Because many people have asked me about it, I have decided to start blogging about my experiences with nootropics- and the other supplements I take. Consider these posts just a collective experience report- because yours may not be the same and you still should research further to determine what you think might work best, and go from there.
First, a warning and a caveat: I am not a medical professional. I was just a broke ass who had a hell of a time with addiction and as a result: a hell of a time getting the psychiatric medications I probably do need, because I am honest about said addiction. Nevermind that the addiction was opoids and speed was never my thing- but, yeah. My honesty in this has never been the asset the medical profession tries to say it is and I fully recognize this is likely more due to the individual doctors and their biases, than anything. Still, having tried to seek professional help for over 20 years now: I have yet to see one doctor that didn’t latch on to that addiction as a reason for avoiding medication I likely need. (You’d think I would have learned a while back that telling them the reason stimulants were never my thing was…they just didn’t seem to “work” for me, so I never understood what the big deal was. I did not.)
I actually used a self-modified version of The Thomas Recipe in detoxing from opoids combined with a hell of a lot of introspection in terms of why I was taking them. Having taken a pain pill recently for a knee injury, I can also say that at this point- probably a psychological reaction: I can’t take opoids. I just felt so shitty for about 24 hours after. I’m not really upset at the loss. My modified recipe was: no benzos. Instead, I used chewable children’s benadryl. (Which is because I didn’t want another addiction ontop of the one I had. You may not have that issue.) Imodium, l-tyrosine, my multivitamin, Fish Oil and a magnesium/potassium blend. I took the mag/Imodium/and benadryl at bedtime, I took the rest in the morning, as well as an additional dose of the Imodium. I didn’t go over on the dosage for the Imodium and frankly- I didn’t need to. I would take the morning supplements with a big glass of white grapefruit juice.
For the first week, I did that, and I forced myself to eat 3 round meals a day, two snacks (Morning around 10 am, evening around 3 pm). I drank a shitload of water.
Second week, I didn’t really need the Imodium, so I ditched it.
At about a month, I didn’t need the benadryl.
(If you’re going through withdrawal of any sort- I highly, highly recommend the Sober Living forum at bluelight.org. I really wouldn’t browse around beyond that, it can be triggering as all get out- but, this is the best collection of experiences and support. You can also find a bunch of really great support groups on Reddit.) I can also tell you this- there are a bunch of “natural” alternatives to opoids people are touting as cures: the truth is, most of those will also create dependency and yes, withdrawal, too. Do your research, here- no matter what the hippies tell you, chemistry doesn’t lie. (Kratom and phenibut, I am lookin’ right at you.)
Second: I am not anti-pharma in the slightest. I am pro-survival and anti-shame. Which means, you do what works. If that’s medication, fantastic. If it’s not, also fantastic. Me? I have found a blend of the two and lifestyle changes is what works- though I rarely ever can actually avail myself of the two medications that actually worked: modafinil or adderall, mostly because I refused to lie about my problems with opoids or why I took them. (Frankly because they slowed me down, while making me feel good- for a while. Until they don’t. Then, getting off of them is hell and so: no, I don’t quite recommend that.) That said: if you are on medications of any sort, I’d ask your doctor or research potential interactions. Supplements aren’t necessarily “safe” in spite of what marketing gurus love to say- and interactions with medications can and definitely do occur.
Third: I have zero experience with racetrams. I have researched them, extensively, and given my history and the things I would like to avoid: I have just given them the side eye. That’s not to say they’re not beneficial, it’s just to say that when coming up with my stacks- I pay careful, careful attention to negative side effects or reports as well as studies on what’s impacted in the body and brain. I obviously lack the capabilities to test levels of the various chemicals in my body, so- I go by trial and error as well as symptoms: because of this, I understand that first: I don’t mess with anything that’s big on serotonin impact. And second: I have something wonky with my catecholamines. See? Far from scientific. As a rule of thumb: if there are a multitude of reports and studies indicating something has a chance of amplifying symptoms I can’t stand, I steer clear. And the racetrams class seems to in my case. There are tons and tons of blogs, subreddits and otherwise though which have a lot of information on this if you want it- I’m just not that guy.
“Nootropics”, “smart drugs”, etc- these are becoming marketing buzzwords, so, be careful what sources you’re looking at for information.
I actually went from about three pots of coffee a day, down to less than one. I currently drink roughly 3 cups of coffee on a normal day, maybe 6 on a rough day: and that’s across a time frame from about 5:00 am until 4:00 pm. For a time, I was switching to one Monster energy drink in the afternoons- but, upon discovering it was in fact the taurine and l-carnitine: I have decided to ditch that, too and simply add those to my stack.
What you take, as well as what source it comes from is important. When you take it and what you take it with, is as well. I see tons and tons of people who have shitty experiences with whatever- or obvious placebo effect with things: and really, it’s because you can’t just pop a couple pills and be like “Yay!” that’s a mentality you really, really need to ditch. It’s chemistry- for instance, for me, the most powerful supplement I take and the one that I have experienced the most positive impact from: L-Tyrosine. You can read more about that here.
You cannot take this right before or after a meal and expect much- though I have read if you take a higher dose, you can. I don’t know about that, to be honest, I just take it on an empty stomach with my morning coffee and about 15 minutes later, I take my multivitamin. I use Tropical Oasis Mega Plus.
I am not affiliated with any of the brands I may link to- it’s just what I use, and what works for me. Again, you might test around and searching for good sources helps. NOW Brands tends to be a winner. It’s often difficult to find good supplements because they’re not regulated, therefore- you wind up with some shitty bunk you paid too much for that just has loads of filler, quite often, if you just grab whatever has the name on the label. It’s important to research first, and go from there. In terms of the “additional” supplements in my multi- this is actually something to note: first, I take the one that I do for the “basics” and it’s got excellent dosages, there. I do so because having taken it for months, gone off, gone back on: I know my body absorbs it well and it’s useful for me. The best thing I have found for testing this sort of thing- couple months on, a month off: you note differences, and usually you can tell if something was beneficial or not.
I actually had a weird experience with Tyrosine and it’s one I’ve yet to understand. For a long time I hovered around 98-100 pounds, which is slightly underweight. (I am 5 foot tall, even.) No matter what I did: for some reason, gaining weight was incredibly difficult. I sort of speculated, based on that and the symptoms I had- that I had some sort of thyroid thing going on, but, I’ve never had any tests, so I have no freaking clue. For that reason, the tyrosine made me nervous but after a particularly frustrating attempt at getting treatment for my ADHD: I thought I’d give it a shot in a relatively basic stack I’d been reading about. I don’t try more than one at a time: so, initially, I just started trying the Tyrosine on top of my multi.
I took it in the morning, and I am not much of a breakfast eater, anyway- but, I did this because I worried about the potential for “anxiety”. I didn’t get that. I also did not get the weight loss. Though I cannot say I experienced the cognitive positive effects- what I did experience kept me taking it and is apparently not usual enough that you can find much data on it: I started to gain weight.
After a couple of months, I noticed, not only was I gaining weight, but my moods were stabilizing. I can’t tell you why it is, I can only ballpark it and say: it probably has something to do with catecholamines and possibly, something to do with the fact that I have a natural short sleep pattern. (For me: 5 hours is usually the max amount I will sleep. Having taken things to try to sleep longer- sleeping longer really messes with me, either because of those sleep aids or otherwise. I also do not nap nor do I get sleepy in the afternoons. I have been like this as long as I can remember- save for when I was taking opoids and then, my sleep was all screwed up.)
(And please, if you have any research or experiences about why I had the experience I did with this- let me know. I have been trying to figure out why it is that my experience has been as it has been for a while and not succeeding. Still, you know, it works, so, I’m not complaining- but it’d be nice to know why.)
As far as mood stabilization goes, let me be really clear: this doesn’t mean I get gorky as I did when I was taking opoids, or that nothing bothers me. Things bother me. I just don’t experience these intense mood swings as I once dealt with. So, now, I’ve kept my weight at about a healthy 118-120 pounds, my moods aren’t all over the place, and in general: this has been a pretty positive experience for me. I can say that if I take an additional l-tyrosine at lunch: I have to be very limited in my caffeine intake and even then, I have trouble getting to sleep at night. Not really jittery or anything, my brain’s just like “It isn’t time to sleep yet!” unless…I go over on my coffee, and then, yes, jittery as shit. I don’t like it.
So, to start: my basic stack is: 3-4 cups of coffee, 750 mg l-tyrosine, a good multi, and a Monster: but, likely, it’s the L-Carnitine and Taurine in that, combined with the caffeine which does it.
I plan to start adding l-theanine, additional vitamin c, curcumine (I believe I am going to try Longvida brand as it has rave reviews), NAC, and piperine next month: but I am doing this as I’ve been intrigued by turmeric for a while and the others are either for absorption benefits and, well, next month I plan to quit smoking. Because nicotine is also a nootropic, I am going to be working with some things to counter not only the withdrawal but, replace that effect. I also plan to start Apple Cider Vinegar: because my gut health is absolutely atrocious and has been for a while.
I know, not the most fascinating and exciting things ever- and also: you should understand I try to eat as cleanly as I can. That’s not to say I go in for marketing gimmicks and all- but, I am pretty keenly aware that when I eat like crap, I feel like crap: even when I occasionally treat myself- my GI is like “Oh my god, why?!” but…you know, sometimes, you treat yourself and as long as you know what you’re in for: it’s whatever.
A couple of people asked me about l-tyrosine and grey hair: to be really honest, my hair is greying faster than it was before, but I’m 38 and frankly: I like it. I couldn’t tell you anything about that and actually, given I apparently have some sort of atypical reaction: I may not be the best person to tell you about “typical”. I can say other friends have taken it on my suggestion: and the mood stabilizing seems to be pretty common. I didn’t find much benefit in 5-HTP, but a friend takes tyrosine and adds that, he seems to see benefits. (Another one who couldn’t afford his meds- in his case: antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds.) There are a number of forums out there, I highly suggest if this sort of thing interests you- you seek them out, rather than blogs. The blog posts you’ll see around tend to be promoting particular products- and when they’re just discussing them as I have here, experience reports? Not so bad. But, as with anything else, over the top claims combined with promoting a product- either as an affiliate or selling it, isn’t always a reason to dismiss, but it is a good reason to keep researching.