Building A Better Thought Trap:

Nutrition for Colossal Creativity & Peak Performance

©1997Carlisle Bergquist, MA, MFCC, Ph.D.c.

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Imagine a great number of tiny bells hanging near each other. If some of these are struck sharply, they will transmit their own resonance throughout the ensemble. No bell will remain the same, thus creating a new state for the whole of them.
The Universe Is A Green Dragon (Swimme, 1984, p. 92).

The interdependence of the bells in the above quotations is a metaphor for what many scientists increasingly believe is an interdependent universe. The resonance of each tiny bell contains all the rest, and each bell contains the resonance of every other. Sometimes called a holographic model of the universe, this holographic model may also provide one explanation of brain function.

Expanding on the metaphor of the bells, imagine if there were three such systems of bells made of crystal with every atom in each bell perfectly aligned. Each one created perfectly. Imagine these three systems coexist in the same region without any connection we can observe. Yet even without connection, together they play a glorious symphony. Our mind/body/spirit is somewhat like such a system of bells. Created perfect with no observable connection, when in alignment they too play the glorious symphony that is being human. All to often though, we take improper care of this complex instrument and when one "bell" within it changes it creates a new state for them all.

Let's say the relationship of mind/body/spirit simulates this symphony's play. The spirit is composer while the mind as conductor interprets and directs the spirit's music. The body, like a group of instruments, brings the music to life in the physical world. Dancing in the hand of the conductor is the baton. In this example the baton is much like the brain: though part of the physical instrument, it moves and discharges commands from more subtle regions of ourselves. The brain, like the baton, wields and transforms energy from one part of our being to another. Thus, by enhancing one's brain -- the baton -- one enriches the communication and performance throughout the mind/body/spirit system.

"Bells and batons? That's all well and good you say, but I've only got the brain I was born with. I can't take it out and rebuild it." True, but fortunately our bodies are excellent builders. They remodel every day even with the poorest of materials. When given a good supply of the right materials, they can improve and enliven even our dusty old "gray matter" and thus help tune up the entire symphony.

Building Materials

The materials discussed in the remainder of this article are all natural nutritional substances that are legally, and readily, available without prescription that will enhance and aid brain function. The information provided here is an introduction to these nutritive substances. Each item can be purchased at your local pharmacy, grocery, or health food store. This article is not intended to be, or replace, sound medical advice. Each body is different and you should consult with your physician concerning any special needs of your own. Most importantly, you should LISTEN TO YOUR BODY as it tells you what works, and what doesn't, for you.

No one vitamin, mineral, or herb is a "magic bullet" that will do it all. They are synergistic working together. The following lists general groups of building materials related by their function, not by order of their importance. The key is to find the proper combination for your body. Start small and build from there! This article is too short to provide comprehensive information in this "Decade of the Brain" so please continue to research the vast information available as you explore these supplements. Finally, use your common sense -- more is not always better -- even in America.

Metabolism Activators

The body "burns fuel" in every cell through a process called metabolism. The brain consumes the greatest amount of energy in the body and thus requires a constant supply to perform its tasks. Within each cell are tiny energy plants, organelles called mitochondria that metabolize nutrients converting them into the needed energy. Certain substances enhance the transfer of these nutrients to the mitochondria making more energy available to the cell. Three natural nutrients that enhance this process in brain cells are, N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC), Dimethylglycine (DMG), and Ribonucleic acid (RNA).

N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC), helps transport fats into the mitochondria. Studies have shown that ALC improved memory and learning in young women and has had a positive effect on attention and alertness in Alzheimer's and other senility sufferers. ALC slows the decrease in nerve growth factor that comes with aging and thereby helps keep the brain younger.

Dimethylglycine (DMG), another metabolic enhancer, is called an "ergogenic nutrient" because it helps produce energy and increase stamina. DMG increases the transport of oxygen from the blood to the brain. It further improves oxygen consumption and reduces the buildup of lactic acid that causes fatigue.

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), is produced naturally by the body and is vital for learning and memory. The brain has the greatest concentration of RNA where it is central in transferring cellular information. Natural production of RNA decreases with illness and age and this decrease may play a role in failing memories. Fortunately taking RNA orally can rapidly replenish the brain's supply.

Cholinergic Supplements

Acetylocholine is a fundamental neurochemical in cognitive processing. The brain ceases to function without sufficient supplies. The brain manufactures acetylocholine from a nutrient called choline.

Choline comes in several forms. All of them boost memory. Among the several varieties phosphatidyl choline (PC) -- found in lecithin -- has some advantages. PC has several benefits. It speeds the metabolism of fats, regulates cholesterol, and is a source material for the manufacture of cell membranes. Brain cells, nerve cells and the sheaths surrounding nerve fibers, all need copious amounts to maintain peak performance and health. PC needs vitamins B1 and B5 to be effective.

Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), also occurs naturally in the brain and in several foods. Sardines and other cold water fish are a natural source. DMAE is a choline precursor that easily moves across the brain-blood barrier and increases the production of acetylocholine. It has been shown to be a mild antidepressant and have positive effects on mental energy, attention and concentration. Users report that when taken with PC the positive effects of both are more potent.


In the past few years much has been written about a reactive form of oxygen that results in the body from the metabolic process. Called free radicals, they are responsible for much damage throughout the system. Free radicals are present in greater quantities during times of stress, illness, and when one is exposed to toxins from all sources. Several substances known as antioxidants help combat this damage. They aid the entire body but are extremely important in maintaining cognitive function. A good antioxidant formulation should contain the following nutrients; vitamins -- A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, & E; minerals -- zinc, selenium; and -- inositol, bioflavanoids, choline, glutathione or N-acetyl-l-cysteine, methionine, CoQ-10, germanium, and dimethylglycine (DMG). Several of these substances show specific positive effects as cognitive enhancers: C, CoQ-10, glutathione or N-acetyl-l-cysteine, and germanium.

Vitamin C's benefits are widely known. Fresh fruits and vegetables are our dietary source. It boosts the immune system and reduces cholesterol. It also plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, a protein that makes up almost one third of the body's total. Thus, C is imperative in growing and maintaining tissue. Vitamin C also powerfully affects cognitive ability and is in its highest concentrations in the brain. Studies have shown a positive correlation between the levels of vitamin C in individuals and performance on IQ test. Those with more C did better. Those with lower scores increased their scores when they were given more C. Vitamin C supplements comes in many forms but since it is an acid it is often best to use a buffered form. Calcium ascorbate is a good source of vitamin C that the body readily uses. Another type Ester C is even more available to the body. Smaller doses provide the same benefits. These forms are water-soluble. Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble form of vitamin C that the fatty tissues absorb and store until needed. It also has a synergistic effect with other fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E. Adding both forms to your fruit and vegetable intake can be beneficial.

Glutathione protects the cells from free radicals and toxins. It is a common substance in the body that decreases with age. It has effects throughout the body helping to detoxify and remove many harmful substances including heavy metals. It helps protect the liver that functions as the main "clean-up organ" for our body. It enhances brain activity by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the cells along with its protective qualities.

N-acetyl-l-cysteine is a precursor to glutathione and glutathione peroxidase. The body uses it to manufacture these to powerful detoxifying substances. N-acetyl-l-cysteine is a more effective oral supplement than glutathione because it is more readily available to the body and glutathione does not move efficiently from the digestive system.

CoQ-10 has a remarkable number of beneficial effects. They include stimulating the immune system, enhanced athletic performance, lower blood pressure, effects on heart disease, and improved mental functioning. In research studies CoQ-10 has dramatically increased life span in animals. CoQ-10 stimulates energy release in the cell. The membranes of the mitochondria hold this co-enzyme in the which generates adenosine triphosphate the primary energy unit for life processes. Besides boosting energy (which may help in weight loss), CoQ-10 increases the effectiveness of other antioxidants.

Germanium is a mineral found in many natural healing foods and herbs like ginseng, garlic, aloe, comfrey, and others. Synthesized and studied in Japan, a stable organic germanium compound called germanium sesquioxide shows extraordinary health benefits. This form of germanium can supplement oxygenation in the living tissue. It combines with red blood cells and is euphemistically called "vitamin O" for its potent catalytic qualities. Research indicates that only the organic sesquioxide compound provides these benefits so be sure that is the form you use.


Vasodilators open the small blood vessels called capillaries that permeate the body and brain. These tiny channels deliver all the nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Niacin (or vitamin B3), and ginko biloba (described below) have both been proven to increase blood flow to the brain thereby enriching the oxygen supply and boosting alertness.

Natural Nootropics

Nootropics or "smart drugs" are a rapidly developing area of pharmaceutical research. These drugs are available only by prescription or from sources outside the United States. However, there are two natural substances that are legally available that have nootropic (mind enhancing) effects: ginko biloba and pyroglutamate.

Ginko biloba like niacin increases circulation to the microcapillaries of the brain. It comes from the leaves of an ancient Chinese tree that is popular in landscapes throughout the world. The leaves and extracts have been prescribed in Chinese medicine for centuries and in recent times throughout Europe. Besides increasing circulation, ginko biloba has additional benefits to the brain. It increases the supply and utilization of glucose (the brain's primary fuel), is an antioxidant, increases the reaction time of nerves and nerve transmissions, and boosts the production of adenosine triphosphate like CoQ-10. It has a particularly intriguing effect on the brains electrical activity in that it increases alpha rhythms the brain waves associated with creativity, relaxation and healing. This makes it an especially useful supplement to use with products like Vantage Quest that stimulates EEG entrainment, or light and sound devices. When you buy ginko biloba, look for products made with fifty pounds of leaves to one pound of extract (50/1).

Pyroglutamate improves learning, improves memory and lowers anxiety. This amino acid occurs naturally in dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables. In the body it concentrates in cerebrospinal fluid and the brain. Pyroglutamaic acid is the source from which several "smart drugs" have been developed. The effect of pyroglutamate when taken as a supplement is similar (though less powerful) on cognition. It is widely available either alone, or as arginine pyroglutamate.

Neurotransmitter Precursors

Much like a super-computer, but still more complex, the brain is constantly communicating with the body and itself. The messages are sent with messenger molecules called neurochemicals. The neurochemicals last for various time spans depending on their function. The brain manufactures all these neurochemicals from the food we eat. However as we age, or suffer from other health problems, levels of these neurochemicals diminish affecting memory, emotions, and cognition. Several neurochemical precursors supplements are available that increase levels in the brain when taken orally. These amino acids include GABA, arginine, glutamine, and phenylalanine and are readily available. Two of these are specifically useful for thought enhancement glutamine, and phenylalanine.

Glutamine (not glutamic acid) is a brain energizer. Like glucose it travels into brain cells easily and serves as a fuel source.

Phenylalanine is the precursor amino acid to several vital neurotransmitters including norepinephrine, adrenaline and dopamine. Norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine help maintain positive mood, motivation, and memory formation. In fact when these two neurotransmitters diminish, depression and fatigue are the result. Individuals recovering from addictions to stimulant drugs are often depleted of these neurotransmitters because they have repeatedly stimulated it production with the drugs. Eventually the brain becomes less capable of producing them on its own when needed. This is part of the addiction cycle. Supplementing the diet with phenylalanine helps overcome such depletion. It is also useful for everyone over age 45.

Other Good Stuff


Certain substances enhance the body's overall function, help restore balance, and thus enhance mental functioning. The ginsengs -- Korean Red, Chinese, American, and Siberian -- are in this group. Siberian ginseng -- Eleuthero -- is different from the others though and has specifically been shown to increase learning, visual and auditory acuity and color perception.

Other adaptogens that boost the immune system, balance body systems, counteract stress and improve mental functions are reishi, schizandra, gotu kola, fo-ti, and astragalus.

Multivitamins and Minerals

As in the metaphor of the bells that started this article vitamins and minerals are a system that works together to fortify the body. I was fortunate to grow up with big garden that supplied a rich variety of fruits and vegetables to balance our diet. In today's diet fast foods and processed items have made it much more difficult to get all we need from what we eat, let alone the nutrients needed for colossal creativity. Therefore it is wise to add a multi-supplement to our diet. Remember this is a supplement to, not a replacement for, a healthy diet. The best source is always from good, well-grown foods, to them can be added the additional substances to bring you to your peak.

Winding Down

"The sun lights up the daytime. The moon lights up the night." Rhythm pervades the cosmos and the natural world. Our bodies are a sea of vibrations, cycles, and rhythms. From the flickering subatomic dances occurring in billionths of a second, to the sleep/wake cycle we experience every 24 hours, it is constant motion.. Colossal creativity likewise moves in natural cycles. One might say it: Thoughts lights up the daytime. Dreams light up the night. Much creative action if fact occurs during the dreaming night. The body repairs and resets itself mostly while we are in REM sleep and the images we see in dreams are always creative. Sometimes dreams, like flashes of intuition, contain solutions that have eluded us in the bright light of reason. Thus, winding down is as important to creative being as is peak performance.

Certain substances can play a useful role in gently winding down to sleep. There are many herbal teas that help one relax and induce a sense of cozy well-being. Melatonin, which the brain produces at night, when taken before bedtime moves many people quickly into deep sleep. Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), glycine, taurine, inositol, and vitamin B6 all help as nutritive supplements to maximize your restful sleep. As a mental health professional, I have seen the negative effect stress and depression can have on restful sleep. I have also experienced it personally. I recommend taking a Stress B supplement during the day along with moderate exercise to help counter these effects and restore a healthy sleep cycle.

Colossal Creativity

Colossal creativity is not reserved for genius. From the instant you were conceived to the moment you read these words, your mind/body/spirit has constantly created. Creativity is inherent in being alive and each one of us is uniquely endowed with a gift that no other can replace. Colossal creativity comes by tuning up your entire system so that, like the bells, all of you resonates with, and responds to, the inspiration that thunders quietly through your thoughts. Colossal creativity is the willingness to trap, or catch, these thoughts in our consciousness until we bring them into our lives and the physical world around us. This article has concentrated on the nutritional components of the system: how to align the "atoms of the bells" if you will so that they resonate more clearly. The focus here has been on the brain; it rests at the focal point of our physical, mental, and spiritual worlds. Like a baton in the hands of a conductor, your brain traps and interprets inspiration that comes from deep within transforming it from one world to another.

Colossal creativity is a state of balance amongst the mind, the body, and the spirit. We have discussed ways to strengthen the physical. Colossal creativity unfolds when we nourish "every bell," that is, all the parts of our being. Digest new thoughts and ideas to nourish your mind. Develop a daily practice -- whatever your faith -- that invites active participation from your spiritual-self.

There are also products that can help you balance and build a better thought trap for colossal creativity. Vantage Quest uses unique sound to stimulate the brains electrical activity. Brain or Mind Machines use flashing light as an entrainment mechanism. Each has a useful role in tuning-up our carillon and unleashing colossal creativity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson allegedly said: "If you build a better mouse trap...the world will make a beaten path to your door." I suggest that if you build a better thought trap, when the world knocks on your door, you will answer and play them a symphony.


Gerras, Charles (Ed.). The Complete Book of Vitamins. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 1977.

Hutchinson, Michael. Mega Brain Power. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

Pearson, Durk, & Shaw, Sandy. Life Extension. New York: Warner, 1982.

Swimme, Brian. The Universe Is A Green Dragon. Santa Fe: Bear, 1984

©1997 by Carlisle Bergquist. All rights reserved.


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Article Summaries

The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom

The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom (Preview Chapters)
by Carlisle Bergquist

A modern-day parable for planet in transformation.

"The Coyoté Oak:  Burgeoning Wisdom by Carlisle Bergquist lives up to its name.  Like the trickster Coyoté, this fanciful read informs with unpredictable authority.  The visionary novel weaves deep ecology, shamanism, quantum physics, Native American spirituality, Taoism, mysticism, and even Christianity into an engaging healing adventure.  No small accomplishment as its wisdom rings loud and exquisitely clear.  The author’s vivid descriptions engulf the senses; you can almost taste the pancakes, smell the moss, see the sunsets and you will certainly fall in love with the characters.  Expect to be drawn in deep, transformed and left howling for more." Share Guide - San Francisco, CA

Available wherever books are sold

ISBN:  0-9791750-6-2
Published by Reality Press

Transcendental Creative Systems:

An Exploration Using General Living Systems Theory

Creativity is the merger of matter/energy with new information.  The process of bringing something new into existence, is an inherent characteristic of life.  To live is to create whether we do so unconsciously, or with full awareness.  This essay is an academic approach to the creative process using James Miller's General Living Systems Theory to model the course from non-being to created work.

A Comparative View of Creativity Theories:
Psychoanalytic, Behaviorist, & Humanistic

Three streams of thought in contemporary psychology view our humanness is distinctly different ways.  This is nowhere more evident than in their efforts to explain creativity.  This essay explores and compares these divergent views and provides a foundation from which to develop a new transpersonal theory of creativity.

Dancing With The Whole:
A Theory of Creative Entrainment

The holistic theory models entrainment as a communicative occurrence. Examples are given from several disciplines and four stages of entrainment are delimited. The essay compares theoretical quantum physicist David Bohm's notions of order with the realms of spirit, mind, and body. It proposes stages of entrainment operant throughout these realms and suggests that they perform cumulatively in the creative or unfolding process. The systems perspective develops the thesis that humankind is an iteration of a larger system and that entrainment is a central factor in the transduction of information between individuals and across system levels.

Doorways In Consciousness:
An Exploration of Resonant Being

Many cultures around the globe embrace sound in their exoteric and esoteric traditions. This essay reviews the role sound plays in the religions, creation myths, and sacred technologies of various peoples. This review connects creativity with healing which is considered an act of regeneration thus creating health in the body. Several varieties of healing through sound are discussed including music, drumming, toning, chant, instruments, Kabballah, and prayer. The essay proposes that techniques of sound healing and therapy currently rely on the intuitive ability of individual practitioners. Acknowledging the need for effective healing modalities, it calls for research that can qualify the elemental effects of existing sounds, tones and prayers. Such categorization may help construct an applied holistic healing technology.

Building A Better Thought Trap:
Nutrition for Colossal Creativity & Peak Performance

Colossal creativity is a state of balance amongst the mind, the body, and the spirit that actuates human potential. This article concentrates on the vitamin and nutritional components of our system so that they resonate more clearly. The focus is on the brain which rests at the focal point of our physical, mental, and spiritual worlds. It traps and interprets inspiration that comes from deep within, transforming it from one world to another. Colossal creativity unfolds when we nourish every part of our being. Digest new thoughts and ideas to nourish your mind. Develop a daily practice -- whatever your faith -- that invites active participation from your Spiritual-Self.

Accessing Your Inner Creator

An essay for general audiences that explores the creative process comparing it with the duality described in many philosophical and spiritual traditions. Techniques are given to apply these strategies to ones individual work.

Creativity, Healing, & Shamanism

An academic, yet deeply personal essay about exceptional encounters in Brazil with alternative healing and spiritual tradition. It details a dynamical systems (chaos theory) model of creativity: at "The Valley of The Dawn" a spiritual healing community; in Amyr, a physical medium; and in my experience using Ayahuasca with "The Santo Daime Doctrine" in Rio de Janeiro.

Guest Articles

How Money is Created

by Paul Krumm

Toward an Economy Based on Curiosity and Caring Instead of Greed

by Paul Krumm


  • While the network of money transactions around the world is very complex, the way money works is really rather simple, and is understandable by the ordinary person.

  • The study of the operation of money is pivotal to any discussion of cultural values and social justice, as money is the basic language of economic relationships, and the values built into this language impact all social relationships.

In this paper we will describe how the present money game is structured.  We will show that the idea that money is value neutral is not correct, and go on to describe how money functions to promote greed.

Some preliminary suggestions will be given, based on theory and what has worked in the past, to change the values built into our money to ones that are more congruent with a curiosity and caring driven economy.

We will also show how the present money game is not sustainable, note that the same changes that lead to a curiosity and caring based system are the same changes that make money and our economy sustainable.

Transforming Reality Through The Arts

by Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger

Could this be the key to CREATIVE EVOLUTION?  Is the creation of a society that questions the reality of its fiction and the fiction of its reality be but a page turn away. Conceivably it is no longer a question of controlling what is real; instead, is it a question of controlling the market analysis that controls what the individual assumes to be real? Perhaps then, we will able to give birth to the new science that is no longer bipolar in its relations of the art and the social – a new science that is born out of a culture that was modified to be the perfect blend of both fact and fiction.

Staying Centered in Peace
by Lisa Hepner

An essay written in the wake of events on September 11, 2001.  This piece addresses the struggles we experience to see beyond the pain.  The author draws together the thoughts of many personal growth writers into an inspiring tonic for our wounded souls.