By Bob Freville
If you’ve spent any time in a gym in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard some meathead say, “I’m tellin’ you, bro! I’m getting ripped on these SARMs, bro!”
SARMs are Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators and they’re just the latest in the booming nutraceutical market. Nutraceuticals or nootropics are all-natural or partially natural herbal supplements that are finding favor among people who are tired of Big Pharma.
Ever since that pretty bastard Bradley Cooper took the fictional NZT drug in the movie Limitless and achieved chemically-induced genius, the nootropic market has grown into a multimillion dollar industry with folks eager to optimize their minds.
Manufacturers and online vendors have cropped up all over the globe as students and young professionals have gone apeshit in their quest to jack their brains and enhance their focus. Naturally, sharks smelled blood in the water and, in no time at all, shady vendors started pushing bogus wares on the public.
Controversial Far-right talk show host and all-around huckster Alex Jones was called out about his line of InfoWars brand supplements earlier this year when Buzzfeed sent six of his popular supplements out for third party testing and discovered that one of them was just plain iodine while others contained insufficient amounts of the active ingredients.
It’s a common occurrence with cognitive enhancers and other pills that are classified as so-called “proprietary blends.” All too often, companies will move units of these in-house concoctions by enticing people with exotic herbs and potent natural compounds, but when you get your bottle in the mail, there’s no label specifying how much of each ingredient is contained within a capsule.
The funny thing is that nootropics are in demand because the public wants a safer alternative to prescription medications. For instance, many nootropics are being used to treat ADD and ADHD because of their calming neurological effects.
They include Alpha GPC, Piracetam, Choline, Huperzine and Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, and there is a wealth of recommendations online about the perfect “stacks” (combinations of supplements) for treating such conditions.
It only makes sense for people to want to try these nutraceuticals since they’re purported to have few adverse effects whereas mainstream ADHD drugs like Adderall have proven fatal in children.
But it’s a Herculean task to navigate the murky waters of the nootropic world. For every Reddit post about how awesome something like Adrafinil is, how it lifts brain fog and makes you crush that mid-term, there are also cases of criminal practices on the part of online vendors with reports of them adding dangerous fillers.
One such case which led to many vendors removing the drug from their websites was the case of Modafinil. In May of 2016, a man named Jack Cummings shared a pharmacology student’s “horror story” after she purchased Modafinil and discovered that it was mixed with PMA, a MDMA substitute that has killed multiple people.
Other drugs that vendors are cutting with PMA include the wildly popular Noopept, so it’s always advisable to do your homework before buying any of these things. Thoroughly vet the vendor before purchasing. The best thing to do is comb through the nootropic sub-Reddit to see what people have to say about the vendor in question.
So with all that being said, I’d like to point readers in the right direction and cock block them from ordering any of the bogus shit that’s out there. As a noot nut, I’ve had tons of experience researching and reviewing individual supplements and proprietary blends.
For those who are looking to stack with noots, the following is a short guide that should prevent you from doing business with the more janky companies out there.
I should preface this section by saying that there are different nootropics for different needs. Some are the best if you’re looking to enhance your creativity (Phenylpiracetam, microdoses of LSD, Modafinil, Adrafinil) while others are better at lifting your mood (Ashwagandha, Tianeptine) or improving your memory recall and learning ability (Bacopa Monnieri, Centrophenoxine).
The following represent some of the best and worst blends on the market.
Products to Avoid
- Alpha Brain
- Four Sigmatic
OptiMind is number one with a bullet in terms of the worst blend out there because it’s got lousy ingredients and the price point is ridiculous. It’s simply not a great product for the money and it’s been way overblown. Don’t believe the hype.
Alpha Brain’s not the worst blend around, but it contains fillers and is also pretty pricey.
Addium is shit. Plain and simple. It’s a garbage product. This one is actually billed as the Limitless pill which is just stupid considering the movie Limitless was loosely based on the experience of taking Provigil, not some cocktail of questionable ingredients and fillers.
Four Sigmatic is mushroom coffee. And no, it’s not the hallucinogenic kind. It’s billed as a superfood…which it kind of is. But don’t expect to bang out some brilliant thesis while taking this one. You’ll be sorely disappointed.
The Best Nootropics of 2017
- Natural Stacks
Natural Stacks is my favorite company right now. They’ve got a variety of quality products from CILTEP and Serotonin Brain Food to Curcumin with Organic Coconut Oil and Antarctic Krill Oil with Astaxanthin.
Unlike so many of their competitors, Natural Stacks doesn’t bother with all the so-called “proprietary formula” jive and cut right to the chase with tried and true products that are clinically-proven to enhance your studies, ease social anxiety and improve concentration.
Nootrostax is also awesome as the people at Forbes and The New York Times can attest. I got my first 60 count bottle of Nootrostax Smart v2 a few months back and found myself turning out three articles a day for some of my clients.
The part that made me laugh was when one of my editors remarked about how each article was cleaner and wittier than the single article I’d sent to him the week before. This one contains an essential nutrient that supports synaptic plasticity. The blend naturally boosts acetylcholine levels in your nervous system. It’s truly a badass blend.
TruBrain is another good one that contains quality ingredients, but it’s a bit more expensive so it’s not ideal for the more frugal type. If you’re living the freegan life, TruBrain’s not the nootropic for you.
But it does have Piracetam, Pramiracetam and other excellent ingredients. It’s just that most of the ingredients in their “think drinks” can be purchased in any vitamin store. Makes you wonder why you should waste the extra scrilla on “brain fuel” when you can buy a bottle of vitamins that will last you all month.
Nootrobox recently changed its name to HVMN (lamely pronounced “human”), but don’t let the moniker fool you. This isn’t just some hipster malarkey, it’s actually a viable biohacking supplement with synergistic ingredients that can get the job done.
By now, I trust that you can separate the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to today’s noots. There are more and more biohacking products arriving every day, but for those who want safe and effective stuff, you can’t go wrong with the ladder.
Good luck emancipating your brain. Be safe, be smart and be well.
Bob Freville is a freelance journalist and the author of “Battering the Stem,” a darkly comic urban crime novella from Journalstone/Bizarro Pulp Press. His minimalist vampire film “Hemo” is available from Troma. Send him dirty pictures or death threats to: firstname.lastname@example.org.