I’d like to thank the user javastripped on reddit for coming up with this excellent way to track down negative side effects with any given stack of nootropics. Javastripped posted this self-post on reddit (Reddit) with an easier way to track down which supplements could be causing negative side effects.
I spoke with him and asked him if he’d mind me doing a writeup of his method for SmarterNootropics and he told me to go right ahead.
The typical method that people use for tracking down negative side effects would be to take one day off for each supplement they’re taking, and seeing which day the negative side effects go away. This would mean that if you were taking 10 supplements, you would cease taking supplement 1 on day one, then on day 2 you would take supplement 1 again and cease supplment 2. So you would try 10 days with each day being off a supplement. This means that you need as many days as you have supplements to track down which one is causing you problems.
Javastripped came up with a faster way to track down supplements using a search technique from computer science. The CS term for it is a “binary search”. This speeds up the number of days needed to determine which supplement is causing side effects considerably.
Let’s say that you have the same 10 supplements that we were using in the first example. You would split the supplements in half on the first day and take supplements 1-5. On day 2, you would take supplements 6-10. If the supplement causing the issue is supplement #3, you should notice that the negative side effects happen on day 1 but not day 2, which eliminates supplements 6-10 from being the problem.
The next step will be to split supplements 1-5 in half and take supplements 1-2 on the first day and 3-5 on the second day. You’ll notice the side effects go away the first day and come back the second. So you split it again and on day 5 take just supplement 3 and day 6 take 4-5.
Bingo, you’ve narrowed it down to supplement 3 in only 5 days instead of 10 days.
In the comments, a couple of questions were raised and answered by javastripped. Here are the summarized answers for you:
Q: What if the issue is with a supplement that takes several days to leave your system?
A: Repeat the search, but spread out each trial for a couple of days. Instead of just trying 1-5 for one day, try them for multiple days, and spread out each trial.
Q: Won’t this take longer to determine with drug interactions?
A: If there are drug interactions causing this, it will take longer to determine all subsets. However, in my experience it was always a single chemical for me.
I hope that this has helped some of you determine the causes of your headaches or other negative side effects, and once again I’d like to thank javastripped for his excellent idea.