My experience with nootropics

March 6, 2015

I’d like to begin a series of blog posts that attempt to catalog the nootropics I have tried or plan on trying, the reasoning and mechanisms behind them, and to help distill the heinously complicated workings behind them to you, the lovely reader. I originally set out to write one massive article, but that grew too cumbersome. Instead, we’ll start with baby steps.

We colloquially refer to nootropics as “smart drugs.” These can be any and all compounds, natural or not, safe or not, which enherently, through their own mechanisms or cascading effects, can enchance performance. This is, after all, the ultimate goal. My own interest in these stemmed from an ever-increasing workload in life: work, school, this blog, my physical fitness pursuits, and the rest. The demand grew too great, the supply too low; a fix was needed.

Since I am playing the long game—that is, finding the perfect balance between performance and longevity—I will automatically dismiss compounds found to be dangerous in and of themselves. For instance, Modafinil and related substances, popularized by Dave Asprey, excel in ameliorating the symptoms of narcolepsy and, as a result, can be used and abused for ridiculously-productive all-nighters. However, sleep is perhaps one of the most potent and natural nootropics on the planet, so Modafinil is out. Sleep, however, is in, and so is any supplement that might enhance sleep quality. Someone like me, neurotic, detail-oriented, and compelled to optimize, will go all out here. Others, like my poor girlfriend, don’t have to. Indeed, across the Internet, the word “nootropic” has become associated with strange and sketchy white powders and illicit substances—one might be reminded of the film Limitless. This is simply not the case: a nootropic is not a magic performance pill, but any edge is still an edge.

Of course, all of this should be taken as it is: an n(1) experiment. A single-subject experimental design. Anecdote. I, being myself, research to no end, and believe that I understand the intricate mechanisms, safety, and effective doses of all of these things. But ultimately if it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to roll out more articles which lay out my personal regimen and strategies in more detail. I’ll likely start with the basics and move more complex from there; after all, much of what we consider nootropic could also be considered a basic deficient vitamin or mineral (Vitamin D, for example) or something like a simple lifestyle change (diet, exercise, sitting less.) It doesn’t have to be alienating. We should all be pursuing excellence.

In the end, I’ll likely compile this information into a standalone page which can act as a reference guide to anyone interested (there might be a couple of you.)