Supplement Stacks for Sex, Sleep, Stress, and More

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Supplements are a tricky business. With so much misinformation and no regulation, it can be overwhelming to know where to start with them. What are good brands? What’s the dose? What about purity? Delivery method? Form? Time of day to take them? With food or without?

There’s already a Bulletproof breakdown of basic supplements that most people can benefit from. It’s a good place to start if you’re putting together a baseline supplement routine. What you’re about to read is geared more toward enhancing specific facets of your life when you want them: sleep, stress, sex, mood, and focus/memory. You’ll get all the details about how to supplement, including recommended brands, and stacks to use.

What is a “stack”?

The term started in the bodybuilding community and refers to a group of different nutrients that work together to enhance the intended goal. Big muscles are cool, but big brains and getting busy in the bedroom are cooler.

The supplements in this article are split into stacks you can take together, but you can also try each compound individually. Experiment to find a balance that works for you.

 

Sleep

Magnesium stimulates GABA and melatonin release, helping you fall asleep faster, reach deeper phases of sleep, and wake up less at night [1]. You’ll feel it within a few minutes. Magnesium also prevents muscle cramps while you sleep.

Recommended brand: Natural Calm magnesium citrate (start slow; this form can cause disaster pants) or Doctor’s Best magnesium glycinate

Dose: 400-600 mg

Time taken: Before bed

 

Phenibut is GABA (the major calming neurotransmitter in your brain) with a phenyl ring attached, which allows the molecule to pass your blood-brain barrier and reach receptors in your brain. Phenibut was originally developed for Russian astronauts, to ease the stress of flight and help them sleep in space. It relieves anxiety and drives you into deeper sleep [2]. Phenibut is also a nootropic: it boosts cognition, giving you relaxed clarity of thought.

Phenibut can be addictive, so it’s very important to take it correctly. The two common mistakes people make are taking phenibut daily and increasing the dose over time. Phenibut’s effects last for 48-72 hours, so you only want to take it once every three days (twice a week max). You also want to cycle it to avoid tolerance. Go two weeks on phenibut, two weeks off. Don’t go past 250mg doses; if you stop feeling the effects at 250mg, cycle off for a couple weeks. Don’t mix phenibut with alcohol, either. It amplifies the effects, which can be dangerous.

Recommended brand: Nootrostop

Dose: 250 mg (never higher)

Time Taken: Anytime, but only twice a week max (Monday and Thursday, for example). Do two weeks on phenibut, two weeks off.

 

Kava is like chamomile on steroids. It contains compounds called kavalactones that increase both GABA [3] and serotonin [4], two neurotransmitters that are key for priming your body to sleep. You can brew kava tea or buy an extract. Be warned: it tastes like mud. Don’t be alarmed if kava makes your mouth go numb; it’s two natural anesthetics, dihydrokavain and dihydromethysticin, binding to receptors on your tongue. You can find a full breakdown of kava here.

Recommended brand: Yogi kava tea (you can find this at most grocery stores) or NOW kava extract

Dose: 1-2 teabags, or follow package instructions for extracts

Time taken: An hour before bed, with fat (kavalactones are fat-soluble)

 

Bulletproof Sleep Mode contains L-ornithine, an amino acid that decreases cortisol response and normalizes sleep patterns [5]. It also has melatonin, the hormone you produce throughout the day that makes you sleepy at night. Most melatonin supplements contain anywhere from 2-10mg melatonin, which is excessive and can lead to issues over time. Sleep Mode has 0.3mg, a dose that’s still bioactive but far more sustainable.

Recommended brand: Bulletproof

Dose: 2 softgels

Time taken: before bed

Note: Kava and phenibut work on different GABA receptor subtypes, which means they aren’t dangerous when you mix them. That said, the combination will really knock you out. That’s great if you have trouble sleeping, but it can also be overwhelming for some people. If you find you feel especially groggy and you don’t like it, drop either kava or phenibut.

 

Stress & anxiety

Kava is also great for stress. Kava extract is comparable to benzodiazepines like Valium when it comes to relieving stress and anxiety, with none of the side effects [6,7,8]. It relaxes you without impairing mental clarity, either [9], which makes it a nice alternative to drinking. See the breakdown above for dosage. The one difference is that for stress, you’ll want to take kava in the morning, and maybe a couple more times throughout the day.

 

L-theanine curbs both your physiological and psychological stress responses [10]. It also promotes alertness, leaving you in a calm, focused state [11]. Pair it with caffeine to increase your cognitive function [12], or take it on its own to chill out.

Recommended brand: Powder City

Dose: 200 mg

Time taken: With a fat source (L-theanine is fat-soluble)

 

Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have found that ashwagandha decreases cortisol response by 15-30% in healthy but stressed adults [13,14]. “Ashwagandha” is Hindi for “smell of horse,” referring to the herb’s potent smell and taste. Get this one in pill form to avoid the unpleasantness.

Recommended brand: Powder City
Dose: 500-1000 mg

Time taken: Morning

 

Astragalus is one of the better-studied Chinese/Korean herbs. It contains polysaccharides that protect your mitochondria from stress-induced oxidative damage [15,16], which makes it a good choice if you’re chronically stressed or pushing to meet a deadline.

Recommended brand: NOW Foods Astragalus Extract

Dose: 500 mg

Time taken: With a fat source (astragalus is fat-soluble)

 

He Shou Wu is rich in antioxidants and contains chrysophanol, which protects against inflammation and improves brain function under stress [17]. It also reverses liver damage in vitro [18].

Recommended brand: Now Foods

Dose: 560 mg

Time taken: With a fat source (he shou wu is fat-soluble)

 

Gynostemma, also called southern ginseng, doesn’t have solid clinical studies to back up its effect on stress. It’s on this list because data from 40 Years of Zen has found that gynostemma reliably increases alpha waves, the brain waves associated with a calm meditative state. Not convinced? Try it on its own and see if you feel a difference.

Recommended brand: Paradise Gynostemma Extract

Dose: 250 mg

Time taken: With fat (gypenosides, the active compounds in gynostemma, are fat-soluble)

 

Sex

Maca gets both men and women in the mood [19,20,21]. It also improves sperm motility [22] and erectile dysfunction [23]. You want gelatinized (cooked) maca – raw maca has antinutrients and extra starches. Some maca gets moldy, which can affect cognition. If you feel like you lose mental clarity after taking it, try switching brands.

Recommended brand: Gaia MacaBoost (it’s paired with ginger and cacao, which makes it taste far less disgusting than pure maca powder)

Dose: 3-5g (1-2 tbsp)

Time taken: With a fat source (maca is fat-soluble)

 

Tribulus terrestris is a powerful aphrodisiac in both men and women, although we still don’t know how it works [24,25,26]. Tribulus does not increase testosterone, which many marketers claim, but it does reliably increase libido and erection strength.

Recommended brand: NOW Foods Tribulus Terrestris Extract

Dose: 1000 mg

Time taken: Morning or an hour before sex, with a fat source

 

Mood

EPA & DHA, the two animal-based omega-3 fatty acids, improve mood and ward off depression [27]. They also curb inflammation and prevent cognitive decline. Wild fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, mackerel, and sardines are high in EPA and DHA. You can also supplement, and probably should, as most people don’t get nearly enough omega-3s through diet alone.

Recommended brand: Kirkland Krill Oil or Jarrow Krill Oil

Dose: 500-1000 mg

Time taken: Morning

 

Mucuna pruriens is high in L-dopa, the precursor to mood-boosting dopamine [28]. Mucuna has been used to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s related to low dopamine, a discovery that later led to researchers manufacturing synthetic L-dopa as a treatment. Even if you’re in good shape cognitively, mucuna can give you a boost in mood.

Recommended brand: NOW Foods mucuna extract

Dose: 100-200 mg

Time taken: with food

 

Magnesium deficiency can contribute to depressed mood, and many people are deficient in it [29,30]. Try supplementing with 400-600 mg per day. Even if it doesn’t help with mood, it’ll help with stress and sleep, and sleep is essential to balancing hormones and neurochemicals related to mood. See above for brand and timing recommendations.

 

Focus & Memory

There are a lot of different ways to increase your focus and memory. This guide to smart drugs breaks down 13 different options for you to try. Everyone’s brain is different; experiment to find out what works for you. The three smart drugs below are a great place to start and work for most people.

Aniracetam doesn’t have many studies behind it, partly because it’s in a regulatory gray zone. It’s legal to buy without a prescription, but it’s effective enough that it may become a drug soon. It markedly improves both memory and mental turnover, which explains why so many people take it for public speaking (far fewer “ums” and “ahs”). One study in rats found that aniracetam improves memory and counters depression [31].

Recommended Brand: Nootrostop. Go for capsules; racetams are bitter and don’t dissolve in water.

Dose: 650 mg, 1-2 times daily

Time taken: Morning, with a fat source (and afternoon for a second dose, if you’d like)

 

Phenylpiracetam is a cousin of aniracetam with slightly different effects. Most studies focus on using phenylpiracetam to repair brain cells: it helps restore neurologic function after strokes [32] and in patients with epilepsy-related brain damage [33]. Anecdotally, healthy people report increased memory, faster recall, improved ability to switch attention, and more energy from phenylpiracetam.

Recommended Brand: Nootrostop

Dose: 100 mg, 1-4 times daily

Time taken: Morning, with a fat source (and more throughout the day, if you’d like)

Note: Members of the racetam family, like the two above, deplete acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that affects energy and attention [34]. Some people are choline-dominant, and won’t have an issue taking racetams. Others don’t produce as much choline, and may crash a few hours after taking racetams. If you feel sleepy or low-energy after taking racetams, add in a choline source. You can either take a choline supplement or down a couple pastured raw egg yolks in the morning.

 

L-tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, three crucial neurotransmitters for focus and mood. Supplementing with it can improve cognitive function under pressure [35], which has led to tyrosine research by the military, for possible use with soldiers [36]. You get tyrosine in your diet, but supplementing with it in purified form drives more l-tyrosine to making new neurotransmitters, as opposed to getting it with the other amino acids contained in dietary sources, where it favors things like protein synthesis [36].

Recommended brand: Bulletproof

Dose: 500-1000 mg

Time taken: any time

 

What else would you like to see supplement stacks for? Anything this article missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. And for more on supplements, check out the basic Bulletproof guide to daily supplements, as well as this breakdown of 13 nootropics for a sharper brain. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

 

Click to read the complete list of references.

 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23853635
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1527-3458.2001.tb00211.x/abstract
  3. https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2001-14334
  4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584698000621
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055948/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635869
  7. https://www.thieme-connect.de/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2007-979474
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12535473
  9. http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v28/n2/full/1300052a.html
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16930802
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006208
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958355/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3291990/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4737051/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471648/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17701557/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472620
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18801111
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25954318
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11753476
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19260845
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26727646
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15994038
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23723641
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072818
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942911/
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16542786
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23950577
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/826948
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21626817
  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16608112
  34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1372342
  35. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/003193849400278D
  36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1863555/

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By Bulletproof Staff

  • Bailey Jakobi

    Hi, how about a supplement stack for inflammation reduction and more specifically for inflammatory autoimmune disease?

  • Pingback: Supplement Stacks for Sex, Sleep, Stress, and More - Belus Active()

  • Peter Strand

    How about stacks for anxiety issues and maybe skin issues?

  • I profited 104 thousand dollars previous year by working online from my house and I did it by wor­king part time for 3 or sometimes more hours /day. I was following work model I found on-line and I am so amazed that i made so much money on the side. It’s very beginner friendly a­n­d I’m just so thankful that i discovered it. This is what i do… TWITTER.COM/StinnettMargar1/status/836012639364886528

  • Linda Mullin Welch

    Low motivation. Low mood

    Supps stacks

  • I have profited $104000 last year by doing an on-line job at home and I did it by wo­rking part time for 3+ hrs each day. I followed a money making model I found on-line and I am so amazed that i made such great money. It’s very beginner friendly a­­n­­d I’m just so happy that I found out about this. Here’s what I do… TWITTER.COM/StinnettMargar1/status/836198198980988928

  • I got paid 104 thousand bucks last year by freelancing online and I did it by work­ing in my own time f­o­r several hrs /day. I used an earning model I stumbled upon online and I am amazed that i made so much money. It’s very user-friendly a­­n­­d I am just so thankful that i discovered this. Here’s what I did… JUMP.WTF/3Wbmkl4

  • nkwrig01

    The Yogi Kava Tea you have linked first ingredient is Organic Barley Malt, definitely not Bulletproof…

  • johanna.bonin@mail.ru

    I’ve profited 104 thousand dollars in last twelve months by working on-line from home a­n­d I did it by work­ing part time for 3 or sometimes more h each day. I used work opportunity I stumbled upon online and I am so amazed that i earned so much extra income. It’s so newbie-friendly and I’m just so thankful that I found out about this. Here is what i did… http://jump­.­wtf/CCcHHu1

  • Jan W

    How about a stack for energy? I definitely am lacking! Thanks!

    • jimihendrix

      Take a blood test and supplement for nutritional deficiencies accordingly, zinc might help, are you getting good deep sleep? Magnesium helps for sleep and getting sunlight for melatonin.

  • fletcher.arthur@mail.ru

    I have profited 104 thousand bucks previous year by freelancing from my house a­n­d I manage to accomplish that by wo­rking in my own time f­­o­­r few h each day. I was following an earning opportunity I was introduced by this company i found online and I am so amazed that i was able to make so much extra income. It’s user friendly a­­n­­d I’m just so thankful that I found out about it. This is what i do… http://tny­.­im/8vg

  • laura.jenkins.1993@mail.ru

    I’ve profited 104000 dollars in last twelve months by working online from my house a­­n­­d I manage that by w­orking in my own time f­­o­­r 3+ hours a day. I was following a money making opportunity I found on-line and I am amazed that i made so much money on the side. It’s so user friendly a­n­d I’m just so blessed that I found out about this. Check out what I did… http://libr­.­ae/Oa3k

  • Carol Welch

    Extreme stress associated with divorce? Im so worried about burning out my adrenals again, but it’s going to be awhile before I’m able to completely remove that stressor.

    • jimihendrix

      try mindfullness meditation and any supplement or herbal tea that helps you relax, I like honey and lemon tea, also honey and chamomile helps.

  • thomas.derek@mail.ru

    I got paid 104000 dollars in last 12 months by doing an online job a­­n­­d I did it by work­ing part time for 3+ hours a day. I followed an earning model I came across from this website i found online and I am excited that i earned so much money on the side. It’s really user friendly a­­n­­d I am just so blessed that i discovered this. Here’s what I do… http://marvellous29­.­weebly­.­com

  • salas.christopher@mail.ru

    I got paid $104,000 in last twelve months by freelancing on-line a­­n­­d I did that by w­orking part-time f­o­r few h daily. I used an earning model I came across from company that i found online and I am excited that I was able to earn so much money. It’s newbie-friendly a­n­d I’m so thankful that i found this. Here’s what I do… http://mybm­.­com/Re93b

  • I was paid 104 thousand bucks in last twelve months by freelancing on-line a­n­d I did it by wo­rking part time f­o­r 3+ hrs each day. I followed a money making model I was introduced by this company i found on-line and I am amazed that i made so much money on the side. It’s user friendly and I’m just so blessed that i discovered it. Here’s what I did… http://s­.­id/1cn

  • I got paid 104,000 thousand dollars in last twelve months by working from my home a­n­d I manage to accomplish that by w­o­r­k­i­n­g in my own time f­­o­­r 3+ hrs on daily basis. I followed an earning model I came across from company that i found online and I am so amazed that i made so much money on the side. It’s newbie-friendly a­n­d I’m so blessed that I found out about it. Check out what I did… http://gee­.­su/Vym1k

  • john.harlan@mail.ru

    I have profited 104 thousand bucks in last twelve months by freelancing from my house and I did it by wor­king in my own time f­­o­­r few h /daily. I was following work opportunity I found online and I am so excited that i made such great money. It’s very newbie friendly a­n­d I am just so blessed that i found this. Check out what I do… http://www.wzurl­.­me/UhyySA

  • WynnJ

    Just a heads up, the racetam brand linked in this article is out of stock or discontinued.

  • anita.fabian.91

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