It’s hard to tell sometimes when articles become advertisements. Today’s CNN article on Cogniflex appearing here (and on Facebook) looks like it was also published in March. We have unbelievable endorsements from Stephen Hawkings and Harvard, check. We have a movie tie-in, check. And we have a single, anecdotal report from a single CNN employee Alan Frasier saying the drug was wonderful. All three basics of an advertisement. Further quick checking shows that Cogniflex is just a rehash of Addium, MZT-48, Adderin, etc. The fake article and quotes are nearly identical. Thanks to supplementcritique.com for going through all of these so I didn’t have to.
The article is a fake. But the concept is certainly supported by CNN, which touts other drugs for high achieving executives.
So, let’s look at Cogniflex and see if anything could be there. The official website lists ingredients L-carnitine, L-theanine, caffeine, bacopa monnieri, rhodiola rosea, and vitamin B6. All of these are generally familiar to anyone looking for a brain boost, with the possible addition of bacopa, which is an Indian herb called brahmi. Of the ingredients, carnitine, theanine, and vitamin B6 are less likely to be very active, bacopa and rhodiola are boosters, and caffeine is the active ingredient. Does caffeine affect alertness? Duh.
But does Cogniflex outperform a cup of Joe? Have the creators come up with boosters in the right combination to maintain the caffeine’s effect over the day? First, you can go to the free website pubmed and see if there are any studies on cogniflex. None. So no, the creators didn’t do anything besides create an amazing amount of fake news about their product that they are now recycling with new names. They aren’t interested in anything but your credit card.
Just say no.
If we go further and look at the individual ingredients, bacopa does have a long history of being helpful in brain function (for impaired people over twelve weeks, not overnight). It also appears to be mostly nontoxic (they couldn’t kill a rat with it). I found a fairly exhaustive rundown of the many rodent studies and small human studies here. The examiner gives bacopa higher marks than I would, but the author admits taking the herb.
Cost of bacopa? Probably five dollars a bottle from a discounter. So if you feel you need to shell out for a brain booster, save yourself a few dollars, talk with your doctor, and try the raw ingredient instead of a mix. That’s likely a good rule of thumb. Look at the ingredients, talk with your doctor, and try an individual ingredient rather than paying anyone to put them together for you.
Or, even better, you could get away from the computer and go exercise. That definitely helps brain function.