We’ll get straight to the point: CILTEP is one of the most talked-about and hyped nootropic stacks in recent memory. Author Tim Ferriss, Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey, and other influential productivity gurus and writers have talked about the stack at length. Developed by biohacker Abelard Lindsay, CILTEP stands for “Chemically Induced Long-Term Potentiation” and was a pet project and personal stack of Lindsay’s before being produced as an all-in-one pill by Natural Stacks.
Somewhat unique among nootropics, CILTEP operates by increasing long-term potentiation (LTP) within the brain; LTP is a consistent strengthening of synapses within the brain. It’s thought that memory formation and synaptic strength are heavily connected, and by inducing long-term potentiation, the makers of CILTEP claim its ingredients can boost memory, focus, and cognition.
But how exactly do these ingredients work differently than other nootropic stacks, and (more importantly), does the theory translate into real-life effectiveness? Read below to see how our experience with CILTEP by Natural Stacks really went.
Table of contents
- Artichoke Extract (cynara scolymus)(leaf)(5% total caffeoylquinic acids) – 900 mg
- While artichoke extract has been tentatively linked to numerous health benefits, mostly in the realm of digestion and blood lipid content, Natural Stacks uses the compound as a natural source of PDE4 inhibitor Luteolin. (It’s worth noting that other PDE4 inhibitors tend to have significant lists of side effects, while artichoke extract is linked to far fewer.) These inhibitors increase the levels of cAMP in the brain, which has been linked to improved cognition, long-term memory, and wakefulness. More research is needed to really determine if these compounds as derived from artichoke leaves are as effective as the manufacturer claims in inhibiting PDE4. However, some critics have pointed out that orally ingested luteolin may be broken down into its components before it can actually be absorbed and used by the brain as a PDE4 inhibitor.
- Coleus Forskohlii (root) extract (standardized for 20% forskolin – 4 mg) – 20 mg
- An herbal supplement with a long history of use in Aryuvedic medicine, forskhohlii is the natural compound most closely tied with increased cAMP levels within cells. This is the second mechanism through which CILTEP claims to induce long-term potentiation.
- Vitamin B6 – 5 mg
- Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble essential vitamin, involved in the production of neurotransmitters. Studies show that when taken in conjunction with Magnesium, B6 improved school attention in children diagnosed with ADHD. Along with phenylalanine (below), vitamin B6 is included in this stack because increase cAMP levels also increase dopamine synthesis. B6 and phenylalanine give the body a greater supply of dopamine’s building blocks to help compensate for the compound’s increased synthesis.
- L-Phenylalanine – 500 mg
- L-Phenylanine is an amino acid that promotes general brain function and reduces the effects of age-related memory decline. This is the highest concentration of the compound we’ve seen in a supplement to date. Some potential side effects of L-phenylalanine supplementation include headaches and jitters. Those with Parkinson’s and schizophrenia can develop other negative symptoms when taking phenylalanine.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine – 750 mg
- When combined with choline, acetyl-l-carnitine and choline form the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
- Other Ingredients: Vegetable capsule, cellulose, vegetable stearate, silica.
- For optimal mental performance, take a serving of 2-3 capsules immediately upon waking on an empty stomach. Do not take more than 3 capsules per day.
- Do not consume nicotine or prescription stimulants with CILTEP. Do not use if pregnant, nursing, or under the age of 18. Consult with a healthcare professional before taking this or any nutritional supplement if you have or suspect a medical condition, are taking an medications, or other non-Natural Stacks dietary supplements.
- Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine.
What Our Testers Say
“Recently, we’ve tried a good number of supplements that gave me a pronounced energy boost (often in addition to better focus and mental clarity). CILTEP didn’t give me an energy boost in the slightest, but it did stop my morning brain fog in its tracks. That’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, and CILTEP stopped that lethargic, heavy-headed sensation better than anything else I’ve tried thus far.”
“Natural Stacks mentions that CILTEP can boost motivation, but I didn’t feel any new sensation or drive when taking the supplement. If anything, it gave me a mild focus boost, but nothing major.”
“I’m not sure if I really felt much from CILTEP. We’ve tried a good number of other supplements with more pronounced effects. I’ll probably stick to those.”
“CILTEP gave me mental focus and clarity, not the most I’ve ever felt from a supplement, but certainly something. And it lasted throughout the workday and into the evening even when I took it first thing in the morning, which makes it one of the longer-lasting nootropics I’ve ever tried.”
My Personal CILTEP Experience
While we like to get a diverse set of opinions on nootropics by sharing them with the Brain Wiz testers, I also like to spend at least a week testing each nootropic. In the case of this CILTEP review, I spent two weeks reviewing it. Why? This little smart drug has gotten a lot of people talking.
Ever since hearing rave reviews from Tim Ferriss about how CILTEP rivals Modafinil in its brain boosting power, I knew it had potential. However, I didn’t realize how strong of a nootropic it truly is until the end of the 14 days…
As with all nootropics, I like to ease my way into them. I usually never take the whole recommended dose because of bad experiences from shady “brain pills” that were really just loaded with a proprietary blend of tons of caffeine.
I started the first day of my CILTEP experience with half a dose in the morning. As expected, I didn’t really feel much. In fact, it was a bit of a let down. As the afternoon rolled around, I started to wonder if I had done something wrong. I thought it could have been possible that my body didn’t absorb it correctly because I had a very early morning (but small) breakfast about 30 minutes prior to taking the half dose.
Nonetheless, I decided to continue the review the next day.
This is when things started to get interesting. In the morning, I decided to skip breakfast and take a full dose of CILTEP upon waking with a full glass of water.
About 30 minutes later it started to kick in. To give the best analogy I can, it was as if someone dialed in my brain so that the noise and distractions were almost completely gone. With a lot of other nootropics, I usually find myself in a focused state but my focus can sometimes bounce around. That’s not to say I get distracted but I tend to go back and forth from project to project (as I usually like to work, even without nootropics). On CILTEP there was no bouncing around. I was fully engrossed in what I was doing, 100% of the time.
Working in a field that is both creative and technical at the same time, I need to be able to switch my “left brain” to my “right brain” at a moments notice (e.g. from writing to coding). This can sometimes cause stagnation during the workday in the form of writers block or procrastination. However, near the end of week one while taking CILTEP I started to learn that it seemed to open the roads between my left and right brain a bit more. This allowed me to go from a creative project to a more technical one in seconds. I also felt much more creative while taking it. This isn’t to say that it made me more creative but I think it helped my brain form creative connections a lot easier. One idea would lead to another, which would help me form fully thought out plans at a much quicker pace.
Skipping Ahead: Day Eight
There are no free lunches. This is a popular phrase I often hear in the world of nootropics. It refers to the fact that you can’t benefit from a supplement without giving something back in return. In many nootropics this is usually in the form of a crash near the end of the day, feeling tired or mentally exhausted after the supplement wears off.
With CILTEP, the only negative effect I felt was waking up feeling fatigued. It would be as if my brain performed a hard workout the day before and was still recovering. I felt normal after breakfast, drinking a lot of water, and getting a run in.
The Final Week
Surprisingly I didn’t build up much of a tolerance over the two weeks of taking CILTEP. I only started to see minor negative effects after taking it for over a seven days in a row.
I would say that the positive effects of CILTEP vastly outweigh any negatives that I felt. Because of this, I am starting to keep this bottle on my office desk for those occasions when I really need it.
- Our testers felt the positive effects of CILTEP with a dosage of 2 pills; increasing consumption the 3 did not increase its perceived effects. There’s a good chance 2 will be plenty, though individual tolerances and reactions will vary.
- Our testers didn’t experience any excess fatigue when taking CILTEP, though its mechanism for long-term potentiation can increase the brain’s use of dopamine. Additional ingredients in the Natural Stacks formulation are designed to help offset this increased rate of synthesis, but there’s still a chance fatigue could occur with use.
- As always, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider when starting a new supplement regimen. Ingredients in CILTEP may exacerbate certain medical conditions or affect the potency of some prescription medications. Do not take if you have a condition that could be affected by phenylalanine consumption.
- CILTEP can increase the potency of stimulants (including caffeine), so use caution when stacking. The manufacturer, Natural Stacks, recommends using with Smart Caffeine (carefully) for an additional boost. We’ll try both together and report back on our experience.
The science behind CILTEP is based on complex chemical interactions and ingredients that still have a long way to go as far as research-backed effectiveness; it’s possible CILTEP’s long-term potentiation mechanism isn’t actually occurring at a significant level. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any nootropic effect, but our testers were very much divided on whether or not worked for them. Of all the nootropics stacks we’ve tried to date, CILTEP varied the most from individual to individual.
Chad was enthusiastic that CILTEP reduced his morning brain fog, but other users online have occasionally reported fatigue when taking the recommended dosage. In our eyes, CILTEP remains a somewhat controversial stack and is probably not suited well to beginners in the world of nootropics but could be a game changer for those who want the power of a Modafinil-type nootropic without getting a prescription.