Most people would agree that keeping our brains healthy, if you had to choose, is more important than keeping our abs healthy. A strong brain is more important than strong triceps, we can all agree on that.
Yet we talk much more often and with more fervor about strong physiques than about strong minds. Social media scrolls are full of ways to tone your body, while when it comes to our brains, our strategy is to open a Duolingo account, or maybe start meditating, and hope for the best.
Maybe it’s because we’re a bit mystified about how to maintain strong brains.
Parable, which raised a $2.75 million seed round led by M13 and Break Trail Ventures to build a business around nutrition and brain health, wants to change that. Today, Parable is launching its first product, Daily, a science-backed supplement packed with eight powerful ingredients to support cognitive, mental and neural brain health.
Founders Cristina Poindexter and Brian McGrath Davis, who met as founders-in-residence at M13, wanted to come up with a formulation to help people build strong brains with proven nutritional ingredients.
“When we talk to consumers, they overwhelmingly value having a healthy brain,” Davis said. “But then you ask the follow-up question, ‘Okay, what do you do to take care of your brain?’ They say, “I don’t know.” That bridge was our inspiration to really build a solution for the consumer.”
They dug through six decades of brain neuroscience and identified eight ingredients that significantly benefit the brain: curcumin, lemon balm, ginseng, phosphatidylserine, green tea extract and B vitamins 6, 9 and 12.
And while the FDA doesn’t require supplement manufacturers to conduct clinical trials, Parable wanted to launch a product backed by solid science and focused on their specific product. So in addition to collecting data that already existed, they also recruited some of the country’s top neuroscientists for guidance, testing Daily’s formulation with the help of an independent research organization.
The study recruited 40 people for a series of digital tests to measure cognitive function. They spent 45 minutes doing “highly intentional” mind games powered by Creyos (formerly Cambridge Brain Sciences). The study also measured mental well-being using a digital questionnaire, and they rounded off the testing with blood draws to measure inflammation markers.
The participants completed the three tests four times: before daily use and then 1, 7 and 31 days after taking it every day. The product was unmarked – no marketing materials or branding.
The results were promising: the ability to cope with stress increased by 10%, anxiety decreased by 28.6%. Brain fog decreased by almost 29%, mental clarity increased by 15%, productivity increased by almost 32%, energy levels increased by almost 27%, and burnout decreased by 29%. . Working memory has also increased by almost 34% and focus by more than 54%.
Taken together, the results speak to the promise of an overall more functional society, with fewer individual burdens from things like brain fog, burnout, stress, anxiety, fatigue, and lack of focus, which Poindexter says was a big boost for the launch of Parable .
“I’ve seen from different perspectives what happens when the brain goes wrong,” says Poindexter, who was from Headspace before M13, which offers meditation and mindfulness tools. “I have experienced the challenges of mental illness and burnout myself. I’ve had a number of concussions. I also had a grandmother with whom I was very close, who had Parkinson’s.”
For his part, Davis has a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies from Emory University, and has held positions at Supersapiens, Scoutmob, and Blakely Ventures, a business incubator under the Spanx umbrella. He says his interest in the brain is rooted in philosophy, but ultimately practical: He wants to make it easier to be human.
“If I had to sum up my academic career, it would be, ‘It’s hard being human,'” Davis said. “It’s one of the things that underpins my interest in building consumer businesses. When I think of the brain, I think of access to freedom and joy and the fully lived human experience.
Daily is not a concentration hack, or energy, or some other quick fix to get you through the day. It’s a long-term strategy for fighting inevitable brain atrophy, which starts around age 30 (!).
“We’re not interested in helping people get superhuman brains,” Davis said. “We are not interested in a replacement for Adderall or caffeine. Those things have their place in the market, but we think the performance angle is tired and we think there’s an alternative that’s actually so much richer and more beneficial in the long run, which is care. The brain is a delicate organ that needs to be cared for.”
The product is pricey – a month’s supply costs $90 ($75 with a subscription). But the founders point out that taking each of Daily’s eight powerhouse ingredients separately would be much more expensive and actually kind of awful.
“If you were to buy all of these ingredients in their bioavailable form and at the right dosage, you’d pay somewhere between $190 and $270 a month,” Poindexter said. “You would also have to take about 10 pills a day, so more than 300 pills a month to get the same active ingredients. If you compare it to that, it changes the conversation.”
After this first product, Parable has many more launches in the works – and Davis hinted that they will move beyond supplements.
“Some (future products) will very likely fall into the supplement category, and some will likely fall into other exciting categories that can also help support our customers in learning to apply daily brain care.”