WHAT IS IT?
There is no shortage of proprietary formulas out there that allege to help you stay focused and energized while they support your memory and concentration. Focusene is but one of them and one that bears closer scrutiny than some.
Focusene is a relatively new supplement that is marketed as a cognitive enhancement pill. But its website leaves much to be desired; when you log on to their official site, you are greeted by something so low rent, you might think that it’s something your little brother designed as a project for school. The layout is basic AF and instead of informative videos or catchy slogans, the people at Tranquility Labs (the folks behind Focusene) slap you in the face with dubious testimonials, the likes of, “Great for studying and writing papers. Focusene to the rescue! Within 20 minutes of taking it, my thoughts are clear and I start getting things done.”
This is questionable for a number of reasons, not least of which is the utter lack of personality on the supposed user’s behalf. After all, when it comes to nootropics, almost all of them promise to help you study and write better papers. And virtually every one of them mentions getting things done. One would think that an actual user would articulate their experience—if said experience is sincere—in their own unique way instead of regurgitating what has been said about these supplements time and time again.
So the question remains: Is Focusene on the level? Is it really a viable option for optimizing your mind before tending to your studies or work projects? Let’s explore…
WHAT’S IN IT?
The greatest indicator of a proprietary blend’s ability to aid one in their attempts at focusing and buckling down on their work is the stuff that’s inside of it. Here are the contents of Focusene’s trademarked formula:
- Brahmi (Bacopa)
- Ginkgo Biloba (which Tranquility Labs misspell as Gingo Biloba, a tactic used by several sketchy manufacturers to make an ingredient looks new and intriguing)
- Grape Seed
- Korean Red Ginseng
- Vitamin B6
Now Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a well-established substance that has been known to promote performance and naturally boost memory while supporting nerve function. It is well-regarded by a swath of specialists and holds a 4.2-star rating with Dr. Whitaker, a trusted wellness doctor. It has been used to facilitate weight loss and has been implemented in the treatment of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Acetyl-L-Carnitine is undeniably a great natural supplement for protecting your cognitive function, but its precise effects, when combined with the other ingredients herein, is anyone’s guess.
No studies have been conducted to determine whether there are any contraindications between Acetyl-L-Carnitine and the other compounds contained within Focusene. L-Carnitine has been known to interact poorly with other meds including Coumadin and Dicumarol.
Brahmi comes from an herb that is indigenous to the wetlands of India. Also known as water hyssop or bacopa, Brahmi is nothing more than Bacopa Monnieri, a common noot that has found favor as a performance and study drug. According to the Focusene website, Brahmi produces mental endurance and is “fantastic for supporting the body through times of high mental stress.”
There is plenty of evidence to support these claims. Trials have been undergone and the evidence is quite clear. Brahmi can help your mind and body in kind. It aids in liver function, positively influences brain cells, protects Alzheimer’s patients against the rapid degeneration that is a hallmark of their condition and possesses impressive antioxidant properties.
However, it is important to note that Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., an expert in the area of natural health and wellness, has warned of the potential Brahmi has for interacting poorly with anticholinergic drugs, medications of the type that dry you out (think anti-depressants and allergy meds). Ironically enough, he also admonishes that there could be poor interaction between Brahmi and other Alzheimer’s medications.
The Global Healing Center has noted the extensive benefits of dandelion leaf, another ingredient in this blend. They write of its nutrient content and antioxidant activity as well as its benefits for the liver and promotion of normal bile production. It is touted as a blood purifier as well as a metabolic assist. But they also admonish users to seek out organic dandelion leaf and make no bones about the fact that many manufacturers use bargain basement material for their supplements. This could be a concern with Focusene as they do little to be transparent about the contents of their blend; there is no indication of how much of each ingredient appears in a single supplement.
Dandelion has been shown to help people in the areas of the above as well as those seeking relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, menopause and more. Some say that it can protect against cognitive decline, but no concrete evidence has been published to support this claim. In fact, there is no scientific evidence to support any claims about dandelion’s health benefits whatsoever.
That brings us to Deanol, another name for DMAE. It is a common ingredient in multiple “nootropic” blends, one that has become increasingly popular among so-called “natural warriors,” but its exact method of action is vague at best. Deanol is a compound that is connected to several reactions that comprise acetylcholine, the important neurotransmitter that promotes communication among nerve cells.
Deanol has been used to treat everything from Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to autism. It is believed to bolster memory and heighten mood while encouraging oxygenation and improvement of muscle reflexes. Deanol has found favor with bodybuilders who use it as a performance enhancer as well as those who espouse study drugs.
Like Brahmi, Deanol does not interact well with anticholinergic medications and, alternately, can have dangerous effects when combined with cholinergic meds such as Pilocar or other drugs prescribed for glaucoma or Alzheimer’s disease.
Forskolin is a labdane diterpene (no, I did not make that name up) that is extracted from the Indian Coleus plant. It is widely used to treat the symptoms of infections (ringworm, syphilis, etc.), digestive issues (intestinal spasm, stomach ache, etc.) and allergies. It has been called a weight loss miracle drug and some, like the ever(insert sarcasm here)-reliable Dr. Oz and Pure Nootropic say that it can be an effective brain enhancement tool. But while evidence has shown its efficacy in the realm of blood pressure and angina, no scientific findings have suggested that it works for boosting your brain functioning.
I have long debunked the theory that Ginkgo Biloba can do much of anything substantial for a person. I’ve used it multiple times in the past to help with my fibromyalgia and focus and have found it to be of absolutely no utility at all. As Ginkgo Biloba has been used by natives of Eastern countries for hundreds of years as an organic healing agent, I have no doubt that it does exert certain effects related to certain maladies, but certainly, none that I have suffered from myself.
This extract from the Maidenhair tree is not FDA approved and is, in fact, a bleeding hazard. That’s right, Ginkgo Biloba, and similar compounds derived from trees or tree bark can cause internal bleeding among other detrimental effects. This is one of those supplements that the tin foil hat crowd have kept in their haberdashery for some time, believing it to be capable of doing everything from producing an erection to making them recall things more readily. Despite what they want to believe, the evidence seems to suggest that Ginkgo would have no advantageous impact on the memory of a healthy human being.
Grape Seed Extract is another one of those ingredients you see in so many proprietary formulas these days for its purported cognitive benefits, but while this extract has exhibited a notable difference in studies with rodents, there is inconclusive evidence to support the idea that it is beneficial to human beings.
Korean Red Ginseng has a hearty history for helping the health of your hog and is alleged to aid in the areas of diabetes, hair loss, weight loss, and liver function. Studies have been conducted to determine its effectiveness on the brain and motor function, respectively. The results of a double-blind study found that there was no discernible difference between those in the red ginseng group and those in the placebo group. But this hasn’t stopped people in the natural wellness community from singing its praises.
Dr. Axe has written off its natural stress relieving properties and its capacity to promote better cognitive function. But doctors can say what doctors want to say, the proof, as always, is in the proverbial pudding: According to Be Brain Fit, there are several evidence-based ways that this compound can help your mind.
To put it another way, the jury is out on this one. Like the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election or the merits of YouTubers, everyone is fairly divided on this one. One thing is unequivocal: Red ginseng interacts poorly with more than 120 drugs including L-Carnitine (Remember, Acetyl-L-Carnitine is also contained within Focusene) and Ginkgo Biloba (Yep, that’s also in Focusene).
L-Theanine is promoted as a natural sleep aid and memory booster that balances brain chemistry. The Cleveland Clinic has plugged it for its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) benefits as well. It is supposed to improve mood and concentration in addition to the above. A greater level of alpha activity was documented in studies.
L-Theanine is generally considered to be a safe and effective natural supplement, however it does have the potential for a multitude of adverse effects including brain fog (ironic given it is being advertised as a supplement for focus and concentration), low blood pressure, changes in appetite, cognitive slowing (again, ironic…don’t you think?), dizziness, headaches, gastrointestinal turmoil and more.
This is something important to keep in mind whenever considering a “stack” or proprietary blend. When you consider the vast number of side effects anyone substance can elicit, it is mind-boggling to think of combining said substance with a bunch of other substances. Users should be very wary of the potential these drugs have to mess them up when taken in concert with one another.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid that can help alleviate stress and anxiety while inducing a state of calm. Of the ingredients listed here, Phenylalanine is one of the better and more legit ones for genuinely exerting a positive effect on the brain. It is converted into tyrosine and yields increased dopamine and serotonin levels.
As with the former drugs, Phenylalanine has its share of interactions and adverse effects. It can cause tardive dyskinesia in those taking antipsychotic medications and can result in heartburn, nausea, headaches, nerve damage and more when taken in dosages in excess of 5,000 mg. Other symptoms in lower dosages can include jitteriness and anxiety (again, ironic when you consider that this mixture is supposed to induce calm and concentration).
Finally, you have Vitamin B6 which, as most of you already know, is the vitamin that can help treat emotional issues as well as kidney disorders, CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). It has been known to be an immune booster and aids in maintaining metabolism and hormone control. But can it help the mind?
The short answer is, Yes. Vitamin B6 assists in producing neurotransmitters which, in turn, carry signals from nerve cell to nerve cell. It is considered integral to the development of our brains and the integrity of neurological functioning. Whether it is important in a supplement is another question altogether as the reality is that Vitamin B6 in pill form is only imperative to those with a B6 deficiency since Vitamin B6 is something many receive from healthy food diets.
In summation, Focusene seems like so many other supplements on the market—It is jam-packed with ingredients that have earned dubious reputations as nootropic wonder drugs, but most all of the contents in this blend are up for debate where efficacy is concerned. They may or may not help in the area of cognitive functioning. What’s more, when taken in tandem with each other—as we saw with red ginseng, L-carnitine and Ginkgo Biloba—they may present many risks.
Users are urged to consult with a physician before considering Focusene use and should weigh their options, in general, when it comes to proprietary blends. There is no shortage of formulas on the market and, what’s more, some of them are rather cost-effective when compared to this blend from Tranquility Labs. Be sure to do your research before buying a blend. Be safe, be smart and emancipate your mind.