at the highest level of academics or entrepreneurship who, at one point or another, have been heavily involved with this corner of the performance enhancement arena. 

While I hesitate to do so, I feel that I have reached a point where I am more than qualified to give my opinion in the hope that it will serve you guys and give you a good base of knowledge as far as cognitive enhancement is concerned.  So, before we start, I need to give you guys the bottom line of what you need to know when trying to decide which compounds to use.

I’ve Been At This For a While….

cognitive enhancement experience

Some compounds are absolutely inappropriate for daily use. When deciding which compounds to use, you first have to decide if you are going to be using them to boost your performance over the long term to increase work output, or to enhance performance for a short term, event based project.  For example if you have a deadline coming up such as a very important piece of content, code, or editing to do and you have a specific timeline it needs to be completed in, it may be appropriate to use synthetic or more crude cognitive enhancers (discussed later in the article).  If you are looking to improve your ability to do the above mentioned tasks over the course of X number of weeks, months, or years, you certainly are going to want to look at some natural alternatives that you respond well to.

I can tell you from experience, that any time I attempted to use a stronger synthetic compound over an extended period of time, I ran into serious trouble with allergies, side effects, or mood swings.  After months, and in some cases years, of going back and forth, I settled on the fact that I could not take synthetic compounds over an extended period of time. 

Given my experience, I would recommend first and foremost taking breaks from all compounds, synthetic or natural, at set times throughout the year.  Next I would come up with a few natural compounds that work well with your body that you can cycle when you are trying to enhance your day to day work output.  Finally, and optionally, you can have 1-2 synthetic compounds you use as a short term enhancement tool.

In the case of short term synthetic compound use, they should be substances you have used that you have had good results with, are legal for you to use, and in the case of prescription based drugs have been authorized for your use by a licensed physician.  Now that we have that somewhat generic warning out of the way, I want to go over some of the pros and cons of synthetic cognitive enhancers.

Synthetic Cognitive Enhancers: Some Pros & Cons:

pros and cons of synthetic cognitive enhancers

First, there are the synthetic cognitive enhancers.  This is a short list of some of the more popular drugs that fall into the category of synthetic cognitive enhancers:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Metadate
  • Concerta
  • Methylin
  • Modafinil
  • Clonidine

These types of synthetic compounds have been used to treat a number of cognitive disorders as well as to alleviate the symptoms of some sub-clinical level disorders.  Often times, these drugs are used recreationally for their potential performance enhancing effects during mentally taxing work such as studying.  For those of you who have never experienced some of the effects of these drugs, you should consider the following subjectively reported benefits of the popular ADHD drug Concerta:

“I was prescribed 18mg of Concerta. I tried it for about a month, and noticed significant results. I am able to focus on tasks, stay organized, and (a big deal for me) I am able to process what people were saying to me. I have received a lot of positive remarks on my job performance, and am being considered for a position that a year ago, would not have even been a possibility.

I was told that a side effect of Concerta was a loss of appetite, and I have noticed that, but it has turned out to be a positive side effect. I am not eating the junk food that I used to nibble on throughout the day, but instead, I have 3 healthy meals. I have lost almost sixty pounds since going on the drug. ( I was obese and had terrible eating and exercising habits). Due to the increased level of energy that I now have, I have started a rigorous training regiment, and have signed up for a Spartan obstacle race 9 months from now.”

The above is a good example as it hits on many common themes reported from users of synthetic cognitive enhancers.  While some of the effects, such as an increase in energy and a loss of appetite, are specific to stimulant based cognitive enhancers, many of the other benefits, such as focus and the ability to concentrate, are central to most cognitive enhancers. 

While this is a good thing, it is naive to think that such dramatic benefits, such as those described in the above user testimonial, come at no cost to the body.  For example, even Modafinil, which is considered less severe then stimulant based cognitive enhancers, causes all of the following subjectively reported side effects:

“headache, drowsiness, back pain, nervousness, stuffy nose, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. In some cases, there are serious potential side effects like rash, allergic reactions, mouth sores, hives, peeling or blistering skin, swelling of the face or legs, trouble swallowing or breathing, fever, and shortness of breath.”

Make no mistake, these side effects do not apply to everyone.  The majority of people who take an FDA certified substance will experience very few serious side effects.  However, for every drug, a minority of the users will experience more severe side effects along with those less noticeable more benign ones. 

A good example is the rare case of Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome (SJS).  This rare condition causes a dangerous, often life threatening, skin rash in people who have a genetic susceptibility to the disease.  In most cases, this skin rash is the by-product of a severe autoimmune response.  Usually SJS is caused by antibiotics, but it has been known to be caused by Modafinil use as well.

Keep in mind, this is one of the more serious conditions associated with a relatively mild cognitive enhancer.  Have you ever wondered what the most serious conditions are that are associated with the strongest stimulant based amphetamines?  Well, as with most drugs, the worst case scenario is death as a side effect of use.  This is very uncommon of course, especially with any drug that is regulated by the FDA. 

What is more important is what can happen to a reasonably large percentage of users under normal conditions.  In the case of amphetamine based cognitive enhancers, improper usage, and addiction is probably the most serious concern.  According to a research paper published by University Medical Center, Mainz Germany, a 5th of surveyed ADHD sufferers reported misusing their prescription for reasons other than ADHD treatment.  The paper determined that cognitive enhancement was one of the more likely reasons for misuse.

"The number of patients with ADHD misusing their prescribed ADHD medication (prescription stimulants) in the USA for different purposes was estimated to be 22 %. Compared to estimated prevalence rates of using prescription stimulants in healthy subjects (5 % ) this number is very high. In our study, we excluded subjects with ADHD. This may be one reason for the lower prevalence rate in our study."

While many people who are using some of the more powerful prescription cognitive enhancers begin using with a genuine need, many dovetail their use into a recreational amphetamine habit.  This is one of the main reasons I suggest knowing how your body reacts to various compounds and only using the stronger ones if you absolutely need to.  Ultimately this comes down to knowing yourself.  Unfortunately, for many people they start down the slippery slope towards classically conditioning themselves into a serious amphetamine/stimulant/cognitive enhancer habit.

Anyone unfamiliar with classic conditioning can check out a description of this landmark study in the field of behavioral psychology.  This is a  short summary courtesy of Simplypsychology.

“In his experiment, Pavlov used a bell as his neutral stimulus. Whenever he gave food to his dogs, he also rang a bell. After a number of repeats of this procedure, he tried the bell on its own. As you might expect, the bell on its own now caused an increase in salivation.

So the dog had learned an association between the bell and the food and a new behavior had been learnt. Because this response was learned (or conditioned), it is called a conditioned response. The neutral stimulus has become a conditioned stimulus.

Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the dogs learnt to associate with food (such as the lab assistant) would trigger the same response”

A scenario I have seen played out over and over is in students who are looking to increase their effectiveness in school.  They turn to the use of synthetic cognitive enhancers of the stimulant based variety.  The student will learn to study using the cognitive enhancers and be impressed with their performance.  The student will then begin to associate the cognitive enhancers used with studying and vice versa.  All of the activities and behaviors that go along with studying subconsciously begin to be associated with amphetamine use in the students minds. 

The students will then find themselves more interested in “studying”.  They will naturally want to engage in studying and all those things that are related.  This is fantastic in terms of absolute performance.  Test scores, grade point averages, and interest in school all go up. As the students' interest in and time spent studying increases, all too often their frequency of use and dosages increase as well.  The danger is, this can all happen subconsciously without the students really noticing.

An important thing to keep in mind is that it is possible to get addicted to almost anything.  The problem with stimulant based amphetamines is that they are much more likely to lead to addiction then non-stimulant or natural cognitive enhancers.  For anyone who is still unsure about the dangers of prescription drugs consider this description of what it is like to use the highly illegal drug methamphetamine (Schedule II, U.S.).

“The rush is followed by a high, sometimes called “the shoulder.” During the high, the abuser often feels aggressively smarter and becomes argumentative, often interrupting other people and finishing their sentences. The delusional effects can result in a user becoming intensely focused on an insignificant item, such as repeatedly cleaning the same window for several hours. The high can last four to sixteen hours.”

What is interesting about the above quote is that it’s from drugfreeworld.org, a clearly one sided website whose sole purpose is to dismiss any type of drug use as life ending and morally wrong.  Personally, I do not agree with this.  While I certainly would never recommend recreational methamphetamine use, I believe in distilling the facts and presenting them in as concise a manner as possible.  In this case however, even this very one sided website’s description of methamphetamine use shares an eerily large amount of similarities with the self reported experience of a Concerta user I  quoted at the top of this article.  While most Concerta or Adderall users probably would not say they are aggressively smarter or interrupt people, they would probably agree to a less severe version of the same description.

Read More: 3 Natural Steroid Alternatives

The Many Benefits of Synthetic Cognitive Enhancers:

benefits of synthetic cognitive enhancers

While it is worth reporting some of the negative side effects of synthetic cognitive enhancers, they do have their benefits.  One of the most alluring side effects of these drugs is their ability to enhance concentration and seemingly magnify creative ability.  Drugs like Modafinil and stimulant based cognitive enhancers, such as Adderall, are especially popular with people performing intensive mental work such as coding and creative writing.

Dave Asprey of Bulletproof  writes about how his early support for modafinil use made him something of a sounding board for his friends who were starting to experiment with the drug.  After a few friends opened up to him about their use, he realized how many of them had used the drug to push through plateaus in their own careers and creative endeavors.  One important thing to keep in mind is that most of the highly successful friends he talks about use the drug in a very strategic manner. 

Among Dave’s friends there appears to be no instances of the haphazard or habitual use you see among many of the casual drug users who post on the average ADHD or nootropic drug forums.  Dave’s friends seem to be using these drugs in a manner that is far more calculated than the average drug user.  These guys are using drugs to push through specific pre-planned plateaus, not to enhance their lifestyle or for fun.

Not your “average” drug user

Not many regular guys here either……….

In regards to the mainstream use of modafinil Dave writes:

“I’m not shy about the fact that I use smart drugs and have for years. I used Modafinil (aka Provigil) when I got my Wharton MBA while working full time at a startup that sold for $600 million. I even hazard to mention it in my LinkedIn profile which made more than a few Silicon Valley exec friends open up to me that they had used it, at least on occasion. 

More and more people are becoming aware of the positive effects Modafinil can have on their cognitive performance and overall well being.  Students are starting to hack their intelligence too.  There are numerous stories about college students using Modafinil to get an edge on their schoolmates. It worked for me as a student.”

Clearly there are some fantastic benefits of the use of these cognitive enhancers.  In the first video, Dave mentions talking about how his doctor assumed he would want Adderall, even though he wanted Modafinil instead.  He mentions that he feels Modafinil is more mild while still being upfront about its many side effects. 

In the second video, Tim Ferris discusses why he doesn’t use Modafinil very often and some of the downsides he has noticed.  He even goes as far as to say that he would use anabolic steroids regularly before he would use Modafinil regularly.  Tim throws on his sports supplement hat and talks about why strong physiological effects are related to strong and sometimes negative side-effects.  Therefore, he says that simply due to the strength of Modafinil, he uses it very sparingly.  This is pretty much the same reason I would not recommend synthetic cognitive enhancers for long term regular use.

“Its extremely hard to get a free lunch with biochemical enhancement”

-Tim Ferris

The Limited History of Synthetic Cognitive Enhancers:

history of synthetic cognitive enhancers

So if these drugs are so popular and so effective, why haven’t more people been dissuaded from use by all these horrible side effects?  Well for one, these drugs have not been around for a very long time.  There is not much history to go off of.  For example, Modafinil was developed in the late 70s and was not marketed for mainstream use until it found success being promoted to narcoleptics.  Most of the popular ADHD medications were not widely used in the U.S. until the late 80s when the American Psychological Association changed their definition of ADHD as part of the DSM-III revision, 1987. 

They grouped many symptoms together that had been associated with ADD, ADHD and related cognitive disorders.  Not only did this revision bring light to a number of mental health issues, it made the use of related medications more widespread.  The point of this short history lesson is that there are not many sources to look at when deciding the long term effects of taking these drugs.

Scientists and physicians are forced to rely on anecdotal evidence and conjecture in their recommendations and admonitions related to long term use.  As an example, Dr. Peter Morgan of Yale University had the following to say in regards to what he thought was possible with long term Modafinil use:

“If somebody takes modafinil long-term, they may develop some of the same deficits in slow-wave sleep as cocaine users,” he says. “Slow-wave sleep is the deep sleep that we tend to get early in the night. But by taking a stimulant that forces the body to be awake more than it wants to be, you are disrupting its ability to regulate how much sleep it gets and the kind of sleep it gets, so it never feels properly refreshed.”

If you are interested in enhancing your day to day performance and nourishing your body in the process, it is best to look for drugs that have little to no potential for abuse as well as an absolute minimum of side effects.  Personally, I have found a number of compounds that fit the bill.  However, I want to talk about why I decided to focus on natural cognitive enhancers before I get into specific recommendations.

Natural Cognitive Enhancers: Some Pros & Cons:

natural cognitive enhancers

When you hear people discussing natural vs. synthetic cognitive enhancers they will usually refer to them as nootropics and smart drugs.  The term nootropic is ascribed to the Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea.  He originally meant for the word to be associated with only those compounds that enhanced brain health and functioning.  Over time, the term became synonymous with any type of compound that had the potential to enhance brain functioning.

For the purpose of this article I will use natural cognitive enhancers to discuss only those nootropics that are derived from a specific supplement and were not exclusively developed in a laboratory environment.  The type of natural cognitive enhancers that I am interested in are the ones that do in fact increase cognitive performance while enhancing brain health. 

Good examples are Choline and Ginkgo Biloba.  These are compounds that have a large body of research supporting their ability to enhance long term brain health.  While these are three of the more mild brain enhancers, I will use them as examples to discuss some of the benefits of these types of compounds.  I will then give some of my recommendations for stronger natural cognitive enhancers.

Ginkgo Biloba is a cognitive enhancer that assists in proper brain function in a number of ways.  Most of the performance enhancement benefits of Ginkgo are a result of its ability to increase blood flow to the brain.  In multiple studies, Ginkgo Biloba has been shown to increase memory, performance on cognitive tests, as well as subjectively reported mood.

While the mechanisms of action for these changes are beyond the scope of this article, the basic premise is that they facilitate different aspects of brain function.  This is the opposite of most synthetic cognitive enhancers that often provide a large amount of a substance that the body naturally regulates, circumventing the body's normal regulatory processes in order to force an increase in production or uptake of various substrates.

Choline, like Ginkgo Biloba, enhances the brain’s performance by facilitating its natural processes.  Choline has been shown to enhance the structure and function of brain cell membranes.  This improves the ability of the brain’s cells to guard against foreign toxins and pathogens.  Choline also works by normalizing the levels of the nervous system’s substrate components.  This means that choline can increase the efficiency of the nervous system.

One way to think about the benefits of natural vs. synthetic cognitive enhancers is to look at the way Creatine helps the body to build muscle vs. the way anabolic steroids help the body to build muscle.  Creatine provides the energy substrate, ATP, that is used to power the body's muscles.  This increases performance and allows users to train harder.  This in turn allows for a greater training effect over time.  The body is able to function at an above average level because it has been provided with a consistently large supply of the basic building blocks for its energy substrates.

Anabolic Steroids on the other hand force the body to function abnormally by introducing unnaturally high levels of key hormones.  This circumvents the body's ability to naturally regulate its own hormone levels.  The main problem with this is that it can blunt the body's sensitivity to these hormones over time. 

This is similar to the problem that long term users of synthetic cognitive enhancers experience.  Synthetic cognitive enhancers can throw off the body's regulation of many important chemicals.  Instead of losing some muscle, as is the case when getting off of anabolic steroids, you might experience a loss in your ability to concentrate or even your good mood when getting off of potent cognitive enhancers.

My Favorite Natural Cognitive Enhancers:

my favorite natural cognitive enhancers

As I mentioned in the introduction, I have come to rely more heavily on natural cognitive enhancers that are safe for day to day use.  After trying a number of different compounds, two stand out as being the most noticeably effective.

Ashwagandha is one of these two compounds.  Ashwagandha has been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety and slash circulating cortisol levels.  Depending on the study, Cortisol levels have been shown to decrease up to 32% with regular Ashwagandha supplementation.  Ashwaganha has even been shown to enhance HDL cholesterol levels, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and lower inflammation.  Finally, it has been shown to increase sperm motility and health.

Ashwagandha’s ability to increase testosterone makes it one of the foundational supplements for users wishing to enhance themselves once their nutrition is dialed in.  As part of my TestShock program, I recommend its near continuous use as it is one of the only research backed compounds that has a consistently positive effect on the cortisol to testosterone ratio.  Beyond its testosterone enhancing benefits, Ashwagandha is a fantastic sleep promoting agent.  One of the effects that I have noticed and have consistently gotten comments about is Ashwagandha’s ability to improve quality of sleep.  There is research backed as well as anecdotal evidence that shows that Ashwagandha can enhance sleep.

Beyond Ashwagandha’s direct effect on the cortisol to testosterone ratio, it also indirectly affects it due to the enhanced quality of sleep it promotes.  The enhanced sleep that I experience while using Ashwagandha has helped me to reduce my stress levels, train harder and remain calm throughout the day.  Nearly everyone I have recommended try this compound has experienced noticeable physical and psychological effects.

Testro-X has the exact dose of KSM-66 Ashwagandha shown in clinical trials to be effective. 

testro-x

The second standout natural cognitive enhancer and my absolute favorite compound overall is phosphatidylserine (PS).  Phosphatidylserine (PS) is used by the body to transport molecules in and out of cells, protect cell membranes from oxidative stress and improve signaling between cells.  In addition to PS’s ability to enhance testosterone, it has been shown to have numerous benefits of cognitive performance and mood. 

PS has been shown to improve processing speed and accuracy, memory, and concentration. PS has even been shown to have positive effects on the immune system following intense exercise.  One of the best parts about PS supplementation is the pervasive sense of calm that accompanies its use.  100-200mg of supplemental PS can provide hours of calm focused concentration.  For this reason I have chosen PS as my personal day to day replacement for more crude synthetic cognitive enhancers.

Cortigon is UMZU's all natural brain enhancement and stress reduction supplement that I designed specifically for this purpose. Cortigon not only has the exact dose of PS shown to be effective but contains Ginkgo Biloba, allowing it to be even more effective at stress reduction and brain enhancement. 

cortigon

My Cognitive Enhancement Supplement Routine:

cognitive enhancement supplement routine

After experimenting with various compounds, I settled on a few that my friends and I were experiencing the greatest amount of benefits from with the lowest amount of side effects. The most common supplemental cognitive enhancers I used during the last 18 months were as follows:

  • Inositol: 500mg with my coffee, generally I would use this on days I was performing heavy cognitive tasks in the morning such as writing blog posts.
  • Phosphatidylserine: 100mg 1-2 times a day.  Most weeks I use this every day.  Every couple of months I take a week or so off as I feel it is s good to cycle and supplements.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: 120mg 1-2 times per day.  I use this for its its effect on mood and its the effect it has on my ability to concentrate.  This one is the same as PS, I take it daily most weeks of the year.

There you have it.  For the last 18 months or so, this has been my nearly continuous supplement regimen.  While there are other supplements that can be beneficial, these are the ones I have been the most consistent with.  This probably has to do with the fact that these are the ones you will notice the most while you are taking them. 

You will definitely feel it when you take any of the above 4.  However, there are many other supplements I would recommend.

Keep in mind, these are the supplements I used as cognitive enhancers.  There are many others that I would experiment with or take on a regular basis for their physical effects.  Two of my favorite supplements that I used primarily for their effects on my testosterone levels and my physique are creatine and Ashwagandha.  While both of these compounds have proven effects on mental as well as physical performance, their effects on the physique are definitely more dramatic. 

For this reason, I have chosen to group the supplements I take into two categories.  First, the supplements that primarily affect my mood and cognitive abilities.  Second, the supplements that primarily affect my hormone levels and physique.  There is definitely some overlap, but most of the supplements I have taken are relatively more effective at one or the other.

Conclusion:

Alright, I know that was a lot of information, but I wanted to take some time to lay out my detailed opinion on cognitive enhancers.  In addition to my interest in physical performance, “nootropics,” cognitive enhancers, or smart drugs have been a pet interest of mine for some time. 

While not all of them will have as dramatic an effect on your testosterone as some of the other supplements I recommend, their effects on your ability to stay calm and get shit done are dramatic.  Since living a more productive life will improve your mood, reduce stress and make you more successful, the indirect effect on your hormone levels could potentially be huge.  If anything, they just make getting things done more enjoyable while avoiding many of the serious dangers associated with the more crude synthetic compounds.

cortigon by umzu

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to-enhance-memory

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19789214

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7793450

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11386498