Brain hacking for beginners

Poor Albert Einstein, his genius is continually used to support arguments made by simple minds like mine.
Poor Albert Einstein, his genius is continually used to support arguments made by simple minds like mine.

I recently received a few supplements from the good people at  One of these supplements was Alpha Brain.  Alpha Brain claims to improve mental drive, focus, and comprehension.  Having heard about the product on Joe Rogan’s podcast a few years back I’d previously taken the supplement at half the recommended dose for about 7 days.  Now I’ve decided to go full bore for 30 days to see if I notice any significant changes.

Nootropic? Weren’t they a techno duo in the 90s?

A nootropic is a drug, supplement, or collection of functional foods that are believed to improve cognition, memory, and attention.  Nootropics can be  divided into pharmaceutical drugs such as Modafinil (Provigil in Ireland) and Adderall, and brain supplements such as Alpha Brain and Neuro1.

The drugs are primarily used to combat disorders such as ADHD, sleep apnea and certain neuro-degenerative problems such as Parkinson’s disease.

The supplements are designed to increase focus, cognitive function, and attention.

What the drugs and supplements have in common is that they are subject to extensive controversy.

The pharmaceutical drugs are approved by medical authorities but many question their use among developing brains (children and teenagers with ADHD), and college students who often use them for an edge near the end of academic terms when exams and final submissions are due.

The brain supplements attract equal contention, with as many users claiming they experienced no improvement in mental performance as evangelising about the positive impact the supplements have had on their lives.

I don’t expect to put an end to either of these debates, better brains than mine have tried and failed, but merely to chart my experience while taking Alpha Brain for 30 days.

It begins today

This is the most mentally taxing month of my year.  As a college tutor May is a manic mixture of massive amounts of corrections, tonnes of meetings, and plenty of painful paperwork.  May is a period I dread but attempt to get through without too much complaining as this side of the job is a necessary evil and the summer holidays are already in sight.

At best I’ll be like Mr Cooper in Limitless, at worst it’ll have no measurable effect, most likely it will land somewhere in the middle.  This will not be a quantitative study, they’ve already been conducted and the jury is still out.  This will be a qualitative study on myself, by myself.

One of my favourite non-fiction authors, Tim Ferriss, has self-conducted body and brain hacks and said that while he noticed massive improvements he believed that we have to pay a price when we improve at more than the normal rate.  I’m a little afraid now.  I’ll report back in 31 days.

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