This blog post is guest authored by Matthew Davidson, PhD, Founder of Think Gum
Back when I founded Think Gum LLC in 2006, nootropics were not nearly as widespread and supplement stacking was just taking off. At the time, I was a molecular biology student at UC Berkeley, trying to improve my test scores and remember as much as I could for finals. That year, a study was published in the Journal of Appetite demonstrating that chewing gum can improve memory. While the mechanism is a bit unclear, it likely has to do with improved blood flow to the brain and a psychological concept called context dependent memory. More blood flow means more oxygen and glucose for your brain to access and context dependent memory is kind of like a mnemonic clue to help trigger associative memories. I began to chew my own blend of chewing gum while studying and while taking exams and soon after graduated at the top of my class.
At that point, I began to look at chewing gum as an efficient supplement delivery system and experimented with combinations of various “Brain-Boosting” supplements. I realized that a normal piece of chewing gum could deliver up to 100mg of active ingredients. I began to dive in to the medical literature and find supplements known to have efficacy when used at this sub-100mg dose. The two most obvious and legal supplements were caffeine and vinpocetine. Other herbal extracts had also been associated with improvement in aspects of cognition and include Ginkgo, Bacopa and Rosemary and Peppermint.
I founded Think Gum LLC after a few months of R&D, sourced high quality supplement suppliers, signed a contract with a manufacturing partner and produced the first commercial batch of Think Gum. A few months later we had sold out of the first 20,000 packs of gum. Nearly 10 years later, we have sold over 2,000,000 pieces of Think Gum.
Despite Think Gum’s success, as a scientist, I was not satisfied with relying on outside data about the supplements in Think Gum. It was time to measure the impact of Think Gum in a real world situation. I designed and conducted a controlled study to see if Think Gum worked as planned. In the study, 62 Stanford University students chewed no chewing gum, regular bubble gum or Think Gum® during a series of paper-based and online tests used to measure concentration and memory. After taking the tests, students were asked to rate their alertness, concentration and performance. The following day, the same students chewed no chewing gum, regular bubble gum or Think Gum® and completed additional follow-up memory tests to measure long-term memory.
The students who chewed Think Gum® performed significantly better in the memory tests. The magnitude of memory improvement was dramatic. On average, the students in the Think Gum® group remembered over 25% more than those students who chewed regular chewing gum. Additionally, those students in the Think Gum® group felt significantly more alert, felt that they could better concentrate and felt enhanced performance as compared to the other groups. The completed study was published in the peer-reviewed journal of Appetite, the same journal that kicked off my interest in nootropics.
There is still a great deal of research to be done, but it is clear that dietary supplements like Think Gum can improve cognition.
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