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I was surprised to find that a search of these forums turned up very little discussion of nootropics, or so-called "smart drugs", at least as far as I could find. Obviously cognitive performance and long-term brain health is an important consideration for everyone, but especially obsessive optimizers like us . So I figured I'd start a thread to inquire if anyone has experimented with nootropics, and if so, which ones (if any) did you find beneficial.

 

To kick off the discussion, I've never experimented with any nootropics myself, except for caffeine, which honestly I don't find has much of an observable effect on me (cognitive or otherwise), but I take it anyway (as coffee/tea, and as a B12-fortified mint) for other health reasons.

 

But today I came across a new multi-nootropic supplement from someone I trust, respect and believe to be quite intelligent - Lincoln Cannon. Lincoln is the co-founder of the Mormon Transhumanism Association, a pretty cool longevity-focused organization to which I and many other non-Mormons belong. Lincoln is also responsible for formulating the New God Argument, which I find pretty compelling (see here for related discussion and here for science/philosophy heavyweights on the topic). But I digress...

 

Thrivous, his new company (to which I have no affiliation), has developed a nootropic supplement called Clarity. Here is the Clarity label:

 

clarity-right_1024x1024.jpg

 

Has anyone any personal experience, or done any research on any of these ingredients? Here is Lincoln's research on them, plus a couple others not included in this version of Clarity. They look reasonably beneficial (and harmless) based on the controlled studies Lincoln has compiled.

 

The price is pretty reasonable - $25 for a month's supply. I'm forever interested in self-experimentation and lifestyle optimization, so I was thinking of conducting a single-blind, crossover trial on myself to see if I notice any difference between taking Clarity vs. a placebo. But if others have had bad experiences with these nootropics, or know of research that says they may be harmful, I'll obviously steer clear.

 

Thanks!

 

--Dean

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I don't know that "Clarity" qualifies as a nootropic strictly speaking, as the list of ingredients doesn't show any provable "enhancers" of mental performance (whereas caffeine definitely qualifies), so much as a "hope-and-pray" maintainers of neurological/brain health.

 

But as long as we use such broad definitions, and in the spirit "at worst, hopefully it won't hurt", I do use a number of supplements more in hope than solid scientific proof of efficacy. One such is Magnesium L-Threonate (TM Magtein) for which there are various claims and a rat study - which I regard in all honesty as mostly bunk. However, I'm at least careful about sourcing and buy from Jarrow Formulas - a bit more $, but Jarrow are generally reliable, so that at least you're getting what's on the label. Now, I don't actually believe the nootropic claims for Magtein, but my motivation for taking it is the Magnesium aspect - I get leg cramps at night, and my doc recommended upping my magnesium intake through supplementation. My diet already has plenty of magnesium, but unless you take so much that it throws your mg/ca balance way off, a bit more magnesium seems more good than bad. The Magtein tablet has not much magnesium, but about as much as I feel comfortable supplementing. Yes, it's expensive for the amount of mg you get, but it won't be the first supplement that I've thrown money down the toilet for, so par for the course. So that's my motivation: magnesium - if indeed, through some miracle, there are also brain benefits, well, I'll celebrate, but I don't count on it at all. That's my nootropic contribution to this thread.

 

And in contrast to Dean, I do derive nootropic benefits from caffeine, at least as in coffee. I drink coffee daily for pleasure and any possible health benefits are again a bonus. I realize some (Paul McG.) think that coffee is anti-CR, but it is a big QOL enhancer (for me), so I'm chancing it. I drink it in one sitting: brewed filtered coffee from 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of coffee beans that I grind on the spot. It's a frank indulgence, that I feebly dress in a bunch of "research shows it's not detrimental in this quantity" excuses. But I do get a mildly euphoric effect - maybe euphoric is a bit strong, it's more like a slight lift to mood, or a kind of optimism. It has happened more than once when distracted by something, that I detect what seems to me optimism that's not fully warranted, and then I remember "oh, I've just had coffee!". So yes, for me, there definitely is a nootropic effect, as I feel I work better with a bit of coffee. It's not a huge effect, but it's there, and the slight mood elevation is quite welcome - because otherwise I'm in a neutral steady-state. FWIW, according to my 23andme genetic profile, I'm a fast metabolizer of caffeine.

 

As far as outright enhancements of mental performance, I think there is far better evidence in favor of caffeine than any other nootropic that I am aware of (and that goes in spades for stuff like Magtein, which is frankly not supported at all).

 

There is one other thing that I find intriguing, although I have not gone down that road at all. WARNING: I am not advocating that anyone take any illegal substances, nor do I take them myself. But I have read about possible benefits of microdoses of things like various forms of amphetamines as well as psychotropic substances such as LSD. Microdoses small enough that you don't get any overt effects of sensory distortions and the like (i.e. no feeling of "high" etc.). The idea being that when the dosage is so tiny, you are deriving benefits without the negative side effects. I admit, I find that idea interesting, but have taken no steps to trying it myself - and again, I'm absolutely not advocating anyone do anything illegal.   

Edited by TomBAvoider

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FWIW, here is an article claiming such use of microdosing LSD in Silicon Valley to boost productivity - in other words a true nootropic - obviously, studies are scarce on the ground, so this is all we have, anecdotal reports:

 

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/111475/20151130/silicon-valley-workers-take-microdoses-of-lsd-to-boost-productivity.htm

 

and interview:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/psychedelic-microdosing-research_us_569525afe4b09dbb4bac9db8

Edited by TomBAvoider

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There's no good evidence that any of the junk in this formula improves cognitive performance, and in the case of Ginkgo, substantial evidence that it does not.

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Dean I'm surprised you'd take anyone's word as "gospel." Where are we, Christian church? Especially words drummed out of fingers that probably have never even done acid, and if that's the case -- abstention -- words out of heads that have no idea what they're talking about. LSD definitely improves the "cognitive performance" of creative minds lol... If you don't associate with "creative professionals..." then I understand naivety. But note that many of your favorite paintings, sculptures, poems, books, photography, movies, dance choreography... on and on... many were accomplished by people stepping outside establishment squares, and willing to risk mind-altering drugs. It's painful that I even type these words...

 

The question that's interesting relates to low dose LSD. And that's worth studying!

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Sthira,

 

"Gospel" was just a figure of speech to indicate I respect Michael's opinion / knowledge when it comes to supplements. I added the "and LSD" part in an edit to the post after my initial response, in order to be cute.

 

As for LSD, I've heard enough about "bad trips" that I'm reluctant to try it, even at low doses. Plus, I don't know how I'd get my hands on the stuff, and that I'd have to take risks to do so - since it remains illegal after all...

 

But I'm perfectly fine with anyone else wanting to give it a try, and I can well imagine it could be very mind-expanding and conducive of creativity.

 

--Dean

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Right! So to call LSD "junk" is just ignorant. The music you're listening to right now may have been composed by some people tripping. I understand that we've not had 4,000 mouse studies, 600 human clinical trials on the stuff, and I understand the boogie man criminal tactics aimed to freak you out about "bad trips" -- but if you've never done the stuff yourself, maintain your dignity please. And as it turns out, a bad trip may just be the most profoundly transformative six-hours of your life. And if you've never experienced either the up-good or the down-hell -- well, life is long and hopefully getting longer for us all.

 

But I'm interested in low dose LSD -- that's what's interesting here. Thanks for posting, Tom.

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Sthira,

 

Take a chill pill man.

 

Right! So to call LSD "junk" is just ignorant.

 

I didn't call LSD junk, and neither did Michael. Notice Michael said (my emphasis): 

 

There's no good evidence that any of the junk in this formula improves cognitive performance,

 

He was clearly referencing the Clarity multi-nootropic formula that I asked about in the opening message of this thread. He was not referencing LSD, which Tom brought up. I don't know what Michael's perspective on LSD is. As I said, I was being cute when I referenced LSD in my reply to Michael. Sorry I set off such a firestorm with my throw-away remark...

 

You wrote:

but if you've never done the stuff yourself, maintain your dignity please.

 

I don't see how I lost my dignity when expressing my reservations about LSD.

 

And as it turns out, a bad trip may just be the most profoundly transformative six-hours of your life. And if you've never experienced either the up-good or the down-hell -- well, life is long and hopefully getting longer for us all.

 

Yes, I'm sure LSD trips (good or bad) can be life-transforming. But are you saying that horror stories about how "bad trips" with LSD have messed up people's cognitive architecture, sometimes even after a single dose, are inaccurate and unfounded? And if life is getting longer, I'd rather not risk my cognitive health which I consider pretty good, and pretty creative, at the moment. I may change my mind sometime in the future, but for now I'm content to give LSD a pass.

 

I would not be at all surprised if LSD at low dosages is (pretty much) harmless and potentially creativity-enhancing. But I stand by my reservations about getting my hands on some, and the risks associated with doing so, given its current illicit status.

 

--Dean

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Yikes! Yeah, just to be clear, Sthira: Dean's understanding is correct: I was referencing the herbal dog's breakfast about which Dean inquired. I didn't even look at, and have no opinion on, the unorthodox use of ergot fungus derivatives referenced by you and Tom.

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No problem, all good, I thought we were commenting on this post. Forgive the Sthira as it drifts back upward into sky diamonds again (having taken a "chill pill" per Dean's request haha..)

 

FWIW, here is an article claiming such use of microdosing LSD in Silicon Valley to boost productivity - in other words a true nootropic - obviously, studies are scarce on the ground, so this is all we have, anecdotal reports:

 

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/111475/20151130/silicon-valley-workers-take-microdoses-of-lsd-to-boost-productivity.htm

 

and interview:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/psychedelic-microdosing-research_us_569525afe4b09dbb4bac9db8

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[...]And if life is getting longer, I'd rather not risk my cognitive health which I consider pretty good, and pretty creative, at the moment. I may change my mind sometime in the future, but for now I'm content to give LSD a pass.

 

I would not be at all surprised if LSD at low dosages is (pretty much) harmless and potentially creativity-enhancing. But I stand by my reservations about getting my hands on some, and the risks associated with doing so, given its current illicit status.

 

--Dean

 

I'm disappointed by these remarks. I thought I took abundant care to emphasize - and also reinforced through the provided links - that we are talking about microdoses of LSD and other psychotropis. We are talking about doses so small that you are experiencing NO conscious sensory distortions, therefore there can be no talk of "bad trips", "good trips" or any "trips" in fact, a "trip" being by definition an effect of strong sensory distortion. Again, we are blithely ignoring the most fundamental of principles "the dose makes the poison" - water should not be avoided or labeled lethally dangerous just because one can die of hyponatremia when overdosing on water. Medical drugs can be life-saving at the right dose and life-ending at an overdose. LSD and other psychotropics have shown in limited studies to function as excellent medications - more effective than any currently used drugs in helping people with depression and certain other psychiatric problems. Why not call it "medical drug", not to be taken in overdose, just as much as aspirin? 

 

Now, not wanting to take it based on legal issues is 100% understandable - I do NOT advocate or encourage anyone to break the law in any way. One of the reasons we have so few studies of substances like LSD is frankly the controlled substances legislation, but that's a post for another day - I happen to believe we'd be better off studying all these compounds, but you can't really do it easily as a scientist when your access to it is extremely difficult if not impossible. 

 

Ultimately, today we can't even know if LSD and other psychotropics are safe and not deleterious (to any degree) for human health at any dose, including a "micro" dose. So it's entirely intellectually supportable to avoid it on the grounds of safety (at any dose) - but not in the context of "bad trips", which are not happening at microdoses. "I don't want to take LSD because it might not be safe at microdoses" - no problem. "I don't want to take LSD because of reports of bad trips and even one use catastrophic consequences reports" - wrong, and a mischaracterization of the effects of LSD at microdoses, and intellectually unjustified given the principle of  "dose makes the poison" for any drug. We should not conflate the two.

 

Again, I only even brought it up because that's the one documented use of a "nootropic" in recent decades. 

 

Finally, I think it is instructive to think of LSD and psychotropics in comparison with caffeine. Once upon a time coffee was condemned as an evil substance and outlawed in some countries. The legal status of a substance is not a good guide to what is beneficial for health. Coffee (thanks to caffeine) had definite effects on mood, performance etc. - just as LSD is claimed to (depending on dose). And we know that overdosing on caffeine can be detrimental and even kill - same as LSD being overdosed (although I'm not sure we have proof of a death due to LSD overdosing, not counting people allegedly jumping out of windows under the influence). I see many of us have no qualms about consuming caffeine - we know a lot, but hardly everything about caffeine in the context of CR. Studies of caffeine in ad lib humans - plenty. CR'd people - none I'm aware of. And yet, we consume it. It's just another bioactive compound - like LSD.

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Hi Dean, I have experimented extensively with all of them. The only effect was a slight calming effect from the the theanine. The rest tried several times in the past zilcho, nothing!

 

I agree caffeine certainly works, but it is not earth shattering by any means and dosing is important. Too much is no good as with all things moderation is the key. Exercise is the best nootropic imo by far! Clearly and reliably improves mood and cognition.

 

As for LSD, it is a sad fact that something with incredible potential is being largely ignored by science, especially neuropsychiatry.

 

See my post in chit chat forum about recent research on LSD.

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I try to learn faster and want to live an interesting life. It's interesting to use some supplements to become faster and more productive in daily life. I think that it is the same as a training program in the gym. You must find the system for your body. I haven't time for explanation, but you can read more about it https://tonusjournal.com/brain-health/do-nootropics-work/

Edited by Carvisterns

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