In the pursuit of alternatives to racetam nootropics, I recently acquired the 30-day Uridine stack and the Artichoke + Forskolin stack (Similar to the popular “CILTEP”) from Powder City to give them each a try.
I decided that for each stack I would create some actual “normal” benchmarks that would hopefully shed some light on whether I made any cognitive improvements while taking one of these stacks. On my one-time preliminary trials of each stack on separate days, I didn’t notice any particular “effects” unlike Noopept or DMAE.
Note however that perceptible effects do not necessarily indicate whether a stack or substance holds any benefit or not. It’s not unlike the fact that foaming agents in toothpaste and soap have no effect on how they clean, but they give a sort of psychological reassurance to the user that the soaps are doing “something.”
This is where data from experimentation can come in handy.
Establishing a cognitive benchmark
However, you need data to start with and compare in order to see if your stack or substance is doing anything for you. You’ll need to take your own tests to establish a baseline.
The issue with self-experimentation is that you have to make it convenient for yourself without making it a pointless experiment that has too many uncontrolled variables. You should take into account variables such as:
- The time of day that you take your tests
- The other supplements you may be taking
- The foods you may have eaten
To gain some sense of where I am at cognitively, I decided I would go with reaction time, the game Dual-N-Back and a simple memory test. All tests are quick, easy and free.
Using these tests daily, I would establish a nootropic-free benchmark over the period of a week so that I have a baseline to compare it to when I begin taking one of the stacks and continue the tests. I am not currently taking any nootropic drugs or substances that are explicitly nootropic.
During the test week I would ensure there were as few variables to affect my cognition as possible, and if there were any, I would note them. I would attempt to get the same quality of sleep, eat the same breakfast each morning and take the exact same supplements as always before taking the test.
Of course I would account for these things as side notes to see whether they affect cognition in the long run, but for the sake of my experiment I want to keep it uniform while keeping it convenient for myself to keep track of. I will keep all data in a special .txt journal.
Limiting the test sessions to one-time daily tests with no practice would (hopefully) keep natural improvement on the tests over time from clouding up the results. Since I am not accustomed to the game or the tests aside from the tutorials and instructions, it’s understandable that my first couple of sessions will be crappy.
Why such an informal experiment?
Now why try an experiment that has so little academic rigeur? It’s just to see for myself whether or not a given substance or formulation has substantial enough results to consider using in the long term.I’m not an academic or a scientist, I’m a lone, regular guy. I could add blinding to control for placebo but this would only extend the duration of the test. So this is just really a quick and dirty method to estimate for myself whether or not something is worth trying again in the future. If it does show some promise I may consider blinding (reduces placebo/wishful thinking effects) and making more long-term experiments.I also explain the construction and the results of my experiment so that if someone has their doubts or wants to try it for themselves, they can see what I did to reconstruct it for themselves so that it may be easily reproduced or improved upon.What should I expect to find?
It’s not totally known. Ideally I’d like to discover my baseline so I can compare it to tests while taking the uridine or artichoke stacks, and hope to find that at least one of them is associated with some notable improvement on these tests. If it shows some improvement I’ll repeat the experiment with blinding.
One week from now we should have the results from this initial test that I can use as my baseline when I begin taking the artichoke and forskolin stack, a similar formula to the one found in the ever-hyped Natural Stacks’ “CILTEP.”