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Nootropics Update: Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Nootropics Update: Smart Drugs and Language Learning…

It’s been almost two months since I wrote Nootropics: Smart Drugs and Language Learning. As I’m fielding a number of emails on the subject I figured an update is in order.

Note: It can take a good six months to a year to get a handle on using Nootropics, so in no way am I professing to be an expert or even halfway there. This post is simply to share what I’ve learned, and where I’m at.

Additional note: I’m not interested in the speed-type Smart Drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Modafinil. Caffeine is the strongest I’ll take (and even with caffeine I have to be careful). My Nootropics adventure will mainly focus on the safe Racetams: Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Aniracetam, Sulbutiamine, Oxiracetam, and others.

A newbies guide to Nootropics…

There are many combinations of Nootropics (known as ‘stacks’), mentioned on the internet. One forum post will tout a certain mix, and yet another will pooh pooh the very same.

I’m not a chemistry major so I’m winging it like many others. And because of this, I won’t be surprised to be discover snafus in my regime (posted below), or even how I’m understanding it all.

From what I’ve read, a basic stack can consist of Piracetam, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and CDP-Choline (this is also debatable). The Choline is needed because (apparently) Piracetam depletes it from our systems, resulting in bad headaches. A switch, CDP-Choline gives me headaches so it’s possible that the eggs I consume already offer what I need.

A basic rundown on taking Nootropics:

  • Start out with a simple stack, adding one Nootropic at a time.
  • Different Nootropics do different things so decide your aim (language study, maths, music, memorization, motivation, whatever) and then trial suggested combinations, tweaking as you go.
  • Nootropics do work but you need to give your brain a workout at the same time. Study a language, memorise a script, learn new chess moves, whatever.
  • A mere 15 minutes of physical exercise before study can accentuate the effects of Nootropics.
  • Drink copious amounts of water (severe dry mouth and headaches are no fun).
  • Nootropics such as Piracetam are subtle so carefully observe and track your progress.
  • As previously mentioned, a Choline source alleviates the headaches caused from taking Piracetam (but this is not true with everyone).
  • Some say to take water soluble pills between meals and fat soluble during meals. Others say to take everything together with proteins, avoiding carbs. Up to you.
  • Some say to take caffeine, others say avoid it. Up to you.
  • Sleep is important (no surprise). If you are on a bad run of insomnia, taking expensive Nootropics is a waste, so mix your stack wisely.
  • Keeping healthy is advised, as is taking a multi-vitamin with decent range of B vitamins.

A given, I might have missed a few important pointers. If you know of others, go ahead and add them in the comments below. And if there’s a snafu somewhere, ditto.

Where to get advice…

For questions, there are several decent forums discussing Nootropics. This section on longecity.org covers quite a bit but there will still be a bit of confusion at first (I discover new information weekly): Nootropics thread index

My Nootropics trial: 1st Stack, 2nd Stack, and now the 3rd Stack…

Before Xmas I played around with Piracetam, Pyritinol, Vinpocetine, and Hydergine. Wanting to frolic, I took a break.

After the holidays I tweaked my stack to Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Pyritinol, Idebenone, Lion’s mane, Vinpocetine, Super Omega 3-6-9 1200, Huperzine A, Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa, and vitamins. Due to that darn bird I also took Melatonin (too much apparently) so after two weeks plus of not sleeping I switched to L-Tryptophan.

A month later I asked for a stack critique from Luke at Smart Nootropics (site is no longer live). Luke advised me to drop Idebenone and Vinpocetine, replace L-Tryptophan with Melatonin, and upgrade my multi-vitamin. I took most of Luke’s great advice but not all (forgive?)

Below is my third Nootropics stack (vitamins included).

With breakfast:

Caffeine (PepsiMax, CokeZero, tea or coffee)
Caffeine 50mg (ProLab 200mg cut into 4’s)
Piracetam 2 “00”
Pramiracetam 1 “1”
Hydergine 1 mg
Acetyl-L-Carnitine 499 mg
Methyl B-12 1000 mg
Super Omega 3-6-9 1200 mg
Lion’s Mane 300 mg
Multi-vitamin (Eve)

With lunch:

Piracetam 2 “00”
Pramiracetam 1 “1”
Acetyl-L-Carnitine 499 mg
Methyl B-12 1000 mg
Super Omega 3-6-9 1200 mg
Lion’s Mane 300 mg
Multi-vitamin (Eve)

With dinner:

Super Omega 3-6-9 1200
Multi-vitamin (Eve)
Probiotics

To help with sleep:

9pm: Bacopa Extract 225 mg x 3
10.30-11pm: L-Tryptophan 500 mg

Piracetam is relatively cheap but Pramiracetam and others can be expensive. To keep costs down, if I’m not studying that day I skip both Pramiracetam and Hydergine but take the rest of the stack. Depending, I also bounce around with caffeine pills.

To find the perfect study stack I plan on adding even more Nootropics to the above mix. In future posts I’ll discuss: Aniracetam, Sulbutiamine, Oxiracetam, Pyritinol, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Picamilon, Rhodiola, etc…

The Nootropic effects I’ve experienced so far…

Study: With my second stack I didn’t notice that much of a difference in my memory or motivation. It was only after I switched to my third stack, and later added Hydergine, that I felt a mega surge to study my language lessons.

And I mean a SURGE.

If I take Hydergine and a friend drops by I get antsy and want to race away, back to my lessons. And it doesn’t matter if I take Piracetam, Pramiracetam, or both together, Hydergine is the key.

Smarts: I might not be smarter but I think I am. Heh.

Get-up-and-go: My experience with Nootropics has opened me up to a bigger world; I’m no longer as introverted as before. Being body to body with hordes doesn’t bother me as much so I’ve gone for the Skytrain in a big way. Yes. Me. The “I only travel by taxi” lass.

Tedium: On a more mundane note, doing small chores is not longer as tedious. I usually resent doing dishes but now I find myself standing over the sink saying, “I’m not going to do dishes” … followed by … “Ok. Here I am. But I’m not going to wash them all”. Soon enough, POOF, the dishes get done.

Ah: And here’s another unexpected side effect (but in no way mundane). If you like sex then you are going to love love love Nootropics.

Nootropics: Smart drugs, memory enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers. Mighty fine.

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Nootropics: Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Smart Drugs and Language Learning

Smart Drugs and Language Learning…

Smart Drugs. Yes. And with the recent news about Thailand clamping down on rock star Sek Loso’s drug habit, DRUGS being supported on a Thai language site might come as a surprise.

But here’s the thing. It’s no secret that my main aim is to find the best methods and materials to learn Thai. Whatever they are.

To do this, over the years I’ve shared many posts on how to increase your chances of success with learning the Thai language.

The basics? Use good materials, eat healthy, get lots of sleep, study daily, surround yourself with all things Thai language, and never ever give up.

Learning languages is a lengthily process. Sure, you can get a jump into a foreign language with a mere 100 top words and an understanding of the basic sentence structure, but there is no quick fix to real fluency. You must do the time.

And here’s a second ‘but’. Many expats learning Thai these days are of the retirement age. And a sizable chunk of those have never successfully learned a second language.

Right away we have older, sluggish brains struggling to learn a tonal language. So even with their best efforts, the often slow to zilch progress sometimes results in a lack of confidence, leading to the eventual waning of the motivation to study Thai.

And if that’s where you are right now, you might want to look into the benefits of Nootropics. Yeah. The D word. Drugs.

Smart drugs and learning Thai…

Always on the lookout for anything to help with memory and motivation, when I came across Nootropics (Smart Drugs) I immediately thought of language learning.

Just what are Nootropics? I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty details of Nootropics in this post, but in a nutshell (and some wiki scraping)…

In 1964, Dr. Corneliu Giurgea synthetised Piracetam, labeling it as a Nootropic. Nootropics are also known as smart drugs, memory enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers.

Now, I’m a lightweight with drugs. I can barely handle mild painkillers without passing out. Regardless, I do try to keep an open mind on anything that’ll help with my Thai studies. Okokok… I do draw the line at a sleeping dictionary (but never say never).

Dr. Giurgea’s much touted ‘basic characteristics of Nootropics’ eased my mind:

  • They should enhance learning and memory.
  • They should enhance the resistance of learned behaviors/memories to conditions which tend to disrupt them (e.g. electroconvulsive shock, hypoxia).
  • They should protect the brain against various physical or chemical injuries (e.g. barbiturates, scopalamine).
  • They should increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms.
  • They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e.g. sedation, motor stimulation) and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity.

Sweet. Now curious to try Smart Drugs, I discovered that due to Nootropics being relatively safe they are legal most everywhere. Most specifically, Thailand. And like many drugs in Thailand, Nootropics are easily purchased over the counter.

Finding Nootropics in my area was not easy but I was eventually able to locate a needed stash by phone.

Note: Not all Nootropics are available in Thailand, but enough.

I jumped right in with Piracetam, which is apparently the best documented Nootropic around. After more googling I added Letchin, L-Carnitine, Hydergine, a range of vitamins, and Melatonin to help me sleep.

Wow.

I experienced an improvement in focus, my motivation revved, and a increase in my short-term memory was noticeable. A plus, I felt sense of euphoria, I became less of an introvert/hermit, and the world around me brightened. Brilliant.

And then I had two glasses of wine. Thunk. The bright colours dulled as did my brain.

Good to know.

Apparently there are differing opinions on consuming alcohol and Nootropics. Some say it’s ok, others say no.

The combination of alcohol and Piracetam didn’t work for me so I’m taking a Nootropics break while on holiday. But, I’ll be back in the Smart Drug saddle after the new year. And that’s a promise.

And sure, I’ll write about my experiences with learning languages while on Nootropics. In vivid detail. I’ll also expand on the safety as well as the cautions of Smart Drugs too (so please don’t worry about the D word – too much).

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from a knowledgeable Nootropics tester:

Your capacity for attention is largely dependent on you. Self-discipline still plays a role in the larger scheme of things. Yes. Caffeine, Piracetam and ALCAR will help you stay focused – by staving off lethargy and fatigue. But none of that will matter if you lack the discipline to stay off Facebook.

Nootropics: Smart drugs, memory enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers. Mighty fine.

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