Natural high

New brands and products promise natural highs without the side effects and calories of alcohol or coffee.


Blame Silicon Valley. Startups are using “bio hacking,” a technique that mimics the trend of optimized nutrition (represented by brands such as Soylent featured in our 2016 Future 100 reports), to create products with brain-boosting qualities without any negative side effects.

Nootrobox has just received a $2 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz to launch a new coffee gummy candies product called Go Cubes. Nootrobox Go Cubes come in cartoonish candy-like packaging. They are made of L-theanine and B6, as well as methylated vitamin B12. These ingredients “improve focus & clarity,” according to the brand.

Nootrobox describes Go Cubes in the following way: “coffee to astronauts.” Branding appeals to the work-hard, play-hard ethos among the tech crowd: “Looking for a midterm ace? Push 10,000 lines? Keep your poker game sharp for the big night! Fighting spreadsheets at work? Everest? Everest? Everest? “Go, Cubes, we’ve got your back.”

In trendy health food stores like Grass Roots Juicery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, matcha energy balls are being sold. The treats are made from PANATEA Matcha powder. PANATEA, like Nootrobox, touts the combination of L-theanine with caffeine as an energy and brain boost. The brand claims that matcha has been used by Buddhist monks for centuries before meditation and samurai fighters before battle.

Kava buzz

According to the New Yorker, Kava is the South Pacific plant that’s being marketed as “the new alcohol” in hipper New York neighborhoods. Kavasutra is a new alcohol-free bar that specializes in drinks that are made with kava. The bar looks and feels just like any other, but you won’t find a drop of chardonnay.

In the South Pacific, kava drinks have been used in ceremonies for centuries. They are made by mixing the roots of the plant with water and grinding them. The effects of the glass are said to be similar to those of alcohol. Fans say the glass relaxes your muscles and relieves anxiety, but it doesn’t affect cognitive abilities or cause a hangover. It’s legal and unregulated.

Cannabis chic

Cannabis is now being used in more products, including coffee, snacks, candy, and confectionery. This has heightened interest in chemical compounds that have cognitive effects. Our Future 100 Report showed that marijuana startups like Dixie Elixirs take inspiration from prestige beauty products and specialty foods to design sleek, childproof bottles of beverages infused with THC.

Equinox, a prestigious gym chain, pondered on April 20th whether cannabis could improve people’s workouts.

As psychoactive substances are discussed more widely, the interest in using these substances to improve oneself is also increasing.

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