Qualia Review: the Best Nootropic Stack Money Can Buy?
When I first heard of Neurohacker Collective, I found a group of people speaking of a profoundly eye-opening concept.
It essentially comes down to this: Modernity, in many ways, puts a great strain on our brains which we may not be able to adapt to effectively without some sort of help.
Environmental toxins, constant distraction from electronic devices, and pent-up emotional distress are just a few of the disadvantages our brains face on a daily basis, yet we are required to be at our smartest in order to solve daunting problems such as climate change and space exploration.
One way we have approached this challenge is by embracing nootropics and constantly refining them to keep us at the top of our game. Stacking several nootropics at once is an even better approach, which often leads us to more advanced levels of cognitive enhancement than taking one alone.
Neurohacker Collective has taken great strides in creating a nootropic stack that goes far beyond its competition in terms of formula complexity and targeting what they refer to as broad spectrum cognitive enhancement.
They call this stack Qualia, after a philosophical term roughly translating to “raw feels”.
Some might see it as the mother of all stacks – with its astounding 42 ingredient formula and undeniably holistic approach.
I see it as a valiant effort to provide a nootropic that works with all of the knowledge available to create something sophisticated.
A high price-point puts Qualia clearly in the category of luxury products, though it is arguably obtainable by anyone.
Today, I’ll be taking a look at Qualia and whether it accomplishes its creator’s intentions – to help upgrade our brains in order to thrive in a world which is increasingly stressful for them.
Plus, we’ll get into its formulation and whether purchasing it makes sense for our readers.
I want to start off by explaining a little bit more about Neurohacker Collective and how they came to the idea of developing Qualia.
Based in California, Neurohacker Collective has a staff endowed with accomplished scientists, with disciplines ranging from neurobiology to evolutionary philosophy.
A name that regularly shows up in the media is one of their senior members and founder, Daniel Schmachtenberger, who has appeared on the SmartDrugSmarts podcast (The Future of Personalized Medicine) as well as an interview by Larry Michel.
Schmachtenberger is an expert on human systems, not only on the biological side, but on the interweaving principles that hold society together. One of the themes he touches on the most is that humanity needs fundamental changes to many of the systems we have in place, such as in economics, lifestyle, and ways of thinking.
It’s hard to imagine while living in the western world, but our world’s population is exploding and our resource usage is accelerating to the point where it is becoming unsustainable.
Our biosphere is in danger of collapsing, and we need great minds to help us transition to a better planet. We need to enhance our bodies as systems so that we can go on to improve even bigger systems.
Qualia is an answer to at least part of Schmactenberger’s call for change, as a supplement that aims to fill the gap between science’s current ability to improve our well-being, and what we imagine we can achieve.
I must admit, that as I’m going through the information on Neurohacker Collective’s website and watching some of the external interviews, it’s really easy to get drawn into the subject of an evolving humanity and veer away from my focus on the product itself.
I feel, however, that understanding the “systems” approach is essential to explaining what Qualia does and how it works its magic.
What Does Qualia Do?
Qualia touches upon a number of areas of your conscious mind by imparting desired traits as well as reducing undesired ones.
In addition, there are subtleties that users may not notice as first, but can grow to appreciate as time passes.
Increased Mental Function
After taking a dose of Qualia, users should expect to see a very well-rounded improvement to their mental state.
Instead of singling out a couple aspects of cognitive enhancement in many different products, Qualia deliberately tries to target as many areas as possible. Neurohacker Collective refers to this concept as Broad-Spectrum Cognitive Enhancement.
Because of this, no benefit happens without other related benefits accompanying it, creating a resilient system without a clear weak link in the chain. For example, an increase in the ability to focus must accompany a heightened sense of motivation.
Another is increased verbal fluidity must pair with improved mood, for seamless social interaction. Physiological benefits are also present, so an energetic body can complement a determined mind.
On the side of improvement, here are some of the subjective effects that Qualia can provide (I summarized their own lists):
- Memory (short and long term)
- Concentration and focus
- Analytical thinking
- Setting long term goals
- Emotional resilience
- Reduced reaction time
- Sensory acuity
- Physical energy
- Immune health
Decreased Mental Dysfunction
Many nootropic stacks that are currently on the market focus exclusively on increasing our mental function, but ignore perhaps one of the biggest selling points of nootropics – removing dysfunction.
It’s harder to conceptualize feeling “smarter” or having more energy and focus than it is to remove the obstacles of getting there.
It wouldn’t make much sense if say, your use of language was improved but when you go to give a speech, your anxiety is crippling. Nor would it make sense if you had the motivation to start writing a paper but couldn’t keep yourself focused the entire time.
With that said, here are a number of unwanted traits that Qualia can help you remove:
- Brain fog
- Ability to focus
- Social awkwardness
Like with other supplements, the effects of Qualia may not be immediately apparent.
While there are some benefits that kick in right away, there are long term effects that appear over the next few weeks after starting the regimen.
Qualia takes a bold move by not only targeting a systemic nootropic gain, but by balancing all the chemical factors necessary in order to achieve this.
How Does Qualia Work?
So what does such an ambitious stack contain, on a chemical level?
A lot of the current attention surrounding Qualia concerns how insanely complex it seems, when people notice an ingredients list with a whopping 42 items. To fit all of these compounds into a stack, users need to take up to 9 capsules per day!
At first, even I thought that this was absolute overkill even for a luxury nootropic stack. What were they thinking by mixing all of these powerful substances together, with seemingly contradictory actions against one another?
However, it turns out that this ludicrous synergy can result in a smooth and balanced feeling, rather than a mess of thoughts and emotions.
How was this done?
Separation by Absorption
Neurohacker Collective took great care to separate pills by absorbability. By this, I mean they grouped ingredients into two different jars of capsules, called “Step One” and “Step Two”.
This is arranged so that some components get absorbed on an empty stomach while others are absorbed along with a meal.
The advantage to doing things this way is that some nutrients don’t absorb into your body as well in the presence of other compounds that compete for surface area in the small intestine.
Some might be water soluble and prefer a clear path to the villi, some are fat soluble and prefer to hitchhike into your bloodstream along with food particles.
This concept is something I’ve never before seen in a nootropic stack, and while simple, I’ve been waiting for someone to do it. It makes sense, especially with a variety of unique chemicals.
And now for what everybody has been waiting for. What the heck is in Qualia that makes it a stack perfect for the modern and future human?
Clearly, I won’t get into the details of every single one, but see for yourself the list of 42 ingredients:
Nootropic Compounds: Noopept, Huperzine A, Phenylethylamine, Uridine Monophosphate, Phosphatidylserine, Hordenine HCI, Vinpocetine, Theobromine, DHEA, Pure Energy (Pterostilbene bound to Caffeine).
Neuro-Vitamins: Vit B1 as Benfotiamine, Vit B3 as Niacinamide, Vit B5 as Calcium Pantothenate, Vit B6 as Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P-5-P), Vit B12 as Methylcobalamin, Vit C as Ascorbic Acid, Vit D3 as Microencapsulated Cholecalciferol.
Neuro-Anti Inflammatories and Antioxidants: BioPQQ, Quercetin, Curcumin, Algal DHA, Green Tea Extract: 98% polyphenols, 45% EGCG, Bioperine.
Adaptogen Extracts: Bacopa Monnieri: 55% Bacosides, Mucuna Pruriens: 98% L-Dopa, Ginkgo Biloba: 24% glycosides, 6% terpene lactones, Coleus Forskohlii: 20% Forskolin, Artichoke Extract: 5% Cynarin, Rhodiola Rosea: 3% Rosavins, 1% Salidrosides, Lion’s Mane: 30% polysaccharides, ActivAMP Gynostemma.
Amino Acids: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, N-Acetyl Tyrosine, DL-Phenylalanine, Taurine, L-Theanine.
Choline Donors: Centrophenoxine, Citicoline (CDP Choline), Alpha GPC.
Neuro-Minerals: Lithium Orotate, Magnesium Threonate, Zinc Picolinate.
Whoa… that’s some powerful stuff
You know exactly what you’re getting, and in theory there’s nothing stopping you from painstakingly reproducing the whole thing yourself (though we’ll cover why this is a bad idea).
Many of the ingredients are well known to nootropics users, such as L-theanine, Huperzine A, and Bacopa Monnieri. These don’t need much more of an explanation, but I want to cover some of the ones that are particularly noteworthy.
PURENERGY: A proprietary blend of caffeine and pterostilbene (a blueberry antioxidant) combined into a single crystal. This results in a slowly-metabolized caffeine that lasts longer and feels smoother than regular caffeine. Plus, some extra antioxidants because why not?
Lithium Orotate: This is the first time I’ve seen lithium in a nootropic formula, and I’m curious as to why it’s included. My only theory is that it helps with mood stabilization and helps to counteract the “uppers” in the formula.
CILTEP Ingredients: Artichoke leaf extract, Forskolin, and Tyrosine/Phenylalanine. These are essential components to the CILTEP stack, which is both a formula from Longecity.org as well as a commercial product from NaturalStacks. Very good for motivation and learning material fast.
Noopept: Not terribly unique of an ingredient, but I’m a big fan of nootropic peptides and it brings a smile to my face to see them included in commercial stacks.
Again, the list of substances in Qualia is truly incredible. You have stimulation from the upgraded caffeine molecules.
You have better memory from the huperzine and magnesium. You have a better mood from the adaptogens and lithium. You have cognitive flexibility from the noopept, cynarin, and forskolin.
I’m only scratching the surface – there are so many little things that make this stack seem like a true panacea for your brain.
Should You Take Qualia?
If you feel like you can benefit from a full-upgrade to your brain, this stack is for you. However, the concentrated power of Qualia was intended for those that use their brains to the point of exhaustion on a daily basis, changing the world.
Scientists, engineers, academics, and writers are a subset of the people who would most benefit from a full bio-hardware upgrade.
Neurohacker Collective insisted themselves – we need great people in the world now more than ever, and the future of humanity could rest upon nootropics such as Qualia.
The formulation is by itself, safe as long as you start at a low dosage and slowly increase, as the collective recommends.
However, if you’re taking any SSRIs or MAOIs (especially), avoid Qualia, as the neurochemistry involved could be thrown off balance and do more harm than good.
For those that are interested at this point and would like to try Qualia, it’s available for direct purchase at Neurohacker Collective’s website. They accept payment by credit card and PayPal.
Here’s where we might lose a couple people. Because Qualia is such a carefully-designed and comprehensive product, the price will at first look very high. For a single purchase of a month’s supply of Qualia, it costs $149.
If you subscribe to receive Qualia on a monthly basis, this goes down to $129 a month. Either way, this might look steep for even a luxury supplement (read until the end if you want a discount code).
However, if you’re a person that should be using Qualia, it could easily be worth it.
Is Qualia Worth the Price?
This is something I’ve been pondering over since preparing for this review. Does any other product compare to Qualia in terms of what you get, and does even that make it worth buying?
To answer the first question, I haven’t seen any commercial product that comes anywhere close to Qualia in terms of formulaic sophistication or even bang for the buck. Not only does Qualia contain a large number of ingredients, but a lot of them are expensive by themselves.
Some examples are the PQQ that is included for bodily energy, the forskolin, noopept, and lithium orotate. The PURENERGY caffeine-pterostilbene co-crystal is also a new proprietary and unique addition that very few products contain today.
If you did want to try and re-create Qualia on the cheap by purchasing all of the ingredients yourself, you would miserably fail. Others have replicated this scenario, and buying Qualia turns out to be the much better idea.
Finally, a way to justify regular usage of the stack is by comparing it to a daily coffee purchase. Over the course of a month, a person could easily spend $5 or more per day on a starbucks coffee.
For a month of Qualia, it would cost you a maximum of $4.90 per day, if you include the recommended two break days per week.
Nootropics of this caliber are not for everybody. Most people may not feel they need to spend the money on high quality stacks for their given lifestyle. However, those who do feel they need it, you know who you are.
My Own Experience
I’ve said a lot about the concept and design of Qualia, but some of you are likely going to want to hear about my own experience with the stack, which Neurohacker Collective sent us to review.
Over the course of a month while prepping for this article, I’ve been taking one capsule of Qualia step one and two capsules of Qualia step two.
Yes, I am following protocol by starting with a small dosage, but I am also naturally sensitive to drugs, for what it’s worth.
The effects actually feel similar to microdosing LSD, which of course is not an ingredient in the product, but my opinion stands. I typically get a slight pressure in my forehead and throat – not enough to bother me but still noticeable.
My drive to learn is clearly there, along with the urge to explore and create. Writing this article was a breeze at times – my writer’s block nonexistent.
At the same time, I’ve had the energy to simultaneously clean my entire house and work on a contact web development position I’ve been planning for months.
I have the stimulation one could hope for but yet, my mood is eerily calm and controlled. I can face a disruption to my work without any frustration, context switch more smoothly, and even articulate my sentences better than usual.
I also normally suffer from a hell of a lot of anxiety, w