I’m a bit of a supplement junky. Each year I like to experiment with a handful of different supplements and evaluate how they effect different areas of my mental and physical performance. I’m not a doctor and I’m definitely not advising you to take any of these supplements but here’s a list of what worked for me this year and my grades for each supplement. What you do next is up to you and YMMV.
Supplement #1: Phenibut
2017 was the year I finally understood all the hype surrounding phenibut.
This year I used phenibut with great success to cure my insomnia, cut down/eliminate pre-flight anxiety, and have a fortnightly alternative to some light alcohol to promote relaxation.
I use and recommend the Liftmode brand of phenibut.
I’d give phenibut full marks except for the fact that you can’t use it regularly and need to be sparing to avoid tolerance.
Supplement #2: Vinpocetine
Do a lot of people know about vinpocetine?
I feel like this supplement is a bit of a hidden secret.
If you’re looking to give your mental game a considerable boost, vinpocetine is a glorious addition to your supplement stack.
I noticed my short-term memory improved when I took vinpocetine and I had a small stimulant/motivational boost that was sustained throughout the day without a crash. Vinpocetine also made my dreams pretty cool.
I use and recommend the Source Naturals brand of vinpocetine.
Supplement #3: Huperzine A
This is another great memory supplement and huperzine A stacks well with vinpocetine.
I noticed I could recall Japanese vocabulary much easier when I was taking huperzine A.
I noticed you can get a bit of headache if you take these too frequently. Maybe that’s to do with it causing an acetylcholine depletion. I’ll continue cycling this on and off in 2018 but this time I’ll be adding a choline source into the mix.
I use and recommend the Source Naturals brand of Huperzine A.
Supplement #4: Ashwaghanda
This is one of my personal favourite go-to supplements for battling stress and depression.
Ashwaghanda is an adaptogen, a herb used in Ayurvedic healing to battle whatever negative state you find yourself in.
Whenever I’m in a slump, lacking motivation, or just need a pick me up, Ashwaghanda never fails me.
I really want to give this supplement full marks because it works so well but I’ll knock it down a peg because it can motivate me so much that I can’t sleep after a week of continuous use (plus racing heart) and also because other users actually get the opposite effect from me and this herb puts them to sleep.
I use and recommend the NOW brand of Ashwaghanda.
Supplement #5: Valerian
Valerian is a life-saver for anyone suffering from anxiety.
My wife uses this every night in order to help get to sleep and I like to use this during the day to take the edge off when I’m working.
Most people seem to get a really significant relaxing effect from valerian (kind of similar to kava kava or some wine but without the impairment) but I strangely actually get anxiety from this supplement maybe 20% of the time I take it. For that reason, I won’t be giving it full marks but I still heartily recommend it and will continue to use it.
I use and recommend the NOW brand of valerian.
Supplement #6: Bacopa
Bacopa monnieri is another great memory-boosting supplement.
I used it for several months at the beginning of the year and it really accelerated my Japanese learning by giving me greater retention of vocabulary and grammar concepts.
A nice added effect of bacopa is just how relaxed it makes you. I found myself popping a bacopa before going into stressful situations and I felt super calm. You can almost feel too calm though and being on bacopa is quite a sleepy experience so you’ll definitely want to cycle this on and off (8 weeks on/8 weeks off is about right).
I use and recommend the Himalaya brand of bacopa.
Supplement #7: Barlean’s Fish Oil
This is a game-changer supplement – and it’s so simple that most people overlook it.
I actually think people have no business experimenting with vinpocetine and bacopa and all that until they experience just how far regular supplementation with a good fish oil source will take them.
The main barrier for taking lots of fish oil is obviously the taste. Fish burps are disgusting. But Barlean’s lemon zest flavour fish oil is divine. I actually stopped eating desert because this fish oil is so delicious – it tastes like lemon cheesecake!
Fish oil supplementation this year has improved my memory, mood, and joints.
If you take just one supplement from this list, I highly suggest you make it Barlean’s fish oil.
Supplement #8: NAC
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) is a great background supplement.
You don’t really feel it working like you do with phenibut or valerian but after about a month of use you just feel more calm. I felt way more emotionally even when I supplemented everyday with NAC. This is also good for reducing OCD tendencies.
I use and recommend the Solgar brand of NAC.
Supplement #9: Vega Protein Shake
A good supplement round-up wouldn’t be complete without a protein powder recommendation.
It’s not the best tasting protein powder on the market (it doesn’t taste bad though) but I think it’s one of the healthiest. This isn’t made of whey like other protein powders – it’s made of plant proteins and mixed with greens – so you won’t have any stomach issues and you can still keep some decent muscle on your frame.
Honourable Mention: Vegetable Juice
This isn’t really a supplement but one of the best – maybe the best – thing I did for my health this year was to start juicing. I now juice vegetables pretty much every day and feel fantastic. You can check out three of my favourite juice recipes here.
Supplements that didn’t make the cut
I was lucky to find a bunch of great supplements that did me well this year but I did have to go through some bunk supplements that didn’t do much for me.
Here are two supplements I did not get value from:
- Lion’s mane: a certain bestselling guru is hyping the shit out of this supplement and I really wanted it to be as special as he said. Unfortunately after many trials and error this supplement just made me extremely ill.
- Modafinil: This may or may not have helped me when studying for finals at Oxford. But a brief revisit to this supplement after a long absence made me think it’s just not for me anymore. You’ll get a better and healthier outcome from b vitamins stacked with vinpocetine and huperzine A.
What supplements made your year?
Those are the supplements that worked for me this year. Let me know your recommendations.