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Alpha BRAIN® Banned Substance Testing Protocol and Results

Written by
March 16, 2015
Updated November 25, 2020
Category: News

Onnit’s flagship cognitive enhancer, Alpha BRAIN®, was mentioned in a story reported by the New York Times today.  The story alleges that a student who was arrested for possession of illegal substances, also had an Alpha BRAIN® bottle in his room.  According to the article, after a preliminary screening, the contents of that bottle indicated the potential presence of amphetamines.

An initial scan of a customer database confirmed that a person with the same name and matching location of the student in question had indeed purchased one bottle of 30 count Alpha BRAIN® in October 2013.  While the article does not mention the lot number shown on the bottle, the two batches that were in circulation at that time were marked #215300, and #135000.  Both of those lots had been independently tested for banned & illegal substances including amphetamines by one of the top labs in the country BSCG (Banned Substances Control Group).  A complete list of potential substances screened for by BSCG can be found here. The certificates are published below:

Alpha BRAIN® Drug Free Certification Lot #135000

Alpha BRAIN® Drug Free Certification Lot #215300

Commenting on this situation, founder of Onnit Aubrey Marcus said:  “We can say unequivocally that there are no amphetamines or other banned substances in Alpha BRAIN®.  We electively test every batch of Alpha BRAIN® at our own expense to ensure that our products are free of any banned or illegal substances. This type of testing is not required, but we at Onnit hold ourselves to a different standard, with nothing short of impeccability as our goal.”

Both potential batches that the bottle might have come from were screened, and showed no presence of any banned substances including any in the class of amphetamines.

The article mentions that the initial test of Alpha BRAIN® was positive for “amphetamines” in general, but that “it had not yet been confirmed with the state toxicology lab, and that false positives had been known to occur.”  Commenting on the potential circumstances that could generate a false positive, Oliver Catlin, president of BCSG said “When conducting initial testing on possible drug substances law enforcement personnel often use non-specific drug testing kits that react to a group of compounds in a particular class in order to narrow down what drug might be present.  It is possible for these types of kits to react to other substances that are present but are not illegal.  Alpha BRAIN® contains a blend of ingredients each with unique chemical properties, and it is possible one of the ingredients triggered an initial positive result.  To confirm Initial results mass spectrometry testing is usually performed, which definitively determines whether an illegal drug is present or not.  Alpha BRAIN® batches are regularly tested as part of the BSCG Certified Drug Free supplement certification program.  Our testing protocol uses liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LCMS) and covers more than 145 drugs including amphetamines in general and several forms of ‘ecstasy’ drugs specifically.  None of the Alpha BRAIN® batches we have tested were found to contain amphetamines or any other banned or illegal drug.”

The banned substances control group (BSCG) was founded by Dr. Don Catlin who created the first anti-doping lab in the United States in 1982.  According to the website the Catlin team has provided testing services to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), MLB, NFL, NCAA, the U.S. military, several Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.

Many of the organizations listed above are responsible for testing some of the athletes who take Onnit products, including Alpha BRAIN®.  Commenting on the situation, Olympian Trey Hardee said, “I have taken Onnit products 30 minutes prior to being tested for competition.  I’ve never had a single issue.”  Cub Swanson, top 10 MMA fighter, echoed the sentiment adding “I take Alpha BRAIN® before I fight, and I’ve been tested without incident.”

Commenting further on the situation, Aubrey Marcus said “It is clear to us that this situation is likely the result of one of two scenarios.  Either a false positive was triggered on an actual unadulterated Alpha BRAIN® capsule, or something else had been placed inside the Alpha BRAIN® bottle.”

Onnit is currently attempting to reach out to the publishers of the article and any interested parties to provide the testing results and information present.  For further information or to reach Onnit please contact

Jennifer is Onnit’s PR & Media Specialist and resident yoga instructor. Jennifer is a Yoga Alliance RYT 200 certified yoga instructor with over eight years of experience practicing hatha, vinyasa and power yoga. She believes yoga strengthens the mind, body and spirit and positively affects every other part of your life. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of health, nutrition, fitness and the healing powers of yoga and meditation. Her invigorating classes combine elements of alignment-based flow, core strength, breath work, and yoga philosophy. Jennifer also studies nutritional therapy and writes blog at
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