Although there are are many nootropic supplements on the market, many just don’t deliver. If you’re not familiar with nootropics, supplements of this type are meant to enhance your intelligence. In other words, they are known as smart drugs. They can be in the form of pharmaceuticals, natural supplements and food but nevertheless, they are supposed to have the ability to increase neurotransmitter production and increase enzymatic and hormonal activity specifically in the brain. Often this is accomplished by increasing blood circulation and/or stimulation of neuronal cell repair and growth particularly where membranes are concerned.
Alpha BrainTM is produced by Onnit Labs and is new product that touts to be the first balanced nootropic available. Onnit Labs have combined a number of synergistic ingredients to support enhanced cognitive ability, focus and concentration. They have combined Alpha GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine), Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, UncariaTomentosa (AC-11 registered trade name), Bacopa, Pterostilbene, Mucuna Pruriens, GABA, Oat Straw and Vitamin B6. These components are meant to enhance the levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, dopamine and GABA, increase blood flow to the brain and provide powerful antioxidants to the brain to inhibit neuronal cell damage. Alpha BrainTMmay improve your cognitive abilities along with focus, concentration, general memory and promote healthy sleep states.
In fact, the Alpha part of the name refers to Alpha brain waves. This supplement promotes a sleep-like and wake-like state when you are in slow wave sleep (gamma waves). Gama waves are associated with non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep which is a dreamless state which is a time of body and brain repair. However, it is possible to be in early stages of NREM sleep with an alpha wave characteristic. This allows you to dream, have control over your dreams and learn from them. This is known as lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming actually has a conscious component to sleep. Let’s take a look at each ingredient to see what they actually do.
Alpha GPC is a phospholipid that is found in membranes in all of your cells. This form of choline is easily absorbed through the gut and it passes the blood-brain-barrier. This is extremely important for the brain. Neurons rely heavily on their membranes for signal transduction, electrical conductances and the import and export of nutrients to support cell metabolism. Alpha GPC will help to replenish warn out phospholipids maintaining healthy membrane function. Alpha GPC goes a step further by being used to synthesis the neurotransmitter acetylcholine so important for short term memory.
Hup A as it is referred to is a an herb that is responsible for inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft. When Hup A inhibits the enzyme that allows acetylcholine to remain around longer enhancing neurotransmission. This increases your focus and concentration for short term memory. You will be able to learn faster and retain that information longer.
Vinpocetine is another herb that specifically enhances blood circulation in the brain. Vinpocetine allows the smooth muscle in your blood vessels to relax allowing for more blood to circulate through the brain. This in turn allows more nutrients and oxygen to get to brain tissue. This increases ATP production and increased metabolic rate. You’ll be much more alert and energized. This has been scientifically demonstrated. More over, vinpocetine has antioxidant properties as well providing for brain cell protection from oxidative processes.
Uncaria Tomentosa is another herb that has the incredible ability to repair DNA. It does so by activating the appropriate enzymes for DNA repair. DNA damage occurs all the time and the body does have ways to combat this but as we age the pathways breakdown and cells cease to function. DNA codes for structural proteins and enzymes that keep our cells alive. This product contains a proprietary blend called AC-11 that is manufactured by Optigenex Inc.
Bacopa is another herb which has powerful antioxidant properties that protects neuronal membranes. Healthy membranes means good signal transduction and transmitter release and good shuttling ability of molecules across the membrane. The cell is constantly importing and exporting molecules in and out. Healthy membranes free of oxidative damage is crucial for this.
Pterostilbene is yet another botanical that has powerful antioxidant capability. This molecule is found in blueberries. This molecule is a free radical scavenger that is much more powerful then vitamins C and E.
Mucuna Pruriens is another herb that has a long tradition with brain benefits. The plant contains high concentration of L-Dopa which is the precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine as well as being an antioxidant. Dopamine is responsible for motor movements, punishment and reward behaviors (over all mood) and sexuality.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main inhibitor neurotransmitter in the brain. This transmitter keeps the brain from becoming over excited. This is important for remaining calm even in the face of anxious moments. It also promotes healthy sleep patterns and a sense of control.
Oat straw also known as Avena sativa has been demonstrated to increase the release of lutenizing hormone from the pituitary which in turn causes an increase in production of testosterone enhancing libido. More so, it has the ability to act as an anti-stressor, energizer and antidepressant. Its antidepressant activity comes from oat straw’s ability to inhibit monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) and phosphodiesterase.
Vitamin B6 also known as pyridoxine is important for the production of transmitters so important for passing signals from one neuron to another. Without transmitters the brain can’t communicate.