There are many different types of cholinergic supplements. Not all of them work to increase choline in the same way as the racetams. Both centrophenoxine and acetyl l-carnitine are technically cholinergics. Both acetyl l-carnitine and centrophenoxine have similar mechanisms of action as well. In this article we will examine how acetyl l-carnitine and centrophenoxine work and the main ways they are similar as well as how they differ.
ACETYL L-CARNITINE MECHANISM OF ACTION AND BENEFITS
Acetyl L-Carnitine, also known as ALCAR, is derived from Carnitine. Carnitine is used as an athletic supplement. The acetylated form of the amino acid carnitine provides more of a mental than physical boost. Part of this reason is that it’s chemical structure allows it to permeate the blood-brain barrier. ALCAR affects the production of acetylcholine, the primary memory molecule.
ALCAR metabolizes into Acetyl-COA which binds with choline to form acetylcholine. As is the case with racetams, however, without ample choline intake the conversion into acetylcholine can’t take place. As a result, technically ALCAR isn’t a direct precursor to acetylcholine as it doesn’t metabolize or convert directly into acetylcholine.
Acetyl L-Carnitine taken along with a choline source and another cholinergic like the classical racetams (piracetam, aniracetam, oxiracetam) can be incredibly effective at increasing available levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
In addition to it’s ability to improve acetylcholine production, ALCAR is an antioxidant. It can reduce oxidative stress as well as detoxing brain tissue. It may also be effective at eliminating danger of excitotoxicity. Excitotoxicity is a condition that can lead to neuronal death. It occurs when neurons are dangerously over-excited. In this case “excitation” refers to the neurons firing off. This occurs when excitatory neurotransmitters (like glutamate) are at too high of a level. Severe excitotoxicity can result in death of brain cells in the most extreme cases.
In addition to being an excellent brain antioxidant that can protect against excitotoxicity Acetyl L-Carnitine has other neuroprotective properties. There have even been studies that show ALCAR may be beneficial in reducing signs of cerebral ischemia and nerve and spinal cord injuries or Parkinson’s disease. ALCAR may even improve levels of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).
All these benefits can lead to improvements in overall working memory, long-term memory formation and consolidation and increased synaptic plasticity. Altogether these improved areas can result in facilitating learning tasks as well as improving overall fluid intelligence. In addition, many experience improved clarity, alertness and greater energy levels. Part of this may be due to the ability of Acetyl L-Carnitine to improve glucose utilization.
Acetyl L-Carnitine is actually created within the body in small levels. As a result, in the proper dosages it is considered extraordinarily safe for most anyone. Side effects are rare, especially when taken in the proper dosage and schedule. The most common peripheral effects occasionally experienced from using or overdosing on Acetyl L-Carnitine are nausea, gastric discomfort and diarrhea.
Despite its safety, ALCAR should not be supplemented if you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding as there is not enough research on potential effects. It should also be avoided by those with history of seizures or under active thyroid glands.
STACKING ACETYL L-CARNITINE
Acetyl L-Carnitine is especially effective when Acetyl-CoA levels are low. Using ALCAR along with a choline supplement can improve the conversion process to increase acetylcholine levels. Choline levels are vital to maintaining high levels of acetylcholine. It doesn’t matter how much you supplement with ALCAR or the racetams if you don’t have enough choline in your system. Taking choline with ALCAR will improve the efficiency of the conversion.
ALCAR also stacks well with Uridine Monophosphate which also enhances NGF. Ashwagandha is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which works to improve acetylcholine levels by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the synaptic gap. Bacopa monnieri is another herb that works as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. As mentioned before, taking piracetam or aniracetam with a choline source and ALCAR can be an excellent way to improve acetylcholine levels.
CENTROPHENOXINE BENEFITS, MECHANISMS OF ACTION AND SIMILARITIES TO ALCAR
Centrophenoxine is very similar in some ways to ALCAR. It is also an excellent brain antioxidant which can boost acetylcholine levels in the brain. Also like ALCAR it has been shown to be of potential benefit in Alzheimer’s treatment as well as an anti-aging supplement. Also like ALCAR it is far more effective when stacked.
Centrophenoxine can improve memory and learning tasks by raising levels of acetylcholine. It can also reduce lipofuscin and beta-amyloid residue which are associated with age related cognitive decline or alcohol abuse. 250 to 1,500mg per day is considered a standard dosage. Like ALCAR it is generally well tolerated with few side effects.
Centrophenoxine was initially designed to treat memory loss associated with senility. It’s related to DMAE which is a natural cognitive enhancer found in sardines and other natural sources. It is also said to improve energy, focus and clarity like ALCAR. Unlike ALCAR, however, centrophenoxine and DMAE actually raise choline levels directly.
Centrophenoxine, like ALCAR, stacks well with choline supplements and racetams. Centrophenoxine is also an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor so it may stack well with bacopa and ashwagandha. It may also stack well with other NGF enhancers like noopept. Noopept is technically not a racetam since it doesn’t share the pyrollidinone backbone.
As part of a brain health and anti-aging regimen, centrophenoxine would combine well with brain antioxidants. Flavonoids found in dark chocolate and wine are associated with cancer prevention. Turmeric and curcumin (found in turmeric in small quantitites) are also excellent antioxidants and specifically brain antioxidants. Resveratrol (found in red wine) or Vitamin # are also especially potent antioxidants with a powerful effect on anti-aging. Gingko biloba and green tea extracts are also a great source of polyphenolic antioxidants.
Centrophenoxine would potentially stack well with Peak Nootropics’ Brain Stack as well. The Brain Stack is primarily natural based stack that includes Theanine, choline, ALCAR and Bacopa. Centro could potentially make this stack, which is cholinergic, adaptogenic and antioxidant, even more effective. The antioxidant support may not be as dramatic in the short term, but an antioxidant regimen is especially important for longevity and preventative maintenance.
Antioxidants can improve immune resistance and forestall cognitive decline by clearing lipofuscin and plaque in the brain. In addition to reducing lipofuscin (which occurs with alcohol abuse as well as age related cognitive decline related to dementia and senility) in nerve cells, it may improve turnover of proteins, including RNA, that occurs with old age. Centrophenoxine is basically an altered form of DMAE which, like ALCAR, can be biosynthesized in limited quantities. Basically it’s a combination of PCPA (paracholrphenoxyacetic) and DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol). DMAE can be found in sardines and other dietary sources.
DO CENTROPHENOXINE AND ALCAR WORK?
Multiple animal studies and even clinical trials on humans, including double blind studies, have been done on ALCAR and Centrophenoxine to gauge their efficacy and safety. Though we still don’t understand everything about their mechanisms of action, they are generally considered safe and effective in the proper doses. As for whether or not it’s best for you, that depends on multiple factors related to your personal needs and biochemistry. Remember, everybody is different because every body is different and as a result, different people will have different responses to different compounds.
As mentioned, ALCAR and centrophenoxine on their owns and in the proper recommended dosages rarely cause any adverse side effects. That said, in combination with cholinergics and choline could possibly create a situation involving excess acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is also involved in movement, especially the twitch response, so too much can result in muscle tension, especially in the neck, jaw or shoulders. Excitability, dizziness, gastric discomfort and nausea are the most common side effects of too much acetylcholine. Centrophenoxine is related to DMAE, so it can potentially be teratogenic, so it should not be taken by pregnant or nursing mothers. Centrophenoxine is also not recommended for those with Parkinson’s, seizures or clinical depression.
Always remember to supplement safely. That means sticking to the recommended dosage. In the event that you may find yourself sensitive to a compound it’s best to try new products by themselves at a low or threshold dose before attempting to stack them. Stick to the recommended schedule and dosage and if you experience any adverse effects discontinue use. Always check with your primary care practitioner before you begin any supplementation or fitness regimen. This is especially vital if you are under a doctor’s care or taking any over the counter or prescription medication for any existing illness.