18 December, 2021
“Brainol” is a typical supplement advertised as making you think better and harder. It’s got the usual soup of St. John’s Wort, Huperzine A, DMAE, amino acids and B-vitamins. Several of the ingredients interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications, and their effects on qualities like “mental clarity” or “energy” have never been quantified in reputable studies.
The word “Natural” is not regulated by the FDA, meaning that any manufacturer of food or supplements can describe their product as such. This leads to Natural Brain Enhancers, a pill cheaper than Brainol, containing different brain ingredients altogether. The product Onnit Alpha Brain classes up the word natural by calling it “Earth Grown Botanicals,” an incredibly roundabout way of saying “plants.” Neuro Ignite shows a silhouette of gears literally turning inside someone’s head, and Brain Juice is a drinkable liquid which self-describes as “Energy for your brain.”
My far-and-away favorite, though, is Genius Mushrooms, a combination of three dried and powdered fungi species whose ad copy claims that “Humans share more DNA with mushrooms than with plants,” which may be technically true but is not relevant. (Humans also share more DNA with bonobos than plants, but we don’t eat them for brain power.) Despite this, neither cordyceps nor reishi have been proven to be efficacient in improving quantitative measurements of cognitive health in repeatable, controlled medical studies.