BrainStack Nootropics Review – Can BrainStack give you a trading edge? #tradingstack 

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Are you looking for the perfect nootropics trading stack that will help you learn faster and retain more, improve your productivity and efficiency, and increase brainstackyour drive and motivation?

These are the claims made by Maven Labs, the makers of the pre-formulated nootropics stack BrainStack.  

Read on to see if BrainStack can give you that edge.

In a previous post we spoke about building your own nootropic stack but in our never-ending search for the perfect trading stack we happened upon Maven Labs’s BrainStack.  

BrainStack is one of the more popular pre-formulated options in a growing marketplace of pre-mixed nootropic stacks. 

Maven Labs, was kind enough to send The Trading Edge a sample of BrainStack to review.

Before we get to the recommendation we’ll review the ingredients, how we took BrainStack through it’s paces, and finally in the conclusions section we’ll give it the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Ingredients List

BrainStack is formulated from a combination of cognitive enhancers, vitamins, and modulators.

Let’s now review the ingredients of BrainStack.  The following are the dosages by ingredient in the recommended serving size of 2 capsules.apothecary

Alpha GPC (175 mg):  Alpha GPC is a very popular choline choice amongst the nootropics community as a huge number of people do not get the recommended levels of choline (without which there could be cognitive problems) in their diet, therefore Alpha-GPC offers extensive benefits for almost everybody. Alpha GPC can enhance learning abilities, concentration level and focus. This also helps protect neurons from damage.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine/ALCAR (300 mg):  Carnitine is a potent fat burner because it is responsible for the transport of fats into the cells to be used for energy in the body. Another benefit of raising carnitine levels is that you’ll have a greater work capacity.It is a natural remedy super antioxidant, occurring form of L-Carnitine that specifically benefits the brain. Acetyl-L-Carnitine has been shown in clinical studies to benefit cognitive ability, memory and mood.

Bacopa Monnieri (200mg):  Bacopa Monnieri has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for longevity and cognitive enhancement. Benefits of supplementation include reduced anxiety and improved memory formation.

Caffeine (60 mg): Caffeine plays a major part in most our daily lives and most are familiar with documented health benefits.  The most obvious benefits of Caffeine are that it keeps you active and boosts energy levels. 

It also has other proven positive effects such as increasing memory, cleansing the colon, burning fat, and is a primary antioxidant which has anti-aging benefits.  

While Caffeine on its own can produce anxiety and irritability, including it here with L-Theanine and other anxiolytics ensures you get the stimulative benefits of Caffeine with less of the jittery side effects. 

*Side note – To give some perspective a typical cup of coffee contains 95 mg of Caffeine so at 60 mg / serving BrainStack is a mild stimulant.

GABA (200 mg): Gamma-AminoButyric Acid, works by inhibiting or blocking beta brain waves. The benefits that are realized are increased feelings of relaxation and is hence used to treat depression, anxiety, or even ADHD. It has also been causally linked to enhancing weight loss by burning fat, and is believed to help control high blood pressure as well.

Hericium Erinaceus (300 mg):  Also known as Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a reported cognitive enhancer and stimulator of neurogenesis via the promotion of nerve growth factor (NGF).  Several studies report benefits around reducing cognitive decline, reduced anxiety, and a decrease in depressive symptoms for depression sufferers.

Huperzine A (150 mg):  The most well known benefits of Huperzine A include enhancing memory and learning skills. Studies show that Huperzine A increases acetylcholine in the body by preventing its breakdown by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.

L-Theanine (120 mg):  This non-essential amino acid and glutamic acid analog is commonly found in various types of tea.  There have been various clinical studies to suggest L-Theanine can improve memory, focus, and reduce stress levels. This is accomplished through increasing the activity of various neuroreceptors and transmitters of the brain.

Mucuna Pruriens (200mg): Mucuna Pruriens contributes to improved mood and feeling of being well. It enhances the mental clarity in an individual and results in better sleep. Using Mucuna Pruriens can help increase lean muscle mass and decrease fat. Smoother skin, stronger immune system and increase in bone density are also some of the purported benefits.

Pterostilbene (50 mg):  Pterostilbene is a derivative of well known anti-oxidant resveratrol. Not only has it been reported to more potent but it is also reported to have better bio-absorbability.  Reported benefits include the ability to reduced neuroinflammation, anxiety, and improve cognition – notably memory and learning.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride – 15 mg) & B12 (Cyanocobalamin – 100mg):  Both these vitamins are essential because together they help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin B6 has been shown to increase memory and to aid in the process of cognition. Whereas vitamin B12 plays an important role in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. It also helps reduce fatigue and aids in DNA production.

* Side note – As mentioned BrainStack uses Pyridoxine Hydrochloride and Cyanocobalamin for the B12.  Both of these are less absorbable than more bio-available forms like Pyridoxal-Phosphate and Methylcobalamin.  

As well the dosages seem very minimal and could easily be found in something like a decent B-Complex vitamin.

BrainStack Trial Log

The Trading Edge is all about being a crash test dummy in the service of other traders.  Crash Test Dummy

For the trial I monitored my Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Heart Rate (HR) using the Viiiiva heart rate monitor and SweetBeatLife app for 60 mins after the first dosing for the first 5 days of the trial.

Also because BrainStack includes caffeine, which I am sensitive to, I wanted to also measure my sleep quality so I used the Sleep Cycle app to monitor and measure any changes to my sleep routine.

Also to reduce the amount of confounding factors for others who might be interested in BrainStack, I will disclose that I already supplement with nootropics regularly;  So I’m also interested in how BrainStack stacks with some of the other nootropics I supplement with regularly  (my current stack is a derivative of the stack posted in this article).

Finally to round things off I supplement daily with ThorneFX’s AM/PM multivitamin, Living Fuel SuperEssentials Omega, and 500mg of magnesium citrate each night before bed.

Now on to the highlights and a recounting of how I incorporated BrainStack into my trading and supplementation routine.

2 Days Pre-Trial – No nootropics or supplementation other than one cup of Bulletproof coffee (BPC) in the mornings.

Day 1 – No coffee to start the day. 

8am – Strapped on the Heart Rate Monitor and started monitoring.

As per the directions on the bottle, took 1 dose = 1 capsule.  

About 5 mins after dosing I noticed a very slight, nearly un-noticeable bump in alertness.  Likely due to the caffeine.  No noticeable change in HR / HRV.

No noticeable effect to trading. 

3pm – Took 1 dose.

Again very subtle.  No real discernible stimulation or effect.  

No problem sleeping at night.

Day 2 – Decided to up the stimulation by adding back in BPC.

8am – 1 dose.

9am – bulletproof inspired coffee.

3pm – 1 dose.

Discernible stimulation from the caffeine with a slightly mellowing of the jitteriness of the caffeine likely due to the L-Theanine and GABA.  

Trading and reading market action well.

Day 3 – The instructions on the BrainStack bottle recommends dosing up to 3-4 capsules at a time for a maximum of 8 capsules / day.  In the interest of testing, I decided to try increase my dosage to 3 capsules on day 3 of the trial.

8am – BPC

9am – 1 dose

Again noticed the calming effect from BrainStack during the trading session.  

Able to notice the stress that would typically arise from certain trading scenarios and the associated anxiety was more manageable.

1245pm – 1 dose.

3pm – 1 dose.

Feeling cranky and irritable.  Not able to focus.

3 doses appears to be too much for me. 

Day 4 – Returning back to 2 doses / day but taking BrainStack out for a field test with some of other nootropics I cycle with.

8am – BPC

9am – 1 dose BrainStack + 20mg Noopept + 750 mg Aniracetam

3pm – 1 dose BrainStack + 20mg Noopept

Good combination with evident effects. 

Noticed the usual increased verbal fluency from the Aniracetam but also increased attention and focus likely from the combination of Noopept and BrainStack.

Good trading session with appreciable increase in concentration.

Day 5 – I have a love / hate relationship with Piracetam.  Like many others Piracetam dials me in but leaves me feeling irritable.  Wanted to see what the combined effects would be with BrainStack.

8am – BPC

9am – 1 dose BrainStack + 4.8g Piracetam

3pm – 1 dose BrainStack + 4.8g Piracetam

Dialed in, reading charts and price action well but easily irritated and annoyed at others and myself.  

Day 6-7  – Cycle Off

Day 8 –

8am – BPC

9am – 1 dose BrainStack + 4.8g Piracetam

3 pm – 1 dose BrainStack + 4.8g Piracetam

Good energy and concentration but lingering irritability.

Day 9 – Had other commitments this day so did not trade nor supplement other than with BPC.

Day 10 – Want to introduce BrainStack with CILTEP, which I know increases my motivation.  

8am – 2 CILTEP

9am – 1 dose BrainStack

Strong buzz likely due to the known synergistic effects between CILTEP and caffeine.  Very strong desire for learning new market concepts and very motivated to backtest ideas.  

3pm – 1 CILTEP + 1 dose BrainStack

Great energy and drive.  Decided to randomly clean up a closet in my house which had been piling up with items.

Deep sleep.

Day 11 – Enjoyed previous day’s stack so repeated for rest of trial.

8am – 2 CILTEP

9am – 1 dose BrainStack

3pm – 1 CILTEP + 1 dose BrainStack

Ease in recalling random memories and likewise market patterns and structure.  

Not sure if it’s attributable to CILTEP, BrainStack, or a combination of the two.

Day 12 –

8am – 2 CILTEP

9am – 1 dose BrainStack

3pm – 1 CILTEP + 1 dose BrainStack

Again strong motivation and strong applied focus.  

If distracted I found it easy to refocus on the task at hand and to get back into a deep flow state, especially effective when used in a “pomodoro” type scenario.

For instance I’ll apply all my focus on the trading charts for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break.  Then refocus on the charts again for another 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break and repeat for the entire morning session.

This method usually keeps my trading mind fresh and with CILTEP and BrainStack I found it easy to get back into a deep concentrative and focused state.

Conclusions and Recommendations

So after a 12 day trial of the BrainStack stack what did we conclude?  

Let’s break it down to the following 3 areas:substance


HRV monitoring was performed for the first 5 days of the trial.  No noticeable positive/negative influences were measured on my HRV.  

* Side note – for my HRV training (using the Inner Balance app) I noticed that I had a harder time reaching and maintaining a high state of coherence.  More testing is required here.

Sleep did not seemed to be disturbed. In fact sleep quality as rated by the Sleep Cycle app rated consistently high in the top quartile of my historical readings.  

Energy levels were high throughout the day and I never experienced any roller coaster highs or lows from what you can expect from some stimulants.  

BrainStack is a very “clean burning” likely attributable to the combination of caffeine with L-Theanine, and the inclusion of ALCAR.


This is difficult to assess as I did not run through a battery of cognitive tests (Dual-N-Back, Reaction, Finger tapping, etc.) during this trial.  I was more intent on seeing how it might impact my trading and my trading process.

From an anecdotal basis I would describe feeling slightly more dialled in when trading but overall the mental benefits seemed mild.  Perhaps a more prolonged trial of BrainStack would be needed to realize some of the purported cognitive benefits of the individual ingredients.


I am not one to experience deep emotional swings or severe anxiety but the anxiolytic properties of BrainStack were among the most evident benefits of the stack.

Personally the minimum effective dose for me was 2 doses per day (AM and PM), and generally BrainStack left me feeling very even keeled except for day 3 of the trial where I took 3 doses and the days in which I stacked with Piracetam (which may be more related to my own personal biology).


If you’re new to nootropics then this stack is a very solid place to start.  

You will feel sharp and energized without the ups and downs.  You may also find that it can help with anxiety as well as with recovery and rest.  Likewise the inclusion of choline and the B vitamins round out many areas where people may be deficient.

For the experienced nootropics user I think that BrainStack can serve a complimentary role as part of a larger stack. especially if you’re looking for convenience and price is not an object.  

The effects of BrainStack are very subtle so I think a natural progression is to stack it with a racetam.  Would be curious to hear from Maven Labs on why they didn’t choose to do so.

Personally my best experience was stacking BrainStack with CILTEP.  CILTEP from NaturalStacks usually leaves me very fatigued by the end of the day.  But the inclusion of BrainStack left me very energized throughout the day with a very “clean burning” feeling and with lots of motivation to get things done.  Perhaps this can be attributed to the extra ALCAR?

Thank you again Maven Labs for sending the sample and being super responsive.

If you’ve have had any positive or negative experiences with BrainStack let us know.

Or if there’s another nootropics stack you’d like us to review leave us a comment in the comments section below! 

BrainStack Nootropics Review – Can BrainStack give you a trading edge? #tradingstack 

by editor time to read: 9 min