Like some of the supplements I’ve already discussed, choline is aimed at the boosting of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is responsible for the lengthening of the REM sleep stage, and thus the promotion of dreams as well as lucid dreaming.
Unlike the supplements discussed thus far though, choline is an ACh precursor, meaning that it actually adds to the quantity of available ACh, instead of preventing the already existing quantity from breaking down.
A note of caution regarding choline and choline supplements
Certain bad bacteria in the gut may turn choline into toxic TMAO, which may cause heart disease, stroke, and death. This is also one of the reasons to also avoid eating eggs and other animal products since choline is naturally occurring in them. TMAO is created by the body from trimethylamine, a substance derived from choline which has a strong fishy odor. I would recommend in addition to avoiding eating any animal products to not use choline without consulting with your doctor first, and even if she approves it, you should probably not take it too often.
What exactly is choline though?
Considered an essential nutrient by the FDA, choline is compound closely related to the Vitamin B family.
While the human body is capable of producing choline on its own, in the liver, it has been found that supplementation is necessary for proper health.
Most of the choline needed by the body from external sources is ingested through food. There are foods that are rich in choline, but obviously, there are dedicated supplements available out there too, and that’s what we’re really interested in, regarding dream augmentation.
Despite it being recognized as an essential nutrient, there are currently no official recommendations regarding the daily intake of choline. The reason behind that could be the fact that choline deficiency is extremely rare in the general population.
What might happen though if you run short of this nutrient for whatever reason?
In that case, you’ll become more prone to developing liver disease, atherosclerosis – and given choline’s role in ACh production – various neurological disorders. The nutrient may indeed be involved in long-term diseases and disorders too, such as cardiovascular problems and age-related cognitive decline, though its role in this regard has not yet been clearly established.
Choline – in its various forms – is very well tolerated by the organism. That – given its status as an essential nutrient – is hardly surprising, but it is good news nonetheless for those looking to use to compound for lucid dreaming, astral projection and OBEs in general.
By what mechanism is choline supposed to act upon dreams?
As a precursor of acetylcholine (ACh), choline’s action on dreams follows a clear logical path: like so many of the other supplements I have already discussed, it acts upon ACh levels, boosting them.
In one of my previous pieces, I talked about the three different paths through which ACh levels could be influenced via supplements, namely: ACh antagonist-inhibitors (substances which prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter), ACh agonists (substances which mimic the actions and effects of ACh without actually being ACh), and ACh precursors (substances which are turned into ACh through natural breakdown).
My conclusion in this regard was that of the three, the first two pathways (inhibitors and agonists) were the more efficient.
Since choline is a precursor, it presents us, dream enthusiasts with a number of problems stemming from this condition.
The problem with precursors (and this seems to be especially true in ACh’s case) is that the body will simply ignore them, unless there is indeed a shortage of the neurotransmitter they are supposed to be broken down into.
Some forms of choline are indeed absorbed quickly by the body, and they cross the blood-brain barrier too, but they do so at a rather inefficient rate.
The good news in this regard is that – as said above – this rate is controlled by the brain, meaning that if it considers its ACh levels to be low, it will allow for more efficient choline transport.
What that means on a practical level for a dream enthusiast is that timing is extremely important with this supplement.
Exactly how the brain makes use of the extra choline made available through supplementation also depends on the type of choline supplement we use.
Let us therefore take a look at what’s available out there in this respect.
Of the multitude of choline supplements, we shall only consider a handful, those that can indeed be used for dream enhancement.
First off, we have the choline salts, more precisely choline bitartrate and choline citrate. Lecithin (you’ve probably already heard of this one) is a choline as well. Alpha-GPC choline and CDP choline wrap up the list.
Of these, choline salts are probably the most wide-spread, in the sense that if you pick up a supplement simply named “choline,” you’re probable dealing with one of these salts.
While they do indeed have some utility in regards to lucid dreaming and dream enhancement, these salts are far from the ideal choline supplement in this regard, and I will tell you why shortly.
If you are specifically looking to boost your LD chances, what I personally recommend is Alpha-GPC choline. We’ll get to why that is the case shortly. Let us first see how the choline salts work though and what advantages they bring to the table.
Choline salts are absorbed extremely quickly, which is quite an advantage in regards to lucid dreaming.
Apparently, there is a correlation between the speed with which ACh levels increase, and the likelihood of LD, and choline salts are the best at that.
The problem is though that their crossing of the blood-brain barrier depends on the amount of ACh already available to the brain, which means that even in the wake of deep-sleep, when the ACh levels are naturally very low, choline salts only have a tiny window to work their magic.
They can be used in combination with galantamine though, and thus they can indeed create the perfect conditions for lucid dreaming as well as for the induction of astral projection.
Why is coupling choline salts with galantamine a good idea?
Galantamine prevents the breakdown of ACh, but it does not really produce more. Salts kick-start ACh production, which is then piled up due to the inhibiting effects that galantamine exerts upon AChE.
The above makes it clear that – much like galantamine or Huperzine A – choline salts should be taken after 4-5 hours of sleep.
One has to bear in mind that choline salts such as choline bitartrate, reach their peak plasma concentration within 1 hour. Their biological half life is 1.5 hrs.
Another problem with choline salts is that their effect on dream-enhancement is not particularly impressive. In this regard, you should probably consider these salts complimentary supplements, whose main role is to intensify the effects of galantamine.
The choline salts/galantamine combination is excellent for WILD though, which makes it a rather attractive facilitator of astral projection as well.
CDP-choline and Alpha-GPC
As mentioned above, one of the main drawbacks of using choline salts for LD induction is that their efficiency drops very quickly.
Fortunately, there are choline alternatives which readily cross the blood-brain barrier, without having to deal with restrictions in this regard caused by already available ACh supply.
Both CDP and Alpha-GPC choline can accomplish this feat, but of the two, Alpha-GPC is much faster-acting, and it is therefore the better choice for LD-focused dream enhancement.
How much faster is it though?
While CDP takes some 6.5 hours to reach peak plasma levels, GPC only requires ~3 hours for that. GPC is eliminated much faster too: its biological half life is just 1.5 hours, while CDP’s is 4.5 hours.
Like with the above discussed choline salts, you can couple Alpha-GPC with galantamine for the best results, which is what I did. In fact, I believe this is the only reasonable way to use choline supplements.
Due to CDP’s 6.5 hours peak plasma time, the supplement seems entirely impractical. You will probably say that you might make it work by taking it right before going to bed, or an hour before that. That should time its peak plasma levels just about right.
You’d be wrong though, simply because the added ACh, which would result from such an exercise, would ruin your deep-sleep stages, early in the night.
Peak plasma level doesn’t just come about out of the blue: there’s a buildup to it, and this buildup would add ACh to a side of the equation which needs high serotonin and low ACh levels.
Bottom line: just stick with the combination of galantamine and choline salts (for dream periods of up to 1.5-2 hours) or Alpha-GPC (for longer dream periods).
Furthermore, there’s a relatively healthy body of research-based evidence backing the parameters I described for Alpha-GPC above. Apparently, the compound has been studied quite extensively in Europe.
What effects does Alpha-GPC have on dreams?
Alpha-GPC’s effects on dreams can be quite spectacular when combined with galantamine, although in this case, it’s a bit of a tricky exercise telling exactly which supplement is mostly responsible for these effects.
Because through this combination, every angle of ACh supplementation is covered (galantamine acts as an AChE inhibitor as well as an agonist, while GPC is a precursor), ACh levels are indeed thoroughly maxed out.
Let’s just settle for that.
The resulting dreams are exceptionally vivid and long, and lucidity is relatively easy to attain within them. As said above, this supplement combo (perhaps rounded out through the addition of serotonin taken before bedtime), is great for WILD too.
Choline salts do not produce a comparable effect on their own, though when they too are combined with galantamine, their impact is noticeable.
Is the combination of Alpha-GPC and galantamine suited for astral projection?
Most definitely yes.
While astral projection is far from being the equivalent of a lucid dream on steroids, it is induced in a rather WILD-like manner.
I have personally had a handful of outstanding OBEs while on the above described supplement combination, and I have to say that I found the induction of these experiences much easier than usual – a fact I quickly jotted down to the effects of choline/galantamine.
Furthermore, unlike galantamine – all choline-based dream-enhancing supplements are exceptionally well tolerated by the body.
How do you dose these choline supplements?
When it comes to dosage, due to the very nature of this supplement (it is, after all, an essential nutrient), one can tinker about within a rather generous range. Alpha-GPC can be taken in 600 mg, 900 mg and 1200 mg doses, with 8 mg of galantamine.
With Alpha-GPC, my best results (some of the above mentioned OBEs too) came on the 1200 mg dose.
As far as choline bitartrate is concerned, I usually stick to the 500 mg dose, also with 8 mg of galantamine.
The officially set daily allowance of choline for men is 550 mg, and for women 450 mg. The maximum safety level has been set to a very generous 3.5g though.
For ACh (acetylcholine) to form, the body uses acetyl in addition to choline. Acetyl is vitamin B5 though and the good news is you probably already have more than enough of it in your body. If you want to be 110% certain that you indeed do, you may want to add a multivitamin to your diet, taken in the morning.
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If you have any questions about any topic related to sleep, dreams, and other altered states of consciousness, you’re welcome to contact me or leave a public comment below.