Alpha BRAIN Review

Find out if Onnit’s nootropic safely improves your brain function or if it might just give you some strange dreams.

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Last updated: Oct 26th, 2022
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In this Review

Our Findings
Why you should trust us
How we evaluated Alpha BRAIN
What is Alpha BRAIN?
How does Alpha BRAIN work?
Onnit Flow Blend, 650mg
Onnit Focus Blend, 240mg
Onnit Fuel Blend, 60mg
Other ingredients
Studies on Alpha BRAIN
How much does Alpha BRAIN cost?
Privacy
Getting started with Alpha BRAIN
Alternatives to Alpha BRAIN
Frequently asked questions about Alpha BRAIN
Alpha Brain Review

Our Findings

Editor's Rating3.75

Alpha BRAIN seems to have a slight positive effect on verbal memory with a clinically relevant ingredient list and two (self-funded) scientific studies. However, proprietary blends obscure how much of each ingredient it uses and any risk of side effects.

Pros

  • Formula includes promising ingredients with some scientific backing

  • Clinical studies suggest it can improve verbal memory

  • Made in cGMP-compliant facilities

  • Free 15-day trial with subscription order

  • 15% discount for military, first responders, and medical providers

  • 10% off your first order when you sign up for Onnit’s email newsletter

Cons

  • Lack of transparency about ingredient doses

  • Some questionable safety recommendations

  • Somewhat expensive

  • You have to spend $150 to get free shipping

  • Different forms have completely different ingredient lists and doses

We’ve all been there: tired, sluggish, drinking extra cups of coffee, and still feeling like you can’t get past a wall of fog. Difficulty with concentration, focus, and other cognitive tasks is growing more common, no matter the cause. In response to these struggles, substances designed to improve brain function called nootropics are quickly gaining popularity.

Alpha BRAIN is a nootropic supplement created by Onnit, a supplement manufacturer based out of Austin, Texas. The supplement gained popularity when UFC commentator, and ex-Fear Factor host Joe Rogan — who also owns shares in Onnit — advertised it on his podcast. Alpha BRAIN was designed to help you sharpen your mind, improve your memory, hone your word recall, and stay focused without using caffeine or other stimulants.

Sounds like a no-brainer to use, right? Nootropics are still highly controversial in the scientific community, so that answer might not be as simple as it seems. We looked into Alpha BRAIN to help you decide if it could be as good for you as it sounds.

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Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service or product we review. Our content provides you, our readers, with an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality and the latest medical evidence and health standards. We ask ourselves two simple questions: would we buy from the service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job? Would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

How we evaluated Alpha BRAIN

To help you determine whether or not Alpha BRAIN is right for you, we focused on four primary criteria: cost, efficacy (how well it works), safety, and convenience.

Ultimately, we think that Alpha BRAIN is reasonably priced for a nootropic, but it has some issues with its formulation and how it presents itself to consumers that give us pause. Specifically, many of its ingredients are listed as part of proprietary blends that obscure how much (or, really, how little) is in each serving, and some potential side effects don’t come up. Even though Onnit has sponsored clinical studies on Alpha BRAIN, there’s not a clear consensus among researchers if it actually works.

However, some consumers report experiencing better verbal memory while taking Alpha BRAIN (consistent with its ingredient list). It’s relatively convenient to take, but it peaks quickly and wears off fast, and you shouldn’t take it more than once in 24 hours to minimize the risk of side effects. Don’t expect this to be life-changing, but if you need a little boost (particularly in verbal memory), Alpha BRAIN might be able to help.

Read on to find out more about each criterion we analyzed.

Cost

8 / 10

Nootropics are expensive no matter who makes them. When dealing with an organ as critical yet sensitive as the brain, you need to put a lot of thought and care into creating a supplement that’ll work with it. Alpha BRAIN is no exception here, as a 45-day supply costs about $80.

Alpha BRAIN is relatively cheap as far as nootropics go. (Many nootropics can cost more than your monthly Internet bill.) But before you make a decision, check the ingredients list: some more expensive nootropics have more than twice the amount of ingredients with solid clinical backing, giving you more bang for your buck.

Here’s a quick cost comparison between Alpha BRAIN and five other great nootropics. These costs represent the smallest bottle sizes each company sells (typically a 15- or 30-day supply) and have been rounded to the nearest dollar.

Efficacy

7 / 10

It’s difficult to judge Alpha BRAIN’s efficacy because they obscure their ingredients in a proprietary blend; we don’t know how much of each ingredient is in the formula. This obfuscation means that we can’t determine if things that are clinically proven to work (like L-tyrosine) are present in high enough doses to make a difference. It does contain several research-backed ingredients, implying that there’s merit to Onnit’s grand claims.

A 2016 research study showed it improved verbal memory recall in young adults. Another study showed it made no difference in soldiers’ cognitive performance. Neither study looked at long-term use or its effects on older adults or people struggling with cognition. In customer reviews, users are mixed as to whether or not they experienced any differences in their thinking; about one in three users report no effect.

Safety

6.5 / 10

Alpha BRAIN contains several acetylcholine-promoting ingredients. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that influences our memory, attention, and focus, so it makes sense that it’s part of this nootropic. However, acetylcholine can be dangerous when there’s too much of it or not enough of the enzyme that turns it off. There’s no indication on the website that this can be dangerous. And while it’s unlikely that any serious side effects would occur given what we know about its ingredients, the fact that it’s an unaddressed possibility is concerning. Alpha BRAIN has been the subject of two clinical studies, neither of which looked at the safety of long-term regular use.

Many of Alpha BRAIN’s ingredients are listed as part of proprietary blends. That’s a sneaky move supplement manufacturers use when they need to list all ingredients but don’t want to tell you exactly how much of each goes into a product; listing ingredients as part of a blend lets them list how much in total but not individually.

For example, the Onnit Flow Blend contains 650mg of L-tyrosine, L-theanine, oat straw extract, and phosphatidylserine. Oat straw extract has no known benefits to our health, but the other three ingredients do. We don’t know how much of the blend is oat straw extract, so it could — dramatically, and unlikely — be as much as 647mg oat straw extract and 1mg of other ingredients. Not every ingredient in Alpha BRAIN is part of a blend, so we know a little about the formula, but there’s still so much obscured that it’s challenging to determine what’s going on.

Onnit tests ingredients and the final blend in-house for quality, purity, potency, and contamination but doesn’t share any results publicly.

Convenience

8 / 10

Alpha BRAIN comes in easy-to-swallow capsules, and you’ll take two with a meal early in the day when you want to excite your neurons. It takes about an hour or two for the effects to kick in, and it generally peaks around hour three, so you’ll have to do a little mental math if you’re taking Alpha BRAIN for an event or need extra support for a specific time of day. You can purchase it in bottles with 15 or 45 servings, which is relatively small. Considering it takes anywhere from one day to over a week for orders to arrive, you’ll need to stay on top of how much Alpha BRAIN you have to ensure you don’t run out before you’re ready.

Or you could join Onnit’s subscription program (which also grants you a 15% discount), which ships you a new bottle as frequently as once a week. So, while there’s mental math you’ll need to do to get the most out of Alpha BRAIN, you can also still get some results with a little forethought.

If you have questions about Alpha BRAIN, it can be hard to find an answer on Onnit’s website quickly. They have an instant messaging service for their customers, but it’s staffed exclusively by an AI, so don’t expect to get any answers you can’t find in their FAQ. You can contact their customer service by phone or email if you need a specific question answered. Our testers received email responses in 24-48 hours, so you’ll have to pick up the phone if you have any immediate needs. However, once we did get an answer, we found that the customer service representatives were friendly and knowledgeable.

What is Alpha BRAIN?

Alpha BRAIN is the flagship product from Onnit, a supplement brand created by Aubrey Marcus in 2011. It’s a nootropic designed to support your everyday cognitive function and launch you into higher states of consciousness when you need it most. Alpha BRAIN was inspired by celebrity Joe Rogan, who was interested in the potential of nootropics to enhance cognitive function. Rogan, who says he’s taken the supplement regularly since before the product’s launch in 2010, claims Alpha BRAIN improves his word recall, focus, and performance to such an extent that he “doesn’t want to do anything without it.”

Alpha BRAIN is BSCG-certified, meaning it doesn’t contain any ingredients banned by international athletic associations, nor does it have contact with any during the manufacturing process. It’s made in a facility compliant with contemporary Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations set by the FDA. These standards require that a company tests individual ingredients and product batches for:

  • Purity
  • Strength
  • Composition
  • Contamination

However, they conduct all testing in-house at this facility and don’t share certificates of analysis, which delineate testing results. As a supplement, Alpha BRAIN isn’t held to the same FDA requirements as food or prescription medication.

Alpha waves and flow states

Inside these capsules are three proprietary blends of vitamins, herbs, and amino acids designed to improve your cognitive functioning and increase the amount of time you spend in “flow states.” When you feel “in the groove” on a project, run, or piece of art and look up to see hours have flown by without you realizing it, you’ve been in a flow state. These states are often considered the pinnacle of productivity without compromising mental health. Neuroscientists think that flow states might be an internalization of cognitive control — movement from consciously thinking about your intent to do something to unconsciously making those choices for the same reasons.

These flow states occur when the brain is functioning with alpha waves. This state of neurological activity can be seen on an EEG scan and is mostly found in the occipital lobe — the visual processing center in the brain — during quiet rest and deep relaxation. Alpha waves tend to disappear when you exert concentration on a task (replaced instead by beta waves, a higher frequency). Typically, alpha waves are associated with a lack of thinking and consolidation in what is and isn’t “on” in the brain.

We know alpha waves might be associated with visual processing and working memory. Some studies suggest that problems with alpha waves might be related to things like social withdrawal and depression. They’ve been linked to creativity and improved focus, but not consistently. Like most things in the brain, we don’t conclusively know much about alpha waves or flow states compared to other bodily processes.

Dreams

One of the more interesting effects of Alpha BRAIN – which doesn’t always come up in their advertising – is that it sometimes creates intensely vivid, often lucid, dreams. This is because the product primarily influences acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that works with the parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body after a fight-or-flight response. It also orchestrates some release of other neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) that influence mood, hunger, memory, and more. Interestingly, acetylcholine seems to affect the start of REM sleep at night and can influence your dreams. Some researchers think it might be involved in muscle movement during sleep paralysis and dreams (though others think that might be from other neurotransmitters at work). Higher levels of acetylcholine during sleep also mean that you’ll experience REM for longer, which creates longer dreams that you’ll have a higher likelihood of remembering.

Alpha BRAIN contains several products that boost acetylcholine at the start and prevent it from leaving your system quickly, increasing your overall levels of acetylcholine from both ends of the process. Even those who don’t get a lot of everyday effects from Alpha BRAIN often find that their dreams are weirder because the product relies on acetylcholine to impact the body. In the next section, we’ll discuss acetylcholine and what ingredients in Alpha BRAIN influence it.

It’s worth noting that other nootropics and prescription medications to improve cognitive function also cause observable changes in dreaming, so this side effect isn’t specific to Alpha BRAIN. One recent study suggested that not having enough acetylcholine might decrease the frequency and quality of alpha waves, so it’s not a huge jump that Alpha BRAIN’s highly acetylcholinergic formula could improve your “flow states.” However, that likely isn’t the biggest benefit you’ll experience.

How does Alpha BRAIN work?

Alpha BRAIN is a nootropic supplement and what some call a “stack” because it relies on multiple nootropic ingredients to create one cohesive, detailed product. It’s made of three proprietary blends:

  • Onnit Flow Blend (L-tyrosine, L-theanine, oat straw extract, phosphatidylserine): 650mg
  • Onnit Focus Blend (Alpha-GPC, bacopa extract, toothed club moss extract): 240mg
  • Onnit Fuel Blend (L-leucine, pterostilbene): 60mg

It also contains vitamin B6 and cat’s claw extract. You won’t find any caffeine in Alpha BRAIN’s formula, making it a good choice for those particularly sensitive to stimulants.

On the Alpha BRAIN webpage, Onnit specifically walks through each of the individual ingredients, what it’s thought to do, and how they see it helping Alpha BRAIN accomplish its duties. Each blend targets a different mechanism within your brain to help it function at its peak. Onnit Flow Blend is designed for “promoting alpha brain wave production,” Focus Blend for optimal acetylcholine levels, and Fuel Blend for optimal nervous system communication.

Dosing and side effects

Looking deeper into the ingredients reveals a clear problem with the supplement: not all of the ingredients have studies backing up Onnit’s claims Those that do have clinical backing need to be present in large enough amounts to be effective. Since it isn’t clear how much of each ingredient is in Alpha BRAIN and reaching out to the company doesn’t clear up that information, it’s difficult to say whether or not you can find many of the ingredients in levels high enough to make a difference.

The amount of vitamin B6, cat’s claw extract, and huperzine A are all appropriate based on clinical research, but they’re also three of the four ingredients with listed quantities per serving. (Bacopa extract appears to be short by about 200mg per serving.) Customers report mixed effects of Alpha BRAIN: some experience grand effects and others experience none at all.

Onnit recommends taking two capsules daily with a light meal. It’s not uncommon to experience nausea, vomiting, and other GI problems when you first start taking Alpha BRAIN, so be sure to take it with a meal to mitigate any risk of side effects. However, if you experience other effects (such as muscle twitching or weakness, a sudden increase in tear or saliva production, or blurry vision), stop taking Alpha BRAIN and contact your doctor immediately. There is also a very low risk of kidney or liver damage, but if you have a history of kidney or liver disease, reach out to your doctor before trying Alpha BRAIN.

Insomnia may also be a sign that Alpha BRAIN isn’t right for you, but it may also be a sign that you’ve taken it too late in the afternoon. If you take Alpha BRAIN in the morning and can’t sleep at night, you may find better luck with other nootropics.

Alpha BRAIN is not appropriate for pregnant or lactating people and anyone under 18.

Onnit Flow Blend, 650mg

There are three ingredients present in the Onnit Flow Blend: L-tyrosine, L-theanine, and phosphatidylserine.

L-tyrosine

Tyrosine (present in Alpha BRAIN in its bioavailable form, L-tyrosine) is a non-essential amino acid with a big role. It’s one of the precursors necessary for producing the critical neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Not having enough tyrosine won’t ruin a workout, but it might stunt your cognition. Some studies have found that taking a tyrosine supplement helps to promote cognitive flexibility and improve short-term memory during stressful or cognitively demanding situations (which deplete your natural norepinephrine and dopamine stores).

Generally, researchers believe that tyrosine might not improve your everyday life, but it gives your brain the materials to keep you from floundering under pressure. Some people’s genetics mean they benefit more from supplemental tyrosine than others. More research is necessary to determine how it can help you long-term. Studies usually give about 2g of L-tyrosine to participants.

L-theanine

If you’re familiar with the health benefits of green tea, you’ll already be familiar with L-theanine. This amino acid (also found in black tea and some mushrooms) promotes relaxation by lowering stress and anxiety and increasing cognitive capacity. It can also improve mood, and in some studies, it appears to improve working memory and attention in people already at a deficit (particularly older adults and people with ADHD). Most studies look at L-theanine and caffeine together; Alpha BRAIN is stimulant-free and has no caffeine, so these benefits may not appear in the same ways. Generally, participants are given about 2.5mg/kg of L-theanine, meaning a person who weighs 150lbs would take 175mg of L-theanine.

Oat straw extract

Oat straw (made from the stems and leaves of oats) is used in some nootropics for its supposed anti-anxiety features and theoretical ability to improve healthy cognitive functioning by increasing blood flow to the brain. However, no clinical research suggests it does any of these things.

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a fat necessary for healthy cell membranes across our entire body, but it plays a vital role in our brains. It creates the outer coating of a nerve, called the myelin sheath, that helps it send information quickly (demyelinated neurons are the main cause of symptoms in multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome). A vast body of research overwhelmingly suggests that phosphatidylserine supplements move effectively into the brain and can improve many cognitive properties, especially in older adults experiencing cognitive decline. On average, people find success taking anywhere from 100-800mg of phosphatidylserine daily with a sweet spot of around 300mg.

Onnit Focus Blend, 240mg

There are three main ingredients in the Onnit Focus Blend: alpha-GPC, bacopa extract, and toothed club moss extract.

Alpha-GPC

As one of the heavy hitters in nootropics, alpha-GPC is a precursor to acetylcholine, effectively increasing the amount circulating in the brain and nervous system. It’s related to choline and can be used interchangeably with the substance. Currently, medical researchers are studying its potential to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. One study even suggested that long-term alpha-GPC consumption in mice kept aging-related cognitive decline to a minimum.

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is an aquatic plant related to ashwagandha that’s been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It’s well-known for its memory-enhancing properties, and recent studies have started investigating whether or not it could be a viable ingredient in managing neurological disorders. Bacopa appears to influence dopamine cell receptors in rats, but we don’t know if that carries over to humans. In healthy adults, bacopa extract has a neuroprotective effect. It appears that it might improve visual processing speeds and how well the brain learns and consolidates memory for up to 12 weeks. However, these studies generally use about 300mg of intravenous bacopa extract, which is absorbed much faster (and more thoroughly) than orally administered bacopa. Alpha BRAIN has about 100mg of bacopa extract, so you may not find these results apply.

Toothed club moss

Toothed club moss (Huperzia serrata) extract contains one of the most interesting compounds in Alpha BRAIN: huperzine A. Among other things, huperzine A blocks the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Unlike other neurotransmitters, which are reabsorbed into a neuron after a signal has finished sending, acetylcholine has its own enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that sweeps out excess. In that regard, huperzine A is almost equivalent to an SSRI (the most common antidepressant medication) but for acetylcholine. It’s another ingredient currently being studied to determine if it could be a suitable medication for mild Alzheimer’s disease.

Too much acetylcholine can become dangerous very quickly. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are found in both Alzheimer’s medications and common pesticides. Toothed club moss extract contains about 1% huperzine A, so we know that one serving of Alpha BRAIN has 400mcg of huperzine A. This is the same dose commonly used in clinical trials, so it’s (theoretically) safe for daily use. However, it’s critical that you don’t take more than one serving of Alpha BRAIN in a 24-hour window to limit your risk of acetylcholine overload.

Onnit Fuel Blend, 60mg

The Onnit Fuel Blend is the smallest blend by weight and ingredient list: it contains only L-leucine and pterostilbene.

L-leucine

Leucine is an essential amino acid necessary for protein synthesis. It’s one of three essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that give skeletal muscles energy during exercise. Alpha BRAIN claims that L-leucine is included to improve nervous system communication and it can enhance axonal growth and regeneration. A 2021 study found that it also improved recovery in mice who suffered from a traumatic brain injury. Like L-tyrosine, leucine is available in Alpha BRAIN in its bioavailable form, L-leucine.

Pterostilbene

Pterostilbene is similar to resveratrol, a polyphenol you might’ve heard of commonly found in red wine. Scientists think that resveratrol (and pterostilbene by association) works in the body like an antioxidant, protecting against oxidative damage. Pterostilbene is a much more potent form that is easier for the body to absorb, so it has a higher chance of improving health outcomes.

Oxidative stress is one of the biggest problems that affect the brain and central nervous system, considering the brain uses a tremendous amount of oxygen. However, not every brain is equally susceptible to oxidative stress; it’s mainly involved in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease. For those who struggle with neurodegenerative disease, pterostilbene has been proven to have positive outcomes thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Other ingredients

Alpha BRAIN contains two more active ingredients and a handful of others that make up its capsule and provide stabilization.

Vitamin B6, 10mg

All B vitamins are important for nerve and brain health, but vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the most critical in this arena. This essential vitamin helps our brain:

  • Create neurotransmitters, amino acids, and proteins
  • Regulate energy use in the brain
  • Maintain proper brain and immune system development and functioning

B6 deficiencies have been linked to cognitive impairment, seizures, migraine, anxiety, and depression (particularly in women taking oral contraceptives). There are a few theories about why it’s so good for our brains, with the idea that vitamin B6 helps our bodies to break down homocysteine, an amino acid byproduct associated with dementia, heart disease, and stroke in high concentrations.

We don’t make vitamin B6 naturally, so healthy adults need to get about 1.3mg of vitamin B6 daily (but can tolerate up to 200mg without risk of experiencing side effects). It isn’t clear if getting more than the recommended amount of vitamin B6 improves cognition beyond mitigating the effects of a deficiency.

Cat’s claw extract, 350mg

Uncaria tomentosa, also known as cat’s claw, is a woody vine found in and around the Amazon rainforest. South and Central American cultures have used it for centuries to treat ailments like:

  • Stomach problems
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Fevers

While popular conceptions of the herb suggest that it might have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, the research is still mixed.

Still, cat’s claw is a common herbal ingredient in supplements supporting arthritis symptoms, and one study found it improved cognition, learning, and memory in middle-aged rats. Another found it improved the energy levels of terminal cancer patients without affecting their inflammation. There’s still a lot of research to be done to understand how cat’s claw extract works (or doesn’t). Studies have found success with a dose of about 5mg/kg, meaning Alpha BRAIN’s 350mg is an appropriate amount for people who weigh about 155lbs.

Each serving also contains an unknown amount of maltodextrin and rice hull concentrate, listed in the “other ingredients” section. Rice hull concentrate is a relatively effective prebiotic. While maltodextrin is 95% carbohydrate with a high glycemic index generally used for preserving the shelf life of a supplement, it’s also found in sports drinks to give your body a little extra carbohydrate boost. It may serve this purpose in Alpha BRAIN too.

Studies on Alpha BRAIN

While we don’t know for sure if Alpha BRAIN works as advertised for everyone, researchers in a 2016 study found that after six weeks, people aged 18 to 35 who took Alpha BRAIN performed modestly (but significantly) better on neuropsychological tests measuring verbal memory and executive functioning than their peers who didn’t. They could recall words from their short-term working memory faster and longer than before, which is consistent with how Rogan and the Onnit team discuss Alpha BRAIN.

The study attributes this success primarily to huperzine A but notes that most participants were already high-functioning healthy young adults (the average participant age was 23), so we don’t know how this might apply to people who are genuinely struggling with their cognition. It was published twice – in 2015 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and again in Human Psychopharmacology in 2016 with significant improvements. (Perhaps they’d started taking Alpha BRAIN between drafts.)

Another study from 2018 showed that Alpha BRAIN had no noticeable or statistically significant effects on soldiers’ mood, cognitive function, or marksmanship when taking the nootropic at a dose slightly higher than recommended (three capsules per day rather than two). This study was funded by Onnit, though they didn’t work with the research team directly.

Because Onnit at least partially funded both studies, the studies are at higher risk of bias.

How much does Alpha BRAIN cost?

Alpha BRAIN is available in a few different configurations. You can take home a small bottle once, or you can pick up a large bottle, start a new subscription, or order bottles in bulk.

Alpha BRAIN comes in both 30- and 90-count bottles. However, a standard dose is two pills per day, so each bottle only contains a 15- and 45-day supply, respectively.

You can schedule your subscription refills to occur at the following rates:

  • 7 days
  • 15 days
  • 20 days
  • 30 days
  • 45 days
  • 60 days

Your card won’t be charged until each package ships, so you can cancel your subscription at any point without penalty.

Buying in bulk also saves you a few dollars. If you buy two, you’ll save 25% (at $26.22/bottle for a new total of $52.43), and buying three saves you 30% (at $24.47/bottle, for a new total of $73.40). Both bulk options come with a free copy of Joe Rogan’s new seven-page book on his general life philosophy and workout routine called “The Facts of Life with Joe Rogan.” Of course, Onnit doesn’t tell you that you can find the eBook PDF elsewhere on their website for free, so let the savings — not the gifts — help you decide if a bulk order is right for you.

Onnit offers a 15% discount to all military members, first responders, and medical providers. You’ll need to verify your identity at checkout with ID.me to access the reward, but after you confirm once, Onnit will retain that information and apply the discount at checkout every time.

Shipping and returns

Shipping prices vary depending on your location. Onnit uses:

  • FedEx SmartPost Presorted Standard (4-9 business days)
  • USPS Priority Mail (3-8 business days)
  • FedEx Home Delivery (1-3 business days)

Our testers found that the shipping cost for these three services averaged between $7 and $11. Free shipping is available for orders over $150.

Onnit is so sure that you’ll love Alpha BRAIN that they will give you your first bottle with a subscription for almost nothing. You’ll only have to pay shipping and tax on your first bottle of Alpha BRAIN (30-count bottles only). However, they don’t make it easy for you to get this discount, as it’s not available or noted on the Alpha BRAIN webpage itself. Instead, this limited-time discount has its own page. Onnit will automatically enroll you in a subscription for the 30-count bottle at normal subscription prices, which begins 25 days after your first order is placed. If you cancel the subscription before that 25-day marker, they won’t send you (or charge you) again.

You can return containers that are at least half-full within 90 days of purchase for a full refund. However, if you ordered a 30-count jar of Alpha BRAIN for the first time and didn’t love it, your purchase is covered by Onnit’s Keep It money-back guarantee. You can fill out a refund request form to let them know you don’t like the Alpha BRAIN you ordered, and they’ll give you a full refund without you having to return the bottle itself. This guarantee only applies to the first order of a product in the smallest size, and like a standard refund, this needs to happen within 90 days of purchase.

Other Alpha BRAIN products

The Alpha BRAIN we discuss in this article is the staple of its product line. However, Onnit has created three other Alpha BRAIN-based products:

Alpha BRAIN Instant and Focus Shot are good alternatives if you can’t swallow pills, but the flavors add 10 calories. They are slightly cheaper, though (30 servings cost $59.95, compared to the $69.90 for two bottles of Alpha BRAIN). They also contain almost twice as much of the Onnit Flow Blend (1,150mg) and a few milligrams more of the Onnit Focus and Fuel Blends.

While the Black Label edition has 25mg of caffeine (about as much as a cup of green tea), it also has a completely different ingredient list with no proprietary blends and a much lower review rating on Onnit’s website. It contains:

  • Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) extract, 15% L-dopa: 1,000mg
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom: 500mg
  • Citicoline: 250mg
  • Phosphatidylserine: 200mg
  • L-theanine: 100mg
  • Caffeine: 25mg
  • Marigold extract: 24mg
  • Toothed club moss extract, 1% huperzine A: 20mg
  • Microcrystalline cellulose
  • L-leucine
  • Maltodextrin
  • Silica
  • Sucrose

Alpha BRAIN Black Label has more ingredients that don’t do much. It doesn’t list how much L-leucine it contains (instead banishing it to the “other ingredients” section behind microcrystalline cellulose, meaning there’s almost no leucine in the formula), and it contains smaller amounts of the ingredients that we’ve established work effectively. Customers we spoke with agreed they felt more focused while using the original Alpha BRAIN formula than the Black Label update.

Be aware that, though all of these products are labeled as being Alpha BRAIN, there are wildly different ingredients and dosing between different forms.

Privacy

Onnit, the company that creates Alpha BRAIN, follows standard protocol for online marketplace privacy. They record any identifying information they’d need to process and fulfill your order and have minimal tracking as you interact with parts of their website for marketing and internal review purposes. However, they do not sell any of this information to third parties, nor do employees have access to it. All checkout pages use bank-level encryption to keep your information safe.

Getting started with Alpha BRAIN

You can purchase Alpha BRAIN at many major retailers, both in-person and online, but if you want a subscription to save money, you’ll need to buy from the Onnit website. However, if you don’t think you’ll purchase $150 in one go, you can find Alpha BRAIN in person at the following authorized locations:

  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Whole Foods Market
  • HEB
  • Walmart
  • Sprouts
  • Urban Float locations
  • Local health food stores
  • Local gyms

Ordering from Onnit’s website is easy:

  1. Select your pill count, whether or not you’d like a subscription, and quantity.
  2. Add to cart. Your cart will show your individual items and their separate prices, any discounts, and your total overall cost.
  3. Provide a delivery address and pick a shipping speed.
  4. Input your payment information (any major credit card, PayPal, or gift card).
  5. Wait 1-8 days for your package to arrive.

We recommend taking Alpha BRAIN first thing in the morning with breakfast. This makes it easier for your body to absorb the capsules and gives you plenty of time for the energy to set in, and taking it too late in the afternoon can induce insomnia. Generally, Alpha BRAIN takes 1-2 hours for the first effects to appear, and it typically wears off about 3-4 hours later. Don’t take it expecting a full day of enhanced productivity.

Alternatives to Alpha BRAIN

There are dozens of different nootropics out there, and all of them promise fantastic results. However, because we don’t know as much about the complicated organ that pilots us as we do something like our livers or joints, it’s much harder to formulate a supplement that’ll truly help. Some nootropics are focused, meaning they only include ingredients that might help improve one aspect of cognition (such as memory, focus, or creativity). Others, called global nootropics, are less focused. However, global nootropics tend to be less effective because they’re trying to do everything at once.

Alpha BRAIN is generally considered a focused nootropic because it zeroes in on attention, memory, and focus. It also has some generalized features (such as the Onnit Fuel Blend for optimal nerve health), but ultimately, it isn’t trying to care for an aging brain and boost creativity.

Focused nootropics

There are several different focused nootropics on the market, including brands like TruBrain and BrainMD. If you want something that’ll directly compare to Alpha BRAIN, Thesis has a Clarity formula that’s a close match. This nootropic contains:

So while it has a more streamlined set of ingredients, the things it does contain are available in mostly effective amounts. Thesis, our top pick for the best nootropic, also offers a starter kit that allows you to mix and match with their other five formulas (designed to increase motivation, creativity, logic, confidence, and energy). And if you’re sensitive to caffeine, Thesis also sells a decaffeinated blend, so it’s not a deal-breaker if you find that combining a nootropic with your morning cup of coffee is too much. However, a monthly subscription costs $79 (and a one-time purchase costs $119), so it’s significantly more expensive than Alpha BRAIN.

Focus Factor is another excellent option if you can’t swing Alpha BRAIN’s monthly cost. One 60-count (30-serving) bottle of this nootropic costs a mere $14.99 for 640mg of nootropic ingredients. (We recommend this over their extra strength blend, which comes at more than twice the price for less than 200mg more nootropic ingredients.)

This nootropic centers around DMAE, a potent antioxidant and free radical destroying ingredient, but also includes some of the same herbs and extracts in Alpha BRAIN (such as B6 and bacopa monnieri extract). Their liquid Focus & Energy Shots have a much closer ingredient list — L-tyrosine, alpha-GPC, bacopa monnieri extract, and huperzine A, for starters — but cost more at $23.99 for a 12-pack of regular strength drinks.

If you’re focused primarily on recouping aging-related memory loss, Prevagen contains a unique protein derived from bioluminescent jellyfish (apoaequorin) that is supposed to improve your memory and cognition. However, it falls prey to the same problems as Alpha BRAIN — clinical studies funded by Prevagen’s manufacturer don’t suggest as much benefit as its marketing does. There are few reported side effects associated with Prevagen, but people with multiple sclerosis (MS) should steer clear: anecdotal reports of hypotension, depression, and suicidal ideation appear in scientific literature exclusively for MS patients who take Prevagen.

Generalized nootropics

Maybe it’s been a few years since you’ve been in school, and you want to keep a firm grasp on language while also maintaining adequate brain health, or maybe you’re an artist who can’t find the creativity or focus to maintain regular practice. A generalized nootropic may be a more financially viable way to improve multiple aspects of your cognition than Alpha BRAIN (or combining Alpha BRAIN with another nootropic, which would increase your risk of running into side effects). Some generalized nootropics also include pre-workout, which is full of amino acids and cellular fuel designed to help you get through a workout faster. Popular generalized nootropics include Neuriva, Noocube, Qualia Mind, and Mind Lab Pro.

If you’re interested in Alpha BRAIN’s naturally non-caffeinated source of power but aren’t sold on its safety profile, Mind Lab Pro might be a good alternative. Like Alpha BRAIN, Mind Lab Pro boasts serious results from a clinical study; the study is yet to be published, so we can’t say whether or not it’s legitimate (or what they found at all). It contains roughly the same ingredients (though there are more herbs and less vitamin B6), but the things it leaves out are things like oat straw extract, where there’s little-to-no research to back up its inclusion. They use third-party testing to guarantee quality without bias and have very few allergens or inclusions that might exclude you from using it.

Frequently asked questions about Alpha BRAIN