Smart drugs: All-natural brain enhancers made by mother nature | Dave Asprey | Big Think

Since this is Big Think, let's talk about
the things that help you think big. And you might think, oh, great, this is going
to be a Tony Robbins discussion. No. This is a discussion around nootropics, or
what's known as smart drugs. I have been using smart drugs for more than
20 years, both the pharmaceutical side and the natural side, where you have lots of plant
compounds. I've even formulated some for my company,
where it puts together things — oh, look, there's studies on rosemary. There's studies for this extract of seaweed
— good studies that show that these are increasing your ability to get things in and out of your
memory, or making your brain work better. And it turns out Mother Nature apparently
wants us to be higher performance, because she makes a couple of really potent smart
drugs, and you might even have used one or both of them.

The most commonly consumed cognitive enhancing
substance on the planet is coffee. Now, yeah, Bulletproof coffee — I probably
have a bias for saying that — nut no, seriously, 90% of people drink coffee, and caffeine is
a very well-studied performance enhancer, at least over the short period. You can't drink coffee for three days straight
and expect to perform well at the end. But could we go deeper than that? And by the way, coffee itself, at this point,
I feel comfortable saying it's an anti-aging substance, given the preponderance of studies. All of the big four killers and things like
that, they seem to get better. So you have a cognitive enhancer that looks
like it's beneficial in many different aspects. I'm all-in on that one. But what about nicotine? Well, is that a cognitive enhancer? It turns out that nicotine actually, since
1988, has been studied and shown to be an anti-Alzheimer's agent.

What? I actually interviewed a guy — I call him
Dr. Nicotine — his name's Andrew Newhouse — on Bulletproof Radio. And he's the guy who wrote the first paper
in 1988 at Vanderbilt University, and has been studying nicotine ever since. Smoking is bad for you. Chewing tobacco is bad for you. Vaping is bad for you. However, a little bit — we're talking micro-dosing
— of oral nicotine is a potent cognitive enhancer. You feel one milligram, which is about 5%
to 10% of a cigarette's worth; you feel it a lot. And so I will tell you, Super Human was written
with the aid of both coffee and nicotine. However, the recommendations in Super Human
for nicotine are, you don't want to be using a lot of nicotine, because a lot of nicotine
isn't good for you. And smoking is never good for you. To say tobacco and nicotine are the same thing
is not a good idea. So I tell people, look, if you're over 40,
one milligram a day might be a good idea, because it enhances mitochondrial function,
and because we don't want to get Alzheimer's as we age.

And maybe over 50, you want two milligrams
a day, so just a little bit. But trust me. You'll like that one milligram a day, because
it feels good. In fact, nicotine can improve typing speed
by up to 15% in healthy people. That's a lot, especially if you're writing
a book like Super Human. I typed faster. Not really. I dictated a lot of it.

But what are some of the other things you
can do? One of my favorite drugs that I write about
is called aniracetam. And it is a pharmaceutical substance. It's spelled A-N-I-R-A-C-E-T-A-M. It's been around for about 50 years, and it
was pioneered in Russia. This is something that's neuro-protective,
and it enhances the ability to get things in and out of your memory. They call it memory I/O. So when I'm sitting here, talking, saying,
what was the name of that study, how do you think I do that? Well, I did do the research. But I also use cognitive enhancers in order
to make my brain work better. Because you know what? It feels really good to have a brain that
works, especially as you age. And it's entirely possible to do this just
from food. But there's another level that you get when
your diet's dialed in, when your sleep is dialed in. It's OK to then add the plant-based, naturally
occurring cognitive enhancers. And if you still wanted more, look at the
pharmaceuticals that have a very high upside, and maybe no downside or very small downside,
and to decide if they're part of the equation for you.

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