5 Powerful Brain Buffs

Buff: A term generically used in many MMORPGs to describe an effect (usually cast as a spell) which beneficially enhances the target Player.

Fortitude BuffFish Oil
The evidence for fish oil’s benefits to the brain, as well as a wide range of other bodily functions and conditions, just keeps piling up. Yet another recent study demonstrates dramatic improvement in academic performance in Junior High students. The Omega 3 oils in fish (DHA and EPA) have been found to control the inflammation that causes chronic health problems like arthritis, fend off depression, prevent cognitive decline, and behavioral problems, improve memory, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and address other health issues, such as macular degeneration, and menstrual pain. This single nutrient has to be the king of brain buffs.

But don’t be fooled. Manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, marketing omega 3 in their food products, but in many cases this is omega 3 derived from plants (ALA) rather than marine sources (DHA/EPA). This exacerbates the problem. Omega 3 ALA is converted in the body into omega 6 —only a low percent of ALA actually converts into DHA (2-5%) and EPA (5-10%.) And part of the reason fish oil is so important is that the ideal balance of omega 6 to omega 3 should be 1 to 1. In our modern diets, this ratio is more like 20 to 1 in favor of ALA. This is primarily due to the pervasive presence of vegetable oil in most of our processed foods. Even if the label says Omega 3 and lists DHA and EPA, check to see if the source isn’t seed oil.

High quality fish oil does not taste fishy, it’s actually relatively tasteless. Look for something that you can take 2-6 grams of DHA+EPA in a reasonable dose (e.g. one tablespoon, or two pills, should give you over 1 gram.) Studies at the University of Minnesota have found that emulsified fish oil is absorbed 71% better than capsules. If you can’t find a product that meets these criteria at your local health store, we recommend Twinlab’s Omega-3 Emulsified Fish Oil. If you are using fish oil to lose fat, the dosage used in most studies was 6 grams. Take fish oil with food so that it’s not metabolized for energy.

Shield BuffCurcumin
If your brain is handling the same stuff but working a lot harder than it used to, it may need de-gunking. Amyloid buildup is a natural process of aging, creating protein plaque deposits in the brain that start accumulating in mid-life. Full blown Alzheimer’s exhibits this in its extreme form, but even milder manifestations can effect your efficiency and mental reserves. Curcumin, the active ingredient in curry, is a powerful defense. It’s probably not too surprising that Asian Indians, who consume this spice as part of their daily diet, have Alzheimer’s and other senile dementia rates that are only 25% of those in the developed world. It’s been used for over 3000 years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and exhibits remarkable qualities as an antioxidant.

Dosage: 800-1,600mg; take it with food or it could eventually upset your stomach. Choose a brand with Bioperine (from black pepper) to enhance the bioavailability of Curcumin.

Renew BuffAcetyl-L-carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is found naturally in animal products, but not in quantities that do much for you. ALC is a key in building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, responsible for learning and memory, in addition to boosting the metabolism of cells.

Dr. Ray Sahelia, in his book Mind Boosters, offers the following observation about ALC
I notice the effects of ALC within two hours after taking a 500mg pill; these effects are arousal and vigilance, along with mood improvement, and can last most of the day.

ALC can “jump-start” the brain and improves spatial learning, long-term memory and discriminatory learning.

One problem with ALC, however, is that increasing mitochondrial activity creates more oxidative damage. But when combined with a powerful antioxidant: Alpha Lipoic Acid, the results were astonishing, at least in rats:

After a month on the supplements, elderly (24-month-old) and lethargic rats had more energy and did better on memory tests, while their mitochondria worked better. The decline in overall activity typical of aged rats was reversed to the level of young-to-middle-aged adult rats, aged 7-10 months. The researchers likened this result to a group of 80-year-old humans throwing away their walking sticks and starting to act 35 years younger!

Curiously enough, the combination of these two nutrients has now been patented. While human studies have supported the animal studies, with ALC/ALA eventually slowing down and even reversing mitochondrial decline, it’s being advocated as a long term investment for health, rather than a quick fix for age reversal. It also has been discovered to increase communication between hemispheres of the brain.

Clarity Buff
Ginkgo biloba never quite panned out as a brain booster, very little research could validate its anecdotal claims. Vinpocetine, however, is widely used Europe where physicians believe it is far more effective than other supplements — such as ginkgo biloba. Its use for memory and brain functions has been extensively researched. Clinical studies found it enhanced memory, increased cognitive performance and improved cerebral circulation. Vinpocetine is a derivative of an alkaloid found in the periwinkle plant.

Author Beth M. Ley describes the following study in her book Vinpocetine:

In a German study 40 healthy volunteers were given 40mg of vinpocetine daily for 2 days. This brief course resulted in a significant improvement in memory as assessed by the Sternberg Memory Scanning Test. This study suggests that in normal, healthy people, vinpocetine can enhance memory, and can do so quickly.

If you started taking vinpocetine, how soon should you see results? Seven to ten days.

Take one 5mg tablet two or three times daily (up to two tablets, three times daily).

A daily program with these proven supplements should make a significant difference in the functions and longevity of your brain —so buff up ftw!

Buff icons from World of Warcraft Screenshots.World of Warcraft® ©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.



  1. SgtK October 1, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    I would like to believe that these things work, but I would be hesitant about rushing out to spend $30+ on pills. Any other evidence that these are true? Or do the Warcraft icons indicate proper magic effects?

  2. Grasshopper October 1, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the comment Sgt. Yeah, there is much more evidence than the specific examples referenced under each supplement, we just didn’t want to turn this article into a white-paper 🙂 Probably the best bet would be to either check out the Mind Boosters book from the library and the references there, or do a few searches on the specific supplements listed that you may be interested in. If you haven’t run across these before, you may be pleasantly surprised.

  3. konstantin December 19, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    great i should check these out. ty grasshopper

  4. Michael July 25, 2009 at 4:40 am

    Well I’ve read through this, and I don’t want to sound mean, but there’s still no evidence to say that these substances are any more effective than the “alternative herbal remedies” we are constantly being told about. It’s the placebo effect again, you think it’s working and you start attributing experiences to it. These chemicals have no special properties and offer nothing other than extra nutrition, which increases brain performance anyway.

  5. Grasshopper July 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Michael. Please don’t stop here though, that’s the reason the references to studies were provided. There is a great deal of evidence that these substances are effective and it was from these sources that this article was written.

    Definitely don’t believe anything you read on the internet, or that you come across in any other media for that matter, but if you really want to know if possibilities exist, follow your own research past both the wild-eyed theories and the entrenched dogma of our times. The only thing we get from following the status quo is mediocrity 🙂

  6. Ashman August 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    For the devout believer, no evidence is necessary. For the devout skeptic, no evidence will suffice. Most people are one or the other in most regards, so they get nowhere either way.

    Indocrination causes blindness. It’s a software thing (hypnotic invisibility, memetic invisibility, neurological lock-outs of data).

    It’s all ok. Fish don’t know they’re wet.
    And sleepwalkers will fight to the death in order to maintain their false sense of awakeness.

    $30 for a bottle of pills seems a small price to pay in order to pursue a dream that may pay off richly in our lives. But the chains of cowardice are subtle, and deep, and wear many guises. People won’t pay thirty bucks for some brain pills but they will blow how much per month on movies and low-browed distractions? A point worth considering,..

    Maybe you could compose an Ayahasca Simulator MP3,..

    Gnothi seauton.

  7. Tommye Rodrigues April 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I have just started taking aniracetam so I cannot tell you yet how it has or has not benefited me. The Racetams have been around since at least the ’60’s, however, and there has been a great deal of research on how they work and why they work. They have an extremely low level of toxicity so they are at least safe. I read an article saying the military is developing a takeoff on the Racetams to help soldiers make more intelligent decisions in the field. Should be interesting. When I have finished this bottle of 60 Aniracetam capsules, I will let you know how my memory, IQ, was influenced by taking them. I hope it doesn’t make one worse off. I joke. In researching them I found nothing negative about Racetams!

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