Did you know that our brains decrease in volume at a 5 percent rate every 10 years after 40, that cognitive decline onset happens at as early as 30 and that the most affected brain function is memory? You might have noticed that it’s harder and harder to learn new tricks or to recall faces, numbers, and events. The brain’s chemical balance also changes in time. Starting with early adulthood, dopamine levels decrease at a rate of around 10 percent over the course of 10 years and this, together with an increased production of free radicals, leads to gradual cognitive decline.
In a fast-paced and highly competitive environment, nootropics have become very popular with healthy people who want to feel at the top of their game. Nootropics improve brain function and performance in day-to-day activities, whether it is at school, at your job, sports or simply remembering where you left your keys or put your glasses. Also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, nootropics are substances such as drugs or health supplements that improve the functionality of the brain. They help us think faster, remember facts and faces, make associations, have more energy, be more active, do more things and do them faster and better.
There are so many brain boosters out there that claim they can revolutionize your world and increase your brain’s overall performance, whether it is at school, work, in your social circle or family. You might choose to resort to them when you need that extra edge or when you feel your brain is failing you. With age, cognitive decline becomes a sad reality. How do you know which brain booster is worth your money?
What’s the Neuroxium Promise?
Don’t worry: the fountain of youth has been found and it’s called Neuroxium, or at least so the manufacturers of this nootropic supplement claim. It promises to switch your brain back on, boost concentration, clear brain fog and rejuvenate regardless of your age from 40 to 90+. It’s marketed as a ‘memory boosting miracle’ that creates a young mind and triples your cognition. It supposedly increases synapses by 250 percent, stimulates neurons and has an almost instant effect. Its new formula ensures you banish those senior moments when you cannot recall a number, a face or where you put your glasses or keys. This is why Neuroxium was allegedly voted as the number 1 brain enhancement supplement in the US. Chances are if you access the website from another location, you might see the same marketing line for your respective country. The product was supposedly featured on Fox News, CBS News, NBC, CNN and Men’s Health, though there isn’t any online evidence to back this claim.
There is a graphic on the official website showing how Neuroxium boosts working memory, processing speed and long-term memory from day one. However, there is no indication of how this data was obtained and it looks just like a deceiving marketing tool.
Another marketing strategy is this sense of urgency induced by the warning at the top of the webpage that you need to purchase the product as soon as possible because there is a limited supply due to extremely high media demand. There is even a pop-up notification that shows you how many potential customers are looking at the page, as well as a countdown to get your heart racing even harder with every second that you lose while pondering whether this is the best product for you. However, don’t panic: if you access the website tomorrow, chances are you will see the same countdown. If that didn’t convince you, maybe the testimonials on the impact Neuroxium had on the quality of their life will. Supplement manufacturers often pay reviewers, so we cannot be sure whether these are real experiences.
The product is 100 percent natural and is the result of years of research. The manufacturers claim the product contains several ingredients, but there is no product label on the website to convince potential customers of the authenticity of these allegations or to ensure that the quantities of each ingredient are high enough to yield some results. A short, concise list of the benefits of each ingredient is available, which is great in this fast-paced environment. However, there are no scientific references to back up the claims, which is a common practice among smart health supplement manufacturers.
- Ginkgo Biloba: is one of the most popular medicinal plants in the world that’s been around for more than 5,000 years. It improves memory and cognition thanks to increased blood circulation which brings much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Ginkgo helps prevent memory loss, including in Alzheimer’s patients, and is recommended for vertigo, headaches, hearing and concentration problems, mood swings and ringing in the ears. It helps prevent brain damage resulting from improper detoxification of the brain by boosting blood circulation.
- Phosphatidylserine: is thought to help neurons communicate faster and thus boosts short-term memory and overall cognition. It is used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, age-related cognitive decline, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.
- DMAE Bitartrate: increases acetylcholine levels, the so-called learning neurotransmitter. It also enhances neuron protection from oxidation and fights cognitive decline.
- Vinpocetine improves memory and blood flow and can therefore be efficient in the prevention of some age-related mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- St John’s Wort: fights depression by increasing dopamine and serotonin levels.
- Bacopin is an extract from the plant Bacopa Monnieri and is thought to relax the mind, improve memory and fight fatigue and anxiety. Traditional Indian medicine has used this plant to treat stomach problems and mental disorders.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: is thought to break down carbohydrates and create energy, as well as protect the brain from free radicals.
- Green Tea Extract has antioxidant property and protects against the damaging effects of free radicals. It also provides a natural energy boost as it contains high levels of caffeine.
When reading the terms and conditions, we learn about other ingredients such as Cascara Sagrada and Cape Aloe leaf extract. Cascara is a shrub whose dried bark is used for medical purposes. Cascara works as a laxative for constipation and is also a treatment for liver ailments, gallstones, and cancer. Cascara used to be an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-constipation drug approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to concerns regarding cascara’s safety and effectiveness and the lack of response from the manufacturers who were asked to produce further evidence to answer these concerns, the FDA asked producers to either remove from the U.S. market or reformulate all laxative products containing cascara in 2002. Today, cascara is available as a dietary supplement, but not as a drug. Cape aloe is used as a laxative for constipation. Its other uses include psoriasis, depression, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diabetes.
More research is needed to prove the benefits claimed by some of the ingredients such as St John’s Wort, DMAE Bitartrate, Alpha lipoic acid, or green tea extract. For example, St John’s Wort is a herb thought to be effective in treating depression thanks to its ingredients hypericin and hyperforin. However, several studies, including one carried out by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), showed that its use had no better effect than in placebo participants.
Again, we don’t know the exact dosage of each ingredient, which makes it impossible to know whether the supplement could have any effect. How much green tea extract does it contain? Green tea is high in caffeine and caffeine is known for causing a sudden energy boost, followed by jitteriness, anxiety and energy crash mid-day. Many health supplements use caffeine in very high amounts because this way they can yield almost instant results, boosts energy and focus, and can, therefore, mask the inefficiency of their other ingredients. Is this the case with Neuroxium?
Users revealed that the label mentions the dosage for each capsule as:
- Phosphatidylserine: 125mg
- Gingko Biloba: 50mg
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: 50mg
- St John’s Wort: 250mg
- DMAE Bitartrate: 50mg
- Bacopin: 100mg
- Vinpocetine: 2mg
- Green Tea: 35mg
If this is true, this dosage seems a bit odd for a product that claims to fight cognitive decline and memory loss because the principal ingredient appears to be St John’s Wort, which is used mostly to combat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental affections. It’s not proved to have any benefits related to the cognitive function unless the problems were brought on by the low mood in the first place.
The terms and conditions include a disclaimer whereby the manufacturer does not vouch for the performance or effectiveness of the preparations mentioned on this website as the ‘information is based solely on the traditional and historic use of a given herb, or on clinical trials that are generally not recognized by any government agency or medical organization.’
Side Effects and Precautions
As it is a 100 percent natural product, most consumers should tolerate it well. Not all users react the same way or have the same medical history. The manufacturers advise consulting your health practitioner before using this product.
Some known potential side effects unique to the named ingredients include photosensitivity leading to skin irritation and redness in people exposed to intense sunlight or tanning booths caused by John’s Wort; seizure due to Gingko ingestion; bowel movements, stomach cramps, and nausea caused by bacopin; or insomnia because of phosphatidylserine and green tea.
The terms and conditions also list some side effects and precautions. Certain ingredients such as Cascara Sagrada and Cape Aloe leaf extract might cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramping, and or colorectal growths. The manufacturers advise consulting a health practitioner if you are pregnant or you are nursing, if you are under the age of 18, or if you have one of the following conditions: Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, severe hemorrhoids, congestive heart failure, blood vessel disease, heart disease, severe anemia, gastrointestinal cancer, abdominal hernia, recent colon surgery, or liver and kidney disease. Consumers are also advised to limit the use of stimulant laxatives to no more than seven days and to drink plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated.
The product is available in capsule form and can be ordered from the official website prescription-free. You might be thrilled that it comes with a free trial, but it’s not what you might think. The way the Free 14 Day Trial option works is that you will get 14 days’ worth of supply for free when you purchase two bottles. The two bottles contain enough pills for 60 days, but you will be billed only for 46 days. A bottle costs $99 plus shipping and handling. The purchaser also agrees to pay ‘any local, state or federal, sales, revenue, excise, use or other tax or fee applicable to the purchase or use of any product.’ There are other purchase package deals at discounted priced for three and five bottles, where you can pay as little as $40 for one bottle.
The manufacturer (or at least the seller, it’s not very clear) seems to be a company based in the Netherlands called Matrix Mail. There’s barely any information about the company online, but this is very common with supplement manufacturers, although it doesn’t help with the overall credibility of the product.
According to the company’s terms and conditions, ‘subject to the “Risk Free Trial” and EU Directive 97/7/EC, the Company’s products may not be returned unless the product is defective or damaged,’ in which case the product will be exchanged at no cost if the return is received within 30 days from the date of shipment of merchandise. In the event of return, shipping and handling fees are non-refundable. The request might take up to 60 days to be processed.
The manufacturer/seller can be reached by calling +31 20 808 5213 or, writing to Postbus 14, 4054ZG Echteld, Netherlands; or emailing [email protected]
This is a big minus as most health supplements come with a 100 percent money back guarantee or free trial. You would be taking a significant risk if you chose to purchase this product in the absence of an actual refund, given that there is little information about the manufacturer or the exact dosage of its ingredients to guarantee its effectiveness. Moreover, the list of ingredients is incomplete and you only find out about some components and their many side effects by reading the terms and conditions. This poses a serious health risk to people who suffer from the particular conditions and don’t read the warnings.