L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (alpha GPC, also known as choline alfoscerate) is a cholinergic compound produced naturally in some plants and animals, including humans.
Alpha GPC is also sometimes used as a nootropic, to improve cognitive functions in the waking state for both healthy and demented individuals.
What is alpha GPC?
Alpha GPC is a type of choline which can efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can get from your gut to your brain.
It is therefore a psychoactive supplement, specifically a mental stimulant.
Studies have found it improves cognitive function in both young and older adults.
What does alpha GPC do?
Alpha GPC breaks down in the brain into choline, increasing choline levels in the brain.
More choline in the brain means increased levels of acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which plays a role in alertness, attention, memory, and learning.
What does alpha GPC feel like?
People who have tried alpha GPC supplements say it makes them feel:
- strongly awake
- more motivated
- physically stronger
- more in control of the body
Is alpha GPC natural?
Choline is found naturally in many food sources and is regarded as an essential nutrient, related to the vitamin B family.
Alpha GPC, which contains 40% choline, in particular is a choline compound found naturally in the brain and in human breast milk.
It is also found in small amounts in meat products, especially organ tissue, and in some plants.
Unfortunately, however, it’s almost impossible to get a psychoactive dose from food.
For example, to get the minimal dose of 100 mg alpha GPC, you would need to eat 300 grams of toasted wheat germ or oat bran (that is more than 3 cups!)
Or you could eat 128 grams (4.5 oz) beef liver.
Now imagine you want to take the minimal lucid dreaming dose which is 6 times that (600 mg)…
Better to take supplements, which contain artificially-produced alpha GPC.
Lecithin sourced from soy and other plants or from eggs is purified in order to produce such alpha GPC supplements.
Alpha GPC Benefits – what is alpha GPC good for?
Alpha GPC supplements are often used as a nootropic to improve cognitive faculties, such as:
They are also powerful dream supplements and may have other benefits, which I describe below.
Alpha GPC Sleep – Does alpha GPC make you sleepy?
Alpha GPC’s effect on sleep is disruptive when taken before bedtime.
The gradually increasing levels of acetylcholine will make you unable to enter the rejuvenative stages of deep sleep.
However, when taken as a nootropic in the morning, some people report finding themselves more tired in the evening due to increased cognitive exertion.
Alpha GPC Dreams
Alpha GPC has a profound effect on dreaming, including:
- Longer dreams
- More vivid dreams
- Lucid dreams, especially DILDs (dream-induced lucid dreams)
- Dreams accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack which may even be original
Alpha GPC Bodybuilding – does alpha GPC increase human growth hormone (HGH)?
Alpha GPC may also increase growth hormone secretion.
Taking it before physical exercise may augment the exercise-induced growth hormone spike.
It may also have the following additional ergogenic benefits:
- enhance power output
- increase maximum power and velocity in specified tests (counter-movement jump test, bench press, deadlift, etc.)
- increase lower body force (isometric mid-thigh pull test)
- upper body isometric strength
Alpha GPC Dementia
Alpha GPC may improve cognition and halt brain aging in patients with dementia.
This may be due to its ability to reduce inflammation around blood vessels in the brain.
In some countries it has been used as a well tolerated prescription medication for Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions, given by mouth or as a shot.
It is just as effective as the prescription AChE inhibitor donepezil and more effective than rivastigmine.
It may be even more effective coupled with an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, such as galantamine.
Alpha GPC Stroke
Alpha GPC may also be useful for cognitive recovery from stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack).
Does alpha GPC increase dopamine?
It has been suggested that oral consumption of alpha GPC may increase dopamine in the brain.
Alpha GPC and other neurotransmitters
Alpha GPC may also increase
- serotonin levels
- GABA levels by acting on alpha 1 adrenergic receptors
When to take alpha GPC?
If alpha GPC is taken in order to enhance dreams and induce lucid dreaming, it is best to take it after 4-5 hours of sleep.
It is not recommended to take alpha GPC before sleep because it may cause insomnia and sleep disturbances.
If the supplement is taken during the daytime as a nootropic or ergogen, take it about an hour before you want its effects to start kicking in.
Alpha GPC vs. choline
Alpha GPC is a type of choline supplement.
Other types of choline supplements include:
- Choline salts (choline citrate & choline bitartrate)
- Lecithin (phosphatidylcholine)
- CDP choline (citicoline)
All are well tolerated and have only mild side effects, if any.
Choline bitartate vs. alpha GPC
Choline salts and alpha GPC are two of the most useful types of choline for purpose of lucid dream enhancement.
Because both are choline supplements, both have the same mechanism of action:
They are acetylcholine precursors.
However, as acetylcholine levels in the brain increase, the effectiveness of choline salts decreases.
Choline salts can only pass through the blood-brain barrier if there are low levels of acetylcholine in the brain (for example, during the non-REM stages of sleep).
Therefore, choline salts are not normally used as a standalone lucid dreaming supplement like alpha GPC.
Combining choline salts (or alpha GPC) with galantamine is however highly effective.
But in such combination, choline salts may be superior since they reach peak plasma levels at the same time as galantamine.
Choline salts are metabolized faster than alpha GPC (1 hour vs. 3 hours).
This means that you want to be dreaming after 2-3 hours of taking alpha GPC.
But with choline salts, you can take them along with galantamine one hour before dreaming.
CDP choline (citicoline) vs. alpha GPC
Alpha GPC and CDP choline are the most efficient choline supplements in terms of being able to cross the blood brain barrier.
Both these supplements increase levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
As nootropics, the supplements may have similar effects (e.g., improved attention, focus, and learning).
Although some people report having more success with CDP choline for such purposes.
However, as a dream supplement, alpha GPC is better than CDP choline because:
- Taking CDP choline before bedtime can result in sleep disturbances due to its much longer time to peak plasma levels. (6 hours vs. alpha GPC’s 3 hours.)
- The elimination half-life of CDP choline is much longer (around 4-5 hours).
- Alpha GPC is an effective lucid dreaming trigger, while CDP choline does not affect dreams so much.
- Alpha GPC works synergistically with galantamine to improve chances of becoming lucid while CDP choline does not.
- The effects of CDP choline may last for many hours. A second, higher peak 24 hours after consumption is sometimes described.
- There’s more choline in alpha GPC than in CDP choline so less amount of supplement is required, which is significant especially when multiple supplements are used at the same time.
Galantamine vs. alpha GPC
Both galantamine and alpha GPC boost acetylcholine levels.
And both are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain, inducing vivid and lucid dreams.
But while galantamine only inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine, alpha GPC is an acetylcholine precursor and can increase production of acetylcholine.
Which is why using the two supplements together is so effective.
But what if you want just one lucid dreaming supplement.
Should you choose galantamine or alpha GPC?
The benefit of using alpha GPC is that falling asleep after taking the supplement is easier due to its longer time to peak plasma levels, than with galantamine.
Alpha GPC also causes less side effects, such as nausea and insomnia, than galantamine.
Another problem with galantamine is its much longer elimination half-life (7 hours).
Nicotine vs. alpha GPC
Nicotine is another lucid dreaming trigger which works by increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain.
Smoking a cigarette however will not do since its effects are so short lasting.
Nicotine patches however allow levels of nicotine to gradually increase while you’re asleep.
If timed correctly, nicotine can generate lucid dreams which may be accompanied by a wonderful and original soundtrack.
The downside of nicotine is the possible occurrence of unpleasant side effects, such as disturbing dreams.
Yohimbine vs. alpha GPC
An alpha 2 adrenergic antagonist, yohimnine inceases levels of norepinephrine in the brain.
Yohimbine reaches its peak plasma levels after just 1 hour (compared with alpha GPC’s 3 hours), and its elimination half life is even shorter – only 40 minutes.
Yohimbine can also improve dream recall.
The downside of using yohimbine is that it may be difficult to fall back to sleep under its influence.
One must be very careful about dosing when using yohimbine as overdoses may lead to anxiety or insomnia.
Yohimbine may also be less effective during daytime naps and is better taken after 4-5 hours of nocturnal sleep.
Alpha GPC Dosage
According to the FDA, doses of up to 196.2 mg per day are generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
That would be regarded as a light dose and is equivalent to less than 80 mg choline.
More commonly, when used as a nootropic and for Alzheimer’s disease, doses commonly range from 300 to 600 mg are taken up to 4 times per day (for a total daily dosage of 1200 mg).
For exercise improvement, 600 mg can be taken before the workout.
However, an effective alpha GPC dose for dreaming is 1200 mg, once a day,
The highest dose that has been used in research is 3500 mg.
- a 600 mg alpha GPC dose improves the odds of becoming lucid and increases the length of the lucid dream
- a 900 mg alpha GPC dose may induce intense periods of acceleration and music playing during lucid dreams
- a 1200 mg alpha GPC dose – the music may be even louder
If you experience any unpleasant side effects, lower the dose.
Can you take alpha GPC every day?
The effects of a single large dose may last for up to 24 hours, or even more.
To counteract the effect of alpha GPC once you no longer need it, it has been recommended to use piracetam.
Even if you are able to procure piracetam though, I would not advise to use alpha GPC and other supplements which increase acetylcholine levels more than 2-3 times per week.
Piracetam may also potentiate the effects of alpha GPC.
How to take alpha GPC?
Alpha GPC can be most conveniently taken in capsules.
If using alpha GPC powder, simply mix it into water or another beverage, and drink.
As for the taste, some powders are said to have no taste, while others have been reported to be bitter and/or sweet.
Pure alpha GPC powder is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture in the air extremely rapidly, chaing into a gel-like substance.
Which is why alpha GPC powder should be stored in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Moreover, because of this, you will probably not be able to find 100% alpha GPC powder.
It is recommended to take alpha GPC with food, especially a food containing fatty acids, to improve absorption.
Taking alpha GPC may also increase absorption of healthy iron from non-animal products, which can be especially beneficial for women who are iron deficient.
How fast does alpha GPC work?
Effects begin as fast as 45 minutes after consumption of alpha GPC.
It takes about 3 hours for alpha GPC to reach peak plasma levels.
Duration of effects is 4-8 hours.
Alpha GPC Combinations
As a nootropic, alpha GPC can be combined with supplements which require choline in order to achieve optimal results, such as the racetams.
While alpha GPC is an effective lucid dreaming trigger on its own, combining it with galantamine or choline may increase its effectiveness even further.
Moreover, alpha GPC as a standalone supplement is great for dream-induced lucid dreaming (DILD).
DILD is when you go to sleep, have a normal dream, and within that dream realize you’re dreaming and becoming lucid.
The reason why alpha GPC is mostly useful for DILDs is that it takes 3 hours for it to reach peak levels in the blood.
While levels are building up, you may find it very difficult to fall asleep.
Which is why you want to take alpha GPC and immediately go to sleep so that you will already be dreaming when its effects kick in.
Alpha GPC & Galantamine
A combination of alpha GPC and galantamine is an effective lucid dreaming trigger.
When the effects of the galantamine start wearing down, those of alpha GPC just begin, making possible very long lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences.
Take the combination after 4-5 hours of sleep or before going on a long daytime nap.
Alpha GPC & Choline Salts
Choline salts supplements (e.g., choline bitartarate and choline citrate) like alpha GPC also increase acetylcholine levels, but they are less effective than galantamine.
Choline salts are best used in addition to galantamine and alpha GPC, which increases the odds of experiencing WILDs.
Alpha GPC & Yohimbine
Yohimbine can be added to other lucid dream triggers such as alpha GPC.
It has the following benefits:
- better ability to think in the dream
- better attention and focus
- better working memory
- easier to remember waking memories in the dream
- better dream recall
Alpha GPC & Nicotine
Using a nicotine patch along with alpha GPC can improve:
- dream recall
- dream vividness
- a heightened auditory sense. Hearing an original soundtrack has been reported
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
As we’ve seen, alpha GPC works by increasing levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
Acetylcholine is formed in the body out of two substances:
- acetyl-CoA (acetyl coenzyme A)
Alpha GPC provides choline, but where do we get the acetyl-CoA from?
Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5.
Taking a vitamin B5 supplement may therefore increase the effectiveness of alpha GPC.
And while you’re at it, why not add vitamin B6 for better dream recall?
Don’t take vitamin B5 before sleep though as it may cause sleep disturbances.
What are the side effects of alpha GPC?
Alpha GPC is extremely well tolerated, is not addictive, and not habit forming.
In fact, the desire for it can decrease with use.
Alpha GPC has no serious adverse effects in doses of up to 1200 mg.
Mild side effects may include:
- skin rash
- teeth grinding
- redness at the injection site (when taken as an injection)
- gastrointestinal problems (e.g., constipation or diarrhea)
- body odor alteration (especially in people suffering from trimethylaminuria)
Tolerance is built following repeated usage.
Resetting the tolerance requires abstinence of two weeks. (Or using piracetam.)
Do not use alpha GPC without consulting with your doctor especially if you are
- pregnant or breast-feeding
- suffer from hypotension (alpha GPC may lower blood pressure)
- taking medications containing scopolamine, such as some motion sickness blocking drugs
- taking MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), such as some antidepressants or ayahuasca
Alpha GPC Reviews
Relentless Improvement alpha GPC
Contains 120 vegan capsules with 300 mg alpha GPC per capsule.
Serving size: 600 mg (2 capsules)
Other ingredients: hypromellose (capsule).
Pure Nootropics alpha GPC
Contains 60 vegan capsules with 250 mg alpha GPC per capsule.
Serving size: 250 mg (1 capsule)
They also offer a 50% powder with 300 mg alpha GPC per scoop (in 15/30g packages).
Other ingredients: hypromellose (capsule), maltodextrin, vegetable stearate, and silicon dioxide.
Nootropics Depot alpha GPC
Contains 60/180 capsules/soft gels with 150 mg alpha GPC per capsule.
Serving size: 150 mg (1 capsule)
They also offer a 99% powder and a 50% powder in 30/60g packages. (The 50% powder is recommended for those living in a humid climate.)
Alpha GPC 50% serving size: 600 mg (0.6 grams) once or twice per day.
Alpha GPC 99% serving size: 300 mg (0.3 grams) once or twice per day.
- Capsules – Microcrystalline cellulose, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, vegetable cellulose (capsule).
- Soft gels – Sunflower oil, gelatin.
- Powder – Mannitol, silicon dioxide.
Mind Nutrition alpga GPC
Mind Nutrition offer the largest range of alpha GPC products, including:
- Powder (50% alpha GPC) – 50/100 grams. A serving size of 500 mg powder provides 250 mg alpha GPC.
- Capsules (60/120) – Serving size is one capsule, which contains 250 mg alpha GPC.
- Alcohol-free solution (30 ml) – 250 mg alpha GPC per serving (0.5 ml).
- Powder – dicalcium phosphate dihydrate, silicon dioxide.
- Capsules – powder in addition to microcrystalline cellulose and pullulan (capsule).
NOW alpha GPC
Contains 60 capsules with 300 mg alpha GPC (from soy lecithin) per capsule.
Serving size: 2 capsules.
Other ingredients: Cellulose (capsule), cellulose powder, silica, stearic acid, and magnesium stearate.
Nutricost alpha GPC
Contains 120 capsules with 300 mg alpha GPC per capsule.
Serving size: 2 capsules.
Other ingredients: Rice flour, hypromellose (capsule), stearic acid, vegetable magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide.
Jarrow Formulas alpha GPC
Contains 60 capsules with 300 mg alpha GPC (from soy lecithin) per capsule.
Serving size: 1 capsule.
Other ingredients: Calcium phosphate, cellulose, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, stearic acid, and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (capsule).
Nutrasal Cerebra alpha GPC Liquid
2 fl oz. (60 ml).
Serving size: 2 ml (providing 600 mg alpha GPC).
Other ingredients: De-ionized water and vegetable glycerin.
Tastes sweet (due to the glycerin).
Other alpha GPC Products
Many alpha GPC products have been discontinued so I will not address them here.
Additional interesting alpha GPC supplements include:
- Olly Laser Focus Gummies – contain only 10 mg alpha GPC per gummy along with vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).
- Doctor’s Best Natural Brain Enhancers – each capsule contains 150 mg alpha GPC along with phosphatidylserine.
- Prescribed for Life alpha GPC powder – with 50% alpha GPC.
Buy Alpha GPC