Onnit Alpha Brain is one of the best-selling nootropic stacks in the world. It was one of the first nootropic supplements to really target the mass market, with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Joe Rogan (although he knows nothing about the stack) and broad advertising campaigns. It’s therefore little wonder that you’ll find an Alpha Brain pros and cons review on every nootropics website on the internet!
Onnit claim that Alpha Brain is a complete nootropic, capable of enhancing every aspect of brain health and cognitive performance.
One claim that we frequently see being made, both by Onnit and by nootropic supplement reviewers, is that Alpha Brain is effective for improving mood and reducing anxiety.
Some people even go as far as to say that Alpha Brain helps with depression!
Can Alpha Brain really help with symptoms of depression?
To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at Alpha Brain’s ingredients and how it might help with low mood.
Alpha Brain’s Formula: Do any ingredients help with mood?
Here is the Onnit Alpha Brain formula as it is shown on the bottle and the Onnit website:
Those of you who have read our detailed review of Alpha Brain will know that we are not at all impressed with this formula.
We never recommend using nootropic stacks which use proprietary blends, unproven ingredients, or obvious fillers, and Alpha Brain has all of these major red flags!
But what about mood and depressive symptoms?
Alpha Brain might not be the potent brain supplement it makes itself out to be, but can it help with depression?
The answer is, not likely.
Can Alpha Brain help with depression?
While many of the ingredients in Alpha Brain are often said to relieve anxiety and improve stress resistance, practically none of them have any substantial scientific proof to back these claims up.
Take Oat Straw for example.
This natural herbal extract is often said to be highly effective for easing tension and lowering anxiety. It is routinely added to herbal teas designed to reduce stress levels and promote restful sleep.
Yet there isn’t a shred of evidence proving that Oat Straw consumption actually helps with stress or anxiety. No independent clinical trials have convincingly linked oayt straw consumption and reduced levels of anxiety, and there is no known underlying mechanism that might explain such an effect.
The only ingredient in Alpha Brain known to have any anxiolytic properties is L-Theanine. Consuming L-Theanine is known to ease both mental and physical tension, as well as combatting the anxiety associated with caffeine abuse.
But due to Alpha Brain’s use of proprietary blends, we have no idea how much L-Theanine we get in each serving of Alpha Brain! Given that the blend contains some filler ingredients (Oat Straw), it is unlikely that there’s enough Theanine in Alpha Brain to have much of an effect on your stress levels.
This is all to ignore the fact that anxiety and depression are not the same thing!
While people with depression often have anxiety, not all depressive patients suffer from anxiety, and suppressing the symptoms of anxiety will do nothing for most symptoms of depression.
So no, Alpha Brain does not help with depression. Taking Alpha Brain every day will have no impact on your depression; if you have depressive symptoms, seek medical attention, not nootropics!
This is a real shame. There are lots of nootropics which can actually help with depression. The best nootropics for depression, mood and anxiety are those that actually help promote the neurotransmitters most associated with positive mood, motivation and joy.
Taking Alpha Brain with anti-depressants
Is it OK to take Alpha Brain with anti-depressants?
Generally speaking, it is not advisable to take any natural nootropics with prescription drugs of any kind, including anti-depressants. While mixing nootropics and anti-depressants may seem safe, there are specific combinations that can result in serious adverse consequences.
Many natural nootropics, including Tyrosine and Alpha-GPC, work by influencing neurotransmitter systems in the brain. If you’re taking antidepressants which also work by influencing neurotransmitters, stacking them with nootropics can cause unintended side effects.
If you are currently taking antidepressants, do not take Alpha Brain at the same time. The L-Tyrosine may negatively interact with your medication, rendering it ineffective or causing severe side effects such as low mood.
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.