We’ve learned to be skeptical of any product claiming to be “The #1” at pretty much anything. Focus + by Excelerol (click for best price) is a liquid capsule nootropic stack, and the company’s original formula claims to America’s number #1 brain supplement (we’ve heard that before).
The list of ingredients in their newer Focus+ stack, is quite familiar, featuring a significant number of well-researched nootropics, paired with an unknown (but observationally high) dose of stimulants and adaptogens. Read on to find out what our testers thought about it, and whether or not Focus+ is on par with the best nootropics.
Vitamin B12 – 1,250
An essential vitamin B nutrient, B12 plays an important role in numerous bodily functions, including neurological function and development.
Niacin – 5 mg
This is a common B vitamin linked to both increased cognition and longevity, and niacin is responsible for the famous (and harmless) “flush” some users get when taking it.
Huperzine 1% Standardized – 12.5 mcg
Huperzine A is a compound derived from Chinese club moss that has been used to improve cognitive performance in patients with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Vinpocetine – 600 mcg
Vinpocetine is a chemical derived from the periwinkle plant, and it’s known to increase cerebral blood flow. Doctors in Hungary have been prescribing this compound to treat cerebrovascular disorders for decades.
Proprietary Formulation – 650 mg
Guarana is a climbing plant native to the Amazon with seeds that contain almost four times the amount of caffeine as coffee. Even in low doses, it often provides more stimulation than caffeine alone due to its concentration of phytonutrients.
Kola Nut Extract
The fruit of the kola tree, the kola nut has been used as a flavoring ingredient in many consumer products. It contains both caffeine and theobromine, an alkaloid also found in the cacao plant.
DMAE Bitrate, or Deanol, is a chemical used to treat ADHD, improve memory, and boost cognitive function. Deanol is essential to the production and of choline, one of the building blocks of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It’s a chemical precursor to choline and boosts alertness.
This compound pairs very well with choline; when combined, the two form the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Having both in the same supplement is a good hedge in case the body is deficient in either compound.
Bacopa Monnieri Extract
Bacopa Monnieri is an herb used as an antidepressant and a cognitive booster. While performing stressful cognitive tests, subjects taking Bacopa Monnieri experienced the herb’s nootropic effects and reduced both stress and cortisol levels.
Often used as a flavoring agent, peppermint oil has also been used in the treatment of a variety of digestive problems. The smell of peppermint has been shown to enhance memory.
Tulsi (Holy Basil) Extract
A noted adaptogen, ursolic acid (the active ingredient in this extract) helps reduce the negative effects of stress. Note: In high dosages, research indicates ursolic acid may actually be an anti-fertility agent and could reduce reproductive capability in the short term. We’ve had good experience with adaptogens before, but wonder if it would have been a good idea to leave this ingredient out, given its potential side effects.
Ginkgo Biloba Extract
Ginko has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to promote memory. More recently, clinical studies and research reviews have pointed to its efficacy in fighting dementia and neural decline.
While there’s some evidence that Rhodiola Rosea can combat the effects of physical stress, it’s best known and well-researched to fight fatigue from mental challenges and tasks. Basically, evidence suggests this herb helps us better manage stress, and it also combats fatigue we might feel from mentally (and potentially physically) grueling tasks. Some early research also indicates Rhodiola could improve overall longevity and brain health in mammals.
This is a widely-used nootropic compound that, until the 1990s, was very difficult to synthesize. Clinical testing and trials have linked it to improved cognition, and the compound has also been shown to reduce levels of cortisol (a well-known stress hormone).
L-Tyrosine is linked to improving cognitive performance under conditions of stress, and the compound has been shown to actually reduce symptoms of stress itself, likely because it is involved in the production of dopamine.
Green Tea Extract, White Tea Extract, Black Tea Extract
All three of these teas contain varying quantities of polyphenols, caffeine, and l-theanine. An amino acid that’s becoming an increasingly common ingredient in nootropics, l-theanine promotes relaxation without being a sedative. Research suggests it also helps the brain deal with stress. Often paired with caffeine, l-theanine effects appear complementary to the world’s most popular stimulant. It may also increase brain activity and memory.
Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC)
Choline is a vital compound in neurotransmission, and research suggests many Americans don’t get enough from their regular diets. (In fact, choline-based nootropics are increasingly common, and some of our testers have experienced enhanced memory and focus simply from supplementing choline.) This is the same form of choline as in popular stack (and BrainWiz tester favorite) Alpha Brain.
Choline is a vital compound in neurotransmission, and research suggests many Americans don’t get enough from their regular diets. (Choline-based nootropics are increasingly common, and some of our testers have experienced enhanced memory and focus simply from supplementing choline.) It’s a common ingredient in many nootropic stacks.
Other Ingredients: Glycerin, Hypromellose (Vegetarian), Titanium Dioxide, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Yellow.
Take 1 capsule daily with plenty of water.
What Our Testers Say
“I was excited to try this, since I had such a great experience with with the guarana in Lumonol. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with Focus+. I took 1 capsule, with breakfast, and two full glasses of water, but that was still not enough to deter the jitters. I felt a ton of nervous energy, and actually had a harder time concentrating than usual. This feeling lasted for about 4 hours, when I crashed hard.”
“I wasn’t too excited to try this product, especially because they did not have specifics on how much Holy Basil, or at what concentration, the ”˜Proprietary Formulation contained.’ I also didn’t know whether or not that formulation contained enough of an ingredient, say, Rhodiola, to meet the minimal effective dose. I tested it, though I was also hesitant because Ursolic Acid has some potential side effects. I took it in the morning, with with a shake, and felt a definite rush of energy. This was as effective as my pre-workout for energy, but I didn’t get much more out of it.”
“I felt a tad on edge on this supplement, whether I took it with or without coffee. There were no real cognitive benefits while taking this either.”
“As I have mentioned before, I do my best to avoid artificial coloring. I understand that this is part of their branding, each individual pill is blue and green with each capsule individually labeled, but I believe that a product can be just as recognizable for its quality as it is for its branding. I do like this product as an energy supplement, but don’t think I would consider adding it to my permanent rotation even if Excelerol removed their overkill, on-pill branding. I prefer to get my jolt from coffee.”
- This stack contains several stimulant ingredients, loaded with caffeine. We suggest you take this supplement with food, and away from other caffeine-containing beverages, like coffee or tea.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as this supplement can dehydrate you.
- Adaptogens like Rhodiola Rosea and Panax Ginseng may actually boost the effects of common stimulants like caffeine.
- As with any supplement or nutritional regimen, you should talk to your doctor or medical professional before use.
- The bottle suggests taking this supplement up to 3 times a day, but beware of taking it too late into the afternoon, especially if you have trouble falling asleep.
Focus+ may be a good alternative for non-coffee drinkers looking for a buzz, but for our testers, the benefits stopped there. Despite having an impressive list of ingredients, the fact that neither the quantities nor concentration of many ingredients listed makes us doubt there’s enough of them in the stack to really make a difference.