Review: New Mood

I have written a few different times about my experiences with Onnit products.  I have had really great results with both Alpha Brain and ShroomTech Sport.

As a little update on the ShroomTech… In my original review, I said that I thought it was possible I was naturally increasing my endurance and so maybe it was more of a placebo effect.  While I believe I am increasing my endurance and ability just from keeping up on work outs, I have learned that I can absolutely tell a difference between when I work out with ShroomTech and when I don’t.  Runs are an especially different experience.  I think I have more energy, perform better, and recover faster on the ShroomTech than without it.  I didn’t re-order more for a long time and not taking it as much, if at all, and that’s when I noticed the difference.  My pace was getting better, but not like it was when I was on using the supplements.  I know that it gets advertised for really hard exercise like jiu jitsu, kickboxing, etc, but I definitely think it is worth it even for a run lasting longer than a couple of miles.  You’ll definitely feel the difference after activity, if not during.

Onto the next one..

New Mood

New Mood was the obvious next try in the list of Onnit products.  I was really interested in the idea of this since it promotes relaxation, better sleep, and serotonin production. If you are curious about the benefits of serotonin you can read up or just know that it plays a big part in your mood, appetite, sleep, etc.  Anti-depressants are often classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), helping your brain to better use this oh-so-important neurotransmitter to overcome depression, anxiety, etc.  I have used SSRIs myself in the past both for anxiety and depression, so I was especially interested to see what effect New Mood might have on me.

As per usual, Onnit talks about the science behind the product.  The product page tells you all kinds of things about the ingredients and what they’re for, so I won’t go crazy with all the details.  Basic things though: L-tryptophan (that stuff that puts you to sleep after Thanksgiving dinner) and 5-HTP (often recommended as a sleeping aid and for mood)  are big components.  It also has vitamins B6 and D3, magnesium, niacin, as well as things like chamomile. Upon first look at the ingredients, I was feeling pretty good.  I like post-turkey dinner naps and anything that boosts my mood and helps calm my anxiety.  The formula seemed full of that stuff.

As I usually do, I started out with the taking just one pill. I didn’t see much of anything from that so then I upped it the next day to two, which is the recommended dose.  I remember waking up after taking New Mood the night before and feeling a little more refreshed, I’d say.  I didn’t feel as dragged down.  It was probably the second or third day that I started to have the problem: headaches. Every morning, I was waking up with a headache.  I do get a lot of headaches, so I didn’t think too much about it until it started to become a real trend. I stopped taking the New Mood after I realized that it could be the one causing the problem and things seemed to return to normal.

I can’t tell you 100% that the New Mood is what was giving me headaches.  I contacted Onnit and asked them if they had gotten any other responses related to migraines or if I had neglected to notice a migraine/headache trigger in the list of ingredients.  I had a little trouble getting a hold of someone, but once I did, I was told that they had not been getting negative feedback on this issue.  They also mentioned the niacin could cause problems, but my own basic searches haven’t brought up much related to niacin causing headaches.  The nice customer service person did recommend that I could try a combination of 5-HTP and and B6 on my own to try and get a similar effect to the New Mood. This I haven’t tried yet.

Overall, I don’t feel like I can say much more other than I did feel well rested and good the next day, but unfortunately in pain.  Onnit was great about it, of course, and held up to their money-back guarantee.  I really appreciate that they took the time to get back to me about my concerns and try to right the problem.  I have heard good things about New Mood from other places, so I recommend giving it a try if you’re interested.  I still think that anything Onnit makes is probably worth a test drive since I’ve had such good experiences with most of it.

Review: ShroomTech Sport

A few months ago, I talked about my experience with Alpha Brain from Onnit.  So a little update on that before I get started talking about ShroomTech… I began taking it in September, had to stop for my surgery in October, but have been taking it pretty steadily.  I can tell you that it definitely does something for my mood.  I’m less grouchy overall. I still feel like my brain is just firing better most days.  The cloudiness from the nerve medicine I was on for my back has gone away.  I am also experiencing the crazy dreams that people mention having while they’re taking it.  You can read more about Alpha Brain and dreaming here. The short of it is that Alpha Brain encourages more REM sleep, which is why dreams become more vivid and just plain crazier.  The other day I had a dream that I had body guards and got married naked.  It was a crazy ride.

The dreaming for me, though, is not the main attraction or the main benefit.  The fact that my brain just feels like it’s working better is the winning part and what keeps me using it.  If I start to feel a little out of it mid-day, I will pop an extra one on occasion and it seems to help. If I have had a couple of drinks and wake up groggy and out of it the next day, Alpha Brain has helped clear that away.  The website has updated side effects and dosing, as well as a lot of other great info.  I can’t speak highly enough about it. Go check it out.

ShroomTech Sport

Because of how much I liked the Alpha Brain, I ordered some of their new sport performance formula ShroomTech Sport around the time that it first came out.  I wanted to see if it would help with running and/or weightlifting. I was skeptical about it, but gave it a few tries. It’s been a couple of months since I started using it on and off.

I started using one pill a day, as I prefer to use the least amount of something necessary.  At first, it didn’t seem to do much.  I began to notice that recovery seemed a little smoother, though. I upped my dose to two pills randomly one day and ended up with my fastest pace to date (and since) on a run. I haven’t sat down and logged what work-outs I’ve used it on and what ones I haven’t so I can’t give a good baseline.  When I’m paying attention, I feel the most difference with recovery and end up still feeling pretty energized after my cooldown and stretching.  I believe that my longest run time was also done while using ShroomTech, which speaks to it’s help towards energy and endurance.

It could easily be said that I’m just improving my fitness and pace naturally, so I can’t attribute performance to ShroomTech yet.  That would be a fair statement to make and I definitely recognize that.  I also know the power of the placebo effect and there are some days when I specifically tell myself, “I’m taking this to get better results.”  Sometimes that works and sometimes not.  I don’t think that ShroomTech can totally take over and make your work-out amazing if you didn’t get proper rest or nutrition, etc.  I think that just like the Alpha Brain, it’s just going to give you a little edge.  I will take that.  I’ll also take all the great B12 in it. Ha! The website lists all the ingredients and will explain all about the cordyceps sinensis, the mushroom behind the “shroom” part.

While I don’t recommend ShroomTech Sport with the same confidence that I do Alpha Brain, I definitely say it’s worth a shot if you want to just get a little bit more out of whatever your work-out may be.

The next thing I plan to try is their New Mood formula. It’s got 5-HTP among other things to help balance your mood and also things to help you relax and get better rest.  It should be arriving in the next day or so and with holiday stress upon us all, I’m really interested to see if it helps me out.


EDITED 03.30.12: New Mood review is here.

Countdown to Surgery: 1 week

In one week at this time, I will (hopefully) be at home and in my bed having had a successful laparoscopic gallbladder removal.  Hopefully, the cats will be behaving themselves (and not jumping on my stomach), my mother will not be too uncomfortable in my apartment  (read: sleeping on my futon), while I am drugged up on pain medicine and passed out.

To start preparing for surgery, I had to stop taking all my supplements and vitamins today.  That means no more Alpha Brain or the vitamin D for my deficiency or any of the rest of it.  I also can’t take any medicine other than Tylenol.  Let me tell you something about me and Tylenol: we don’t work together. At all.  So here’s to a week of no headaches, please!

The only good part about having to quit everything is that I’ll get to actually see what the Alpha Brain is doing.  I know it has really, really helped my moods. I think it’s also helped in a number of other ways, but who is to say that isn’t some sort of placebo effect talking?  Well, I’m about to prove it one way or another.

Luckily, I really don’t have to to anything else awful for preparation.  I don’t have to drink anything nasty to clean myself out or anything like that.  I just can’t eat or drink anything from midnight the day of up until surgery. When my surgeon’s scheduler told me that good news, I told her that the relief of that moment was almost worth having to go through it all.  (Not true.)  The only other thing I really have to attend to is figuring out piercing removal. You’d think after having to bother with getting them taken out and put back in twice now (once for my last surgery and once for my MRI earlier this year), I would just give them up.  It’s only some/most of the ear piercings that are hard to remove myself and this time, I can’t just show back up to the shop on the same day and get them put back in. Time to invest in some tools, I guess.

With the thought of surgery on my mind, I am not taking any possible gym time for granted. I’ve gone in to run two days in a row and may head in tomorrow to do some weights. I will be out of commission for at least two weeks on that and it’s one of the things I am least looking forward to.  It’s going to set back my Couch-to-5k, no doubt.  I’m already improving on week 4 (the dreaded five minutes runs!) and I know I will have to backtrack when I get back into it.  Who knew a year ago that this would be the thing that bums me out the most? Crazy how things change.

Also, before you ask: Yes, I’m nervous.  Terribly nervous.  Sometimes I can’t fall sleep at night because all I can think about is the surgery and the recovery and what if things go wrong, etc, etc.  I worry about work.  I worry about having help if I end up needing it.  I worry about pain.  I’m trying really hard to focus on benefits, like no more gallstones or having a little time to myself to read, etc.  Hopefully I can keep looking at that and not the fear. Hopefully.

Mental Dominance.

Alpha Brain

Say hello to my friend, AlphaBrain.  AlphaBrain is a nootropic, or smart drug/brain enhancer.   I first heard about it courtesy of the Joe Rogan podcast ( this one with Aubrey Marcus is especially informative). It has a lot of stuff in it that I will let the website inform you about rather than try to put all the technicalities into my own words.  The basic idea: it makes your brain work better.  You’re supposed to dream better, focus better, think better.  Sign me up!

Since I started physical therapy, I have been on a medicine called Neurontin. It was supposed to help manage the problems I was having with my herniated disc hitting a nerve. I think it did that job pretty well, though it’s hard to tell what was helping, when and how between the PT and the medicine.  As one of it’s main purposes is helping people with epilepsy, it seems like a pretty serious drug and I was interested to come off of it as soon as I could. My intention was to come off of that and start taking AlphaBrain to try and clear my head.

The problem with the Neurontin was that I felt foggy. I felt like my brain wasn’t right. I felt like I was becoming more scatter-brained and forgetful. I also had a period of time where I was really irrationally angry and then I started to lose a lot of focus, especially with conversations. If you were talking to me, I might not have been able to focus very well on what you were saying.  I often had to piece together the conversation or just plain fake it to get by (sorry, friends). Overall, while I think that it helped my nerve/disc problem, it wasn’t helping my brain problem.

After about a week of no Neurontin, I ordered the AlphaBrain. It arrived a week ago today and I started taking it almost right away. The directions say 1-3 pills in the morning and then you may take more in the afternoon to up the lucid dreaming possibilities. I have stuck with 1 in the morning. I take it with my breakfast and other vitamins/supplements.  At first, I noticed increased memory of my dreams. I wouldn’t say they’re lucid or that they’re crazy or anything, but I remember them much more clearly for longer than I used to. I was kind of disappointed over the next couple of days. I had heard about all of these people who had gotten immediate, crazy effects from it. That’s what I wanted! It took me having a conversation about it the other day to really realize how it has been working…

My brain is much quicker to problem solve.  I received an email that really kind of discouraged me. Instead of staying in that mind frame, I started to figure out how to fix the problem.  I have also been in a really great mood for almost the entire week of taking it. Despite getting angry or discouraged during that time, I haven’t gotten stuck being down about it. That part has been quite the relief from my perpetually bad mood not that long ago.

I’m still waiting in hopes that it helps my focus. I do feel that it’s gotten better than it was, but I am still not where I would like to be. The same goes for memory. Small improvements are better than no improvements, but I could use a lot more!  I imagine that with continued use, the effects will settle in more.  I hope so. If nothing else, I’ll take what I’m getting and keep going with it.