Three years ago, I attended a lecture at the Botanical Gardens in Atlanta by Dr. Mark Plotkin of Harvard University. He was the first person to introduce me to the world of plant-based medicine, a field of study that has been around for centuries unbeknownst to me. Since then, I've read his book and have thought more about the world of plant-based medicine from the perspective of a neuroscientist, my profession.
A History of Experimentation
It is no surprise that some of the most well regarded psychiatrists and psychologists of the 20th century experimented with plant-based medicines. Two notable individuals are the late Dr. Timothy Leary of Harvard University who introduced us to psilocybin and the late Dr. Oliver Sacks of Columbia University who has also experimented with a handful of plant-based hallucinogens. Since the age of Flower Power and inception of smartphones, we have also been introduced to other plant-based medicines such as brain boosters. These products are intended to provide the same mental stimulating effects of OTC and abused psychostimulants like methamphetamines and cocaine.
As I discuss in my popular science book Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, I have taken Adderall for mental gains during finals week in college and graduate school. Even though the thirty-six hour "high" was subsequently followed by a 24 hour "crash," I still managed to achieve a new level of creativity and productivity well beyond that of my already "work hard, train hard" attitude during that time. Since my days of supplementing with Adderall, I have been introduced to these plant-based brain boosters of which I am excited to tell you about.
My Experience With KOIOS
I first met Chris Miller at the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games when we made a re-appearance as a team. Naturally, Chris and I had lots in common well beyond mutual Facebook friends who just happened to be my first CrossFit trainers here in Atlanta. I took home his product, KOIOS, and immediately started taking one pill to supplement my normal afternoon espresso on weekdays. I did not take it on weekends. Before I describe my experience with KOIOS, I can't help but briefly discuss the biochemistry behind the product.
The active plant-based ingredient in KOIOS is Alpha GPC. It activates release of acetylcholine; a neurochemical important for brain and muscle function and health. In my own field of sleep research, acetylcholine has paradoxical effects on the brain and behavior. Its release is high during wake but also REM sleep--the only state of sleep where we dream. Its main function is to keep our brain active. This may seem puzzling at first but once you understand that REM sleep is basically an active brain in a paralyzed body it makes a bit more sense that acetycholine release is increased during REM sleep. As far as the muscles, acetylcholine dictates the frequency and intensity of movement.
So given the impact of Alpha GPC on brain chemistry and function, it was no surprise that KOIOS effectively supplemented my afternoon urge for espresso. Honestly, I felt very focused on menial tasks such as data entry and analysis and could better harness creativity while writing. At night, I also (temporarily) regained the ability to lucid dream. I am one of the estimated 5% of the population who is capable of lucid dreaming. However, I am not a consistent lucid dreamer. KOIOS unmasked by ability to lucid dream every six months given that I had a recent bout a few weeks prior to taking KOIOS. To conclude, if you are looking for a natural brain booster, KOIOS is the way to go. The impact is much more sustained than coffee and you'll reap nighttime benefits too. As I discuss in Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, there is nothing wrong about safe and responsible use of natural, performance-enhancing substances for mental and physical gains. It makes us as Reebok would say that much "more human."
About Allison Brager:
Professional: Academic Researcher with a focus on neurobiology @ Morehouse School of Medicine and professor at Morehouse College
PHD Info: Kent State with a focus on neurobiology (PHD from Department of Biological Sciences)
CrossFit Games Experience: 2015 Regionals - Team, 2014 Regionals Athlete, 2013 CrossFit Games - Team, 2012 Regionals Athlete
Collegiate Athletic Background: Brown University Track & Field, 4 year varsity letterman, specialist in pole vault and hurdles
Facebook: Meathead: Unraveling The Athletic Brain
Allison's Blog: www.dormivigilia.com
Instagram and Twitter: @beastlyvaulter
Like this article? Check out Allison's book Meathead: Unraveling The Athletic Brain