Have you ever thought about the possibility of enhancing your brain? It is a possibility mostly used by sportsmen. Serious athletes have figured out how to use nutrition, supplements, and medication to become faster and stronger. Every sport is about the physical component as well as the mind component. In the past, to address the mental part, they could only drink more coffee or take caffeine tablets before competitions or workouts to have a high- functioning brain. Nowadays, more can be done due to the new generation of drugs, called nootropic drugs or drugs that make you smart. Mostly, such drugs allow you to control your brain better and put it in the use of your immediate needs, be more focused, have enhanced reflexes, or even strengthen your social skills. You can read the Best Nootropics Now’s review and see which nootropic fits you best.
Moreover, the most powerful substance in the nootropic category is acetyl-1-carnitine or ALCAR in short, an amino acid called “the transmitter that helps you learn.”
A multifunctional amino acid
Acetyl-1-carnitine is a natural amino acid that rapidly passes through the blood-brain barrier, where it reaches the maximum concentrations in about three hours. It is believed that this amino acid has a lot of beneficial effects. Currently, research is being done in search of supporting these benefits with concrete evidence. Some of its effects include:
- Increased energy production in mitochondria, improving physical and mental energy for several hours.
- Improvement of the brain’s ability to process information, concentration, mood, and memory (including long-term memory).
- Increased verbal fluency.
- Increase in the levels of glucose and creatinine in the brain (both decreases with age).
- Stimulated neurons and it supports the creation of new neural connections.
- Enhanced ability to learn new things.
- It counteracts of some forms of depression, such as dysthymia.
- Improvement of the ability to learn and recognize faces in Alzheimer’s patients.
How acetyl-l-carnitine manages to do all this is still under investigation, but it is indeed known to lead to increased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine – essential neurotransmitters for the brain. In short, it seems that this amino acid can increase the “electric voltage” of the mind. It also goes well with other nootropic drugs that have a synergistic effect. See more here.
If you go to the gym, it is beneficial for you to use as a pre-workout supplement because it allows you to focus, feel your muscles better when you work out and increase your overall performance. Many people do not realize the importance of mind-muscle connection. It is unnecessary to go mechanically through some exercises if you do not feel your muscles working. Hypertrophy (the increase in muscle mass) occurs when the brain manages to recruit enough muscle fibers, and this only happens if you can feel the muscle. There are supplements with acetyl-1-carnitine, or it can be found in the composition of other supplements, along with other nootropics, specifically designed to increase concentration and cognitive functions.
Salidroside, a new form of caffeine
Salidroside is the most biologically active component of two compounds (the other being rosagin) found in Rhodiola Rosea – an ingredient that often appears on the pre-workout and cognitive add-on labels but less well known by itself. Rhodiola Rosea is a plant used mainly in Chinese medicine and recently in cognition related products – from stress relieving supplements, pre-workouts or caffeine alternatives.
It is part of a class called adaptogens, a compound that stabilizes psychological processes and reduces those that induce a negative response (for example, a decrease in stress hormone release). Primarily, it desensitizes the individual to environmental stress factors, promoting overall body balance – including reducing stress hormones such as cortisol and supporting the parasympathetic nervous system. By lowering the stress response, cognition is boosted by allowing greater concentration over more extended periods of time.
The science behind Salidroside
Several studies claim Rhodiola Rosea has a pronounced impact on our responses to surrounding stressors. A meta-analysis has found that the most significant benefits occur when people are subjected to prolonged periods of stress. Other studies have found benefits in reducing stress and fatigue.
The effects on fatigue reduction are notable. One study found that 200 mg/day of Rhodiola Rosea extract (1% Salidroside) significantly increased the time to exhaustion compared with a placebo group (700 mg of starch). Performance increases were registered in both the psychological and physical spheres.
Salidroside alone has not been subjected to so many researches (yet), but animal studies that have taken place so far show that it has similar effects to Rhodiola Rosea regarding cognitive abilities.
It has been discovered that Salidroside can reduce inflammation and regulate nervous system functions by reducing oxidative stress – this looks like it can act as a stress relieving agent and can improve cognitive functions. It also reduces inflammation in some regions of the brain. These findings suggest that Salidroside can be very useful in developing the memory. It has even speculated that Salidroside may be a future treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Salidroside as a self-contained product has a 98% active substance concentration, compared to Rhodiola which contains somewhere at 3% Salidroside and a high percentage of rosavin (being less potent in this context). As Salidroside mediates the effects of Rhodiola Rosea, a pure product has far more powerful forces. It is easy to administer. Only 1-2 capsules per day are the optimal dose and should not be combined with other products to get maximum effects.
Salidroside is a natural substance, so it does not have side effects like specific synthetic products. Moreover, more, it is not an incentive like caffeine, another ingredient often used in cognac products and pre-workout supplements, but in which tolerance develops and can add light addictions. Instead of creating a pre-caffeine inhibiting effect, it promotes general vitality by creating what is called the “positive feedback loop.” This loop sustains changes in the body that catalyze a series of events that adjust the entire nervous system. Besides this positive loop, it has no other side effects of the caffeine: tremors, insomnia, irritability and gastric problems.
Who can use it
Whoever wants an increase in cognitive functions can use it. Due to the ability to reduce the effects of intense stress on the body, it is useful for those who are often in stressful situations for long periods of time: workers, students, athletes. Endurance athletes can benefit from Salidroside supplementation, increasing the time of physical exhaustion. It can easily be part of the pre-workout supplements to provide concentration during long-lasting weight training. It is also useful after a hard workout to promote recovery.
Other supplements with nootropic effects
Pea-butterfly (Clitoria ternata) is used in the Ayurvedic medicine for its laxative, diuretic and demulcent actions. In animal studies, it is also demonstrated the ability to enhance the memory and reduce anxiety. Because these are not the traditional uses of lime, additional human studies are needed to confirm its efficacy. Read more here.
The sweet-wood (Glycyrrhiza glabra, C, uralensis), belonging to the adaptogenic section, has been demonstrated in many animal studies to improve the memory. The researchers speculate that its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as the possible promotion of cholinergic transmission in the brain, are beneficial.
Huperzine A is extracted from Chinese musk-musk (Huperzia serrata). It is one of the many high-concentration extracts advertised as nootropic supplements. This substance breaks down the blood-brain barrier and inhibits the action of acetylcholinesterase in the brain for up to three hours. Acetylcholinesterase destroys the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which promotes the transmission of nerve impulses. Substances that have temporary AChE-inhibiting effects are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and myasthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disorder). In animal studies, this substance has shown neuroprotective effects and prevented nerve damage caused by pesticide poisoning. Huperzine A is a potent substance that can interact with many prescribed medications, so it should only be used under the supervision of a physician.