pertaining to a drug that enhances mental functions, such as memory
Greek noos 'mind' + -tropic 'affecting'
Sometimes I look a little strung out. It's usually just caffeine. One of my earliest memories is of my mom handing me a can of Mountain Dew. It started out so innocent. She unwittingly created a monster. Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, 5-hour ENERGY, coffee, espresso, Stay Awake, Jolt Energy Gum -- GIVE IT TO ME! I crave the cracked out, invincible rush that comes with it. It's what I live for!
By 11th grade, caffeine did absolutely nothing for me. I had developed a complete tolerance to its effects. Finishing my homework became a serious grind. Baseball and basketball practice were torture to me. I was fatigued all the time and I had no idea why.
It turns out caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine receptors play a huge role in the sleep-wake cycle. Block them and you will disrupt the adenosine-dopamine balance in the brain; hence the euphoric, task-oriented feeling that it produces. Great. The only problem is that your body will adapt by growing extra adenosine receptors. Now you're on the road to physiological dependence.
Seeking a better stimulant, I started experimenting with nootropics in 12th grade. I read The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss and I became obsessed with unlocking my brain's full potential. I began researching every natural supplement thought to enhance memory, stamina, cognition, and creativity.
I started with a simple stack of B vitamins, Ginkgo biloba, and Panax ginseng. B vitamins increase metabolism by entering your body's cells, attaching to mitochondria, and assisting them with ATP production (adenosine triphosphate transfers chemical energy within cells). Ginkgo biloba is thought to increase blood flow to the brain, thus allowing it to burn more glucose and help you think faster. Panax ginseng is thought to help you body regulate energy production. Synergistically, they produced mild effects that left me far from satisfied.
By the time I started working on my AAS in Paramedic Technology, I was experimenting with cholinergics. Cholinergics are substances capable of boosting levels of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, typically by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. Doxiderol is a combination of several of these substances. It includes CDP-Choline, vitamin B5, vinpocetine, bacopa, L-theanine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and caffeine. This is by far the most potent stack I've experimented with.
Unlike prescription drugs, your body needs to build up to a therapeutic dosage. Most users experience little to no effect within the first two days. I was the same way. I took it the first day -- nothing. I took it the second day -- nothing. I took it the third day and within 45 minutes I felt like Bradley Cooper in Limitless. My working memory, stamina, cognition, creativity, and desire to be productive were off the charts!
Everyday I would bounce out of bed with no fatigue or fogginess of any kind. My desire for order was unparalleled. Making my bed, cleaning my room, and doing my homework seemed like... fun. Everything I read fascinated me. I could recall huge amounts of information with little to no effort. Writing seemed effortless. The words seemed to flow onto the page.
The lucid dreams were the craziest part. Occasionally, I would take a 20 minute nap between classes. During that time I would have dreams that seemed to last for 3-4 hours. Many of them involved walking through familiar areas and having conversations with close friends. They were so vivid that I started to confuse the dreams with reality. Imagine the surprise when my alarm clock would go off and only 20 minutes had passed!
It was WAY too potent to be a placebo effect. I used it religiously as I averaged 17 credits a semester while playing roughly 40 hours of poker a week. 119 credits later, I graduated with a 3.9 GPA and high honors. I was a nationally certified paramedic with 10 other sub-certifications and 1,400 hours of field experience. My career path was supposed to go EMT-P → RN → Dr.
The only problem was that my nootropic experiments created a new career choice. My attention to detail at the poker table was amplified to a very extreme extent. I started going deep in tournaments and playing bigger cash games. Ultimately, this resulted in me moving to Florida to play poker full-time. I was crushing. Life was good.
But all good things must come to an end. Cliché, I know. After a few months the effects began to taper off until they were nonexistent. I started sifting through forums and reviews to see if other users were having the same issue. I wasn't alone. The effects had been lost on many people. Some of them were trying to cope by using a three weeks on, one week off strategy. It wasn't working.
I took a month off and tried it again -- nothing. I took three months off and tried it again -- nothing. I even tried purchasing the individual ingredients to reverse engineer my own blend -- nothing! Frustrated, I began researching other nootropics.
Phenylpiracetam is a totally different breed of smart drug. The U.S. government began experimenting with piracetam in the 70's. They wanted to see if it could help fighter pilots stay focused during long missions. It didn't work. They gave up.
Then the Soviets started experimenting with it. Piracetam can't pass through the blood-brain barrier without the phenyl component. So they built a lab in Moscow to produce phenylpiracetam. Problem solved. The new product was roughly 40 times stronger. In fact, it was so strong they discovered several new neuroreceptors in the brains of test subjects.
The government has strict rules regarding the manufacturing and distribution of phenypiracetam in the U.S. But for some reason they don't care if you consume it. So I had it imported from, you guessed it, Moscow.
First off, it's the most bitter tasting substance in the world. Nothing tastes worse than phenypiracetam
powder. You have to mix it with orange juice or suffer the consequences. If you can make it past the taste, it has some profound effects. It feels like the very first time you tried caffeine, except cleaner -- without the jitters. One dose lasts a solid 14 hours. I took it for months and the effects never diminished.
I remember the exact moment it kicked in for the first time. I was still in college, sitting in an Intro to Logic lecture. This was after I gave up on Doxiderol. A yellow banner on the wall suddenly become 10 times brighter than normal -- brighter than the sun. Then the contrast of green colors became overwhelming. It was like I could tell you the exact RGB value of every shade of green.
My focus was very intense. Just like when I was on Doxiderol, absorbing huge amounts of information was no problem. The only downside was that I was insanely hungry all the time. Several people mention this in independent YouTube reviews. I needed a Cliff Bar every 45 minutes to prevent the possibility of cannibalism. It felt like I was burning energy at an unsustainable rate.
I took it for roughly two months and like I said, my body never developed a tolerance; however, taking too much of it did have one very scary side effect. I doubled the dose for a week to cram for my Intro to Logic final. I showed up to class to take the test at 8am. I remember getting stuck on question 95 of 196.
The next thing I remember is looking down at my watch. It was 1pm. I was sitting in a totally different class, with a notebook open, staring at several pages of fresh/detailed/brilliant notes that I had never seen before, written in my own handwriting! Luckily it was a class I was actually supposed to be in. Then I realized that I couldn't remember what happened in my final. I panicked. It was an accelerated class. I had six credits on the line. All I could do was wait until Friday to see my test results online.
I stared at the clock on my laptop, waiting for my chronological transcript to be updated at 10am -- 9:55am, 9:57am, 9:59am, 10am, boom. I refreshed the page. I scored 204 out of a possible 196 points by correctly answering four, two point bonus questions at the end of the exam that were from a completely different coursebook, and I couldn't remember any of it! I was shocked. WTF happened? I promised myself I would never take phenylpiracetam again.
I broke that promise. A year later I was packing my bags for my first WSOP. I opened my medicine cabinet to grab some random toiletries. Then I saw the phenyl. I told myself that I would only bring it with for emergency situations; specifically, if I went deep in the Main Event and started to get fatigued after a week of 12 hour days of poker. That's exactly what happened.
I made day five. There were 200 hundred of us left. I was exhausted from playing 43, 12 hour days in a row. With $10,000,000 on the line, I was willing to risk blacking out again. I took it. I felt laser focused. I played the best poker I've ever played in my life and ended up going out 89th of 6,683 entrants (KK < AA for 25 big blinds).
I felt like I got punched in the stomach. $72,000 wasn't much of a consolation prize. I wanted a shot at winning the whole thing on my first try. KK < AA is one of the worst ways to go out. I went to the payout cage and asked to be paid in cash. I owed my backer, Sorel Mizzi, $36,000.
The next day, I woke up so fatigued that I wasn't sure I could make to Bellagio to pay Sorel, much less make it to McCarran International for my flight back to Fort Lauderdale. I took another dose, met Sorel, handed him the cash, took a cab to the airport, and jumped on the plane. I felt fine. Nothing eventful happened. I remember the pilot instructing us to put our seat belts on. We were about to land.
The next thing I remember is walking along the side of I-95. I had no idea what happened or where I was. I ripped my backpack open to make sure nothing terrible had happened. Below several pairs of socks and underwear, I saw $110,000 in cash -- the benefits of my lucrative summer in Sin City. Whew! That could've been bad.
My phone had 3% battery life. It was 2am. I blacked out for three hours. I was five miles from Fort Lauderdale International. I walked to the nearest hotel, found a cab, and took a ride to the extended stay parking lot a mile south of FLL. There I found my car and managed to get home safely.
The next day I deposited the money in my bank account. Later, as I was checking my account balance, I saw two charges for cab rides I took the night before. Clearly, I was losing my mind. Blacking out with six-figures in cash on me was by far the most stupid thing I've ever done. Never again. Never, ever, ever...
I'm done experimenting with untested nootropics. It's not worth it. Who knows what the long-term consequences are? I don't really care to find out. Boosting my 144 IQ to the 160's isn't worth it if I'm harming my body. I'll stick to coffee.
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor and I don't ever want to be one. Fact check everything I've said and consult with your doctor before experimenting with anything that I've suggested in this article. Then if you're crazy enough to try this stuff, document your experiences and let me know what happens. Until then, good luck at the tables!