About ConsumerLab.com

Prevagen for Memory? -- bottle of Prevagen

Answer:

According to the company's website, people who use people Prevagen (Quincy Bioscience) can "experience improved memory, a sharper mind, and clearer thinking." However, a review of the evidence (as noted below) indicates that these effects are not well substantiated. In addition, the FDA has warned Quincy Bioscience in the past against claiming Prevagen could treat conditions such as head injuries and Alzheimer's disease and for failing to report adverse reactions. The FDA has also claimed that the key ingredient, apoaequorin, a synthetic protein, is not an acceptable ingredient in a dietary supplement. Here are the details about Prevagen:  

Ingredients
The main ingredient in Prevagen is apoaequorin, a protein first discovered in jellyfish, and now apparently produced synthetically by genetically modified bacteria. According to the company, apoaequorin can help protect brain cells by binding to excess calcium, which might otherwise damage or destroy the cells - noting that excess calcium can result in memory impairment. However, there do not appear to be any studies that show apoaequorin, when taken orally, reaches the brain, or binds to enough excess calcium to reduce the risk of brain cell damage.  

Clinical Evidence
There is little clinical evidence that Prevagen actually protects brain cells, or improves memory. Two of the three clinical studies cited by the company have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The first study reported that people who slept fewer than 7 hours per night and then took Prevagen daily for 3 months increased their amount of sleep by an average of 37 minutes per night. However, this study did not list the dose of Prevagen used, and was not blinded or placebo-controlled, making it difficult to draw any conclusions. The second clinical study found that men and women who took 10 mg of Prevagen daily for 3 months had significant improvements in word recall and remembering driving directions, but this study was also not blinded or placebo-controlled.  

The third study was placebo-controlled and double-blinded (i.e., neither the patients or the researchers knew who was taking Prevagen and who was taking the placebo) and, in 2016, was published in a peer-reviewed journal. In the study, men and women (average age 62) with self-reported memory "concerns" but no diagnosed memory-impairment disorders took one 10 mg capsule of Prevagen daily for 3 months. No overall benefit was found. Further analysis of the results found that those who were cognitively normal had a 10.9% improvement in the number of items correctly recalled, but this was not a statistically significant improvement compared to a 3.8% increase among those given the placebo (Moran, Adv Mind Body Med 2016). The published study was authored entirely by employees of Quincy Bioscience, the marketer of Prevagen.

In January 2017 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Quincy Bioscience with making false and unsubstantiated claims, noting that this study only found a benefit in a small subset of participants and only on certain measures on of cognitive function. The agency stated in its complaint that "Given the sheer number of comparisons run and the fact that they were post hoc, the few positive findings on isolated tasks for small subgroups of the study population do not provide reliable evidence of a treatment effect." On September 28, 2017, a judge dismissed the FTC's lawsuit, noting that although the study did not show an overall benefit, it could not be proven that Prevagen's statements about the study were false or unsubstantiated. However, on February 21, 2018, a federal appeals court overturned the ruling and sent the lawsuit back to the lower court, noting that the suit "made plausible allegations that Quincy's marketing campaign for Prevagen contained deceptive representations, and the district court erred in dismissing the Complaint in its entirety... ."

Safety and Side-Effects
Preliminary studies in rats have found apoaequorin, the main ingredient in Prevagen, to be safe (Moran, Food Chem Toxicol 2013; Moran, Regul Toxicol Pharmicol 2014).

A low incidence of adverse events such as headache, nausea, constipation, edema and hypertension has been reported by the makers of Prevagen (FDA GRAS Notification 2014).

There are no known drug interactions, but the Prevagen website suggests "as with any new course of supplementation, you may want to talk with your doctor before beginning Prevagen use."

FDA Warning Letter
In 2012, the FDA issued a warning to Quincy Bioscience because the company claimed Prevagen could treat conditions such as head injuries and Alzheimer's disease. The company also failed to report almost 1,000 adverse events associated with the product, including seizures, strokes, and heart arrhythmias. (Note: adverse events associated with the use of a product do not necessarily mean the adverse event was caused by the product.)  In addition, the FDA warned Quincy that its unapproved and synthetic version of apoaequorin should be regulated and marketed as a drug, not as a supplement. According to an article in Isthmus, a Wisconsin newspaper, on February 5, 2013, Quincy's president claimed, "We've been able to satisfy all of their requests," referring to the FDA warning.

Cost
The cost for a one-month supply of regular strength (10 mg) Prevagen (the dose used in the studies above) ranges from $39.95 to $49.99, and a one-month supply of "Extra Strength" Prevagen (20 mg) costs $59.95.

Join today to unlock all member benefits including full access to all CL Answers and over 1,300 reviews.

Join Now

Join now at www.consumerlab.com/join/

39 Comments

Join the conversation

Michael8594
April 3, 2016

I have taken this product on and off for over a year. I notice positive effects the most pronounced being, remembering my dreams. Before taking the product I had not recalled my dreams for years. I now recall them almost nightly. BTW a supplement does not have to reach the brain to have a positive effect. With everything they are learning about the Microbiome and how food and supplements effect the gut bacteria and how that bacteria effects our health. I to have no finical interest in this product other than wishing it cost less.

Helen15519
September 13, 2017

Whether you remembering your dreams or not depends on issues different than recall of encoded items in memory. Do a search, and you will see the relevant variables.

Marc8423
February 5, 2016

I give talks to health care professionals all over the US (nutritional effects on development in infants). It's because of reviews like this that I routinely recommend Consumerlab.com to anyone who takes dietary supplements and wants to know about their safety and efficacy, and I can cite examples (like this) where your thorough review of the evidence provides what one needs to know before using a dietary supplement.

Thank you,

Marc Masor, Ph.D.

Louis8034
November 5, 2015

I have taken the product and have some improvement in all areas, and experienced none of the alleged side affects. It is to expensive to continue on a regular basis.

Melanie8597
April 3, 2016

I also have taken Prevagen several years ago for about 6 months. I also noticed improvements but I stopped taking it because there was no information regarding the safety of the product at that time. I would really like to take it again except it is to expensive.

HR15505
September 13, 2017

I have bought it on Ebay,new and not expired, for about half price.

Robert6896
August 9, 2015

Aequorin is a protein and will be hydrolyzed in the stomach. So negligible amount of intact protein will be absorbed into the body from the GI tract. Even if the protein was administered by injection it is unlikely that it could cross the blood-brain-barrier. If by any remote chance the protein does make it into brain cells, it could be neurotoxic by virtue of chelating calcium ions which are essential to cell function.
Robert C. Speth, Ph.D. I have no financial interest in this or a competing product

Nathaniel668
April 15, 2015

Thanks for your useful info on this "memory aid." I was almost taken in by their commercials... until I though to look it up on your site. When I saw that there were adverse effects by a number of people, and that all the "studies" weren't 'blinded' or in peer reviewed journals, I felt I had the information I needed to decide not to part with a substantial amount of money for what I judged to be a dubious supplement.

don6946
September 13, 2015

Donald: My focus and recall {ESP.} names have gotten worse this last year. I am wondering if any supplements, vitamins or anything can help with memory? Would appreciate any advise or suggestions!!

violet11558
January 2, 2017

I have taken Prevagen since 2006. It works great. It took around 2 months for me to notice a difference in memory. I noticed that I could remember people's names, dates and etc.....When my memory got better I quit taking it until I noticed a decline again, and started taking it again. I don't have to take it all the time anymore, I see no need to continue taking a supplement once your problem has been reversed, I think that may be why people have problems with supplements, they get too much over a period of time. I would recommend Prevagen to anyone that is having problems remembering daily activities.

Chris11593
January 11, 2017

Without actual studies to review, this experience can easily be explained by the placebo effect.

Michael17241
October 15, 2018

Testimonials have their place and to ignore them is not using wisdom either. We must realize that studies take time and money. Often, small companies or individuals do not have the money to spend on statistically significant studies. Does this mean we should avoid these products? I say definitely no, but we should proceed with caution and evaluate the evidence and consider the source and the amount of positive and negative testimonies/evaluations. For example, CBD from Cannabis (Hemp as well as Marijuana) has been around for a several thousand years yet we know that its ability to help with pain, inflammation and anxiety as well as seizures, etc, is proven at least to some degree. There are many factors that influence why companies perform studies and unfortunately some of these factors have a monetary basis.

Linda525
February 8, 2015

Thank you So Much Consumer Lab for all the studies you do to keep us safe from products like this!!!

ConsumerLab.com
February 9, 2015

Thank you for your kind words, Linda!

Carol8095
November 23, 2015

I agree with Linda. I should have checked Consumer Lab before I was taken in and bought the Prevagen last week. Now I will return it. I have heard so much about this product on the radio station I listen to.
Carol Thompson

Bob11425
November 27, 2016

You beat me to it, Linda! Since Mom died of degenerative brain disease that started relatively young as Alzheimer's, I have to fight the impulse to buy anything promoted for brain health. Consumer Labs, you just paid for yourself. Again.

Talbot11582
January 8, 2017

I am always leery about any product promoted with slick, overproduced advertising by a 3rd party firm. That always implies huge built-in cost of the product to pay for ad production costs plus air time.

Additionally, another red flag arises when the "tests" are paid for by the manufacturer and not peer-reviewed or published outside of their own promotion--a clear conflict of interest. A final strike is when the FDA has issued a sanction letter to the company in question.

John16268
December 7, 2017

I agree Linda525. I have subscribed to Consumer Labs for 6 years. I am an R.N. with 25 years of ER experience. I often do research on Consumer Labs for friends who are drawn in by slick commercials for nutritional supplements. My appreciation to Consumer Labs for their work.

Marilyn17603
March 6, 2019

Every time I see the commercial for Prevagen I ask myself how could anybody believe what they are saying? If such a product was actually available that did what they allege it does, pharma would be making billions. It is just so much BS--- I thought this company was going to have to stop making these claims, at least that is what I read, but then somehow, they are allowed to keep making claims that are simply not proven.

Gerald22228
March 8, 2021

Every time I hear about this kind of product and the claims of its manufacturer, the first thing I think of is the medicine wagons of the old west. Uncle Joe's elixir that cures everything and was about 99.5% alcohol. I guess if you buy it and get hammered, you will feel better for a while. A good example would be "I love Lucy selling Vitameatavegamin". Check Youtube.
The other thing I vividly remember is an anti-obesity product called "Fen-Phen" that the FDA banned because it was linked to irreversible heart valve damage and primary pulmonary hypertension.
My takeaway is, do a lot of research and continue your ConsumerLab membership (to help with the research) before you jump on one of these bandwagons.

Susan 17602
March 6, 2019

We were able to get at wholesale (through a close friend who has a Health Food Store) the 2X form of Prevagen. We spent hundreds of dollars (no typo) on Prevagen and found it did Not work for increasing memory.
What did work is Vinpocetine in 2.5 mg tabs. 5 mg gave tachychardia.
Huperzine does work--But, in any amount over 50 mcg (micrograms) it causes the hair to fall out of the head. And, it doesn't grow back! There are a lot of irresponsible formulator/manufacturers that haven't done enough research to find the negatives of Huperzine (same with Vinpocetine).
Currently, we're using PQQ (40 mg daily from Now Foods with 200 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid in capsule). Haven't found a big increase in memory. However, we did notice an increase in memory after two weeks use, when we took 60 mg daily of the straight PQQ (got from HF Store owner).

ConsumerLab.com
March 6, 2019

Hi Susan - Thank you for sharing your experience with this. You can find more information about huperzine A and our tests of products in our Huperzine A Supplements Review: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/huperzine-a-supplements-review/huperzine-a/.

You may also be interested our CL Answers about Procera (which contains vinpocetine and huperzine A) and PQQ:

https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/does-procera-avh-really-improve-memory-and-mood/procera-avh/

https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/is-pqq-similar-to-coq10/what-is-pqq/

JADE17601
March 6, 2019

I took the Extra Strength Prevagen about 3-4 years ago. After the end of the second week, one afternoon after waking from a nap, when I tried to sit up the left side of my body involuntarily fell back to bed. I didn't think much of it so I sat up again, but the same thing happened. I started to get worried so I tried to get up again, slower this time, and yet again fell to my left side. I waited a few minutes before trying once more, and thankfully this time I was able to sit up without falling back down.
I slowly crept over to the edge of the bed so I can rest my feet to the floor. I was able to, but by this time I started to feel very nauseated and was perspiring heavily. Sweat started to drip down my face and I have never been more scared since I didn't know what was happening to me. I was alone at the time too. After feeling slightly better after several minutes of what felt like more, I got up and after a few feet of walking ever so slowly I started to experience vertigo (this was a first for me, just as the rest of this experience was). Then moments later I don't remember for how long, I felt better and was able to walk normally and the nausea feeling was gone.
I put the blame on the Prevagen I was taking as it was the only new supplement I've been taking at the time; not sure if I had a mini-stroke or not. I was 44-45 years old at the time.

Roberta17599
March 6, 2019

As an FTC investigator in my early career and after reading the comments about Prevagen, I urge those who posted their experiences to follow up with reports to the agency and the FDA if they have not done so already. I also hope that Consumer Lab is proactive in reporting its test results to these agencies.
It is nothing less than a cruel hoax to misrepresent the product in the manner it is portrayed in the t.v. commercials, especially if consumers delay or choose to opt out of seeking appropriate medical testing as a result. These agencies have the power to order the company to "cease and desist" from making false claims following their investigations and have the authority to impose fines. Customer experiences form the basis for initiating investigations leading to remedial measures in the public interest.

ConsumerLab.com
March 6, 2019

Hi Roberta - Thank you for sharing your experience with this. Just to clarify, ConsumerLab has not tested this product.

Helen17337
December 5, 2018

Instead of prevagen and other proprietary mixes, I suggest to every friend that they consider citicoline. There is a ton of research on this inexpensive substance, which maintains the myelin sheath of neurons. It is obviously neither a miracle nor an instant fix. A difference in memory takes a few months to show. But it is spectacular for visual acuity, and I noticed its effects without knowing that in advance. (search for citicoline, acuity, strabisums). Italian doctors told me to do 3 months off and 3 months on, but a month later, my visual acuity goes down. On the advice of an indonesian doctor, I will not stop it from now on.
Citicoline is inexpensive, buy 500 mg capsules of reputable companies (see consumer lab report).
The other substance to consider is the systemic anti-inflammatory palmitoylethanolamide. it's unknown in the US, please look up the many European studies on it. Some memory symptoms are due to inflammation. I have asked consumerlabs repeatedly to review it, but I have gotten no response.

ConsumerLab.com
December 5, 2018

Hi Helen - Citicoline is the same as CDP-choline, cytidine diphosphate-choline, and Cognizin. We have tested and reviewed it our Choline Supplements Review and identified our Top Pick among such supplements. See the Review at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/choline-review/choline/ . Palmitoylethanolamide, abbreviated as PEA, is being sold as a supplement by some companies now. We will be looking into it. Thanks for the suggestion.

Dennis17011
August 5, 2018

I was part of double-blind study for this product. over a 12 week period I was sent pills to take at bedtime, then I answered questions via computer on what I experienced. I only experienced very vivid dreams with the product. no mental sharpness, no memory increase. at the end of the 12 weeks I was asked if I wanted to purchase the product. in light of the minimal results, I declined. they offered no discount on purchase. just one persons opinion. GF

margaret16338
January 5, 2018

I use it now and again. I think it works and I believe that a neighbor of mine had extremely good results although he did die of Alzheimer's at thew age of 94. Try it before you dis it.

Craig16828
May 11, 2018

The problem with ancedotal stories like that of your neighbhor is that they are not valid evidence. I know a 94 year old still alive and well, that is still sharp, lives independently, still drives, exercises 3 times a week, walks daily, has an active social life and that person has NEVER taken Prevagen.

So, your example, my counter example. Stories back and forth. Not remotely objective evidence of anything.

When a company makes extraordinary claims, there should be extraordinary evidence. Make no doubt, the idea that apoaequorin, a 22,885 Dalton foreign protein, can be ingested, survive the GI tract that is designed to destroy proteins into constituent amino acids, and then somehow be absorbed into the blood stream intact and not invoke a immune response, and then be shuttled across the blood brain barrier that does not allow the passage of molecules larger than around 400 Daltons without specialized mechanisms (what would be the evolutionary adaptation for such a mechanism to shuttle a protein from a biolumniscent jellyfish? ) to reach the neurons to sequester calcium, THAT is an extraordinary claim.

The actual evidence is not extraordinary. In fact, it essentially doesn't exists except in non-evidence ancedotes like yours. Consumer Lab has nicely laid that out. The only placebo-controlled double-blind study showed no really significant effect. Whatever effect in that one study was by no means extraordinary, and it was a company study with conflicts of interest.

In the 2010 U.S. patent "Method of treating ischemic injury with apoaequorin" obtained by Mark Underwood of Quincy Bioscience, apoaequorin was DIRECTLY INJECTED into the rats' brains after the researchers had intentionally induced an ischemic stroke. This is the companies claim to neuroprotective effects of apoaequorin.

The apoaequorin was injected directly into the hippocampus of the rat brain after the induced stroke. The hippocampus is a major component in your memory network. So if you just had a stroke and would allow someone to immediately directly inject Prevagen into your hippocampus deep in your brain through a needle in your skull, it might actually do something.

Ingesting a pill of it will just add a little extra protein to your diet.

It's amazing to me that FDA has been so timid about this product. Just shows it's not actual science that governs decisions but a completel legal mess.

Don15666
October 15, 2017

But their carefully constructed infomercials seem soooooo convincing! LOL.

susan17598
March 6, 2019

sadly, to desperate alzheimer's patients they do. and that is what the company counts on.

Dennis15546
September 17, 2017

I participated in a clinical trial for this product. it lasted 6 months. what I had were vivid dreams. no clearer mind, no better memory. at the end of the study I was asked by the company if I wanted to purchase the product at a reduced cost. the reduction amounted to $5.00 less than priced online. no thank you. it wasn't that good. ga

Douglas15527
September 13, 2017

It's too early to say but is looking as though this could be the greatest biomedical scam in history, with the owners of Prevagen in a position to make many hundreds of millions of dollars in relationship to an initial stock offering. To say that the evidence is unimpressive is a severe understatement, as there really is no true evidence of efficacy, and even more, plenty of reason to be suspicious that the compound as it has been described could have ANY mechanistic impact on short-term memory or for that matter, even on neuronal function, although there is still much to learn on that question.

First of all, as others have pointed out, proteins are typically broken down G.I. tract, and even if they are not, they do not cross the blood brain barrier unless chaperoned in special ways by lipids or immune cells or blood brain barrier endothelial cells. There is no evidence for that either (transit across the blood brain barrier), and to make matters worse, there is no evidence that its putative mechanism, namely the rectification some kind of calcium channel dysfunction has any role in age-related short-term memory inefficiencies, or that blocking calcium channels would have any impact on patients with amnestic conditions – and indeed as others have pointed out, blocking calcium channels in a haphazard fashion might even be dangerous and could even lead to amnestic conditions, although excessive calcium channel activity can lead to programmed cell death.

In other words there is every reason to think that this is a billion-dollar scam unprecedented in the history of nutraceuticals. It's in a position to give every other responsible nutraceutical manufacturer a black eye by implication. As usual, the FDA's response is underwhelming when dealing with either pharmaceutical or nutraceutical firms that may be bad actors.

HR15504
September 13, 2017

I can only take Extra Strength Prevagen every other day as it gives me a headache taken daily.
Strontium is good for bones. since stopping calcium, I have taken Strontium. I can tell, by my better than ever fingernails, that it's working!

ConsumerLab.com
September 13, 2017

Thanks for sharing this HR. You can read more about strontium in this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/do-any-supplements-help-prevent-or-treat-osteoporosis/osteoporosis/

Susan 15397
August 16, 2017

After finding no improvement with the regular strength Prevagen, we bought the Extra Strength Prevagen when it was introduced. Among three unrelated people, no one noticed an improvement in memory. We did note a big loss of money on a product that we feel that the FTC should nvestigate. We feel it is more of a scam.

Robert11354
October 19, 2016

The problem is excess calcium. "Get your calcium" is wrong clinically 90% of the time based on over 3,000 HTMA results. Calcium should never be taken without a HTMA that confirms it is needed. Taking calcium to "prevent osteoporosis" is ineffective and proven to increases the risk of Cardiac events 22-30% in multiple studies, stroke 15-20%, kidney and gall stones, Macular degeneration, and is proven to shrink the brain and destroy the working memory cell function. "Get your calcium" is a major cause of dementia, proven.
Adequate trace mineral supplementation is required to prevent and treat and reverse osteoporosis. It is not a calcium deficiency, it is mineral deficiency always. In less than 10% of cases, calcium is also needed.
Robert Thompson, M.D. Co-author, The Calcium Lie 2

Jeanne15421
August 20, 2017

I agree completely Dr. Thompson. Well said.

Join today to unlock all member benefits including full access to CL Answers

Join Now

Join now at www.consumerlab.com/join/