All You Need To Know About Cholinergics

Before we get into the whole excitement of cholinergic supplements, we need to understand what the term cholinergic means and for this we need to take a sneak peek back into our high school biology books.

Our bodies are composed of many different systems including the nervous system. This is like the body’s electric powerhouse and it uses special chemicals referred to as neurotransmitters to relay different signals.

One of the most important neurotransmitters is referred to as Acetylcholine and is responsible for mediating a number of bodily functions and processes. Cholinergic supplements promote the action of this chemical, allowing your body to function not only normally but also optimally.  Hence the name cholinergics 😉

When taken as supplements, one of the desired effects is boosting of brain function and cognitive activity including memory and concentration.

How Do Cholinergics Work?

The mode of action of cholinergic supplements depends on the particular composition and chemical design of the supplement. However, there are three main ways through which the supplements work.

1. Mimicking the action of acetylcholine

This is the main mode of action for cholinergic supplements. The compounds are structurally and functionally similar to the neurotransmitter and are therefore able to act on its receptors in the brain. By doing this, the supplements promote the action of the endogenous neurotransmitter and promote brain activity.

2. Preventing destruction of acetylcholine

This is an indirect mode of action where the supplement promotes acetylcholine action by preventing or at least reducing the destruction of the neurotransmitter. In this case, the supplements are referred to as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and they are mainly used for medical cholinergic supplementation.

3. Increasing production of acetylcholine

Finally, a few of the supplements act by increasing the rate of production and release of acetylcholine from nerves. This allows faster and more efficient transmission of signals for optimal brain function.

Common Effects Of Cholinergics

Cholinergic supplements are mainly used to promote brain activity. Some of these actions include…

· Memory boosting

· Improving concentration

· Promotes alertness

· Protection of brain tissue from effects of aging

· Improved mental stability

With all these awesome brain effects, the supplements are super beneficial to everyone. However, developing children and pregnant or nursing women should be cautious.

Popular Cholinergic Supplements

There are very many different brands of cholinergic supplements in the market today. In spite of slight differences in formulation, they share some common ingredients. Below are three of the most commonly used active cholinergic ingredients used in the supplements.

1. Alpha GPC

This compound is broken down into actual acetylcholine in the body. It therefore acts by mimicking the neurotransmitters actions for improved brain activity. Alpha GPC is associated with improved memory and concentration as well as being a great source of choline.

2. Centrophenoxine

This cholinergic compound comes in handy when used in cholinergic supplements targeting the elderly. This is because of its potent anti-aging activity on brain cells and ability to increase plasticity of brain tissue. Centrophenoxine has the ability to increase overall brain health.

3. Citicoline

This is an example of a cholinergic compound that acts by promoting the synthesis of acetylcholine. It does this by providing choline which is one of the precursors in the process. Citicoline is associated with all great brain benefits of cholinergic supplements.

Other common cholinergics include Huperzine A and Choline Bitartrate.

Benefits Of Cholinergic Supplements…

· They are natural.

· There is no risk of allergic reaction.

· The cholinergics have tremendous effects on brain functions.

· They are safe for use on children and the elderly alike.

· Side effects, if any, are very rare.

Possible Side Effects Of Cholinergic Supplements…

Cholinergics are generally not harmful at all. However, there are two situations that may potentiate the harmful side effects of the drug.

The first is in the case of overdosing.  Acetylcholine is good for your body but too much of it will cause more harm than good. Overdosing usually leads to cholinergic poisoning with symptoms including:

· Excessive salivation

· Sweating

· Diarrhea and vomiting

The other situation that could lead to side effects is drug interactions where the supplement is used concomitantly with other drugs. This is usually seen in cases where the patient is on anticholinesterase drugs as the combined effect leads to indirect cholinergic poisoning with the same effects.

Supplement Formulation And Recommended Dosages…

To avoid suffering side effects of cholinergics, it is very important to follow dosage instructions. When taking the supplements orally either as tablets, gel capsules or even powder mixtures, you should take between 200-600 mg per day. For children and breast-feeding mothers, the dose is lower and shouldn’t go above 350mg every day.  Of Course, the individual drug that you are taking will vary as will the results.

Bottom line

After all is said and done, there is no denying the awesomeness of cholinergics. However, it is important to watch how much you take to avoid getting more than you bargained for.

Nicole Sanders

Hi, I'm Nicole, chief editor at Nootropics Revealed. Learn more about me and my mission here.