It’s a whole new world
Brain Dust
Credit: Moon Juice

I am typically open to natural products that make me look better and feel better or remedies that help cure a congested nose and throat. But, after watching the Limitless movie in 2011, I’ve always wondered if there would ever be some undiscovered natural product that would make me smarter or give me the gift of focus. So when a Cooking Light editor mentioned a product called “Brain Dust,” which promises to improve clarity and mental functioning, my ears perked up with curiosity. I immediately read up on the product to see what the internet said about it and decided I wanted to give it a try. I got my hands on the 1.5-ounce jar (which retails at $38), and for a week, I dusted.

What is Brain Dust?

Brain Dust is a powdered herbal supplement that’s produced by Moon Juice, a plant-based wellness and beauty company. Brain Dust claims to “enhance focus and mental stamina, promote mental clarity, promote a positive mind and mood, and alleviate the effects of stress,” according to its product description. The supplement includes a mix of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that produce these the desired results (FYI: Adaptogens are a class of healing herbs and plants that promote and maintain physiological functioning by helping your body better respond to stressors). The inclusion of mushrooms made me worry that I would be at my desk suffering from a bad trip instead of enjoying an outpour of pure genius thoughts.

To better understand how (and if) the Brain Dust works, I needed to take a closer look at the ingredient list. The powder includes the following:

The first ingredient listed is Lion’s Mane mushroom extract, AKA hericium erinaceus; which is a mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine that protects neurological functioning and structure in the brain. This edible mushroom is white in color and literally looks like a shaggy mane.

Maca root is touted to increase mental and physical stamina, and it has been marketed as an energy replacement for coffee and tea.

Astragalus root is also a common herb used in traditional Chinese medicine that aids in treating upper respiratory issues, fibromyalgia, diarrhea, fatigue, and anorexia to name a few ailments; however, there have been no major studies performed to support these claims.

Rhodiola root also has limited studies that support its ability to increase energy, stamina, and improve attention and memory. It also contains properties that allow the body to better cope with stress.

Ashwagandha root is an essential herb in Ayurvedic medicine that has a myriad of health benefits, but the most mindful property is that it helps reduce cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) and produces calming effects to manage anxiety.

Ginkgo leaves come from one of the world's oldest living tree species and it has garnered many health claims over the centuries, including its ability to treat memory loss, headaches, dementia, dizziness, mood, and concentration.

Stevia is nearly 200 times sweeter than granulated sugar and is used as a sugar substitute. By reducing your general sugar intake and replacing your sweeteners with stevia, it can potentially reduce weight and lower blood pressure.

The Results

Now that I figured out exactly what made this dust so magical, I tested the powder for one week each morning. As directed, I added 1 teaspoon of the beige powder to my coffee, tea, kombucha, or water. In hindsight, mixing the powder with kombucha wasn’t the best idea because the dust reacted with the fermented beverage causing an eruption of bubbles to overflow out of the bottle onto my desk creating a mess.

As I sipped my concoction, I tasted earthy, mildly bitter and slightly dirt-tasting notes to my drink. I would consider the flavor to be an acquired taste. Within the first 5 minutes-ish, I felt a slow release of alertness, almost similar to how I feel when I drink matcha tea. It’s not a big jolt in the way that coffee jacks you up, but more along the lines of a gentle wave of energy that you get when you are fully refreshed. As far as I’m concerned, my heightened alertness lasted for about an hour and a half, and honestly, I’m not sure if I felt anything further. There was no feeling of “crashing” other than that it simply wore off.

Overall, I’m hoping I did not suffer from a placebo effect, but after going through the list of ingredients and their individual healing properties, I can totally see some validity to this product. I didn’t feel the need to re-up on another serving after my first, but I do think it was a nice addition to my morning routine. If you are not an avid caffeinated drink consumer, this Brain Dust could be an alternative product to help you become alert and zoned for the task at hand. As always, with any new supplement that you try, be sure to consult your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or currently taking other medications.