Dr. Sahelian's website contains updated information regarding brain-boosting nutrients. He has devised a "smart" pill called Advanced Gingko Smart, containing
Serving Size 2 Capsules
Servings Per Container 45
Amount Per Serving %DV*
Ginkgo Biloba leaf powder Ginkgo 400 mg †
Ginkgo Biloba extract (leaf) 120 mg †
Acetyl l-carnitine Acetyl-l-carnitine 60 mg †
Choline (choline bitartrate) Choline 60 mg †
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) DMAE 60 mg †
Trimethylglycine (TMG) Trimethylglycine 60 mg †
Alpha Lipoic acid Lipoic acid 20 mg †
Vinpocetine Vinpocetine 2 mg †
Huperzine A (Huperzia serrata) Huperzine 50 mcg †
Mucuna Pruriens extract (seed) 10 mg †
Bioperene Complex 8 mg
Ginger root extract†, Piper longum extract †, BioperineTM
Black Pepper extract (fruit)†
* Percent Daily Values are based 2,000 calorie diet.
† Daily Value not established.
Other Ingredients: Gelatin, glycerin, vegetable oil, water, lecithin, beeswax, turmeric and sodium copper chlorophyllin.
and selling for about $0.35
a day. What interests me about this is that it's a formula that Dr. Sahelian
considers safe. Presumably, he has seen positive results with this mix.
Dr. Sahelian mentions that galantamine is a naturally occurring substance found in gladiolus bulbs that is available both by prescription and over-the-counter. He also observes that, "Side effects are similar to those of other cholinesterase inhibitors, i.e. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dyspepsia." Anyone who contemplates experimentation with galantamine should be aware that, like Huperzine-A, it is a cholinesterase inhibitor. Both shouldn't be taken at the same time.
Memantine is in Stage III trials in the U. S. under the aegis of Forest Laboratories. As so often happens, it has been approved in Germany for 10 years. It was approved in May, 2002, for use throughout the European Union. With luck, it may be approved for use in the United States within the next few years.
Memantine's mechanism is different from other Alzheimer's drugs, acting upon glutamate receptors, and thereby providing an independent agent that can potentiate the effects of other Alzheimer's drugs such as galantamine.
Not Recommended for Younger Individuals
Dr. Sahelian comments that "Galantamine is currently not recommended for use by young individuals". He also explains that most mind-boosters achieve their effects by improving circulation to the brain, and that twenty-somethings already have excellent cerebral circulation, and don't need "mind-boosting" nutrients the way the elderly do.
Galantamine and Huperzine-A Should Work for All Ages
Huperzine-A and galantamine register their effects via other mechanisms than improved circulation, so they might be expected to enhance mental abilities at all ages.
In the Early Stages of Brain-Boosting?
We're probably in the early stages of the development of "brain-boosters", and there may be rapid improvements between now and 2010 as other drugs emerge from the developmental pipeline. Of course, these drugs will be targeted toward cognitive pathologies, and won't be available for general use.
Can Training and Practice Substantially Raise IQ?
Many, many attempts have been made to boost IQ through mental challenges and enrichment programs. Efforts have been made to bring the retarded up to levels of self-sufficiency. They have never produced more than minor long-term improvements.
This doesn't prove that it can't be done. Would self-directed efforts taking place over a lifetime produce more efficacious results than externally imposed regimens occurring in school settings over the course of a few years? James Flynn and William Dickens have argued that the Flynn Effect can be explained only in terms of environmental influences, and propose that their is a strong interaction between genetic predisposition and environment that leads to feedback in which the individual may seek out environments that further modify her or his IQ. (Influences such as improved nutrition, greater familiarity with testing procedures, etc., fail to explain the unfaltering rate of rise of the Flynn Effect.)
One fact is clear: the rate of decline in IQ scores with advancing age is a function of the state of health of the individual, and the degree to which the elder has exercised his or her mind.
Beyond this, the jury is still out with respect to the plasticity of IQ. Insofar as I'm aware, malleability of IQ has yet to be demonstrated.
What's in the Pipeline?
The Alzheimer's Association lists another glutamate-receptor drug that is in clinical trials: CX516 (Ampalex). One promising brain-booster might something based upon Dr. Joe Tsien's "Doogie Mice". Like memantine and CX516, the Doogie mice achieve their elevated status through more effective activation of the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors.
There are said to be a great many candidate drugs for Alzheimer's Disease/cognitive decline in the pipeline, but these are the ones of which I'm aware.
(To be continued)