I’ve had several people ask me about this slick Nootropic stack product Qualia and I also know several people who have tried it and liked it.
I’ve personally experimented with over 90 different Nootropics over the past 7 years and I can tell you even without taking it that there’s a couple of serious problems with Qualia…
1. It contains ingredients at insufficient dosages. I believe in taking Nootropics in the dosages that are demonstrated as being effective in human trials. For example, it contains 100 milligrams of Alpha GPC which is insufficient, the dosage range recommended in studies is 400–600 milligrams. There’s no good reason to assume that it benefits you in a minuscule dosage.
2. Nootropic stacks deprive you the opportunity to experiment with different dosages and figure out what dosage works for your unique neurobiology. For example; It contains 30 milligrams of Vinpocetine, I don’t respond well to Vinpocetine — a lot of people don’t. In my research on Vinpocetine, I found that about a third of people experience Dopamine blues as a result of it.
3. Dosage tolerance curve, if you use all of those Nootropics daily you build up a tolerance to them. I recently designed a cool infographic where I have two data plots illustrating this.
4. Low-quality individual ingredients, when they include over 40 different ingredients the quality of the individual ingredients goes way down. They have no incentive for the quality of the individual ingredients. There’s no public COA for the ingredients. You have to take it on faith that it contains all 42 of those ingredients on the label.
5. They pay their affiliates a pretty high commission percentage (25%), so you have to consider the financial incentive of those recommending it so enthusiastically. It looks like the true price of Qualia is around $100 so I’m not sure if I want to pay $25 to someone just for sending me a sales email with a link.
Now, these criticisms generalize to almost all Nootropic stacks but Qualia I find particularly problematic because it’s so expensive and it contains so many ingredients, they really went over the top.
It looks like there are real people behind the product, the Neurohacker Collective, they have an office and customer service in the United States but the product is fundamentally flawed
Recently I designed this cool infographic, that visually illustrates a lot of these issues that Qualia typifies.
I had a cordial conversation with Daniel of the Neurohacker Collective and he took the time to respond to the objections I raise, they are well worth considering by anyone considering Qualia
1. It contains ingredients at insufficient dosages.
Dosage is obviously a critical and nuanced topic. Generally speaking, too low a dose is ineffective and too high a dose can be problematic. Individual sensitivities usually follow bell curve distributions. Some ingredients have U-shaped dose response curves. The form of the ingredient affects total dosage amount needed, as do delivery mechanisms. Oftentimes not just the absolute amount of an ingredient, but the ratios of ingredients matter for the intended effects. Other ingredients in a stack can inhibit or potentiate the effects. And for an ingredient that has multiple physiological effects, different dosages are needed depending upon the intended mechanism effected.
The reason an average dose of Qualia is 9 large capsules (3 capsules of step 1, 6 capsules of step 2, currently using the largest capsules on the market 000 to avoid the number being even higher), with no filler or inert ingredients and the least excipient possible for manufacturing…is because dosage matters to us. If you study the dosages, you’ll notice that the amount of the vitamins and minerals that have RDA’s is very high relative to that standard. Based upon the research for the specific effects intended. You’ll also notice that for most of the botanical and nootropic compounds, the doses are what are indicated either in specific scientific studies or the consensus of a large body of experience (clinical or quantified self).
The average dose of Qualia is 9 large capsules. This includes 3 capsules of step 1 and 6 capsules of step 2. For step 2, we are currently using the largest capsules on the market (size 000) to limit total pill number. Our pills contain no filler or inert ingredients and the least excipient possible for manufacturing. We do all this because because dosage per ingredient matters to us. If you study the dosages we use, you’ll notice that the amount of the vitamins and minerals is high relative to Adequate Intake (AI) references. We don’t hold a more-is-better mentality but we also believe that in many cases, Adequate Intake is not indicative of what’s potentially optimal values. For the botanical and nootropic compounds we use, dosages are determined by our multistep process: 1) determine dosages used in specific scientific studies, 2) assess available reported experience (clinical or quantified self), and 3) A/B testing based off of our hypothesis of what we think is best. There is no perfect formula here, but we are proud of ours. Scientific studies are not designed to determine optimal dosing in specific individuals. They are most often designed to assess effects of one-to-several doses across groups of people vs placebo (hopefully). With this traditional strategy, one can say something about effects-adverse events per dose for groups of people, but this still isn’t a formula for personalization. Personalization largely remains on the consumer side by regulating dose based off of their experience. The process is as follows: people get to decide if they are compelled to try what we have created. From there, they get to experiment with the dosages — either more (up to recommended limits) or less — until they find something that feels ideal for them, or then may determine that it’s not right for them. We intend to advance this in meaningful ways as our company matures. We aim to improve upon that but notice that while we believe we have a formulation that many people will derive meaningful benefit from, we do not say “this is perfect for every single person.”
Regarding Alpha GPC, you noticed one of our ingredients that we decided to use at a lower dose. This was not a cost decision. Instead, we spent considerable time aiming to perfect our cholinergic blend. We cannot say anything about what what’s mediating the effect of this sub-formulation in our full formulation — like what compound is response for what percentage of the effect — but after our inhouse testing, we decided upon this blend in this ratio.
The studies you mention look at Alpha GPC in isolation. Primarily looking at its affect as a choline donor to increase acetylcholine levels. We also use Citicoline, Uridine, and Centrophenoxine as choline donors. Uridine and Citicoline can both convert into Alpha GPC; uridine has additional benefits like synaptogenesis and positive effects on dopamine receptors; centrophenoxine readily crosses the blood brain barrier affecting the central nervous system, and offering additional neuroprotective benefits that are potentially life-extension supportive; etc. In addition to choline donors, we include acetyl donors to ensure that acetylation is not the rate limiting factor in the production of maintenance of acetylcholine-median enhancement in cognitive performance. These acetyl donors primarily responsible for this effect are acetyl-carnitine but also N-acetyl-tyrosine. The B5 is included as a cofactor in acetylcholine synthesis. Huperzine-A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which leads to less acetylcholine breakdown and more cholinergic neuron activation. The Noopept upregulates the uptake of acetylcholine in the NMDA receptor in the postsynaptic neuron.
In the development process, we experimented with many other cholinergic chemicals as well, with varying dosages and combinations, to find a mix that had maximal benefits, with the longest and smoothest effect curve, with the least symptoms of choline excess, for most users, factoring for regular usage.
2. Nootropic stacks deprive you the opportunity to experiment with different dosages and figure out what dosage works for your unique neurobiology.
Personalization is obviously valuable. For anyone making their own stacks based on careful research and closely monitored self experimentation, wonderful! We started our study of nootropics and ‘cognitive chemistry’ this way. So dedicatedly that we didn’t know if it was possible to make something that would be meaningful for most people without personalization. After approximately 100 iterations, we were happily surprised by how effective we were able to get this formulation. We believe we achieve a meaningful and positive effect for about 80% of people that try it.
We include the ingredient forms and dosages so people can add additional elements to this base stack if they wish to. (We don’t hide dosages in proprietary blends for this reason — we open source the formulation IP we spent years developing.)
Qualia contains several compounds that support various steps of dopaminergic transmission including: DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl-Tyrosine, L-dopa from Mucuna, P-5-P, Uridine, Hordenine, and others. We include vinpocetine because it’s been shown to effect cerebral perfusion and metabolism in a manner that is unique when compared to blood flow-influencing compounds like gingko and niacin. In our experience, vinpocetine does not result in “dopamine blues” when stacked with these other dopamine-related compounds. From what we can assess from average user reports, people enjoy a clear positive experience with the formulation.
3. Dosage tolerance curve
It is suggested that Qualia be used either just when desired, or if used regularly, taken 5 days on and 2 days off. With at least one week per quarter totally off of all stimulants including caffeine. This cycle seems adequate to prevent desensitization for the ingredients in qualia. Different chemicals create desensitization/ downregulation effects faster than others. We intentionally formulated this to be capable of regular effective use. (There are people that have been using Qualia this way for almost 3 years still reporting meaningful effects. Other people need less overtime because they report stabilizing a higher baseline and responding to smaller doses.)
4. Low-quality individual ingredients
As you point out, this is an issue in the supplement industry widely. Along with the first point on dosage, ingredient quality is a factor we prioritize carefully. You’ll notice that a number of our ingredients use the patented/ branded forms from companies like Chromadex or Gencor that did the clinical research on the ingredient form. With our nutraceuticals, you’ll notice that we use the methylated version of B12, the phosphorylated version of B6, the S-acyl derivative form of B1, magnesium as magnesium threonate, etc. Each of these are far more expensive than the common forms, but are more effective for the mechanisms of action we are targeting. There is a similar process with our botanicals and botanical extracts.
There are ingredients that we want to use and can’t because we can’t find a supplier that meets our quality control standards.
Besides sourcing diligently and manufacturing in a cGMP facility, we get COA’s on every batch of every ingredient and make sure it meets our purity and potency standards.
But quality control goes much further, into the type and amount of dessicants used, the excipients used and the types of capsules, etc. Our quality control standards for sourcing and manufacturing are a major ongoing investment.
5. They pay their affiliates a pretty high commission percentage (25%)
If a company sells a product wholesale to a resale store like whole foods or costco, they generally sell it for about 50% of retail. And they have to pay a team to do the enterprise sales to get those stores to carry it. So the marketing related payout there is well over 60%. If we can pay 25% of what gets generated to a channel partner, that is about the lowest cost to acquire a customer (CAC) we could want, which is how we can afford to do very heavy R&D and quality control.
IF you do try Qualia please leave a review below with your honest experiences…
Originally published at www.limitlessmindset.com.