Supplement stacking basics

August 05, 2015

Supplement stacking basics

An Introduction to biochemical synergy.

Some things just work well together. An example of this principle in action is the idea of co-enzymes. Vitamins are generally precursors to organic cofactors or coenzymes, those basic essential nutrients that work together in certain simple, but necessary functions. The B-vitamins, for instance, are chemically related to the learning and memory neurotransmitter Acetylcholine and the B-vitamins are vital in some cholinergic functions. B-vitamins themselves have a definite, if subtle cognitive sharpening effect.



Nootropics have been referred to as pseudo-vitamins considering the fact that many or most of the traditional nootropics are mimetic compounds, that is they mimic the action of other enzymes, amino acids, peptides or other biochemical building blocks that can affect our mental and physical states. 

Just like with other supplements, it’s always best to test something new by itself to see what initial reactions and always follow guidelines for dosage. In fact it’s best to start at the bottom of the therapeutic window (range at which compound has therapeutic benefit) and titrate upwards if necessary. After this addition of compounds that, like natural co-enzymes, work on the same processes and through the same pathways can be the best.

As mentioned before, it’s always a good idea to begin at the lowest effective dosage to see how the compound affects you . Everyone has a unique physiology and psychology so different substances will affect different people differently.

Once you’ve tried at the lowest suggested dosage for a day or two at the suggested intervals you may wish to add to your daily dosage, but if you’re unfamiliar with nootropics or other supplements remember that the psychostimulatory and other effects are often subtle especially at the beginning. Once an effective dosage is found sticking to the minimum effective dose will save your pocket and your piece of mind.

The simplest stacks

One of the simplest and most powerful stacks around is actually widely available worldwide. Something in the synergy between the slightly sedating, but hypnotically focusing l-theanine amino acid and caffeine alkaloid, both found in camellia sinensis, common tea leaves. In black tea the l-theanine content is lower than in green tea which allows for a calm, focused attentive energy.

Ensuring the maximum amount and ratio of caffeine to theanine for the utmost in cognitive enhancement would require vast amounts of Japanese Matcha, a high grade green tea. A bit of matcha a day to chase the brain fog away is a great idea but the best value would be to purchase either l-theanine and caffeine anhydrous separately or in a pre-mixed formula.



The other simplest type of stack would be a racetam, the oldest and most tested of the synthetic nootropics like the classic, Piracetam and the addition of some sort of choline supplement. Lecithin and simple inexpensive choline sources like choline bitartrate are a great addition but higher quality choline sources like citicoline, also known as CDP choline or Alpha GPC have nootropic benefits of their own as well as being precursor sources for acetylcholine production.

Warnings to watch for!

When designing a stack, just like when beginning a new supplement it’s best to dip your toe in before diving in head first. Stick with what you know and understand, which means studying the mechanism of action of the compounds and understanding exactly what it is that they’re doing. For instance, you wouldn’t need to add an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor if you’re using a traditional cholinergic like the racetams which operate by increasing the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors slow down the breakdown of acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft.

If you have upmodulated acetylcholine production with a racetam and slowed down the natural breakdown of it in the synapse then, unless you’re suffering from serious acetylcholine deficiency or traumatic or age related cognitive decline, your brain will respond by down-modulating (slowing-down) the production of acetylcholine in the brain. With higher doses and more uneccesary interaactions there are more possibilities of possible negative side effects, however slight.

Always consult with your doctor before attempting to stack supplements, especially if you’re in ill health, under a doctor’s care or currently taking any prescribed or over the counter medications for any pre-existing conditions.

Ready Made Stacks: 




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