I started taking these nootropics back in February - One was citicoline
, the other aniracetam
. For those who are unfamiliar with nootropics, they're generally defined as drugs & supplements that you can take which are supposed to improve your memory, attention, and other cognitive functions. They are used as a current treatment and experimentally for cognitive dysfunction, primarily alzheimers and other forms of senility in the case of what I'm discussing here. Nootropics are also taken by people without any particular head issues for cognitive enhancement, such as myself.
Citicoline (Otherwise known as CDP-choline) is an intermediate in the endogenous synthesis of something called phosphatidylcholine. Phospahtidylcholine is a molecule which constitutes an important part of the outer membranes of many cells
, and it makes up a good 30 percent or so of the grey matter in your brain - There is research indicating that taking citicoline may have some neurotrophic (Brain cell growing) effects (At least in rats, as far as the strictly scientific proof goes).
It also has stimulant effects, and they put the stuff in some energy drinks. Citicoline potentiates biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, as well as dopamine and norepinepherine, through mechanisms which are recognized as quite safe. They're currently using it both in experiments and in current lines of treatment to help treat stimulant drug addiction, senile cognitive dysfunction, and various forms of brain damage. Check this out to learn much more about citicoline.
Aniracetam is something like a much stronger fat-soluble version of the more commonly known piracetam. It seems to work as a nootropic by modulation of the AMPA glutamate receptor. It's part of the AMPAkines,
which are a class of new drugs which are under development which show some decent promise as treatments for a wide range of neurodegenerative conditions from schizophrenia to fetal alcohol syndrome, and also for relieving anxiety in animal tests. Reports indicate that aniracetam is best experienced when taken with a source of choline, which in my case was provided by citicoline, but can also come from other choline sources such as alpha-gpc or lecithin (An extract from either egg yolk or soy which is primarily composed of phosphatidylcholine).
After about a week of taking this combination, I certainly noticed some improved mental focus and energy, which is exactly what I wanted out of trying them out. What I wasn't expecting was the increased richness of sleep and vivid dreams that came out of them. Most nights of that month involved dreams which I could recall much easier, and which were highly salient. I wouldn't call these dreams quite lucid, but they definitely felt on the edge of that point. Although I'm not entirely skilled at lucid dreaming, I have experienced it before. I also fell asleep much easier at night, which was great because I've dealt with some degree of insomnia for most of my life. A month after I have stopped taking these supplements, I've still been experiencing improved sleep quality.
Further research into cholinergics led me to reading about Galantamine
, and on the wikipedia page, some comment about how that could be used to facilitate lucid dreaming. Galantamine works as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This means that it inhibits an enzyme which breaks down acetylcholine in the brain, which increases levels of that neurotransmitter. While the link has changed over time to some broken stuff a couple of times over the past month or so, I was really intrigued, so I searched up the broken link and found these informal studies on the induction of lucid dreams using pharmacological means:
or view in your browser with google reader
or view in your browser with google reader
It seems that citicoline is mentioned as a potential supplement which can aid lucidity when combined with a deep sleep suppressing substance. I'd like to try this at some point in the near future, and I expect to report on whether or not it's successful at some point. I also am interested in the more recent understandings of dreams as important in the formation of memories. My experiences with lucid dreaming and similar states of mind have been amazing. One of these experiences I'll share: Between awake and asleep, I was in a sort of sleep paralysis mode, and I was somehow perceiving what I've only really understood as through other people's perspectives, jumping from perspective to perspective - This accelerated faster and faster until a point where all was light, and all was bliss. I felt more euphoric than I've ever felt before in my life, feeling like I was experiencing everything and everywhere at once all within the confines of my own mind. I woke up from the experience out of total surprise, still feeling extremely euphoric. I count that time as one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and it helped to lead me towards understandings around the lines of this quote:
"If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else." — Joseph Campbell
I would love to see some proper scientific research towards lucid dream induction techniques which may be able to reach a much wider amount of people who wouldn't otherwise bother with the degree of effort required to experience lucid dreaming. I think that the idea of taking some generally harmless supplements which advance not only waking cognition but spiritual development during sleep is something truly wonderful and worth more popular consideration. What I feel is that we're possibly on the cusp of a lucid dreaming explosion if these methods become perfected and more widely known. The cultural precedent is already set, I think a good example are the movies "Inception" and "Limitless"... Perhaps our lives have the potential to become something between the two!
A bit of further reading:
(disclaimer: Do your own research on the risks of taking these supplements I've mentioned if you are interested in trying them as well, please, as there are some indications with certain health conditions - Citicoline especially if you suffer from major depression or type II diabetes. They're all safe enough to be found on amazon.com but if you search on http://google.com/products
you should be able to find a much better deal, this stuff isn't extremely expensive yet!)