Is it possible to increase the number of synapses in the brain? This is one of the first questions that biohackers sought to answer. It’s obvious why; increasing synapse proliferation in the brain would be one of the most direct and fundamental ways to enhance cognitive performance that we can conceive of.
Interest in increasing synapses is only going to become more intense as the population ages; as we get older, our brains atrophy, causing serious cognitive impairment. The possibility of reversing this slow decline – or even slowing it down – is extremely exciting to both public health experts and pharmacueitcal companies alike.
Today, there is a plethora of content online talking about synapse growth and proliferation. Bloggers from all over the world are eager to tell you that they know the secret to increasing synapses in the brain and fixing the problem of age-related cognitive decline for good. Unfortunately, in almost every case, these nootropics bloggers are lying.
The truth is that there is no “secret” to stimulating synapse growth and proliferation. There is also no way to significantly reverse or prevent age-related cognitive decline, or to fix cognitive pathologies such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, the causes of which are still debated). There is no way to reverse the arrow of time when it comes to cognitive decline; at some point, we all get old, and our brains will atrophy (as will our synapses).
But don’t worry – all is not lost!
There are some ways that you can naturally promote the repair and growth of synapses in the brain! While these methods will not completely prevent brain cell atrophy (which is inevitable), they can prevent synapse atrophy for a very long time, as well as stimulating the production of new synapses to quickly replace those that are damaged or dying. If you are young and healthy, you can even boost the production of synapses beyond normal bounds, enhancing cognitive function by a massive margin.
So how do you increase synapse growth and proliferation in the brain?
Let’s look at the main methods for increasing synapses.
Supplements to boost synapse growth and repair
Believe it or not, but there are 100% natural supplements capable of drastically increasing synapse repair and regeneration rates. Some substances are even able to stimulate the growth and proliferation of synapses beyond normal bounds. This means you can increase the number of synapses in your brain through 100% natural means!
So what are these supplements?
Bacopa monnieri is an incredible natural nootropic, and supplementing with Bacopa is probably the single best method for increasing synapse numbers. Compounds in Bacopa called Bacosides have been found to stimulate dendrite branching. Dendrites are the branches which spread out from the body of a neuron cell. These dendrites are latched onto by the axiom of the previous neuron in the chain (neurons have a kind of “head” and a “tail”). The point at which the dendrite and axiom meet is the synapse; this is where neurotransmitters are passed back and forth, which is the very essence of intra-brain cell communication. By stimulating dendrite branching, Bacopa monnieri directly increases the potential number of meeting points between two neurons. In other words, it directly increases synapses.
Although it is primarily known as a memory booster, Bacopa monnieri actually enhances cognitive function in every way; it is just that most of the clinical trials showing Bacopa monnieri working looked at memory as the main measure of cognitive performance.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
This is another natural supplement – commonly used in nootropics – which may be capable of increasing synapse numbers (and by extension enhancing total brain performance). Lion’s Mane Mushroom supplementation has been found to significantly increase the expression of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain. NGF is a neurotrophic factor; it governs the rate of brain cell growth, differentiation, maturation, death, and repair. By stimulating the release of NGF in the brain, Lion’s Mane Mushroom can significantly increase the rate of neuron generation, which in turn will exponentially increase synaptic density in the brain.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a superb nootropic to add to your daily brain supplement stack. It has an excellent side effect risk profile, and it enhances cognitive performance in a very fundamental, lasting way – it makes changes at the cellular level.
How fasting influences you synapses
If you don’t want to rely on supplements for promoting synapse growth, don’t worry; there’s more than one way to go about boosting synatpic proliferation!
One way you can naturally boost neuron generation – and by extension, synapse generation – is by fasting. Studies have found that fasting elevates the expression of neurotrophic factors in the brain to a significant degree. One study, which looked at how the brains of mice responded to fasting, found that intermittent fasting elevated the expression of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor:
“Intermittent fasting leads to liver glycogen store depletion and lipolysis of free fatty acids (FFAs), which are then released into the blood. The FFAs are metabolized in the liver to generate the ketones, acetone, acetoacetate (AcAc), and β‐hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and transported into the brain (Mattson, Moehl, Ghena, Schmaedick, & Cheng, 2018). This metabolic switching confers the brain to a neuroprotective state against injury and diseases through the activation of the brain‐derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling pathway. At the presynaptic terminal, BDNF is released into the intracellular space in response to the activation of glutamate receptors. This may be a stress response mechanism toward the fluctuation in energy metabolism during IF. BDNF is also involved in the downstream activation of transcription factors that are involved in neurogenesis and energy balance, including cAMP response element‐binding protein (CREB).”
Interestingly, studies on humans have found the same effect of fasting; even intermittent fasting promotes the release of all manner of growth factors, including neurotrophic factors.
If your looking for how to increase synapses, then you’re in luck – there is a way to do it. Certain natural supplements can increase synapse numbers in the brain. Fasting, either prolonged or intermittently, has also been shown to increase synapse density. Many bloggers will tell you they know how to increase synapses, but they wont tell you until you buy their book. The truth is that increasing synapses is easy; just listen to the science.