7 Mistakes Newbies Make With Nootropics

Photo courtesy of Marco Orazi, at Flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Marco Orazi, at Flickr.com

Yes, nootropics do work. But they require a bit more orchestration on the part of the user, than simply drinking a cup of coffee and getting the result of wakefulness. With nootropics, there are some basic concepts one has to know, in order to facilitate the best outcome with particular stacks.

Often times, nootropics newbies will make mistakes on putting stacks together, that negatively effect the functionality of the compounds they are taking. Whether that’s from taking too much of a given compound, not taking enough of a compound, putting the wrong ingredients together, or not titrating in small enough amounts to find a sweet spot dose, it happens quite a lot.

In fact, the various nootropics communities on the web, like the Nootropics Subreddit, and the official nootropics Facebook group, are filled with people experimenting, and running into this exact thing: folks try certain stacks, have some sort of side effect or worse yet, NO effect, and then they’ll render a stack useless without fully understanding why it performed the way it did.

So I thought I would put this list together of mistakes I see people making, to help really instill a couple critically important principles when it comes to nootropics usage, that I think will be massively helpful to people experimenting with different stacks, to get better results. Enjoy!

7 Mistakes Newbies Make With Nootropics

  1. Overkill stacks. Simply put, people are putting far too many nootropics together. I see stacks with 3 different racetams, 3 choline sources, and a myriad of other compounds that don’t have a known synergy. In cases like this, I often see people complaining that their stack isn’t quite right, and that it hasn’t been all that impressive (even though it should be, having a bunch of racetams in it right?).Oxiracetam, Aniracetam, and Piracetam stacked together with choline bitartrate, DMAE, and Alpha GPC is not a smartly put together stack. And I’ve seen stacks just like this. First, if you’re using choline bitartrate, and it works for you (which is something you have to test), there is no reason to include Alpha GPC or DMAE in the mix.

    In fact, DMAE actually inhibits the metabolism of choline into phosphatidylcholine, rendering some of the PC creation nil (Alpha GPC helps to build PC). You want to know exactly what your stack is doing, and why it’s doing it.

    Throwing a bunch of well known nootropic compounds together because people regard them as useful, will not yield great results, and will probably induce a bit of cancellation, the next bullet point on this list.

  2. Cancel combos. As the title suggests, a great newbie mistake is putting stacks together with compounds that cancel each other out. A great example would be adding the calming adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha, with an otherwise stimulatory cholinergic stack, like CDP Choline, and Noopept.In a case like this, and in the various other cases, one ingredient cancels out the efficacy of others. Now – there is a case for balance, and adding certain compounds to balance the effects of others, in the case of caffeine/theanine, but I often see new people to nootropics taking this too far.

    You generally want to go in one direction or the other, to induce a specific outcome. Be sure to research and experiment with your combos, and keep this principle in mind to nab it if it happens.

  3. Extreme Doses. Dosing far too high with nootropic compounds is bound to create imbalances. For a great majority of people, the average and even the low end of typical doses perform better than attack doses. This is the case for me, and this is the case for a multitude of people I’ve communicated about this on the web, throughout the various nootropics communities. Taking Oxiracetam for example: I often see folks dosing between 1-2G of Oxiracetam, where 700MG would probably do them quite well.In some cases, I suspect that people are going to high on doses, to get better effects that they could achieve by correctly titrating their choline source and dose. I have turned my brain around, from a massive sleep debt and cognitive impairment, with 500MG of Oxiracetam, and 300MG of Choline Bitartrate.

    And I’ve also taken attack doses of various racetams (and other smart drugs) only to run into a myriad of side effects, and a lack of efficacy. Nootropics are effective for most people in normal doses. The first question to ask if you’re taking a normal dose and not getting a result, is: am I taking the right quantity and type of co-factors? We’ll get to that a bit later.

  4. Not titrating. One of the biggest problems I see with newbies around nootropics is the lack of granular titrating to get the right doses of particular compounds. I revert to the racetam/choline dynamic because it’s a great example: I always suggest moving your choline source up and down by 25MG increments, until you find your sweet spot and type.Start with Choline bitartrate, move up in small increments until you reach a great nootropic experience with the racetam you’re stacking it with. Through the development of the Cortex nootropic stack, I recognized that in some cases, there are substantial differences down to the 20MG increment.

    I’d literally change the dosage of one ingredient 20MG, and it would significantly change the reaction of the stack in my brain, and in beta testers. In the interest of being as exact as you can, titrating up and down on specific compounds, to find the perfect dose, is critical to getting the best out of nootropics.

    Once you know your quantities, you can simply just execute on making your stacks, or using pre-made nootropic compounds. We actually made Cortex with this in mind, titrating super carefully, and then getting a large number of thumbs up from beta testers.

  5. Giving up. I see this all of the time. Folks will try a specific stack, get no or negative effects from the stack, and immediately deem the nootropics involved useless/inducing of side effects. People will try a stack of Huperzine A and Alpha GPC for example, have some sort of excess choline experience (headache, lethargy, irritability, other), and then deem either Huperzine A, or Alpha GPC as bad for them.The real problem in this hypothetical (and a situation I’ve seen happen before), is that the dose of Huperzine A needs to be considerably low, and even the standard recommended dose at 200MCG, is too much for people.

    Additionally, taking a cholinesterase inhibitor (a compound that prevents the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine) WITH an acetylcholine precursor, such as Alpha GPC, is bound to create an acetylcholine excess in certain regions of the brain, rendering side effects.

    This doesn’t mean that either of these compounds should be given up on. It just means the user needs to carefully experiment with doses, to find what’s right for them. I see a lot of people kicking stacks out of their regimen, from a mere 1-3 attempts at making them work. Huge mistake!! For certain compounds, it might take a few weeks or longer to land on the appropriate dose, to get the best effect.


  6. They don’t consider co-factors. Co-factors are critically important in nootropics.  Most nootropic compounds, as you’ll hear me explain in that video I just linked to, require co-factors to work correctly.You need vitamin B5 to synthesize acetylcholine, and it’ll help to take it when taking cholinergic compounds. The racetam/choline dynamic is a great example of this. The racetams invoke a release of acetylcholine from the hippocampus, requiring the co-factor of a choline source (or adequate levels of acetylcholine in the brain from diet) to make the racetams work well.

    I suspect that both a choline source, and vitamin B5 would be useful while taking Noopept, to prevent some of the negative memory effects people report. If you’re taking a particular nootropic stack, a great idea is to research the mechanisms of that stack, what the stack might induce the use of, and then ensure you put in raw precursors to the chemicals the stack uses.

  7. They treat their bodies like shit. This is actually one of the most important notes here. Nootropics will not work well when you’re treating your body like crap. Particularly, there is a great bit of anecdotal evidence out there in the nootropics community that there is a delay of onset with certain stacks when a user is experiencing a hangover.In turning on ordinary people to the concept and usage of nootropics, I’ve run into folks taking my suggested stacks, and reporting a mild difference that they couldn’t distinguish from placebo. I then prodded around to find out what their lifestyle has been like, only to find out that they drink 4-6 beers every night, and eat out for all of their meals. Good luck!

    Nootropics are not surrogates for healthy living, and will not help you to become like Bradley Cooper in Limitless if you’re not eating right, sleeping right, and taking care of your body. Sleep is particularly important to facilitate the efficacy of nootropic stacks. They’ll still work well enough, if you’re doing everything else right (like having titrated your stacks, or experimented with the right pre-made stack for you), but certainly not as good as they could.

    The best way to get great results from nootropics is to optimize an already functional baseline. You will notice a substantial difference in the efficacy of your nootropic stacks if you optimize your baseline greatly.

    In the end, as I said in the beginning, nootropics aren’t like caffeine. There’s actually some user interaction with the efficacy of certain compounds. Making sure you’re titrating in small doses, not taking too much of a particular compound, ensuring proper co-factors are included in your stack, and keeping baseline optimal are all critical facilitators of the efficacy of your stacks.

    Sometimes, it takes quite some time to get a nootropic stack to work well for you, and giving up before finding your sweet spot is cutting yourself short. In many situations, I’ve felt like I couldn’t get a nootropic compound to work well for me, only to apply some of these principles, and make it work great.

    I know, I know, it seems like nootropics can be a bit high maintenance. That you should be able to just take a pill, and have it work wonders for you. But that isn’t the reality. Nootropics are highly variable, and if you put in the work with certain stacks, you can help them to work marvelously for you. Thanks for reading!!

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