Nootropics Depot Review: Effective or Unsafe?

Nootropics Depot Review: Effective or Unsafe?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to nootropics.

Nootropics Depot is one of the most popular nootropic brands in the US. The company is known for its cognitive-enhancing supplements (“nootropics”), but also sells supplements in other categories like herbal supplements and pre-workout supplements.

But are Nootropics Depot supplements well-formulated? Do they contain any questionable or unsafe ingredients? Why did the brand and its CEO plead guilty in a criminal case in 2023? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Nootropics Depot supplements?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the formulation of some of Nootropics Depot's best-selling supplements, based on clinical studies, to give our take on whether or not they're well-formulated.

We'll explain why the company and its founder pled guilty to a criminal case in 2023 and what that means for the brand moving forward, and share some of our concerns about the safety and test results published by Nootropics Depot.

We'll also provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells Nootropics Depot supplements for the best price.

Founder Pleads Guilty to Drug Distribution

In October of 2023, the founder of Nootropics Depot named Paul Eftang pled guilty to distributing drugs into interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The company agreed to pay $2.4 million, and forfeit some of the drugs being sold illegally.

Some of the supplements like phenibut and tianeptine that were being sold by Nootropics Depot are categorized as drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and were thus illegal to sell over-the-counter (OTC).

We consider this to be a major red flag about the ethics of the company and its founder, and we recommend that consumers be extremely wary when purchasing from this company.

We've reviewed many nootropic supplements on Illuminate Health, and this is the first brand to date that's been involved in a criminal investigation led by the FDA.

Are the Products Well-Formulated?

Alpha GPC is one of Nootropics Depot's best-sellers at the time of updating this article. The dosage used is 150 milligrams (mg).

Most medical studies we've reviewed on this ingredient seem to use a minimum dose of 200 mg and often higher, but since it’s a single-ingredient supplement, users can just increase the dose as needed by taking more capsules.

However, Alpha GPC is a suboptimal supplement from a safety perspective in our opinion, as its supplementation is clinically shown to be associated with increased stroke risk, as we discussed in our Noobru reviews article on another nootropic supplement containing this ingredient.

Caffeine + l-theanine capsules are another one of Nootropics Depot's best-sellers.

This combination is one of the safest and most effective research-backed nootropic combinations, because caffeine is a stimulant and l-theanine increases alpha brain wave activity and can reduce jitters from caffeine.

Tonkgat ali extract is another Nootropics Depot best-seller.

This herb is effective for naturally raising testosterone levels, and a 2022 meta-study found the effective daily dosing range to be between 100 mg and 700 mg.

The dose in Nootropics Depot's supplement is 100 mg, so it's effectively dosed.

Overall, we consider Nootropics Depot supplements to be well-formulated from an efficacy perspective, and all three of the supplements evaluated in this section were free of unhealthy inactive ingredients.

Our Safety Concerns

Update: We find this section to be highly relevant given the recent criminal case against Nootropics Depot and its founder. We published this section years prior to the criminal case.

While Nootropics Depot clearly prioritizes efficacy when formulating nootropics supplements, we have some safety concerns regarding some of the products they sell.

“Nootropics” is a broad descriptor of any compound which can positively impact cognitive function, and this spans from botanical ingredients like Panax ginseng which have been used for thousands of years and have extensive safety data, to novel research chemicals synthesized in a lab which may not have much long-term safety and toxicity data in humans.

Phenibut is a prime example, and appears to be in questionable legal status based on a recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publication

A 2020 medical review documented that phenibut may be addictive in some individuals, and we recommend avoiding this ingredient entirely until more long-term safety data emerges.

Nootropics Depot also sells a nootropic compound called coluracetam at a dosage of 20 mg. This is one of a popular class of nootropic drugs called racetams, which are mildly stimulatory in nature and which modulate neurotransmitter function.

We can’t find a single human study on coluracetam proving its safety, and we recommend avoiding this ingredient. When there are so many effective and safe nootropics available, it seems illogical to take one with lacking safety data.

Nootropics Depot sells a botanical supplement called magnolia bark extract. While this compound has been used traditionally to treat anxiety for centuries, its long-term addiction potential is relatively untested.

A 2017 medical review outlined the addictive potential of magnolia bark due to its ability to modulate GABA in the brain. This could cause it to lead to withdrawal symptoms after long-term use.

Nootropics Depot’s founder’s response to these concerns on Reddit, shown below, was that he had personally taken the product and then "stopped cold turkey without any issues," so he deemed it safe:

Nootropics Depot founder safety comments on Magnolia bark posted on Reddit

This is obviously a very biased and unscientific method of qualifying ingredient safety, and is a major red flag about the legitimacy and ethics of the brand in our opinion.

We recommend that consumers only purchase dietary supplements that use active ingredients with extensive safety data. Ideally, the manufacturer of the supplement cites that safety data on the product page.

Real People Try Nootropics Depot

A YouTube creator named "NootPack" shared his experience using Nootropics Depot's sleep supplement:

A YouTube creator named Nader Qudimat shared his top picks from Nootropics Depot after spending over $1,500 on the site:

Questionable Product Test Documents

When we initially published this article, Nootropics Depot suggested on their website that their supplements were third-party tested. However, as documented below, the testing page on their website was broken:

At the time of updating this article, the brand does not currently claim that their products are third-party tested.

The product images on the Nootropics Depot website now show a specification ("spec") sheet, which shows the benchmarks that the product is supposed to meet in testing, but this is not particularly useful to customers because it doesn't represent actual test results. It's actually a confusing document to publish in our opinion.

The spec sheet states (in fine print) that consumers can request test results from a specific batch by emailing the company.

But why would Nootropics Depot gatekeep this information if they really have it? Third-party test results would only add to the validity of their brand and increase conversions, and many supplement companies already publish third-party testing on their product pages.

These spec sheets are another red flag about the brand as a whole in our opinion.

Our Clean Nootropic Picks

Mind Lab Pro by Performance Lab is our top premium nootropic pick.

This is the first Illuminate Labs Certified supplement, and has been shown to be effective for short-term cognitive improvements in two clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals.

Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top food-based nootropic pick.

MCT oil is derived from coconut oil, and improved memory recall by 20% in adults in a 2022 meta-study.

Illuminate Labs Ginkgo Biloba Extract is our top herbal nootropic pick.

medical review published in the Psychopharmacology journal found that ginkgo biloba supplementation improved attention and cognitive performance in healthy, young adults.

Real Customers Review Nootropics Depot

Amazon is a better resource for unbiased customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.

Nootropics Depot's ashwagandha supplement is currently the brand's most-reviewed product on Amazon, with over 1,100 total reviews and an average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Dawn" who gives the product a 5/5 star rating, and claims it helped her husband:

"...my husband was looking for something to help combat his anxiety and difficulty sleeping. This stuff allows him to calm down without feeling sedated, and it helps him to sleep through the night and not wake up startled by every odd noise 50 times during the night. It's been a real game changer for him."

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Alec Rhim" who gives the product a 1/5 star rating, and claims it negatively impacted sleep:

"I took this supplement once a day at night time and I was unable to sleep. It made it to where I was tired and yawning but physically could not fall asleep until about 4am. Ironically I purchased it to help me sleep better and it did the opposite. Im not sure if i can refund it because i used about 7-8 capsules already but I want to return it."

Nootropics Depot currently has an average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Facebook.

Nootropics Depot currently has an average review rating of 3 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website.

Where to Buy Nootropics Depot for the Best Price

Nootropics Depot supplements are currently sold on the brand's website and at Amazon. Here's a price breakdown for a one-time purchase of the supplements we reviewed, at the time of updating this article:

Alpha GPC (180-count)

Brand website: $34.99 (plus $10.20 shipping, link)

Amazon: $39.99 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

Caffeine + L-theanine (60-count)

Brand website: $13.99 (plus $10.20 shipping, link)

Amazon: $15.99 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

Tongkat Ali Extract

Brand website: $39.99 (plus $10.20 shipping, link)

Amazon: $43.99 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

Amazon currently has a better price on one-time purchases than the brand's website, but the Nootropics Depot website offers free shipping for orders above $50, and the unit price is cheaper there, so the brand's website is a better option for consumers planning to spend over $50.

Pros and Cons of Nootropics Depot

Here's our take on the pros and cons of Nootropics Depot:

Pros:

  • Effective formulations
  • Affordable pricing
  • Mostly favorable online customer reviews

Cons:

  • Brand and founder guilty of drug distribution
  • Questionable safety data
  • Failure to publish third-party test results
  • Unhelpful spec sheets on product pages
  • Supplements don't appear to be clinically tested
  • Expensive shipping under $50
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Nootropics Depot has affordable prices and formulations that are impressive from an efficacy standpoint.

From a safety standpoint, we have a lot of concerns about this brand.

Some of the active ingredients in Nootropics Depot supplements don't appear to have much safety or toxicology testing, and the company and its founder were found guilty of unapproved drug distribution in 2023.

Product pages on Nootropics Depot's website have "spec sheets" that resemble product test results, but these are not product test results and may be confusing to consumers (they were confusing to us at first glance and we're researchers).

If Nootropics Depot has batch testing as they claim to, we urge the brand to just publish those test results on each product page. We don't understand why the brand would withhold this information.

At the time of updating this article, Amazon has a better price on orders under $50, but the Nootropics Depot website has a better price on orders over $50 which qualify for free shipping.