“Simplicity Is the Ultimate Sophistication.”
― Leonard Da Vinci
What Are Nootropics?
“The only difference between the master and the novice is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried.”
― Stephen McCranie
First things first, what are nootropics? Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian neuroscientist, coined the term nootropic (pronounced new-tropic) in 1972. He believed that smart drugs should be invented and made widely available for the purpose of enhancing the general population’s brain health and increasing human intelligence.
According to Dr Giurgea’s findings, nootropics enhance cognition, memory, alertness, concentration, creativity, and attention. They became known as cognitive enhancers, substances that amplify the way the brain’s many cognitive functions operate and how we process information.
Simply put, cognitive enhancers (or nootropics or smart drugs) are prescription or off-the-counter drugs or supplements that enhance cognition. Some nootropics contribute to brain health while others can be quite dangerous.
Since Marco’s Grounds only works with safe and natural compounds in their purest forms, for most of our discussions we will restrain ourselves to natural nootropics that increase cognition safely.
What Is Creatine?
“Stay away from those people who try to disparage your ambitions. Small minds will always do that, but great minds will give you a feeling that you can become great too.”
The energy provided by creatine isn’t limited to muscles alone. It makes a significant impact on the brain, as well. If you read Marco’s Wrap-Up from July 2020 (subscriber exclusive emails), you’re probably already familiar with the concept of brain cells not being intrinsically different from muscle cells.
Creatine is made naturally in the liver and, to a lesser extent, in the kidney and the pancreas.
Where Can You Get Creatine?
“When you give joy to other people, you get more joy in return. You should give a good thought to happiness that you can give out.”
Creatine can be bought separately in the market as well. It is available as creatine monohydrate (for example in capsule form with vitamin C here), which is a powdered form.
What Role Does Creatine Play in the Brain?
“When you change your thoughts, remember to also change your world.”
― Norman Vincent Peale
- Lack of meat consumption – Since creatine is mostly found in meat sources, vegetarians, vegans and those avoiding meat consumption usually have a low creatine level in their body .
- Sleep Deprivation – Sleep deprivation and lack of rest deprives the body of the time that is needed to regenerate the exhausted energy stores .
- Aging – This is a natural phenomenon, where cellular metabolism slows down, energy stores decrease, and the intensity of mental and physical activity decreases .
- Neurodegenerative Diseases – Patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease have shown reduced creatine stores in the brain, which affect the energy provision for essential brain cellular functions.
How Does Creatine Improve Cognition?
Is Creatine Safe? If So, What Doses Are Safe?
How Effective Is Creatine in Enhancing Cognition?
Elderly individuals .
Sleep-deprived (young or old) individuals .
Those with cognitive impairment, such as those with age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders .
Vegetarians and vegans [1, 8].
What Are Common Drawbacks of Creatine Intake?
- Stomach cramping can occur when taken without sufficient water.
- Diarrhea and nausea can occur when too much creatine is taken at once without spreading the doses throughout the day.
- Creatine must be consumed with carbohydrates or sugars to facilitate its function. This problem should be considered by health professionals recommending creatine and those following a non-carb diet or a Paleo diet. To overcome carbohydrate dependency, ensure that you use creatine with something like fenugreek (a herb used for cooking and which has the same effect as sugar for the absorption of creatine but with less drawback) or like taurine, for example in a complex like Maximum Mind or individually. Taurine has been shown to increase the rate of absorption of creatine significantly.
Are There Other Ways to Increase Creatine Levels in the Body?
How Can One Maximize the Cognitive Effects of Creatine?
- Benton, D., & Donohoe, R. (2011). The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. The British journal of nutrition, 105(7), 1100–1105.
- Persky, A., Brazeau, G., and Hochhaus, G., 2003. Pharmacokinetics of the Dietary Supplement Creatine. Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 42(6), pp.557-574.
- Tarnopolsky M. A. (2000). Potential benefits of creatine monohydrate supplementation in the elderly. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 3(6), 497–502.
- Avgerinos, K. I., Spyrou, N., Bougioukas, K. I., & Kapogiannis, D. (2018). Effects of creatine supplementation on the cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Experimental gerontology, 108, 166–173.
- Shao, A., & Hathcock, J. N. (2006). Risk assessment for creatine monohydrate. Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology: RTP, 45(3), 242–251.
- McMorris, T., Mielcarz, G., Harris, R. C., Swain, J. P., & Howard, A. (2007). Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals. Neuropsychology, development, and cognition. Section B, Aging, neuropsychology and cognition, 14(5), 517–528.
- Rawson, E. S., Lieberman, H. R., Walsh, T. M., Zuber, S. M., Harhart, J. M., & Matthews, T. C. (2008). Creatine supplementation does not improve cognitive function in young adults. Physiology & behavior, 95(1-2), 130–134.
- American Physiological Society. (2019, April 8). The dietary supplement boosts cognitive function in vegetarians: Vegetarians showed greater visual memory gains than meat-eaters after taking creatine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190408113941.htm
- Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 270(1529), 2147–2150.
- The Royal Society. (2003, August 13). Boost Your Brain Power: Creatine, A Compound Found In Muscle Tissue, Found To Improve Working Memory And General Intelligence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030813070944.htm
- Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with a specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 33.