Synagen IQ (formerly Geniux) is a nootropic supplement that debuted in 2015. Most websites and marketing material that discuss Geniux are either dead-end, or now point to Synagen IQ.
In any case, Synagen IQ is a fairly standard nootropic mix—all the usual suspects are present, albeit in uncertain amounts
It might be unfair to call Synagen IQ "unimaginative," but that's certainly what it feels like. It's got several of the standard nootropic ingredients, but no real unique properties to it and no real innovative takes on the idea of a brain boosting supplement.
You have your standard boilerplate B vitamin complex— 150% of your daily recommended intake for niacin (vitamin B3) and 250% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. Curiously, there's no vitamin B12, even though it's suspected to have a neuroprotective effect, preventing toxic substances from causing degenerative brain damage (1).
Add to that a "proprietary blend" of various nootropics. As mentioned earlier, it's pretty much the usual suspects: caffeine, which is a known alertness and cognitive performance enhancer, GABA, the neurotransmitting chemical, along with the common biological compounds Alpha GPC and phosphatidylserine. The amino acid duo of tyrosine and theanine are present as well—tyrosine acts as a precursor to many important neurotransmitter, and theanine binds to neurotransmitter receptor sites.
When it comes to herbal extracts, Synagen IQ includes Bacopa monnieri extract as well as Huperzine A, a tried-and-true herbal combo for nootropic supplements.
Finally, it contains the synthetic plant derivative vinpocetine, another common nootropic ingredient.
Synagen IQ commits the same transgression as some of the other less creative and less scrupulous nootropic formulations—because all of the potentially nootropic compounds are locked up in the "proprietary blend," they don't have to disclose the actual amount of each ingredient.
While we will discuss the potential benefits of each of the nootropic ingredients in Synagen IQ, it's important to point out the problems caused by the proprietary blend labeling at the outset. All we know are the names of the ingredients in the blend, their relative abundance (as the ingredients are listed in order of their abundance in the mixture), and the bulk amount of blend in each capsule of Synagen IQ—545 mg.
This causes several problems. First of all, caffeine, the first ingredient, is known to be a strong cognitive performance enhancer: as reported in a 2002 study on Navy SEAL recruits, caffeine has a substantial effect on vigilance, reaction time, fatigue, and alertness (2). However, in high doses, caffeine can also cause jitteriness, twitching, nausea, and other undesirable side effects. Further, people vary in their individual susceptibility to caffeine, so the only way to know before trying a supplement is to examine the raw caffeine content. But, because of its inclusion in the "proprietary blend," we can't know!
Another example comes from vinpocetine. A 1985 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology by Z. Subhan and I. Hindmarch found that a 40 mg dosage of vinpocetine improved memory in healthy volunteers, but not at a 10 mg or 20 mg dosage (3). In this case, it's clear that if we want to gain the nootropic effects of vinpocetine, we need a sufficient dosage! However, because the label doesn't disclose the amount of vinpocetine present, there's no way to tell whether the amount is sufficient or not.
The second-most prevalent ingredient in the proprietary blend is the neurotransmitter GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid. While GABA plays a huge role in brain function, and pharmacological interventions have been developed to boost the body's natural production of GABA, consuming the actual chemical itself has no effect on the body. Why? Because of the blood-brain barrier. To keep toxins out of the brain, your body erects a barrier between the bloodstream and the brain; only certain compounds can cross it. While GABA in a supplement makes its way into your bloodstream, it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.
This is not news—a 1971 scientific study published by researchers in Connecticut and New York clearly established that GABA taken as a supplement cannot actually influence brain activity, so its inclusion in Synagen IQ is without merit (4).
Since caffeine and GABA are the two most prevalent ingredients (and probably comprise a combined 150 or even 200 mg of the proprietary blend), barely half of the remaining few hundred milligrams can be divvied up among the remaining seven ingredients.
This is not a problem for the herbal extract Huperzine A, which efficaciously improves cognitive function, behavior, and mood of patients with Alzheimer's disease at doses as low as 400 micrograms per day (0.4 mg), but could prove problematic for tyrosine (5).
Tyrosine has been shown to improve cognitive function and lower blood pressure in high-stress situations, but most studies use doses that are quite high—a 1989 study done at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine used 100 mg per kilogram of body weight, meaning an effective dose would be several grams (6). Even more moderate studies use doses in the hundreds of milligrams range. This would be mathematically impossible to include in a proprietary blend that totals less than 600 mg.
While most of the ingredients in Synagen IQ are reasonably well-studied and safe, the same dosage determining problem rears its ugly head when it comes to side effects. Is there too much caffeine in it? Is it going to cause jitters, nausea, and irritability? Without knowing the dosage, it's a roll of the dice. Add to this questions about the relative dearth of information on this supplement, plus the suspicious and rapid disappearance of Geniux and its apparent rebranding as Synagen IQ, and it looks as though this is one supplement to be wary of. Though anecdotal reports are not the same thing as controlled scientific studies, reports online tend to be more negative than other nootropic supplements.
The Bottom Line
While the ingredients in Synagen IQ are mostly geared towards boosting alertness and memory, there are far too many unknowns to make this a solid choice. It offers nothing unique, and many of its competitors offer the same ingredients in known quantities.