Taking Smart Drugs at Work: The Good and The Bad

The author of the article prior to taking his modafinil pill at work.  Photo by
The author of the article prior to taking his modafinil pill at work.  Photo by Sebastian Serrano.

A recent article on Vice by Sebastian Serrano describes the real implications of taking the smart drug Modafinil at work.  It is a fun read so I won’t spoil it except to say, it is likley not a good idea unless you really really need to get something done and don’t care about the serious side effects.  For something a bit more mild, consider chewing Think Gum at work.  Time described Think Gum as delivering an “even-keeled, concentrated boost” which is just what you need at any job.

Racetams and CDP-Choline: Two Nootropics that Stack with Think Gum

“Nootropic Stacks” like Racetams and CDP-Choline synergize with the ingredients in Think Gum

This blog post was guest authored by Jack Baldwin.  Jack is the founder of Focus Supplements and has a Management and Economics degree from Kings College London.

What is Oxiracetam?
Oxiracetam is part of a family of compounds called the racetams. All racetams are pyrrolidone derivatives, the first of which was piracetam. Corneliu E. Giurgea first synthesized Piracetam in 1964 (1), he later coined the term ‘nootropic’ in 1972 (2). All racetams share a 2-pyrrolidone core structure, modifications of this core structure result in changes in solubility, absorption, potency, pharmacological action and even taste!

Racetam Chemistry
Racetam Chemistry

As can be seen on the diagram above, the only difference between Piracetam and Oxiracetam is a single hydroxyl group, however the two molecules are significantly different. Three of the major differences are that Oxiracetam requires a lower dosage than Piracetam due to its increased potency, has a subtle stimulatory effect and in comparison to Piracetams unpleasant bitter and sour taste, Oxiracetam has a pleasant sweet taste.

Oxiracetam has the ability to increase our memory and attention via acetylcholine. Oxiracetam is known to significantly increase acetylcholine utilization, by increasing the production of acetylcholine via a process called high affinity choline uptake (HACU) (3). During this process, dietary or supplemented Choline is pulled into neurons. Once Choline is inside a neuron, it is turned into acetylcholine.  In addition to increasing HACU, Oxiracetam also enhances the release of acetylcholine from activated neurons (4).

What is CDP-Choline?
Cytidine diphosphate-choline, also known as CDP-Choline is a molecule that combines Cytidine and Choline with two phosphate groups. The molecule itself does not seem to have any pharmacological action; instead the molecule is quickly hydrolyzed in the intestines to form both cytidine and choline. Cytidine is then converted in to uridine. This means that CDP-Choline is essentially a pro drug for uridine and choline. Both of these compounds are naturally present in our diet. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, and thus increased levels of choline will ultimately lead to higher brain levels of acetylcholine. Uridine is a major component of our RNA and has the ability to increase cellular membrane synthesis and increase dopamine receptor density.

Reasons for combining Oxiracetam and CDP-Choline
As discussed earlier, Oxiracetam increases the utilization of acetylcholine by increasing acetylcholine production via HACU and enhancing acetylcholine release in activated neurons. Increased acetylcholine utilization and release will eventually lead to a depletion of acetylcholine levels in the brain, which most commonly results in a headache but will also decrease the efficacy of Oxiracetam. To prevent this, it is wise to supplement Choline via a Choline source such as CDP-Choline. Since Oxiracetam increases HACU the supplemented Choline is quickly taken up by neurons and turned into acetylcholine. An added benefit of using CDP-Choline as a Choline source is that its uridine content may also further aid in the production of acetylcholine (5).

How to take
It is recommended to take 800 mg of Oxiracetam and 250 mg of CDP-Choline once or twice a day. Since Oxiracetam and CDP-Choline both have a pleasant sweet flavor it is possible to incorporate the powders in to a drink. For example, one could mix the juice of half a lemon with 250 ml of water and then add 800 mg of Oxiracetam and 250 mg of CDP-Choline to sweeten the drink. Keep in mind if you want to do this, you’ll need a proper scale to measure out your powders. You can buy Oxiracetam and CDP-Choline powder here. If you do not have a proper scale you can purchase one here or you can simply purchase Oxiracetam tablets here and CDP-Choline tablets here.

Adding an Extra Boost: Vinpocetine and Caffeine
The combination of Oxiracetam and CDP-Choline will subtly increase one’s ability to stay focused and retain information at a higher rate. However on highly demanding days subtle simply isn’t going to cut it. Adding Vinpocetine and Caffeine, will provide an extra boost that will allow you to cope with more demanding days. Vinpocetine is a semisynthetic derivative of a compound called Vincamine, which is naturally present in the lesser periwinkle plant. Vinpocetine seems to increase memory via various different mechanisms. It has been shown that Vinpocetine is a sodium and calcium channel inhibitor (6), and it appears that inhibiting these channels can increase memory (7). Vinpocetine also interacts with the alpha-adrenergic receptors (8), and it seems that this is in part responsible for its memory enhancing effects (9). Vinpocetine also increases blood flow in the brain(10), this is important because neurons need blood to function and thus increased blood flow could lead to increased functioning of neurons. Caffeine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in many plant species, the most common of which being coffee and tea. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant in the world. It acts by blocking a family of receptors called the adenosine receptors (11). These receptors cause a myriad of effects when they are activated. One of these effects is that it makes us feel sleepy, thus blocking these receptors causes us to feel more alert (12). Caffeine also increases the amount of acetylcholine receptors and acetylcholine release in the brain (13), (14) and thus is additive to the acetylcholine effects of Oxiracetam and CDP-Choline. A handy formulation of Vinpocetine and Caffeine in gum form called Think Gum can be purchased here.

1.    Giurgea CE, Greindl MG, Preat S (1983). “Nootropic drugs and aging”.Acta Psychiatr Belg83 (4): 349–58.
2.    Gazzaniga, Michael S. (2006). The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas (P.S.). New York, N.Y: Harper Perennial. p. 184.
3.    Spignoli G, et al (1986) Effect of oxiracetam and piracetam on central cholinergic mechanisms and active-avoidance acquisition . Clin Neuropharmacol.
4.    Raiteri M, Costa R, Marchi M. (1992) Effects of oxiracetam on neurotransmitter release from rat hippocampus slices and synaptosomes . Neurosci Lett.
5.    Wang L, Albrecht MA, Wurtman RJ (2007). Dietary supplementation with uridine-5′-monophosphate (UMP), a membrane phosphatide precursor, increases acetylcholine level and release in striatum of aged rat . Brain Res.
6.    Tretter L, Adam-Vizi V The neuroprotective drug vinpocetine prevents veratridine-induced {Na+}i and {Ca2+}i rise in synaptosomes . Neuroreport. (1998)
7.    Tóth, E., Kiss, B., Gere, A., Kárpáti, E., Törley, J., Pálosi, É, . . . Szporny, L. (1997). 1-Oxa-3,8-diazaspiro[4.5]decan-2-one derivatives with a potent inhibitory effect on neural Ca-uptake and protecting action against TET-induced brain edema and memory and learning deficits. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 32(1), 27-38.
8.    Gaál L, Molnár P (1990) Effect of vinpocetine on noradrenergic neurons in rat locus coeruleus . Eur J Pharmacol.
9.    Lemon N, et al (2009) Locus coeruleus activation facilitates memory encoding and induces hippocampal LTD that depends on beta-adrenergic receptor activation . Cereb Cortex.
10.    Lim, C., Cook, P., & James, I. (1980). The effect of an acute infusion of vincamine and ethyl apovincaminate on cerebral blood flow in healthy volunteers. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 9(1), 100-101.
11.    “Caffeine”. DrugBank. University of Alberta. 16 September 2013.
12.    Porkka-Heiskanen T (2011) Methylxanthines and sleep . Handb Exp Pharmacol.
13.    Shi D, et al (1993) Chronic caffeine alters the density of adenosine, adrenergic, cholinergic, GABA, and serotonin receptors and calcium channels in mouse brain . Cell Mol Neurobiol.
14.    Acquas E, Tanda G, Di Chiara G (2002) Differential effects of caffeine on dopamine and acetylcholine transmission in brain areas of drug-naive and caffeine-pretreated rats .Neuropsychopharmacology.

Is the NZT drug from Limitless based on Think Gum?

NZT clear pill from limitless
Does NZT exist? Nope! But Think Gum is is closest legal alternative to NZT.

This September, CBS is launching a show based on the movie Limitless.  In the original movie, Eddie Mora (played by Bradley Cooper) takes a drug called NZT which increases his IQ and memory making him incredibly smart.  I am pretty excited about the show and hope the production team considers giving away Think Gum to promote the launch (If you work for CBS please do reach out).  I wrote a blog post shortly after Limitless the movie was released asking whether NZT was inspired by products like Think Gum.  Shortly afterward, this single blog post about the clear pill NZT was getting 5,000 hits a day.  What does this tell us?

  1. Some people actually believe NZT exits.  Many people came to the site searching “Does NZT exist?” or “Is NZT real?”  Obviously, it doesn’t, but consumers are very interested in drugs similar to NZT or drugs like NZT that may boost metal performance, concentration and memory.
  2. Many of these same people tried Think Gum as an alternative to NZT and continue to purchase it.  While Think Gum will not give you NZT like mental super powers, it has been shown to improve memory and concentration in a peer reviewed study.
  3. There is a huge demand for smart drugs.  Unfortunately many products do not deliver on their promises, we have previously reviewed many popular supplements that claim to boost performance to NZT levels and most do absolutely nothing.  In fact, Think Gum is the only supplement that has actually be shown to have efficacy in a controlled, published peer-reviewed study.

So, for those of you who have landed here looking for NZT, sorry.  It doesn’t exist.  However, you can improve your memory and concentration, through a program of exercise, by getting enough sleep and by supplementing a healthy diet with Think Gum.  I wish it were as simple as taking a pill!  Think Gum is the closest legal alternative to NZT and I want you to try it for yourself.  So, to get you started, use the code “Limitless” to save 20% on your first order.  This promotion is only available to the first 100 people who use the code, so order your Think Gum right now.

A Breakdown of Nootropic Stack Supplements

Look at all these brain supplements!
Look at all these brain supplements!

I recently looked online at the current nootropic supplements for sale on Amazon and was amazed at the explosion of products now available.  When I founded Think Gum LLC over 7 years ago, there were just a handful of products on the market.  Now there are countless.  Some of these supplements seem to have a well thought out list of ingredients, but most are simply multivitamins that include caffeine.  Think Gum is one of the few products designed by a PhD with high-quality science to back up the fact it works.  Think Gum is also the only supplement in chewing gum form, which allows ingredients to be delivered quickly and efficiently in a dosage that further enhances focus.  Think Gum contains supplements with high-quality peer-reviewed research at doses appropriate to act as intended.  It is the only supplement on the market with published peer-reviewed research documenting the fact that it has efficacy.  Here is a breakdown of the ingredients and science in some of the most popular nootropic brain supplements for sale:

Think Gum –  Active Ingredients: Peppermint and rosemary flavored gum with guarana (caffeine), vinpocetine, bacopa and ginkgo biloba.  Science: A randomized, controlled, published-peer reviewed published study showed that Think Gum improved memory by over 25%.

Alpha BrainActive Ingredients:  L-tyrosine, L-theanine, oatstraw, phosphatidylserine, incaria tomentosa, L-alpha glyceryl, phosphorylcholine, bacopa, huperizia serrata, L-leucine, vinpocetine, pterostilbene  Science: Two studies were conducted via a 3rd party private organization.  Neither study was ever peer reviewed or published.  The pilot 17 person study showed very minor differences between alpha brain and placebo with no differences noted in most tests.  The details of a larger 60 person study have not been published.

BioEnergyActive Ingredients:  caffeine and L-theonine.  Science: None.

Focus+ –  Active Ingredients:  huperzine, vinpocetine, B12, niacin, green coffee (caffeine), green tea (caffeine), kola nut, black tea (caffeine), DMAE, holy basil, peppermint, phodiola, ginkgo biloba, acetyl L-carnitine, white tea (caffeine), alpha glycerol, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl serine. Science: None.

Now True FocusActive Ingredients: vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, L-tyrosine , L-phenylalanine, taurine, grapeseed extract, potassium ascorbate, DMAE, ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10. Science: None.

Neuro ClarityActive Ingredients: Ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, acetyl-L cartinie, L-glutamine, DMAE, bacopa, vinpocetine. Science: None.

LumidexActive Ingredients: Ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, acetyl-L cartinie, st. johns wort, glutamine, DMAE, bacopa, vinpocetine, hyperzine-A. Science: None.

Weyland: FocusActive Ingredients: vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, biotin pantothenic acid, magnesium, zinc, manganese, guarana (caffeine), acetyl-L carnitine, alpha GPC , CDP-choline , phosphatidylserine, L-dopa, DL-phenylalanine, L-tyrosine, bacopa, rhodiola extract, ginseng, L-theanine, alpha-lipoic acid, maca, ashwagandha, gingko, co-Enzyme Q10, NADH, huperzine-A. Science: None.

CiltepActive Ingredients: vitamin B6, artichoke extract, coleus forskohii extract, L-phenylanine, acetyl L-cartinine.  Science: None.

FocusfactorActive Ingredients: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, diemethylaminoethanol, L-glutamine, bacopin, L-pyroglutamic acid, phosphatidylserin, docosahexanoic acid concentrate, choline, inositol, N-acetyltyrosine, bilberry fruit extract, GABA, activin, vinpocetine, trace lyte, huperzine A, boron, vanadium, and grape skin extract. Science: The makers appear to have conducted a study on Focus Factor and supposedly got great results, however the details of the study cannot be found online and the results have never been published.  In fact, the makers of Focus factor were sued by the FTC and were forced to pay 1 million dollars in damages for making unsubstantiated claims.

Think Gum Lands in Central Asia

Think Gum has landed in Kazakhstan!
Think Gum has landed in Kazakhstan!

We recently partnered with a new distribution company in Kazakhstan to bring Think Gum to the masses in Central Asia.  For those of you that don’t know, Kazakhstan is strategically located between Russia and China and is the 9th largest country in the world by area.  It is also home to about 17 million people including many students who are eager to get their hands on Think Gum.  Please check out the Think Gum Kazakhstan website and this awesome commercial they just released.

If you are interested in importing Think Gum to your country please submit an inquiry e-mail to Distribution@ThinkGum.com.

Think Gum Spotted on Popular Japanese Website Collegino

Head will be better!? Gums such as the topic of magic in the US "Think Gum"
Head will be better!? Gums such as the topic of magic in the US “Think Gum”

I love it when we get media coverage in other countries!  The popular Japanese college blog Collegino just posted this about Think Gum.  I’m sure it is well written but the google translate is pretty funny.  Here is one example “Daily occurrence that for American college students, go doing a lot of challenges. Was discovered in chance school kiosks such gum “Think Gum” like magic that will help such a day.”

Memory Clinic Joke

elderly people laughing

Two very elderly couples bump into each other in the street, Jack says ” hi there George, how are you?” George says ” Great! we’ve just been to that new memory clinic, they teach you how to remember things using word association, it’s really good” Jack asks ” really? what’s the name of the clinic?” George thinks for a moment and then says ” let me see, eh, what do you call that flower with a thorny stem?” Jack says “A rose”? “Ah yes that’s it” George turns to his wife….”Rose, what’s the name of that clinic”?

If this sounds like you or someone you know, consider chewing Think Gum.

A Begginer’s Guide to Nootropics

Reddit has you covered on nootropics
Reddit has you covered on nootropics

As an inventor of a “Nootropic Stack” in chewing gum form aka Think Gum, I get many question like “What is a nootropic?” and “what do I need to know about taking nootropics?” and even the occasional “Will nootropics make me a genius?”.  Instead of answering these questions partially on the blog, I thought I would call attention the nootropic subreddit and the associated Beginner’s Guide to Nootropics.  If you can’t find the answer to your nootropic questions on the subreddit, just ask and a happy redditor should help you out in hours.

Is Biohacking the Next Big Thing?

Is biohacking your brain with nootropics like Think Gum the next big trend?
Is biohacking your brain with nootropics like Think Gum the next big trend?

There is an interesting piece on smart drugs and biohacking in CNN Money.  The point of the article is that there is intense pressure in Silicon Valley to succeed and entrepreneurs are turning to Smart Drugs better known as nootropics like coffee, pills and even Think Gum.  I’ve been in Silicon Valley for over 10 years now at the top institutions in the country earning degrees and doing the entrepreneur thing and I agree it is a growing trend.  Not a large trend yet, but people are craving ways to maximize their brain power and are turning to smart drugs like Think Gum.  CNN says that taking smart drugs is part of the larger trend of biohacking or more clearly put, people want to optimize how their minds and bodies work.  This is nothing new.  People have desired fit bodies and more intelligence for centuries.  What has changed is there are more and more products offering to help achieve these biological goals.  When most people think of biohacking, they are thinking of genetic engineering or electrical devices like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, I suppose that smart drugs count too.

While I certainly wouldn’t recommend popping hundreds of pills a day like Dave Asprey.  There is certainly data to support the use of some brain enhancing ingredients and technologies.  Nootropics are drugs and like all drugs they can have side effects.  The ingredients in Think Gum were specifically chosen because they deliver the maximum benefits and based on published peer-reviewed research are overwhelmingly safe.  In fact we’ve sold over 2,000,000 pieces of gum without incident.  Not only this, but many new ingredients have no data to support they work.  Think Gum on the other hand has been extensively tested and in a 2011 study was shown to increase memory by over 25%.

I hope the biohacking and nootropic trends continue.  I’d love to make a Think Gum Extra Strength Product at some point if we have safe proven ingredients that deliver.

Chinese Test-Prep Schools Need Think Gum

A Chinese student in college after doing well on the Gaokao
A Chinese student in college after doing well on the Gaokao entrance exam

The NY Times just published an important article by Brook Larmer on test prep schools in China.  At one such site in Maotanchang, 20,000 students study around the clock for China’s national college entrance exam called the gaokao.  This intense test is the sole criteria used to determine college admissions.  If you though the SAT’s were stressful, you had it easy!  The focus of the test on on memorization and students consume special supplements called “Clear Mind” and “Six Walnuts” to help them get an edge.  It got me thinking, do these students even know about Think Gum and that it has been demonstrated to improve memory?  We do ship to China, but I’d like to export Think Gum to these test prep schools in large amounts.  If anyone reading this has ties to these prep school and would like to export or import Think Gum, please

contact us!