Adderall Like Effects?

by Christian Duque

We all know who Joe Rogan is and we all know about his wildly successful podcast series. It’s so successful that he signed a $100 million deal with Spotify and has become a household name. We can’t get enough of his conspiracy theories and his endless questions about trivial matters and his eagerness to share anecdotal bits of washroom wisdom. The fact is America loves a good nut and right now there’s no better contender for this auspicious title than the podcaster of the century. I love hearing his take on 911 half-truths, his MMA and boxing insights, and his take on drugs. Whether he’s on thc gummies or talking about some crazy trips, Rogan has no filter. He’s as honest as he can be and tries to keep censorship down to a minimum.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Joe flies solo. He doesn’t have the benefit of a sidekick or a vocal producer. He of course has guests and he gives them equal airtime, but the only constant factor in the Joe Rogan Experience, is Joe Rogan. As a result of his commitment to transparency and personal accountability, he has generated unparalleled levels of goodwill and credibility. His name and likeness alone are invaluable. To say he’s become a household name barely does him justice. He’s more than that. He’s got the credibility of a Walter Cronkite with the punch of a Noam Chomsky or a Wiliam F. Buckley. But unlike those guys, his politics aren’t nearly as apparent. He’s not a party guy and he can’t fit conveniently into a box. While he’s more than likely on the right, if he agreed with something on the left, I don’t think he’d be unable to say so. I don’t think he bats for any team or any cause. I think what he is, when stripped down of any and all pleasantries, is simply a person on a quest for truth. That’s how I’d classify him. That being said, it’s hard to classify or categorize someone who’s truly an individual. It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

So it’s safe to say that Joe is a man’s man and can be trusted, right? I mean all he’s doing is sharing his opinion on news topics and speaking with guests. Ultimately you either agree with his opinion and that of his guests – or – you don’t. Maybe you take some of their take and some of your take and you form your own outloook. That’s perfectly reasonable as well.

But wait a minute, Joe isn’t stopping with the show, he’s also promoting a product. Yes, a product – a supplement no less, called Alpha Brain. Rogan is a co-founder of Onnit, the company that makes Alpha Brain, and which sold to Unilever for between $100-$400 million. Rogan promotes the product heavily and also appears on ads throughout various social media platforms. He states openly that he takes it before every podcast and has taken it on air.

In one recent ad which I saw on Instagram the spokesperson actually made a direct reference between Alpha Brain and the prescription medication Adderall. Any company that makes such a comparison would likely be met with a strong knock at the door. And who knows, maybe a battering ram by some friendly ski-masked alphabet agency agents. Are there potential Lanham Act issues with such advertising? Who knows? But the more aggressive the advertising gets, the more grey it becomes.

Alpha Brain is basically a nootropic. It’s not the first and it certainly won’t be the last. Does it work? I don’t know because I’ve never tried it, but I have tried countless OTC nootropics from a number of companies in the fitness industry. I’m generally a believer in this type of supplement, especially those that don’t rely heavily on caffeine.

In fact, I appreciate the fact that Rogan is so interested in REM sleep and a more holistic approach to mental focus. I think anyone that discounts the use of herbs as being fake or false science is completely off. I have no medical training and I’m simply sharing with you my own personal experiences with nootropics but I can certainly speak to their effects on me. I won’t say they’ve made a huge difference, but I have experienced some positive benefits. With that being said, I also believe that Alpha Brain is getting a tremendous benefit because it’s put on the market by an industry giant like Unilever and because of its association with the most popular podcaster in the world. Moreover, due to Rogan’s connection, other top acts like Joey Diaz have gained sponsorship deals and promote the supplement on their extremely powerful formats. Not only that, but the promo isn’t program-specific, either. These hosts also promote the product on a personal basis. The product has been promoted by leading members of the medical and scientific communities, as well.

That said, have leading researchers given their stamp of approval as a result of clinical tests or has it been out of the kindness of their hearts? Maybe Alpha Brain represents a monumental scientific breakthrough in improving the quality of life of millions. Or maybe they were paid to praise it? Who knows?

The bottom line is that we’re in the supplement industry and we know all about marketing and we also know all about hype. We know about testimonials and we know how sponsorships work. We also know that nootropics represent a very new and exciting part of the industry. Some work very well, but like anything in life, there’s also products that leave much to be desired.

My concern, however, and the primary motivation for writing this article is the fact that outlandish claims may trigger vulnerable people to rely on them. Further to that, any OTC supplement that on any level asserts or even suggests to be able to cure psychological behaviors and/or learning or cognitive disabilities is starting to cross lines that should never be crossed.

I’m by no means a cheerleader for prescription drugs and I’m one of the most critical people of Big Pharma that there is, but I’m also not a doctor and I certainly am not one of these people that think prescription medications can be replaced with natural supplements. And even if they could be, again, that’s for a doctor to decide not a bodybuilding journalist or a podcaster on Spotify, either.

That said, nothing from Rogan, Onnit, or any of its sponsors has directly or sufficiently indirectly crossed any clear-cut lines, but that’s the whole nature of the cat and mouse game that is modern day supplement marketing. While no one actually crosses the line, there’s a number of techniques that come pretty darn close to doing so.

At the end of the day, when I see an ad on instagram that compares Alpha Brain to Adderall – on any level – it concerns me. There’s also unaffiliated videos from users that have weaned themselves off of Adderall and are using Alpha Lion instead. This is essentially a case of everyday people self-diagnosing themselves and switching from prescribed medication to an OTC supplement promoted by a podcaster that they follow. If it works for them, great, but to me it’s problematic. Again, that’s my opinion only; it may not be shared by you. That said, I am very curious as to your feedback and hope to see it in the comments.

Onnit does claim to have conducted at least one study where 118 people were selected but only about 70 participated. It included a number of stipulations, which is not uncommon; however, I’d be more impressed by a study from a disinterested party such as a college or university. The Onnit study featured two randomized controlled studies, but two studies is hardly enough research to show anything of significance, regardless of the results.

Honestly, one study is better than no studies, but for a company the size of Unilever and given some of the outlandish marketing claims already made on social media, I’d need to see a lot more. I mean A LOT MORE! Even still, I am not a doctor or a scientist, so even if I saw 100 studies, I still wouldn’t be convinced. If however, the FDA backed the claims made, then I would give the statements real credence. To my knowledge, Onnit products, like most supplements, are not approved by the FDA.

Is Onnit in the process of getting FDA approval? That would certainly gain my trust. If not, and if their only attempts at legitimacy were based on getting doctors to give testimonials, have Joe and other talent sound off, and continue to run hyped-up ads on social media, then forgive me for my skepticism, but I’m just going to assume that while it may have some positive benefits, I’m going to call bullshit.

What say you?