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Mayan What Now??? Nootropic Update

Friday October 30, 2020

Earlier this year I wrote a bit about the nootropics that work for me. Here’s an update:

Cacao is my newest experiment. I could tell my body wanted more chocolate, which is funny but also that’s how I legitimately felt. Intuitively, I wondered if it had something to do with the health benefits of Cacao:

  • Boosts energy and is apparently known as “Mayan Cocaine” (when I read this, I had to wonder…are we talking about the same cacao here? Anyway, theobromine seems to be the relevant chemical here)
  • Is a “Strong” Anti-inflammatory
  • Elevates mood (Theobromine. Weaker than caffeine, both alkaloids)
  • Supports memory & focus
    • Stimulates the release of phenylethylamine (PEA) which boosts focus and awareness.
  • Might activate the BDNF survival pathway (which I know f*** all about, sounds like a German terrorist group from the 1970s)
  • Tons of antioxidants (more than blueberries, tea, wine, and goji-berries)
  • Boosts cerebral blood flow
  • Increases blood vessel elasticity
  • Is thought by some to evoke positive emotion (love, empathy, etc.)

Well, IDK about some of that stuff. But I swallowed a teaspoon’s worth as soon as the bag arrived in the mail (cough cough, dumb move, now it’s all over my keyboard, mouse, shirt, pants) and within 15 minutes I was sailing. It was crazy. I had the music turned up and I felt really good. At the end of a long work day this was pretty nice, compared to the usual alternative.

So apparently what I’ve been missing by eating normal chocolate is a much more direct dose of the cacao.

I’ve also noticed that in the mornings, it helps me get a jump start on the day in the same way the caffeine does, but with less of a direct hit.

Since mint also seems to help, I’ve been making mint-cacao tea. It sounded pretty fancy until I drank it, and realized it tasted like watered-down hot cocoa. But there are basically zero calories in it, and it still tastes OK, so I’m cool with my watery mint-cacao tea. It’s nice to have alternative drinks when you’re on a cut or on a diet, too.

I already noticed the headaches one can get from this (do you get the headaches?) so there’s obviously a limit to how much of the cacao I’m going to consume, and so far it’s looking like somewhere between 1-3 teaspoons a day. They’re not bad headaches though. More like “OK, no more cacao” headaches.

L-Theanine continues to work well for me. It seems to help to combine it with caffeine (2:1 ratio, e.g. 200mg LT to 100mg caffeine) for a really nice “back to work” effect, especially after a nap. I take more L-Theanine on the weekends, maybe for J-in-a-P-situation reasons.

Melatonin is still working well too. I’m going to try it for relaxation in addition to sleepy times, just to see if it helps.

Turmeric still helps me cut down on aches or a weird head-feeling or inflammation-feeling after a bad night’s sleep, for example. It works really well for me. I’ve always loved curry so again, maybe it’s some kind of body-messaging.

I bought some Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) and have noticed a relaxing effect. However it seems similar to L-Theanine. I’m not sure I’d buy it again…we’ll see.

I stopped taking PhosphatidylSerine because I didn’t feel like it had a pronounced effect. But then I started to get this “I liked taking that” thought. Something’s bugging me—maybe it did have some kind of add-on effect with the L-Theanine and caffeine. I’ll have a think about that one, maybe try it once more.

I’ve had no noticeable result as I’ve finished off the last of my Gingko and Ginseng. I upped the dosage and still, nothing except a few isolated outbreaks of energy which could have been due to anything. I may try a different brand in the future.

Gingko seems to be my all-time “no effect whatsoever compared to what I hear from other people” nootropic, and I first tried it over 20 years ago with the same disappointing results. But I can accept that people are different and some stuff that works for you might not work for me, and vice-versa.

Finally, I gotta say that caffeine is still awesome. It really activates my Ne / extraverted intuition. If I take it before a walk, I can come up with some really fun ideas. After a nap, it puts me in the mood to try fun new things, like watching a new movie or playing a game I like. The general mood boost is really helpful too.

So, that’s all of that for now. It’s frigging amazing how many different nootropics there are. And sometimes, as in the case of cacao, you find out there’s this “food” that can be thought of as a nootropic. So there must be thousands of these supplements out there. Again, I think “nootropic” is a bit of a broken mental model, or a topic in search of new models. But it’s been really fascinating to try this stuff out.

Which nootropics are you taking, if any? I’d love to hear about your experiences—email’s in the sidebar.

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