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David Zhou

The Efficacy of FOCUSfactor

Date: 10/14/2006

 

Source: http://www.vitalbasics.com

 

The makeup and purported benefits of FOCUSfactor

            FOCUSfactor is one of the best selling and most popular supplements in the US.  Sold and marketed by Vital Basics, Inc., FOCUSfactor is a supplement that supposedly boosts a person’s memory, concentration, and focus through a combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, and botanical extracts.  Looking at the list of ingredients, the main composition of FOCUS factor are vitamins and minerals that are found in an ordinary multi-vitamin such as Vitamins A, C, D, E, and Niacin.  Other ingredients that are supposed to enhance memory and concentration include Diemethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Bacopin (Bacopa monnieri extract; leaf), Docosahexaenoic acid (fish body oil), huperzine A, and other purported supplements.  The main method of action of FOCUSfactor is that the brain needs certain chemicals to function and people don’t eat enough natural foods that contain these chemicals such as fish or tofu to keep their brain working at the optimal levels.  Intake of FOCUSfactor will provide more chemicals for the brain to use to operate at higher levels of increased concentration and better memory retention.

 

The advertiser’s claims

Vital Basics claim that FOCUSfactor is a brain support supplement that can also double as a premium-quality multivitamin (https://www.vitalbasics.com//FocusFactor/focusfactor.aspx).  Although there are no direct substantial claims made by the advertisers about the effects of FOCUSfactor on a person’s mental state, the marketing of the website indicates that the ingredients in FOCUSfactor that help improve memory, focus, and concentration by “supporting healthy brain function”.  The main reason for the lack of direct claims is that Vital Basics was taken to court by the Federal Trade Commission for making unsubstantiated claims for FOCUSfactor and V-Factor, another VBI product marketed to increase sexual performance in men.  The charges were settled and VBI agreed to pay $1 million in redress to customers due to not having adequate substantiation to back up claims on several commercial ads. (http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/03/vitalbasics.htm)

(http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0123248/040317comp0123248.pdf). 

 

What evidence is presented?

            Because of the FTC settlement, VBI is not able to make unsubstantiated claims, but the FOCUSfactor website states that their “supplement contains certain ingredients that were demonstrated in independent studies to support healthy brain function, and it is formulated to be safe and effective” (https://www.vitalbasics.com//FocusFactor/focusfactor.aspx).  Although VBI claims that FOCUSfactor works and studies have demonstrated that it supports healthy brain function, they do not show who performed the studies, how the studies were performed, and the data and results from the studies.  There was no mention of the goals of the studies or any other reference to what the studies were.  Clearly, VBI is still presenting unsubstantiated data to the public about the effectiveness of FOCUSfactor.

 

 

 

 

 

Scientific evidence based on the ingredients of FOCUSfactor

            Although there are no scientific studies on the effect of FOCUSfactor as a whole, there have been studies on several of the key ingredients.  Many of the ingredients are herbal remedies that are commonly used in eastern medicine such as Bacopa monnieri extract and Huperzia serrata extract.  A study on the chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory has shown that there is no significant effect between control and experimental groups (Roodenrys 2002).  The same study also gave the participants 3 months’ worth of Bacopa monnieri before administering memory tests and still there was no significant difference between groups.  One FOCUSfactor website claims that FOCUSfactor works the very first time that you take it, but results are usually seen in 30 days (http://freefocusfactor.com/FAQ.aspx).  The site does have a disclaimer stating that this statement is not endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration, but if scientific evidence states that Bacopa monnieri has no effect on memory after three months, the claim that noticeable changes are present after 30 days is very skeptical. 

            Other active herbal ingredients have also been studied by researchers and none have come up with definitive results on the effects of such ingredients on memory and concentration.  Diemethylaminoethanol (DMAE) was studied by a German research group and was found to promote well being in subjects who are suffering from borderline emotional disturbance (Dimpfel, 2003).  The same group did not study memory, but they did find an association between well being and vigilance (similar to focus).  “Subjects taking the active drug for 3 months developed significant less theta and alpha1 power in sensomotoric areas of the cortex … and since decreases in theta and alpha1 electrical power have been associated with increased vigilance and attention, subjects taking the drug combination obviously were more active and felt better” (Dimpfel, 2003).  There are no other studies that have supported this claim and Diemethylaminoethanol is still unconfirmed as a therapeutic treatment. 

            Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), known commonly as Omega-3 fatty acid, is another ingredient in FOCUSfactor that has been linked to therapeutic treatments in depression and moods.  Hirayama (2004) studied the effect of DHA on children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).  These children were asked to take food with natural DHA in them such as fish and tofu but results show that DHA did not improve the symptoms of AD/HD but further investigation is needed to confirm the effects of DHA on humans.

 

The trustworthiness of FOCUSfactor

            There are many web companies that still promote FOCUSfactor despite VBI settling in court.  (http://www.mothernature.com/shop/detail.cfm/sku/42600) (http://wonderfulbuys.com/ffctr.asp#)  But even these websites do not dare to promote FOCUSfactor as a drug backed up by scientific evidence.  Both of these sites have taken their marketing directly from the VBI website and claim that FOCUSfactor is brain food that helps your brain work better.  From doing literary research, the active ingredients in FOCUSfactor have not shown a significant increase in memory, focus, and concentration.  Many people have fallen prey to FOCUSfactor that many websites such as (http://preventdisease.com/home/weeklywellness44.shtml) and (http://www.berkeleywellness.com/html/ds/dsFocusFactor.php) have already warned people about not paying such ridiculous prices for supplements when similar multivitamins are much cheaper.  Although some ingredients might have shown some therapeutic effects in rats, there is no scientific evidence that FOCUSfactor improves memory and concentration.  The best way to give your brain a boost is to be skeptical about believing everything you read and hear about, do literary research, and arm yourself with knowledge against fraudulent products such as FOCUSfactor.

 

References

Dimpfel, W. (2003) Efficacy of dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) containing vitamin-mineral drug combination on EEG patterns in the presence of different emotional states.  European Journal of Medical Research 5, 183-91.

Hirayama, S. (2004) Effect of docosahexaenoic acid-containing food administration on symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder - a placebo-controlled double-blind study.  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 58, 567-73.

Roodenrys, S. (2002) Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory.  Neuropsychopharmacology 2, 279-81.

 

 

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