Biohacking, the cutting-edge art of tweaking lifestyle factors to enhance wellbeing, has experienced a surge in popularity. Pioneered by a cross-disciplinary mix of entrepreneurs, scientists, and health enthusiasts, biohacking aims to harness the body’s inherent potential to maximize health and cognitive function.
Central to biohacking are supplements—specifically those designed to augment biological processes, optimizing physical and mental performance. In this blog, we delve into five powerhouse supplements that exemplify the biohacking ethos: NMN & NAD+ boosters, Lion’s Mane + Psilocybin + Niacin (Stamets Stack), Black Seed Oil, Berberine, and Magtein.
NMN & NAD+ Boosters
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a vital coenzyme found in every cell in your body. It’s involved in hundreds of metabolic processes, including energy production, DNA repair, and cellular aging . However, NAD+ levels naturally decline as we age, contributing to age-related diseases and physical decline. Some benefits of higher NAD+ levels include:
- Enhanced cellular energy production
- Healthy aging by mitigating age-related decline
- DNA repair
- Enhanced brain function and cognitive health
- Improved energy levels
- Improved sleep quality and duration
- Improved overall wellbeing
To counter this age-related decline of NAD+, biohackers turn to NAD+ boosters, particularly Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN). NMN is a precursor to NAD+, meaning it can be converted into NAD+ in the body . Studies have shown that NMN supplementation can enhance lifespan and healthspan in mice .
Apart from NMN, other NAD+ boosters include Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) and directly consuming NAD+. While the debate on which is more effective continues, evidence suggests NMN has more promise due to its ability to increase NAD+ levels more effectively .
In recent months, a ban on NMN from the FDA has been discussed, but hasn’t been finalized yet.
The Stamets Stack: Lion’s Mane + Psilocybin + Niacin
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom with potential cognitive-enhancing properties. Its active compounds, hericenones and erinacines, stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), supporting neuron growth, maintenance, and survival .
The Stamets Stack, named after the famous mycologist Paul Stamets, is a combination of three distinct substances: Lion’s Mane, Psilocybin, and Niacin. Each of these components contributes to the overall effects of the stack, and their synergistic action forms the basis of this popular biohacking regimen. Let’s delve into the specifics of how each component works, and how they contribute to the overall function of the stack.
- Lion’s Mane: Scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, Lion’s Mane is a type of edible mushroom revered for its cognitive-enhancing properties. The key compounds in Lion’s Mane—hericenones and erinacines—stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) . NGF is a protein that plays a critical role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. By promoting NGF production, Lion’s Mane essentially supports the health of your neurons, potentially improving memory, focus, and overall cognitive function.
- Psilocybin: Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain types of mushrooms. In the brain, psilocybin is converted to psilocin, which has a similar structure to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Psilocin binds to the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor, influencing the transmission of information in the brain . This process may result in a variety of effects, including changes in mood, perception, and cognition. Recent research suggests that, at controlled dosages, psilocybin can have positive effects on mental health, potentially alleviating symptoms of conditions such as depression and anxiety .
- Niacin: Also known as vitamin B3, Niacin serves a particular function in the Stamets Stack: it’s used primarily for its ability to cause a “flush,” a dilation of the small blood vessels (capillaries) that enhances blood flow throughout the body. The rationale behind including Niacin in the stack is that this flush effect can facilitate the delivery of Lion’s Mane and Psilocybin to all areas of the body, including the brain .
The Stamets Stack is essentially a biohack aimed at enhancing cognitive function and promoting neurogenesis. The idea is that the combination of Lion’s Mane’s neurotrophic effects, Psilocybin’s potential cognitive and mood-enhancing effects, and Niacin’s ability to spread these substances throughout the body, creates a synergistic effect that boosts brain health and function. It’s important to note that while each component of the Stamets Stack has been individually studied, comprehensive research on the combined effects of these substances is still ongoing.
Psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain mushrooms, has recently been shown to have potential benefits for mental health, including anxiety and depression . However, as it’s a controlled substance in many countries, it’s essential to approach its use with caution and under professional supervision.
Niacin, or vitamin B3, is used to stimulate circulation, theoretically facilitating the other components’ distribution in the body .
Black Seed Oil
Black Seed Oil, derived from the Nigella sativa plant, is a supplement rich in antioxidants and boasts anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most thoroughly researched supplements, it’s been studied for potential benefits ranging from reducing high blood pressure and asthma symptoms to improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms .
The long list of benefits from black seed oil includes but is not limited to:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antioxidant effects
- Blood sugar regulation
- Weight loss aid
- Reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduces symptoms of asthma
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Enhances liver health
- Offers protection against heart disease
- Anti-cancer properties
- Immune-boosting effects
- Antifungal properties
- Antibacterial properties
- Antiviral properties
- Protection against skin disorders
- Alleviates symptoms of allergies
- Alleviates digestive complaints
- Improves skin and hair health
- Offers protection against kidney disease
- Eases symptoms of eczema
- Reduces symptoms of psoriasis
- May aid in reducing seizure frequency in epilepsy
- Helps with opioid dependence withdrawal symptoms
- May alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression
- May improve memory and cognition
- Can assist in the healing process of wounds
- May help with sleep issues
- Alleviates symptoms of acid reflux
- May improve male fertility
- Potentially helps reduce fluid retention (edema)
- Assists in reducing symptoms of sinusitis
- May alleviate menstrual symptoms in women
- Antiparasitic properties
- Potentially helps manage HIV symptoms
- Alleviates symptoms of indigestion and heartburn
Berberine is a yellow-colored alkaloid compound found in several plants, including the Barberry bush (Berberis vulgaris), from which it derives its name. It also occurs in other plants such as Goldenseal, Oregon grape, and Tree Turmeric. Used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, Berberine has recently caught the attention of modern science due to its potential health benefits.
Some benefits of Berberine supplementation include:
- Lowering blood sugar levels, offering a natural approach to managing diabetes
- Weight loss and reduced cholesterol
Berberine has a significant impact on several aspects of human health. One of its most notable benefits is its potent blood sugar-lowering effect. Berberine activates an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) while inhibiting Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), which boosts insulin sensitivity . This makes it an effective tool in managing blood glucose levels, comparable in effectiveness to some pharmaceutical drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes .
Berberine’s benefits extend beyond glucose metabolism. Its influence on AMPK activation means it has a favorable impact on heart health, improving various cardiovascular disease markers . Berberine has also shown promise in the management of dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid levels), making it potentially beneficial in managing cholesterol levels .
Additionally, the compound has demonstrated potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help combat oxidative stress and chronic inflammation—two processes implicated in numerous chronic diseases . Preliminary research also suggests that Berberine may have anti-cancer properties and could play a role in weight management, though more studies are needed to confirm these effects .
Magtein is a patented brand of magnesium l-threonate, a form of magnesium designed for better absorption into the brain. While magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is found in many foods, the Magtein form has the unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier effectively, thereby having a more direct impact on brain function .
Magnesium plays a critical role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the human body, and maintaining adequate magnesium levels is vital for overall health. In the context of brain health, magnesium is crucial for the proper functioning of nerves, for brain development, memory and learning, and for protection against neurodegenerative diseases.
Studies have shown that Magtein can effectively raise the brain’s magnesium levels, leading to the enhancement of learning abilities, working memory, as well as short and long-term memory in both young and aged animals . It also enhances synaptic plasticity, suggesting potential benefits for cognitive health .
Apart from its cognitive benefits, Magtein has been found to improve sleep quality. A study showed that dietary supplementation with Magtein resulted in significant decreases in sleep latency, and significant increases in sleep efficiency and the duration of slow-wave sleep in both young and old rats .
The world of biohacking offers a fascinating array of opportunities to enhance your well-being and unlock the full potential of your mind and body. The supplements we’ve explored – NMN, the Stamets Stack, Black Seed Oil, Berberine, and Magtein – are like keys to the human system, each with the ability to open doors to enhanced health, cognition, and overall life quality.
With the power of NMN and NAD+ boosters, you can tap into the fountain of youth, fortifying your cells against the ravages of time. The Stamets Stack offers a pathway to an enhanced mind, with the potential to boost cognitive function and promote mental health. Black Seed Oil acts as a potent protector against a variety of ailments, bolstering your body with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Berberine can help you take the reins of your metabolic health, with impressive potential for blood sugar regulation. And with Magtein, you can fortify the health of your brain, promote cognitive function, and improve sleep quality.
While the pursuit of health always includes the fundamentals – a balanced diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and stress management – biohacking supplements such as these provide that extra edge, an avenue to go beyond average and achieve optimal health. As you incorporate these supplements into your life, you’re not just enhancing your current well-being, but also investing in a vibrant, healthier future.
The era of passive health maintenance is behind us, replaced by an exciting, proactive approach: biohacking. So here’s to unlocking your full potential, to harnessing the power of science for exceptional well-being, and to becoming the best possible version of yourself. Welcome to the future of wellness.
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