Onnit Alpha Brain Review Summary
Alpha Brain is an underwhelming nootropic. Compared to other brain supplements on the market today, it just doesn’t stack up. It is weak, over-priced and significantly more likely to cause side effects than the best nootropics on the market right now. The use of proprietary blends always means you’re being ripped off. There are obvious filler ingredients in here, and the dosages of the active ingredients are low. Don’t waste your money on hype, marketing and brand names. Better nootropics are out there for a lot less money than Alpha Brain!
Alpha Brain Review: What does this nootropic do?
Alpha Brain is easily one of the top selling natural nootropics in the world today. Made by Onnit and initially released back in 2011, Alpha Brain has remained one of the most popular brain supplements on the market, with a loyal user base and some celebrity fans (Joe Rogan among them).
According to Onnit, Alpha Brain can:
- Enhance focus and boost concentration
- Improve memory function
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Support brain health
- Speed up reactions times
- Promote Alpha brain waves for ‘flow state’ focus
The supplement is billed as a once-daily, all-in-one nootropic. One thing that distinguishes it from other once-daily nootropic stacks is that it claims to get you into a ‘flow state’; the feeling of being ‘in the zone’ and totally dialled in to the task at hand.
It claims to do this by stimulating alpha brain waves – those that we produce when in a calm, steady state of pure focus and concentration. This is exactly what most natural nootropics users want from their brain supplements.
But does Alpha Brain actually do all of these things? Does it really improve focus, memory and learning? Can Alpha Brain really put you into a ‘flow state’ and promote alpha brain waves?
To get to the bottom of this, and to find out if Alpha Brain really works, we need to take a deep dive into Onnit Alpha Brain. In this review, we look at the ingredients in Alpha Brain, how it is supposed to work, what it actually does, value for money, and side effects. We’ll compare Alpha Brain to other nootropic supplements on sale today to see if it is really worth your time.
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- Alpha Brain vs Adderall
- Alpha Brain vs Modafinil
- Alpha Brain Black Label review
- Alpha Brain Instant review
- Does Alpha Brain help with depression?
- Can you take Alpha Brain with coffee?
How does Onnit Alpha Brain work?
So how does Alpha Brain work exactly?
According to Onnit, Alpha Brain has several mechanisms of action. This is typical of natural nootropic stacks today. The best brain supplements will use a range of ingredients with different effects to deliver total brain enhancement.
First off, this brain supplement claims to promote the neurotransmitters involved in executive cognitive functions such as learning, speech and memory.
Secondly, it promises to promote the production of alpha brain waves. These are the low frequency brain waves produced when you are in an intense state of hyper-focus. The brain produces alpha waves when you are in a “flow state”.
Finally, Onnit’s flagship nootropic claims to protect brain cells from damage and to broadly promote overall brain health.
Onnit clearly see Alpha Brain as a complete brain supplement designed to enhance every aspect of cognitive function on a daily basis. The question is, does it really work? To answer that, we need to take a closer look at the ingredients.
Onnit Alpha Brain Review: My Experience
All Onnit Alpha Brain reviews need to include a section on the author’s personal experience with the nootropic. To see if Alpha Brain works, our team took it for 30 days to see if it really worked as promised. Vagarights’ Editor, Brian Johnson, took the stack for 30 days as well to see how it compared to other smart drugs.
Below is our Editor Brian Johnson’s personal review after taking Alpha Brain for 30 days:
Right off the bat I need to say that I never experienced major increases in cognitive processing speed while taking Alpha Brain. No member of the review team did.
Many evaluations of Alpha Brain talk about a sharp increase in focus and mental performance after taking the very first dose. I have no idea how anyone can really claim to experience this while on Alpha Brain. On my first morning taking it, I felt the same as always. No discernible difference in cognitive performance, energy levels, or stress levels whatsoever.
On the first day, I took one capsule with a cup of coffee about 30 minutes before breakfast, and my morning proceeded exactly like morning when I’m not taking any nootropics!
I continued taking Alpha Brain in this same way for the next 14 days. While I never got the major lift in focus mentioned by other reviewers, I did start to feel slightly sharper and more focused in the latter parts of the day when I normally find my concentration weakens and I get minor brain fog. Alpha Brain was clearly helping me stay focused and mentally energized throughout the afternoon, but the effect was very subtle.
After about 3 weeks of taking it, I did notice improvements in executive function and verbal memory. My cognitive processing speed was very slightly accelerated, no doubt down to the daily Huperzia serrata and Alpha-GPC ramping up neural communication.
Between day 21 and day 30, nothing really changed. I was noticing that I was able to remain in a state of intense focus for longer in the afternoon, which is great. I did find myself entering a flow state at times while writing, editing or reading scientific articles. I also experienced no side effects whatsoever throughout the full 30 days I was taking Alpha Brain.
But was Alpha Brain delivering everything I expect from a potent nootropic stack?
Not even close.
This nootropic did not drastically increase focus and motivation like Modafinil. It didn’t help me complete complex tasks despite being fatigued like Vyvamind helps me do. It didn’t noticeably help my short-term memory like NooCube, and it certainly doesn’t provide the same brain health support. Compared to all the other nootropics I have tried over the years, I honestly found this one to be extremely underwhelming.
If you are looking for a daily nootropic stack to help you focus on tasks, support sustained attention, and enhance memory function, there are better nootropic supplements out there than Alpha Brain.
I recommend using a comprehensive nootropic stack which increases neurotransmitter levels, boosts cerebral blood flow and promotes brain cell development while also reducing social anxiety levels and raising mental energy.
How long does Alpha Brain last?
For me, Alpha Brain lasted for about 6 hours each day. I took it at the same time each day, and by about 7pm the effects had completely worn off. The slight increase in focus and mental energy I experienced peaked about 2-3 hours after taking Alpha Brain, and by 5 hours in had decline a lot. Each morning I felt 100% back to baseline cognitive functioning. I cannot see Alpha Brain having any long-lasting benefits.
How long does Alpha Brain take to work?
For me, Alpha Brain kicked in within about an hour of taking my two capsules. I felt slightly more alert and able to focus on my work. The effects of Alpha Brain really peaked after 2-3 hours before steadily dissipating thereafter.
Alpha Brain Reviews, Criticisms & Complaints: What are people saying?
Most of you will have heard of Alpha Brain from Joe Rogan.
But for everyone else, you no doubt heard about it from the dozens, if not hundreds of reviews posted online. A significant proportion of Alpha Brain testimonials and critiques are positive; these are typically written by nootropics bloggers. But when we find an appraisal of the nootropic posted on social media by a real user, it is often negative.This isn’t to say that there’s an Alpha Brain scandal going on; there isn’t. But it does look suspicious.
This begs the question: are the Alpha Brain testimonials we see posted on nootropics sites really trustworthy? After all, if regular users are saying it doesn’t work, but celebrities and bloggers are recommending you use it, something just isn’t quite right!
Does Joe Rogan really use Alpha Brain?
One of the main ways that people hear about Alpha Brain in the first place is through Joe Rogan. The world’s most successful podcast host often talks about Onnit products on his show, and he has mentioned Alpha Brain a few times over the years. Both on and off his podcast, Joe Rogan has claimed that he in fact does use the nootropic every single day. He is featured on the Onnit website alongside a quote saying that he finds the nootropic indispensible to his work, and that it allows him to “form better sentences” and that it gets his brain operating at a “higher RPM”.
However, it is worth questioning whether Joe Rogan really uses it every day, or at all. After all, he does have a stake in Onnit, so he has a major financial incentive to get people to believe he takes it.
In the episode of the Joe Rogan podcast with sleep expert Matthew Walker, the guest is talking about phosphatidylcholine when Rogan claims “they put that in Alpha Brain”.
This is absolutely wrong.
Alpha Brain contains some phosphatidylserine, but no phosphatidylcholine. This is either proof that Joe Rogan doesn’t really know that much about what goes into Alpha Brain or why, or that it isn’t quite as potent a memory and verbal fluidity enhancer as he claims. Either way, we’re very skeptical about the claims that Joe Rogan actually takes this nootropic every day.
The Alpha Brain ingredients are listed on the label as part of larger blends. We therefore don’t have exact doses for many of the ingredients in Alpha Brain.
Here is the ingredients list:
As you can see, the ingredients are broken up into 5 distinct segments: Vitamin B6, Cat’s Clawm Extract (ac-11), and then the proprietary blends called the Onnit Flow Blend, Onnit Focus Blend, and Onnit Fuel Blend. We can infer the dosage of L-alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC) to be 100mg because we know the dosages of Bacopa monnieri (100mg) and Huperzia Serrata (40mg). But the dosages of all the other ingredients in the blends is a mystery.
Here is a quick overview of each ingredient and what they do:
- L Theanine: Amino acid which clears brain fog and promotes focus while reducing the effects of caffeine.
- L-Tyrosine: Another amino acid and a precursor to dopamine. Taking Tyrosine raises dopamine which increases motivation, clarity and focus.
- Phosphatidylserine: Phospholipid and a vital part of your brain cell membranes. Supplementing with this ingredient keeps you mentally sharp as you age.
- Oat Straw Extract: This reduces stress and anxiety and may increase cerebral blood flow.
- Cat’s Claw Extract (AC-11): Alpha Brain contains 350 mg of this ingredient, a proprietary extract of the Uncaria Tomentosa, known to promote DNA repair. There is some evidence that Cat’s Claw Extract may be able to clear beta-amyloid plaques which are linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Alpha GPC: This is a powerful cholinergic that increases acetylcholine synthesis, thereby improving executive cognitive function. Studies show this ingredient improves focus, learning and processing speeds.
- Huperzia Serrata: This ingredient inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine. A rapid build-up of acetylcholine leaves you feeling ultra-focused and locked in on tasks.
- Bacopa Monnieri: Bacopa Monnieri is a great natural memory enhancer clinically proven to improve retention and recall in just 12 weeks.
- L-Leucine: Leucine is an amino acid with no known nootropic properties. We have no idea why Onnit would use it in Alpha Brain other than to bulk out the formula.
- Pterostilbene: This ingredient is a powerful antioxidant which protects brain cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage.
- Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine HCL): Without B6 you cannot synthesize dopamine. It is also needed for proper brain cell energy metabolism.
Formula Critique: Does it really work?
Our Editor tried Alpha Brain for himself and didn’t get a lot out of it. But does the formula look like it’ll work for you?
On the whole, Alpha Brain has an OK formula with some clinically proven nootropics. However, it also contains some useless ingredients, and in some cases the best ingredients are dosed too low to really have any effect.
The Alpha-GPC and Huperzine A will give most people a noticeable lift in focus and mental processing speed, especially after a week of daily use. But the Bacopa monnieri and Tyrosine are both dosed too low to really deliver their full potential benefits. You need to take at least 200mg of Bacopa monnieri for 8-12 weeks to see real improvements in memory function, and Tyrosine could be dosed as low as 10mg for all we know!
So whether or not Alpha Brain is going to work for you depends on what you want to get out of a nootropic.
Is Alpha Brain Clinically Proven?
If you Google “Onnit Alpha Brain review” you will find a peer-reviewed, clinical study by Soloman et. al. published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology. In this study, researchers investigated the effectiveness of Alpha Brain compared to a placebo as measured by performance in a range of tests, including neuropsychological tests from the WMS-IV, DKEFS, CVLT-II, Trails A & B and PSAT, and some measures of sleep quality.
According to the summary, the “use of Alpha BRAIN® for 6 weeks significantly improved recent verbal memory when compared with controls, in a group of healthy adults”.
The researchers were also careful to state that, “while the outcome of the study is encouraging, this is the first randomized controlled trial of Alpha BRAIN®, and the results merit further study.”
One thing to note here is that the study found “both groups demonstrated overall improvement on neuropsychological tests between time points”, although they do go on to say that “significant interaction effects” were noted with the Alpha Brain group. We cannot find exactly how much better, and “significant” is very much open to interpretation.
Remember that this study was funded by Onnit. We are not saying that results have been falsified in any way. But it is unarguably true that paying for a study to be carried out can make researchers – even subconsciously – seek out a positive conclusion.
Side Effects & Safety Risks
Onnit Alpha Brain is one of the safest nootropic supplements on the market. Like most natural nootropic stacks, it is composed of 100% natural ingredients, such as herbal extracts, amino acids, and naturally occurring neurochemicals.
However, it does contain some ingredients that can cause side effects in rare cases. It is also possible to overdose on Alpha Brain, so take it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Here are the most common adverse effects and long-term side effects of Alpha Brain to look out for:
- Stomach ache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Headaches and migraines
- Lucid dreams/Nightmares
- Blurred vision
You can learn more about the potential negative secondary effects of Alpha Brain from our guide: Alpha Brain negative side effects analysis.
Dosage & How To Take
The recommended daily dosage of Alpha Brain capsules is two capsules or one sachet, respectively.
People taking Alpha Brain Instant are recommended to take one sachet.
We recommend taking Alpha Brain first thing in the morning before breakfast, ideally with black coffee or tea. This will help to potentiate the nootropic somewhat, which is important since it doesn’t really have any noticeable effects.
Cost & Where To Buy: Is Alpha Brain worth buying?
A single bottle of Alpha Brain costs $79.85. This is for a 90 capsule bottle, which provides 45 servings of 2 capsules each. If you’re using it every day (as Onnit say you should), then this works out at $1.77 per day.
To say this is a premium-priced nootropic stack is something of an understatement!
$1.77 per day is extremely expensive for this nootropic stack considering what you get for your money. We have no idea how many of the ingredients are dosed, and more than one ingredient lacks any kind of clinical proof. Compared to the top brain supplements on sale today which use many of the same nootropic ingredients, Alpha Brain looks like a major rip-off!
Is there a cheaper version of Alpha Brain?
The best nootropics today are significantly better than Alpha Brain, and most of them are cheaper too. You could make a cheaper version of Alpha Brian yourself by buying some Tyrosine, Alpha-GPC and Theanine. A cheaper pre-made alternative is NooCube, which is both more effective and better value for money.
Is Alpha Brain available in the UK?
Yes Alpha Brain is available in the UK. It used to contain vinpocetine, an ingredient that is illegal in the UK and EU. But it seems that Onnit has changed the Alpha Brain formula, removing vinpocetine.
Can you buy Alpha Brain on Amazon?
Alpha Brain is available on Amazon, although we strongly recommend buying directly from the manufacturer when it comes to nootropics. Amazon is full of fake products and damaged goods.
Alpha Brain FAQs
Does Alpha Brain help with anxiety?
Alpha Brain claims to help with stress and anxiety. According to Onnit, Alpha Brain contains multiple ingredients which reduce anxiety and the symptoms of stress. However, the only ingredient in the nootropic stack which has been shown to help with anxiety is L-Theanine, but we have no idea how much Theanine is in each serving. Tyrosine is also often said to reduce anxiety. However, it has only been shown to reduce the cognitive impairment that comes with acute stress.
Does Alpha Brain help with depression?
Onnit claim that Alpha Brain can boost alpha brain waves. Some of the positive effects of boosting alpha waves include reducing anxiety, and decreasing depression. However, none of the ingredients in Alpha Brain can actually help with depression. The ingredients in the stack which Onnit claim can help with depression have never been conclusively shown in independent clinical trials to reduce the symptoms of depression. Instead of relying on these unproven herbal extracts, use nootropics proven to fight depression and improve mood.
Should I take Alpha Brain every day?
No. There is little benefit in taking Onnit Alpha Brain every day for long periods of time. This isn’t the kind of nootropic where the benefits increase the longer you take it. The dosages of the main active ingredients are too low for that! If there was more Bacopa monnieri, Tyrosine and Alpha-GPC, then maybe we would say yes. But the use of Huperzine A means you cannot safely take Alpha Brain ever day for long periods anyway.
Is Alpha Brain legit?
While we are unimpressed with Alpha Brain as a nootropic, we do have to say that it is a legit supplement. In other words, Onnit Alpha Brain is not a scam. The company offers a free trial for new users along with a 15 day money back guarantee which we believe they do honor. There is limited science backing many ingredients, but we don’t think this makes it a scam product or in some way not “legit”. It is simply over-priced and under-powered for a nootropic stack today.
Alpha Brain Review Conclusion: Does Alpha Brain work?
Does Onnit Alpha Brain work?
The answer is yes, Alpha Brain will work to a degree, but not as well as other nootropics we’ve reviewed.
We don’t understand why Onnit’s main nootropic supplement is still such a popular nootropic supplement. After doing a thorough review of Alpha Brain, we can say with certainty that this is an extremely over-priced, under-performing brain supplement.
The main issue is that the formula uses proprietary blends. All this means is that Onnit have chosen not to tel you how certain ingredients are dosed. Given that some ingredients have minimum active doses larger than he total blend size, we think the reason for this is to hide the fact that the best ingredients are low dosed.
Alpha Brain also uses ingredients that have no nootropic benefits. Cat’s claw, Oat straw, and Leucine do nothing beneficial for your cognitive function or long-term brain health.
If your goal is to enhance focus, concentration, learning, memory and mood, don’t waste your money on Alpha Brain. Far better nootropics are available for significantly less money than Alpha Brain!
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.