Lifestyle: The Pill Experiment (Part II)

Last week I wrote about my experience thus far with a controversial nootropic supplement known as Addium. It’s been roughly a month now, during which time I’ve swallowed the monolithic orange-and-white capsules twice daily to observe whether or not they actually do what their company claims. That is, whether or not I felt increased energy, focus, and cognitive abilities after only 30 days.

The verdict is in. Unfortunately, like most things in life, the answer isn’t so black and white.

From the very start, I knew that for the sake of science (and journalistic integrity) it would be essential to eliminate all other supplements in my life that purport to boost energy and cognition. Since I don’t take prescription uppers like Adderall, or recreationally binge on amphetamines, the only culprit remaining was coffee.

Coffee. How I’ve missed you, dear friend.

Even as I write this, the very mention of that steaming, roasted beverage drives a pang of longing throughout my fatigued body. It feels like withdrawal, and it’s only been one month. If anything, this experience has taught me just how far this seemingly innocuous daily ritual can become ingrained in our brain’s ability to function, if we let it.

I’ve quit smoking cigarettes at several points in my life; I went from a habitual marijuana smoker to an occasional one, to eliminating it completely from my day-to-day activities. I’ve taken breaks from drinking, and suffice it to say that I’ve tried my fair share of other recreational chemicals over the years.

Still, none of them hold a torch to the addiction I’ve felt from caffeine.

The makers of Addium don’t underestimate this power either. It’s why caffeine is listed as the third ingredient in their “Proprietary Blend.” But the real question is, how much exactly? Are we talking enough to compensate for one cup of strong coffee, or a triple-shot of espresso? Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell for certain.

It’s safe to say that there’s a decent amount per serving. Much to my chagrin, the first day I swallowed Addium on an empty stomach and experienced a very unpleasant nausea which persisted for nearly an hour. I had to leave my office and take a walk around the block, allowing the virulent cab honks and jostling NYC crowds to soften my nerves.

To be honest, the stuff made me jittery. It’s something that abated itself a bit with time and a built tolerance, but the initial week wasn’t exactly a clear-head-sunny-skies kind of cakewalk. The ingredients L-Carnitine and L-Theanine are both well-documented (the former helps convert fat into energy, the latter helps transmit nerve impulses in the brain), but I can’t say I detected much benefit from either additive. If they were working with some degree of subtlety, then they were overshadowed by the lurching artificial energy that settles in an hour after taking Addium.

While Rhodiola Rosea extract (another ingredient in the pill) is supposed to aid in diminishing fatigue, I came home every evening feeling particularly exhausted. It’s the kind of wiped that usually accompanies a particularly heady bender–except without the party.

To be fair, after settling in a couple of hours after taking the pill, I did feel increased energy. Maybe focus too, but that’s kind of a stretch. Everybody will react differently, so I can’t recommend that it will work wonders for you, either.

As for me? I’m going back to coffee, for better or for worse.

Feature photo courtesy of joanneQEscobar.