Most subreddit forums focus on particular communities and movements. Well, the forum Nootropics on Reddit is the community itself. This guide discusses how to navigate Nootropics within the context of Reddit's forums, as well as investigating if we can really trust its information on various cognitive enhancers.
Reddit and /r/Nootropics Terminology Guide
While Reddit advertises itself as the Front Page of the Internet, the website hosts a number of niche networks, each with a unique, in-group terminology and code of conduct.
Given the lack of a real world in-group for nootropic nuts and brain bio-hackers, it's no surprise that the nootropic community has coagulated on online forums and subreddits -- most notably /r/Nootropics: "a reddit devoted to discussing nootropics and cognitive enhancers."
Currently sitting on an impressive 110,000+ subscribers (and counting), the /r/Nootropics community has garnered major traction as the unofficial "official" source for nootropic news, information, discussions, and more -- followed by other forum sites, such as Bluelight and Longecity.
On one hand, /r/Nootropic's open free-for-all status validates and strengthens the libertarian hacker vibe that establishes much of nootropics' Silicon Valley sex appeal.
On the other hand, issues of accountability, accuracy, and safety become uncomfortably apparent as whimsical judgments often replace bona fide, placebo-controlled science in public nootropic discussions.
New to Reddit?
Wondering what the heck we're talking about here? Wonder no more. Here's a brief guide on reddit and /r/Nootropic terminology to get you clued in:
- Reddit - a social news aggregate website; a digital space to post links and text for open discussion with other online redditors.
- Subreddit - a forum dedicated to a specific topic or niche on reddit. In URL terms: reddit.com + /r/ + subreddit name summons the subreddit.
- Karma - the net vet count for your posts and comments; upvotes grant Karma, downvotes take it away. (That's right: you can upvote or downvote posts. A natural troll deterrent.)
- Gilded Posts - posts that have paid for a designated length of server time.
- Filters - /r/Nootropics applies a number of filters to their posts based on subject matter, including: Scientific Studies, Guides, News Articles, Experiences, Vendor Reports/Qs, Introduction Posts, Discussions, Press Releases, and Videos/Lectures.
For more on /r/Nootropics, check out the subreddit's "A Beginner's Guide to Nootropics" posted on the forum Nootropics on Reddit's sidebar.
Experimenting w/ Nootropics on Reddit
Read it on Reddit: recreational nootropic users provide recreational advice to other recreational nootropic users for, you know, research purposes.
According to "A Beginner's Guide to Nootropics" on /r/Nootropics, the generally regarded definition of a "nootropic" involves "a wide range of artificial and natural compounds which are thought to enhance cognitive function.”
And the question of How Do Nootropics Work? receives the answer: "by modulating neuronal metabolism, cerebral oxygenation, neurotransmitter availability, increasing neurotrophic factors and by affecting other cellular processes."
Compare and contrast Reddit's nootropic criteria with those of Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the father of nootropics, who defined nootropic bio-actions as:
- Enhancement of learning acquisition
- Resistance to impairing agents
- Facilitation of interhemispheric transfer of information
- Enhanced resistance to brain “aggressions”
- Increased tonic, cortico-subcortical “control”
- Absence of usual pharmacological effects of psychotropic drugs<1>
-- and you'll find in /r/Nootropics an appreciation for the Giurgean tradition of cognitive enhancement as well as a modern inclusion for new nootropic substances and methods.
Dr. Giurgea required that nootropics possess a significant degree of neuroprotection, whereas /r/Nootropics lends credence to riskier synthetics and cognitive enhancers -- i.e., substances that might enhance smart brain function but at the expense of peak brain health.
However, the subreddit does acknowledge the distinction between true nootropics, harsh synthetics, modafinil and the Limitless craze.
While the redditors often discuss risky and/or prescription based substances (or substances that are flat out illegal), the subreddit's guidelines remain rather conservative in their nootropic listings -- e.g.,
- L-Theanine + Caffeine Stack - Recommended for focus and attention.<2>
- Bacopa Monnieri - Recommended for long term memory and learning.<3>
By the greater standards of safe cognition enhancement, the balance between /r/Nootropic user discussion and subreddit moderation allows for enough innovative experimentation without breaking tradition.
However, safe and responsible usage remains entirely to the redditor's discretion.
Narrow Your Search: /r/StackAdvice
If /r/Nootropics covers nootropic research and accountability generally, /r/StackAdvice addresses a more specific nootropic quandary: Which nootropics should I consume concurrently? -- i.e., which nootropics should I stack? The word-for-word descriptor for /r/StackAdvice: For recommendations, dosages, feedback, or to get suggestions about what you should take, use /r/StackAdvice.
Essentially, the StackAdvice subreddit is the sub-subreddit to the Nootropics subreddit.
Dedicated entirely to answering questions regarding supplement stacks, stack advice, recommendations, reviews, and personal feedback, StackAdvice dismisses individual nootropic ingredient information for ingredient interactions.
Consider /r/StackAdvice the intermediary stage of do-it-yourself nootropics.
The Placebo Effect and Confounding Variables
The best research controls for it but Reddit is particularly susceptible to it -- the bane of clinical human research: The Placebo Effect.
Potential health risks and side effects aside, the do-it-yourself self-experimentation explored via Nootropics on Reddit poses another issue, attached to the more positive nootropic redditor reviews: How does a standalone redditor distinguish between objective data and subjective experience? -- i.e. the placebo effect?
The flipside to this, the event of false negative reports, relates to the nocebo effect: a negative experience wholly spurned by subjective self-analysis.
Clinical researchers control for placebo and other confounders through a few methods:
- Sham "Placebo" Comparison - Unbeknownst to participants, one group receives study substance, the other receives a sham "placebo" substance, and both groups' results are compared and contrasted to discern any significant changes over placebo.
- Double-Blind Distribution - Placebo also effects researchers, who may expect a particular result and thus subliminally alter the outcome by anticipation. A well-designed study controls for this by obscuring which participants receive placebo or not to both the participants and researchers.
- Shared Demographic - Age, gender, location, lifestyle -- any number of confounding variables may apply to a particular demographic. E.g., vegans may better benefit by B12 supplementation than non-vegans.<4>
- Sample Size - The larger the sample size, the smaller the margin of error. Observing a higher number of test subjects diminishes the risk of skewed and/or individual results.<5>
There's at least one valid argument for the placebo effect: If a nootropic user reliably induces a positive outcome with nootropic supplementation, however misinterpreted, resulting in increased productivity and mood measures, what does it matter whether or not the nootropic truly works?
Yet, for the nootropic community at large, a positive placebo experience for one individual does not translate to an informative, useful contribution that benefits public knowledge. There's nothing significantly valuable to learn there.
At best, redditors may discern patterns within the forum Nootropics on Reddit, then compare those patterns with existing scientific literature. Yet, as a primary source of information, redditor science is an imperfect science, requiring a meta layer of prudence and skepticism.
/r/Nootropics: Redditor Responsibility and Accountability
Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Watching each other's cyber backs. That's power to the people.
In the subreddit's Beginner's Guide, the guide's author addresses the concerns presented in the previous section by confronting the limitations of nootropics and the subreddit Nootropics under the guide's "Hazards" segment:
The long-term risks associated with taking cognitive enhancing drugs are also mostly unknown. Some drugs have longer histories of use than others. And some drugs may end up actually being protective or health-promoting. But the safety of taking new compounds long-term can't be guaranteed.
The subreddit also includes a list of popular nootropics, each with corresponding study links and side effect risks. Thread filters categorize discussions by subject matter -- e.g., Scientific Studies, Guides, News Articles, etc. -- and risky, under-researched thread topics receive a high risk label.
Additionally, under the Wiki tab, a compilation of Unreliable Vendors may be found, warning potential consumers not to buy from disreputable nootropic manufacturers who dispense poor quality products, strange shipping policies, inauthentic supplements, or inescapable subscription programs.
Granted, a subreddit's "Rules Board" often doesn't translate neatly into responsible redditor behavior, and much of the Nootropics on Reddit information remains predominantly subjective and individual, without the proper verification tools present in actual-factual clinical research.
Yet, the forum exemplifies how crowd-sourcing accountability not only reestablishes personal responsibility in consumer behavior but keeps nootropic beginners and suppliers in check.
Mind Lab Pro® on Reddit
Occasionally manufactured pre-made supplements make their way onto the Nootropics subreddit -- more so on the StackAdvice sub-subreddit -- and Mind Lab Pro® is no exception.
Some meet the redditor mark, others get the redditor boot.
Judging by redditor consensus, Mind Lab Pro® meets the mark:
Reddit is a great resource with expert insight and consumer feedback on nootropic ingredients and stacks, including Mind Lab Pro®, the Universal Nootropic™.
Without a real world counterpart, the online nootropic community shines in its ability to bring nootropic hobbyists and mindful propellerheads together to discuss the latest, greatest, and most reliable nootropics, memory pills and smart drugs on the market.
It's no surprise that throughout 2017, 2018 and onward, the newest, most advanced nootropic ingredients and research recognized by Mind Lab Pro®.
This is the value of nootropic forums on Reddit, BlueLight, Longecity, and abroad: The free-flow of information between consumers and manufacturers and researchers, keeping the nootropic enthusiasts informed and the nootropic sellers up-to-date.
Mind Lab Pro® has revamped its formula to include the latest, most advanced cognitive boosters while keeping the most popular, time-tested nootropic favorites. The result is a consistently effective formula always worth discussing.
- Giurgea C, Salama M. Nootropic drugs. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology. 1977; 1(3-4): 235-247.
- Haskell CF, et al. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008 Feb; 77(2): 113-22.
- Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological Review of the Nootropic Herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Res. 2013 Aug; 16(4): 313-326.
- Woo KS, et al. Vegan Diet, Subnormal Vitamin B-12 Status and Cardiovascular Health. Nutrients. 2014 Aug; 6(8): 3259-3273.
- Binu VS, et al. Some basic aspects of statistical methods and sample size determination in health science research. Ayu. 2014 Apr-Jun; 35(2): 119-123.