I drink coffee because I like the taste of it. If you handed me a cup of decaf but it was made from the most delicious coffee bean ever, I’d drink it happily. On the other hand, I’ve never been a huge gum chewer, except as a quick breath refresher or while descending in an airplane.
Enter Neuro Gum, a caffeine and nootropics laced gum that claims to improve your mind, not just your jaw strength!
First of all, if you’re scratching your head, here’s a quick summary of nootropics, courtesy of Neuro Gum:
Nootropics are a class of compounds that improve one or more aspects of mental function such as working memory, motivation, and attention.
Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea considered nootropic a compound that fit the following criteria:
- They should enhance learning and memory.
- They should enhance the resistance of learned behaviors/memories to conditions which tend to disrupt them (e.g. electroconvulsive shock, hypoxia).
- They should protect the brain against various physical or chemical injuries (e.g. barbiturates, scopalamine).
- They should increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms.
- They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e.g. sedation, motor stimulation) and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity.
Basically, they are any drug or supplement that makes your brain run more efficiently. Some of them are man-made, and those are often available by prescription only, but you can also create nootropic supplements by combining natural ingredients.
In the case of Neuro Gum, it’s L-theanine and caffeine, both derived from green tea, that provide the promised mental boost. L-Theanine is actually an amino acid known for reducing stress, but by combining it with caffeine it allows the brain to run a bit more efficiently (relaxed AND awake!) For those who want to really dive into the science, the Wikipedia article on nootropics has some excellent links on the research behind both natural and pharmaceutical supplements.
Now that you know the science, there are two things to consider with Neuro Gum: does it work, and how does it taste? Both of these are very subjective, but we’ll tackle taste first because that’s a bit easier.
The gum itself comes in a blister pack of 9, and it looks more like a regular mint than gum. It has a refreshing wintergreen-esque mint flavor, with what tastes to me like a slight vanilla undertone. The texture is a bit weird, as the outer coating seems to crumble as you chew, but it does come together as a cohesive piece fairly quickly. It loses flavor in about 20 minutes of heavy chewing, but the gum itself is sturdy and stands up well to long sessions if you’re the type to work a piece of gum forever as long as you’re ok with the flavor dissipating.
My one warning is that it does contain stevia, and I know people who find the aftertaste from stevia to be a major deal breaker — I tend to be sensitive to it as well, but as long as I don’t work the Neuro Gum well past the point of all the other flavors being gone, I don’t have a problem with the stevia flavor lingering. It does not contain aspartame, for those who are concerned about the potential health issues associated with that particular artificial sweetener.
As far as the effects, I do notice an impact but it’s obviously hard to measure whether it is a placebo effect. Still, I tried to test it a few ways to see. Once I chewed it in the morning on my way to work and found that I wasn’t diving for a cup of coffee the second I sat down. Granted, I also was so busy I couldn’t step away for the coffee, but it didn’t feel like a hardship that I didn’t have it. I also tried to chewing it one night before hitting the gym, and found that I had a really solid workout, even at the end of a long day. Finally, I had a long drive yesterday and about 15 minutes in started to develop a headache. I immediately popped two Advil and then some Neuro Gum, and the one-two punch seemed to help. To be fair, I grabbed the Neuro Gum because it was a sinus headache and chewing helps, but still, the headache went away. I can’t say for sure that Neuro Gum is the catalyst, but it doesn’t hurt and seems to give me a slight boost.
Neuro Gum says the impact lasts 4-6 hours, and they suggest 1-2 pieces at a time. I’ve only used one at a time, but it’s worth noting you could pop two for a really big boost. It’s faster than a cup of coffee and easier to transport as well! Placebo or true impact, I’ve gotten into the habit of chewing a Neuro Gum on my way to the gym in the morning and sometimes midday at work; it’s tasty and it seems to give me a boost, so why not? At $35 for a 12-pack or $19.50 for a 6-pack ($29.75 and $16.58 on subscribe and save), Neuro Gum isn’t as cheap as ducking into 7-11 for some Juicy Fruit, but it’s better for you both body and mind!