America may be known as the land of opportunity, but it’s also the land of multitasking; with most people juggling the demands of work, family, relationships – and paying the bills. Often this balancing act creates a buildup of stress to the point where the expression “fry your brains” becomes a literal manifestation. Why? Because stress produces a hormone called cortisol.
When the body produces too much cortisol, the brain is exposed to oxidative stress. In effect, the brain rusts. Symptoms of cortisol-induced impairment are irritability, brain fog, early morning lethargy, inability to focus and short-term memory loss. In other words, the brain is fried.
Since 1995 I have been putting together formulas to enhance brain function. The athletes who were the first to receive the benefits of my earliest product prototypes were NHL superstars such as Al MacInnis and Brian Rolston. Both of these players went to become Olympic medalists in Salt Lake City a few months later. These products not only helped reduce their cortisol levels but also supercharged their brains to enable them to play hard throughout an entire game with Zen-like concentration. These brain power supplements have helped many others lower their stress levels and charge their brains – throwers throw farther, kids do better on their homework, and businessmen recover faster from jet lag.
The Magic Seven Brain Boosters
Just as fresh foods are needed to create a great meal, the best ingredients are necessary to create powerful brain power supplements. Here are the seven ingredients I’ve found to be the most effective.
1. Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) improves cognition, may increase dopamine activity, and enhances cerebro- and cardiovascular blood flow, which will improve the performance of the other pre-workout nutraceuticals I recommend. This product is particularly useful for those who show signs of low morning cortisol, such as early morning lethargy and difficulty waking up. A unique quality about ALC is that it will raise or lower cortisol levels depending on what is needed – if cortisol is too low and is bringing your energy levels down, it will bring cortisol up. If it is too high, it will bring cortisol down. And I have noticed increased strength performance in athletes who take a high dose of ALC prior to workouts.
2. Bacopa Monnieri Leaf Extract. This herb’s free-radical scavenging capacity and protective effect on DNA cleavage may explain its reported ability to facilitate cognition and to counteract the effects of aging, inflammation and stress. Bacopa is neuroprotective (protects the nervous system) and has been shown to improve memory and learning. Bacopa, when combined with Ginkgoo Biloba, helps to repair the specific
damage to the auditory nerve and brain caused by listening to devices like MP3 or iPod players at a high volume output.
3. Citicholine Sodium. Research at Harvard showed that citicholine supplements help improve focus and mental energy, and may be useful in the treatment of attention deficit disorder. Here are some of the other benefits of citicholine supplementation:
• Favors healthy cell communication
• Aids in the storage, release and activity of most neurotransmitters and their respective receptors
• Increases the production of acetylcholine, which is essential for optimal learning and sharp memory acquisition
• Enhances brain glucose metabolism
• Stimulates the release of dopamine, which is an important drive and mood regulator
4. Glycerophosphocholine (GPC). This supplement, which I find especially valuable for older athletes, helps the nervous system to calm down by diminishing sympathetic nervous activity. It raises levels of acetylcholine, which is used in the brain as a neurotransmitter and in the rest of the body to help regulate muscle contractions, organ function, skin tone, blood vessel volume and platelet aggregation. Here are some of the benefits:
• Improves memory and focus of attention from the young to the elderly
• Improves mood
• Increases growth hormone production by revitalizing master hormone functions from pituitary control, even in subjects of age 90 and older!
• Promotes faster brain recovery from stroke, injury or anesthesia
• Reduces the delta waves or “slow waves” that increase during aging or accelerated cognitive deterioration
• Prevents aging in a multitude of brain functions
• Supports other neurotransmitter systems such as dopamine, norepinephrine and GABA
• Accelerates recovery from jet lag
• Improves maximal strength, especially in fast-twitch muscle fibers
GPC is so good at protecting the brain that if you inject scopolamine (an amnesia inducing drug) into subjects, they can recover their memory in half the time (three hours versus six hours) if they took GPC for 10 days prior to the experiment.
5. Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract. This product contains two main bioactive constituents: flavonoid glycosides and terpene lactones, which provide effects that are neuroprotective, stress alleviating and/or memory enhancing. The mechanisms of action may be through its antioxidant, antihypoxic and microcirculatory actions. Basically, Ginkgo Biloba keeps your brain protected, well–fed and oxiginated.
6. Gotu Kola. A popular medicinal herb used for thousands of years in China, India and Indonesia, Gotu Kola improves mental clarity. It has been used in Chinese medicine to deal with depression and anxiety. To make it simple, it is the herb of centered calmness.
7. Phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine (PS) supplementation has been shown to positively influence neuronal membranes, cell metabolism and specific neurotransmitter systems. Numerous studies and trials have demonstrated that PS exerts significant benefits in cognitive functioning, especially those functions that tend to decline with age, including memory, learning, vocabulary skills and concentration. PS is especially effective in lowering cortisol levels.
The Brain Power Solution
Now that you know the ingredients, let’s go over the specific formulas I’ve developed. The first formula is Focused Response Px, which contains ingredients 2, 3, 5 and 6 from the list. The second formula is Ultra Brain Force Px, which contains ingredients 1, 2, 4, and 7. Each formula can be taken separately or, for maximum results, in combination.
Although most supplements should be taken with meals, this is not the case with these two formulas. I’ve found the best approach is to take two teaspoons of the Ultra Brain Force Px, in half a glass of water, along with 1 to 2 capsules of Focused Response Px. For children who need to improve their focus, I would cut that dosage in half. A word of warning, the taste is not great, however, anything that would make it taste great would lower it’s effectiveness. Take our word for it, your brain will thank you a million times over for taking these powerful nutraceuticals just the way they are.
A client of mine with 2 children in middle school at a private high pressure institution were struggling a bit at the beginning of the current school year. I had her put the children on Ultra Brain Force Px and just a couple of weeks later she reported significant improvements in areas such as attention span, mood, grades and the ability to handle stress. Teachers began to report a 180 degree turnaround in all of these areas as well. Their recent report cards showed concrete evidence that this product will produce results.
The combination of the two products is so effective at firing up the brain upon awakening, that I am sure there will be soon an episode on CSI where they will give to a corpse to wake it up! And it will be smarter!
Stress is a fact of life, but too much of it can cause serious health problems and adversely affect everything ranging from athletic performance to sleep patterns. However, intelligent use of these two exciting new products can help counteract the effects of stress and boost brain power.