Plato Nootropic Review: Safe, Subtle, And Standard?

Nootropic stacks are hot!

Plato is one of such nootropic stacks that have emerged on the brain-enhancement supplement market in the last few years. Plato combines several ingredients that purport to improve your mental performance - 4 to be exact.

So, naturally, I've written a review on the Plato nootropic stack and compared it to other offerings on the market.

A magic pill?

Maybe!

Keep on reading to find out:

 

Plato Nootropic Review Summary

Pros:

  • Ingredients with good scientific support
  • Standardized extracts for predictable effects
  • Dosing is generally good although the Rhodiola and Ginseng dose might be increased a bit.
  • No stimulants are used

Cons:

  • Plato is just okay, but nothing special in terms of the ingredient list.
  • Many other ingredients could have been included that you can reasonably expect to have nootropic effects, such as acetylcholinecholine precursors, phosphatidylserine, mucuna for dopamine function.

Overall: nice, but not spectacular. Read on for my full review.

Plato Nootropic Full Review

Why nootropic stacks matter: 

The world is changing quicker than you can imagine. Success or failure in today's 2020 world depends more and more on whether your brain is working correctly and less and less on physical strength.

That trend confers huge advantages upon women who don't have the physical fortitude of men (although being superior in pain tolerance and ultra-endurance capacity!).

AI, robotics, and technological advancements that are integrated into society quicker than ever before simply demand that you have a brain that's agile and able to cope with quick changes.

As a result, cognitive capital is becoming more important than ever in today's world (1). Cognitive capital simply denotes different dimensions of intelligence.

Consequence?

Adding 100 pounds to your bench press will not improve your chances of success in the modern world -- except through improving your looks which do matter today. But adding 10% to your brain's processing speed is a positive game-changer that sets you up for achievement, a higher income, and more wealth.

Hence, nootropic stacks such as Plato can yield a very positive influence on today's society.

I've said this before and will say it again: I think in 10 years' time, nootropic stacks will be sold in vending machines in the same way you can get soda or cookies today.

Why?

Everyone loves an "unfair" advantage. And keeping your brain sharp day after day is always a good thing.

 

Table Of Contents:

So in this blog post, I'll cover the following things:

  1. A quick science review of all of the 4 different ingredients found in Plato
  2. My assessment of the ingredients used in Plato
  3. My personal experience with this nootropic stack
  4. The conclusion: would I recommend this stack?

If you want to skip the nerdy science talk then it's smart to immediately skip to my experience with taking Plato.

Ready?

Let's go:

 

1. The Science Of Plato's Ingredients

Plato uses the "less is more" approach and only combines 4 different ingredients. That approach stands in stark contrast to Qualia Mind, which contains 25+ ingredients, or Mind Lab Pro, which contains 10+.

My perspective?

Both approaches certainly work. Qualia Mind, for instance, takes more of a "shotgun" approach and has conferred massive benefits for Alex Fergus. Alex received massive benefits on his deep sleep - with 40% improvements in that area - and cognitive performance by using Qualia Mind.

(That 40% increase in deep sleep translates to a whopping 1 hour additional deep sleep for Alex, which is a total game-changer.)

So what benefits will Plato offer? Let's have a look at the ingredients first and do a recap of the science of these ingredients:

 

A. Bacopa Monnieri, 300 milligrams, as Bacognize®

Bacopa Monnieri is a plant that's found all over the world, in the Americas, Europe, but also Asia.

In fact, Bacopa is one of the foundational plants in ancient Ayurvedic Medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Ancient cultures have thus been experimenting with this compound have praised its benefits.

Specifically, Bacopa is an adaptogen - a plant compound that improves your body's ability to deal with stress (2; 3)

Fortunately, modern science has also researched Bacopa Monnieri in reasonable detail and demonstrates benefits in many domains related to cognitive performance. Let's go over these domains one-by-one:  

  • Focus and other brain performance domains. One "systematic review" - which combines many previous studies - concluded that Bacopa Monnieri enhances "perception, impulsivity, and attention demonstrating the greatest improvement" (4).

    Another such study concludes that overall cognitive speed, as well as attention (focus), improve (5). Many high-quality studies affirm that assessment (6; 7; 8).

  • Enhanced memory. One of the problems many people nowadays have is that they've got the memory of a goldfish -- or was it the attention span of a goldfish -- I no longer remember!

    Preliminary evidence does, fortunately, show that Bacopa has benefits in this domain (9; 10; 11; 12; 13). Different studies show that both working, as well as long-term memory, can improve in different participants. These participants range from the young to the elderly.

    The effects? Long-term memory denotes your ability to store pieces of information for longer periods of time, such as months and years. Working memory is your ability to keep several pieces of information in your brain right now, such as a 15-digit number (that's broken up into several series of 2-3 numbers). It's great to see improvements in these areas!

  • Improved learning capacity (14; 15; 16; 17). As a result of the memory-enhancement effects, overall learning capacity may go up. Unfortunately, the best learning-effects are only demonstrated in animal studies right now. However, it's not unreasonable to expect learning capacity improvement in humans as well.

  • Neurotransmitter levels. Neurotransmitters are brain-signaling compounds such as "dopamine" and "acetylcholine".

    Different neurotransmitters have different effects. Dopamine promotes creative and abstract thinking and impulse control, for instance, while acetylcholine promotes attention. Neurotransmitter levels of dopamine, serotonin,  GABA, and acetylcholine are all modulated by Bacopa Monnieri (23; 24; 25; 26).

    With higher functioning levels of neurotransmitters, you'll simply feel and think better. Overall blood flow in the brain also increases through Bacopa.

  • Relaxation, anxiety, resting heart rate. Anxiety kills your cognitive performance simply because it prevents you from acting and thinking with confidence. If you're anxious you're far less assertive -- not only in the social domain but also cognitively. The case can be made that many people procrastinate simply because they've got some stress or anxiety over an assignment they should be working on.

    The good news? Bacopa Monnieri reduces anxiety in many different populations, such as healthy young people as well as the elderly (27; 28; 29; 30). About 75% of studies I came across showed a decrease in anxiety, with 25% showing no effect.

  • Stress. Because Bacopa is an adaptogen, it may lower your stress levels. More human research is needed here, however, but the benefit is potentially important.

  • Antioxidant. Bacopa may have neuroprotective effects, which can help you fight against diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease (18; 19; 20; 21; 22). Bacopa specifically decreases "oxidative stress", for instance, a byproduct of energy creation that is damaging in excess - promoting aging.

    B-amyloid plaques - partially responsible for Alzheimer's disease, may also be countered by Bacopa Monnieri. Hence, you'll keep your brain young!

The only caveat is that most of the research about Bacopa is still in the early stages -- so the scientific judgment about this compound may still change in the future.

The dosage used in Plato of 300 milligrams of Bacopa Monnieri is great and reflects the dosage used in many studies.

 

B. Rhodiola Rosea, 100 milligrams, 3% rosavins and 2% salidroside, as Rhodiola5Plus™

Rhodiola Rosea, a second adaptogen. Rhodiola is one of my favorite compounds and nootropics simply because it lowers your overall stress levels if you're a type-A personality (like me!)

Many people in today's society are overstressed and under-relaxed, and hence, Rhodiola Rosea can be a great contributor in that case. 

The upside is that Plato contains a standardized extract of "Rhodiola5Plus™" that contains a stable amount of active compounds such as "rosavins" and "salidroside". Suffice it to say that the latter two compounds are responsible for many of the benefits of Rhodiola.

Rhodiola is mostly sourced from Nothern Europe and Asia, and is also highly respected in Chinese medicine. Fortunately, modern science has also discovered the potential benefits of this plant compound.

Let's look at some of the expected effects of Rhodiola: 

  • May improve mood and counter depression. Want to think better? Then make sure you feel better! Just think about this: when does your brain work better, if you're feeling a bit down or when you're in a great mood? Of course, the answer is the latter because being in a good mood enhances your creativity and ability to think outside the box.

    Fortunately, Rhodiola Rosea has shown repeated benefits for countering stress, anxiety, and even depression (31; 32; 33; 34; 35). Great benefit!

  • May counteract fatigue. Remember that time you skipped a night of sleep? And remember how well your brain worked -- or rather: how well it didn't work?

    The positive news is that Rhodiola helps counter both mental as well as physical fatigue, allowing you to go on longer than if you wouldn't take the supplement (36; 37; 38; 39; 40). The quality of the evidence is not yet the highest and some studies contract the fatigue-countering effects -- although I do believe some evidence exists.

  • Lowers stress as an adaptogen. Some of the previous studies I've quoted show that Rhodiola lowers your overall stress - as well as two more recent studies (41; 42). One mechanism by which stress is reduced is by enhancing energy creation at the cellular level.

  • Can have nootropic benefits - thus enhancing cognitive performance. Again, the evidence is sparse in this area but Rhodiola may improve your memory and overall learning capacity (43; 44; 45; 46). Reaction speed in healthy young adults may improve, for instance.

    Quicker reaction times are intertwined with greater basic processing speed of the brain - signifying enhanced cognitive performance. Rhodiola may also have neuroprotective effects, additionally.

Downside? The 100-milligram dosage is not the highest. Some studies use Rhodiola dosages over 1,000 milligrams (1 gram) with positive results, for instance (32). Many others use 150 - 400 milligrams. 

In traditional medicine, Rhodiola has even be used in doses of several grams -- although that's not 3 grams of standardized extract, for example.

The saving grace is that the amount of rosavins and salidroside is relatively high in this extract -- although some extracts have a minimum of 5% rosavins (used in Jarrow's extract for instance).

If Plato were my product I'd up the dosage to 150 or 200 milligrams for a standard dose. And yet, including this ingredient in a nootropic stack is laudable!

C. Panax Ginseng, or "True Ginseng", 60 milligrams, as Indena® 27-30%

Another adaptogen that also acts as a nootropic. The upside is that "Panax Ginseng" Is included in Plato, the most well-studied form of ginseng. 

Panax ginseng is also known as "Korean ginseng" or "true ginseng", as opposed to other ginsengs such as Siberian ginseng (which is less expensive than its Panax counterpart.)

Let's have a look at what science says about Panax Ginseng's benefits: 

  • Enhances overall cognitive performance. Quite a few studies have investigated the effects of Panax Ginseng on mental performance (47; 48; 49; 50).

    Cognitive enhancement benefits are even found in young healthy people - the population group that is least likely to experience benefits from most supplements. In late life too, ginseng may have cognitive benefits if you take the compound for longer periods of time.

    In conditions such as Alzheimer's - which is paired with cognitive decline - Panax Ginseng also shows benefits. Your overall brain health thus very likely benefits!

  • Reduces fatigue (51; 52; 53; 54; 55). Different types of Ginseng including the Panax variant lower fatigue, especially when you've got a chronic health condition. More research is needed though, and not all studies support the fatigue-reducing benefit conclusion.

  • Probably lowers stress and anxiety. Yes, once more you come across another "stress killer". Especially some recent studies from 2017 and 2018 show promising results in lower anxiety, stress, and mood problems (56; 57; 58; 59; 60). As a result, Panax Ginseng may reduce the risk for heart disease, for instance, which is frequently interrelated with excess (chronic) stress.

The choice of this standardized extract - specifically the "Indena® 27-30%", is laudable. The dosage may be on the low-end of the spectrum--although the chosen ingredient itself is excellent.

 

D. L-Theanine, 200 milligrams

What's kind of interesting is that L-theanine is the only ingredient in Plato that's not a standardized extract.

Suntheanine offers a standardized version of L-theanine, for instance, that's widely used in the nootropics market -- but Plato included a generic version (as far as I can tell.)

So what's theanine? Theanine is an ingredient found in tea. The main benefit of this compound is that it creates a very stable non-anxious type of focus that's based on relaxation instead of increases in energy production.

Let's have one last look at the science of this compound: 

  • Stress and anxiety. Again, the most profound benefit of theanine is that it really relaxes you. The focus (a.k.a. attention) benefit it achieved is thus not through stimulation but through relaxation. Both physical and mental stress are countered (61; 62; 63).

    As a result, several domains of cognitive performance such as verbal ability and executive function (including things like "working memory") improve. Heart rate may also slightly slow down with theanine, signifying relaxation.

  • GABA neurotransmitter (64; 65). One reason why theanine aids relaxation is through modulating the "GABA" neurotransmitter or brain signaling compound in the brain. GABA is intrinsically tied to relaxation.

  • Great in combination with coffee and/or caffeine. If you do take coffee, expect theanine and thus Plato to module the effects of your morning cup of Joe.

    Studies specifically show that theanine reduces the "jittery" or "anxious" feeling often associated with becoming too amped up from drinking coffee (or using caffeine supplements) (66; 67; 68; 69).
The 200-milligram dose used in Plato is perfect.
 
So that's my consideration of the science of Plato's ingredients - next up is my judgment about them:
 

2. The Verdict About The Ingredients

What do I think about the ingredients?

As the title already says, the ingredients are "safe, subtle, and standard". There's nothing fancy in Plato and that's both a good and bad thing.

Let's start with the bad:

Contrary to Qualia Mind, for instance, which has tons of ingredients that I know for certain have nootropic properties, such as phosphatidylserine, different forms of choline, amino acids such as phenylalanine, artichoke and forskolin, and many others.

The creators of Plato claim they've only included ingredients that have a proven nootropic track record in Randomized Controlled Trials and healthy participants. I, however, find such an approach excessively conservative.

Plato feels like it's more working in the background compared to the very obvious effects of Qualia Mind, for instance. Remember that Qualia Mind doesn't have any stimulants either - although some ingredients like "huperzine-A" and choline precursors can come off as stimulating.

The "safe, subtle, and standard" approach of Plato does have its benefits though: the 4 ingredients boost your mood and enhance relaxation and the effects are not as obvious as a product such as Qualia Mind.

Additionally, Plato uses standardized extracts which makes taking the product more predictable. Standardized extracts reduce the variability of the effect you're getting because if you get Rhodiola from different suppliers, the amounts of active ingredients and toxic byproducts (such as heavy metals) can vary.

Of the 4 ingredients used in Plato, moreover, 3 of them are adaptogens. The 4th ingredient also induces relaxation just like many other adaptogens. So overall I consider Plato more of an adaptogen product than a full-spectrum nootropic.

Additionally, no stimulants are used, which is a big plus for me. I know other reviews on the internet disagree with me but I think they're wrong. I don't think stimulants belong in most nootropic products because it removes the element of choice from the user.

Stimulants are very easy to add to any nootropic stack because you can simply drink one or more cups of coffee or swallow a Modafinil or Adderall pill. Of course, using stimulants comes at a price so it's not smart to rely on them long-term -- something that Plato gets right.

The upside of the stable and safe approach of Plato is that there's very little that can go wrong.

So let's sum up my conclusions about the ingredients, beginning with the good:

  • Ingredients with good scientific support
  • Standardized extracts for predictable effects
  • Dosing is generally good although the Rhodiola and Ginseng dose might be increased a bit.
  • No stimulants are used

The bad?

  • Plato is just okay, but nothing special in terms of the ingredient list. I think what makes some of the 10+ ingredient nootropic stacks so exciting is that you can really feel the effects.
  • Many other ingredients could have been included that you can reasonably expect to have nootropic effects, such as acetylcholinecholine precursors, phosphatidylserine, mucuna for dopamine function.

Overall: nice, but not spectacular. Let's move on to my personal experience taking Plato:

 

3. My Personal Experience With Plato

Below I've divided my experience with and assessment of Plato into different categories: 

My Background 

Let me first say a bit about my background. Over the last month, I've experimented with different doses of Plato. I've taken both a regular dose as well as double the regular dose. The reason for a higher dose is because I'm a bigger guy of around 225 pounds of bodyweight.

My main job is writing blog posts, answering e-mails, and coaching on the phone or through Zoom with clients in functional medicine - so these are the perfect tasks to test a nootropic stack with.

Benefits Of Taking Plato

The Plato product does slightly improve my focus, overall relaxation, and happiness so I definitely got benefit from taking this product. I may also have somewhat higher energy levels when taking Plato.

I've ended up with mixed feelings after taking Plato for a while. Plato is like that dependable uncle that will always help you when you ask him but there's nothing shiny or exciting about him. As a result, you'll feel both the need to have him near you and to avoid him.

I must say, additionally, that Plato works very well for my physiology. I'm a type-A personality who is always driving himself to the edge and beyond and thus the approach Plato is taking with the adaptogens is a very good one for me personally.

If you're not a type-A personality, however, and you're naturally very relaxed and easygoing then Plato might be less beneficial for you. Such people are regularly "parasympathetically dominant" and will do less well with nootropics that promote relaxation.

For me, personally, the effects of Plato are subtle and not even as in your face as drinking a cup of coffee. If this product is marketed to a larger segment of the population instead of people really interested in health, I'm pretty sure many people will say that they're "feeling nothing" -- even though many studies show the effects are there.

Downsides Of Plato

My biggest issue with Plato?

Very frequently you don't want "safe, subtle, and standard" but you want something extraordinary. You'll want to spend time with that other uncle who is surfing crazy waves in the ocean, motorbiking, creates art, and throws delicious parties (frequently a bit too delicious).

Again, I do feel good on Plato but it's all a bit too conservative. No very obvious effects are found, which can both be a good thing as well as a detriment.

 

Long-term Use

The Plato website states it takes up to 6 weeks to feel the full benefits of this nootropic stack. In one sense I agree with that statement while in another I don't - let me explain:

Whenever you take an adaptogen like Rhodiola or Ashwagandha, which I have done with varying doses over the years, there is an immediate benefit. In other words, after taking those two adaptogens you'll immediately feel more relaxed and energetic. Those effects don't take 6 weeks to build up in the same way you don't need to wait for 6 weeks to feel the effects of coffee.

I do concede, however, that taking Plato for longer periods of time might beget some structural changes to the human body that you won't get from one-time-consumption.

In other words, if Plato makes you more relaxed for week after week, there will be physiological effects associated with that longer-term relaxation as well. An analogy to understand that principle is going on a holiday: after just one day you'll relax, yes, but perhaps only after a week or month have you really settled into that relaxation while no longer thinking about your job.

 

Plato's Price

Right now Plato is priced at $46 for one shipment and $39 per month if you take a subscription. 

With a subscription, you'll have sufficient pills to take the nootropic stack every single day of the week (including weekends).

Plato's price is reasonable when compared to the benefits (from 4 ingredients) you'll be getting from it -- it doesn't even come near the $100+ you're paying for Qualia Mind. The price can be justified in my opinion because you're not paying more per ingredient than with other nootropic stacks.  

 

4. Finishing Thoughts: Indeed, Safe, Subtle, And Standard!

I hate writing reviews that don't end up on a positive note because I know people behind products like Plato have worked really hard creating them and the message behind them. I do feel the love and dedication of the producers of Plato seeping through.

I can also tell that the creators of Plato are reasonably well-read in the scientific literature behind nootropics which makes not recommending their product more difficult for me.

And yet, I really wanted to like this product but in fact, I don't. In its current formulation, many better alternatives are available to Plato, such as Mind Lab Pro or Qualia -- although these alternatives are located in higher price categories.

So perhaps beginners who want to use nootropic stacks for the first time and need a safe product to test with Plato is the ideal partner in crime. 

And if you're interested, you can buy Plato HERE.

The bottom line? Sorry, Plato, you're my safe uncle, but I'm ditching you for the more exciting and crazy one! (But do please bail me out if I get in trouble).

 

This is a post by Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MS - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MS), and is currently the chief science writer at Alexfergus.com. 

 

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