Every once and a while a company comes along and releases a product that completely disrupts its industry. Apple did it to cell phones with the iPhone, Tesla did it to cars with the Model S, and the Neurohacker Collective has done it to nootropics with Qualia.
Like you, I was researching the best nootropics when I stumbled upon Qualia for the first time. It peaked my interest but the price tag initially scared me away so I moved on. My gut reaction was, “This is way too expensive for me?”
A few months passed and I got a call from Matthew Stein over at Neurohacker Collective. At first I thought he was going to try to sell me on why I should try Qualia and why he thought was the best nootropic on the market, but he didn’t. Instead, we ended up having a long, thought-provoking conversation about nootropics in general, biohacking, and even our favorite podcasts (we both agreed on the Tim Ferriss Show). He also told me about all of the cool things that Neurohacker Collective was doing as a company to push the world of nootropics forward. It was much more of an actual insightful conversation rather than a sales call — something that you don’t often see when talking with people who work for supplement companies.
While still a little skeptical (as I am with any new supplement) I was very intrigued by amount of time, energy, and research that went into creating Qualia so I decided to give it a try.
This ended up becoming one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in regards to nootropics. Here’s why…
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What Qualia Does Differently
The gripe that many nootropic enthusiasts have with pre-packaged nootropic blends is that they usually…
- Don’t contain high enough levels of the ingredients that are actually meaningful
- Hide what they really contain under “proprietary blends”
- Include tons of caffeine in an effort to trick the user into thinking it’s working (until they crash later in the day)
Many nootropic blends on the market are also shady. The companies behind them do everything they can to maximize profits, rather than invest back into their products. I know it’s important to build a profitable company but it’s also important to be ethical about it at the same time.
That’s why Qualia stuck out to me. On my call with Matthew over at Neurohacker Collective, I heard the passion in his voice when he talked about nootropics. This wasn’t a salesperson I was talking to, this was a guy who really cared about working on putting out the best nootropic on the market.
So, how is Qualia different than every other nootropic out there? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s just different. It’s not even in the same league as most nootropics.
Qualia is lightyears ahead of most cognitive enhancing supplements out there, mainly because of these three things…
- It’s the most in-depth nootropic blend around. They have included every ingredient one could possibly include in a nootropic blend to make it as effective as possible in all facets of optimizing the brain (both long and short-term). This includes increasing focus, building/sustaining memory, lowering stress/anxiety, and increasing the immune system (which helps lower inflammation and brain fog). All of these ingredients aren’t just randomly thrown together but rather carefully calculated in an effort to complement each other and provide the best experience for the user, which is why Qualia comes in two steps.
- They invested a lot of time and energy into creating their product. A lot of nootropics on the market are just carbon copies of other successful nootropics, with minor differences. These copycat companies then slap a new label on their bottle and start marketing it like crazy. It seems that Neurohacker Collective did the exact opposite when creating Qualia. Not only have I never seen another nootropic with the same ingredients, I can tell that they invested in the actual product rather than the marketing “hype”.
- Qualia is built around actual science, not pseudo-science. One thing that really annoys me about the world of nootropics is how many companies bend the truth in order to sell their products. Some like to insinuate that certain ingredients are going to make you a genius or some kind of super human. Qualia doesn’t do that. Yes, this nootropic is packed to the brim with ingredients but all of the ingredients are actually backed by research (which I go into below).
The Masterminds Behind Qualia
I don’t often include my research on the people behind a nootropic. It’s not because I don’t want to but it’s usually because the founders aren’t experts in the field of biohacking or even experienced in nootropics.
In the case of Qualia and Neurohacker Collective, the people behind the company are what make this product so special. Here’s a brief look at each of the founders…
- Jordan Greenhall: He previously co-founded DivX, one of the most popular video players in the world. After being introduced to one of the early versions of Qualia, he saw its potential and joined the team.
- Daniel Schmachtenberger: As the founder of The Emergence Project, Daniel has worked to upgrade the human race on a micro and macro scale. Over his time in this role, he saw the massive amount of suffering that people are going through all around the world. Because of this, he and his brother James decided to start the Neurohacker Collective in an effort to bring an end to it.
- James Schmachtenberger: James is one of the leaders in promoting medical cannabis use. His documentaries and advocacy has pushed legislation and helped patients relieve their suffering in a way that wasn’t dependent on man-made chemicals (e.g. pain killers).
The founders then put together an advisory board of neuroscientists, ivy league professors, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and even athletes to create what we know as the Neurohacker Collective.
Qualia has the most ingredients I’ve ever seen in a supplement. I’m honestly surprised they could fit it all on the label.
To make this the most comprehensive review I’m going to be going ingredient-by-ingredient to help you understand why each one was included in Qualia and the research behind it. This section is going to be a bit long so if you want to just read what my personal experience was using Qualia, feel free to skip to the next section.
- Vitamin B6 (1,000 mcg): Research has shown the entire family of B vitamins help in overall brain function. Vitamin B6, in particular, helps the body make a variety of of different neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals from one nerve cell to the other).
- Artichoke Leaf Extract (5% Cynarin, 500 mg): By itself, Artichoke Leaf Extract may not have any nootropic-like effect. However, when mixed with Forskolin it has an effect that some say is similar to Modafinil. If you’ve ever taken CILTEP, you may already be familiar with the cognetive benefits of Artichoke Extract and Forskolin.
- Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract (3% Rosavins & 1% Salidrosides, 300 mg): Rhodiola rosea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. It has a wide variety of physical and mental benefits, including the ability to reduce fatigue, improve cognitive functions, and protect against toxins in the brain. There is even some evidence that it may promote longevity.
- DL-Phenylalanine (300 mg): Also referred to as DLPA, DL-Phenylalanine is an amino acid that has a wide range of benefits. Some people take it for its ability to increase their mood, focus, and energy, while others take it to help ease chronic pain.
- Centrophenoxine (250 mg): Research has shown that Centrophenoxine is effective in reversing waste buildup in the brain and acting as a neuro-protector.
- N-Acetyl Tyrosine (250 mg): Being one of the most popular nootropic ingredients around, this amino acid is used to help the body in a variety of different ways. It has been shown to help build muscles, increase cell growth/recovery, and improve cognitive processes.
- Purenergy (Caffeine and pTeroPure pterostilbene co-crystal, 209 mg): Purenergy was created by Chromadex, Inc. Its formulation allows for a few very unique things to occur. First, it allows 30% more caffeine into the bloodstream than ordinary caffeine. Second, 6 hours after taking it there is 51% more caffeine from Purenergy when compared to taking ordinary caffeine. Lastly, the half-life of caffeine in Purenergy is extended by about 25%. All of this allows for a stronger, more sustained energy from Purenergy caffeine (when compared to regular caffeine).
- L-Theanine (200 mg): L-Theanine is another widely used nootropic. It is most commonly found in green tea. When combined with caffeine, it can vastly improve the cognitive state of its users by providing focus and energy without the crash that caffeine usually gives.
- Noopept (30 mg): Noopept is one of my favorite nootropics. While research on it is still in the early stages, it has been shown to increase alpha/beta 1 activity in all brain areas. Its cognitive benefits include helping its users form memories/learn easier as well as prevent oxidative damage and apoptosis. Because of this, people dealing with cognitive impairment could possibly benefit from a regular dosage of Noopept.
- Coleus Forskohlii (20% Forskolin, 10 mg): Coleus forskohlii has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. As mentioned above, when combined with Artichoke Leaf Extract, this duo can have some powerful cognitive enhancing effects.
- BioPQQ (10 mg): PQQ is one of the most recently discovered vitamins. It has been shown to slow the aging process, increase overall energy levels, improve cognitive function, and alleviate stress and sleeplessness. In 2013, BioPQQ won the Engredea Editors’ Choice Award for Ingredient with the Best Science.
- Vitamin B5 (as Calcium Pantothenate, 850 mg): Calcium Pantothenate is the synthetic form of vitamin B5. It helps synthesize acetycholine, which can increase focus, memory, and learning while reducing brain fog.
- Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate, 20 mg): Vitamin B6 has been shown (with mixed results) to help support brain function. What is known is that it plays an important role in making the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine — responsible for making people feel happy.
- Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol, 2000 IU): Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sun vitamin”. It has a variety of antioxidant and neuroprotective benefits associated with its use.
- Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid, 250 mg): Vitamin C is a highly potent antioxidant, which is the reason it is given to those that are sick or have a cold. In addition to having the ability to decrease fatigue and improve mood, it also increases blood flow by reducing NO oxidation.
- Benfotiamine (100 mg): Benfotiamine is converted into vitamin B1 after ingestion. It has been shown to increase mood, energy, and alertness in its users.
- Niacinamide (50 mg): Another B Vitamin (B3), Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties and anxiolytic effects.
- Zinc (as Zinc Picolonate, 15 mg): Zinc is a type of metal. Many people around the world are deficient in it. People that have a zinc deficiency often have limited concentration, chronic fatigue, and nerve dysfunction. As you could probably tell, it is incredibly important to incorporate zinc into your everyday diet.
- Magnesium (as Magnesium Threonate, 75 mg): Magnesium is another ingredient that is found in a variety of popular nootropics. It helps improve both short and long term memory, treat depression by increasing users moods, and helps improve glucose metabolism and energy production.
- Bacopa Leaf Extract Monnieri (45% Bacosides, 300 mg): One of my personal favorite nootropic ingredients, Bacopa helps in memory formation and recall.
- Citicoline (CDP Choline, 75 mg): Another popular nootropic ingredient, Citicoline (CDP Choline) is used to enhance the effects of other nootropics. It has a whole host of cognitive benefits: the ability to enhance memory, decrease mental fatigue, and increase focus are just a few.
- Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract (24% Glycosides, 50 mg): Ginkgo has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been studied for being an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In addition, it also helps increase concentration, fight anxiety, and improve memory.
- Hordenine HCL (20 mg): Hordenine HCL acts as an MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor. MAO’s can destroy monomamines (amino acids and hormones) which play an important role in the function of our brain.
- Huperzine A 1% (5 mg): Another popular nootropic supplement, Huperzine A is both neuroprotective and helps support memory consolidation as well as neuroplasticity.
- Mucuna Pruiens Seed Extract (98% L-Dopa, 100 mg): Mucuna Pruiens is both neuroprotective and adaptogenic. One of its main benefits is that it helps regulate dopamine adrenaline, serotonin, and noradrenaline in the brain. This helps reduce anxiety and stress.
- Phenylethylamine HCL (500 mg):Phenylethylamine (PEA) is often referred to as the “love drug” because it stimulate dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine in the brain. This can make users feel happy, aroused, and focused.
- Bioperine (10 mg): Sourced from black pepper, Bioperine has a wide variety of benefits. It helps with the absorption of some nutrients, synergizes with curcumin (enhancing its anti-inflammatory effects), has some anti-depressant effects, and increases productivity.
- Theobromine (150 mg): Extracted from cacao, Theobromine’s effects are related to caffeine in that it increases alertness and the overall attention of its users. It has a longer duration than caffeine does.
- Vinpocetine (30 mg): One of Vinpocetine’s biggest benefits is that it is a vasodilator and increases blood flow to the brain. This allows oxygen, nutrients, etc. to get to the brain in a much more efficient manner.
- Alpha GPC (100 mg): Alpha GPC is another very popular nootropic due to its ability to deliver choline to the brain very quickly.
- Phosphatidylserine (200 mg): Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an amino acid that contributes to cognitive function. Studies have found that it may improve memory in the elderly.
- Curcumin Root Extract 95% (500 mg): Curcumin is one of the most interesting nootropics around. This is because it has been findings suggest that it is not only neuroprotective, has anti-inflammatory properties, and has anti-depressant properties, it could also boost the regeneration of brain stem cells. This has the ability to help those who have Alzheimer’s or have had a stroke.
- Green Tea Leaf Extract (98% Polyphenol & 45 EGCG, 500 mg): Long used in Chinese medicine, Green Tea has a whole host of cognitive benefits that have been well-studied. It can help improve everything from cardiovascular disease to inflammation.
- Lithium (as Lithium Orotate, 3 mg): Lithium has the ability to remove harmful metals from the brain, anti-depressant properties, and it may even increase gray matter in the brain.
- Quercetin (200 mg): Quercetin has been shown to reduce inflammation, chronic fatigue, and cognitive impairment.
- Algal DHA (200 mg): Algal DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3’s have neuroprotective
- Taurine (500 mg): Often found in energy drinks, Taurine has high neuroprotective abilities, and has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant properties.
- Uridine Monophosphate (500 mg): In a study of gerbils who were given uridine monophosphate, choline, and DHA, the gerbils were able to complete their maze at a much more efficient rate (implying increased cognitive performance).
- Lion’s Mane Extract (30% Polysaccharide, 500 mg): A study in Japan found that when people (ages 50 to 80) that had a mild cognitive decline were given Lion’s Mane extract for an extended period of time, a significant increase in their mental performance was recorded without adverse effects.
- Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Herb extract (150 mg): Gynostemma is a strong anti-oxidant and adaptogen. This allows it to improve users resistance to stress.
As you can probably tell, the inclusion of these different ingredients are not random. They work together in a way that not only optimizes mental performance but the body on a whole. This means an improved mood, immune system, physical performance, and more. Only when the whole body is taken care of will the mind be able to function at its peak.
Making vs Buying Qualia
When I first looking at the price tag of Qualia and then the ingredients list, the first though that went through my head was, “I could just make this supplement myself.” So I spent a long time researching how much it would cost to buy a months worth of all of the ingredients, capsules, and a machine to package the capsules. It turns out that not only would it cost me more money to make Qualia myself but it would take hours (possibly even a full day) to purchase the ingredients, properly measure them out, capsule, and package them. Oh, and I risk accidentally miscalculating the dosing, which would not be fun.
My Personal Qualia Experience
Below I go in-depth on my personal experience with Qualia. While I tried my best to record how it made me feel, please remember that this is my personal experience and it may not apply to everyone that take Qualia.
My order of Qualia showed up on my doorstep the evening before the day I first took it. Having researched this nootropic and its ingredients for days, I was ready to get started. In fact, I ended up waking up around 6am on the first day because I so excited to try it out.
Upon reading the directions, I learned that the capsules in the first step needed to be taken without food. This posed a problem for me. I have a sensitive stomach so when it comes to taking any supplement without food, it can usually lead to me feeling nauseous for hours. I decided to compromise and have a vegetable and fruit juice so that there was at least something small in my stomach before taking step one of Qualia.
As with all new nootropics I take on the first day, I took less than the recommended dose of step one of Qualia to see how I reacted (2 capsules instead of 3).
Having taken noopept, CILTEP, and almost all of the other ingredients included in step one of Qualia, I was fairly familiar with the effects I felt within the first hour. There was a clearing of brain fog and a slight increase in motivation at first. As the morning progressed, I felt the Purenergy start to kick in and interact with the other ingredients. This led to a much more energized focused.
In the afternoon, around 1pm, I took half a dose of step two (3 capsules). The step two capsules are about 20% bigger than the step one capsules. They weren’t hard to swallow for me since I took them individually but I could see how some people could have a problem gulping them down.
Since I wasn’t too familiar with taking the majority of the ingredients in step two of Qualia, I wasn’t sure what I would be feeling. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel too much the first day. There was a slight overall calming effect and a slight increase in productivity.
I chalked the moderate success of the first day up to the fact that I ate some food in the morning before taking step one and only took half doses of both steps.
This is the day where things started to get interesting.
While I didn’t take step one on an entirely empty stomach this day, I did decide to take the recommended dose of both step one and two. I also took step two mid-morning, rather than in the afternoon as I did the previous day.
About twenty minutes after taking step two I had to jump on a conference call to present a project I proposing for a client. In situations like this, where I have to give impromptu presentations, my adrenaline usually kicks in and leads to me feeling slightly nervous. What I found interesting is that while I was waiting for the conference call to start, I didn’t feel any adrenaline or “fight or flight” symptoms (e.g. shortness of breath). In fact, I felt calm and was able to organize my thoughts prior to even presenting.
My presentation went much better than I could have hoped. In fact, I was remembering to say things without even having to look down once at my notes. The words seemed to effortlessly jump from my thoughts into well-formed sentences. Needless to say, I was very happy with how Qualia helped me perform on the second day.
As the days progressed, I started to feel the effects of Qualia more and more. While the first day didn’t do much for me, day four really showed me what Qualia could do.
It was a Sunday so I was debating whether I should take it or not because I wasn’t going to be working a full day. However, I decided to take it and spend the first half of my day working and the second part of my day at the gym.
One of the big benefits of Qualia is the fact that I don’t get distracted as easily. Because of this I was able to breeze through my to do list without a hitch. This makes even the most monotonous tasks easy to finish.
After getting some work done, I went to the gym. During my warm up on the treadmill I noticed I wasn’t getting as tired as I usually do and my breathing was staying consistent. This led to me actually wanting to run more than I usually do. Since I’m not a huge fan of running, this was a big surprise for me. I’m pretty sure that Qualia actually helped improve my cardiovascular performance.
The rest of my workout was spectacular. While Qualia didn’t magically allow me to lift heavier weights, I was able to workout more without feeling as fatigued. My usual grueling 45 minute workout turned into an enjoyable hour and a half workout.
Since I only take Qualia for five consecutive days at a time (and take two days off) this was my first day back from cycling off the previous two days.
I was starting to get used to the increase in focus, the mental edge, and the overall feeling of optimization. This led me to a big mistake — I mixed Qualia with three cups of coffee.
My caffeine tolerance is high so I can normally drink a lot of coffee without feeling much of a stimulant effect. For some reason I forgot to not drink coffee during this review and I ended up feeling pretty anxious and irritable the rest of the day. Luckily I realized my mistake and drank a lot of water in the afternoon to try and flush out my system but it was still a lost day.
My recommendation: Don’t mix Qualia with caffeine.
Qualia is a pretty incredible nootropic. In fact, it’s hard for me to even call it a nootropic because the benefits I felt from it were more than just mental. Qualia helped to optimize a lot of different facets of my body. Beyond the mental edge of being able to focus and retain information at a higher level, I was sleeping better, less fatigued when waking up, and I could even perform better physically. The day-to-day feeling that Qualia gave me was unlike other supplements. I didn’t feel like I needed to get things done (as some nootropics make me feel) and I didn’t feel jittery.
An interesting video on how Qualia works, its benefits, and more.
To be honest, I was really surprised after reviewing Qualia. Many nootropics that I have tried in the past have slightly different variations of effects on me. Some give me more energy, some make me calmer, but they all basically do pretty much the same thing. Qualia was the first one that seemed to do it all and do it well.
I give Qualia a big thumbs up. Yes, the price is high but the benefits, in my mind, are worth it. It is truly unlike any other nootropic on the market. To me, it is the Rolls Royce of cognitive enhancing supplements.