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Lawsuit Claims Joe Rogan's 'Alpha Brain' Supplement Doesn't Work

The class action lawsuit asserts that Onnit Labs, co-founded by Joe Rogan, falsely advertises that its Alpha Brain supplement boosts memory and other cognitive functions.

A brain health supplement often promoted by commentator Joe Rogan during his Joe Rogan Experience podcast is the subject of a lawsuit recently filed in a New York federal court.

The case — Lotz, et al. v. Onnit Labs, Inc. — was filed in the United States District Court Southern District of New York on April 23 and alleges that Onnit Lab's claims that its "brain health supplement" Alpha Brain supports memory, focus, and processing speed are false and misleading.

The supplement contains several ingredients thought to promote brain function, including L-theanine, L-tyrosine, phosphatidylserine, and others.

Onnit Labs, sold to Unilever in 2021, was co-founded by Rogan and podcaster Aubrey Marcus. Rogan frequently promotes Alpha Brain on his podcast.

In one YouTube clip, Rogan said, "When I do the UFC, which is the time where it's most memory intensive for me, […] I always take Alpha Brain."

Despite former connections to Onnit, Rogan and Marcus are not named as defendants in the case.

Why is Alpha Brain's manufacturer being sued?

According to court documents, the plaintiff, 50-year-old Jean Paul Lotz, on behalf of himself and all other consumers in the State of New York, alleges that Onnit's claims that Alpha Brain boosts brain function are "blatantly false" and "deceptive" because they are based on one Onnit-funded clinical study conducted in 2016.

The study's abstract indicated that Alpha Brain significantly improved delayed verbal recall and executive functioning compared with placebo.

However, the study's full text describes minimal improvement in only one aspect of memory and no improvement in the other cognitive domains, such as memory, learning, attention, concentration, processing speed, and executive functioning.

Court papers also note that participants taking Alpha Brain outperformed the placebo group in a version of a California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) Long Delay test. During this test, participants were asked to read a 16-item shopping list and recall the items 20 minutes later.

However, the suit alleges that Onnit cannot claim that its brain health supplement increases overall memory because the placebo group outperformed the Alpha Brain participants in other verbal learning tests, including the CVLT Total Score and the CVLT Short Delay test.

In addition, the results of the other 25 out of 26 tests administered to the participants showed no statistically significant difference between the Alpha Brain and placebo groups. Moreover, the placebo participants outperformed those taking Alpha Brain in several cases.

Lotz alleges that Onnit failed to disclose information about Alpha Brain, including that its own study showed no significant beneficial effects on brain function.

According to court documents, had the plaintiff known this information, he would not have purchased the product, which costs approximately $487 to $649 per year.

Lotz is demanding a jury trial and asking Onnit to pay actual damages related to the company's actions, the amount of which will be determined during the trial. In addition, the plaintiff is requesting statutory damages, treble damages, and attorneys' fees.

Court documents indicate that Onnit had estimated annual revenues of $100 million and over $18 million in New York during the three years preceding this lawsuit.

Alpha Brain studies show mixed results

While the lawsuit claims that the 2016 Alpha Brain study showed minimal effects on memory and other mental functions, preliminary findings of a 2015 study found that Alpha Brain may benefit cognitive performance by improving recent verbal memory and executive function.

However, a 2018 study found that the supplement did not have any statistically significant effects on marksmanship performance in 43 active-duty soldier participants.

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