Cholinergic Brain Supplements
A cholinergic is any drug or supplement which affects the cholinergic system in your brain. The cholinergic system produces, transmits, and receives the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in our memory and focus.
What is a Cholinergic?
Cholinergics, by definition, can enhance, inhibit, or mimic the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Most cholinergics simply boost the brain’s production of acetylcholine. Some, however, work by increasing the efficiency of receptors or by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine.
Ultimately, cholinergics provide some significant benefits. They are used to boost concentration, perception, recall, and overall cognitive functionality.
More and more research is being done on the connections between Alzheimer’s and the cholinergic system. But what we do know is that degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s are caused by low levels of acetylcholine within the brain.
Today, some of the most popular cholinergic supplements include Alpha GPC, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Citicoline, and Centrophenoxine. All of these supplements raise acetylcholine levels, leading to some powerful cognitive benefits.
What is Acetylcholine?
Nootropic users toss around words like “acetylcholine” as if everyone should know them. But acetylcholine is a word that most people outside of the nootropic community don’t know.
Unless, of course, you’re a neuroscientist.
Acetylcholine (ACh) is simple a neurotransmitter within the brain. It’s simply an organic molecule that is found in many different organisms. It’s derived from choline, which you’ll learn about it in the next section.
Like any neurotransmitter, acetylcholine facilitates communicate across the brain. It plays an essential role in multiple levels of cognitive functionality and is particularly important for the memory formation process – where it’s been shown to boost storage and recall of new information.
Acetylcholine was actually the first neurotransmitter ever discovered. An English physiologist named Henry Hallett Dale discovered acetylcholine way back in 1915. Initial research showed that acetylcholine played an active role on heart tissue. After two decades of research, Henry Hallett Dale received the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work with the neurotransmitter.
In humans and other organisms, acetylcholine affects the autonomic nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, the central nervous system, and the somatic nervous system.
As mentioned above, acetylcholine plays a critical role in multiple parts of the brain. When there is damage to the cholinergic system, your brain may begin to degenerate, leading to devastating conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. By boosting acetylcholine levels, doctors have been able to control degeneration and treat conditions like Alzheimer’s.
How Does Choline Enhance Cognition?
Choline, in simple terms, is the basic form of acetylcholine. Our bodies transform choline into acetylcholine, at which point it’s ready to be used throughout the brain.
Choline isn’t some magical nutrient: it’s actually found in a lot of the foods we consume. Eggs and shrimp are both high in choline, for example. Most of us, however, have a choline-deficient diet. Unless you’re eating five or more eggs per day, your brain probably isn’t getting the choline it needs to stay healthy and productive.
Getting enough choline isn’t just about “feeling smart”. Without choline, your brain can’t create the acetylcholine it needs to process various tasks. That’s why low choline levels are often linked to headaches.
That doesn’t mean you should eat a dozen eggs every day for the rest of the life. Instead, the safest and healthiest way to enhance the amount of choline in your diet may be taking a cholinergic.
How Do Cholinergics Work?
Cholinergics enhance your cholinergic system in a few different ways. All cholinergic supplements feed your cholinergic system, giving your brain the materials it needs to build healthy cognition. This creates all of the benefits we know and love from cholinergics.
Here are some of the mechanisms today’s cholinergic supplements use to increase acetylcholine levels in the brain:
- They Work As An Agonist, Stimulating Cholinergic Receptors And Enhancing Their Efficiency
- They Work As An Antagonist, Inhibiting The Actions Of The Cholinergic Receptor, Which Reduces Acetylcholine Breakdown
- They Block And Stimulate Receptors Found On The Autonomic Ganglia, Which Is A Critical Part Of The Autonomic Nervous System
- They Inhibit Metabolism Of Acetylcholine, Increasing Levels And Prolonging The Effects Of The Neurotransmitter
Technically speaking, a cholinergic nootropic is any nootropic that actively produces acetylcholine. However, anything involving acetylcholine is classified as a cholinergic – including acetylcholine precursors like Alpha GPC. The three most common categories of cholinergics are acetylcholine precursors, acetylcholine inhibitors, and allosteric modulators.
Acetylcholine precursors are considered to be “true” cholinergic nootropics. They boost the production of acetylcholine. At the same time, they also contribute to other nootropic benefits throughout other areas of the brain.
Below, you’ll learn about some of the most popular types of cholinergics available today – including the specific nootropic benefits you can expect while taking each nootropic.
Types of Cholinergics
Alpha GPC is a popular nootropic typically used as an acetylcholine supplement. It can be used on its own to enjoy powerful cognitive benefits – including better memory, concentration, and neuroprocessing. However, it’s typically taken as part of a stack with other racetams. When stacked with a racetam, Alpha GPC boosts the production of highly-efficient acetylcholine neurotransmitters in the brain.
Alpha GPC may sound like a branded name, but it’s not: it’s a natural choline compound found in the brain. Its chemical name is L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, so you can understand why the name gets shortened to Alpha GPC.
Centrophenoxine, also known as Meclofenoxate or Lucidril, is a drug used to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Today, it’s more often used “off label” as a nootropic. Centrophenoxine boosts acetylcholine levels in the brain and acts as a powerful antioxidant, which means it target free radicals within the brain and turns back the effects of aging.
Benefits of Centrophenoxine include improved memory and leering capability and better neuroplasticity. In clinical trials, it’s shown a lot of promise as an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative conditions. In the nootropics community, it’s commonly stacked with Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, or Piracetam.
Citicoline is one of the most popular choline supplements available today. It’s currently sold in 70 countries around the world. After crossing the blood-brain barrier, Citicoline breaks off into two components with different functions. One component – the choline component – boosts choline levels which, by extension, raises acetylcholine levels.
The other component is called cytidine. Cyitidine activates the synthesis of components within cell membranes. This in turn boosts cerebral energy metabolism. Ultimately, that gives you better mental energy and focus – which is why Citicoline is popular for those who need to boost both their memory and their concentration.
The name Citicoline comes from the different components within the compound. The full chemical name is Cytidine Diphosphate Choline, which is a lot harder to say than simply “Citicoline.”
Pyritinol is one of the most unique cholinergics on the market today. Like all other choline supplements, Pyritinol boosts acetylcholine levels in the brain, improving your memory and learning capabilities.
At the same time, Pyritinol boosts dopamine levels while also improving glucose utilization. Dopamine is responsible for your mood and stress. By raising dopamine levels, Pyritinol can actually improve your mood and provide a calming anti-stress effect. Anti-depression medications improve your mood by raising dopamine levels in a similar way.
Pyritinol is synthetized by combining two Pyridoxine molecules together. Pyridoxine is just another name for Vitamin B6, which is why the effects of Pyritinol tend to be similar to Vitamin B6 supplements.
Interestingly enough, some people also take Pyritinol as a cure for hangovers. Pyritinol has been shown to boost neuroprotectivity, making it easier for your brain cells to stay functional and healthy even when you’re bombarding those cells with alcohol.
Ultimately, Pyritinol is typically taken as a stack with racetams like Oxiracetam or Piracetam. This can lead to some powerful cognitive benefits, including enhanced reasoning, learning, thought processing, mental clarity, and focus.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid which has been used to treat a wide range of mental disorders, including Alzheimer’s, depression, alcoholism, and even Down syndrome. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Like many amino acids, Acetyl-L-carnitine is naturally produced by the body. In fact, it plays a key role in our body’s daily production of mental and physical energy.
Although Acetyl-L-carnitine is naturally produced within our bodies, most of us are deficient. Vegetarians tend to be particularly deficient, as most of our Acetyl-L-carnitine supply comes from red meat.
This compound works in different ways compared to other choline supplements. Like other cholinergics, it improves memory by raising acetylcholine levels. But it also improves mood and energy levels – kind of like Pyritinol.
Some people use Acetyl-l-carnitine as a nootropic supplement on its own or as part of a stack. Some men also use it to treat “male menopause” and boost the body’s natural production of testosterone.
Stacking Cholinergics to Maximize Cognitive Benefits
Most people don’t take a cholinergic by itself. Instead, they stack cholinergics with other nootropics – like racetams. Racetams and cholinergics are a match made in heaven.
- Racetams Increase The Functionality Of Acetylcholine, Which Forces Your Brain To Demand More Choline
- Cholinergics Deliver The Choline Your Brain Needs, Promoting Greater Acetylcholine Production
- Ultimately, This Leads To Higher Levels Of Highly-functional Acetylcholine In Your Brain, Which Leads To Powerful Cognitive Benefits
Popular racetams include Piracetam, Pramiracetam, Oxiracetam, and Aniracetam. Piracetam is the weakest of the bunch, and it was also the world’s first nootropic. If this is your first nootropic stack, you should start with Piracetam before working your way up to stronger compounds.
Popular stackable cholinergics include Alpha GPC and Citicoline. Both of these cholinergics give racetams the materials they need to produce acetylcholine and provide enhanced, memory, focus, and learning ability.
Buying Cholinergics Online
Cholinergics can be purchased online or in-store. Many nootropics exist in a regulatory “grey area”, where they’re not strictly regulated, but also not totally unregulated. Cholinergics, however, are widely accessible and legal all over the world.
You can buy cholinergics online from a diverse range of online stores. They’re affordably priced on the internet, and you’ll also find a greater range of cholinergic supplements. Most local pharmacies and drugstores do not carry cholinergics, so for many people, ordering online is their only option.
Overall, I would strongly recommend buying cholinergics online due to the competitive pricing and breadth of choice.