Update 7/18/20. NootroBrain is said to be a “groundbreaking nootropic cognitive enhancer that delivers improved focus, productivity, speech & memory.” It's website also states that it contains ingredients that have been “clinically tested and proven to show an increase in focus, memory, mood, and mental capabilities.” Who doesn’t want that! Theoretically, anything that could do this might help older folks with memory problems, people with ADHD, college students, etc. I was intrigued by the ingredients in NootroBrain -especially one ingredient I'd never heard of before – and that's why I wanted to review it. As always, I'll look at the research, with an emphasis on the studies that used humans. Let's see what we can discover.
Who Makes NootroBrain?
The company is called Nootrolabs Inc. The website is NootroBrain.com. The company is located at PO Box 247 Eads, TN 38028-0247. Since this is a PO Box, this is not where the supplement is manufactured. The phone number is 800-308-4924.
The Better Business Bureau gives a rating of “B-” to the company. See the BBB file for more information
Clinical evidence for the supplement working in humans could not be located. Let's now look at the ingredients in NootroBrain and see what we can discover. According to the label, a bottle contains 60 capsules. 1 capsule has the following ingredients:
|Vitamin B6 1.3 mg||65%|
|Aniracetam 500 mg||N/A|
|CDP-Choline 300 mg||N/A|
|Bacopa Monnieri 100 mg||N/A|
% DV = percent daily value. N/A = no daily value established
The label says to take 1 capsule twice a day with meals (so a total of 2 capsules per day). Since there are 60 capsules in a bottle, each bottle should last 1 month.
Let's look at each of these ingredients separately
Its scientific name is Pyridoxine. The product website says that we need vitamin B6 to make serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a role in many things, such as hunger and mood. It also says that we need vitamin B6 to make hemoglobin. Theoretically, a lack of hemoglobin could lead to anemia and one of the main signs of this is feeling tired and this might hinder memory and focus. Additionally, the website says that:
1. “Studies show that there is a link between low levels of vitamin B-6 and cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease. “
2. “Research also shows that people perform better on memory tests when taking higher levels of vitamin B-6.”
Unfortunately, they don’t list what those studies are, which makes analyzing their evidence difficult. That said, I think the big question is are we deficient in it? I don’t most of us are. Vitamin B6 is found in many foods. That said, it's possible that older adults, who don’t eat well, might be deficient.
That said, if NotoBrain really works, I don’t think vitamin B6 contributes anything significant to its effects in most people. Let's look at the research on the proprietary blend of ingredients next.
This ingredient is pronounced “An-a-race-a-tam” and it's a synthetic compound sold in Europe as a prescription drug. Aniracetam was created by Roche pharmaceuticals. It sometimes goes by another trade name “Draganon.”
The supplement website has stated this compound is a “cognitive enhancer.” While there is research on lab animals, what about people? Heres's a summary of the proof located:
In 1984, a study showed the effects of aniracetam on 4 people (yes, just 4 people!). People either received a placebo or 500 mg or 1000 mg of aniracetam. The results appeared to show that only the person who had mild dementia responded to aniracetam. They also noted that 500 mg worked better than 1000 mg. This study only had 4 people. That's a problem because that’s not enough people to draw good conclusions from.
A few years later a study involving, 44 people with Alzheimer's disease were given either 1 gram (1000 mg) of Aniracetam or a placebo for 3 months. While the researchers noted that getting aniracetam appeared to score better on memory tests, they saw similar results in people getting the placebo. That is a big problem. There were no significant differences between the placebo and those getting aniracetam.
Researchers of this study also noted that 4 of the people who received aniracetam showed signs of confusion while only 1 such case was observed in the placebo group. Might this hint that at higher doses, a worsening of some dementia symptoms might occur? I don't know.
In another investigation, healthy people were purposely given a drug (scopolamine, used to treat motion sickness) to make them confused and have memory issues. They were then given 1500 mg of aniracetam. Researchers noted that aniracetam significantly improved the cognitive impairments caused by the drug.
Researchers in China compared the effects of Aniracetam to a Chinese medicine product called Huannao Yicong (which consists of several herbs). They noted that the Chinese product was better than Aniracetam at helping older adults with mild forms of dementia.
Other researchers in China compared Aniracetam to a Chinese medicine called huanglian wendan decoction. While people getting both products appeared to show improvement, the Chinese medicine product was deemed superior to aniracetam.
In one of the better studies, researchers in Greece, conducted a 1 year long investigation involving 276 people with various forms of cognitive disorders. The researchers split the people up into the following groups:
- aniracetam (58 people)
- aniracetam + cholinesterase inhibitors (a drug used to treat senility) (68 people)
- cholinesterase inhibitors alone (68 people)
- placebo group /no treatment (75 people)
After 6 months, those with mild dementia appeared to respond better to aniracetam than those getting the drug.
While encouraging, one problem was that everybody in the study knew who was getting which treatment. The researchers knew and the participants also knew. As such, this is a terrible study in my opinion. If you knew which treatment you were getting, this might alter the results.
Looking at aniracetam research I could locate, a few things occurred to me:
1. Even though aniracetam appears to have been around since the early 1980s, most of the research appears to be on mice, rats and test tubes.
2. Many human studies are small and/or have problems with how they were conducted.
3. If aniracetam works, it might work only for those with mild memory problems (as opposed to full-blown Alzheimer's).
CDP stands for Cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine. Another name, that’s often used in research studies, is citicoline. Basically, this is a compound that helps us make phosphatidylcholine (phos-fa-tidal-kol-ene). This, in turn, helps us make acetylcholine. So, by supplying CDP choline, the idea is that this might supply the body with the building blocks it needs to help keep brain cells healthy and make an important brain chemical.
So can CDP Choline help?
Here's some of the proof. Remember that many of the studies call CDP Choline by its other name ―Citicoline.” Here are just some of the studies I found:
Citicoline and Stroke Studies
Researchers in Japan conducted a study involving 272 stroke patients who were either given a placebo or 1000 mg of intravenous citicoline per day for 2 weeks. By the end of the study, 54% of people improved, compared to only 29% of people getting a placebo. Interstring findings but let's remember, the people had got injections of citicoline. Supplements may not have the same effect.
In another investigation, 259 people who had a stroke and were randomly given either a placebo or 3 different levels of citicoline orally (500 mg,1000 mg or 2000 mg) within 24 hours of having a stroke. Treatment continued for 6 weeks.
Researchers noted that those getting either 500 mg or 2000 mg of citicoline showed significant improvements in their abilities do normal activities. Oddly, those getting 1000 mg showed no improvements. Researchers mentioned that getting 2000 mg showed some dizziness and accidents. They concluded 500 mg was the optimal dose to be used.
Researchers in the US recruited 394 people who had a stroke were ―within 12 hours of having the stroke ― and randomly given either a placebo or 500 mg of citicoline per day for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, that getting citicoline did not improve any better than those getting the placebo.
Other investigators also looking at those who had a stroke gave people 2000 mg of citicholine or a placebo for 6 weeks. Those getting citicoline improved no better than people who got a placebo.
In a review of previous investigations, researchers noted that “Treatment with oral citicoline within the first 24 hours after onset in patients with moderate to severe stroke increases the probability of complete recovery at 3 months.”
Those are impressive words although since this study did not actually test anything – they just looked at previous studies – I dont know how they can make this statement.
Researchers in Spain noted that people, after getting a stroke, appeared to do better on memory tests after citicoline than those receiving more traditional treatments. In this study, both the people and the researchers knew who was getting which treatment. This is a problem with the study.
Investigators in Italy have stated that citicoline can improve mental performance in people with Alzheimer's and dementia caused by decreased brain blood flow.
Russian researchers, conducting a 3-month study, found citicoline (they called it Ceraxon) improved the cognitive test scored in 20 people who had mild cognitive impairment. They further stated that citicoline would be good for “long-term preventive treatment” for those at high risk for Alzheimer's. That's a bold statement, but this study does not prove that citicoline “prevents” Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. As such, these words should be taken with a grain of salt until better studies can be done.
Citicoline And Memory Studies
A 1996 study titled Citicoline improves verbal memory in aging. This took part in 2 phases. It involved 96 people (between 50-85). Phase 1: for 3 months, people were randomly given either a placebo or 1000 mg citicoline. At the end of this part of the study, researchers noted that 1000 mg of citicoline only appeared to help those with poor memory.
Those people (with poor memory) were then enrolled in phase 2 of the study, where they all received either a placebo for 60 days or 2000 mg of citicoline for 60 days. In the end, 2000 mg of citicoline improved verbal memory more than the placebo.
In a study 24 people with memory issues were followed for 4-weeks. People either received 500 or 1000 mg of citicoline per day or 300 mg citicoline combined with a heart disease drug called nimodipine. The results showed that citicoline improved people's recalling words but not in recognizing objects.
In a review paper looking at previous research, the researchers noted that there was evidence that CDP choline helped memory. They found no evidence that it helped attention span.
Citicoline And Alzheimer's
Researchers in Spain did a study involving 30 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. People were given 1000 mg of citicoline for 12 weeks. Two weeks after that, they were given a placebo for 12 weeks. Compared to the placebo, improvements were seen although they were not deemed “significant” from a statistics point of view.
Searching the National Library of Medicine, I found these relevant human studies:
An investigation involving 31 kids with ADHD who were given 225 mg of bacopa per day or a placebo for 6 months. Researchers noted that bacopa helped ADHD more than a placebo.
One problem with this study was that the kids and researchers all knew who was getting which treatment. This type of study design may result in errors in the results and is less reliable than a randomized, double blind placebo study.
In this 2014 review of previous studies titled Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract, the researchers, looking at 9 studies which included 518 people, concluded that while bacopa has potential to improve various aspects of thinking, it needs better and larger trials to draw more definitive conclusions.
I've reviewed this ingredient before. Bacopa is also an ingredient in :
- Focus Factor (memory supplement)
- Protandim (anti-aging supplement)
See those reviews for additional information.
Ingredients With The Most Evidence
Based on the studies I could locate, I believe the following ingredients have the most evidence and likely are responsible for any effects seen from NootroBrain:
The research on CDP choline (and Bacopa) is not perfect. Several studies have problems with how they were conducted, which makes it difficult to draw better conclusions.
Ingredients That Might Not Work
- Vitamin B6
I listed these two ingredients because:
1. I don’t think most people are lacking in vitamin B6. And Nootrobrain doesn’t have much B6.
2. I'm unimpressed with the human aniracetam studies I located.
How Much To Take?
The label of Nootrobrain says to take 2 capsules per day. As a rule, I feel people should begin any new supplement by taking less than the label indicates, for at least a week, to better gauge how they might react.
How Much Does It Cost?
When I checked the product website, 1 bottle of NootroBrain was costing $79. If people bought 2 bottles for $237, they would get a free bottle. If they bought 3 bottles for $395, they would get 2 bottles free. Personally, I think that's a lot of money.
Nootrobrain vs. Procera AVH
Procera AVH is a memory supplement that you may have seen advertised on TV. It contains distinctly different ingredients than Nootrobrain. I'm not aware of any head-to-head comparison studies between NootroBrain and Procera AVH.
See the review of Procera AVH for those who want to know more about it.
The same is true for comparisons between Nootrobrain and Focus Factor (click to see review).
How To Return NooTroBrain
The product website says Nootrobrain comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. This guarantee looks like it lasts for 6 months after buying the product. That's actually a great guarantee! The website lists this return address:
Attn: Returns Department
PO Box 247
Eads, TN 38028
I recommend calling the customer service department at 800-308-4924 before attempting to return anything. The company may have some additional things to do when returning products. For example, Some companies require people to obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA Number) before sending products back. When in doubt, it's always good to call and make sure.
Nootrobrain Side Effects
I am not aware of any
side effects of the product. That said, here are a few theoretical items that I feel people should be aware of. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for at least the first week
- Nootrobrain may cause insomnia if taken too close to bedtime
- Women who are pregnant/breastfeeding ask your doctor
- People who take any medications for Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia should consult their doctor or pharmacist
- Ask your doctor if you take blood thinner drugs
- Stop at least 2 weeks before surgery
- People who take medications for ADD or ADHD should talk to their doctor or pharmacist
- Some ingredients in the supplement may decrease blood pressure.
- People who have anxiety disorders or who are bipolar should talk to their doctor or pharmacist.
Does It Work?
Without research on Nootrobrain itself, I don't know. That said, some of the ingredients in the Nootrobrain are interesting. The research on these ingredients, while encouraging, is far from a slam dunk, but I do wonder if some people might notice a benefit from them. If Nootrobrain works, I think the degree to which anyone notices benefits would be based on how severe the memory impairment is as well as maybe what medications they take.
Re: Nootrobrain vs Procera AVH
I’ve tried both.
A little backstory – I first started looking into focus and memory supplements a few months ago after seeing a commercial for Procera on TV. My old “think box” isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be and I thought this would be a good way to keep up the pace.
My personal experience is that Procera AVH was almost entirely ineffective. I’m not sure if I felt any difference or not — MAYBE — but if I did it was much too marginal to be of any significance.
My personal experience with Nootrobrain was/is quite a bit different. It makes a very significant difference in my day to day life. The main thing for me is that my focus is much sharper. I’m no longer jumping from task to task so much and I’m much more able to focus on a single task item. Memory has also improved in that I’m much less forgetful and it’s easier to remember things on the fly.
Many times I find it very hard to disseminate factual information from marketing hype or “hear-say” these days. As they say, “the proof is in the pudding” so you really don’t know if something works until you try it.
Edward, thanks for your thoughts. May I ask how old you are? Can you give some specifics about how you feel better?
It is highly unlikely that any real aniracetam is in this product. It is an analog of piracetam which is derived from gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, which you can find in health food stores. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. It plays the principal role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. In humans, It often aids with sleep.
Piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA. Aniracetam is purported to be stronger than piracetam. They are a class of drugs called ‘nootropics”. They are said to enhance connectivity between the two halves of the brain along the corpus callosum. They also increase certain neuro transmitters in the overall brain. These are real drugs. The best are made in Europe and the best of thoae by UCB in Belgium. They are fairly safe or at least safer than most prescription drugs out there.
Piracetam failed to achieve an LD50 when given to rats intravenously at 8gm/kg body weight. Similarly, oral LD50 studies in mice, rats, and dogs given 10gm Piracetam/kg body weight also produced no LD50! If you wanted to commit suicide with it, you’d have to choke on it!
Having said that, its effects are recognizable. There is a “feeling” of alertness and cognitive enhancement in normal people. It also has a synergistic effect when used with hydergine. I wrote an article on these drugs for a short lived magazine called “Megabrain.” To write about this subject effectively, I took these drugs together for several months.
One noticeable effect of these drugs is the appearance of peripheral visual scintillations most noticeable when first entering a dark room. These scintillations also appear when squeezing the eyes tightly shut and opening them quickly. You will see these normally, but they are enhanced with these drugs, which tells me that you are getting the real deal.
I was dismayed when I bought some “piracetam” from some American supplement monger and got nothing. It was probably GABA under another label. If you want these drugs you have to go to a European company and still take care to get a good brand or effective generic.
They have been given to ADD kids in Europe, Alzheimer’s patients and students who want to get a leg up on their studies. My opinion is that they work best on normal healthy people. Alzheimer’s patients don’t seem to be helped by much for long due to the beta-amyloid plaques in their brains.
In my experience, they really had a profound effect on meditation when taken on a long, 10 day, rigorous retreat. I am preparing to study another language and plan to take them again.
These drugs are not not approved by the FDA for some reason, it may be that they don’t have a lasting effect on Alzheimer’s (nothing does) and that they are made by foreign competitors. Als, they may have the effect of enhancing performance in normal people and, in the view of the FDA, “normal” people don’t need drugs, especially performance enhancers.( But, what the hell, my brain is my laboratory).
The one drug that they do prescribe here for age related dementia is galantamine which inhibits acetylcholinesterase, leaving more acetylcholine at the synapses. This was first used in Russia
It is an alkaloid that is obtained synthetically or from the bulbs and flowers of Galanthus caucasicus (Caucasian snowdrop, Voronov’s snowdrop), Galanthus woronowii (Amaryllidaceae).
A number of people have been using it off label to induce lucid dreams. It is supposed to enhance the vividness of dreams, It is available by prescription in the U.S. and also available in the more liberal Europe. It is a more serious drug than piracetam, which has a high ld 50 and few or no known bad drug interactions. You can also see it for sale on Amazon and I don’t believe this is the real thing but an herbal concoction of the Caucasian snowdrop. Even plants can hurt you–they are full of drugs don’t you know.
Mark Thorson says
The choline part of phosphatidylcholine is converted by gut bacteria into TMAO, which is highly correlated with major adverse cardiovascular events (death, myocardioinfarction, stroke). See:
In the absence of a study exonerating the choline part of CDP-choline from causing the same thing, I’d strongly recommend against this supplement.
Mark, very interesting thanks for the additional information!
Mark if that’s the case perhaps they should quit including Choline in virtually every form of baby food/baby formula.
I’d strongly recommend you get your research correct before spouting off online.
Choline is an essential nutrient that -must- be consumed for the body to remain healthy.
Looked up and found many articles conflict with your link/commentary. Perhaps the jury is still out…