Monday, November 7, 2016

What is Bacopa Monnieri?

Bacopa monnieri (which is sometimes called waterhyssop, brahmi, or herb of grace) is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide array of illnesses. Today, it’s a commonly used nootropic supplement that has been shown to improve memory and decrease anxiety. Studies show it may improve cognition by keeping you calmer.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri may also influence the cells that help with brain regeneration by decreasing the oxidative stress that free radicals can have, which could make it appealing for people with brain injuries as well as those concerned about the impact of aging and time on the brain. There are some studies that suggest bacopa monnieri can help decrease the inflammation of the brain that comes with aging and improve outcomes for Alzheimer’s patients. With potential benefits numbering in the dozens, bacopa monnieri has widespread appeal and is suitable variety of users.

What does bacopa monnieri stack with?

The first thing to take into consideration is that, for some users, bacopa monnieri has been known to cause gastrointestinal problems when taken on an empty stomach. For the sake of your belly, don’t forget that it stacks first and foremost with food! Since bacopa monnieri is fat soluble, try taking it alongside a meal that has includes healthy fats. Think avocado toast, buttered coffee, or a smear of almond butter on an apple.


When stacked alongside other supplements, bacopa monnieri may have benefits ranging from upping cognitive abilities to decreasing stress, may experience a different outcome depending on what else you’re taking.

If improving your memory and feeling less anxious is what you’re hoping this supplement can do for you, try bacopa monnieri with the supplement Protadim. Protadim includes milk thistle, curcumin, green tea catechins, and ashwagandha. The study linking the positive effects of this stack also indicated you may get some of the benefits with just one or two of the compounds found in Protadim, so if they’re already in the mix for you, all the better. Keep in mind that most users report that these benefits can take a few weeks of continuous use to show up, so be patient. During that time, some people have decreased motivation and a little trouble getting to sleep, so the adjustment period can be a little bit tricky.

Another name-brand supplement, Perment, stacks bacopa monnieri with asparagus, ashwagandha, and clitoria ternatea. Some research suggests that this combination may relieve symptoms of depression naturally. While there’s evidence of the link between taking this supplement and diminishing the symptoms of depression, the effect won’t be complete, so don’t consider this a standalone treatment. Anticipate minor reductions in your symptoms. This shouldn’t take the place of an antidepressant that your doctor prescribes, but if you’re interested in trying an Ayurvedic approach alongside a Western one, ask your healthcare provider about this.

There’s some data to suggest bacopa monniere stacked with yohimbine can help to dull your perception of pain if you take a high dose, and conjecture that a cocktail of bacopa monnieri and caffeine may hinder stress-inducing dopamine spikes.


Where can I get Bacopa Monnieri?

In addition to the supplements Protadim and Perment, you’ll find bacopa monnieri in Nootrobox’s RISE supplement, where it’s stacked with rhodiola rosea and Alpha-GPC. Some research and anecdotal evidence suggests this combination can improve your memory and resiliency. The standard dose for bacopa monnieri is about 300mg per day in many nootropic stacks.

Have you tried bacopa monnieri? What do you stack yours with? Tell us in the comments!

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

What Nootropics Stack Well with Rhodiola Rosea?

Nootropics users are tinkerers by their very nature. Many alternate between a range of blended supplements to create the stack that will get them the results they want. When structuring your ideal stack, consider adding in rhodiola rosea. Read on for a guide for how to integrate this popular herbal supplement into your daily routine.

Rhodiola Rosea

What Is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola rosea is a flowering plant that grows year-round in cold regions all over the world. It’s been found in Canada, the United States, England, Ireland, and Austria, and it goes by many names. You may see it listed as king’s crown, Arctic root, lingum rhodium, rose root, or golden root, but it will most often appear in supplement ingredient lists by its most common name, rhodiola rosea.

Over the centuries, rhodiola rosea has been used to treat a vast array of ailments, but today, it’s most commonly found in nootropic blends designed to decrease fatigue. Since rhodiola rosea can have both positive mental and physical effects, it’s a high-value aspect of many nootropics users’ stacks.

Rhodiola Rosea

(Image: Erlend Bjørtvedt, Licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0) (

What Does Rhodiola Rosea Stack Well With?

Rhodiola rosea pairs well with a variety of common nootropics like Siberian ginseng, St. John’s wort, lemonwood, and cranberry water extract.

Many users have found that stacking Siberian ginseng or lemonwood and rhodiola rosea can help manage stress. There’s also some research that suggests it can have an adaptogenic impact on the body, limiting the amount of stress the system experiences in less-than-ideal situations. There’s even some research suggesting a link to this particular combination and a longer lifespan, though it’s still in the preliminary phases.

St. John’s wort can help curb appetite and may prevent binge eating when paired with rhodiola rosea. Many users find that when they’re trying to diet or struggling with overeating, adding rhodiola rosea to their stacks can help stymie hunger.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is considered safe, and for most people to take, but some research suggests that taking too much can increase the risk of elevated platelet counts. Ask your doctor if rhodiola rosea is a good fit for your overall lifestyle before you start taking it.

Where Can I Get Rhodiola Rosea?

There are many rhodiola rosea supplements on the market today. Some nootropics users like to take a stand-alone rhodiola rosea supplement. Our reviewers tried the one Solaray made and liked it. Still other nootropics users like to take rhodiola rosea in the form of a supplement blend. The popular RISE by Nootrobox contains rhodiola rosea, as does Neurofuse. Both try to help improve cognition and stack rhodiola rosea with other supplements purported to do the same.

Have you taken rhodiola rosea? What did you stack it with? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

How Does Vinpocetine Work?

What Is Vinpocetine?

Vinpocetine is a very common semisynthetic derivative of an extract from the periwinkle plant. It was developed in Hungary as a pharmaceutical drug for treating a variety of brain-related concerns, like strokes and epilepsy. It isn’t available in the United States as a pharmaceutical-grade drug, but it’s often sold as a nootropic supplement. Most people who take vinpocetine use it because it may improve memory and cerebral metabolism.


How Does Vinpocetine Work?

In a nootropic context, vinpocetine is typically taken by mouth, so it’s absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which carries it to the brain. Once it’s in your system, it works to reduce neural inflammation and enhance neuroprotection against toxins or excess stimulation. This protection from stress can help decrease cognitive decline that comes with age. This means it can help improve reaction times, for example. Some users report that this helps them improve their memories.

Some studies on vinpocetine are done with vinpocetine infusions, which makes it hard to know exactly what will happen when you take it orally. In some of these intravenous studies, vinpocetine seems to improve blood flow to the brain, which could help to reduce headaches (and is in line with some of the more traditional uses of periwinkle in complementary medicine). There are no studies linking reduced headaches when you take vinpocetine orally, but some users do report feeling better.


All of these effects can be pronounced, with some studies suggesting that vinpocetine could even help prevent things like amnesia. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that these studies were conducted on people who had experienced brain trauma, not healthy individuals who were looking for a cognitive boost.
Another mechanism of vinpocetine is its ability to interact with several major ion channels (think calcium, potassium, and sodium). This means that it can possibly have a suppressive effect on neuroprotection and neurotransmitter release if glutamate or dopamine are also suppressed. This is important because some studies show that dopamine and glutamate can cause oxidative damage if they’re overstimulated by toxins. High dopamine levels can cause a feeling of agitation or anxiety, and too much glutamate can make you feel tired.

Lastly, vinpocetine has a mechanism that is a PDE1 inhibitor. This means that it has the ability to both enhance your cognition and protect your heart from disease. The research on this is still fairly nascent and this effect appears to require a dosage much larger than most users get in a supplement, but the link is promising.

Where Can I Get Vinpocetine?

Since vinpocetine is synthetic, there aren’t any naturally occurring dietary sources of it. You have the option to add it to your stack as a standalone supplement; some people find it stacks well with Piracetum and ginko biloba. There are also a lot of supplement blends containing vinpocetine. If that sounds like a better fit for you, EBOOST drink powders contain vinpocetine in their recipe.

Have you tried vinpocetine? Did it improve your memory? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

What Are Adaptogens?

When wading into the world of nootropics, there’s a lot of new vocabulary to take in. Adaptogens, a class of compound you see a lot in supplements, can be among the most confusing to new users, but they don’t have to be. Read our guide to start demystifying these important building blocks of a complete and effective stack.


What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are compounds that can help to limit the amount of stress your body experiences if taken in advance of an event that itself causes stress. Adaptogens are a somewhat understudied group of compounds; though many have been in use for centuries, there’s no single accepted definition for them. They’re a very diverse group of substances; they don’t come from one family or have one use. Also, adaptogens don’t all necessarily have the same mechanisms. Some adaptogens aren’t even really nootropics at all, by some estimations. Most people in the nootropic community agree that an adaptogen must be a naturally occurring nontoxic and nonspecific compound that has a normalizing impact on the user’s physiology.

Since there are so many things adaptogens can be, companies use them to make a wide variety of claims ranging from longer lifespan to increased libido to heightened well-being.

What Are Some Examples of Adaptogens?

Since the word adaptogen covers a wider variety of herbs, it’s no surprise that there’s some debate about what is and isn’t part of this group. There are a few common adaptogens that aren’t as controversial, though— rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha make the cut and are agreed upon as adaptogens by most people in the nootropics community.

Ashwagandha is widely considered an adaptogen because it can help prevent the mental slowing that comes with aging and stress. For example, ashwagandha can act as an anti-anxiety agent, which helps some users lower the amount of stress their bodies experiences in tough situations. Over time, the stress that comes from anxiety can wear on your nervous system, which may make you less sharp and clear.

Rhodiola rosea is another very popular adaptogen in many nootropic supplements. It has been used for centuries as an anti-fatigue supplement, and there is some research that suggests it can also help the body repair after exercise. Like ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea can also help regulate anxiety in users, which helps keep stress and the damage that follows it at bay.

While the research is not yet conclusive, many users report that taking a supplement that contain adaptogens has helped them achieve the cognitive and physical benefits they’re seeking in their nootropic stack.

Where Can I Get Adaptogens?

Since the word adaptogen covers so many different supplements, there are lots of ways to work them into your stack. Nootrobox RISE contains both rhodiola rosea and bacopa monnieri, another herb some consider adaptogenic. Many users say Nootrobox RISE helps them deal with stress like a well-designed adaptogen compound should. Neurofuse also contains both of these herbs but in different amounts and stacked with other things, so Neurofuse could work well for a user who wants the stress reducing effects of an adaptogen but wants a boost of energy, too.

Have you tried an adaptogen in your stack? What’s your favorite? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Image: Erlend Bjørtvedt, Licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0) (

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When should I take theanine?

Because nootropics is a quickly evolving field, there’s a lot of conflicting anecdotal evidence and scientific data about the best ways to hack your brain effectively. For example, theanine is known to be safe and effective for a variety of uses, but with its three hour half life and fast-approaching peak, who knows when to take it and with what? Read on for a guide.

When To Take Theanine

What is theanine?

Theanine (also called L-theanine or 5-N-Ethyl-Glutamine in some ingredient lists) is an amino acid that can act as a non-sedating relaxant for many users. It’s been making a big stir as a dietary supplement in recent years, because while it isn’t one of the essential amino acids and is not commonly found in most diets, it could be beneficial for many and has a slew of applications. The only natural dietary source of theanine is green tea, so you’ve probably already had some at some point without even realizing it. Unfortunately, it occurs at too low a level to be therapeutic unless you consume a lot of green tea, so most of us haven’t gotten to experience its calming effects.

At its root, theanine can help you reduce stress and relax without putting you to sleep. While theanine lets some users de-stress, it also tends to help sharpen the impact of certain stimulants, like caffeine. With so many potential benefits, consider timing your dosage to get the outcome you want.

Theanine Chemical Formula

When should I take theanine?

Theanine stacks well with caffeine—some research suggests you should take one alongside the other at a two-to-one ratio. Some users report anecdotally that it helps take the “edge” off a cup of coffee and makes them less jittery. There’s also evidence that it will enhance the increased energy and concentration that caffeine brings. This is theanine’s primary draw for nootropics users, so you will frequently see it listed as an ingredient in cognition-oriented supplements. If this is what you’re hoping to experience with theanine, your best bet may be to take 200 milligrams with 100 milligrams of caffeine or one cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

Some people prefer to use theanine to regulate their anxiety, either alone or as part of their overall regimen. It’s unusual to find relaxants that don’t make you drowsy, so this is a good solution for many people who struggle with anxiety but also want to stay sharp. This kind of theanine user has best results when they take theanine throughout the day, typically along with their meals.

Green Tea Theanine

If you don’t like coffee and don’t struggle with unwanted anxiety, there’s strong evidence that links it to better sleep, which is linked to myriad health and wellness benefits. Some people like to take a little theanine at a time throughout the day to prepare for sleep, while others have reported good outcomes taking their daily dose of theanine in the evening as part of their bedtime routine.

Since there are so many ways theanine can benefit you, time your intake to get the effects you want.

Where can I get theanine?

You’ll get some of the benefits of theanine just from drinking a few cups of green tea each day, but if you’d like to fully experience what theanine can do, your best bet may be a supplement.

Nootrobox’s SPRINT and Go Cubes offer theanine paired with caffeine and B vitamins to increase concentration and alertness, while Coffee Blenders has coffee with theanine blended right in it so you don’t have to remember your supplement. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s body is different; some users report better results if they take their theanine supplement about 45 minutes to an hour before they have caffeine in any form.

If it’s the anti-anxiety or sleep-improving properties of theanine you want to tap into, you might be better off to take your supplement sans stimulants, whether that’s as a stand alone or as part of a calming blend of other compounds.

Have you used theanine? Did it help you concentrate? When did you take it? Share with us in the comments.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Soylent Introduces “Coffiest” Meal Replacement that Includes Mild Nootropics

Soylent, the company best known for its meal replacement drinks that provide a complete nutrient profile for the human body, is dipping its toe into the nootropics space. At least, that’s sort of the case via their newest product, Coffiest.

It’s basically coffee-flavored Soylent aimed at combining breakfast and coffee all in one convenient drink. And the company — founded by biohackers for biohackers, in many regards — has added nootropic compound l-theanine to enhance the effects of included caffeine while reducing the likelihood of jitters.

In that regard, they make be taking a page out of Nootrobox’s GO CUBES playbook by creating a new category of product that uses theanine to smooth out the caffeine kick. Of course, these two products are themselves very different: GO CUBES are edible, chewable coffee not designed to replace a meal, whereas Coffiest is basically a coffee-flavored breakfast shake + caffeine. Their use case scenarios will be different, and there’s a chance both will appeal to the same crowd — just for different times of day.

Why L-Theanine?

The caffeine + l-theanine stack is a potent nootropic combo on its own (in a ratio of about 1:2, so 100mg of caffeine and 200mg of l-theanine is fairly standard). Theanine naturally occurs in green tea and is an amino acid that can have calming — but not sedative — effects in mammals. It has few reported side effects, and when paired with coffee and other caffeine sources, studies suggest it can actually enhance caffeine’s focus-boosting properties while reducing the chance of jitters and feelings of over-stimulation. Basically, it “smooths out” the caffeinated kick so many people want.

Interestingly, Coffeist contains a ratio of 150mg of caffeine to just 75mg of l-theanine. That gives me the impression that the theanine seems to be more of a final addition to round off the product as opposed to a core focus.

Soylent already has a lot of traction among many in the biohacking space, and while their core products don’t contain nootropics, this could be a sign of new things to come.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

What Is Astaxanthin, and Why Do I See It In Nootropic Supplements?

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, which is a fat-soluble pigment found in some foods. Astaxanthin gives some seafood like salmon and krill the trademark red color we normally associated with those foods. (Fun fact: It’s also found in flamingo feathers, though it’s very doubtful your Astaxanthin supplement comes from flamingos! More often, it’s harvested from algae.) But why are we seeing it in more and more nootropic compounds?

Is Astaxanthin Good for the Brain?

The compound has been tied to increased blood flow, decreased low-density cholesterol oxidation (which could help reduce artery blockage and the risk of heart disease), and is generally considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. There’s some evidence that these two properties — anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant — could help alleviate symptoms of brain injury and trauma.

It’s a compound that may also slow age-related cognitive decline because it can have neuroprotective properties, protecting the brain against oxidative damage that comes with age.

Other research indicates astaxanthin could increase spatial memory in mammals, though that research has primarily been conducted on rodents, not humans just yet. This research also emphasized that the exact mechanisms for astaxanthin’s impact on cognitive function aren’t fully explored, so while there may be some perceived benefit in studies and anecdotal use, we don’t yet have a full understanding of exactly how it impacts our brains.

Where Do We Find Astaxanthin Supplements?

We’ve seen more and more standalone astaxanthin supplements come on to the market, and most research that shows positive effects in humans involves supplementation around 6 to 8 mg per day. However, it’s also a compound that’s becoming frequently paired with other anti-inflammatory nootropics like fish oil (DHA and EPA). We first saw this combination in Nootrobox’s KADO-3 supplement, which pairs astaxanthin with fish oil, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Nootrobox’s astaxanthin is sourced from krill, much like the omega-3 oils in KADO-3.

What are your experiences with astaxanthin? Let us know in the comments below!

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