July 12, 2018
Our brains are very unique from one person to the next. This is because the complex set of chemicals interacting together will be different depending on our genetics, our environment, and even the experiences we’ve gone through.
Some people are more anxious and easily stressed, while others are naturally calm. Some are abundant in motivation to get a job done, while others need an extra push to get started.
Knowing these subtle differences is important if you want to optimise your nootropic supplement stack to match your brain chemistry.
When our nootropic stacks match our brain chemistry, we can achieve more efficiency out of our nootropic supplement regimen than ever before.
Our brain chemistry is very different from one person to the next. Although we use the same neurotransmitters and cell types, the way our body uses them can be very different from each other, even under the same circumstances.
We call these differences “constitutions”, and they can be used to dial in your nootropic stacks to match your brain chemistry more effectively.
Here's how to do it.
The idea that everybody has a unique, yet predictable response to the environment is not a new concept.
It’s defined as a collection of functional habits someone's body has. This comes from a combination of genetic, biochemical, and physiological processes taking place within the body. Examples of this can involve temperature regulation, susceptibility to certain illnesses, muscle and fat distribution, energy levels, and how the body responds to different kinds of stress.
Hippocrates, one of the greatest medical influencers of the past used constitutions as an integral part of his diagnostic process. He identified a pattern of certain traits that some people had, and others didn’t. He called this the “humours”.
Other famous medical influencers have come up with their own classification systems for various constitutions including William Herbert Sheldon’s “somatotypes”, Je-Ma Lee’s “Sasong typology”, or Elliot Abravanel’s “glandular metabolism typology”.
Other traditional medicine systems use the concept of constitution as an essential part of their treatment protocols as well;
Traditional Chinese medicine for example offers 9 different constitution types based on a series of attributes commonly grouped together in people. Things like body size, temperament, energy levels, and frequency of certain disease types are all included.
Ayurveda also uses constitutions, however, in this medical system there are only 3; pitta, kapha, and vata. Each with a specific set of characteristics commonly grouped together among each classification.
When it comes to using constitution to determine nootropic use, we need to talk about the different theories regarding nervous system constitutions, and brain chemistry.
The nervous system can be split up into 2 halves: The Sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
The sympathetic nervous system is the part that gives us stimulating effects. It becomes activated during our fight or flight response to give us a boost of energy when we need to fight something off or run away. It’s also involved with exercise, and giving us that kick in the morning that causes us to wake up.
The parasympathetic nervous system does the exact opposite. It's involved with the process of “rest and digest”. It lowers our energy levels, speeds up digestion and immune function, and helps us fall asleep at night.
Most people are not perfectly balanced in terms of PNS activation and SNS activation. Some of us tend to be more likely to be overstimulated (SNS), while others are more likely to be under stimulated (PNS).
Nootropic regimens can be used to optimise these constitutions. By understanding this concept and applying it, you are essentially optimising your brains chemistry to deliver more balanced effects, and therefore greater results overall.
SNS dominant constitutions are more prone to having a sympathetic nervous system response. This means that neurotransmitters like glutamate, serotonin, and norepinephrine are in higher concentrations, causing overstimulation in the brain.
Therefore, most of the issues related to cognitive function tend to result from this overstimulation. Things like insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety are common complaints among these individuals.
These people tend to benefit the most from nootropics that aren’t overly stimulating. In fact, nootropics that produce calm, clean focus, or nootropics that improve sleep are most effective.
People who have PNS dominant constitutions tend to experience lower neurological stimulation than SNS types. This includes symptoms like brain fog, food cravings, depression, or fatigue.
Neurotransmitters that are likely to be the most active includes GABA and dopamine.
These people tend to benefit the most from the stimulating nootropics. They can be used to push the balance more towards the SNS side in order to improve focus, energy, and motivation.
Nootropics that boost acetylcholine, serotonin, and glutamate tend to be the most effective for cognitive enhancement in these people.
Nootropics can be a valuable tool for maximising your productivity and learning. It’s even better if you can match the nootropics you use to your brain's chemistry.
The simplest way to do this is to identify your general constitution in terms of nervous system health. This can then be used as a guide for choosing the nootropic supplement you take on a daily basis.
If you found this topic interesting, try looking into the idea of constitutions given by people like Hippocrates, William Herbert Sheldon, Je-Ma Lee, Elliot Abravanel, or traditional medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine, or Ayurvedic medicine.
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