Alpha Brain Review – Why I Quit My 30 Day Experiment (Side Effects)

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Onnit Alpha Brain

Alpha Brain – similar to Qualia Mind – claims to increase cognitive performance.

Clinically studied to help healthy individuals support memory, focus, and processing speed.

From Alpha Brain’s Website
A bottle of Alpha Brain with 90 capsules
One bottle of Onnit’s Alpha Brain

My Nootropic Experiments 💊

My plan for this year is to test several nootropics. Nootropics can be various substances including supplements that claim to increase cognitive performance. One nootropic we all know is coffee. To be more precise, the active compound of it: Caffeine.

My goal is to test several different nootropics. Each one for 30 days. I write down my experiences here and share them with you. So you know which ones work best for me. Plus, you get an overview of nootropics and inspired to try and test nootropics for yourself.

Experiment 1: Qualia Mind

In January I did a 30 Day Qualia Mind review and measured quantitative changes with cognitive tests on a website called Quantified Mind. I could measure an increase in my cognitive performance plus I really liked the subjective feeling of being “on Qualia”. My overall presence, focus and ability to get into flow seemed to increase.

Experiment 2: Alpha Brain

So I decided to repeat this experiment, but this time with Onnit’s Alpha Brain. Alpha Brain is currently only available in the US. Onnit does not ship it outside of the US at the moment. So when I went to Austin / Texas in April, I bought a pack there at the Onnit HQ.

Cognitive Baseline Measurement

I did a 7-day baseline test without the nootropic and used Quantified Mind to track my normal “state”. I had been off Qualia Mind for a couple of weeks. So I thought my current cognitive functions were not influenced by Qualia anymore.

I started taking Alpha Brain as proposed on the bottle: Two capsules with a “light meal” (= breakfast for me).

I continued to do the Quantified Mind tests daily. I don’t want to dive too deep into a Qualia Mind vs. Alpha Brain review here. I will do this in a future article where I compare multiple nootropics in one post.

The benefit of Alpha Brain

The (only) benefit I noticed: An increase in my ability to focus on a task.

It’s hard to describe it in words, but I just felt less distracted. It was harder for distractions to come into my mind and I could focus more on the task.

I would not call it a big accelerator for flow states as I experienced with Qualia Mind. I heard that some people claim the benefits of faster word recall and better memory. I didn’t feel those effects.

Side Effects and why I had to stop the experiment

Around one to two hours after taking the first two capsules of Alpha Brain, I felt my heart beating stronger and faster than usual. A nervous feeling came up. That was definitely not normal for me and there seemed to be no external circumstances causing this.

I was not sure whether this was random or a side effect of Alpha Brain. So I continued with the experiment. I definitely felt the above-mentioned increase in focus. And this on day 1(!). Compared to Qualia Mind where I started feeling the benefits only after around 2 weeks.

I took two pills a day for 5 days. I still had a weird feeling in my heart daily. Onnit claims that you can take Alpha Brain every day. The makers of Qualia advise you to only take it 5 days “on” and 2 days “off” to prevent resistance to the compounds building up. I thought I’d be smart to pause Alpha Brain for two days as well.

In the second week on Alpha Brain, I lowered the dose to one pill to see whether this decreased the side effects. It didn’t help: Strong heartbeats and nervousness still came up.

I cannot explain what happened on a biochemical level, but I just felt that my body did not react well to it. I quit this experiment.

Alpha Brain Pills close up
Some of the Alpha Brain capsules seem to have manufacturing issues.
See the broken piece on the left capsule?

Experience of other Alpha Brain consumers

I know that a lot of folks following Aubrey Marcus and Onnit are taking the pills regularly. So it may be a rare side effect. I don’t know.

My girlfriend who tried Alpha Brain on one day told me she felt very awake and energetic, like an ant 🐜. She liked the alertness while driving a long distance by car, but she also felt heart palpitations and her energy crashed in the evening.

I also heard from a friend who felt super bad for the whole day after taking it once.

Do your own nootropic experiments

If you wanna try out nootropics or Alpha Brain for biohacking and improving your cognitive function: Great.

I would recommend you to try out different nootropics and conduct your own experiment. See what nootropics work best for you. Also, ask your doctor and this here is not medical advice 😝.

In the future, I will post an overview of all my tested nootropics here. So far Qualia Mind is my favorite due to the wide and strong benefits. Currently, I am testing Qualia Focus.

Last update: July 15, 2019

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