In this Alpha Brain review, we do a deep dive into this popular nootropic’s ingredients, pros and cons, side effect risks, and price tag to see if it really is the best nootropic on the market today.
What is Alpha Brain?
If you don’t know what Alpha Brain is, then you must be one of the few people on the planet to have never listened to a Joe Rogan podcast. Onnit Alpha Brain is easily one of the most popular brain supplements (or “nootropic stacks” to use the parlance of enthusiasts) on the market today.
Onnit is now a much bigger supplement company than it was when it launched Alpha Brain back in 2011. However, Alpha Brain remains their best selling product, and it is still held up as one of the main nootropics that beginners use to experiment with cognitive enhancement.
So what does Alpha Brain claim to do exactly?
According to Onnit.com, Alpha Brain is a complete brain supplement, delivering:
- Enhanced focus and learning
- Better memory retention and recall
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Help getting into a ‘flow state’
- Promotes lucid dreaming
- Supports optimal brain health
This certainly sounds like a top nootropic stack. Alpha Brain does claim to be one of the bet nootropics in the world, and they point to its broad range of benefits to support that claim.
But does Alpha Brain really work as advertised?
Can it really do all of the things listed above, or is this just another supplement that promises the world and delivers nothing?
Is Alpha Brain the best brain supplement on the market?
In this comprehensive Alpha Brain review, we examine this nootropic’s ingredients, side effects, pros and cons, customer reviews and complaints, and its price tag to see if it really is as good as it claims. To kick things off, let’s look at the ingredients.
Alpha Brain Ingredients
What is in Alpha Brain?
This is a great question, and it is the most important question for an Alpha Brain review to answer, since it is the ingredients in a nootropic that make it work!
The active ingredients in Alpha Brain include:
- Oat straw extract
- Huperzia Serrata
- Cat’s claw
Unfortunately, for many of these ingredients we can’t say for certain how much we get in a serving since Alpha Brain hides its doses behind proprietary blends.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these ingredients.
- L-Theanine: This amino acid helps reduce anxiety, clear brain fog and suppress the side effects of caffeine. We have no idea how much theanine we get in each Alpha Brain pill, so we can’t guarantee we get enough to have an effect.
- L-Tyrosine: Tyrosine is another amino acid with potent nootropic effects. Tyrosine boosts motivation by increasing dopamine production in the brain. But again, we don’t know how much is in Alpha Brain, so we can’t say whether you’ll see benefits.
- Phosphatidylserine: Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid used to make new brain cells and to signal that brain cells are ready to be replaced. Supplementing is necessary as we get older since phosphatidylserine levels naturally decline with time.
- Oat straw extract: Oat straw extract is often used as an anti-anxiety supplement. While there is conflicting evidence about its effects, many people do report feeling less stressed after taking large doses of oat straw.
- Alpha-GPC: Alpha-GPC is an extremely effective cognitive enhancer. It rapidly increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, which leads to faster mental processing, greater focus and improved working memory.
- Huperzia Serrata: Huperzine A also works by increasing acetylcholine, but in the opposite way to Alpha-GPC. Huperzine A blocks the enzyme that destroys acetylcholine, causing a rapid build-up of the neurotransmitter.
- Bacopa monnieri: Bacopa monnieri leads to significantly better memory function after 6-12 weeks of consistent supplementation. The benefits are much more pronounced in older people with mild memory decline. However, there isn’t enough Bacopa monnieri in Alpha Brain to really have a big effect on your memory.
- Pterostilbene: Pterostilbene is a synthetic form of resveratrol, the potent antioxidant found in red grapes. Pterostilbene is much more effective in nootropics than resveratrol as it crosses the blood-brain barrier much easier than resveratrol.
- L-Leucine: Leucine has no nootropic benefits whatsoever. This amino acid is found in large quantities in almost all foods that contain protein. We suspect it is used by Onnit as a filler ingredient in Alpha Brain. There is certainly no benefit to be had from including it here.
- Cat’s claw: Cat’s claw is a plant native to the Brazilian and Peruvian rainforests. While it has long been used in traditional medicine for a variety of purposes, recent research suggests that it may be a powerful nootropic. One study found that Cat’s claw prevents the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain; such plaques have been posited as a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
These ingredients are safe when used in the recommended dosages. Alpha Brain is made with the purest forms of these ingredients to ensure maximum bioavailability. These ingredients work together to provide a drug-like boost in energy, focus and concentration.
However, we need to note that Onnit does not divulge individual serving sizes for all Alpha Brain ingredients. Instead, they lump ingredients together into a proprietary blend and give us the total blend size. Typically, this is done to hide low doses and formula stuffing from customers. This was common practice back in 2011 when Alpha Brain was formulated.
Then there are the issues with the ingredients themselves…
Problems with Alpha Brain’s ingredients
There are several major issues with Alpha Brain’s formula.
First and most serious of all is the use of proprietary blends. The only reason why anyone would hide their formula behind proprietary blends is to hide the fact that you’re being ripped off. Other nootropics use similar ingredients to Alpha Brain and they display all of their ingredient servings proudly on the bottle. So why would Onnit hide theirs?
Another issue is the use of unproven filler ingredients. The main culprit here is Leucine; this Alpha Brain ingredient has no nootropic benefits at all. In fact, it has no benefits as a supplement beyond supplying protein. So it can only have been included to bulk out the pills themselves.
Finally, there’s the doses. Given the sizes of the proprietary blends in Alpha Brain, some of the most effective natural nootropics in this stack cannot possibly be dosed how they should be to produce maximum benefits.
All-in-all, this isn’t the market-leading nootropic formula that Onnit make it out to be. Alpha Brain was formulated in 2011 and it hasn’t changed since. That really shows when you look at the label!
Does Alpha Brain Work? | Our Experience
The best way to review Alpha Brain is to take it. There’s just no two ways about it.
So, to that end, I tried Alpha Brain for 3 weeks to see if it really delivered the kind of cognitive enhancements it promises.
Unfortunately, I found the whole experience quite underwhelming.
My first morning on Alpha Brain was actually much better than I expected. I started by taking a capsule with a cup of coffee, toast and eggs. Within about an hour I felt significantly more focused and mentally energized than normal.
For the rest of the morning, I did feel a little more ‘switched on’ than usual. My memory wasn’t any sharper (as measured by memory tests I conducted at regular intervals). But subjectively I did feel a little snappier mentally.
However, that’s about all I got from Alpha Brain. By late afternoon any effects I may or may not have been experiencing had definitely worn off. This same pattern carried on for all 3 weeks of my experiment with Alpha Brain; a slight boost in focus and mental energy in the morning, nothing at all by the middle of the afternoon.
At no point while taking Alpha Brain did I feel that my cognitive performance was significantly better in any way. Compared to other nootropics I have tried, Alpha Brain was far from impressive.
Alpha Brain Side Effects & Safety
Alpha Brain is one the safest natural nootropics that we have ever used, but there may be some side effects. This is especially true if you intend to use Alpha Brain every day over long periods of time, as side effect risks with this nootropic increase as you use it more frequently.
Alpha Brain should be consulted by a doctor before you take it, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have a suspicion of a medical condition or taking any medication.
What can you expect if you are a healthy adult?
Alpha Brain is not a drug, but a dietary supplement. Alpha Brain’s ingredients are amongst the most effective cognitive enhancers we know. They are safe and non-toxic when taken in the recommended dosages.
But, how they react to them will depend upon a number of factors such as your age, health, pre-existing conditions, genetic factors and whether or not you are currently taking any medications.
Two capsules of Alpha Brain Instant or one sachet mixed with water or another beverage is the recommended daily intake. We don’t have to tell you that increasing your intake of Alpha Brain is not recommended. This can cause unwanted side effects. Side effects can also be caused by taking other supplements like caffeine or energy drinks.
Although side effects of Alpha Brain are uncommon, here are six common Alpha Brain negative side effects to watch out for:
- Stomach cramps
- Brain fog
Most of the side effects of Alpha Brain are associated with the large doses of herbal extracts found inn each pill. Some Alpha Brain side effects are the result of the mixing of Huperzine A and Alpha-GPC for long periods of time, as this can cause excessive accumulations of acetylcholine.
Side effects of Alpha Brain are very rare. You should not have any serious negative side effects if you take the recommended dosage of 2-4 capsules daily. If you do experience Alpha Brain side effects, discontinue use immediately and seek medical attention.
Alpha Brain Alternatives
If Alpha Brain isn’t the most effective supplement for boosting focus and memory, what is?
Below are some Alpha Brain alternatives you should consider. These Alpha Brain alternatives were not designed as such. They simply represent the best alternatives to Onnit Alpha Brain on the market today in terms of price, effects and ingredient quality.
NooCube vs Alpha Brain
NooCube is the go-to Alpha Brain alternative for those that want all of the benefits of Onnit’s nootropic without paying the massively inflated price. While NooCube has previously been seen as “budget Alpha Brain”, recent reformulations have made NooCube one of the single best nootropics in the world and a far superior stack to Alpha Brain.
NooCube uses all of the most effective, proven in ingredients in Alpha Brain plus extra ingredients which support brain health, visual acuity and overall cognitive performance. As the detailed review on Vagarights.com explains, NooCube is now like a kind of Alpha Brain 3.0.
More importantly, NooCube uses better dosages than Alpha Brain and does not hide formula stuffing behind proprietary blends!
Vyvamind vs Alpha Brain
For those looking for something with a little more ‘kick’ than Alpha Brain, the obvious option is Vyvamind. Popularly referred to as “natural Vyvanse”, Vyvamind is a full spectrum focus aid designed to replicate the main benefits of pharmaceutical-grade study drugs without the associated side effects or legal issues.
Available over the counter without a prescription, Vyvamind is the most effective stimulant nootropic and it is perfect for those who need a rapid increase in energy, focus and processing speeds without worrying about jitters, crashes or comedowns.
How Good Is Alpha Brain Really?
So how good is Alpha Brain compared to other nootropics on the market right now?
Unfortunately, the answer is not very good at all!
Alpha Brain was formulated in 2011. At that time, it may well have been one of the best nootropics around. Today, it looks dated, underpowered and extremely overpriced.
The use of proprietary blends coupled with obvious filler ingredients that have no nootropic benefits is enough to put us off recommending this stack completely. Added on top the price of Alpha Brain compared to that of the likes of NooCube or Vyvamind and you see just how far behind its competitors this popular brain supplement has fallen.
If you’re looking for a nootropic which delivers total cognitive enhancement – with support for focus, processing speeds, memory, anxiety and brain health – you are much better off opting for NooCube than Alpha Brain. It contains all of Alpha Brain’s best ingredients (plus a few others), costs half the price and doesn’t use scammy proprietary blends.