This month’s Smart Drugs experiment has got me researching brain drugs, alternatives and natural occuring enhancers, the impact on productivity and health.

I found an interesting post that lists a few natural brain stimulants and then thought to list the benefits of some and where to get them around here.

Coffee

Coffee is stimulating because it contains 3 different xanthine allakoids: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Caffeine is a small molecule that’s officially called an adenosine antagonist. The activity of our brain cells are regulated by adenosine signalling. As we go about our day, adenosine builds up in our brain. Once our adenosine reaches a certain level, we begin to feel sleepy. Caffeine steps in and prevents the sleepy effect. Caffeine can physically block adenosine from binding to its receptors. coffee-wallpaper-1306-1433-hd-wallpapersOnce adenosine signalling is blocked, dopamine and glutamate signals take over. The net effect is that we no longer feel sleepy. Instead, we feel alert and energized.Caffeine also acts as a bronchodilater. This means caffeine can increase airflow in your lungs. So if you’re having an asthma attach and can’t find your inhaler, reach for the nearest cup of coffee. You should get some relief.
You can get coffee anywhere. 🙂

L-theanine

Have you ever noticed that drinking tea can be stimulating while also calming? Well, it seems that L-theanine is the chemical that’s responsible for that effect.In the 1950s, scientists discovered that leaves from the tea plant naturally produce this interesting compound. If you drink a cup of green tea, you’re getting about 30 mg of caffeine & but you’re also getting about 10 mg of L-theanine.
L-theanine has many reported benefits including arousal, alertness and cognition. It’s also thought to reduce anxiety symptoms . In contrast to caffeine, L-theanine does not make people jittery. A report worth reading describes how the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine led to improved brain functions including faster reaction time, faster working memory and more accurate sentence verification.
I saw packs of L-theanine at MedPlus in Lekki.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is pressed from the soft meat of mature coconuts. These coconuts grow on the coconut palm tree, Coccos Nucifera. Dr Dom D’Agostino describes the connection between coconut oil and energy levels, ketosis and fat-buring in our body. A podcast of the discussion between him and Tim Ferris can be heard here.
Any good supermarket around here would have virgin coconut oil

Kola Nut

Because of its caffeine content, the kola nut is used to combat fatigue and mental slowness. It’s also used in food and drinks to add flavor and color.
You can get this from your mallam. 🙂

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a rugged plant from the stonecrop family. rhodiola-roseaSiberians have been using this herb for centuries as a means to deal with the physiological stress of their cold winter season. The plant is now widely used as a means to reduce mental fatigue.Russians scientists were also the first to describe the plant as adaptogenic. This means the plant can reduce stress and encourage homeostasis within the body.220
A Phase III trial performed in Sweden tested mental performance on a group of 60 human subjects. The patients that received Rhodiola reported significant improvements as determined by the Pine’s burnout scale (a test of fatigue) and a test for mental health (SF-60). The authors conclude that repeated use of Rhodiola lends an anti-fatigue effect that can increase mental performance.

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is an edible and medicinal mushroom. You may have already eaten lion’s mane in a Chinese dish. It’s often used as substitute for pork in Asian vegetarian meals. Paul Stamets, the famed mycologist, wrote a nice summary of these scientific findings in this Huffington Post article.

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A Japanese research group performed a trial on a group of adults with mild cognitive impairment. Cognition is defined as the action of acquiring new knowledge and thinking. The researchers wanted to know if treatment with lion’s mane would result in cognitive improvements in this group. The HDS-R Hasegawa Dementia Scale was used to measure cognition. After 8 weeks of treatment, the group taking lion’s mane showed significant improvements in terms of their cognitive issues. These results suggest that lion’s mane can improve mental processing.
I bought FourSigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee that contains Lion’s Mane. I think I have noticed it is Osaka supermarket around the section where you find chinese veggies.