3 Simple Guidelines for Designing an Effective Nootropic Stack

30/03/2014 Tags: all, stacks

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Many nootropics users find it useful to combine more than one type of supplement in what is known as a stack. This allows a user to benefit from a wider range of cognitive enhancements, potentiate the effects of individual supplements, and negate some possible side effects. There are many different types of stacks to try, but the eventual goal for many users is to tailor a combination of supplements to suit their specific needs. This article covers 3 of the most important points you should consider to get the most out of your nootropics stack.


Start Slowly and Build Your Way Up

When trying nootropics for the first time, the temptation many users have is to immediately use several types of supplement all at once. After all it seems only logical that taking lots of different nootropic supplements will result in a wide variety of benefits. While this is true to some extent, using multiple nootropics as a beginner is highly advised against for several reasons. Firstly, you will not yet be aware of how your body will react to each of these substances. Although nootropics are generally considered to be safe when guidelines and dosages are followed correctly, there is a chance that you may have an adverse reaction. This risk is likely to increase in new users with multiple nootropics as your body is not yet used to these substances, and will take some time to adjust.

Secondly, if you’ve taken several supplements, there will be no way to distinguish which supplement is responsible for the various effects that you are experiencing, desired or otherwise. This can be problematic, particularly when considering the effects of some nootropics are quite similar to one another. Additionally, it may be the case that you overestimate dosages and use far more supplements than your body actually needs to obtain the desired level of cognitive enhancement. While this may not pose any problems for some, it is at very least likely to be wasteful and potentially expensive depending on the price of your chosen nootropic.

Although it may be time consuming and you may not see cognitive enhancements immediately, the best course of action is to try each nootropic individually, starting on a low dosage before increasing it slowly and incrementally. This will allow you to discern the effects of each individual supplement, and find the ideal dosage level for you. Once you are comfortable and satisfied with the effects of one supplement, you can then move on to experimenting with others. It is a good idea to keep a journal to record the effects of each supplement, allowing you can easily track your progress and give you a basis from which to design your stack.


Identify the Weakest Link

It is important to identify what you hope to acquire or change by taking nootropics for several reasons. Firstly, this gives you a goal to aim towards and something by which to measure your progress. Secondly, many areas that nootropics are designed to improve upon, are interlinked. For example, it may be the case that you suffer from problems with memory as a result of poor sleep, which is caused by overactive anxious thoughts. But which kind of supplement is it that you require; one that improves memory, one that improves sleep, or one that reduces anxiety? Only by identifying your greatest weaknesses and addressing these first will you be able to gain the most from your nootropic supplements.

Some users may be seeking general improvements to cognition, rather than having a specific target in mind. This approach is fine, but you should always be mindful of factors that can greatly influence your capacity for cognitive enhancement. For example, there is little use in taking anti-fatigue supplements during the day if you know you are not getting an adequate amount or quality of sleep to begin with. This approach would merely address the symptoms and you would be far more likely to benefit from supplements like Picamilon or Phenibut that promote restful sleep.


Use Nootropics with Different Mechanisms

Once you know which areas you want to improve, you should carefully consider the kind of nootropics to use. Generally speaking, the best approach involves selecting supplements that work using different biological mechanisms. This ensures that a wider range of benefits can be gained as opposed to obtaining limited enhancement from several similar nootropics. For example, few users are known to take multiple racetams such as Piracetam, Aniracetam and Oxiracetam as these supplements have similar molecular structures and subsequent mechanisms of action. While taking multiple racetams could possibly provide some emergent properties, far greater benefits are likely to be seen by supplementing them with a choline source in addition to more unique supplements like vinpocetine or huperzine A.

To give another example we will consider a stack for the purposes of reducing anxiety. Picamilon and Phenibut are both known for their anxiolytic effects. They are both modified versions of GABA, the only difference being that Phenibut has a phenyl ring while this is replaced by niacin in Picamlion. As a result, they have very similar properties and are not likely to provide any additional benefits when taken together. It would be much more productive to couple either Picamilon or Phenibut with another supplement like Bacopa that uses different anxiolytic and stress relieving mechanisms.

Another reason for using different classes of nootropics is that it can help to negate some of the potential side effects. For example, many racetams work by increasing activity in cholinergic pathways that are associated with the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This increases the demand for the acetylcholine precursor molecule, choline. When choline depletion occurs, the result is side effects like headaches, and these effects may be more pronounced when using multiple racetams. However, by supplementing a single racetam with a high quality source of choline such as Alpha GPC or CDP choline, we can easily prevent such side effects and ensure the racetam works optimally. This also reduces the possibility of side effects from overstimulation of a particular pathway by the cumulative effect of several supplements.