MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Brite is an herbal energy drink that is currently being marketed aggressively. It is even for sale in one leading UK supermarket. It comes in various flavors the ingredients of which vary slightly.

The pineapple/mango drink, for instance, contains:

  • guarana extract,
  • green tea extract,
  • guayusa extract,
  • ashwagandha extract,
  • matcha tea,
  • ascorbic acid (vitamin C),
  • natural caffeine.

The website of the manufacturer tells us that Brite uses ingredients and dosages that are safe and effective, utilising the power of nootropic superfoods organic Matcha, Guarana and Guayusa to provide a long-lasting boost.

Brite is based on peer reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials and studies that can be found here.

It does not tell us the dosages of the ingredients, and I am puzzled by the claim that the drink is safe. A quick search seems to cast considerable doubt on it.

_____________________________

Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is a plant from the Amazon region with a high content of bioactive compounds. It is by no means free of adverse effects. It is known to interact with:

And it can cause the following adverse effects:

Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It can cause the following adverse effects:

  • headache,
  • nervousness,
  • sleep problems,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • irritability,
  • irregular heartbeat,
  • tremor,
  • heartburn,
  • dizziness,
  • ringing in the ears,
  • convulsions,
  • confusion.

Guayusa is a plant native to the Amazon rainforest that contains plenty of caffeine. Its adverse effects include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Energy Crashes
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Upset Stomach

Ashwagandha is a plant from India; the root and berry are used in Ayurvedic medicine. Its adverse effects include:

  • stomach upset,
  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting.

Matcha tea also contains a high amount of caffeine. It is associated with the following adverse effects:

Caffeine is a chemical found in coffee, tea, cola, guarana, mate, and other products. Adverse effects include:

  • insomnia,
  • nervousness,
  • restlessness,
  • stomach irritation,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • increased heart rate and respiration,
  • headache,
  • anxiety,
  • agitation,
  • chest pain,
  • ringing in the ears.

A case report documented a case of myocardial infarction in a 25-year-old man who presented to the emergency department with chest pain. The patient had been consuming massive quantities of caffeinated energy drinks daily for the past week. This case report and previously documented studies support a possible connection between caffeinated energy drinks and myocardial infarction.

________________________

Yes, the adverse effects are predominantly (but not exclusively) caused by high doses. Yet, the claim that Brite is safe should nevertheless be taken with a very large pinch of salt. If I like the taste of the drink and thus consume a few bottles per day, the dosages of the ingredients would surely be high!

And what about the claim that it is effective? Here the pinch of salt must be even larger, I am afraid. I could not find a single trial that confirmed the notion. For backing up their claims, the manufacturers offer a few references, but if you look them up, you will find that they were not done with the mixture of ingredients contained in Brite.

So, what is the conclusion?

Based on the evidence that I have seen, the herbal drink ‘Brite’ has not been shown to be an effective nootropic. In addition, there are legitimate concerns about the safety of the product. I for one will therefore not purchase the (rather expensive) drink.

2 Responses to Brite: “utilising the power of nootropic superfoods” – HYPE OR HARM?

  • It does not tell us the dosages of the ingredients

    I see that the main Website mentions 150 mg caffeine, which is the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee. This wouldn’t be a problem if it was the only active ingredient. Which it is not. And indeed no information is given about the dosage of most of the other ingredients.
    Interestingly, they also mention 150 mg of L-theanine, which supposedly has a calming effect, perhaps to dampen down the most prominent excitatory effects of the other ingredients.

    the claim that Brite is safe should nevertheless be taken with a very large pinch of salt

    … which only serves to raise blood pressure even further!

    Anyway, I think I’ll just stick with my morning coffee and my afternoon bicycle rounds to keep a clear and alert mind.

    • “I see that the main Website mentions 150 mg caffeine, which is the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee.”

      They caffeine content of a cup of coffee can wary quite wildly depending on the type of coffee (mainly robusta/arabica content, robusta has about 1.5× more caffeine compared to arabica and while good coffee blends rarely has over 30 % of robusta, low-end blends can be even pure robusta – it is quite hard to find pure robusta that tastes fine and it still is pretty bitter and somewhat harsh), coffee strength and serving size (which together gives the amount of coffee beans used), somewhat by the type of extraction (caffeine disolves quickly, it depends significantly on the grind size but methods using coarse grind typically use long extraction times so I think a large majority of caffeine gets dissolved).

      Pure arabica 7g espresso has about 40 or 50 mg of caffeine. For a larger cup of french press or drip coffee you need to use more (if it is supposed to taste like coffee not just dark water), for 200 ml it is about 15 g so with arabica it’s about 100 mg of caffeine, with robusta it’s about 150 mg. In US the typical cup size is larger than that so you can have over 200 mg of caffeine in one cup. And a typical cup of coffee for medicine students has about 0.5 l an is consumed at 1 am as far as I know (I wasn’t a medicine student but I shared flat with some of them). 😉

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