Even though nootropics are growing in popularity worldwide, new people learn about these smart drugs via only a few methods. One is through media outlets that discuss modafinil (provigil) as the new wonder drug of Wall Street and Silicon valley alike .
The other main source is through the popular media articles, which always suspiciously discuss Nootrobox out of the myriad nootropic options to choose from.
One of the reasons this is so distressing is because Nootrobox is backed by a venture capital fund called Andreessen Horowitz (the same company that invested in Facebook, Skype, and AirBNB) .
This is troubling not because Andreessen Horowitz or Nootrobox are untrustworthy or morally corrupt, but rather because the media connections from this partnership are over-hyping the products and potentially costing you (the consumer) a lot more money than it needs to.
In this Nootrobox review, we will look at the product objectively to help you determine whether the Nootrobox Rise, Nootrobox Sprint, and other products are worth your money.
Instead of jumping on the hyped Nootrobox bandwagon, we’ll give you honest reviews of Nootrobox’s strengths and weaknesses.
Nootrobox Review: 4 Stacks to Rule Them All
Currently (January 2017), the Nootrobox lineup includes four specific nootropic stacks (combinations of synergistic ingredients) as part of their Full Stack Lineup. Let’s dissect each of them:
RISE – the Nootrobox rise looks like their main long-term nootropic stack and the ingredients are all reliable. This includes 300 mg of bacopa monnieri, 300 mg of rhodiola, and 300 mg of alpha GPC. Combined, this will create a pretty robust cognitive outcome.
Bacopa is one of the most well-researched Ayurvedic herbs used for thousands of years. Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen with anti-fatigue properties, and alpha GPC is one of the most effective (and bioavailable) sources of raw choline (precursor for acetylcholine).
Overall: good choice of ingredients and adequate doses. Learn more here.
KADO-3 – for Nootrobox, the KADO-3 product is their main omega-3 fatty acid (DHA / EPA) product. For anyone new to nootropics, DHA and EPA are probably some of the most effective compounds for enhancing neurogenesis and there are a host of other advantages.
The ingredients in KADO-3 seem a little overdone. I like the 2:1 DHA to EPA ratio, but it is not an adequate dosage per day. The vitamin D3 is a great addition, but the astaxanthin oil and vitamin K are unnecessary if they don’t provide enough DHA / EPA in the first place.
Overall: missing some things, but good Nootrobox dedicated 25% of their full stack to omega-3s. Learn more here.
SPRINT – The Nootrobox sprint product is their focus and concentration stack as the name implies. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine in a 1:2 ratio is well-founded scientifically although the other ingredients may be unnecessary.
Overall: okay choice of ingredients. Learn more here.
YAWN – the YAWN Nootrobox product is meant to be the relaxation and sleep-aid, but this one falls short. Magnesium as a pre-sleep supplement is great, but citrate is not the best form.
It’s better to take magnesium glycinate or second place, magnesium malate. The citric acid from magnesium citrate can lead to issues with adrenal fatigue and other problems. For those who would like magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier, magnesium L-threonate is another good option.
The theanine is dosed well, the melatonin seems a relatively low dose. The glycine seems poorly dosed given that most studies suggest 1 – 3 grams. All sleep studies utilize 3 grams of glycine .
Overall: not a good choice of ingredients and poor doses. Learn more here.
Do It Yourself Nootrobox
The self-described purpose of Nootrobox is to “…make nootropics for everyone.” They’re trying to help bring nootropics to a wider audience, which is admirable. For many people who just want to outsource their cognitive health, this next section might be overkill.
However, analyzing how expensive it is to make Nootrobox yourself can tell you a lot about whether the product is worth it for you. For example, here is a breakdown of RISE (their flagship daily stack):
RISE from Nootrobox costs $49 for a 30 day supply, which comes out to $1.63 per serving.
If you made RISE yourself, it would cost $0.78 per serving.
As you can see, they are charging over twice the cost of making it yourself. The same can probably be said for the other ingredients.
Nootrobox RISE Alternative
As we said, Nootrobox RISE costs $1.63 per serving whereas the DIY RISE is $0.78 per serving. This is one of the few ingredients where you could use the exact same formula and it would be beneficial. You might have to take more pills, but maybe that’s worth it for you to save 50%.
Given it is only 3 ingredients, you can get them here:
Nootrobox SPRINT Alternative
The Nootrobox SPRINT product for enhancing focus and concentration has 6 ingredients of okay quality and doses. At $39 with 30 servings, you’re looking at $1.30 per serving.
The do-it-yourself version costs $0.75 per serving.
However, most of the ingredients in Nootrobox SPRINT are probably unnecessary and if cost and simplicity are something you crave, a good alternative would be a simple caffeine and L-theanine combination.
The combo of caffeine and L-theanine in a 1:2 ratio is providing most of the SPRINT benefits and you can get a month’s supply for $10 or so. More importantly, this combination is very well studied and researched for the cognitive effects .
Nootrobox vs. Qualia
The Full Stack from Nootrobox includes all 4 of their specific stacks and is dosed for approximately 1 month. Based on the company’s intention, it seems this combination of ingredients is designed to be your one-stop-shop for nootropics and smart drugs.
The marketing suggests you take the entire Nootrobox lineup and your cognitive health is supposedly covered to the tune of $135, which comes out to around $4.50 per serving.
Compare that with Qualia, which has a similar intention of designing a comprehensive nootropic stack to cover all of your mental performance bases: a month costs $149, which is $6.77 per serving.
Although Qualia is more expensive, I believe it to be superior to the Nootrobox formulation. Qualia has 42 ingredients including many novel and more robust aspects, such as noopept, centrophenoxine, quercetin, and bioPQQ.
In contrast, Nootrobox has a paltry 18 ingredients and at least 20-30% are unnecessary in my judgment.
Personally, we would recommend Qualia over Nootrobox if you would like to use a single nootropic stack for all your needs on a monthly basis.
The Argument in Favor of Nootrobox
Although we have been critical of many elements, there are many positive aspects of Nootrobox. This Nootrobox review would be remiss without mentioning some of the strengths of the company and their products.
#1. Certificates of Analysis
One of the most important safety factors in the modern nootropic and supplement landscape are certificates of analysis (COA). Nootrobox has a COA for each of their product and while it isn’t clear whether it is 3rd party or internal, it is at least a step in a positive direction for companies like this.
#2. Transparent with Doses
Many supplement companies hide behind “proprietary blends”, which make it difficult for the consumer to know whether the products are safe or have a high enough quantity of specific doses. Nootrobox is transparent with all of their ingredients online so you can make educated decisions for yourself.
#3. Adequate Doses
On most accounts, Nootrobox products have adequate doses of their various ingredients. In an industry where “fairy dusting” (sprinkling ingredients of low volume to claim purported effects) is common, this is a refreshing break from the trend.
#4. Clinical Trials
Finally, it seems Nootrobox is dedicated to good science as there are current clinical trials underway for many of their products. While there is a conflict of interest, this is a positive trend for many modern nootropics companies.
NOTE: Keep in mind that 1 or 2 of the ingredients (taken alone) from any of the Nootrobox stacks might provide the same benefit as the entire stack. For example, the caffeine and L-theanine in SPRINT might be 90% of the value while you are paying a lot more.
Nootrobox in the Media
As previously mentioned, one of the most noticeable things about Nootrobox is their media presence. They have had lots of PR in the past couple years and it probably stems from an expensive and reputable PR firm, which leads to a snowball effect of more press.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with creating a nootropic company on the back of PR firms and high profile connections. Onnit and Alpha Brain took a similar approach with Joe Rogan and that worked for them. Anyone (myself included) would do the same.
However, our objective is to help YOU (the consumer) to make better nootropics and smart drug decisions for your brain health.
One such media appearance was a Vice mini-documentary regarding esports and nootropics.
When I interviewed Gankstars member, Ben Watley, for the Brain Optimization Summit, I pressed him on the topic of Nootrobox and his performance and heard a lot of skepticism.
While they did Cambridge Brain Science testing during their trial, he wasn’t sure the effect was profound. His skepticism in person was interesting considering the portrayal of Nootrobox products in the Vice mini-documentary.
When Andreessen Horowitz bet big on Nootrobox they sent a signal that they believe in the concept and burgeoning world of cognitive enhancement and nootropics. Given that their bets have paid off bigtime in the past, this is probably a good sign of things to come.
While this is part of a growing trend and Nootrobox is a fairly safe nootropic company to support, there are pros and cons to purchasing their supplements as we have outlined.
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