Alpha Brain Reviews: Benefits, Side Effects, Does it Work?

What is Alpha Brain?

Alpha Brain is a nootropic that is manufactured by Onnit Labs in Austin, Texas. It is marketed to be a product that is completely balanced and created from natural ingredients that are grown in the Earth and scientifically tested. In addition, the website indicates that Alpha Brain will help improve your focus, memory, processing speed of information, and mental clarity.1

Alpha Brain Review, Bottle Image
Alpha Brain Review, Bottle Image | Source
Alpha Brain Review Supplement Facts Label
Alpha Brain Review Supplement Facts Label | Source

Ingredients:

Alpha Brain contains the following ingredients:

  • Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine HCI) - 10mg
  • Onnit Flow Blend (Combination of L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, Phosphatidylserine, and Oatstraw Extract) - 650mg
  • AC-11 - 350 mg
  • Onnit Focus Blend (Consisting of Huperzia serrata extract, L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha GPC), Bacopa monniera extract) - 240mg
  • Onnit Fuel Blend (Mixture of Pterostilbene, L-Leucine, and Vinpocetine) - 65mg

Reviews (Online Consensus Summary):

The overall rating for Alpha Brain on Amazon.com is average. While some people really love the product, others refer to it as ineffective, too expensive, and some even call it a scam.

The following is an example of a positive review:

Source

The following is an example of a negative reviews:

Source

Why Some People Believe Alpha Brain is a Scam:

A. Bacopa monniera. This is a herb that can be found in the Indian marshlands. The website states that Ayurvedic gurus have flaunted its brain-enhancing effects for hundreds of years.

However, when looking at the research that is provided by Onnit, the proof doesn’t appear to be in the pudding:

  • Inconclusive Results. According to the Alpha Brain website, Bacopa is assumed to help the body maintain optimal cognitive performance. In addition, clinical investigations indicate that it may guard mental function in specific adults; and animal studies have suggested that Bacopa may boost learning skills.3 As you will notice, the claims are not conclusive. Stating that a product may be able to accomplish a task is a far cry from stating that the research backed up the claim. In addition, animal studies are not the same as conducting studies on people. Likewise, the website goes on to say that further studies are required to determine the effective dosage, the amount of time required to attain benefits, and the long term effects.4 .
  • The Dosage Is Too Low. Although Alpha Brain appears to have sufficient amounts of many ingredients, it is interesting to note that Bacopa monniera is not one of them; even though it is listed as one of the most powerful ones. The 100 mg dosage of Bacopa in the Alpha Brain product is too small to provide any real results.5
  • Must Be Taken With A Fatty Source. Bacopa is actually a nootropic that needs to be taken with a fatty substance in order to be absorbed properly; and yet, Onnit does not even recommend taking the compound with a fatty source.

B. AC-11. This compound is derived from a plant in South America and is referred to as the” Rainforest Super Herb” on the website.3 In fact, it is a patented extract of Cat’s Claw (uncaria tomentosa). According to the Alpha Brain website, AC-11 has been shown to aid the body in repairing DNA. However, there is insufficient evidence to support this based on the following:

Questionable Effectiveness. The effect that AC-11 has on mental processes is very questionable since there is very little research proving that the extract can provide any more benefits than simply eating dark chocolate or blueberries. In addition, it is impossible to determine if this particular version of AC-11 even contains the correct amount of carboxyl alkyl in order to be effective.5 In fact, as you continue to read more about the research, you will find that knowledge regarding DNA repair is not even complete at this time. Accordingly, scientists believe that AC-11 helps activate enzymes which help in the repair process; although the exact mechanisms are still being investigated.6 Since this is the first powerful ingredient listed on the web page, and since the research is inconclusive, one has to wonder about the overall effectiveness of Alpha Brain in general.

C. Pilot Study. According to a study listed on the website, Alpha Brain was given to seventeen adults ages 18-35 for a period of six weeks to measure the effects when taking psychological tests. The results indicate that scores improved with mental functioning and verbal memory of lists when compared to the placebo group.7 However, the results do not tell the entire story as follows:

The Results Are Inconclusive. As you read further into the research, you will discover that out of 16 analyzed measures, only two reached a level of significance statistically and that several other measures demonstrated a trend towards significance. The notes went on to admit that this was a small study sample and that results indicate the potential for effectiveness in other areas of brain function. So as you can see, sufficient evidence does not exist to prove that Alpha Brain is really effective. Any substance can claim to have “potential” when tested.

D. GPC Choline. Based on a study that was previously mentioned on the Alpha Brain website, research was performed

at the University of Palermo on over 2,000 people who suffered from a stroke or transient ischemic attack.

According to the website, the study confirmed that GPC choline improved brain function.8 However, a closer look reveals that there were some problems with this study:

  • The Research Did Not Test Relevant Dosage Methods. Although the actual reference for the study was not provided by the website, Steven Novella of Science-Based Medicine found the study, and you can refer to the website at ncbi.com.9 It was actually published back in 1994. The research consisted of administering 100 mg of intramuscular (IM) choline for 28 days and then was traced by 400 mg of choline orally. Since Alpha-Brain contains 100 mg of orally-ingested GPC choline, it is most likely that the oral absorption rate will be different from the IM rate;8 hence, this research does not prove that Alpha Brain will improve brain function.
  • The Research Did Not Test A Healthy Population Sample. The research showed that choline helped stroke victims; however, this does not automatically mean that it will enhance brain function in otherwise healthy individuals. In addition, although choline is necessary for those who are deficient, there is no reason to assume that more is better for those who already have healthy diets.

Source

Possible Side Effects:

  • Physical/Mental Effects. There are some possible side effects that can occur while taking Alpha Brain. For example, people who already have a lot of acetylcholine may experience headaches or jaw pressure when taking it. In addition, as the web site mentions, there are times when people have intense dreams that can be uncomfortable. Currently, there is no way to know if the overall effect of Alpha Brain can be severely amplified or can even be considered dangerous.
  • Safety Concerns of Huperzia Serrata. This is a herb from the Huperzine An alkaloid which improves comprehension and memory. It is now considered to be a potential solution for Alzheimer’s. However, there are concerns on whether it is safe to use every day since the research has not been conclusive. The label on the Alpha Brain website shows that Huperzia is part of the Onnit Focus Blend, which consists of three ingredients in a combined 240 mg formula. So, how does one even know the total amount of milligrams that specifically pertain to this herb? 10 In addition, when reviewing the website, the research indicates that the herb is effective in dosages of 200-400 mcg. However, the safety level was only demonstrated in trials that lasted up to five weeks and only for 600 mcg daily. Since Huperzia Serrata was only tested for such a small
    amount of time, one has to wonder what will happen during longer periods of usage. In addition, what is the actual effect on people who do not have Alzheimer’s? Based on the studies, there has not been enough relevant research that has been performed in order to prove its efficiency.1
  • Soy-Based Ingredients. Although Alpha Brain contains no wheat, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, or dairy, it does contain ingredients that come from soy. Currently, there is a debate regarding if soy is even safe for daily human consumption. 11

Final Comments:

Alpha Brain contains most of the nootropics that are considered to be important for enhancing the brain. In addition, Onnit has made sure that the product has received the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) Certified Drug Free certification, which ensures that the product contains no drugs or other harmful ingredients that could cause health concerns or show up positive on drug tests.1 Likewise, the nootropic does not include any caffeine or stimulants that are derived from artificial sources.12

The supplement also has a lot of supporters and claims to have sold over 22,000,000 capsules (you will notice it says capsules—not bottles). However, there is no way of knowing how many of these “capsules” were actually returned due to being ineffective.3 In addition, Alpha Brain has received endorsements from a neurosurgeon, sports celebrities, actors, etc., who reportedly have all tried the product; and the website states that precautions have been taken to make sure that their testimonials are forthright. (However, it is also important to note that many of these people have been paid for their promotional publicity or are continued to be compensated for their roles).13

It is also very important to keep in mind that some of the ingredients have not been proven to be safe, and conclusive research is severely lacking. Accordingly, some of the most important ingredients have not been proven to be effective in the general population.

Based on the online reviews, each person that has tried the product either loves it or hates it. When product effectiveness is achieved, it is most noticeable in those who lack choline-rich diets as opposed to those who already have diets that are choline-enhanced.5 Likewise, those who have general healthy lifestyles will most likely not receive as many brain-enhancing effects. In addition, the high cost of the product is a major deterrent for many people.

3 stars for Alpha Brain ... (actually 3.5 stars)

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Disclaimers and Information:

All products and brands found on this website are trademark of their respective companies. The information is intended for educational purposes only and and does not constitute professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis, and may not be used as such. The information on this site is not reviewed by a medical professional, and is only to be used at your own risk. Always consult your doctor before using any supplements. Earnings Disclaimer: The writer of this article does have financial incentive for writing reviews (i.e. via any ads on this page and across the writer's account).

Sources:

1https://www.onnit.com/alphabrain/#ingredients-use

2 http://www.amazon.com/Flagship-Complete-Nootropic-Supplement-Onnit/product-reviews/B007N9217Q/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_5?sortBy=helpful&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=five_star&pageNumber=1

3 https://www.onnit.com/alphabrain/#research

4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18683852

5https://www.purenootropics.net/alpha-brain-review-a-full-analysis/

6 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

7 https://www.onnit.com/files/Onnit_AlphaBrain_Clinical.pdf

8 https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/alpha-brain-whats-wrong-with-the-supplement-industry/

9 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8030842

10 http://nootriment.com/alpha-brain-nootropic/

11 https://www.mercola.com/article/soy/avoid_soy.htm

12 http://nootriment.com/alpha-brain-ingredients

13 https://www.onnit.com/pro-team/brian-cushing/#honor-roll-disclaimer

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RoadMonkey profile image

RoadMonkey 19 months ago

Very interesting review and very well written and researched.

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