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Alpha Brain Review: How Did I Get Onnit?

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About Alpha Brain

We could all afford to give our brain a little more love. Some of us hit that extra cup of coffee by the two o’clock hour or snag that 5-Hour Energy lodged in some random bag pocket, while others may down a Monster Energy deeming it “healthier” because “Sugar Free” and “L-theanine” are persuasively inscribed on the side in metallic, bold letters.

Whatever our drug of choice is when it comes to that afternoon boost, carrying (or rather, launching!) us home until the day is done, it’s safe to say many of us indulge in ways that rely on harmful chemical stimulants. 

So, enter Onnit Alpha Brain supplement.

Alpha Brain Review
Credit: Grace Morse (2022)

Overview of Alpha Brain

I was first introduced to Onnit Alpha Brain after being referred by a colleague. I had no clue what “Onnit” was. The name (plus the masculine-toned, black branding) made me assume this was a male hormone supplement with “alpha” in title. 

I like to embrace the age-old adage to “not judge a book by its cover” so I delved into the ingredients first, desperate to see if these capsules truly contained some of Mother Nature’s finest natural, yet gentle, stimulants. So, I clicked the “purchase” button and have been implementing these into my daily diet for 3 months now.

Gluten-free, caffeine-free, paleo-friendly, nut free, and keto friendly, their products focusing on gut health, memory, and mood.

On my initial glance, they seemed to be targeting a necessary trifecta for optimum achievement of maximum “flow state” (1,8). Yet, despite all the flash of this popular brand nationwide, let us go over the ingredients and some data, so you may be able to formulate your own educated—and intuitive—opinion on this.

Is this something you’d recommend to your best friend or, perhaps, in a society with no moral consequences, your worst enemy as you watch them spend their money on a less-than-useful product?

Alpha Brain & Onnit Founder

Created in 2011, Onnit was birthed and founded by Aubrey Marcus—a conscious pioneer, provocative film creator, podcaster, avid psychonaut, and one of the most arguably prominent leaders of the “wokeism” movement.

Aubrey is what some would deem an ancient warrior displaced in the wrong era (1, 2). With backing by the rogue and bold podcaster, Joe Rogan, and now over 1 million bottles of Onnit Alpha Brain Memory and Focus being sold nationwide, it has been deemed by Rogan himself to “fire up your brain at a higher RPM level…” (4).

Most recent reviews on their site range from “Sold and better than expected” to “I felt nothing” (8). We humans are variable creatures on our own, but maybe there is reason to this variability in Onnit Supplements.

What’s With The Name “Alpha Brain”?

Let’s breakdown it down: Alpha and Brain.

Our brain has two common types of electrical waves that can be thought of as the mind’s currency: alpha and beta.

“Alpha” refers to the alpha waves that your brain produces during resting “Zen” (flow) state while beta waves are most activate during executive and active functioning—think of it as the Ying and Yang of your brain! (3,6). 

Next, why the “brain” portion of the name? That brilliant squishy organ nestled within your skull is the processing center that allows you to perceive, transact, delegate, perform all mental processes, and execute flowing physical movements to propel you through this planetary existence.

An organ so elaborate, that even the best neuroscientists to this day still are unsure how a single memory is stored exactly. Think about that! The very thing that made you remember what you were searching in this article is the very thing humans cannot yet explain. Practically ethereal, eh? I agree.

So now, when you hear Onnit Alpha Brain think: a chilled state of mind in the brain.

But what (purportedly) makes it so? 

What In The What Are Nootropics? 

Let’s talk about something you will come across when researching Alpha Brain and that is, nootropics (pronounced: new-troh-pick).

When I first came across this word, I thought it was perhaps a fengshui terminology or even an ecological term describing a newly emerging tropical land. Not a clue.

Nootropics, also called the “brain booster” molecules, can be derived naturally or in a laboratory (12). They function by dilating your venous and arterial systems in your brain providing a two-part effect by increasing blood flow for improved metabolism and nutrition; essential for sending neurotransmitters and thus, maximizing cognitive couth (12).

Recall the last dreaded time you worked out without warming up properly; failing to get that juicy blood flow to all your muscles—primed and ready. Now recall the time you properly warmed up. Totally different experience, right? Same with these brain-boosting wonders. 

How Do Alpha Brain Supplements Fit In?

A natural nootropic is defined by any molecule that can increase levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine—vital molecules for your brain to run in it’s sympathetic, fight or flight mode (or, for today’s modern era, hitting that work deadline on time or running for the bus) (5,12, 13).

L-tyrosine, an essential ingredient in the Onnit Flow Blend, is the precursor molecule to the catecholamine neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (12, 13). With the right amount of L-tyrosine, a nootropic effect can be reached, aiding in optimum cognition (more on that shortly) (5). 

Let’s Get into The Nitty (“Sciencey”) Gritty

To date, there are only two formal, statistically supported, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies regarding Onnit Alpha Brain (5, 8, 9).

Ironically, to make matters moderately convoluted, the results of each study are complete polarities: one that says Onnit Alpha Brain works and the other, well, not so much.

Solomon et al (2015) published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a study with 63 participants; half treated with placebo and the other test group with the recommended daily dosage of Alpha Brain for the course of 6 weeks.

At the end of the study, increased executive functioning and long term recall were tested and found to have statistically significance (p < 0.05) in the Alpha Brain group versus the placebo group [Note to those who want the grittiest of the grit: a p < 0.05 is the statistical standard that states there is less than a 5% chance of stating there is a statistical significance when there is, indeed not] (7). 

Conversely, a study published in the same journal 3 years later by Barringer et al (2018) conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on a group of 43 Active-Duty Military Soldiers on accuracy of rifle marksmanship, mental fortitude, and hair cortisol level (a measure of long-term stress) over the course of 30 days with the test group receiving Alpha Brain (9).

Results suggested no statistical significance in the three tested measures when compared to the placebo group (9). In fact, this study dosed three-times the suggested Onnit manufacturing recommendations to achieve actual, influential dosages of each ingredient to have effect (that is three-times the amount of the other study!) (9).

This essential piece leads us to our first puzzling glance with Onnit Alpha Brain products. So, get out your notebook, cause we’re about to get into some numbers. 

Alpha Brain Ingredients Review

Onnit Alpha Brain ingredients are listed as a propriety blend.

This means, instead of telling you the exact percentage of an ingredient in each serving, a total sum of weight is given for all ingredients (5).

As a consumer who is looking to spend their hard-earned and rewarded in return with transparency of the product they are purchasing, this could be a viable red flag (we’ll get to that in a moment).

Alpha Brain breaks its ingredients down into 3 of its propriety camps:

Onnit Flow Blend, Onnit Focus Blend, and Onnit Fuel Blend (with a few honorable mentions: Cat’s Claw and pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)):

Onnit Flow Blend

L-tyrosine: A precursor to catecholamines, this mighty molecule has been shown to improve cognition during stressful, high-anxiety events (5, 14). 

L-theanine: An amino acid like L-tyrosine, is the precursor to serotonin—the happy chemical. Studies have suggested that after 12 weeks of consistent use around 50-100mg, it can increase cognition and attention (5, 17).  

Oat Straw extract: Known for its anti-depressant effect, increased analytical reasoning, and decreasing anxiety. However, it is important to note that these effects are found around a daily dosage of 1500 mg; almost three times the amount of this propriety blend itself (5, 18). 

Phosphatidylserine (PS): A phospholipid (a vital molecule that composes the layer of each cell), PS has been shown to improve the recovery time after heavy exercise (weightlifting, cycling) and even lowering cortisol production during stressful exercising; helping moderate (19).

Yet, one study found that a minimum of 800mg of PS was necessary to reduce cortisol by 30% (19). Again, much less than the proprietary blend. 

Cat’s Claw (Unicaria tomentosa) bark (350mg): This one is tricky. Despite being born from the Amazon Basin and used for centuries for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, no study has yet to prove it’s efficacy. That being said, a common daily dosage ranges from 30-300mg (19).

Onnit Focus Blend

L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha GPC) (139.7 mg): Alpha GPC, when administered, increases acetylcholine which improves memory, attention, and concentration (21, 22). Current recommended dosage is 400-1200mg per day; Alpha Brain is a fraction of that low-range amount (23). 

Bacopa Extract (Bacopa monnieri) (100 mg): A gold medal goes to this powerful molecule!

With an ability to increase blood flow to the brain, increase acetylcholine (acting like Alpha GPC in a way), and reducing the harmful proteins that build up to cause dementia, these neuroprotective and anti-oxidant properties have been shown in numerous studies.

Daily dosage is yet to be determined scientifically, but a study suggested a minimum of 300mg per day had notable increases in Acetylcholine (25). 

Toothed Clubmoss Extract (Huperzia serrata): Just like Alpha GPC and Bacopa Extract, this centuries-old Eastern Medicine gem increases acetylcholine at a recommended daily dosage of 0.4mg in a study was recommended, whilst other range as low as 0.2mg (10, 26, 27). 

Onnit Fuel Blend 

L-Leucine: You might think of L-leucine with the gym rats who down a pre-workout shake, but at smaller doses, L-leucine is unique in that it is the only amino acid that can enter the brain and provide essential nutrition to our neurons (28,29).  

Pterostilbene: Similar to the molecule found in red grapes, resveratrol, although it is no nootropic, studies have shown that it reduces inflammation and oxidative toxicity (5, 30). 

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): An essential cofactor in converting Dopa to dopamine and tryptophan to serotonin. Daily suggested dosage for anyone 19-50 years old is 1.3mg—so Onnit has it covered on this front (20). 

Alpha Brain Review — Customer Testimonies

After reviewing some of the most notable ingredients in our Alpha Brain review article, you may have an idea if Alpha Brain is the nootrpic that you wish to integrate into your everyday wellness.

But sometimes, it’s great to hear what others are saying who have already tried Alpha Brain.

Joe Rogan, comedian and podcast host, shared in his Alpha Brain review how

It seems to fire up your brain at a higher RPM level… I feel like it helps me form better sentences.

Another verified customer, Nick, states in his Alpha Brain review

Bought this, tried it for first time and immediately felt the effects. Was much more focused. Only downside is price but I can live with it. Would recommend this!

One Alpha Brain review by a Medical School Student, Matthew, states:

“I’ve been using Alpha Brain throughout my undergrad career, and now continue to use it in Medical School. However, I have never fully appreciated the benefits until recently, due to the rigorous demands. With my brain/mental capacities stretched to the limit every day, Alpha Brain gives me, what feels like, an extra 10% to be able to push through all my studies.

With over 5,900+ Alpha Brain review thus far, it helps to know about those that have gone before you. Fore more verified Alpha Brain reviews, make sure to checkout their website.

Are There Any Red Flags?

You may ignore red flags when it comes to relationships, I’ll let that slide, but listen up on this (please).

When we look at the back of a label, we see “dosage” of a product, but how many of us truly know if that is the amount to cause a notable effect physiologically?

Each chemical we take into our bodies has a time until maximum effect; often varying in each of us as our bodies vary uniquely. Without diving into a pharmacology saga, let’s mention again here the issue of a propriety blend.

There have been some poignant studies that have shown the amount of L-tyrosine, for example, may be required to have three times the amount of what is in the Onnit blend (5). An effective dose of L-tyrosine is 150mg/kg, and for the average 70kg male, that is 10,500 mg of L-tyrosine—the entire Onnit Flow Blend alone is a fraction of that (5, 14, 16).

So, although L-tyrosine is listed in the propriety blend, and even if it did contain 648mg of L-tyrosine, not only is it not enough but nor do you know the exact dosage (5, 14-16). My purpose in purchasing a product is to have an effect—not a suboptimal one. 

Maybe this is too picky for some, but I like to leave no stone unturned.

Early this year, Onnit was purchased by the large corporation, Unilever. Upon looking into Unilever’s policies on animal testing, Unilever remains working towards 2023 to become animal-cruelty free.

So, for those of you in which animal rights are embedded into your DNA, perhaps wait a year (or two) before purchasing (30-33).  

The Alpha Take Away

I prided myself in never relying on caffeine to get me through medical school. Yet, it came at a very draining cost that, that in retrospect, was not necessary.

I delved into the realm of Lion’s Mane, a poignant mushroom neurotropic proven for its aid of growth and rejuvenation of neurons via NGF-1 (neuron growth factor -1) (11). Yet the benefits never matched the glorious mecca of an espresso.

While I have been taking Onnit Alpha Brain Memory & Focus for over 3 months, at times I feel a boost in the afternoon within an hour of ingestion. Equally other times, I would admit the effect is rather absent.

I would be failing my fellow humanity if I did not mention the universal keystone to ultimate brain cognition that we all know and that is: sleep.

We can take all the supplements, source the organic products, do it all “right,” but without sleep, there is the severe absence of regenerative processes. But again, that’s just my opinion. 

This has provided me with new insight on realizing that just because an ingredient is listed, does not necessarily mean it is in an effective amount—a humbling realization for someone who regarded herself as a healthy guru. 

Parting Note

Onnit Brand has propelled a movement of holistic optimization via a nootropic approach.

It has done so by joining communities of athletes, spiritual shamans, soccer moms in Iowa, and everyone in between—a radical feat to accomplish that is worth recognizing on behalf of Aubrey Marcus. Not many brands can expand their clientele in such a way; perhaps attributing to its overall popularity. 

If you’re interested in trying that extra “boost”, Onnit provides a 30% off discount. You can either make a one-time purchase or select to be automatically included enrolled in a subscription to receive Alpha Brain Supplements at a reduced price monthly (you may cancel at any point if you’re not quite feeling it).

You have a brilliant, intuitive mind—let it roam and feed it well.

Embark on a holistic health and well-being exploration with these popular brands:

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Grace Morse

Grace Morse is a passionate advocate of holistic healing. Over the past two decades, in conjunction with her graduate-level medical knowledge, Grace has gathered ample knowledge of integrating omegas to promote neuroplasticity, healing depression via amino acids, replacing melatonin and sleep pills with L-theanine and bringing her gut health back to homeostasis by avoiding high-inflammatory foods. Grace practices hot yoga, meditation, and outdoor activities like paddle boarding. Inspired by Ayurveda, she seeks to deepen her understanding of holistic practices and encourages others to embrace mind-body wellness for overall well-being.
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