At first glance, popular nootropic stacks Alpha BRAIN and Addium seem to have a lot in common, at least when it comes to ingredients. Both contain Bacopa Monnieri, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Phosphatidylserine, Vinpocetine, and Vitamin B6 within proprietary blends.
This means they don’t publicly list exactly how much of each ingredient is in a serving of their respective supplements. (This is a fairly common practice in the supplement industry and companies work to protect their formulas from each other, though there are notable exceptions; see Natural Stacks and truBrain.)
However, while they share a significant number of ingredients, our experiences with Alpha BRAIN and Addium differ in some key ways. First, it’s worth noting that Alpha BRAIN (an Onnit product) is stimulant/caffeine-free. While the exact amounts of ingredients in Alpha BRAIN differ between its regular and powdered instant formulas, neither caused jitteriness in our testers. (Read our full review of Alpha BRAIN, including our thoughts on timing, as well as our full review of Alpha BRAIN Instant.)
Alpha BRAIN’s stimulant-free nature also makes it a valuable part of one of our favorite travel stacks.
Alpha BRAIN in capsule form paired especially well with coffee in our experience, and it’s a regular part of the morning routine for several of our testers. They especially like the cumulative effect and tend to get more out of Alpha BRAIN after taking if for several weeks. However, some people sensitive to adaptogens like bacopa may see diminishing returns and could get more benefit from cycling off Alpha BRAIN every few days. Like any nootropic, personal experience will vary somewhat!
In contrast to the caffeine-free Alpha BRAIN, Addium does contain caffeine in its proprietary blend, though in an unspecified amount. After just a single capsule of Addium, our testers felt a different rush from the caffeine; some enjoyed this, while it gave others excess jitters, and we didn’t have much success stacking it with coffee or other nootropics. Read our full Addium review to see how our testers reacted to their proprietary formula.
Addium also contains GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which may have a positive effect on sleep and rest for certain users; even though it’s an ingredient that can have difficulty crossing the blood-brain barrier, we recommend becoming familiar with its effect before users stack with other nootropics or stimulants, and we use caution or avoid drinking alcohol on days when we consume GABA-containing stacks.
While Alpha BRAIN tends to give our testers a bit more mental energy and focus that gradually builds over the day, Addium felt like a quick rush, with some jitteriness, that risked a crash shortly thereafter.