How to Choose What Nootropics to Take: For Beginners. Try the 3rd Stack Template First.

You’re focused.

You found your burning why. You’re immersed in clarity.

Two objectives for today:

A) Now, think about HOW to choose what to take.
B) As you read, think about what’s the best way to reach your goal(s)?

This article will be a compass for both.

Here are a few suggestions

#1: Start simple, start slow

When I started, I bought some Alpha Brain* and piracetam. I took the Alpha Brain and 30 minutes later I had vastly improved focus and greater clarity that lasted for about 3 hours. I finished the bottle (15 day supply) before I started the piracetam.

My mistake?

Taking a stack before knowing what each ingredient does. Simple and slow allows you test things analytically and learn how each affects your body.

Mike Minneman describes 3 good reasons to start slow with 1 or 2 noots [direct quote]:

– You have no track record of how the compound effects you
– You will find it hard to discern which compound is having which effect
– You may overshoot the mark, one compound alone could have done the job

Unlike what I did, I recommend no more than 3 when first starting.

#2: Your Options, The Big Picture

Simplifying options, I arrive at these different ways of choosing how to take noots:

–Bolster strengths
–Compensate for weaknesses
–Attempt to prevent further mental decline
–Attempt rejuvenation from past damage

The last two are arguably derived from the first two.

You could choose one option, but an obviously better way would be to let the “smart drugs” handle one and your lifestyle, the other.

“Pills + Lifestyle” is what I like to say. Benefits from one spill over and synergize with the other.

One thing I’ve hypothesized (and anecdotally noticed in myself) is that lifestyle + smart drugs allow the effects of the smart drugs to taper off somewhat slower than if you stop taking the pills/powders and had no cognitive-supporting lifestyle habits.

There is a fifth option: I call it overwhelming force, Minneman calls it a multifaceted attack.

His reasoning:

“It’s far better to pick nootropics with differing mechanisms of action rather than ones that are all similar and have crossover.”

I mostly agree, except some of the racetams have slightly differing qualities that may make it useful to stack them. For instance, anecdotally, aniracetam has been noted to decrease anxiety. In addition, noopept, in rats studies (although not technically a racetam) reduced learned helplessness1,2. I’d stack those if I had anxiety and depression problems, but still wanted banging-ass focus.

My definition of an overwhelming force stack is one that contains powerful nootropics which utilize different mechanisms of action and have synergistic effects. You combine an OF stack with lifestyle habits like dual N-back, exercise, and daily meditation…you’ll notice something. If not, you might not have a brain worth juicing up with noots. Hell, you might be brain dead or stressed out. Save the OF stack until after you’ve tried one of the beginner stack templates below.

Switching gears…

Your goals probably came down to improving or decreasing the following, right?

  • Focus/attention
  • Memory
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anti-fatigue

So pick 2 goals for the “Pills + Lifestyle” way. For example, handle memory with pills and anxiety with systematic desensitization.

Then cement them into your life with the law of 3’s:

So you got your 2 goals, got your WHY, got your HOW…want some advice on WHAT to take?

You came to the right site son! And as my uncle used to suavely reply, “I don’t call you son because you’re mine, I call you son because you shine.”

#3: Stack Templates for Beginners

Be sure you check examine.com and know your medical problems before blindly trying anything. I ain’t yo daddy. I can’t give and AM NOT giving medical advice. I am not licensed to practice medicine. Talk with your physician/qualified health care professional first. Here’s my medical disclaimer for more info.

Consider these stack skeletons/templates.

1) Racetam + Cholinergic

Racetams, except aniracetam and coluracetam I believe, alter acetylcholine. A Cholinergic, like Alpha GPC or CDP-choline, both of which can cross the blood brain barrier, synergizes with the racetams by producing or releasingcholine. Some notice a depressive mood when taking choline. Take it easy on the choline if your diet is heavy in meat, eggs, and/or seafood. Another reason to go easy on choline: fish-like body odor. You can thank trimethylamine for that, which choline is a precursor to.

Piracetam is the oldest of the racetams and comparatively, the safest. It’s also the “weakest.” Decent starting place for a beginner.

2) Racetam + Cholinergic + Vasodilator

You got your memory and focus enhancement covered with the racetams, got your “headache defense” with the cholinergics. What happens if you want some more blood flow to the organ that named itself? You throw in a potential vasodilator like vinpocetine (which is thought to reduce neural inflammation3) or picamilon (breaks down into niacin, a potent vasodilator4.

3) L-theanine + caffeine

L-theanine promotes relaxation without sedating you. It takes the edge off of caffeine’s stimulatory effect for a smooth, subtle focus when combined with it. Essentially you got the safest mix of an upper and a downer without needing to check into rehab or the ER. Best combination seems to be a 2:1 ratio, L-Theanine:Caffeine. Probably the cheapest of the 3 skeletons if you get your own powders. Careful with that caffeine, you NEED a scale if you’re messing with powders. Don’t eyeball it.

Don’t want to mess with powders? Natural Stacks got yo back like chiroprac, scoop up Smart Caffeine* pills here if you need to save time. It’s L-theanine + caffeine pills at a decent price. If I were to start over, L-theanine + caffeine would be my first nootropic choice.

2017 update: Here’s a cheaper alternative to smart caffeine above, but still packs the same power from Nootropics Depot.

Bonus Skeleton:
4) CILTEP

Minneman again for the win on describing CILTEP:

“It’s a nootropic stack designed to enhance long term potentiating (LTP) – a cellular mechanism responsible for memory encoding between neurons. LTP works by strengthening connections (synapses) between neurons and underlies synaptic plasticity, thus impacting learning and memory. […] The theory behind the CILTEP stack is that by enhancing cyclic adenoside monophosphate (cAMP) we facilitate complex intracellular mechanism that eventually lead to enhanced synapse strength (LTP).”

Tim Ferris said it’s better it worked better than modafinil for him.

Swoop up a bottle of CILTEP* and let me know if it works for you.

I suggest not taking stacks on days it’s not really necessary and ramping up the lifestyle habits instead. I tend to do 1 month on 1 month off when I feel the desire to go heavy with nootropics.

Also, consider what the Reddit Nootropic community has to say [direct quote]:

For beginners based on the current research we recommend:

  • Modafinil for working memory.
  • L-theanine+caffeine for attention.
  • Bacopa monniera for long term memory.
  • Creatine or Rhodiola rosea for anti-fatigue.
  • Creatine for reasoning.
I would be careful about consuming Modafinil, not only for legal reasons, but if you are like me and have autoimmune or inflammatory issues that run in your family. Why? See here [5],[6]. Because of inflammatory and immune problems, the rare condition SJS becomes a higher risk for me. A potential side effect of modafinil is SJS.

Til next time.

Thrive in freedom,
Nootroponaut

* denotes my affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14631499
2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17369939
3 http://examine.com/supplements/Vinpocetine/#summary3-10
4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17705685