Hafiz Dhanani ’16 has created a supplement called Luminate that he says helps increase focus, which he hopes to sell to Princeton students.
“Luminate is a natural supplement,” Dhanani said. “It’s a mix of herbs and extracts that give you clear focus for six to eight hours without the negative side effects of prescription drugs like Adderall and the jitters of caffeine.”
Dhanani wouldn’t disclose details about what went into the supplement other than that one of the main ingredients is artichoke extract. He said he would share “all the details” over the course of the next few weeks.
Martin Nevarez ’16 and Jordan Radke ’17 have tested the supplement, which comes in tablet form, but they, too, were not informed about what went into Luminate.
“I trusted my friend,” Radke said. “I just took it because he wanted to see if the same focus that he had would generalize for the people.”
Though Nevarez and Radke have tried the supplement only once, Dhanani said that between 25 and 35 people have used it, and he has personally used it three to five times a week for the past few months.
Dhanani said that he was inspired to create Luminate by the difficulty he had finding a supplement that worked for him.
“A few weeks before midterms in the fall,” Dhanani said, “I wanted to find something that, in addition to getting enough sleep, would help me focus for long periods of time as I studied for exams. So what I did was I looked at all of the existing supplements and cognitive enhancements online and I tried a lot of them, but what I found was that all of them either didn’t work well or, on the other end of the spectrum, worked but had potential long-term side effects.”
Nevarez said he found Luminate very helpful.
“I took it early in the morning with some coffee,” Nevarez said. “But the effects take about half an hour to work, so I started feeling it in my Chinese class. I could really focus. Any outside thoughts coming into my head were blocked off. It wore off about four or five hours after.”
Dhanani explained that the supplement works by increasing the levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, also known as cyclic AMP, in the brain cells. Cyclic AMP is a molecule that relays signals throughout the body and has been targeted as one of the keys to understanding and manipulating memory in pharmaceutical studies.
“It [the positive effect I felt] could definitely be the placebo effect,” Nevarez said, “but what I felt was my heart beating faster, and time seemed to slow down, so it was a good effect, whatever the cause.”
Dhanani said he believes the supplement to be safe for wide consumption, and is willing to put his reputation on the line because he said that he knows that it is a good product.
Though Nevarez doesn’t know how Luminate works, he is happy to use it.
“I trust Hafiz,” Nevarez said. “He said, ‘Do this, Martin, it will help you study.’ If it helps me study, that’s a good thing.”