Galantamine is a supplement known to increase the odds of achieving a lucid dream. It is considered to be the most effective “oneirogen” by many lucid dreamers. How does it work, is it safe to take and how effective is it?
Before thinking of experimenting with the substances mentioned in this and other Lucidipedia articles, you should read this older article, written by Rik (also known as ThreeLetterSyndrom on the forums), about the dangers of doing so .
Although these supplements are generally safe to consume, you should take the following disclaimer very seriously:
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended as medical advice. Readers are strongly advised to consult a qualified physician before taking any supplement mentioned on this website, especially those who are under the age of 18 and those suffering from any known or suspected medical condition. The website authors take no responsibility for any possible consequences from any action or application of supplementation to any person reading or following the information of this website.
What is galantamine?
Galantamine is proven be a temporarily memory enhancer and is therefore normally used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s an acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor, meaning that it works by inhibiting the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. High levels of acetylcholine have been shown to prevent memory loss, increase duration of REM sleep and improve dream vividness.
Side effects are most frequently gastro-intestinal (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss …). However, Alzheimer’s patients use galantamine during the day, over a long period of time and in high doses. If it is only used occasionally for dream enhancement, side effects should be minimal or non-existent.
About two weeks ago, I attended the seminar “Wake Up In Your Dreams!” in Bern, during which Stephen LaBerge dedicated part of his presentation to two substances used to enhance dream recall and lucidity: donepizil and galantamine. Donepizil works by a similar AChE inhibition mechanism as galantamine does. The results of Stephen’s research indicated that 5 and 10 mg dosages of donepezil significantly increased cognitive clarity, lucidity, recall, control, bizarreness and visual vividness – compared to placebo.
According to this research, adverse effects were mild (mild insomnia and gastrointestinal symptoms) and associated with the higher dose. It’s also important to note the frequency of sleep paralysis was significantly increased. This should indicate that if you have trouble with being in sleep paralysis, these substances are NOT recommended – unless you want to willingly confront these experiences in order to overcome any fear.
Galantamine works as well as donepizil (even better according to Stephen’s presentation in Bern), but with fewer side effects.
Stephen’s research can be read up on in his patent application for “substances that enhance recall and lucidity during dreaming”.
How to take galantamine
As with most supplements, it’s best to start with a low dose (4 mg) and increase over time (8 mg is enough for dream enhancement). The maximum dosage is 24 mg, but this is only for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Galantamine increases acetylcholine levels. To help form this acetylcholine, two “ingredients” (precursors) are required: vitamin B5 and choline. You should have plenty of vitamin B5 in your diet if you eat healthy (broccoli, grapefruit, asparagus, cauliflower … are high in B5, as well as animal meat). This is not always the case for choline, so it is recommended to take a choline supplement at the same time you take galantamine. Alpha GPC (600 – 1200 mg), choline bitartrate and choline citrate (400 – 800 mg) are excellent.
High acetylcholine levels are associated with REM sleep, which is more prominent after about 4 to 5 hours of sleep. If you would take galantamine before bedtime, chances are you’d have trouble falling asleep. It’s best to get some non-REM, deep sleep first. So you should combine galantamine experiments with WBTB (wake-back-to-bed). After about 4 to 5 hours of sleep, get up, take 4 or 8 mg of galantamine in combination with a choline supplement and stay awake for about 30 to 60 minutes before going back to bed.
For a higher chance of success, you should stay in semi-darkness and prepare your mind during the time you’re awake before going back to bed. Journal your dreams, read an article or book related to dreaming, meditate, do some relaxation exercises … Be sure to clearly set your intentions!
It’s important to note that it takes about 48 hours for galantamine to flush out of your system, so to avoid tolerance issues, it’s best to not use galantamine for a couple of days in a row (at least 2 to 3) between each experiment.
I’ve been experimenting with dreaming supplements, including galantamine, ever since I started practicing lucid dreaming about two years ago. Some people would advise against using supplements as a beginner, but I disagree. Occasional use of substances like galantamine could be seen as using “training wheels” to get that first taste of a lucid dream experience. Once you know what it’s like to be lucid in your dreams, it becomes easier to induce such an experience using only induction techniques and eventually just by being aware. As long as you keep the warnings in mind, you should be safe.
I did my first couple of experiments with galantamine shortly after I had successfully induced my first lucid dream “naturally”. I used 8 mg of galantamine in combination with 600 mg of Alpha GPC and followed the WBTB procedure. What I found was that WILDing (wake-induced lucid dreaming, i.e. going straight to a lucid dream from the waking state without losing awareness) was significantly easier using these supplements. Even if I failed to induce a WILD, I would usually have a DILD (dream-induced lucid dream, i.e. recognizing you’re in a dream after having lost awareness).
It has been a while since I’ve last experimented with supplements, so before writing this article, I decided to do another WBTB session using galantamine and alpha GPC. I woke up after about 4 hours of sleep, took the supplements and went straight back to bed (I was tired ok…). I fell asleep with the clear intention to have a lucid dream. Momentarily my mind started to drift, but I quickly regained my awareness once I noticed my whole body started vibrating. I’ve experienced quite a few WILDs and OBEs before, but these vibrations got extra-ordinarily intense. I maintained my awareness and tried not to get too caught up with what was happening and after a long while, the vibrations abruptly stopped. It felt like I was violently thrown back into my body. For a moment I considered whether or not I was really awake, until I heard a strange, sudden noise right behind my back (I was still lying on my right side in bed). Unfortunately, this made me wake up and realize it was indeed a “false awakening” and/or an OBE.
Bizarre and interesting dreams are also very common after taking galantamine. That same morning I had a dream in which I was talking to some dream character about the nature of reality. I was holding a coke, took a sip, noted how “real” it tastes and I quoted Morpheus, “if real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain”. If only I had realized we can’t rely on our senses to tell us what is real, I could have had an interesting lucid dream…