Christina Sarich, Staff Writer
When you talk to brain-hackers from Silicon Valley, they talk of creating the perfect stack – a combination of natural and pharmaceutical nootropics that can help make them into a super-powered genius that can go hours without sleep while maintaining massive focus. It sounds like a cool way to hack the brain, but this practice can come at a price.
The problem is that many of the pharmaceutical versions (and sometimes even the natural ones) can be damaging.
In the early days, people trying to crank out loads of computer code, write the next best-selling novel, cram for a university exam, or simply party like it was 1999, used micro-doses of LSD or Adderall, a prescription drug normally used to treat ADHD, and some of these practices are still used today.
The thinking behind this phenomenon is that if supplements like glutamate, an excitatory substance to the brain and nervous system can successfully be utilized for people who have cognitive dysfunction like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, ADHD, etc., certainly these supplements could help enhance memory creativity, and cognitive performance in “normal” people.
This assumption is not entirely wrong. We already know that even changing our nutrition, getting better sleep (not even necessarily more), and lowering our stress, frees up the brain to take in more, and process experiences and make memories faster. This can translate into all sorts of benefits, from super learning to even increased psychic awareness.
There’s just one caveat. Everyone’s brain is very different.
For example, a natural substance called choline is highly available in breast milk, and in certain foods we eat. There’s a lot of it in breast milk because babies need it to help their brains grow, but choline does tons of stuff like help our cells form, our muscles work normally, and even the liver to function properly.
It would seem that more choline would be a “no-brainer” when it comes to boosting brain power even in grown adults, but the more is better attitude in the west is proven wrong once again – and this is a natural substance. Choline in high doses can also cause low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, excessive salivation, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia, dizziness, insomnia and headaches.
To be fair, many people take excessive doses of things like ginseng or ginkgo biloba extract and experience intestinal issues that can be excruciatingly painful; this can be true of consuming too much fish oil even – also natural brain boosters, but the pharmaceutical brain hacking drugs pose even riskier potentials.
The Popularity of Nootropics is Growing
Despite potential dangers, there are already more than 70,000 subreddit subscribers to the subject “nootropics.”
It seems more and more of us are looking for a way to be the best version of ourselves, but depending on who you ask – even the pharmaceutical nootropics on the market, which can be stacked and combined in an infinite number of ways, changing the chemical dance going on in our brains – are totally safe, or dangerously side-effect causing.
Originally, the criteria for nootropics were that they had to be brain protective, and promote brain health. It seems that original definition of nootropics has gone by the wayside.
Who the Heck Knows?
“Who the heck knows?” says Kim Urban, a Philadelphia neurophysiologist talking about the possible negative side effects of pharmaceutical grade nootropics. “So few studies have been done, and those that have were not the most controlled trials.”
For example, a study found that Ritalin – a drug often “Stacked” by bio-hackers can eventually reduce brain plasticity. Other nootropics can cause the jitters, insomnia, muscle spasms, and brain fog, and we still don’t know what happens to someone’s brain or nervous system once they go off the smart drugs after prolonged use.
Nonetheless, brain hackers are impatient, often not even waiting for clinical trials for smart drugs that are being developed. They go to sites like selfhacked and figure out which chemical compounds they can experiment with to create a “super-brain.”
It’s like the movie Breaking Bad on their kitchen counters.
A Safer Alternative
In the West is seems we’re always look for a short-cut. Nootropics may provide some benefits when used mindfully, but the risks could possibly outweigh the rewards. Conversely, there are ample studies proving that a mindfulness practice can eventually create brain waves that cause “super-learning,” without causing negative side effects.
In the brain wave frequency above 40 Hz, Tibetan Buddhist monks have been able to learn, memorize, and think exceptionally fast – tapping into brain functions that brain-hackers could only dream of.
This is the gamma wave state. It translates to higher mental activity, expanded perception and problem solving abilities, and higher levels of consciousness.
On Earth, nuclear explosions and lightning produce gamma rays. You can just imagine what gamma waves at that level of energy can do for our thought processes. But hey, you can’t just pop a pill to reach this state of mind, or so it appears.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price, Nexus, Atlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, will be released soon.
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