Long-term effectiveness - 30%
Short-term effectiveness - 30%
Safety - 8%
Price - 15%
Should you buy it?
In my opinion, Optimind is an incredibly dated nootropic. Proprietary blends are thankfully a thing of the past. There are plenty of brain supplements out there – great, effective, powerful ones – that tell you exactly what’s in them. You can do better.
TL;DR – Summary
Optimind might have been a cutting-edge nootropic when it was first released many moons ago. But today, it looks incredibly dated. For a start, Optimind lists all of its ingredients as one big proprietary blend rather than listing them individually. This is just a massive no-no for me. I will categorically not recommend – or regularly use – a nootropic that doesn’t show the individual ingredient serving sizes. Simple as that. I’ll explain in more detail below!
Optimind was one of the first nootropic supplements to ‘go mainstream’. Before stacks like Optimind, the word ‘nootropics’ referred exclusively to the pharmaceutical-grade study drugs like Modafinil and Aniracetam. But over the last 10 years, nootropics have gone from underground labs to a mainstay of the supplement industry.
I first heard about Optimind when it first came out. But I was surprised to see that it is still selling well, and there is still a lot of chatter about this nootropic on the big forums. So, I decided to give it a nice, fresh, detailed review.
According to its makers, Optimind is a complete nootropic.
It claims to support every major aspect of cognitive performance:
- Mental energy
- Heightened ‘awareness’
Sounds like a great supplement!
The problem is, every nootropic in existence claims to deliver these and similar benefits.
After trying dozens of these stacks for myself, I can tell you that only a handful ever come close to doing what they say they will.
Does Optimind really work? Why has it remained so popular for so many years? Is it safe? Who should be using this stack?
I’ll answer all of these questions in my detailed Optimind review below. Please post all questions – as well as your own Optimind experiences – in the comments section at the end.
According to Optimind’s website, they analysed decades worth of neuroscience data to put together their formula. Let’s see if that checks out.
Here is the ingredients list:
- Bacopa monnieri
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Huperzine A (from whole plant)
Proprietary blend issue
Right away you’ll notice that Optimind uses a proprietary blend rather than listing the individual ingredient serving sizes.
This was totally normal in the first years of the nootropics industry.
Today, it is completely unacceptable.
Every decent nootropic stack on the market today lists every ingredient individually along with its respective serving size.
How can you expect people to take completely unknown quantities of these herbal extracts?
How can you ask people to take an unknown – potentially massive – dose of caffeine?!
This just doesn’t work for me unfortunately.
I’ll now go through the key ingredients one by one, telling you what they do and how they can – or can’t – help cognitive function.
Bacopa monnieri is easily one of my most used nootropics. It is used in pretty much every natural nootropic on the market that deals with memory, and with good reason. In repeated clinical trials Bacopa monnieri has proven itself capable of improving memory function. It seems particularly good at improving memory game scores in people with mild, age-related cognitive decline. From experience I can tell you that this is a superb nootropic.
Another nootropic staple, phosphatidylserine is a vital building block of brain cell membranes. This fatty-acid like substance is used for the construction of new neurons, synapses, dendrites, and their protective covering. It is also necessary for healthy cell signalling. Basically, if you want to maximize your brain power over the long-run, phosphatidylserine is a must-have.
I’m really not convinced by this one. GABA is a neurotransmitter. It is the principle inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian CNS. That means it acts as a depressant on the Central Nervous System. People therefore think that supplementing with it makes you relaxed, lowers inhibitions, and so on. I don’t see any evidence to support this. More on this below.
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Caffeine is an extremely powerful stimulant; one that you need to take seriously. I’ll talk a lot more about this in the side effects section below.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid. But it has some very interesting nootropic properties. Studies have found that Tyrosine supplementation improves performance on mental tasks when subjects are under intense environmental stress (cold, fatigue, lack of sleep, stress, etc).
Alpha Lipoic Acid is sometimes taken as a supplement to reduce oxidative stress. There is very limited evidence that it can improve cognitive function. Any improvements in brain function thus far have only been seen in people with diabetes, and even that evidence is thin.
Vinpocetine was once found in every new nootropic that came on to the market. Today it has fallen out of favor. I really don’t know why! Vinpocetine has two main mechanisms of action – it increases blood flow by vasodilation, and it reduces inflammation. A real all-round brain health supplement.
Huperzine A is very much a short-term focus booster. It rapidly increases concentrations of acetylcholine in the brain by blocking the enzyme which usually destroys it – acetylcholinesterase. You need to cycle it, but if you just want a one-off, infrequent focus kick, Huperzine A is a great option.
My thoughts on the Optimind formula
Honestly, I just can’t get over the fact that Optimind doesn’t disclose individual ingredient serving sizes.
These guys have had more than enough time to change things – they’ve seen the way the market has been moving and they’ve decided to just stick to their backward, outdated ways!
The proprietary blend is bad, period. But there are specific problems with it that I should make clear to you.
Big Negative – Potential filler ingredients
One of my main issues is the fact that there are several ingredients in Optimind which don’t actually enhance cognitive performance.
These ingredients are cheap, readily available, and usually taken in relatively large doses.
Since I don’t know how much of the formula they make up, I need to consider the possibility that they take up a lot.
Take Taurine for example.
This amino acid is highly prevalent in the human diet. It is found in milk, yoghurt, shellfish, fish, and animal liver. Salmon fillets contain about 4g of Taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Mackerel contains 9g per kilogram of dry weight.
People sometimes supplement with taurine to help with athletic performance. They believe it increases blood flow. When they do, they typically take 500-1000mg at a time.
It’s actually kind of pointless to take less than 500mg of taurine if you’re looking to enhance performance.
The Optimind blend is only 1288mg in size.
So either taurine takes up at least half of that formula, or it is absolutely pointless having it here!
Even dosing taurine at its minimum effective dose of 500mg would leave just 700mg to split between the remaining 9 ingredients.
That’s an average serving size of 77mg.
So what’s going on?
I think it’s likely that taurine is being used as a ‘filler’ ingredient in Optimind.
Manufacturers often use filler ingredients to increase profits.
They take a cheap ingredient and make it 90% of their formula. They then add tiny amounts of the other, more interesting nootropics. By using a proprietary blend, they can trick you into thinking you’re getting good doses of all the ingredients.
But in reality, you’re being totally ripped-off.
There are more potential fillers in Optimind – ALA, Sulbutiamine (synthetic B1), Tyrosine. All of these ingredients can be taken in doses of several hundred milligrams without causing side effects.
I don’t know for certain that this is what Optimind are doing, but I’m not going to take that chance!
Big negative – Needs to be cycled to avoid side effects
The use of Huperzine A is great if you’re looking for a quick increase in focus, concentration, and learning capacity.
But Optimind claims to be a complete, long-term nootropic.
As such, I think adding Huperzine A was a mistake.
Huperzine A basically shuts off the brain’s acetylcholine release valve. It inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase which normally gets rid of excess acetylcholine.
In the short term, this is great. More of this vita neurotransmitter means faster information processing, better concentration, and so on.
But too much acetylcholine in the brain can be a big problem. Above a certain levels, acetylcholine starts to work against you, causing the following side effects:
So, you need to cycle Huperzine A on and off on a fairly regular basis. Usually, I recommend 3 weeks on, one week off.
However, Optimind throws up two big problems.
First, we don’t know how much Huperzine A we get per serving. We therefore can’t accurately gauge how long our cycles need to be.
I might be fine using 100mcg per day for 5 weeks before taking a 3 week break.
You might need 1 week on, 1 week off at the same dose.
We need to know the dose to work this out!
Second, taking prolonged breaks seriously reduces the effectiveness of substances like Bacopa monnieri and Phosphatidylserine.
That’s why I recommend only using Huperzine A as a short-term focus booster. It really shouldn’t be in a long-term nootropic stack.
Biggest negative – Unknown dose of caffeine!
This definitely deserves its own section.
Optimind contains caffeine, but we are not told how much.
The formula is 1.288g in size.
That means that, for all I know, there could be 1280mg of caffeine in every serving of Optimind.
There could be 1mg of course.
But since Optimind are withholding the information I’m forced to consider the worst-case scenario.
Consuming caffeine in doses above 150mg in a single sitting is highly likely to cause side effects. These include:
- Erratic heart rate
- Shortness of breath
Consuming quantities larger than 300mg in a single sitting is – in my opinion – extremely dangerous.
At doses above 300mg, the side effects are going to be significantly more severe. Obviously the severity of the side effects and at what dose they occur depends on you. But I don’t know anybody that can take 300mg of purified caffeine and not get any sides.
Optimind potentially contains 1200mg of caffeine!
That would be an absolutely insane amount to consume across an entire day.
For reference, that’s like drinking 18 espressos.
I don’t have to tell you what the likely outcome of doing that would be – a trip to the hospital at best.
The problems of consuming large quantities of caffeine over a long period of time include:
- High risk of heart disease
- Elevated risk of stroke
I don’t think it’s likely that Optimind contains 1200mg of caffeine. That would just be suicidal on the part of the company.
But the point is that I don’t know.
When it comes to things like health and safety, I don’t like uncertainty!
Is it safe taking Optimind? – Side effects
Probably the most common question I get asked is about safety – will this nootropic cause side effects?
With natural nootropic supplements, the answer is generally a resounding and firm “no”.
But with Optimind, I have serious concerns.
I have outlined above the two ingredients I worry about here – caffeine and Huperzine A.
These substances aren’t dangerous in and of themselves. At reasonable doses, they are extremely effective cognitive enhancers.
But with Optimind, we have absolutely no idea how much of these ingredients we get per serving.
We could get 1mg of caffeine per day.
Or we could get 1200mg of caffeine per day.
That’s the reality of dealing with a proprietary blend; I have to consider the worst case scenario!
I can’t ever recommend a supplement that contains such a potentially massive dose of caffeine.
Even if the dose is half that, you’re putting yourself in serious danger.
It is really irresponsible of Optimind not to let us decide for ourselves if there is too much caffeine in this supplement.
The fact that they have also withheld the Huperzine A dose, when this is also very relevant to user safety, is the icing on the cake for me. I’ll pass!
I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice. All I’m doing here is pointing out the major dangers as I see them, according to my research and extensive experience. Do your own research and please talk to a doctor if you have any concerns whatsoever
How much does Optimind cost?
So how much does Optimind cost then?
You might be thinking that the risk of getting a supplement that is all taurine and caffeine might be worth it for a few bucks.
A single bottle of Optimind costs $43.31.
That’s $40 for a supplement that could very easily be 90% taurine, 90% Vitamin B1, 90% Tyrosine, or most worryingly of all, 90% caffeine.
I really don’t think Optimind is a very good option at all if you are remotely interested in getting value for your money.
Other nootropics divulge their full formulas on their bottles, they contain no fillers, and there’s no mystery stimulant doses to worry about!
Final verdict – Is it worth trying Optimind?
I don’t know what else to say.
Proprietary blend, potential filler ingredients, useless ingredients, unknown Huperzine A dose, and an unknown (but potentially huge) dose of caffeine.
This is not the description of a solid nootropic stack!
Optimind’s problems are many, and they are SERIOUS.
I strongly advise people to think very carefully before trying this nootropic.
I don’t see why you would put your health at risk for such little potential reward. I don’t know how much caffeine Optimind contains, but if it is even half of what it could be, then you’ll be in trouble.
There are plenty of far safer, more predictable, and probably much more powerful options out there!
Check out my list of the best nootropics on sale today. I’m sure you’ll see the difference between them and Optimind!
When should I take Optimind?
This depends on the caffeine dose, which we don’t know. If there’s a lot of caffeine, I’d say try to concentrate doses toward the beginning of the day. If there’s very little, you’ll be fine taking some up until dinner time. But as I said, we don’t know so I can’t say either way.
Thanks for that Optimind!
How long until Optimind starts to work?
Again, this depends on the doses of the individual ingredients. If the stack is mostly Bacopa monnieri, then it will take several weeks to see results. If it is predominantly Huperzine A, caffeine and Vinpocetine, you’ll probably see results right away.
It all depends on dose, which Optimind has chosen to hide. Big disappointment.