I’ve just started a new stack of nootropics, based on experimentation and research I’ve done over the last year or so.
Phenylpiracetam, piracetam, sulbutiamine, caffiene, theanine, adrafinil, and choline (in the form of citicoline.)
None of the above have any documented studies in aggregate, but I’ve found each to be efficacious on their own, or in discrete combination, in the case of caffeine and theanine.
Adrafinil is a prodrug of modafinil, a schedule IV prescription drug being used by professionals and college students all over the US. There aren’t many side effects. The most worrisome is elevated liver enzymes, which can mask liver problems, but these findings are based on a study funded by Cephalon, the company that’s marketing modafinil, the newer, more expensive version that takes an hour less to kick in. I’m not certain of the veracity of the elevated liver enzymes, but will be monitoring my bloodwork over the next several months and tracking the results.
Adrafinil metabolizes into modafinil, whose mechanism of action seems to inhibit the reuptake action of the dopamine transporter, thus leading to an increase in extracellular and thus synaptic concentrations of dopamine. Translation: you’re more consistently awake. There is no euphoria or high, just a smooth maintenance of wakefulness. There also seem to be cognitive benefits, with increased activity reported in the thalamocortical loop. Your hippocampus and thalamus play important functions in retention and learning - increased activity generally correlates with increased level of retention. It’s anecdotally reported to improve memory and decrease the amount of time needed to learn abstract concepts.
Phenylpiracetam is banned by most sports organizations as a performance enhancing drug. Most famously used by Russian olympic athletes, it improves stress endurance, and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. It’s mechanism of action seems to increase the amount of neuroreceptors D1, D2 and D3, and decrease the nACh and NMDA receptors. The net effect seems to augment muscle memory, improve physical stamina, increase task retention, and improves blood flow in the brain. There are no known side effects. Studies are limited.
Piracetam is the granddaddy of nootropics. It’s safe, doesn’t have side effects, and has a well recognized mechanism of action: it is an ampakine and calcium channel inhibitor. It generally takes large doses to be perceptible, and there are some well understood and quite nice effects. It encompasses part of what people expect from the drug in the movie Limitless - the best way to describe it is that it makes thoughts flow. Again, there’s no high, but there’s a sharpening of focus, increase ability to attend to tasks, and I’ve noticed the ability to throw myself into an experience and lose track of time. I feel more “me,” like I’m operating at 100%.
Sulbutiamine: I’m dubious about this one. Purportedly able to cross the blood brain barrier, where it is metabolized into two Vitamin B1 molecules (thiamine,) there are anecdotal studies reporting increased attention span and mental acuity. I’m including it as it was recommended
by some guy on the internet on a very detailed and cogent forum posting. I’m going to experiment, but with otherwise proper nutrition, I’m not sold on supplementation of B vitamins.
Caffeine and L-Theanine work together synergistically. I wish I had better studies to reference. I love the combination - I get the familiar caffeinated alertness, without the physical tension or jitters, and a gentle transition back to normalcy. The theanine is calming and gives me an intent attention to detail without a noticeable fixation. I can move between tasks easily and without having to spend a lot of time thinking about the details of separate tasks.
Choline is brain fuel. It supports almost every neural metabolic pathway in one way or another. When you’re constantly on, a depletion of choline is very noticeable. On the flip side, having a ready supply of choline keeps you going.
The upsides: You’re given the increased cortical efficiency afforded by piracetam, physical stamina and neuromotor ehancement of phenylpiracetam, alongside complementary improved blood flow, ampakine augmentation and calcium channel inhibition. From Adrafinil, you get augmented dopamine levels, heightened interregional activity in the brain, better retention and learning rates. From caffeine and theanine you get adrenaline, faster bloodflow, increased dopamine production, increased memory retention abilities, as it inhibits glutamic exotoxicity.
In short: better attention, memory, and scope of thought, with physical relaxation and increased endurance. I’m going to try to find some muscle memory tasks to exploit the phenylpiracetam. I have an alternative keyboard I’ve been meaning to learn to use exclusively.
So…here’s the subjective experience: I can feel it kick in around 70 minutes after taking them all at once. I save the caffeine and theanine for after I feel the rest start working. Caffeine/Theanine take about 3 minutes to fully arrive. I don’t feel a high or a rush, but an intensity of experience - I’m fully invested in everything I set out to do. I can juggle tasks effortlessly - I’ve written this post while working, handling customer calls, network troubleshooting 6 tickets, the alarm console, and writing substantive hourly updates.
I’ve had an extremely productive night. I’ve had a tension around the temples, which I’m blaming on the sulbutiamine - I get the same tension from 5 hour energy.
My sense of smell is heightened. I’m normally a supertaster, but have had a sharp reduction in my senses of smell and taste over the last year. Something in this stack is returning these senses to their previous levels. I can’t express how awesome that is… I’m a big foody. I went out and foodgasmed over truffle fries and aioli sauce on a turkey burger today. It was the most intense food experience I’ve had in a long while.
My thoughts are fluid, and I’m able to execute plans of action in rapid sequence. I’m operating with many steps envisioned, with effortless motion between steps in the sequence. I’m able to construct multiple series of steps and branch between them as available - multitasking is easy. I don’t feel tired at all.
I’m going to create a checklist and have my blood work done so I can track the effects. I’m going to attribute everything to placebo for the first week. I’ll have a consistent dosage schedule for week 2, and finalize it on week 3. With the checklist tracking subjective and objective results, I should have a nice anecdotal 1 man study logging the effects of the stack.
On week 4, I’m going to start adjusting my sleep schedule downward each week, .5 hours at a time. I want to have my 3 weeks of baseline to be able to monitor the effects of any sleep deficit. I may adjust dosing and schedules as time goes on, so the entire experience will be scientifically subjective, but hopefully give me a tool to optimize my personal daily experience.