A: No testing on animals! The testing we do is all lab testing, on the ingredients and the finished product themselves. The raw ingredients are tested for identity, purity, and potency. The finished product is then again tested for heavy metals, microbes, and other contaminants.
3 are plants.
Plato is made from branded, standardized extracts of the best-researched herbal nootropics available.
Bacopa monnieri has been in human use for thousands of years as part of the medical traditions of China, India, Russia, and Nepal, among others.
Bacognize® is the best form of Bacopa monnieri available, having been shown through clinial research to offer a broad array of benefits for cognitive health linked to 5HT serotonin binding activity and antioxidant capacity.
Statistically significant effects of supplementation of Bacopa in general and Bacognize® in specific, at doses of 300-600mg, have been seen in randomized placebo-controlled studies in healthy young adults, healthy older adults, and healthy med students, who could be said to be on their way to a certain kind of adulthood.
Bacognize® in particular can improve working memory [6, 7], immediate recall , short-term memory and cognitive processing speed , attention [6, 7], language comprehension , focus , and mood , as well as supporting healthy cognition through aging .
Bacognize® is produced by Verdure Sciences in a hands-free botanicals-only facility that is ISO-certified and NSF and GMP registered.
Rhodiola rosea is known as a powerful adaptogen with a long tradition of use in Chinese, Russian, and Tibetan folk medicine.
Rhodiola has been studied extensively for its nootropic effects, and RCT studies have shown that supplementation may provide a notable decrease to fatigue [10, 11, 12, 13], increased physical endurance  therapeutic effects in stressed subjects , and a notable increase to cognition and subjective well-being. [12, 15, 10, 13] A meta-analysis of 11 randomized placebo-controlled trials showed benefits in fatigue reduction during physical activity and increased mental performance under stress. 
Plato contains 100mg of Rhodiola standardized to 3% Rosavins and 2% Salidroside, a dosage and potency selected to most closely match the most promising studies available. The Rhodiola in Plato may help support a positive mood [17, 18, 19], may reduce symptoms of stress [20, 21], and may support mental performance and concentration. 
Our Rhodiola comes as Rhodiola5Plus™ #2, through Jiaherb’s HerbaLink™ – a unique chain of custody program geared towards providing the end consumer maximum transparency in botanical ID, sourcing, and traceability.
Panax ginseng, from the Greek pan for ‘all’ and axos for ‘cure’, is commonly referred to as the ‘True Ginseng’. Ginseng been used since at least 1st century B.C. in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine as a general tonic.
Plato includes 60mg of concentrated Ginseng extract, which placebo-controlled randomized trials with healthy young subjects have shown may help improve working memory , increase calmness , support cognitive performance [23, 24], reduce the perception of mental fatigue [23, 24], and improve mental health and social functioning .
The Ginseng in Plato comes from Italian producer of supplements and pharmaceuticals Indena® and is produced under cultivation before being standardized to a high potency of not less than 27% Saponins expressed as Ginsenoside Rg1. This Ginseng is non-GMO, vegetarian, non-ionized, and certified Halal.
L-Theanine is a non-dietary, non-essential amino acid found predominantly in tea and some mushrooms. It’s structurally similar to GABA, a neuroamine critical to relaxation, and glutamate, a neurotransmitter critical to learning and memory.
On its own, it increases wakeful relaxation , relaxation while resting , and brain alpha wave activity [26, 28], while reducing temporary anxiety due to stress , and helping to maintain normal blood pressure  and heart rate in stressful situations .
Taken together with caffeine, L-Theanine has shown to improve speed and accuracy of attention-switching and reduced susceptibility to distraction in memory tasks better than caffeine alone [31, 32]. Adding Theanine to caffeine has been shown to preserve the benefits of caffeine consumption while further improving alertness and reaction time and reducing headache , together reducing reaction time and task-switching time while improving attention .
Our L-Theanine is not a branded, standardized extract because it’s just a molecule, plain and simple. It doesn’t get much purer than that.
Plato is made from plants, and plants, like people, aren’t all alike.
Seasonal variation, changes due to weather, and even differences from plant to plant — all are common reasons for variations in the potency of herbs and roots.
For that reason (and a few thousand others), Plato is formulated with branded standardized extracts.
‘Standardized’ means every batch of each ingredient is identical in potency and purity, season to season, year over year.
‘Branded’ means we buy from suppliers who are proud to put their name on the product. Most supplements are made of generic ingredients, which is fine for, say, breakfast cereal, but not so much for nootropics.
To find out more about why we use branded, standardized extracts, check out the article on formulation at our blog.
In formulating Plato, our goal was to first to find the ingredients with the strongest evidence available indicating their safety and efficacy for healthy young people. With the best ingredients identified, the next step was to bring them together into a single formula that matched the ingredients used in the research.
One aspect of that was finding standardized extracts whose active ingredient profiles were as close to the studied ingredients as possible, and the other was to match the potencies and quantities to deliver the same amount of active ingredients used in those studies.
In the case of Rhodiola rosea, we were excited to find Jiaherb’s Rhodiola5Plus™ #2, which confers 3% rosavins and 2% salidroside, closely matching the profile of the SHR-5 extract used in the best Rhodiola studies.
With Panax ginseng, we went to Italian producers Indena® for a high-concentration extract with tightly controlled ratios of ginsenosides Rg1 and Rb1 similar to the G115 standard used in the most promising studies of Panax ginseng.
For Bacopa monnieri, the best evidence comes from research done on Bacognize® itself, and at exactly the 300mg quantity used in Plato. If you noticed a discrepancy between the NLT 12% bacopa glycoside by HPLC potency on Plato and the 45% by UV-VIS you may have seen on other products – good eye! It’s the same product with a different name, but please check out FAQ answer for more.
Headapohl et al. Effects of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on memory and cognitive function in healthy older adults: A double-blind placebo-controlled study. Manuscript.
Spasov AA et al. (2000) A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. doi:10.1016/S0944-7113(00)80078-1
A: So many reasons! Ready?
When you concentrate material, you tend to concentrate everything about it. As an analogy, you might drink tap water all the time and have no problem with the levels of contaminants in your water. BUT, if you boil a pot of that water, refill it, boil it again, refill it, boil it again, etc etc, you might end up with a broth of contaminants that is not something you would want to drink.
Similarly, when you make a product that comes in pill form, you’re concentrating a lot of stuff into a small package (that’s the idea, right?)
As it happens, plants can be very good at pulling things out of their surrounding environment. It’s how they make more plant out of dirt and air. That means that some plants can also concentrate contaminants from their environment as well. One of the things we’re looking for in our first testing step (raw materials testing), is contaminants present in the material itself. In our case, these are standardized extracts that have already gone through many rounds of testing at the facilities of our suppliers and come with their CoA (certificates of analysis). They’re then tested by our manufacturer’s testing facility and their 3rd party testing lab as well, because, as the old saying goes, ’trust but verify’.
The types of things we’re looking for in raw materials testing are: misidentification of the plant (you’d be amazed how many *finished* products would fail this test), misidentification of the component of the plant (root vs aerial, etc), and potency (how much of the active ingredients are present), as well as microbial contamination in the raw ingredient.
The second testing step is on the incorporated product – the stuff that comes out of the bottle. Here we’re looking for fungal or yeast contamination, accumulation of heavy metals, or bacteriological contamination. You may wonder why we test *again* if we test everything at the start and all the production goes on in a clean facility. The answer is that you can never be too sure. Stuff happens in the space program – it can happen anywhere.
We’re not here to save money and make a quick buck. We’re here to make a product for ourselves, our friends, our families, etc. This is the level of testing you need to be certain of what you’re getting in the bottle.
A: Depending on the concentration, in many cases you’re likely taking only a few hundred milligrams or less of a single ingredient. If that single dose comes in a 00 capsule there’s often a lot of free space in there, which will be taken up by some kind of inert filler. These herbs work at small doses and the extracts are even stronger!
A: Plato is produced in a facility that, while capable of making gluten-free products, isn’t usually in a gluten-free state. Producing a product that will be certified gluten free requires a very thorough clean-down of the whole production area to ensure that no environmental gluten makes its way into the product. The testing to certify a product as gluten-free is quite expensive and so is the cleandown, and we’re not at the scale where we can make it work just yet. With that said, if you’re living the gluten-free life and you’re staying away from Plato for that reason, we’d love to hear your vote. It’s high on our wishlist.
A: Same reason as the above answer about gluten! Please let us know if we’re losing your biz!