Focus Boost Review
I was recently approached by the company behind Focus Boost, a brand new supplement that claims to “increase focus, enhance memory, and boost energy.” The Hero Complex has a history of reviewing nootropics, so I agreed to the write about my experience and I was sent a free sample of 30 capsules. Natural compounds that have the potential to help me in medical school are very interesting. I personally know of a few students at my institution using pharmaceuticals (without prescriptions) to boost their studying, but supplements are as much as I am willing to try. Over the course of the next two weeks I will be releasing updates about my experience with Focus Boost, but in this first post, I want to focus on the science behind some of its more interesting ingredients.
Before ingesting any supplement, I think it is important to look at exactly what is coming into your body. Remember that the Food and Drug Administration does not evaluate any of the claims that supplement companies make, so before taking a nootropic or weight lifting supplement, be sure to investigate and talk with your physician if you have any major concerns.
That being said, I am going to provide an evidence-based, Focus Boost review that has a basis in scientific literature. I will include a complete list of PubMed links at the very end of this article. Let’s start with a look at the most interesting ingredients:
L-Theanine and Caffeine – This duo is probably the staple of any cognitive enhancer’s mechanism of action. Everyone already knows about the amazing effects of caffeine (I am fairly addicted to having 2 cups of coffee a day). In fact, a recent study in 2013 says that the cognitive advantages of caffeine may be underestimated. L-theanine is an amino acid and also neuroprotective for the cells of the brain. It seems to work in synergy with caffeine by enhancing the positive aspects and decreasing the negative side-effects.
The subreddit for nootropics (which has over 25,000 active readers) thinks extremely highly of a L-theanine/caffeine mix. Check out a screenshot below taken directly from their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page:
Bacopa Monnieri - this is a natural herb that has been used in traditional Indian medicine for hundreds of years. Since then, it has been fairly well researched, and multiple studies indicate that B. monnieri decreases the rate of forgetting of newly acquired information. Therefore, it would seem natural that this herbal supplement be used to increase both long-term memory and recall, which would be incredible useful on exams.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine - this is a compound I actually learned about during biochemistry in medical school. Basically, this molecule is required to move molecules of “fuel” from the inside of cells into the mitochondria (which are the actual powerhouses of cells). Once inside the mitochondria, the fuel can be broken down into useable molecules of energy and then used for other processes.
Some studies have shown that carnitine is useful for increasing energy levels, although the evidence is far from convincing. The supplement has been shown to increase cognitive function in those functioning from mild impairment, as seen in early Alzheimer’s disease
Vinpocetine - this molecule is an actual pharmaceutical drug, prescribed by physicians in Europe. It is therapeutically prescribed to increase blood flow to the brain. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to tissues while also carrying away all of the nasty waste products. The harder that an individual tissue works, the more blood flow that is needed. Weight lifters often take supplements that contain nitric oxide because it increases blood flow to muscles. Imagine vinpocetine doing the same thing for the thinking muscle – the brain.
My Focus Boost review highlights the unique blend of ingredients that will wake you up, improve energy metabolism in your cells, and increase production of neurotransmitters in the brain. This product is essentially a supplement that provides a lot of what natural “brain foods” would do in a capsulated form. What is the best combination or cocktail of nootropics for studying? I can’t say, although Focus Boost certainly contains a few with proven effects.
You can purchase this product at Amazon, or directly from the website. If you have had any experience with Focus Boost or any of the various supplements described above, tell me about it in the comments section!
References: all references are links to PubMed abstracts. Some of the articles will probably only be available if you have access via your school.
Vinpocetine – 1