Updated March 26, 2017: We updated this review to reflect our more in-depth and comprehensive experience.
In the world of nootropics, truBrain has been making a splash for several reasons. It’s got incredibly slick packaging and branding, an innovative delivery system (single-use “shots” that are easy to take on the go), and a development team headed by UCLA trained neuroscientists (Dr. Andrew Hill is one of the company’s founders, and he actually has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from UCLA).
The truBrain team is up front about the faces behind their products, and their site also provides a lot of content surrounding their ingredients. They also stand out for listing the actual dosages of each ingredient in their otherwise proprietary blend, which some companies in the space are more careful to protect.
While truBrain also produces a line of nootropics in capsule form, we’re starting off by reviewing their most talked-about products: The line of liquid brain shots that come in Original, Non-Caffeinated, and Boost.
All three versions of truBrain’s shot include the following:
- Vitamin C
- Maybe the world’s most well-known nutrient, Vitamin C plays numerous roles in bodily functions, including many in the brain. In the world of on-the-go nutrition, many Americans still fall short of their daily recommendation.
- Oxiracetam – 800 mg
- A member of the Racetam group of compounds, oxiracetam is tied to the prevention of cognitive decline and boosting memory formation. However, it lacks the same level of human trials and clinical evidence as other compounds that work via these mechanisms. Our testers found it to be a slower boost than Noopept, a key ingredient in the nootropic stack Lumonol. TruBrain claims oxiracetam is a more powerful form of Racetam, and while initial evidence suggests that’s the case, we’d like to see more clinical trials before confirming its potency. This class of compounds interacts with choline receptors, and we’re glad to see truBrain include choline (below) in the supplement as well; taking Racetam compounds without enough choline can in some cases result in a dull headache, though none of our testers experienced this at any point with truBrain (in our experience there seems to be plenty of choline in the supplement to offset this risk).
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine – 500 mg
- 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. We’re pleased truBrain includes both compounds in order to promote acetylcholine levels.
- N-Acetyl Tyrosine – 350 mg
- L-Tyrosine is well-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.
- CDP-Choline Citocoline – 250 mg
- 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). It’s a common ingredient in many nootropic stacks.
- Magnesium – 200 mg
- This element is an important part of any balanced diet, and it’s also a nutrient many Westerners (especially active males) are deficient in. Magnesium plays numerous roles in brain chemistry and is often sold in some forms as a sleep aid, as it helps promote relaxation and feelings of calm.
- L-Theanine 160 mg
- L-Theanine is an amino acid known to support a calm mood without inducing sleepiness. When used in conjunction with caffeine, it has been observed to reduce error rates while performing tasks.
- Caffeine – 80 mg (original), 100 mg (boost)
- Caffeine is a stimulant acting on the central nervous system. One of the better-researched mental and physical performance enhancers, caffeine is proven to have acute effects on cognitive function and mood when used in conjunction with L-Theanine, also an ingredient in truBrain shots.
Boost: similar to above but with the addition of:
- Centrophenoxine – 250 mg
- This is a compound that contains DMAE within it and may be better absorbed than DMAE on its own. It is sometimes seen under the brand name Lucidril and marketed toward the elderly.
- Uridine – 500 mg
- A combination of fish oil, uridine, and choline supplementation improved cognition and enhanced neurotransmitter release in animal trials, suggesting the three ingredients are synergistic. This combo is currently being used in studies regarding Alzheimer’s treatment.
Other Ingredients: Purified water, organic blue agave, xylitol, organic cane sugar, natural flavor, mangosteen concentrate/nopal concentrate, natural flavor, monk fruit, nisin and polylysine
Enjoy one or two drinks per day as desired, preferably with food. Optimal results will come from regular, consistent use. For those new to truBrain, please be patient and keep in mind that it may be helpful to have more frequently in the beginning. Try mixing your drinks with smoothies, juices, or just shoot it straight.
What Our Testers Say
“truBrain reminded me of Lumonol, but it works slower for me. Instead of feeling a boost almost immediately, clarity came on gradually as the day went by (would definitely recommend taking this one in the morning, especially the versions with caffeine). I started noticing significant improvements in clarity and reduced brain fog on day four. I tried all three versions, Original, Boost, and Caffeine-Free, and didn’t notice much of a difference between the three. They had similar tastes, and all went down easily.”
“I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, so I felt a definite surge after taking this (it’s really not more caffeine than a small cup of coffee, but even that gets me going). As long as I took this in the morning, I also noticed I slept well at night. I think I’ll end up taking this regularly, but it will be the caffeine-free version, which is more in line with my lifestyle and schedule. I enjoyed the taste of these shots.”
“I’m excited to find a brain supplement I can add to smoothies! It’s a sweet flavor overall and pairs well with protein shakes and green smoothies I like to make for a quick breakfast (and gives them caffeine; coffee in greens smoothies is not good, trust me). This isn’t the most powerful surge I’ve felt from a supplement, but it became gradually more noticeable over the course of a week. No brain fog, no jitters, didn’t feel superhuman, but did feel like a good version of me.”
Updated TruBrain Experience
When my package of truBrain arrived in the mail, I was a little taken aback by the packaging. I had never seen nootropics packaged in such a way. If you’re not familiar with truBrain packaging, they have created tiny bottles where the ingredients are in liquid form. You rip off the tab at the top and can literally squirt truBrain into your mouth.
After checking out the packaging for a little while, I actually started to warm up to the idea of a liquid nootropic. Why? 99% of nootropics on the market at in pill form. This gives you almost no way to try a little bit of the nootropic before diving in and taking a full dose. Some nootropics out there aren’y made with the best ingredients and can even make you feel ill. However, with the truBrain liquid delivery method, you can dose out the nootropic as you see fit.
My first day using truBrain, I woke up at around 7:30am, had a full breakfast (eggs and fruit) and skipped my regular coffee. This is because truBrain contains 80mg to 100mg of caffeine (depending on which version you take). For one, I didn’t want my regular coffee to interfere with the review and secondly, I didn’t want to go overboard with caffeine.
Since it was my first time using truBrain, I decided not to take the whole “shot” at one time. When it comes to nootropics, and supplements in general, I like to dip my toe in the water first before going all in. This is because I have had adverse reactions to some supplements in the past.
After taking about 1/4 of the bottle, I didn’t really notice much. Noon rolled around and I decided to have about half of what was left. About 20 minutes later I started to feel its effects. The small amount of caffeine, mixed with the racetams, and L-Theanine did exactly what I thought it would — gave me an amazing cognitive boost.
Do you know how you feel when your mind feels at its peak performance, when your thinking is incredibly clear? That is exactly how I felt using truBrain. Every aspect of my mental performance felt like it got a boost – mental clarity, focus, energy, and even verbal intelligence. I’m going to run through each to give you a better idea of what you might expect when using truBrain…
- Mental Clarity: I noticed the first uptick in my mental clarity when I was writing an email after taking the full dose of truBrain and the words starts to flow from my brain to the page much quicker than usual. It felt as if my mind was able to make connections to words and string together sentences a lot easier.
- Focus: While putting together a proposal for a new client, I was able to keep a sustained focus for longer than usual. Normally my focus wains around 30 minutes in and I start to get slightly bored with whatever it is that I’m doing. Because of this I usually take a break, which interrupts the flow of work and sets me back a little. With truBrain, I didn’t feel as though I needed to take any breaks because my focus was at 100% for longer periods of time. This meant I could get more done in a day. A huge plus!
- Energy: I have a love hate relationship with caffeine. I love the boost of energy it gives me but I usually end up taking too much and crashing near the end of the day. The mixture of caffeine and L-Theanine in truBrain, was perfect for giving me the right boost of energy without making me crash. The key is the L-Theanine, which helps prevent crashing and any jitters caused by caffeine.
- Verbal Intelligence: What I enjoyed the most while using truBrain was my ability to form sentences quicker and easier. I often find, when not using a nootropic, that I have to pause to collect my thoughts before responding to someone in a conversation. I also normally use a lot of filler words such as “ah” or “um”. While on truBrain, all of these things nearly disappeared. My ability to form clear and concise sentences skyrocketed and I barely ever used filler words while speaking. This helped me come off as much smarter and eloquent on business phone calls and in meetings.
My last day using truBrain (30 days in) I found that the normal dose didn’t quite give me the same boost that it once did in the beginning. Because of this, I started to cycle off of it more regularly. My cycle usually goes 5 days on, 2 days off (week days and weekends). Or, if I have a lot of work, I will do 2 weeks on, 4 days off. It’s important to cycle off of any nootropic so you don’t build up a tolerance and need to take more than the recommended dose to feel the same effects that you once did.
Lastly, I want to briefly mention a great side effect that truBrain had for me. It made me sleep like a baby. I have no idea how or why but every time I would take truBrain in the morning, I would get one of the best nights sleep. At first I thought it had nothing to do with truBrain but it continually happened every time I took it.
- If taking Original or Boost, use truBrain in the morning for all-day focus that builds over time.
- This supplement’s best effects tend to be cumulative, so patience for a few days is advisable when starting truBrain.
- Take with a fish oil supplement to take advantage of the potent Uridine/Choline/Fish Oil stack mentioned above. Research suggests these three ingredients work synergistically to boost cognition.
- truBrain mixes well with smoothies and protein shakes and has a sweet but somewhat neutral flavor.
- As with any supplement or nutritional regimen, you should talk to your doctor or medical professional before use. Individuals taking MAO-inhibitors or who suffer from compromised renal function or hemophilia should not take truBrain.
truBrain has innovative packaging and marketing behind it, but what impresses us most about the company is the team of trained neuroscientists and researchers who develop their products. Most of our testers enjoyed the product, and there’s more to truBrain’s shots than novelty. Our testers felt no jitters when taking truBrain shots, which is a rarity for supplements that include moderate to significant amounts of caffeine.
The effects did build over time, so it takes a bit of patience in order to get the maximum benefits of this supplement. If you drink smoothies or protein shakes, or are looking for a brain supplement that provides all-day clarity, truBrain is a convenient and pleasant-tasting addition to a morning routine.
Overall, I am very impressed with truBrain. The way they packaged it in liquid form made me a little confused at first but after trying it, I really don’t know why more supplement companies do the same. It is so much easier to control how much you have and spread it out across a day.
Many days, I found myself reaching for a truBrain more often than I found myself reaching for coffee. If you have ever taken piracetam, oxiracetam, or noopept, you will be familiar with the effects of truBrain. However, if you haven’t and trying to decided which to take seems daunting or confusing, I recommend giving truBrain a shot. It is very beginner friendly and you do not need to feel pressure to take the entire dose.
One thing I like about truBrain is that they have a trial package. Many nootropic companies only offer the full versions of their products and make you pay full price for them if you want to try them out. TruBrain offers a 10-drink trial so that you can see how it works before making a full purchase.
Regardless of whether you’re new to the world of nootropics or have a lot of experience, there are a lot of benefits to trying truBrain. My experience got me hooked and now I use truBrain regularly during the average workday. I have even gone as far as giving away some to friends and family to try (who have loved it).
Click here to check the current price of truBrain. After trying, come back and leave a comment about your experience! I’d love to know what you think.