How to Improve Brain Health and Cognition with Peptides

 

Our Obsession with Brain Health

Even though the importance of the brain was not recognized until the modern age, everybody today knows how important our nervous system is. We can partially thank George H.W. Bush, who declared the 90s to be “the decade of the brain.” What this meant was substantial financial support to brain health research, as well as programs that would make this neuroscience research as a whole much more accessible to the general public.

Neuroscience covers the study of the cellular, behavioral, functional, evolutionary, computational, molecular and medical aspects of the nervous system. And, thanks to neuroscience, we’ve moved far from Aristotle’s theory that the brain was a blood-cooling mechanism. However, our understanding of the brain’s function and inner-workings are ever-evolving. As famous scientist Emerson M. Pugh once said: “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” 

Combining research between cognitive, clinical, affective, neuroimaging, developmental and the many other forms of neuroscience – our knowledge of the human brain has expanded exponentially in recent years. Did you know that your brain only weighs 2 percent of your body mass yet requires 25 percent of your total energy to operate each day? A hypothesis is that most of the energy is expended on maintaining ongoing thought and bodily processes a portion is invested in the upkeep of brain cells’ health. Brain scans demonstrate our brains are pretty much active 24/7 – even while we’re asleep.  Thus, what we do to affect our energy levels, the way we treat our body and the amount of sleep we get is imperative to how well our brain performs. 

Now, let’s dive into how we can support and optimize our brain health. We’ll cover topics ranging from peptides for cognitive enhancement, nootropics, neurohacking, neurostimulation, neurotherapeutics & nutrition support for brain health. 

Muse is a meditation wearable & app that work synergistically.

How Is Brain Health Measured?

Given the brain’s complexity, measuring its general health, function and connectivity can’t necessarily be done with a single test at the moment. Measuring the activity of the brain can tell us whether a brain is functioning properly; and, for example, if there’s a psychiatric disorder (like depression or schizophrenia) or neurodegenerative disease at play. The universally accepted tools to measure and track that brain activity have historically been an fMRI and an EEG. However, there are several startups working on alternative ways to look at brain activity – like measuring the tiny magnetic fields that the brain emits (1).

With that, let’s quickly review some factors that can give us insight into brain health and function. 

  • Electrical signaling – Neurons communicate with generated electrical signals[1] based on the flow of ions through their plasma membrane. This electrical activity can be measured with EEG. It is a good indicator of brain health and neural diseases that might be affecting it.
  • Neuronal firing – Even though electrical signals are the base of neural communication, different parts of the brain have unique signaling patterns. [2] Measuring this could help locate the origin of potential neural problems.
  • Levels of BDNF – Brain-derived neurotrophic factor plays a role in neurogenesis, and it is crucial for growth and differentiation of nerve cells. BDNF has a significant impact on memory and learning, and lower levels of this signaling factor were observed in certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. [3]
  • Amino acids, neurotransmitters, and hormones – Neurotransmitters and hormones are essential for neural communication, as well as sending messages to the rest of the body. When their activity is disrupted, it is a good indicator that something is not right. Amino acids are building blocks for hormones and peptides, and measuring their levels is also indicative of brain health. Taking tests from the Genova Diagnostics lab can get you a perspective on this.
  • Cognition – Short and long-term memory, ability to focus, alertness, flexibility, are all excellent indicators of brain state. If your mind is impaired for a prolonged period, there is a good chance there is some underlying condition[4] causing the problem.

Ways to Positively Affect Your Brain Function

Our efforts to improve brain functioning have led to the creation of a whole new field called neurohacking. According to the Neurohacker website, neurohacking involves applying science and technology to influence the brain and body to optimize the subjective experience. 

If you are wondering how to improve brain health, you can try some proven lifestyle adjustments to boost your cognition, like:

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) – Exercise has many benefits for our health, but research shows that HIIT also stimulates the production of BDNF. [5] That leads to better cognition in children[6], adolescents[7], the elderly[8], as well as individuals with conditions such as multiple sclerosis. [9]
brain and exercise
  • Neurostimulation – It refers to a series of neuro stimulating techniques using an electric current to treat conditions like chronic pain. [10] Neurostimulation shows promise in boosting cognition in epilepsy patients[11] and individuals recovering from addiction. [12] According to a study published in NeuroImage journal, neurostimulation could be useful in increasing processing speed and stimulating learning ability. [13]
  • The ketogenic diet – It is a low carb, high-fat diet that mimics a fasting state, and it is commonly used as a part of epilepsy treatment. [14] When your body doesn’t have enough sugars, it starts using fats as a fuel in the form of ketones. Ketones are an incredibly efficient source of energy, which is why many health practitioners recommend keto for brain health. Studies so far show keto to improve cognitive performance[15] and working memory[16], and it also holds benefits for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions. [17]
  • Moderating alcohol intake – Heavy alcohol use has been shown to alter brain functions and impair cognitive performance. [18] And while some studies on moderate consumption also showed adverse effects[19], others resulted in higher cognitive performance in people with reasonable alcohol intake than those who didn’t drink at all. [20]
  • Antioxidants – Their role is to hunt down free radicals made in many metabolic processes in our body. These free radicals can damage our DNA and other parts of the cell, and their removal is essential for the proper functioning of our mitochondria as it is the place where most free radicals originate. You can find antioxidants in vegetables, fruits, and teas, and you can also consider taking one of the supplements like resveratrol, pterostilbene, EGCG, as supplements show an excellent potential in increasing memory and performance in studies with mice. [21]
  • Nootropics and best supplements for brain health – Alpha-GPC, ginkgo, vinpocetine, ashwagandha, Rhodiola rosea, methylcobalamin, C8 MCT, and Bacopa monnieri are just some of the things that could help improve your brain health (more on the science behind it later in the article).
  • Diet for brain health – If you are not set on a keto, there are still foods for optimal brain health you can incorporate in your diet. [22] Supplements are great, but you should never neglect your diet. Eating healthy also optimizes gut microbiome, which leads to better neurotransmitter signaling and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.
  1. Eating foods with vitamin D is essential, as it stimulates neural growth, synaptic density, and the production of neurotransmitters, all-essential for high-level brain functioning and creativity. 
  2. B vitamins protect our brains from neurotoxins and myelin sheets, which are vital for the quick conduction of electrical signals in neurons.
  3. Magnesium threonate can cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce oxidative stress in neurons. 
  4. Foods rich in zink and NAC provide building blocks for hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and also glutathione, which protects against cellular damage.
  5. Zinc, ALA, curcumin, and fish oil all reduce inflammation and could improve brain health and functioning.
  • Better rest – Proper sleep is essential for cognitive functioning, and taking your rest to the next level can lead to better brain health. [23] A lot of times, stress can cause the inability to fall asleep, and techniques like meditation and breathing exercises can help. Awesome Breathing app is specially designed to guide you through this process and help you achieve a more calm state. 
  • Learning new things – If you want to improve cognitive performance, an excellent way of brain training is learning new things. That will keep you engaged, and strengthen neural circuits, boosting your ability to process different things.

Peptides for Better Brain Health and Cognition

One of the best ways of biohacking your brain is peptide therapy. Using peptides for cognition has become extremely popular in recent years and for a good reason too. Peptides are highly functional parts of proteins that can help improve many functions in our bodies, including our processing speed, inflammation, and emotional state. And on top of all, their safety is exceptional!

If you are looking for peptides for improved brain function, here is a list of my favorite ones:

  • RG3 –RG3 is commonly used in the form of nasal spray, and it can suppress inflammation-mediated neurotoxicity. [24] That type of low-key inflammation is frequently associated with brain fog, and RG3 can help improve focus, attention, and memory. You can combine it with NAD+ and B12 for an energy and productivity boost. RG3 promotes mitochondrial function and biogenesis, and it has the same effects as exercise on a cellular level.
  • DIHEXA – This new peptide shows excellent potential in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. [25] The primary mechanism behind it is repairing brain synapses, changing gene expression, and receptor sensitivity. The result is restored brain function and a clearer mind. The potential of DIHEXA is impressive, as it can be used to help regain functionality after head and neck injuries. However, more studies are needed.
  • Semax – Boosting memory and learning ability is what we all want, and Semax seems to offer that possibility. [26] It can increase BDNF, which helps with anxiety and depressive disorders. It works by affecting the expression of specific genes and modulating the immune system’s response. [27] That’s why Semax acts as a neuroprotectant, but it can also repair brain function, making it useful in treatments of stroke, Parkinson’s, and other diseases. [28] I find that taking Semax alone is effective in about 50% of cases, but taking nootropic on top of it can do wonders and has much better results. It is one of the nasal spray peptides, and there are many online pharmacies where you can buy Semax peptide.
  • Noopept – It has the potential of stimulating BDNF and NGF to prevent cognitive impairment and the development of neural conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. [29] It can also prevent oxidative damage[30] and improve spatial memory[31], all in favor of better performance.
  • Cerebrolysin – This peptide focuses on nerve regeneration and repair, and it is widely useful because it can pass the blood-brain barrier and reach neurons directly. People using Cerebrolysin describe experiencing improved mental clarity, less fatigue, and better motivation. This peptide stimulates BDNF, and it also reduces inflammation, making it useful for many conditions. IT is proven effective in treatments of traumatic brain injuries[32] and stroke[33], because of its great neuro regenerative powers. 
  • Selenk – It is used in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder[34] as it affects GABA neurotransmitters. It is taken in orally or as nasal spray, but it usually takes a few days to start working, as 60% of people are slow responders. [35] So far, it has shown the ability to increase BDNF, and future studies aim to see if it’s fit for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • FGL – This peptide can influence levels of neurotransmitters, hormones such as testosterone[36] and nerve, and other growth factors. [37] FGL mimics neural cell adhesion molecules which creates mushroom dendrites associated with better long term memory, in comparison to spindle dendrites, which are typically associated with short term memory. The results are a better cognitive performance[38], memory[39], decreased feelings of depression[36], and neural repair that can be useful for recovery after acute ischemic stroke. [40]

So, how to figure out which peptides are the best for your brain?

Well, that depends on each unique situation. And you’d possibly need some trial and error, but there are some combinations I use depending on the state of my patients.

For fatigue and autoimmune cleansing, I often use DIHEXA and Cerebrolysin and then upregulate with Semax and Selenk. 

BPC 157 is another fantastic peptide (you can check my article for details) that can help with blood flow, inflammation, and neuron regeneration, alongside Semax and Cerebrolysin. 

If you are having trouble with focus, attention, and memory, RG3, in combination with nootropics such as oxytocin, theanine, citicoline, or lions mane, is a good option.

And for conditions such as MS and Alzheimer’s, I prescribe DIHEXA, Cerebrolysin, Semax, and Selank depending on the case.

Treatments for Better Brain Health

Thanks to a combination of science and technology, today, we have many devices and techniques we can use to improve our cognition. Some of them include:

  • Low-level light (LLLT) and red light therapy both show great promise for improving cognitive function. [41] Light is one of the primary cues that help us synchronize with our environments, and LLLT can help suppress inflammation, increase synthesis of antioxidants, nerve growth factors, and more. One of the best devices for photobiomodulation is Vielight, as it is shown to be safe and effective.
  • Brain tap is one of the tools of measuring brain health that also helps achieve a more calm state. Stress is often a part of our cognitive impairment, and BrainTap can help restore balance and achieve mental clarity. 
  • NuCalm helps you recharge and get rid of stress. NuCalm can improve mood and energy levels, and help you regain clarity. 
Halo Sport Headset
  • Muse is a device that helps you achieve a calm state but also maintains your focus. Muse brings meditation to another level. 
  • Halo is a device made for people who need to maintain their focus consistently. Halo helps you stay sharp and accelerate learning.
  • Craniosacral therapy focuses on improving the environment around the brain, which helps aid current problems. When the central nervous system gets back in balance, and brain health improves. Craniosacral therapy also seems like a good option for treating chronic pain. [42]
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) uses oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressure, which can improve the treatment of many conditions. It is used for improving brain health in many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s. [43]

Neurotherapeutics and the Growing World of Nootropics

Neurotherapeutics is a growing field exploring drug therapies’ potential to improve the quality of life of affected individuals. Nootropics are cognitive enhancers that offer a broad range of benefits like improved brain health, productivity, mood, performance, and social activity. [44]

The effectiveness of these drugs depends on many factors. For instance, while many people swear by Modafinil, which is a popular nootropic, others find it not to be that useful. And it appears that this depends on the version of one of the COMT gene you carry.

Nootropics are also useful with peptides, and you can book a consult today to find out which ones would have the best effects for your unique case. 

Genes and Your Brain

As you can see, your genes significantly affect how you react to different treatments. Knowing how your genes contribute to your levels of inflammation and your body’s reaction helps you to fully understand how you should tackle your brain fog and cognitive impairment.

  • APOE – Some variations of this gene cause low levels of protein products and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and brain inflammation.
  • PARP1 – This gene codes for an important enzyme that is a part of the DNA repair system. However, too much of it can cause inflammatory overdrive.
  • FOXO3 – This gene is a part of the IGF-1 signaling pathway. Low levels of this growth factor are associated with decreased brain functioning related to aging. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Gray Matter

If you are searching for a pill from Limitless that will turn you into a genius instantly, I have some bad news for you. Improving health can’t be done in a day. It is a lasting process that needs to be supervised and corrected accordingly. 

Brain inflammation is the most common cause of cognitive impairment, and an excellent exercise in learning about your brain health is to answer these questions:

  1. Do you feel low or down often?
  2. Do you have issues processing information?
  3. Do you find it difficult keeping up with day to day tasks and work?
  4. Do you experience fatigue?
  5. Do you have frequent headaches?
  6. Do you have trouble focusing?
  7. Do you lose your train of thought?
  8. Do you feel anxious or moody?
  9. Do you have other symptoms of inflammation? – Leaky gut, weak immune system, etc.

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, there is a good chance your brain might be inflamed. Click here to book a consult today, and learn more about what can you do to get rid of inflammation and improve your brain health.

Do you want to learn how to improve your cognition & mental energy?

When your system works in harmony your motivation, energy, and life quality improves. I’ve put together a guide with some of my favorite energy optimizing treatments from over the years for you. It ranges from mitochondrial enhancement, peptides to ketones. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11053/
  2. https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000433
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2504526/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822500/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6246624/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504581/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27187097
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553712/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28825348
  10. http://www.biomed.cas.cz/physiolres/pdf/61%20Suppl%202/61_S23.pdf
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29588984
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30317162
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053811919304033?via%3Dihub
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6123874/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874682/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6286979/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112040/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28950395
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5460586/
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866612/
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3730134/
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3980112/
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18591781
  25. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011090653.htm
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21268834
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987924/
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987924/
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19240853
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25096780
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16277202
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6311329/
  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5652261/
  34. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bn/2017/5091027/
  35. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924933812752811
  36. https://zenodo.org/record/2561851
  37. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29172008
  38. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306452217307212
  39. https://www.alzforum.org/news/research-news/peptide-sparks-synaptic-plasticity-improves-memory-rodents
  40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5771251/
  41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28219828
  42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4894825/
  43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998622/
  44. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a472/ef4b4306a9aff3c73b4ce30d243a2fca6d17.pdf

Medical Disclaimer:

The Information in this guide is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician and is for informational purposes only. The Information is not intended to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you saw or read on my website.

Like this article? Share now.

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Learn how to optimize your health

Social Media

Skip to content