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For so long, the slow decline of cognitive function has felt like something of an inevitability. Sure we can have a coffee to get those synapses flashing again, but the caffeine crash afterwards doesn’t always feel worth it.
But what if there was another option? A natural boost that could not only improve focus and brain health without the crash, but also strengthen brain function over time? Brain fog is a cursed thing, but a move towards nootropics can not only prevent the decline of your memory and concentration, but also make you sharper in the now. Even better? LYMA’s Supplement features one the strongest performing nootropics in the game, according to clinical studies.
Below, we’ve gathered some information on our patented nootropic Cognizin®, how it compares to other stimulants, and how it compares to other supplements for brain function. Plus, how to improve your brain function naturally on top of supplementation.
Nootropics are sometimes referred to as ‘smart drugs’. Think of them as the most natural and proactive of ways to improve your concentration, focus and brain health. Nootropics not only provide stimulating micro-boosts to the brain, much smaller than the rush of caffeine or sugar, but also leave you with no crash as a result.
Crucially, they also feed your brain over time, nurturing its ability to perform at its peak. Just as you switch up your protein intake to improve muscle mass, or enter a calorie deficit to lose weight, so the way you feed your brain can help keep it healthy and fresh.
The prospect of training for your brain is becoming increasingly popular. As Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman explained recently on the Unbeatable Mind podcast, “We need to start to think about ‘where is my sense of play and curiosity coming from? What am I really curious about? What do I want to know? What do I want to cultivate and then how am I going to do that?’
“I think in doing that you start to open up that window for [neuro-]plasticity.”
How do nootropics manage to improve your brain’s health? In a multitude of ways: nootropics optimise brain chemical and hormone production, increase blood flow to the brain, and do a deal of good for neurons, the communication cells in our brain. Nootropics improve communication between neurons, protect them against damage, and regenerate sequences of neurons known as neural pathways.
More importantly, regularly supplementing with nootropics will also improve the ecosystem of your brain, rather than just forcing it to fire on all cylinders until there’s nothing left to burn. “When you’re constantly expending all your neurotransmitters with other brain stimulating drugs, legal or otherwise, you use them all up, and your body can’t keep up with producing them at the same level you’re exhausting them. That’s where the addictive state comes in,” explained Danielle Citrolo, resident pharmacist at US nootropic company Kyowa Hakko. “That’s why you have the downers after caffeine or adderall: you’ve spent all your money, and now you’re broke.” By giving a much smaller, more consistent boost over a longer period, nootropics are much better at sustainable brain improvement. Not least because they also support the production of phospholipids, which are the main component of our cell membranes.
There are a few nootropics out there that have different benefits. In fact, caffeine itself is a nootropic. If you take no more than 300mg a day – that's about three cups of coffee - it can have benefits for your memory. You can also find it in green tea, some black teas, and also chocolate.
L-Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in tea, which acts as a nootropic. It improves lateral and innovative thinking by increasing alpha waves in the brain. It works well with caffeine too, and is also one of the best nootropics for anxiety and stress relief.
Creatine is more commonly found in protein shakes and bars, but it is an amino acid that can bolster your memory as well as your biceps. When it combines with the phosphate naturally produced by the human body, it provides a quick-release energy source for the brain. Creatine is particularly good for those who suffer from bad short-term memory loss, which can be one of the symptoms of high stress.
When it comes to stress and memory, Ayurvedic herbs are able to help too. Bacopa Monnieri contains an active compound called Bacosides, which are anti-inflammatory and protect the brain against stress. Bacopa Monnieri also boosts the efficiency of the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain which processes information and turns it into memory.
Russia and Scandinavian nations, meanwhile, often swear by Rhodiola rosea as an effective nootropic for improving mental resilience. It’s beloved in many countries with cold, mountainous environments where it tends to grow. Studies show it helps to protect the central nervous system from oxidative damage, combat fatigue, and cultivate new neurons.
The nootropic Ginkgo Biloba is also often cited as a good option for brain function. Supplements derived from the Ginkgo leaf can enhance cognitive functions, improve short and long-term memory, and improve the ability to problem solve. However, there are side-effects (including headaches, nausea, heart palpitations and diarrhea) and it is not advised you take Ginkgo Biloba if you have diabetes, epilepsy or other medical conditions.
Always speak to a health professional before you make the leap, or reach out to the LYMA concierge who have trained nutritionists on hand. You can read more about the best supplements to boost memory here.
LYMA’s favourite nootropic is citicoline: a naturally-occurring compound in the body which has been proven to improve neural communication in numerous clinical studies. Citicoline is a type of ‘choline’, an essential nutrient that synthesises phospholipids. Those phospholipids help to make sure our brain is well-fed, and include phosphatidylcholine, which makes up about 30% of the phospholipids in our brain.
You can take phosphatidylcholine, and another phospholipid called phosphatidylserine, as separate supplements. Phosphatidylserine protects brain cell fluidity and permeability, helping them to transfer proteins, nutrients, glucose, oxygen and enzymes efficiently. It helps to keep memory sharp, but naturally decreases with age.
This might sound more efficient than taking Cognizin® citicoline, which just helps the body to produce these phospholipids, but there's evidence that it's best not to take them as a supplement : they’re such big molecules you might not be able to absorb them directly. Doses exceeding 300mg might also have side effects, such as gas, an upset stomach and trouble sleeping.
Promoting phospholipid production is vitally important. It makes our cell membranes suppler, improving neurotransmission and the passage of nutrients. By helping to create more phospholipids, nootropics help to empower the brain and protect it against natural decline. Citicoline supplementation therefore not only stimulates your brain, but also nurtures its long-term health, which is one of the main benefits of nootropics. “You’re helping the brain structures and cells be as healthy as possible,” explains Citrolo, “and maintaining their health over time, for as long as you continue to take it.”
The outstanding results from the clinical studies surrounding Cognizin® led us to include 250mg in LYMA. The studies prove that it keeps your brain balanced and sharp and provides enough energy to the brain to allow memory to flourish.
A recent study carried out on 50-85 year old adults in America who experience ‘age associated memory impairment’ - aka normal decline in memory associated to ageing – looked at how memory improved over 12 weeks. Subjects were given Cognizin® and were then asked to complete cognitive tests that measured short-term spatial, working, and episodic memory. All saw an improvement over the course of the study, with episodic memory showing the biggest improvement.
Other studies have also shown improvements in phospholipid production over 12 weeks of supplementation, and that supplementing with Cognizin® is effective at preventing natural cognitive decline. In another study, subjects taking Cognizin® did a Phosphorous Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy - “a fancy MRI,” explains Citrolo – which showed a significant increase in phosphorous in the brain, and that the anterior cingulate cortex – responsible for focus and concentration – lit up the most. “That’s where Cognizin® has the most impact,” says Citrolo.
While supplementation is a great option, there are other things one can do in tandem to help improve an individual’s brain function naturally.
"Without doubt the biggest difference I’ve felt since I started taking LYMA is the increased calm, clarity and peace of mind I have. When I feel run down or tired, LYMA lifts my mood and restores my energy." Read James' story here.
"Nootropics are a fairly new concept to most of us but I can see the Cognizin® is having a huge effect on my response to change. That’s a whole side to my character that’s been improved." Read Jess' story here.