Qualia Step One and Step Two

Nootropics is an interesting field to work in and buy from at the moment, with seemingly game-changing discoveries made on a yearly basis. As new brain-boosting ingredients are uncovered and new techniques designed, some questions of approach have been raised. Is it better to focus on one or a few key ingredients when buying a new nootropic, or should you try to buy as many effective ingredients as possible in one product?

Below we take an in-depth look into Qualia, to see whether this huge product, jam-packed with over 40 useful ingredients, is as useful as it appears.

Qualia Pros

  • Outstanding money back guarantee
  • Ingredients have been carefully chosen and provided in appropriate quantities
  • Some customers report outstanding results

Qualia Cons

  • Product is far too expensive
  • Many former customers complain that the product is ineffective and even produced “brain fog”
  • High ingredient count dramatically increases the risk of side effects
Watchdog Rejected

Qualia Step One and Step Two

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What You Need To Know About Qualia

Qualia is a nootropic supplement that appears to be aimed at the executive and entrepreneurial class. It is seemingly presented as an expensive “luxury” nootropic, packed with more than 40 effective ingredients and put forward by a well-connected team informed by an advisory board of scientists, entrepreneurs, and other successful people. The product has the distinction of coming in the form of two separate bottles (“Step One” and “Step Two”), with one designed to be consumed after the other in the morning.

This product has been designed by Neurohacker Collective, a new American company that only sells Qualia. Neurohacker Collective is certainly an unusual company that is willing to use novel approaches. So far, the company has raised money through crowd-sourcing, employs the expertise of a self-proclaimed “evolutionary philosopher”, and attracts buzz through new outlets like the Huffington Post. Encouragingly, the company also appears to have a commitment to measuring ingredient quantities faithfully, and offers an extraordinarily impressive 100-day money back guarantee.

What Are The Side Effects Of Qualia?

Given the high number of ingredients in Qualia, the potential for side effects is significant. We haven’t the space to write about them all here, but please check out our Side Effects tab for an exhaustive list!

In short, the most common reported side effects from taking Qualia appear to be an upset stomach and headaches. The product appears to interact negatively with alcohol, as well as cause onsets of nervousness or irritability. Worryingly, some people actually report that far from curing brain fog, Qualia sometimes makes the problem worse.

How Much Does Qualia Cost?

A month’s supply of Qualia costs $150 on the Neurohacker Collective website and on Amazon. Customers signing up to auto-ship programs can pay just $129 a month.

Our Verdict On Qualia

Qualia is a very, very expensive product, but is probably priced fairly given what it is. As many commentators have pointed out, customers looking for a source of more than 40 ingredients would surely pay more if buying them individually. Many former customers post very long and joyful reviews to Amazon, describing myriad benefits from such a potent mix. The excellent (if under-advertised) money back guarantee can also protect unsatisfied customers, and it even allows customers to avoid posting back their unused product.

The real question is whether buying so many ingredients to take at once is sensible. Our brains seem to accept this at first glance – surely if I take more than 40 effective ingredients instead of 4-5, then my dosage will be 20x more powerful?

Unfortunately, customer reviews are very, very mixed, with many former customers on Reddit describing Qualia as an expensive waste of money. Some customers even complain that Qualia made their brain fog worse, with others mentioning jitters and nervousness. There’s evidence that Qualia interacts negatively with alcohol, and in general it seems that all these ingredients compete with one another to cause side effects, and reduce their individual advantages.

Nootropics fans would likely be better served by finding individual ingredients that work for them, and focusing on them in particular rather than trying to take every useful ingredient in one gulp. Plus $130-150 per month just seems far too much for a product with such a mixed track record.

We would not recommend Qualia to our readers.

The most popular consumer choice in 2021 is OmniMind

Containing ingredients that have been clinically tested and boasting a 30-day money-back guarantee, OmniMind is quickly rising to the top of the nootropic world.

Find out why people are choosing OmniMind to achieve advanced brain performance, and why it's our editor's top pick.

Read the Nootropic Watchdog OmniMind review here.

Qualia Review

Qualia is a nootropic product that contains more than 40 individual products. It actually comes in the form of two separate products that are designed to be purchased together (“Step One” and “Step Two”), with both being consumed daily. Qualia represents one of the more expensive nootropic supplements we have seen on the market, with the justification supposedly being that Qualia is far more comprehensive and well-designed than most other options.

Qualia Facts

  • Manufactured by Neurohacker Collective
  • Contains two separate bottles, one with 66 capsules and one with 132 capsules
  • Nootropic product

This intriguing product is produced and manufactured by Neurohacker Collective, an American company that launched their flagship product in 2016. Neurohacker Collective are an unusual group with a stunningly professional and slick approach to advertising and networking. The company enjoys the support of several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, scientists and trendy bloggers, and once took the novel step of crowdfunding their company and products on WeFunder (a move which seems to have brought them a lot of success). Their founders are self-described on their WeFunder page as a “serial entrepreneur”, an “activist”, and an “evolutionary philosopher” respectively, which we hope makes them especially qualified to design nootropics. The company can be contacted here.

How to Take Qualia

The directions for use are as follows:

Take three (3) Step One capsules first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Wait at least 20 minutes, then take six (6) Step Two capsules with food. Step Two must be taken with food to avoid stomach sensitivity.

Qualia’s effects are dose-dependent, varying with body weight, general sensitivity and desired level of effect. If you are sensitive to supplements, particularly stimulants, it’s a good idea to start with a small dose and work your way up to your desired level of effect. It’s generally recommended to keep a ratio of 2 capsules of Step Two for each capsule of Step One. (i.e. 1 capsule of Step One with 2 capsule of Step Two, 2 capsules of Step One with 4 capsules of Step Two, 3 capsules of Step One with 6 capsules of Step Two) Explore this as well to find what’s right with you. Some people prefer a smaller dose of Step Two.

Qualia is designed to be taken 5 days on and 2 days off each week. This maximizes the benefits while preventing desensitization. It does not matter if the 2 “off-cycle” days are consecutive or apart, so long as they happen each week.

For best results:
Sleep cycles may go through an adjustment process the first few days on the product. This is normal. If sleep issues linger, take Qualia earlier in the day, lower the dosage, or discontinue use.

Qualia Concerns:

  • Product is extraordinarily expensive
  • Customer reviews have been highly mixed so far
  • High ingredient count raises the possibility of adverse effect

What Does Qualia Claim To Do?

Qualia is a complex nootropic with dozens of ingredients, but its intended effects are roughly the same as with most nootropic products. The product claims “to enhance focus, energy, mood, and creativity, while supporting long term brain health”. On the official website, Neurohacker Collective describe (at length) many qualities of successful brains that customers should presume to enjoy after taking Qualia. These include expect an evolution in critical/intelligent thinking, more epiphanies, more vivid dreams, a calmer approach to problems, and new perspectives that reduce procrastination and “internal drama”.

Does Qualia Work?

Estimating the effectiveness of this product is pretty tough, as it represents a highly complex mixture of useful and not-so-useful ingredients. We would imagine that this product contains enough effective brain boosters that it should in theory work well to boost focus and mental energy, and the use of mucuna pruriens should give a healthy boost to mood.

It’s worth mentioning that many former customers complain of this product being entirely ineffective, or even a cause of unhelpful brain fog; it’s possible that this mix is only effective in certain cases.

What Are The Ingredients of Qualia?

The ingredients included in Qualia are listed below, with the ingredients for Step One listed first and the ingredients for Step Two listed second. The ingredient quantities are correct for 3 capsules of Step One and 6 capsules of Step Two.

Step One Ingredients

  • Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin) 1000mcg: Vitamin B12 helps to convert the food you eat into glucose, giving energy. However, studies have shown that supplementing Vitamin B12 is unlikely to raise the energy levels of those who are not already Vitamin B12-deficient. Source
  • Artichoke Leaf Extract (5% Cynarin) 500mg: Artichoke leaf appears to reduce nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and flatulence in people who suffered from indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome, although results were only evident after 2 weeks of treatment. It may also reduce LDL cholesterol mildly. Source
  • Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract (3% Rosavins & 1% Salidrosides) 300mg: This plant has been shown to increase endurance in rats forced to swim for long periods of time. It may also help to improve recovery time after exhaustive exercise. There is little clinical evidence based upon humans, although some studies suggest that it could improve learning and memory. Source
  • DL-Phenylalanine 300mg: This is the laboratory made version of an amino acid, which is used for treating depression, amongst other things. However, the research to suggest that this will effectively treat depression is outdated, with calls for more testing using updated research methods. Source
  • Centrophenoxine 250mg: This chemical is similar to DMAE, except that it is normally better absorbed. Studies indicate that it may boost cognition in elderly people. Source
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine 250mg: An amino acid that is a building block of protein, this ingredient is found naturally in many foods including meat and dairy products. In existing trials, L-Tyrosine appears to effectively improve cognition and memory during stressful periods. Source
  • Purenergy (90mg Caffeine & 119mg pTeroPure pterostilibene co-crystal) 209mg: This mixture of caffeine and pterostilibene supposedly makes the caffeine more effective at providing energy, whilst remaining healthier overall (according to the manufacturer). Source
  • L-Theanine 200mg: This amino acid is found in green tea, and may increase feelings of relaxation. It may also reduce the negative side effects of caffeine, although there is seemingly no clinical evidence to support this claim. Source
  • Noopept 30mg: A nootropic supplement that originated in Russia, Noopept appears to act in a similar way to racetams such as piracetam, providing a ‘neuroprotective effect’, helping to prevent cognitive decline and aid in rehabilitation after traumatic brain injuries, but it is effective at much lower doses. There is no clinical research into how it can benefit cognitively healthy people, but anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive. The recommended daily dose is between 10 and 30 mg per day. Source
  • Coleus Forskohlii (20% Forskolin) 10mg: A plant belonging to the mint family that is thought to boost the metabolism. However, the clinical trials performed using this ingredient have shown no weight loss, even when the participants’ lean muscle mass increased and fat mass decreased. Source
  • BioPQQ Pyrroloquinoline Quinone 10mg: Sine human trials suggest that PQQ has a neuroprotective role for elderly people, although no studies have been conducted with younger subjects). It may also help people to sleep better and feel less fatigued. Source

Step Two Ingredients

  • Vitamin B5 (as Calcium Pantothenate) 50mg: When used in combination with other large doses of vitamins, vitamin B5 is believed to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD (although the evidence supporting this is often conflicting). Source
  • Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate) 20mg: Vitamin B6 is very important for normal psychological functioning and for the nervous system, although supplementation normally only helps those suffering with a deficiency. Source
  • Vitashine Vitamin D3 2000IU: Vitamin D helps to regulate the way that the body uses key minerals, helping to keep bones and teeth healthy. Source
  • Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 250mg: Vitamin C helps with wound healing and cell growth, although the dosage included in this supplement is needlessly high. Source
  • Benfotiamine 100mg: This relative of Vitamin B1 apparently has a role to play in pain relief. Source
  • Niacinimide 50mg: Otherwise known as Vitamin B3, this vitamin is normally only useful in cases of deficiency. Source
  • Zinc (as Zinc Picolonate) 15mg: This form of zinc is more easily absorbed than other forms. Source
  • Magnesium (as Magnesium Threonate) 75mg: This form of magnesium is also more easily absorbed than normal forms. Magnesium has often been linked to brain health and mental performance. Source
  • Bacopa Monnieri Leaf Extract (45% Bacosides) 300mg: Used to reduce anxiety, improve memory, and seems to have a minor ability to treat depression, making it a general mild mood booster. The effects can take time to achieve a noticeable level, as the effects appear to accumulate with repeated use. Source
  • Cognizin Citicoline 100mg: This is a naturally occurring brain chemical. When supplemented it is thought to help to decrease brain tissue damage, and improve circulation in the brain, and so it is used in stroke and Alzheimer’s patients. It also appears to increase levels of phosphatidylcholine, which is important for general brain function. Source
  • Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract (24% Glycosides) 50mg: Appears to improve circulation, and may help to kill bacteria in the body that could cause infections, although it is used as an herbal remedy to treat a range of ailments. Source
  • Hordenine HCL 20mg: Hordenine is a known compound in Bitter Orange, and is thought to act as a stimulant to increase fat burning. Source
  • Huperzine A 50mcg: Huperzine-A is found in Huperzia serrata. Huperzine-A is thought to be a cognitive enhancer. Because of the relatively long half-life of this compound, its use should be cycled, with breaks in usage every few weeks. Source
  • Mucuna Pruriens Seed Extract (98% L-Dopa) 100mg: A bean like plant that has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is used for treating anxiety, amongst other things. However, there is little clinical evidence to support its use: the active ingredient is levodopa (l-dopa), which can affect the levels of dopamine in the brain. However, most L-dopa is broken down in the body before it can reach the brain, unless combined with specific chemicals that are not present in Mucuna Pruriens. Source
  • Phenylethylamine HCL 500mg: PEA is derived from the amino acid phenylalanine. It is thought to increase alertness, aid in concentration and focus, and may also enhance mood. Source
  • BioPerine Piperine 10mg: This patented Black pepper extract is used for increasing the bioavailability of nutritional compounds. In other words, it increases the amounts of nutrients that are absorbed into the body in the digestive tract. It may also increase the absorption of various drugs, which may lead to potential side effects. Source
  • Theobromine 150mg: Theobromine, extracted from Theobroma Cocoa, is a mild stimulant. Thought to be a much milder stimulant than caffeine. Source
  • Vinpocetine 30mg: Because it is an entirely synthetic chemical, that requires significant lab-work to produce, there is some debate as to whether this ingredient actually qualifies as a supplement under US and FDA guidelines. Vinpocetine may increase blood flow to the brain, and so may help to treat fatigue and improve memory; despite claims about research being extensive, most research is outdated and uses biased research methods. Source
  • Alpha GPC 75mg: In Europe alpha-GPC is a prescription medication for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but in the USA it is a prescription free dietary supplement. It appears to have some cognitive-boosting properties, helps to prevent cognitive decline, and may also enhance power output in athletes. Source
  • Phosphatidylserine 200mg: Several studies with phosphatidylserine indicate improved cognitive abilities and behaviours, but the studies focused on Alzheimer’s patients; it is possible that these effects could also benefit consumers in general, but there is no real clinical support to support this. The FDA has stated that Phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia in the elderly. Source
  • Curcumin C3 Complex 95% Curcuminoids Turmeric Extract (Curcuma longa) 500mg: This yellow pigment has numerous benefits, including reducing anxiety, soothing an upset stomach, and reducing inflammation and joint pain from osteoarthritis, leading to increased mobility in the elderly. There is very preliminary evidence to suggest that Curcumin supplementation could improve memory and attention span in the elderly, but more research is needed. Source
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract (98% Polyphenol & 45% EGCG) 500mg: Green tea is high in a group of antioxidants called catechins, which are useful for weight loss. Theanine is also found in green tea, and is thought to reduce the side effects of caffeine such as jitteriness, without reducing its effectiveness. Source
  • Lithium (as Lithium Orotate) 3mg: Lithium can be used to treat certain mental illnesses, and is believed to be useful as a preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Source
  • Quercetin 200mg: Known for AMPK activation, quercetin has antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. It tends not to produce dramatic or consistent effects when tested on humans when compared to in-vitro tests. Source
  • Algal DHA 200mg: This oil is a good source of both DHA and omeg-3 fatty acids. Source
  • Taurine 500mg: Used often in energy drinks, some studies suggest that this amino acid may play a role in athletic performance, meaning that it is only useful for dieters who exercise. Source
  • Uridine Monophosphate 500mg: This nucleotide base appears to have the potential to improve cognitive function, and reduce the symptoms of depression. Source
  • Lion’s Mane 500mg: This is a type of mushroom, also known as Yamabushitake. Has only been studied once in humans when looking specifically at cognitive decline; the study found that taking 3 grams per day caused significant improvements on a rating scale of dementia in persons suffering from general cognitive decline. It has never been studied in cognitively healthy humans. Source
  • ActivAMP Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Extract 300mg: This plant has been found to have beneficial anti-diabetic effects, many of which are still being explored. It has been found to raise AMPK levels in rats, and is thought by some researchers to be a mild prophylactic. Although found to be effective at reducing the blood glucose levels (and body weight) of diabetics, gynostemma has never been tested on otherwise-healthy subjects. Source
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine 800mg: There is some evidence that supplementation of acetyl-l-carnitine can reduce body fat, although the strongest results were seen in the elderly. The ingredient also boosts energy levels, and is used to treat fatigue. Source

Does Qualia Have Any Side Effects?

Qualia contains dozens of ingredients, and therefore has a significant chance of causing side effects. It’s simply due to volume; there’s just so much here at play, that the chances of customers having an adverse reaction to at least one ingredient in the mix seems quite high.

In some people, artichoke can cause some side effects such as intestinal gas and allergic reactions. People at the greatest risk of allergic reactions are those who are allergic to plants such as marigolds, daisies, and other similar herbs. Gynostemma extract is considered to be generally safe, but may sometimes cause nausea and more frequent bowel movements.

Vinpocetine can cause some side effects including stomach pain, nausea, sleep disturbances, headache, dizziness, nervousness, and flushing of the face. A-GPC can cause side effects in some people including heartburn, headache, insomnia, dizziness, skin rash, and confusion. Lithium can lead to weight gain and toxic poisoning at high doses.

Studies have shown that Bacopa leaf causes upset stomachs in participants much more than placebos. This has led to the manufacturer’s recommendation that Qualia Step Two be taken with a meal, rather than on an empty stomach, as this will minimize the chances of getting an upset stomach. It may also may cause nausea, cramping, bloating, and diarrhoea.

Theanine causes a state of relaxation without drowsiness, and may help to counteract some of the potential side effects of caffeine, such as jitteriness. Consumers should still ensure that they do not take this supplement or any other source of caffeine within 5 hours of bedtime, as caffeine can interfere with sleep cycles.

Huperzine A can cause some side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, sweating, blurred vision, slurred speech, restlessness, loss of appetite, contraction and twitching of muscle fibres, cramping, increased saliva and urine, inability to control urination, high blood pressure, and slowed heart rate.

Although Tyrosine is tolerated generally in very high doses, it can cause some side effects including nausea, headache, fatigue, heartburn, and joint pain.

Noopept is still incredibly under-researched, and this may be why there are so few reported side effects at this point in time. These include headaches, increased irritability, and brain fog. High doses appear to cause a heightened awareness of sound, light, and smells, which some people may find unnerving.

Side effects of Phosphatidylserine can include insomnia and stomach upset, particularly at doses over 300 mg. It can be made from either plant or animal sources, and so may not be suitable for vegetarians.

The large quantities of vitamins used in this product could cause issues. Vitamin B5 seems to be safe for some people, but taking larger amounts increases the chance of having side effects such as diarrhoea. High doses of vitamin B6 supplements can cause nerve damage if taken long term, skin rashes, sensitivity to sunlight, and nausea. Most people do not commonly experience side effects with vitamin D, unless too much is taken. Some side effects of taking too much vitamin D include weakness, fatigue, sleepiness, headache, loss of appetite, dry mouth, metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, and others. Niacin can cause flushing, upset stomach, and diarrhoea, although all of these side effects tend to fade over time.

Citocoline may occasionally cause insomnia, diarrhoea, low/high blood pressure, blurred vison, chest pains, headaches, and more. Piperine can increase the absorption of caffeine and other stimulants, increasing their effectiveness, but also making side effects more likely. Piperine can also affect the absorption of other medications, increasing the chances of accidental overdose.

This product contains ingredients that should not be taken by people on MAO inhibitors, SSRIs, or any other psychiatric medicines. It should not be taken by people with psychiatric or neurologic disorders, high blood pressure, heart conditions, endocrine disorders, cancer, or people on immunosuppressive therapy. It should not be taken by pregnant or nursing mothers, or children under 18. It should not be taken within a 24 hour time period from alcohol or recreational drugs. If any undesired side effects are noticed, discontinue product immediately, and seek proper medical attention if needed.

Are There Any Customer Reviews For Qualia?

Although many customer reviews on Amazon are pretty excitable when it comes it Qualia, we found a much more negative reception on discussion groups on Reddit. Former customers either seem to find the powerful boost they’ve been looking for, or report a complete lack of beneficial effects.

Love, love, love this product! It delivers everything it promises. I am not disappointed.

I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. I also really like what I’ve seen and read from the founder.
I think it’s impressive.

Not for everyone. Gave me headaches and upset stomach. Sorry 🙁

I have been taking it for three weeks as described. Week 1: hyper and sweating – Of course I WAS caffiene-free before Week 2 hyperness died down and some cognitive improvement but killed my creativity Week 3 cognitive improvement reduced but at least my creativity was back but now back on caffinated coffee Week 4: Nothing So there is some improvement but with the trade off of not being able to drink socially I am not sure it is worth it. OH speaking of not drinking, I DID drink for a couple of days and got really depressed, something that I never really experienced. So that made me cautious. Really cautious.

I took a full month’s supply with no noticeable effect.

Does Qualia Offer a Money-Back Guarantee?

Although they don’t advertise it too well, Neurohacker Collective offer a very fair money back guarantee. Customers can call to arrange a refund on any purchase for any reason, as long as the call is made within 100 days. Customers are not even expected to send back their unused supply of Qualia, making this a very impressive and secure money back guarantee indeed!

Where Can I Buy Qualia?

Qualia is only available to buy on the official Neurohacker website and on Amazon. A month’s supply of Step One and Step Two from both outlets costs a hefty $150 (plus 50 cents in shipping). Customers buying from the official website can sign up for an auto-shop program that costs less per month ($129). It seems that subscriptions can be cancelled at any time with little fuss.

Qualia Step One and Step Two

1.8 out of 5
Qualia Step One and Step Two Rating

The Nootropic Watchdog does not recommend Qualia Step One and Step Two.

  • Effectiveness
  • Safety
  • Price / Guarantee
The most popular consumer choice in 2021 is OmniMind

Containing ingredients that have been clinically tested and boasting a 30-day money-back guarantee, OmniMind is quickly rising to the top of the nootropic world.

Find out why people are choosing OmniMind to achieve advanced brain performance, and why it's our editor's top pick.

Read the Nootropic Watchdog OmniMind review here.

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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