Combining the calm delivery and pared-down wardrobe of a Sam Harris with the more imposing physique of a Joe Rogan, Andrew Huberman wants to give you science-based tips on how to optimize your biology. Neuroscientist at Stanford by day and podcaster by night, Huberman is the host of The Huberman Lab podcast. The video version of its first episode published two years ago has garnered 1 million views on a YouTube channel that counts over 3 million subscribers. Whenever I’m on the hunt for a new podcast to listen to, my podcast app is sure to show me The Huberman Lab under “Trending.”
The aesthetics of Huberman’s show are that of masculine minimalism. The science educator wears a black button-up shirt and sits in front of a black background and behind a black Shure microphone. The viewer’s attention is drawn to Huberman’s face and voice. He talks about cortisol and neurotransmitters and his personal goal to bring zero cost to consumer information for the public. He always makes sure to highlight that this project is separate from his role at Stanford University.
He also, again and again, reminds his very large audience that he is not a medical doctor. “I’m a professor,” he clarifies. “I’m professing a number of things that you can decide for yourselves what to do with or not.”
To see a clear-headed and eloquent scientist command the attention of such a large listenership is encouraging. But when a respectable neuroscientist starts sanctioning mountains of dietary supplements, I begin to question his ability to evaluate the literature on these poorly regulated concoctions.
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I watched many hours of The Huberman Lab, including interviews he conducted, Q&As he did on stage, and solo episodes. Andrew Huberman is indeed really good at explaining what happens to neurotransmitters in the brain and to hormones inside our body when we experience stress, for example. He can boil down complicated neurobiology so that a non-scientist can understand how the human body works. Even though his podcast is firmly rooted in the masculine space of “body optimization” that has grabbed hold of large swaths of the tech sector, Huberman is a lot less “bro-ey” than his fellow influencers. There’s a real gentleness and care to his delivery. The packaging is less aggressive, but the content does not stray far from Silicon Valley’s love affair with the tweaking of healthy human biology.
Right from the start, The Huberman Lab was sponsored by companies offering questionable products from the perspective of science-based medicine. First up is Athletic Greens and their all-in-one daily supplement powder. Huberman says that if you are looking for a single supplement to take and can afford it, you should go with something like Athletic Greens, because it provides you with everything: 75 ingredients in total, including vitamins, minerals, spirulina, chlorella, fruit concentrates, antioxidants, herbal extracts, digestive enzymes, mushroom powder, and two different bacterial strains. The listed price right now is USD 79 for a monthly supply.
This significant expense is predicated on the multivitamin logic: you might as well supplement because what if you are deficient and don’t know it? The problem is that most people do not need a multivitamin. The US Preventive Services Task Force has stated that it recommends against taking beta-carotene and vitamin E supplements to prevent heart disease or cancer, and that the evidence is insufficient to recommend taking any other vitamin supplement without a demonstrated deficiency. Supplementing with vitamins as a form of health insurance can make for expensive urine, as excess water-soluble vitamins are peed out, or it can cause harm if high enough doses of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are consumed.
Huberman highlights the importance of the gut microbiome and that Athletic Greens contains probiotics, but the study of the good bacteria living in and inside us is still in its infancy. Our knowledge of the use of probiotics to treat digestive issues is still riddled with questions, to say nothing of their daily use in healthy people.
The second sponsor of Huberman’s first episode was InsideTracker, a service that offers blood and DNA testing not to specifically diagnose a medical condition but to offer advice on weight control, bone health, cognition, and more, for the price of between USD 249 and 659, depending on the plan. While the Choosing Wisely campaign encourages physicians to avoid routine blood tests in patients with no symptoms—as they are more likely to produce false positive results that lead to unnecessary testing—InsideTracker does the exact opposite.
The Huberman Lab has also been sponsored by Thesis (“it’s been a total game changer”), which offers personalized “smart drugs” after filling out a quiz on their website, and the podcast has partnered with first Thorne Supplements, then Momentous Supplements, companies which Huberman assures us steer clear of the contamination and adulteration often found in supplements.
Indeed, dietary supplements, which are rarely needed in the first place, can be hazardous to our health.
Dietary supplements are not regulated as strictly as pharmaceutical drugs and can routinely contain ingredients not listed on the bottle or not contain the main listed ingredient, which has been replaced by a cheaper lookalike. Supplements derived from herbs can cause all sorts of harm, including toxicity to the liver. A recent paper highlights rising cases of liver injury caused by these products. Why are these herbal supplements harming the liver?
Some are adulterated with actual drugs; others contain poorly researched ingredients of unknown safety; yet others contain untested combinations of exotic botanical extracts or purified plant chemicals. Plants of course have inspired countless medical drugs, but taking a crude plant extract for medicinal purposes is risky. A plant can contain hundreds of different chemicals, and their amounts vary depending on the season, the climate, the composition of the soil, and the presence of infections. So when I hear Andrew Huberman regularly recommend the herb ashwagandha for its “profound effect on anxiety,” an herb that has a suspected potential for worsening autoimmune conditions and causing miscarriages, and which, like most adaptogens, has been poorly studied, I shake my head. Psychiatric drugs have side effects, yes, and they can be overprescribed, but they do not contain highly variable mixtures of chemicals.
In Huberman’s episode on a “rational approach to supplementation for health and performance,” I heard him endorse ashwagandha to buffer against stressors; a Nigerian shrub named Fadogia agrestis, a flowering plant called tongkat ali, and a Himalayan natural substance called shilajit to increase libido; alpha-GPC to enhance alertness; omega-3 fatty acids to offset depression and help reduce the dosage of anti-depressants; and many more herbs and pills. One of the five sponsors of this episode was an electrolyte drink that contains sodium, potassium, and magnesium, the sort of solution that high-intensity athletes need to replenish elements lost through excessive sweating. Huberman’s pitch? Neurons require sufficient amounts of these three electrolytes to fire action potentials. Scientifically true, but that does not mean that we are all deficient and need an electrolyte drink to ensure our neurons are firing properly.
I had a look at one of the countless supplements Huberman mentions on his show, myo-inositol, a type of sugar that plays different roles in the body and which Huberman says has good evidence for sleep, anxiety, and female fertility. The only trial done in humans for sleep, which Huberman cites, was done in pregnant women, contained different amounts of folic acid between the inositol and placebo groups, and the results were not exactly impressive. A meta-analysis of 4 trials of inositol for anxiety found no significant effect. As for female fertility, two Cochrane reviews concluded that the research was of very low quality.
Thin gruel, but Huberman’s listeners won’t know that when he professes that there is “an enormous number of studies on inositol for the sake of mental health, and for the sake of enhancing various aspects of cellular function, and for the sake of improving sleep.”
The extramural rostrum
The Huberman Lab podcast is predicated on the goal of optimizing your body. This focus will appeal to a section of the worried well contingent, who are not content with not being ill but are looking for expensive ways to refine the inner workings of their body based on cutting-edge research.
If we seek health, our focus should be on well-established changes, like improving our diet, exercising more, and getting enough sleep, not on shovelling down dietary supplements. To Huberman’s credit, he does prioritize behaviour and dietary changes over the consumption of supplements, and he tells his fans to avoid food and caffeine before bedtime to ensure quality sleep. But it is difficult to sustain a long-form podcast—and invite numerous sponsors—when your advice is trimmed down to inexpensive common sense.
The health and wellness podcast space has unspoken rules for success. First, go long so that you’re always in your listeners’ ears, which helps to build trust. Huberman taught his listeners in a 2021 episode that you can maintain alertness for 90 minutes. “It’s no coincidence,” he remarked, “that these podcasts are typically about 90 minutes long.” Not anymore. His episodes now oscillate between 2 and 4.5 hours in length, competing with Joe Rogan as a new form of talk radio that’s always in the background. Longer episodes and large audiences entice many sponsors. His latest episode, released on April 3rd, had six. That’s a lot of money, which creates incentives. Huberman had a Patreon account early on, where listeners could donate money, but he now has his own premium subscription platform, where fan contributions are used in part to “fund human scientific research selected by Dr. Huberman,” no details given.
It saddens me to see such a gifted educator promote poorly supported bro science to so many people, but the appeal of the extramural rostrum, where the academic promotes hype and pseudoscience, cannot be denied. Inside the walls of academia, there are guardrails. On a podcast, however, anything goes, and the credibility of academia goes a long way to lend authority to supplement endorsements.
At a live event in Seattle, Andrew Huberman said that Dr. Oliver Sacks’ autobiography had a profound impact on him. “You know people hated him?” Huberman remarked before grabbing the microphone from the podium and pacing in front of his audience. “The scientific community tried to kick him out. They said horrible things about him.” Then the movie inspired by his work, Awakenings, came out and he received university appointments. “Ha! Then now, they wanted him back.”
You can be a nonconformist like Galileo and Semmelweis, ultimately proven right. Or you can be a nonconformist like Luc Montagnier, the HIV researcher who believed in homeopathy, or Andrew Wakefield of the vaccine-autism lie, ultimately proven wrong. I wonder what kind of nonconformist Andrew Huberman will turn out to be.
Alpha-GPC. Alpha-GPC is one of Andrew's favorite supplements for boosting cognitive function. If he wants to push through a gym or work activity, he'll take 300mg of Alpha-GPC beforehand. Combining it with coffee or yerba mate, and occasionally with phenylethylamine.What are the best supplements for Andrew Huberman's brain? ›
Alpha-GPC. Alpha-GPC is one of Andrew's favorite supplements for boosting cognitive function. If he wants to push through a gym or work activity, he'll take 300mg of Alpha-GPC beforehand. Combining it with coffee or yerba mate, and occasionally with phenylethylamine.What is the best nootropic Andrew Huberman? ›
Alpha-GPC. While Huberman believes the best quality cognitive enhancer is sleep, he said on The Tim Ferriss Show he does take Alpha-GPC four days a week. He found that 300 mg of Alpha-GPC taken “10 to 20 minutes prior to any time I want to focus or concentrate very deeply,” to be the sweet spot, he said on his podcast.How much magnesium does Andrew Huberman take daily? ›
Andrew Huberman recommends two forms of Magnesium – Magnesium Threonate (L-Threonate) and Magnesium Bisglycinate to help you fall asleep faster. The recommended daily doses for each form of Magnesium are 300–400 mg and 200 mg, respectively.Why does Huberman not like melatonin? ›
Huberman Cautions Against Regular Melatonin Use; It Decreases Baseline Dopamine Levels. Dr. Huberman advocates against the consistent use of melatonin as it decreases sleep quality. Melatonin may help one get to sleep but not stay asleep.What is the number one brain supplement? ›
#1. NooCube: Overall Best Brain Supplement for Memory, Focus, and Cognitive Function. If you are looking for a natural, safe and powerful way to enhance your cognitive ability and sharpen your learning skills, then NooCube may just be the supplement for you.Do any of the brain supplements really work? ›
Forget about those over-the-counter products that promise better memory. A recent survey found that about 25% of adults over age 50 take a supplement to improve their brain health with the promise of enhanced memory and sharper attention and focus. The problem? There's no solid proof any of them work.What is the most powerful focus nootropic? ›
The strongest nootropic on our list is NooCube. It is packed with all-natural and highly effective ingredients to give you the ultimate cognitive enhancement.What is the most motivating nootropic? ›
Caffeine is arguably the most common nootropic for motivation, and people have been using it for centuries as a brain booster. In addition to being a nootropic, caffeine is a stimulant and a psychoactive.
There is evidence that prescription nootropics can be effective therapeutic tools for those with specific medical conditions. However, the bulk of research shows that they offer little to no benefit for healthy individuals.
UL: The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for magnesium is 350 milligrams from supplements only. High-dose supplements can lead to diarrhea, nausea, and cramping in some people.How do you get 100% of magnesium daily? ›
Most people get all the magnesium they need from food. As a general rule, foods that are high in fibre provide magnesium. Some good sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables — such as spinach — legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.What type of magnesium does Huberman recommend? ›
Magnesium comes in many forms. While Huberman recommends mangesium threonate and magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium citrate is also hugely popular and has more elemental magnesium than all other forms.What does Huberman take for sleep? ›
It's a three-or-four pill combo—the number changes based on where you get your info from; more on that later—designed to help you fall asleep. It's one of many supplements Huberman takes. The sleep cocktail consists of magnesium (threonate or bisglycinate), L-theanine, apigenin, and inositol.How many hours does Andrew Huberman sleep? ›
Huberman told the Modern Wisdom Podcast that he goes to bed at 10:30 p.m. and wakes up at 6:30 a.m., getting around 8 hours of sleep. It's all thanks to his go-to sleep cocktail which consists of magnesium threonate and apigenin—a derivative of chamomile.What is a stronger alternative to melatonin? ›
Natural alternatives to melatonin, such as magnesium, valerian root, l-theanine, chamomile, and passionflower, are all-natural remedies that have been used for centuries to promote relaxation and help people get a better night's sleep.What is the best vitamin for smart brain? ›
B vitamins like B6, B12, and B9 (folic acid) all play a role in brain health.What is the best brain vitamin for memory? ›
Certain vitamins and fatty acids have been said to slow or prevent memory loss. The long list of potential solutions includes vitamins like vitamin B12, herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids.What are the 3 foods that fight memory loss? ›
Berries, fish, and leafy green vegetables are 3 of the best foods that fight memory loss. There's a mountain of evidence showing they support and protect brain health.What supplements help rewire the brain? ›
- Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for improving overall brain health. ...
- Vitamin B12. ...
- MCT Oil. ...
- Antioxidants (Vitamins C, E, and Beta Carotene) ...
- Vitamin D. ...
- Probiotics. ...
- Acetyl L-Carnitine.
- Spend less time on computer and mobile phone – remind yourself to take a break.
- Positive thinking, reduce stress.
- Change your diet.
- Get enough sleep – 7-8 hours a day, go to bed at 10pm or no later than midnight.
- Regular exercise.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and drinking coffee in the afternoon.
Caffeine is undoubtedly the most widely used nootropic. While most people don't think of their daily cup of coffee as a nootropic, they would probably admit that they're often looking to improve their focus or boost their energy with that cup of coffee.What nootropic is most like Adderall? ›
Noocube is our pick for the best adderall alternative of 2022. Noocube is an all-in-one nootropic formula that offers razor sharp focus, improved memory, better problem solving skills, and enhanced mental clarity.How can I increase my brainpower at any age? ›
- staying physically active.
- getting enough sleep.
- not smoking.
- having good social connections.
- limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day.
- eating a Mediterranean style diet.
The best nootropic for people focusing on reducing stress and anxiety overall is Xanapril. All of its nutrients are primarily focused on reducing anxiety and stress, and are also highly potent in other areas of brain health and function. Vyvamind is another exceptional nootropic, but contains a stimulant caffeine.What nootropic increases dopamine? ›
What nootropics increase dopamine? Research indicates that L-Tyrosine, Rhodiola Rosea, L-Thanine and Citicoline are natural dopamine boosters that may be effective in reducing the neurotransmittable levels in the human brain.What is the best nootropic for dopamine? ›
Because Citicoline is water soluble, the body readily absorbs it into the bloodstream, giving it a 90% bioavailability rate and increasing its effectiveness. But this is just one of many reasons Citicoline is one of the best overall nootropics for dopamine.What are the disadvantages of nootropics? ›
Side effects of nootropics are uncommon and are rarely serious. In addition to individual intolerance, an increase in activity in the undesired direction, a sleep disorder, or an increase in libido may occasionally occur [1,4,5,6]. Nootropics are contraindicated in hypersensitivity, pregnancy, and lactation .Do nootropics have a permanent effect? ›
While nootropics may help mask fatigue, procrastination or boredom, they do not make people more intelligent and their effects only last as long as the drug remains in the body. Some of these drugs may cause dependence and can have a range of side effects.What is the closest thing to Adderall over the counter? ›
Vyvamind is the closest thing available over-the-counter to Adderall. Although it's not as effective as Adderall, it does have the same effects, and is legal to take without a prescription.
- Calcification of the arteries. Unfortunately, this is one of the first symptoms to appear, as well as one of the most serious. ...
- Muscle Spasming & Cramping. ...
- Anxiety & Depression. ...
- Hormone Imbalances. ...
- High Blood Pressure / Hypertension. ...
- Pregnancy Discomfort. ...
- Low Energy. ...
- Bone Health.
Early signs of excessive magnesium intake can include low blood pressure, facial flushing, depression, urine retention, and fatigue. Eventually, if untreated, these symptoms can worsen and include muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and even, in very rare cases, cardiac arrest.Can you take magnesium and vitamin D together? ›
Can you take vitamin D and magnesium together? Yes. In fact, it's probably best to take both together. Because so many people have low magnesium levels, vitamin D supplements on their own aren't very helpful for a large portion of the population.What blocks magnesium absorption? ›
Phytates in the diet bind to magnesium and impair its absorption. However the quantities present in normal diet do not affect magnesium absorption. Other dietary factors that are thought to affect magnesium absorption are oxalate, phosphate, proteins, potassium and zinc.What depletes the body of magnesium? ›
Magnesium deficiency in healthy people is rare but it can be caused by: a poor diet (especially in elderly people or those who don't have enough to eat) type 2 diabetes. digestive problems such as Crohn's disease.Which magnesium is best for the brain? ›
Based on the current data, magnesium taurate and magnesium glycinate are two of the better options that may help those with mental health conditions.Which magnesium is best for memory? ›
Only magnesium L-threonate has been shown to have a high affinity for the brain and have an effect on memory, learning, and cognitive function.What is the healthiest form of magnesium? ›
Magnesium glycinate -- Magnesium glycinate (magnesium bound with glycine, a non-essential amino acid) is one of the most bioavailable and absorbable forms of magnesium, and also the least likely to induce diarrhea. It is the safest option for correcting a long-term deficiency.Why is Huberman so popular? ›
Huberman has been credited with coining the term "Non-Sleep Deep Rest", which he earlier referred to as Yoga Nidra, which is to practices that place the brain and body into shallow sleep to accelerate neuroplasticity and help offset mental and physical fatigue. Palo Alto, California, U.S.What is the best neurotransmitter for sleep? ›
The most rostral neurons in the brain with a major role in sleep control are γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic cells located in the basal forebrain and in the anterior hypothalamus.
A small-scale study found that taking a 300 milligram (mg) dose of GABA before bed for several weeks was well-tolerated and reduced the time required to fall asleep. Evidence points to a need to take GABA supplements for at least one week to influence stress levels or sleep.What protein does Huberman use? ›
Whey Protein: 40g, 30-60 minutes after workout.What are Andrew Huberman 3 supplements for sleep? ›
- Magnesium Threonate (300–400 mg) or Magnesium Bisglycinate (200 mg) daily.
- Apigenin (50 mg) daily.
- Theanine (100–400 mg) daily.
Magnesium is best for those with magnesium deficiency, insomnia due to stress or anxiety, or muscle pain and cramping. On the other hand, melatonin is considered best for those who suffer from circadian rhythm disruption, hormonal imbalances, or melatonin deficiency.Is GABA or melatonin better for sleep? ›
While GABA provides emotional and behavioral support by reducing excitability and promoting relaxation and calmness, melatonin provides physical sleep support by directly regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It improves sleep quality, increases total sleep time, and decreases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.What is a natural sleep aid instead of melatonin? ›
Chamomile, valerian root and magnolia tea are all natural remedies for anxiety, stress and insomnia. Drink a cup of one of these herbal teas at least an hour to two hours before bed -- this gives you time to relax, enjoy the tea and use the bathroom before lights off.What is the best vitamin for strong brain? ›
When it comes to brain health, focus on the three B's : vitamins B6, B12, and B9 (folate). “These three types of B vitamins are necessary for the brain's normal functioning,” says Dr. Agarwal, “and any deficiency in them may increase the risk of memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline.”
BDNF is essential in supporting neuron health, neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to rewire and create new connections), and neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons).What brain supplements does Joe Rogan take? ›
Onnit Alpha BRAIN is a nootropic supplement that improves brain function by helping to support memory, focus and mental performance. Onnit created Alpha BRAIN after Joe Rogan suggested that they make a cognitive enhancer so it's only fitting that it's the supplement most associated with his name.What is the best vitamins for brain power? ›
Like vitamin D, vitamin B12 has so many mental benefits. Getting enough vitamin B12 may give you more energy, improve memory, and make learning new things easier. It also has been shown to help improve mood and lessen depressive symptoms.
Fruits. Certain fruits such as oranges, bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries, contain high amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent brain cells from becoming damaged and supports overall brain health. In fact, a study found that vitamin C can potentially prevent Alzheimer's.What supplements reduce brain inflammation? ›
Fish oil is one of the most popular supplements for reducing inflammation due to its high omega-3 fat content. Fish oil supplementation has an impressive record for improving brain health and functions of all kinds, such as mood, cognition, and mental well-being.What is the best brain supplement depression? ›
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are also linked to improving depression. According to Harvard Health, these nutrients can reduce inflammation in the brain, which may have a positive impact on mood.
Although Alpha BRAIN does not contain caffeine, some take it daily with coffee or tea to support overall cognition.What is in Joe Rogan's Alpha BRAIN? ›
A choline-containing compound that's found in the brain. Alpha-GPC is thought to improve cognitive function by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory.What vitamins are good for memory fog? ›
Vitamin B2 and vitamin B7 help the nervous system, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 are required to support neurotransmitters and cellular communication, and vitamin B9 eases mental fatigue. Taking a regular B complex supplement that includes all the necessary B vitamins can help to reduce symptoms of brain fog.What is the best drug to improve memory? ›
Cholinesterase inhibitors are the first choice of treatment for memory loss. The doctor may also prescribe the single-dose drug combination Namzeric to treat moderate to severe memory loss.