Cycling or ‘drug holiday‘ is the term used by nootropic users that means taking your nootropics for a certain period of time and then stopping them for a period of time. This process is repeated over and over. You can also cycle by taking one nootropic for a certain period of time and then stop that one and start another for a certain period of time. This process is also repeated over and over.
An example of cycling would be this: You may decide to take your nootropic on a monthly 3:1 cycle, which would mean you’d take the nootropic regularly for three months and then stop taking it entirely for a month.
Why Cycle Nootropics
You may feel that the nootropic supplement you are taking daily and most often over others begins losing its effectiveness for you. When this happens your body is building up a tolerance to it/them. It is often a normal adaptive response to ingested drugs, as the body tries to maintain homeostasis or balance. It is expected and probably will happen. When you adapt a regular on and off cycle you avoid or at least minimize tolerance to them.
It is important to distinguish the differences between tolerance and addiction. Many drugs that cause tolerance do have addictive properties, but becoming tolerant does not mean a person is addicted to the drug.
Tolerance often develops chronically over many weeks but can occur rapidly as well. “Tachyphylaxis” is the term used to describe the very rapid onset of tolerance, such as that seen after a single dose with cocaine or LSD.
I would also like to mention another important period called the ‘honeymoon period’. This is the experience you get when a nootropic works especially well the first few times you take it, then loses its effect quickly as your body becomes used to it.
After the honeymoon period is over, some will increase their dose until they experience the full effect again, though this carries risks. If you find yourself in this position it is tempting to take more than the recommended dose to get back the effects you desire. Do not do this! Instead, you need to cycle by taking time of the nootropic to allow your tolerance to subside.
Tolerance and Addiction
Going back to the point I make about compensating for tolerance by taking more than the recommended dose. Tolerancewill happen again and again. If you repeatedly increase your dose it will work for a while. When it stops working it is because your body is continually adapting to what is disrupting its homeostatic balance. Continually increasing your dose will cause your body to continually adapt by producing more and more of what it needs to get back this homeostasis.
I think you can get the picture I am painting here. The more you increase your dose and repeat this cycle the greater the body adjusts by producing the chemicals required in larger and larger amounts to balance itself again and again. Now you are in the position of actually needing the medication to feel normal again. This is a very basic description of the addiction process.
I have mentioned addiction because it is possible with some substances, but it is not the norm. Taking nootropics is not a one way track to addiction. Just take them as you would any other medication according to the recommended dose and you will be trouble free and cycle on and off.
If you are taking more than one nootropic to achieve a single desired effect such as better focus, more energy, better sleep remember this. When you stop feeling the effects of the nootropic/s don’t just cycle one of them. It is always good practice to cycle all of them.
There are other ways to keep tolerance at bay. You can cycle between different nootropics that provide you with similar benefits. Take one nootropic for one week then switch to another the following week. This way you only take a nootropic for one week and then off for the other. Try to pick nootropics with completely different mechanisms of action. When grouped by the effects they produce there are four basic categories of nootropics:
- Nootropics which give you energy, focus, and motivation.
- Nootropics which make your brain more plastic to facilitate learning.
- Nootropics which increase your ability to process information.
- Nootropics which relieve anxiety and boost confidence.
Less is Best
Taking the lower end of the recommended dose is what I and others recommend because if it works for you then you are far less apt to build up a tolerance you have to deal with. You won’t suffer from side effects.
Its all About Your Body
We are all different and I think we can all agree that there is no broad reaching recommended way to cycle your nootropics. The key to cycling is how long you can take a nootropic at the recommended dose before you need to stop taking it for a while. By a while I mean on a week, off a week, on a month off 2 weeks, on 3 months off one month. These are strictly what I do and it works for me. If you stop and then start and the effect is still not back, then you didn’t wait long enough and you need to stop for longer.
What I recommend is what I and most responsible users do and that is to research the nootropic you wish to take as well as a couple of others that offer the same effect you desire. Read consumer reviews to find out what their experience with the nootropic you wish to take was and did they cycle and if so what was their cycling formula. You are in the drivers seat and finding information about any nootropic is a few clicks away on the internet. The information is out there.
I chose 3 popular nootropics to show the vast difference in cycling recommendations and how important it can be to learn about what you are taking.
The racetam family includes Pramiracetam, Aniracetam, and Piracetam as well as others I will mention in lower down. These Racetams may or may not be associated with tolerance. Some say they have had to and some say not. However, because the jury is still out on this cycling is still done regardless and many users stand by cycling.
A good cycling model for the Racetams Pramiracetam, Piracetam, and Aniracetam would be three to four months on and one month off. A good cycle for Oxiracetam is a shorter cycle. Try three to four weeks on and one week off.
The suggested cycle for Noopept according to the original creator of the nootropic is 56 days (8 weeks) on and 4 days off, but users do vary and do well without tolerance.
Cycling choline sources isn’t generally regarded as necessary.