Anyone who has a brain can’t help but be interested in the buzzy class of supplements known as nootropics. Already a $10 billion+ industry, nootropic supplements and treatments offer an almost irresistible promise: to enhance brain function and general cognition, including superior focus, sharper thinking, and better memory.
For the millions of people suffering from cognitive decay (and the families who have to watch it happen), nootropics offer a kind of Hail Mary pass, a last-ditch effort to shore up the declines that inevitably occur with aging, or with the depredations of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
For others, ranging from college students to overworked businesspeople, nootropics hold out the promise of increased performance and superior retention of knowledge in the form of a pill or gummy that could purportedly give someone a cognitive edge that others lack. But how much of the promise of nootropics is science fact? This is especially true of hot new products like Neuriva. Does Neuriva actually deliver nootropic benefits?
Does Neuriva Really Help the Brain?
Neuriva and similar supplements call themselves “cognitive enhancers,” proudly claiming to “unlock your potential” and “help your brain be at its best.” This assumes, of course, that you purchase their supplements for daily use, and keep on taking them more or less forever. With that kind of commitment, it’s only natural, then, to wonder how much of this supplement’s alleged benefits are genuine — or just clever marketing to capitalize on an all-too-human desire to retain knowledge, memory, and mental acuity.
Here, it’s worth noting that the company’s website includes a disclaimer (although you’ll have to scroll a long way down to find it) that their statements about Neuriva’s cognitive benefits have not been evaluated by the FDA, nor does their supplement treat, cure or prevent any disease, including cognitive ones.
So, it’s only natural to ask yourself: How safe is it to take Neuriva? Are Neuriva and supplements like it really worth your time and money? Here’s what the science says.
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What Are Neuriva’s Active Ingredients?
Aside from a few vitamins, the main ingredients in Neuriva and similar products are primarily phosphatidylserine and coffee fruit extract, also known as coffee berry or coffee cherry.
What Is Coffee Fruit?
Coffee fruit is just that: the fruit that encases a coffee bean. For generations this was discarded during the harvest of coffee beans — it was essentially a waste product. In more recent years, supplement manufacturers have rehabilitated the image of this discarded fruit as something that has cognitive benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Coffee Fruit Extract?
There hasn’t been much independent clinical research on coffee fruit, but it must be noted that at least one study about 10 years ago suggested that coffee fruit could increase levels of something known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein linked to overall brain health and function. However, more such studies are needed to truly establish a link between coffee fruit and improved cognition and memory.
Aside from that, about the only other boost you might get from coffee fruit is a tiny hit of caffeine. That’s true even in products like Neuriva, which claims to be decaffeinated. Never forget that decaffeinated doesn’t mean un-caffeinated, however.
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What Is Phosphatidylserine?
Phosphatidylserine, meanwhile, has been studied a little more extensively. This chemical compound is a type of phospholipid, which acts as a kind of barrier to protect cells and enable certain cell functions. Phosphatidylserine is found in the human brain, where it is a necessary component for healthy brain cell function, particularly when it comes to memory and cognition.
Does Phosphatidylserine Help Cognitive Decline?
In the 1990s, some research did indeed show a benefit to using supplemental phosphatidylserine in patients suffering from cognitive decline. However, most of the phosphatidylserine used back then was derived from the bovine cortex. In other words: It came from the brains of cows. That kind of phosphatidylserine, unfortunately, is no longer used (you can blame Mad Cow Disease for that).
Today, supplemental phosphatidylserine is mostly derived from plant sources, such as soy and cabbage. Very small studies and research funded or influenced by supplement manufacturers have since claimed to show some benefit involving this form of phosphatidylserine. But independent research has failed to show any significant results.
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What Are the Side Effects of Neuriva?
While research on the brain benefits of Neuriva’s two main ingredients — coffee fruit and phosphatidylserine — is far from conclusive, the good news is that these ingredients are generally considered safe and have minimal side effects.
Does Neuriva Interact With Any Medications?
It’s possible that some of Neuriva’s ingredients may interact with certain cancer detection and chemotherapy drugs. And like many supplements, Neuriva could interfere with the absorption of other drugs if you take them at the same time. When in doubt, check with your doctor or pharmacist on any possible interactions.
Does Neuriva Cause Weight Gain?
There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that Neuriva contributes to weight gain. Stomach irritation, headache, and insomnia are the main issues that have been reported — and they are generic symptoms common to many natural or herbal supplement ingredients. Still, remember that coffee fruit does contain some caffeine. If you’re sensitive even to small amounts, you may want to avoid any supplements containing this ingredient.
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How Much Does Neuriva Cost?
About the only other side effect you should be mindful of is the impact on your wallet. Neuriva and similar products cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per bottle. Neuriva, like so many other supplements, claims that their products are “clinically tested,” but that doesn’t mean that the supplements are clinically proven to have any benefit.
In fact, Neuriva’s parent company was recently slapped with an $8 million class-action lawsuit judgment after it was determined that the company falsely claimed that Neuriva was scientifically and clinically proven to have neurocognitive benefits.
As always, think carefully before spending your hard-earned money on an unproven supplement. In other words: Use your brain.
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