When different people talk about the stacks that work best for them, there always seems to be one or two nootropics that are on everyone’s list. One of the nootropics that seem to be a part of everyone’s stack is alpha-GPC.
This is hardly surprising, as alpha-GPC is known to enhance the benefits of several other nootropics, while reducing the potential for side effects. And although it can have nootropic benefits when taken by itself, alpha-GPC makes a great addition to just about any stack.
We’re gonna look at the benefits, side effects, common stacks, and dosage of alpha-GPC. But first, let’s take a look at what exactly alpha-GPC is.
What Is Alpha-GPC?
Alpha-GPC (aka L-Alpha-glycerophosphocholine or choline alfoscerate) is a natural choline compound found in the brain. It is also a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine1.
Because of this, alpha-GPC is classified as a cholinergic2. A cholinergic is a substance that increases choline or acetylcholine levels in the brain.
Acetylcholine is known to play a role in memory, motivation, muscle activation, and attention34. Several nootropics work by effecting acetylcholine, in various ways. Of all the known cholinergics, alpha-GPC raises acetylcholine levels the most effectively5.
Acetylcholine is thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s Disease6. This is a chronic, progressive, neurodegenerative disease. Taking alpha-GPC has been shown to improve the symptoms of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s Disease1. In Europe, it is actually a prescription medication used to treat the disorder.
Users report a number of nootropic benefits from taking alpha-GPC. Some of these benefits include improved memory, motivation, learning, and overall cognitive enhancement.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of scientific research out there that has looked at the nootropic benefits of alpha-GPC in healthy subjects. Most of the research that has been done on alpha-GPC has looked at its effectiveness at treating the symptoms of certain disorders.
As mentioned above, alpha-GPC is able to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Another study done on patients with dementia showed that taking alpha-GPC improved several of their symptoms7.
People that have suffered a stroke often have impaired cognitive function following the attack. Alpha-GPC was shown to speed up recovery and improve cognitive performance in patients after experiencing a stroke8.
A lot of athletes and fitness enthusiasts are taking alpha-GPC for its performance-enhancing effects. One study found that taking 600 milligrams of alpha-GPC before exercise increased power output and raised growth hormone (HGH) levels9. Another study also found that alpha-GPC is able to increase growth hormone levels10.
While the nootropic benefits of alpha-GPC have not been extensively studied, there are tons of anecdotal reports of its effectiveness. Here are some of the benefits that people are reporting:
- Improved Learning
- Increased Motivation
- Improved Memory
- Improved Physical Performance
- Increased Growth Hormone (HGH) Levels
- Faster Reaction Time
- Overall Cognitive Enhancement
Alpha-GPC Side Effects
Alpha-GPC is extremely well-tolerated. Most users do not experience any side effects. When they do experience side effects, they are generally mild and go away as soon as supplementation is stopped.
Side effects can include headache, heartburn, insomnia, dizziness, skin rash, and confusion. They are rare, and only affect a small percentage of users.
It’s always a good idea to consult a licensed healthcare provider before starting or stopping any new drugs, supplements, plants, herb, exercise routines, or anything else. However, you may have to educate your doctor, as most physicians known very little about nootropics (unfortunately).
Most of the studies done on alpha-GPC have use dosages between 600 milligrams (mg) and 1,200 mg. At these dosages, alpha-GPC was found to be very safe and with few side effects.
For nootropic benefits, users usually take anywhere from 500 mg to 1,500 mg of alpha-GPC every day. This is usually taken in 2 or 3 divided doses throughout the day.
Alpha-GPC can be taken with or without food. It may absorb a little better when taken on an empty stomach. However, many users report that this causes heartburn and upset stomach. If this happens to you, taking alpha-GPC with a small meal may help to reduce or eliminate these side effects.
Alpha-GPC can be taken taken by itself, for its nootropic benefits. However, most users take alpha-GPC as part of a stack.
“Stacking” simply means taking multiple nootropics together to increase their effectiveness. Alpha-GPC fits nicely into most nootropic stacks because it is very safe, it increases the effectiveness of many other nootropics, and it can actually reduce the side effects of several others.
One of the most common stacks that we’ve seen is the combination of a racetam and a choline source. One popular example of this would be stacking piracetam and alpha-GPC.
Piracetam is a great nootropic with a long history of safe use, and plenty of science to back it up. However, many users report that it causes headache. Taking alpha-GPC with piracetam, for most people, eliminates the headaches and makes its nootropic benefits even stronger.
Another common stack, for the same reasons, is Noopept and alpha-GPC. Noopept is an extremely popular nootropic right now, but it can cause headaches in many of its users. It is thought that this has to do with low levels of acetylcholine in the brain. By taking alpha-GPC with Noopept, most users report that it eliminates the headaches and increases its nootropic benefits.
Alpha-GPC stacks well with just about every other nootropic. Most experienced nootropic users take alpha-GPC or another choline source every day as part of a much larger stack.
The key to finding the best nootropic stack that works for you is experimentation. What works for someone else may do nothing for you. What works wonders for you may do nothing for someone else.
Everyone’s brains and bodies are different. You need to figure out what works for you. If the first nootropic or two that you try doesn’t work, don’t give up. Keep experimenting, and you’ll eventually figure out what works best for you.
Alpha-GPC is a safe and effective nootropic that fits well into just about any nootropic stack. Taken by itself or as part of a larger stack, this choline booster has a number of cognitive-enhancing benefits.
Users report improvements in memory, learning, motivation, and physical performance. Alpha-GPC is a common nootropic that is a part of most users’ favorite stacks. In addition to having cognitive-enhancing properties of its own, alpha-GPC increases the effectiveness of many other nootropics and reduces side effects.
If alpha-GPC isn’t part of your current stack, you may want to consider adding it. It’s very well tolerated, side effects are mild and rare, it’s effective, and it is one of the least expensive nootropics.
And it seems to stack well with just about every other nootropic out there. For stack ideas, you may want to check out our “Best Nootropics For…” series. It should come as no surprise that alpha-GPC is at the top of the list of the best nootropics for memory.
1De Jesus Moreno Moreno, Maria. (2003). Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: A multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Clinical Therapeutics, 25(1):178-193.
3Jones, B. (2005). From waking to sleeping: neuronal and chemical substrates. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 26(11):578-86.
4Himmelheber, A., Sarter, M., & Bruno, J. (2000). Increases in cortical acetylcholine release during sustained attention performance in rats. Brain Research. Cognitive Brain Research, 9(3):313-25.
5Gatti, G., Barzaghi, N., Acuto, G., Abbiati, G., Fossati, T., & Perucca, E. (1992). A comparative study of free plasma choline levels following intramuscular administration of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine and citicoline in normal volunteers. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol., 30(9):331-5.
6Francis, P., Palmer, A., Snape, M., & Wilcock, G. (1999). The cholinergic hypothesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: a review of progress. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 66(2):137-47.
7Dogrell, S., & Evans, S. (2005). Treatment of dementia with neurotransmission modulation. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 12(10):1633-54.
8Barbagallo, S., Barbagallo, M., Giordano, M., Meli, M., Panzarasa, R. (1994). Alpha-glycerophosphocholine in the mental recovery of cerebral ischemic attacks. An Italian multicenter clinical trial. Ann N Y Acad Sci., 717:253-69.
9Ziegenfuss, T., Landis, J., & Hofheins, J. (2008). Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(Suppl 1):15.
10Kawamura, T., Okubo, T., Sato, K., Fujita, S., Goto, K., Hamaoka, T., & Iemitsu, M. (2012). Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults. Nutrition, 28(11-12):1122-6.