We sat down with Emma G, an LA-based commercial litigator, to learn how she’s been using low-dose THC to manage a high-pressure work environment, to get sh*t done, AND to ditch the prescription stimulants (and round-the-clock coffee) for good.
Why did you start taking Zeno?
The short answer is that I was looking for something other than stimulants to help me manage my workload.
So stimulants were your go-to?
Yeah. I wasn’t taking them every day or anything, but the simple fact is that as a junior lawyer, you can have 12 to 14 hour days consisting of nothing but research — just reading and analyzing documents extremely closely — which obviously creates a lot of mental fatigue. You just hit burnout at some point. There were days where I'd get by with a ton of coffee, and then there were days where coffee wasn’t doing it for me past a certain point. So yeah, stimulants.
No. I’ve had a prescription for Vyvanse for just over two years now.
But you only took it occasionally.
I didn’t say that, haha.
It’s true I wasn’t taking it every day of the week, but it still ended up being pretty often. It all depended on the work. Like, if we knew a case was going to go to trial, all of a sudden you’ve got crazy deadlines that you have to make, and you gotta make sure you do everything really well and efficiently and make zero mistakes no matter how late it is.
But if the Vyvanse was working, why did you want to switch?
I just always felt really disgusting after taking it, to be honest. I’m sure it affects people differently, but for me, whenever I took it, I would get really agitated in a way I didn’t like. Also my sleeps would be choppy and I’d be super sluggish the next day — like hungover, basically.
It also messed with my diet. I’d go eight hours without eating and then just binge at the end of the day, and I didn’t like that.
I don’t know, it just didn’t feel like a sustainable habit. Like, did it help with the work? Absolutely. But when my partner told me about a more natural alternative, I was definitely open to giving it a shot.
The natural alternative being Zeno? How’s it working out for you so far?
Well, with stimulants, you can feel this kind of manic jittery high, and I really didn't like that. I just needed it to be alert if I didn't sleep well or had a crazy deadline.
What I like about Zeno so far is that I'm concentrated and focused at work, but I don't feel any high whatsoever. I can be focused and alert and still feel like myself.
It doesn’t impact the way I act, I don't think I'm perceived any differently in meetings, I'm not jittery, I'm not talking a mile a minute. (When people take stimulants, sometimes it's very obvious.) But with Zeno I'm just completely myself, only more focused and like, “with it.” And I don’t feel like I need the Vyvanse anymore.
So, concentration and focus without the downsides.
Yeah in a nutshell, haha.
Another thing that I like about Zeno — which I couldn't do when I was on stimulants — is that I can take it with my coffee in the morning.
You're not supposed to take stimulants with caffeine because it impacts the way your body absorbs the medication. I mean, I’m not a doctor, but that’s what I’ve heard and it’s definitely what I’ve felt.
Like when I started taking Vyvanse, I would take it with my morning coffee, and I just wasn't feeling the impact of the medication. I'd wait like two hours and be like, yeah, I still feel really exhausted and tired. So I eventually had to go off coffee in the morning for it to work. And that was a bummer because I love my coffee in the morning!
But with Zeno, I can enjoy my coffee and just have a regular morning routine where I can get moving, take my dog out, just get my day started.
So it’s one Zeno in the morning, with your coffee?
So far my rhythm is one Zeno in the morning and one in the afternoon. But if I have a crazy deadline to meet in the next three or four hours, I'll take two in one go.
I haven't really moved past the two-tablet mark because I haven't felt like I needed to.
Would you say that two Zenos gives you as much focus as the prescription stimulant?
Zeno is milder than stimulants, for sure, but it’s actually better for productivity in the long run because I’m sleeping way better.
Actually, it’s better in the short term too, because with the Vyvanse, sometimes I would focus on the wrong things. Like, I know it’s meant to help people with ADHD, and I’m sure in many cases it does, but in my case, I would sometimes be productive, and sometimes I would just go down a rabbit hole. Like, I’ll get a text, and then all of a sudden I’m on my phone texting obsessively and there goes 30 minutes. And now I'm stressed about making up that 30 minutes on top of the agitation I was already feeling. Or sometimes I'd have to read the same sentence three times in a row to understand what a judge was saying. But instead I'm just like, “Oh, okay. Got it. Moving on...” There’s no anxiety about it.
Unlike with stimulants. Zeno actually helps me focus on my work, and I don't get distracted by random text messages that just popped upon my phone. I’m less distractible and wound up and more just naturally clear-headed.
Right on. What about combinations? Have you tried it with anything else besides coffee?
No, just the one cup of coffee in the morning.
In fact, Zeno has reduced my caffeine intake a lot. Before, on the days I didn't take stimulants I wound up drinking five plus cups of coffee a day. These days, one cup in the morning and a couple of Zenos over the course of the day and I'm feeling good to go.
So less coffee is a good thing?
Definitely. Five cups a day was just too much for my stomach, if I’m being honest.
And what about those 14 hour days? Are you still going the distance without the stimulants?
I’m less distractible and more efficient during the day now, so I don't have to work until 2 am. I’m managing the work more effectively — I’m just getting it done.
Although I did have, I think like two weeks ago, a 13 hour day, and yes, for sure, by the 13-hour mark, I was tired. But I mean, the human mind is not designed to be working 13 hours a day without any rest. So it felt normal to be tired. And even then, I wasn't so exhausted that I couldn't wrap up my work.
I actually liked that as things were winding down, I could just go straight to bed and not be hyped up from the stimulants. I can sleep on Zeno no problem.
What about socially? Have you used Zeno with friends?
I tried it last weekend actually, at like 9 or 10 pm. We were at a dinner party and everybody wanted to go out after. Normally I’m kind of the buzzkill who just wants to go home and sleep, which is annoying for my husband — haha. Going out when you're exhausted and not feeling it, you're just kind of closed off and silently counting down the hours until you're like, okay, “can I call an Uber now without being rude?”
I took two Zenos and I was revived and ready to go out. And it was more fun, too. I was definitely more engaged and social. It just gave me a second wind.
And the thing that was surprising was that, I was alert and I was with it and I was having fun, but then as soon as I got home, I was able to sleep immediately. It wasn't like if I had taken a stimulant. If you take a stimulant at 10 pm, you're not sleeping at 1 or 2 in the morning. You're going to bed way later than that. But as soon as we got home, I was able to get to bed.
Do you ever consume cannabis other than through Zeno?
Not at all. To me, cannabis is a totally foreign thing. I mean, I was never like, “Oh, I hate that, it's gross” — I just never got into smoking weed. I suppose I wasn't crazy about the scent of it, so maybe that's why?
I don’t even think of Zeno as cannabis. When my husband suggested I try Zeno, he wasn’t like “Try it, it’s cannabis.” He said, “Hey, there's this natural focus product, it’s got a tiny amount of THC in it, it's way better for you than taking stimulants, just start with one and see.”
And he takes Zeno too?
Do you notice any changes in him?
A little bit, yeah. Like when he comes home after a long day, he's less exhausted for sure. He doesn't come home dragging his heels and be like, “Oh, I'm so tired today." He just comes home and is his normal self.
Would he say the same of you?
You’ll have to ask him, haha. But yeah, I bet he thinks I’m less irritable. I feel less irritable, anyway.
Any parting words for the Zeno curious?
Yes: Take it! Seriously.
For people who are taking stimulants or considering taking stimulants, they should be aware that there is a much healthier alternative that can give you basically the same effect without making you feel weird or shitty throughout the day. And that’s huge, especially if you’re a working professional like me who doesn’t want to feel altered at work and just wants to be productive.
Oh, and this is a small thing, but Zeno also tastes really good.