Liproxenol Max Review (2017) | Buyer Beware of Deceptive Marketing

Liproxenol Max Review (2017) | Buyer Beware of Deceptive Marketing

I originally published this Liproxenol exposé in early 2013 after an investigation into the company’s egregiously deceptive advertising.

As of this 2017 update, the product name has been changed to Liproxenol Max despite no indication that the ingredients are any different than in 2012.

Sadly, the website is still active and using the same misleading tactics. They claim “real results, real people,” yet they’re still showing the same fake before and after images from several years before.

On a positive note, the number of Google search results is extremely low (just under 2000) and this is corroborated by Google Trends. It’s not known if they’re still actively driving traffic to the product, but hopefully it will be pulled offline sooner than later.

Liproxenol scam

Read on for the original review.

Original 2013 Review

I was alerted to Liproxenol recently when a questionable advertisement was served up in a Google ad. I was curious so I decided to dig deeper.

The company’s marketing claims it will help you “lose weight fast,” the three marketing buzz words that should set off your bullish*t detector.

Is Liproxenol a scam?  

Review all the evidence of their ethical improprieties below, use your common sense, and then make an educated decision if you want to fork over your money.

The short version

  1. Misrepresented science – the company has misrepresented results from scientific articles in support of the product (the final product has never been tested).
  2. Fake testimonials – there is clear evidence that most, if not all, Liproxenol testimonials are dubious, and several are clearly fraudulent.
  3. Sham promo websites – a number of fake Liproxenol websites supposedly owned by “satisfied users” are littered 20 pages deep in Google.  All are linked to the company that makes Liproxenol, presumably an SEO exercise to crowd out legitimate information and reviews on the product from Google search results (evidence below).
  4. Complaints – there are numerous independent consumer complaints against the company that makes Liproxenol related to unauthorized credit card charges (evidence below).
  5. Typical supplement hype – further investigation into the product and promotional materials reveals all the typical over-hyped supplement catch phrases and meaningless jargon such as:
  • Fast-acting metabolic formula
  • Amplify thermogenesis
  • Destroy food cravings
  • See impressive results
  • Feel naturally energised
  • Be slimmer in weeks

The long version

Who makes Liproxenol?

Liproxenol is made by JC Arnica. A dig into their background on WhoIs Domain Tools shows that JC Arnica Corporation is based in Panama City.

According to the website, Liproxenol was developed by Jeffrey Wilson, chief medical advisor of JW Labs.  It gives a narrative testimonial where Wilson asks you (the consumer) if you’d like a supplement as good as a prescription weight loss medication but without the dangerous side effects.

He then goes on to state that Liproxenol is the product for you because it “contains ingredients proven in clinical trials to aid in weight loss.”  There are a number of scientific references listed on the website which purportedly support the product, but further scrutiny of these references reveals a different picture – More on this to come.  Stay tuned!

Ingredients

liproxenol ingredientsBefore we delve into Liproxenol’s individual ingredients, you should be aware that the overall blend of herbs is only 480mg (1/2 gram) which, when spread across the five herbal ingredients, means that there is very little of each ingredient present (dilution effect).

Furthermore, we do not have a precise quantity for how much active ingredient is actually present in Liproxenol since these are whole herbs and not standardized extracts.

The ingredients found in Liproxenol appear to vary based on which website you consult.  Some websites have more ingredients while others have less. Therefore, I have opted to stick with the one found on the Liproxenol Australia website.

  • Vitamin B6 – vitamin B6 is involved in cellular metabolism which unlocks energy from the energy-containing nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  However, whether or not taking extra facilitates weight loss remains in question.
  • Chromium – chromium has been purported to facilitate weight loss. However, evaluation of chromium studies shows that, though there may be a small effect, the data is inconclusive.
  • Garcinia fruit extractGarcinia may have a small effect for short-term weight loss, but purity and dosage may be a mitigating factor.
  • Green tea leaf extract – Catechins, the active ingredient found in green tea leaves may play a minor role in facilitating weight loss and maintenance.  As with garcinia, purity of the extract and dosage must be considered, as well as other extraneous factors which may confound the green tea leaves’ effectiveness.
  • L-carnitine tartrate – carnitine is involved in fat transport across cell membranes.  The human body can synthesize it from lysine and methionine.  The preponderance of evidence suggests that supplementation with l-carnitine does not have any appreciable effect on weight loss.
  • Dandelion leaf powderDandelion may have a diuretic effect in the body, but this should not be mistaken for a reduction in fat.
  • Cayenne pepper powder – Cayenne pepper may play a role in increased thermogenesis but there appears to be a dose-response relationship (i.e., more translates to a greater effect). Liproxenol contains a small amount of cayenne pepper but there is no evidence that this quantity is effective for fat loss.

Is there any scientific evidence to support marketing claims?

Overall, the research for the ingredients contained in Liproxenol is so varied that it does not directly support the product.

Liproxenol pills contain a total of 480 mg (half a gram) of mixed herbs but, in studies on the individual ingredients, considerably large doses were used.

It is therefore plausible that the amounts found in Liproxenol are so small that they are unlikely to have much of a physiological effect in the body.

In my investigation, I did not come across any studies that tested the finished product. The lofty marketing claims are more likely a stretch of the imagination than validated science.

Comparison of research to claims

Vitamin B6 – 5mg

The listed references for vitamin B6 are not evidence of efficacy for Liproxenol.  For example, one study was a cross-sectional study which looked at statistical associations, but did not evaluate cause and effect as part of an intervention.  The other reference is not actually a scientific reference at all, but marketing material for a course targeted at doctors who want to learn how to administer B6 and B12 in their medical practices.

Chromium picolinate – 50 mcg

Three studies were listed for chromium but, in actual fact, they do not support this product.  First, all three studies used very large dosages ranging from 400 to 1000 micrograms compared to the 50 micrograms of chromium found in Liproxenol.  We would need to see further studies using miniscule doses to get an indication of whether or not such a small amount is effective.

Proprietary blend of herbs – 480 mg comprised of the following:

Garcinia fruit extract:

  • Liproxenol contains “garcinia fruit extract” which contains the active ingredient hydroxycitric acid.  However, we do not have an exact quantity for how much HCA is found in this particular product.
  • In all the studies quoted on the website, they used the isolated hydroxycitric acid bound to a calcium-potassium salt to make it soluble.
  • Dosages were rather large and ranged from 1000 to 4500 mg per day.  This is enormous compared to the combined total of 480mg of mixed herbs in the product, of which an even smaller amount would be garcinia.
  • The studies listed as support are irrelevant, misleading, and do not appear to directly support claims of efficacy for Liproxenol.

Green tea leaf extract

  • The studies listed for green tea leaf extract were variable and, as with the above ingredients, do not tend to support product claims.

The studies included:

  • very large dosages of catechins (625 mg) plus caffeine (39 mg) and exercise
  • a strictly controlled diet plus 250 mg of green tea leaf extract
  • another study that used 90 mg of epigallocatechins plus 50 mg caffeine
  • a mouse study

In short, the precise amount of green tea leaf extract in Liproxenol is unknown based on the product label.  Therefore, we do not have a quantifiable amount of active ingredients against which we can make a reliable comparison.

L-carnitine tartrate

  • Two studies are listed which suggest 3 grams of carnitine per day can enhance fat oxidation (burning).
  • These are legitimate studies but they do not appear to support product claims of product efficacy.
  • Carnitine is only one ingredient amongst others which total 480 mg (or just under a half a gram total).
  • The relative dosage consumers are getting in Liproxenol is likely to be insignificant compared to the rather large carnitine dosages used in the study.
  • The third carnitine study listed on the website is a dead link and does not go anywhere.

Dandelion leaf powder

  • The website lists a single study as support for dandelion as a diuretic.
  • This was a preliminary pilot study which administered 8 mL of dandelion extract three times over one single day.
  • The ingredients label does not disclose how much of the herbal blend is comprised of dandelion, we cannot reliably compare the study to the product.
  • Therefore, as of this writing, this single study cannot be considered supportive evidence.

Cayenne pepper powder

The available studies on cayenne pepper (capsaicin) do indeed show that it has an impact on appetite and weight control.

However, you should know:

  • Across these studies, the experimental dosages of capsaicin were much higher than anything offered by Liproxenol.
  • Dosages ranged from 510 to 900 mg of capsaicin, to 6000 mg (6 grams) of capsinoids (which are less potent than capsaicin), to 10 grams of red pepper.
  • The dosages and the means of administration are greatly varied and do not reflect the comparably miniscule doses found in Liproxenol.
  • Some studies strictly controlled the dietary intake of subjects which is not reflective of a free living adult who is not moderating their calorie intake.

Fake testimonials?

The marketing copy is heavily weighted with anecdotal testimonials presumably from satisfied users. However, I found some discrepancies which I think call these testimonials into question.

I did a reverse image search of the before and after images on their website and found the EXACT same images turn up on a number of other sites.

Here is a screen capture from the Liproxenol website.

Liproxenol fake testimonial

Note her name above on the Liproxenol website is “Mary P”.

But then check out the screen capture from another questionable product called Meratol (below) which uses similar tactics and, amazingly, the EXACT same before and after photos! Only now her name is Pam and she’s from London.

Meratrol fake testimonial

Not convinced?  Well how about the very next testimonial on the website.
Liproxenol fake testimonial 2

Supposedly her name is Shea and she’s stripped off 35 kg.

But then in another advertisement for a completely different product, her name is Bonnie and she lives in South Africa!

Clearly somebody is lying in their marketing copy but, either way, you’d be very foolish to believe any of the testimonials now that you’re aware of these improprieties.

Liproxenol fake testimonials

Recycled fake testimonials

Have a look at this screenshot image below.  Read the testimonial of “Shea” above and then read the testimonial below.  Same name, same title, same weight loss, similar testimonial, but different picture!!

Not only that, this before/after picture has been used on five other websites!

liproxenol_duplicate_fake_testimonial

Questionable email testimonials

The company also provides four testimonials received via email (click here for screen shot).  I decided to email the people to see if, in fact, they actually said what is stated on the website.

It has been over three weeks and I have not had a response from any of them.  I would have thought that at least one would write me back, but so far nothing at all.

I also used an online email validator and 3 out of 4 came back as valid emails with the last one looking a bit suspect.

Also note they are all from free email accounts like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Rocketmail which are commonly used as “throw-away” email accounts. I am inclined to think they are sham email addresses.

False flag SEO spam campaign

The following table is a list of websites clearly linked to corporate JC Arnica. In total, there are 30 websites associated with Liproxenol, of which only 6 are official “above board” sites. The rest are deceptive spam sites which appear to have been created by JC Arnica or other parties solely to drive Liproxenol sales.

If you look at the IP addresses, registrar names, and the dates these websites were created, you will clearly see the pattern.

When you actually visit these sites, you will see they are made to look like different independent people posting about their experiences with the supplement.

The more you visit these sites, the more you can see they used the exact same templates with only a few minor changes.

Websites such as best4dietpills.com and thedietpillreview.com give the consumer the impression of being a “diet pill review” site but, in fact, just serve as more sales fodder for the same JC Arnica products.

This is clearly deceptive and meant to mislead consumers into purchasing Liproxenol and other associated products.

Liproxenol Scam Websites

If you look at the syntax of these domain names, you can see they used hyphens in most of them. This is all a lot more than a coincidence given the fact that the domains were all registered on similar dates with the same registrar.

It is also worth mentioning that many of these spam sites serve to dilute legitimate Google search results and preclude consumers from getting legitimate objective information on this product.

If you look at the dates these sites were registered, you can see this was a deliberate and concerted effort to flood Google with crap early before those of us who represent the truth got our shake.

All the more disconcerting is that this garbage spans 20+ pages deep into Google when you search for Liproxenol.

I also suspect they have left fake comments on a number of message board forums on sites unrelated to Liproxenol. Many of them seem a bit fluffy and airy, as if they had to be fabricated.  Given the lengths this company has gone to dupe the public (see below), I don’t believe anything is beyond their ethics.

Spam website screenshots (notice the similarities)

Looking at the following, you can see the similarities in their websites.  They clearly used the same wordpress or generic HTML templates and then changed the photos.

All outgoing links on the pages point to the Liproxenol Australia website.  This is a little (lot) more than a coincidence and should be a red flag to consumers for unethical behavior.

do-any-dietpills-workdoes-liproxenol_work

do-any-dietpills-work.com  |   does-liproxenol-work.com

liproxenol-workedliproxenol-blog

liproxenol-worked.com         |     liproxenol-blog.com

buy-liproxenolliproxenol-com-au

buy-liproxenol.com (spam site)  |    liproxenol.com.au (official site)

Exercise, eat healthy, and forget the pills

All photo and email improprieties aside, let’s pretend that all the testimonials are for real.

It is still important to recognise that anecdotal testimonials do not separate cause and effect from coincidence.

So if you’re exercising and eating right while you’re taking the supplement, then there is no way to know if your results were due to your healthy eating and exercise or the pills.

And, in fact, the advertising does state you should take the product in conjunction with healthy eating and regular exercise – a common ploy with these types of products.

In short, testimonials are amusing and entertaining, but they are the lowest form of “evidence” should not be considered proof of efficacy.

Dosage

According to the company’s FAQ page, you should take 2 per day, one before breakfast and one more before lunch. However, because the research provided as evidence is so wide and varied and does not directly support the product, we have no way of knowing how much you should actually take.

To date, no clinical testing has been carried out on the final product to ascertain if it exerts any physiological effect in the body.  As of this writing, a specific dosage appears to be, at best, guesswork on the part of the company.

Liproxenol side effects or drug interactions

The website repeatedly claims that the product is safer than prescription drugs, but based on my investigation, there is no evidence of product testing against diet drugs.

The individual ingredients do appear in the medical literature, but Liproxenol as a whole product has not been tested.

The reality is, we do not know how these ingredients may interact with one another or other prescription drugs you might be taking.

As with any supplement, you would be STRONGLY advised to talk to a qualified medical or allied health practitioner to see if there are any potential interactions.  The reality is, people can (and do) die from drug-supplement interactions.

How much does it cost?

The price you pay depends on how many bottles you buy.  They make it more enticing to buy more of the product by throwing in freebies, but either way, it isn’t cheap.  According to the website, you can get:

  • 4 bottles for $148 AUD with free shipping plus four bottles of Clear Cleanse Pro (another questionable product) and a digital pedometer.
  • 3 bottles for $110 AUD plus three bottles of Clear Cleanse Pro and a digital pedometer. You pay $8.97 for shipping via Australia Post.
  • 2 bottles for $74 AUD plus one bottle of Clear Cleanse Pro and no pedometer.  You pick up the $8.97 tab for shipping.
  • 1 bottle for $37 AUD, no freebies, plus you pick up the $8.97 for shipping.  This particular offer is called a “starter” trial which implies that you’ll need more of it.

Complaints

It’s never a good thing when you see a dietary supplement with numerous consumer complaints.

As of 2017, the Scambook website is littered with complaints from people who got sucked in by the advertising hype, ordered a bottle on their credit card, and then found themselves being charged over again each month.

Interestingly, the JC Arnica (the parent company) website claims that all their websites (including the one for Liproxenol) provide 24/7 customer support 365 days of the year and that they’re “available to customers whenever they need to reach us…”

Based on their shoddy reputation with consumers, this appears to be nothing more than hot air to allay consumer skepticism.

Where is Liproxenol sold?

Based on my investigation, Liproxenol is available online in country-specific sites for Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Disclaimer

And now for the fine print.  Damn, there’s always that fine print to go and screw things up!

The website states in its disclaimer:

The products & claims made on this site have not been evaluated by Therapeutic Goods Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Individual results may vary.  You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program.”

This is common on most dietary supplements (Australian example above) and appears to be an offshoot of the United States’ version of the supplement labeling stemming from the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act which, ironically, does nothing to educate anyone.

As long as a product is deemed a supplement and carries the generic stamp (above), then it is not subject to the same rigorous testing requirements as pharmaceutical medications.

Take home message

There are numerous improprieties surrounding Liproxenol.

First, the scientific studies listed as “evidence” for the product are not directly applicable to Liproxenol and do not constitute proof of efficacy. I did not find a single scientific study which has tested the final product.

The dosages of the ingredients appear very small and may not have the same effect as found in the listed studies.

Second, the testimonial photos and emails are questionable on a number of fronts and, I suspect, may be fraudulent.

Third, there are numerous consumer complaints pertaining to unauthorized credit card charges for product that was not ordered.

Fourth, the product uses virtually every questionable trick in the book to convince you to buy the product.

In closing, this product offers up a lot more hype and hope than genuine help.  I recommend keeping your credit card safely in your wallet and steering clear of Liproxenol.

Transcript from the Liproxenol website

Pitchwoman:  My name is Caroline.  I wanted to tell you briefly about Australia’s leading all natural weight loss supplement.

Analysis:   Leading supplement? Says who? Based on what?  This is just an opinion and not based on any provided evidence.

Pitchwoman:  Liproxenol is the fat loss secret that has helped more than 3 million people experience  rapid weight loss easily and without any unwanted side effects, starvation, or off the wall diet restrictions.

Analysis:  Liproxenol’s ingredients are, in fact, well known and pretty far from being a ‘fat loss secret.’  Furthermore, the whole product itself, which has small amounts of each ingredient and no quantification of active substances, has not been tested.   As for 3 million people, we’ll just need to take their word for it.

Pitchwoman:  Liproxenol’s proprietary blend of 7 clinically proven all natural ingredients has been praised by nutritionists, dietitians, and personal trainers alike.  It is used by celebrities and has been featured in numerous magazines and on national networks.

Analysis:Clinically proven means nothing in this particular example.  Clinically proven means a lot of things to a lot of different people.  As I mentioned, Liproxenol itself did not appear in the scientific databases and is unlikely to have been tested.   Praised by nutritionists, dietitians, and personal trainers?  Which ones?  Name names.  I’m unaware of any legitimate health professionals which have staked their name and reputation on this product.   Because it is “used by celebrities,” do not be fooled into thinking this is evidence.  In fact, for many products like this, celebrities are not health professionals and you should not follow their lead.

Pitchwoman:  One popular physician pronounced Liproxenol the most effective, safe, non-prescription weight loss supplement of the last 20 years.

Analysis:  Which “popular physician?”  It appears their doctor has not read the research and compared it to this product.

Pitchwoman:  We’re so confident you’ll make Liproxenol your number one choice for rapid weight loss, we’re willing to let you try it risk free for a full 90 days.  If you are anything less than thrilled with the results in that time, we will refund 100% of your money no questions asked.

Analysis:  I suggest avoiding anything that suggests rapid weight loss is acceptable.   You can try it “risk free” for 90 days, but based on real consumer experiences, there is a chance your credit card will continue to be charged for more Liproxenol without your consent or authorization.

Pitchwoman:  And as a special bonus to celebrate our 5th year in business, we are giving away some incredible free special bonuses to help you lose weight even faster when you order today.  But don’t wait.  Due to the increased popularity of Liproxenol cause by all the media attention, supplies are limited.  And we can’t guarantee these exclusive limited time online offers will still be available on your next visit.  Now is the time to experience rapid weight loss and increased energy risk free and fully guaranteed.  Do it today!

Analysis:  This is typical of these types of products. You act like you’re giving the customer something extra of value because you’re a nice guy.  But then you threaten to pull the offer away with a “limited time” clause.  And if you don’t directly tell people what to do (Do it today!), they don’t do it.

Are Antioxidant Supplements Necessary?

Are Antioxidant Supplements Necessary?


Free radicals? Disease? Here, take these antioxidant supplements…just in case!

We’ve been hearing about it for years. Free radicals are molecular villains responsible for everything from aging to heart disease to cancer, and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

Open up any popular health or fitness magazine at the supermarket check-out line and you’ll see glossy advertisements touting the clinically-proven “cure” – antioxidant supplements.

Then you go home, turn on the television, and there’s the news reporter citing some prestigious university’s study about how antioxidant supplements actually CAUSE cancer.

What’s going on here? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Well, it all depends on whom you ask and which studies you believe. And even then, it’s still a very tangled web.

By textbook definition, free radicals are atoms or molecules that have one or more unpaired electrons in their outer orbit. In this state, they are highly reactive – and destructive – to everything in their paths.

That sounds understandable if you’re a biochemist, but what does it mean in practical terms? Before we move on, let’s break the whole process down from largest to smallest.

Bioenergetics 101

In the big picture, your body survives by breaking down and assimilating the food you eat.

Carbohydrates are converted to glucose, protein to amino acids, and fat to fatty acids and glycerol.

In these elemental states, they are combustible fuels readily oxidised (burned) by an assembly line of cellular reactions.

The released energy drives the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s internal chemical currency.

Fanning the Flames: Cellular Respiration

Just like wood in a campfire, food must also have adequate oxygen so it can be completely oxidized.

In our cells, the mitochondria are metabolic firepits that must have oxygen to stoke the furnace.

However, sometimes too much oxygen gets sent down the “conveyor belt” forcing it to fall off the assembly line.

When this happens, the “mishandled” oxygen becomes highly volatile, highly reactive, creating what are called free radicals.

They bounce around inside the cell, wreaking havoc on cellular structures, particularly the cell wall.


Sounds nasty, but we have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The truth is, free radicals are a normal part of our body chemistry. In fact, they even have beneficial functions that help keep us healthy.

For example, white blood cells give off free radicals, which attack viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other foreign invaders in order to weaken them enough to be destroyed by our immune system.

You’re probably breathing a sigh of relief.  But before you get too comfortable, remember that too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.  Free radicals must be kept in check by their big brothers: the antioxidants.

Antioxidants to the rescue

Antioxidants encompass a wide range of muscle enzymes and nutrients that “quench” free radicals.

They work by chemically stabilizing the free radicals, effectively stopping their destructive course.

Enzyme antioxidants can be synthesized in the body.

On the other hand, nutritional antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E must be supplied by the diet.

While most people get adequate quantities in their diets (deficiencies are rare in developed nations), it has been observed that even athletes with suboptimal intakes of dietary antioxidants still get enough to adequately protect against free radical damage.

In the sports science arena, considerable research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of antioxidant supplements, over and above our normal dietary intake, on sports performance and muscle damage.

Exercise, Free Radicals, and Antioxidants

We’ve established that free radicals are a normal part of human metabolism. Now take it one step further.

During exercise, oxygen demands can increase 10-15 times resting levels.  This increases oxygen flux through the mitochondria, which also increases free radical production.

Maybe now you’re wondering if exercise has an “evil side.”

The good news is that regular exercise causes an increase in some antioxidant enzymes.

This means the physically conditioned person is more efficient at trapping free radicals and minimizing their damage.

Conversely, the untrained “weekend warrior” has lower antioxidant enzymes and is subject to more damage due to lower radical quenching capacity.

Are antioxidant supplements necessary?

You want to know the bottom line: Will antioxidant supplements stave off free radicals and reduce muscle damage?

There’s plenty of research out there on aerobic endurance athletes, but how does that apply to you if weight lifting is your preferred exercise?

Not much.  As of this writing, few studies have investigated antioxidants and resistance training.

Antioxidant research

High intensity interval training: study 1

In a study by Ortenblad and colleagues at Odense University in Denmark, 16 subjects (8 jump-trained, 8 untrained) performed six bouts of 30 second continuous jumping separated by two-minute rest intervals.

They found that trained exercisers had higher protective muscle antioxidant enzymes and lower levels of creatine kinase (a marker of muscle damage).

Interestingly, there were no significant differences between groups in malondialdehyde levels (a marker of free radical damage on cell membranes).


These results suggest that mechanisms other than free radical generation are responsible for exercise-induced muscle damage.

It also underscores the importance of regular exercise and the body’s ability to adapt and compensate for free radical stressors, independent of taking antioxidant supplements.

This study’s protocol is particularly relevant to exercisers. The metabolic demands of repetitive, high-intensity jumping make it anaerobic (like plyometrics training), thus circumventing oxygen and its cellular assembly line through the mitochondria.

According to Priscilla Clarkson, Ph.D., Professor of Exercise Science at the University of Massachussetts in Amherst, “There are other ways to generate free radicals than just through oxidative metabolism. They can also be generated by lactic acid.”

But this doesn’t mean you need to ease up in the weight room.

“For both resistance and aerobic exercise, I think that the body can naturally take care of what is produced, given that the diet is adequate in antioxidants,” she adds.

High intensity interval training: study 2

In a study by McBride and colleagues at Penn State University’s Noll Physiological Research Center, recreationally weight trained men received 1200 IU of vitamin E followed by three circuits of eight resistance exercises with 2, 1.5, and 1 minute rest periods between each successive circuit.

Creatine kinase levels went up in both groups, but lower amounts were observed in the supplemented group compared to those on the placebo.

Malondialdehyde levels significantly increased in both groups, with no between group differences.

These results also suggest that resistance exercise produces free radicals, and that vitamin E supplementation may help moderate muscle tissue damage.

On the surface, it seems possible that vitamin E supplementation effectively quenches free radicals, which could reduce muscle damage, and hasten your recovery time.   However, there may be more to this than meets the eye.

According to Allan Goldfarb, Ph.D, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, “If you pre-treat athletes with vitamin E (which acts as a membrane stabilizer and antioxidant) and measure creatine kinase in the blood after eccentric exercise, this protein level decreases.

Thus, people have indicated that vitamin E prevents muscle damage and protein leakage. However, these are two separate processes. They have been shown to be independent and, at times, can be separated. So it’s possible to stabilise the membrane to prevent creatine kinase levels from increasing, but still have muscle damage.”


The fly in the ointment

You can selectively quote studies arguing for or against the efficacy of antioxidant supplements. But remember that the results are only as good as the experimental methods employed.

Subjects’ age, training level, exercise modality, intensity, and duration, type of antioxidant administered, and nutritional status are just some examples of factors that can confound research results.

On top of all this, you should know that it is very difficult to accurately measure free radicals or indicators of their damage.

There are a variety of fancy biochemical tests that can be done, some more accurate than others. The caveat is that most of these are indirect measures that force scientists to extrapolate and hypothesize what’s actually happening at the cellular level.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

All this confusion makes you wonder if we should just wipe the slate clean and start over. But there’s no need to be so hasty in our judgment.

We know that exercise induces free radicals and that they must be kept in check.

Regular exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, appears to offer protection against the deleterious effects of free radicals.

Sometimes strenuous exercise produces more free radicals than our bodies can handle. Thus, antioxidant supplements may be warranted in appropriate circumstances.

However, this issue is clouded by considerable variability and limitations in experimental methods and chemical analyses, which leaves us wondering how much merit there is to these recommendations.

Dr. Clarkson sums it up best, “Taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement with no more than the recommended dietary allowance seems a conservative yet prudent approach.  Taking too much may cause more harm than good.”

References

Clarkson, P.M.  (1995) Antioxidants and physical performance.  Critical Review of Food Science and Nutrition.  35(1-2): 131-141. (view article)

Dekkers, J.C., L.J. van Doornen, and H.C. Kemper.  (1996) The role of antioxidant vitamins and enzymes in the prevention of exercise-induced muscle damage.  Sports Medicine.  21(3):  213-238. (view abstract)

Drews, G., A. Wozniak, G. Chesy, A. Rakowski, and B. Wozniak. (1998) Effect of exercise on the activities of selected antioxidant enzymes in the erythrocytes of weightlifters.  Biology of Sport.  15(2):  75-79. (view abstract)

Groff, J.L., S.S. Gropper, and S.M. Hunt.  (1995) Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism.  2nd ed.  Minneapolis, MN:  West Publishing.  pp. 308. (view reference)

Kanter, M.M.  (1994) Free radicals, exercise, and antioxidant supplementation.  International Journal of Sports Nutrition 4: 205-220. (view abstract)

Kanter, M.M. (1998)  Free radicals, exercise, and antioxidant supplementation.  Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.  57(1):  9-13. (view abstract)

Karlsson, J.  (1997) Antioxidants and Exercise.  Champaign, IL:  Human Kinetics.  pp. 31-32. (view reference)

McBride, J.M., W.J. Kraemer, T.Triplett-McBride, and W. Sebastianelli.  (1998) Effect of resistance exercise on free radical production.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.  30(1):  67-72. (view reference)

Ørtenblad, N., K. Madsen, and M.S. Djurhuus.  (1997) Antioxidant status and lipid peroxidation after short-term maximal exercise in trained and untrained humans.  American Journal of Physiology.  272:  R1258-R1263. (view abstract)

Sacheck, J.M. and J.B. Blumberg.  (2001) The role of vitamin E and oxidative stress in exercise.  Nutrition.  (17):  809-814. (view abstract)

Sacheck, J.M., E.A. Decker, and P.M. Clarkson. (2000)  The effect of diet on vitamin E intake and oxidative stress in response to acute exercise in female athletes.  European Journal of Applied Physiology.  83(1):  40-46. (view abstract)

Personal Interviews
Priscilla Clarkson, Ph.D., Professor of Exercise Science at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst

Allan Goldfarb, Ph.D, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of
North Carolina

HMB Supplement Review | Big Claims and Flimsy Evidence

HMB Supplement Review | Big Claims and Flimsy Evidence


I was recently contacted by a well-known strength athlete who receives sponsorship from a nutrition supplement company that specializes in HMB (or β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate). We didn’t actually chat about HMB, but his sponsorship piqued my interest so I decided to research the company and their claims.

Most supplement companies realize that, as an athlete, science is important to you – which is why they often use “science” in their marketing. They also cash in on the emotion and passion you have for your sport. They know you want the most out of your training and that you’ll leave no stone unturned to gain a fair advantage.

Unfortunately, most of the time you’re being exploited. I’d like to share with you my experience about this company in hopes that it will make you wiser about the game being played with your passion for sport – and your wallet.

What is HMB?

In brief, HMB is a metabolite of the essential amino acid leucine. Both leucine and HMB have certain properties which might benefit strength athletes. Specifically as it relates to HMB, it’s been touted to be:

  • anti-catabolic
  • lipolytic
  • able to assist in strength and muscle gain
  • an aid in recovery from exercise

There is some evidence for this, but it’s far from conclusive.

Stretching the Truth 

Part of the problem is that many of the supposed athletic benefits are based on extrapolations and deductions from indirect measures in studies conducted on both animal carcasses and human subjects. For example, HMB is thought to be metabolized to β-hydroxy-β-methylglutaryl-CoA, which can provide a readily available carbon source for cholesterol synthesis which, in turn, provides precursors for muscle growth.

But is that sufficient to conclude that, if you lift weights and take HMB, you’ll end up with significantly larger muscles than from training alone? You can see how this is a bit of a stretch.

Just because a substance is involved in certain biochemical pathways related to muscle growth doesn’t automatically mean your strength and size will go through the roof if you take it as a supplement. After all, water is an essential nutrient, yet nobody would believe drinking more water before training will increase your power clean by 50 pounds (23 kg).


Misleading claims?

On the company website, they make claims that HMB improves “strength, endurance, and recovery.” They also claim they’re all about “science instead of hype” and then go on to cite research with their own brief summaries. From what I could tell, all of these research summaries were positive.

And that’s when I got curious…

The Science

From my previous investigations into HMB, I remembered that the research was equivocal on many training outcomes.  In other words, some studies showed benefits while others didn’t. Why then, if this company was so dedicated to science, did they cherry pick studies with positive results?

As a first step, I did a quick search of the scientific literature to refamiliarize myself with the latest findings. But they’re still not in agreement on whether HMB improves performance.

Before you assume that science is just smoke and mirrors, you must understand that study findings don’t always agree due to differences in research methods. For example, if you compare men to women, trained athletes vs sedentary couch potatoes, an upper vs lower body exercise, or taking a supplement for seven days vs. seven weeks, you’ll end up with conflicting results. It is for this very reason that results must be carefully considered and put into context for practical use.

Anyway, my next step was to look at some of the research the company claims to be proof that HMB will increase performance. Here’s an example of one of their cited references.

Company summary
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined HMB supplementation in young male and female elite volleyball players for 7 wks. HMB supplementation resulted in improved body composition and significantly increased strength, while also decreasing fat mass percentage. HMB supplementation also increased peak and mean anaerobic power.  No changes in hormones or inflammatory mediators were seen in this study (Portal et al).


Inconvenient truths

Sounds good, but when I looked at the actual study, a rather different picture emerged. First, the subjects were adolescents, as young as 13. That’s a huge red flag because there’s an abundance of studies showing that adolescents respond to training and supplements quite differently than adults (i.e., hormonal variations etc). Besides, can you really compare a 14-year old girl’s physiological response to that of a 36-year old male strength athlete?

Methodological limitations and applications

Next, the researchers used skinfold thickness to determine changes in fat-free mass (i.e., gains/losses in muscle mass). That method, however, isn’t the most accurate way to measure changes in muscle mass, especially in athletes and young people. In fact, of the various formulas available, error rates can be as high as nearly 4%.

Consider that the placebo group showed changes ranging between 56.4 kg to 56.3 kg vs. 59.3 kg to 61.6 kg for the HMB group. Though the experimental group showed statistically significant gains in muscle, in only considering the approximate 4% error rate for the formula, you end up with around 4.5 pounds (~2kg) worth of error.

Since we’re talking about approximate error rates, and not even considering all sources of error for this method, evidence for changes in fat-free mass in this study due to HMB supplementation are pretty flimsy.

But what about strength? That’s even more interesting. The researchers found that the HMB group significantly increased their strength more than the placebo group, but only in knee flexion (i.e., leg curls). There were no improvements in knee extensions, biceps curls, or triceps extension.

Based on this, how can anyone claim that HMB will make you stronger? Also consider that strength was measured isokinetically. This means that equipment was used in which the speed of movement is held constant. In this case, rep speed was measured at 180 and 60 degrees per second. Of course, any exercise you perform in the gym or competition isn’t isokinetic, it’s dynamic in that the speed of movement changes throughout the range of motion.  So clearly, it’s difficult to generalize from an isokinetic single-joint leg curl to a multi-joint dynamic squat.

You don’t have to dismiss the science because they used isokinetics to measure strength. For the purpose of conducting controlled research, it’s necessary that study participants perform the exercises in exactly the same way to minimise error in the experimental protocols.

If any of this upsets you, your complaints should be directed towards the supplement company for misleading claims and promoting false hope.

The research team also looked at peak and average anaerobic power via a cycle ergometer. Though HMB led to a significantly greater increase in peak and mean anaerobic power (via Wingate test), no significant differences between groups were observed in fatigue, aerobic fitness, or on anabolic, catabolic, and inflammatory biomarkers. Thus, there does not appear to be any mechanistic explanation for these findings.

In short, you can’t conclude on the back of this study that HMB will increase strength in adults. The authors of this study discussed the various limitations of their work but the company conveniently left this out of their summary and grossly exaggerated the study findings.


A shady industry

You might want to know the supplement company’s name, but I’m not going to give it. Why? Because what I shared with you is common in the supplement industry. This particular company isn’t any worse than the rest and their name is irrelevant. The point is, you can’t trust them, even if they throw around words like “science” and “clinically proven.”

Even if the company employs scientists, that’s no guarantee either. Last year, I shined the spotlight how on a company that produces mouthpieces with claims it could increase strength actually misrepresented what their scientists said.

Are these companies purposely lying to you? I can’t say for certain, but there is no question that they purposely hype their products to drive sales.

Take home message

My personal opinion is that you’d get more out of your training by focusing on maintaining a scientific approach instead of relying on supplements with a flimsy evidence base. A recent meta analysis concluded that improvements from HMB in trained athletes were trivial.

Here’s the bottom line: train your muscles but don’t forget to train your brain. When it comes to supplements, critical thinking and a healthy dose of skepticism go a long way in keeping you from wasting your time and money.

References

  1. Nissen, S., et al. Effect of leucine metabolite β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate on muscle metabolism during resistance-exercise training. Journal of Applied Physiology 81:2095-2104, 1996. (view abstract)
  2. Portal S., et al. The effect of HMB supplementation on body composition, fitness, hormonal and inflammatory mediators in elite adolescent volleyball players: a prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 111(9):2261-2269, 2011. (view abstract)
  3. Rowlands, D.S. and J.S. Thomson. Effects of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate supplementation during resistance training on strength, body composition, and muscle damage in trained and untrained young men: a meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  23(3):836-846, 2009. (view abstract)
  4. Slater, G.J. and D. Jenkins. β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate supplementation and the promotion of muscle growth and strength. Sports Medicine.  30:105-116, 2000. (view abstract)
LifePharm Global Laminine: Independent Review of Marketing Claims

LifePharm Global Laminine: Independent Review of Marketing Claims


LifePharm Global’s Laminine dietary supplement popped onto my consumer advocacy radar back in 2011 when I received a new Twitter follower whose profile referenced some sort of happy pill.

I did a bit of sleuthing which led me to an egg protein pill and, after further investigation, I located what appeared to be ground zero:  LifePharm Global.

Laminine is a multi-level marketing (network marketing) product which appears to be sold mainly in the United States, Canada, and the Philippines, but also briefly made the rounds in the Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and even Russia and Kazakhstan.

Over the past few years, however, interest in the product has dwindled to a tiny trickle, as indicated by these Google Trends reports for the United States and the Philippines.

laminine united states

Laminine Philippines

* Related article: Debunking Althea Laminine distributor’s attempt to “debunk” this article.

Lofty marketing claims

According to LifePharm’s official website, Laminine is a combined amino acid, vitamin, and mineral dietary supplement which purportedly contains the “life essence of a nine day-old fertilized avian (hen) egg,” apparently important because “all the necessary life-giving ingredients to create life are at their highest levels” on the ninth day.  LifePharm’s website marketing copy claims that Laminine is a “perfect super-supplement” which is “far from a mythical tale.”

The company claims its extraction and freeze drying techniques “rediscovered by Norwegian scientists” are “patented” and the “amount of clinical studies and research…had yielded nothing less than stunning results.”

Unfortunately, much of this appears to be little more than a lot of hot air and egregious marketing embellishment eerily similar to that used to sell Liproxenol.

There have been numerous attempts by product distributors to debunk this article, but unfortunately they are just parroting back much of the same regurgitated sales copy and are unable to provide any hard evidence to support all marketing claims.

On October 22, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines named Laminine in an advisory statement warning the public about deceptive food supplement marketing tactics on television.

On December 14, 2014, TruthInAdvertising.org called out Laminine on its “hatched up health claims.”

Within the Lifepharm organisation, their Research Scientist Dr Edward Andujar has previously had his medical license suspended for two years in 2002 for running an unregistered narcotics treatment program. In 2004, he was convicted of bankruptcy fraud and 22 counts of failure to file tax returns for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison (and was upheld on appeal).


Ingredients

Laminine’s ingredient list names the OPT9 Proprietary Blend (620 mg)  which is comprised of:

  • Fertilized avian egg extract – protein from a hen egg like you’d buy at your local supermarket.
  • Marine protein – no mention if this is from marine plant or animal sources.  It would be helpful for the company to list a breakdown of the product’s specific nutrient profile.
  • Phyto protein – plant protein  (phyto means plant). The label provides no further details about which plants or their relative nutritive values.

Other ingredients for product stability and freshness:

  • Vegetable gelatin – thickening, stabilizing agent
  • Silicon dioxide – anti-caking agent to prevent ingredients from absorbing moisture and clumping together
  • Magnesium stearate – often used as a lubricant to prevent supplement contents from sticking to the machinery that processes them.

Without a specific, standardised list of ingredients, it is difficult to know what active ingredients might plausibly be associated with specific health claims.

Inconvenient truths that LifePharm doesn’t want you to know

I’ve been doing consumer health advocacy writing for over 17 years and, based on my observations, I think Laminine ranks among some of the most overblown marketing hype I’ve seen for a dietary supplement.

The promotional website is littered with a massive volume of basic nutrition and physiology facts meticulously interwoven with pseudoscientific marketing jargon.

The end result: the company stops short of making any overtly false claims but appears to lead consumers down a path which implies it is a clinically proven product. Legal yes, but is it ethical?

Brilliant business plan: never let the inconvenient truth get in the way of a good marketing plan or profit.

Therefore, the aim of this article is to provide consumers with the other side of the story, the one that LifePharm Global has not freely disclosed to the public.

After thoroughly evaluating the entire website, my biggest challenge is addressing the sheer number of misleading and confusing statements.

I will therefore try to be as systematic as possible for ease of understanding and focus on the most glaring claims.

But before I do that, I’ll need to preface my comments with the following:

Testimonials and why you can’t trust them

“But Dr. Bill, I TRIED Laminine and it WORKED for me!  Are you calling me a liar?”

Actually, no, I don’t think you’re lying at all, but you may very well be mistaken.

I genuinely believe that you believe it worked for you.  However, from a scientist’s perspective, personal testimonials are not always trustworthy.

Consider the following (please read carefully):

  1. Testimonials do not differentiate between cause and effect or coincidence.   Because two things happen at the same time (coincide) does not mean one caused the other.  For example, let’s say you decided to take Laminine because you’ve been feeling tired and worn out, but at the same time you also started eating better and going out for evening walks.  There is a tremendous amount of scientific evidence to support that eating right and exercising will improve health and give you energy.   You may be inclined to believe that it was the product that made you feel better, but if you didn’t give ample credit to the healthy food and exercise, then you’re missing the big picture.
  2. Whether or not you did anything else while taking Laminine, there are other extraneous circumstances which might explain why you feel better.  The DESIRE to feel better can be VERY powerful.  The INTENTION to feel better can exert a strong mind-body effect.  If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, then you’re taking Laminine with the INTENTION of feeling better.  When I look at the testimonials that litter the internet, most are from people (many selling the product) who tell a similar story – “I was tired, sick, overweight, out of energy, etc but then I started taking Laminine and my depression was cured in three days.”   Seriously, I did see a testimonial from someone that said their depression was cured in three days.  But true organic depression does not disappear in this short a time frame which clearly made me very suspect.
  3. When we carry out a scientific study on something like a supplement, we need VERY strict controls to make sure that the effect, if any, is due to the product itself and not other variables such as eating healthy, exercising, becoming more social, etc.  Testimonials do not control for all these factors and therefore, from a science-based perspective, are unreliable.
  4. “But Dr. Bill, have you TRIED Laminine?” Answer:  No. “Ah HA! But how can you write a review when you haven’t tried it?”  Because I’m human like everyone else and I can’t tell any more than the rest of you if any effect (positive or negative) is due to Laminine, my imagination, my expectations, my hectic work schedule, my diet, my exercise regimen, stress levels, etc.   A testimonial is just my opinion, your opinion, or the next guy’s opinion.  It is not irrefutable evidence.
  5. All the above aside, the fact remains that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support all of LifePharm’s marketing claims.  If you want to believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, that is your prerogative, but for me, personally, I like to see a legitimate body of evidence for products.
  6. If you’re on the sales end of things, maybe you know people like to be misled and that you can make a buck hawking dietary supplements to the weary and unsuspecting.  Whether it works or not is irrelevant.  There are plenty of sheep out there who will buy it because you say it works, but then it becomes a question of ethics.

Laminine on PBS’ American Health Journal

In July 2012, Laminine was a featured topic on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) show American Health Journal.  This episode has been plastered across the internet by Laminine distributors as evidence that the product works.

As I watched the half-hour segment, I cringed as I realised the episode played out more like a for-profit infomercial than independent scientific reporting.  Many, if not all, of the experts they interviewed appeared to be affiliated with the company which, by default, would constitute a conflict of interest.

There were numerous testimonials, but they did not really give any hard evidence of product efficacy from independent researchers. Moreover, they had LifePharm company directors telling the camera how great their product was. Well of course.  What else are they going to say?

I also noted that a number of the interviewees had a promotional website address listed below their names. When I went to the site, I found it gave only two options:  one icon to click and buy the product and the other to plug in your details so someone could contact you (a salesperson, I’d guess).

Overall, I give the American Health Journal a big thumbs down for overblown and biased “reporting.”  This episode is not evidence of efficacy, but appears more like good sales copy.


Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) listing

Product distributors have been claiming that their listing in the PDR proves the supplement works. If you are an astute observer with a modicum of science research training, you will see that this listing really isn’t worth much – at all.

There are two main elements to the PDR listing:

  1. the scientific article reference list at the end; and
  2. the in text “research articles” on blood sugars and cholesterol

First, I’ll address the scientific articles the company lists “evidence.” If you actually take the time (as I did) to chase down these articles, you will see for yourself that they are legitimate articles about fibroblast growth factor, but actually have ZERO connection whatsoever to the commercial products being sold to consumers.  It adds fluff to the listing but no substance.

Second, the “research articles” in the listing are flawed and incomplete on a number of levels such that they should not be making any conclusions from these “studies.”

  1. Both studies had a VERY small number of subjects in each group. In the sugar study, there were 11 subjects in total or 3, 4, and 4 subjects per group.  In the cholesterol study, there were 15 subjects or 5 in each group.  Both of these studies would likely be very underpowered, meaning the number of subjects were too few and the results could be due to random variation rather than the intervention itself.
  2. Following on from point 1 above, the authors of the PDR listing even state the limitations in their discussion of the cholesterol study “A study of this size has an estimated margin of error of approximately 30 percent. Therefore, while the results of this study are encouraging, additional tests with a larger sample size are needed to validate the findings.”
  3. There is no mention of how subjects were allocated to each group (called randomisation in research parlance).
  4. There was no mention of the analyses and which assays they used, coefficients of variation and all other things expected in a research write up.
  5. They did not appear to control for other covariates such as diet and exercise.  Without fully controlling for all other factors that can affect blood sugar and cholesterol, how do they know the results were due to Laminine and not some other variable, especially in underpowered studies with such few participants in each group?
  6. In the cholesterol study, they used subjective questions where subjects “were asked to rate improvement in their joints, memory, skin, sexual drive, muscle tone and strength, stress levels, sleep and emotional wellbeing.”

In all, I find the PDR listing to be a lot of hot air and no substance.  If you’re a distributor, please show the PDR to a science research professor at your local university and ask them for their honest opinion about the scientific integrity of the Laminine listing.  I can tell you with reasonable confidence they will agree with my assessment.

Categorical review of marketing claims

Claim

“LAMININE provides the most essential proteins and amino acids our body needs, along with the proper transport mechanisms to direct these nutritional building blocks to where our body needs it the most.”

Analysis

This claim is misleading.  I am not familiar with any objective evidence that nutrients can be “steered” to specific locations in the body via normal digestion.  I would like to see LifePharm’s independent support for this claim.  My search of the biomedical journal databases did not produce a single result for Laminine and/or its ability to “direct” nutrients in the body.

Laminine is comprised of “essential proteins and amino acids,” the same as those found in an ordinary piece of meat, fish, or poultry from your local supermarket.  The “proper transport mechanisms” to direct these nutritional building blocks to “where our bodies need it the most” are already innately built in to our physiology.

In short, if you eat any protein source, your body will digest it down to its component amino acids (protein’s building blocks), absorb them in the intestines, and then shuttle them off normally in the blood stream to areas they’re needed.  No special bioengineering required.


Claim

“Laminine is a natural, synergistic super food… Laminine is nature’s most perfect food and the perfect combination of life-giving sustenance sourced from land, sea and plant.”

Analysis

This is a classic case of “if you can’t convince ‘em, confuse ‘em with meaningless pseudoscientific jargon.  The following marketing terms are misleading and have no real qualitative or quantitative value:

1) “Natural” – this term has been used repeatedly over the years (with much success) to spruik dietary supplements.  The assumption is that if it’s “natural” then it must be safe and effective.  Unfortunately, lots of “natural” substances can be quite harmful (i.e., rattlesnake venom, hemlock, arsenic, or even water if you drink enough of it!). Moreover, “natural” does not necessarily translate to efficacious.

2) “Synergistic super food” – this is just ambiguous marketing jargon which has no practical meaning.  What exactly do they mean by “synergistic?”  And how exactly IS a super food quantified?  As of this writing, I am unaware of any independent “superfood” classification criteria.

More relevant yet, one single food or supplement is only a minor part of our overall diet, and our overall diet is one piece of the broader lifestyle puzzle.  You can eat all the “super foods” you want, but if you’re smoking, drinking too much, and doing zero physical activity (i.e., desk job), then the possible benefits of a so-called “super food” would likely be negated by the sum of all the bad habits.

3) “Nature’s most perfect food….perfect combination of life-giving sustenance” – This is more marketing puffery.  What exactly IS a perfect food anyway? How is this defined and quantified?

Supplement companies are notorious for propping up their marketing campaigns using ambiguous jargon which is difficult to quantify or verify.  This may elevate the product in consumers’ minds but, in reality, it holds little tangible relevance from a scientific perspective.


Claim

“Laminine…contains most known vitamins, important trace minerals, all eight essential amino acids”

Analysis

This claim celebrates the mundane and ordinary.  A varied diet which contains a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources (meat, fish, poultry) will also give you the exact same vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids, plus valuable health promoting phytochemicals.  Therefore, a reasonably sensible diet would also classify as “natural synergistic superfoods” – giving you the same results and without the added expense of costly supplements.


Claim

8 clinical tests have been conducted which showed Laminine’s positive effects on Physical, Mental, Emotional Strengths and Overall Health”

Analysis

I believe this claim to be more marketing hoodwinking because a “clinical test” in advertising parlance is not a well-defined or regulated phrase and can therefore be interpreted to mean anything to anyone.

A search of the scientific journal article databases (PubMed etc) did not produce one single published study on Laminine.  The company claims “8 clinical tests” but we have absolutely no indication if they were conducted by independent scientists, evaluated for methodological rigor (i.e., minimize bias), or that they were even published in a scientific journal for public review.  I challenge LifePharm to provide information on their clinical tests for independent review.


Claim

“So, can your life use a change? Can you use more stamina? How about an incredibly positive outlook on life? A new feeling of wanting to affect every area of your life…you simply have to try Laminine TODAY.”

Analysis

More unquantifiable LifePharm ambiguity.  Sure, we could all use a “change.”  Sure we could all use more “stamina.”  We’d all love a “positive outlook on life.”  But remember, these terms mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Again, this product contains all the same basic nutrients you can easily get in a normal diet which negates the need for additional supplementation.



Claim

“…partially incubated, fertilized hen eggs contained a special combination of amino acids, peptides, and protein fractions that could help provide an incredible array of health benefits when consumed by humans.”

Analysis

It is true – eating eggs provides nourishment.  However, this claim appears to be celebrating and embellishing the ordinary.

Notice the loose choice of wording, “…protein fractions that ‘could’ help provide an incredible array of health benefits…”   Translation: there is a chance it ‘could’ or it ‘could not’ provide some unspecified ‘health benefits.’  Just more ambiguity.  To which specific health benefits is the company referring?


Claim

“In theory, these partially incubated, fertilized eggs – specifically 9-day-old fertilized eggs, contain all the nutrients required to start a new life. This includes vitamins, minerals and proteins, as well as important defense factors, growth factors, hormones and other biologically active components.”

Analysis

Yet again, this is just more celebrating the unremarkable and ordinary (i.e., you’re simply eating a hen’s egg). More specifically, I am unaware of any peer-reviewed scientific evidence which supports the contention that the most nutritious eggs are specifically 9 days old.  Why not 7, 8 or 10 days?  I challenge LifePharm to provide independent evidence in support of this claim.

LifePharm mentions that Laminine contains defense factors, growth factors, hormones and other biologically active components.  While these substances may prove useful for the chicken’s own development during incubation inside the egg, when ingested by humans they would be broken down by stomach acid like any other protein source and would likely have no physiological effect as their original constituents.


Claim

“A patented process extracts the critical nutritional fluid from the white of an egg at the protoembryonic stage, so we called it ProtoEmbryonic Stage Extract (PESE).  The extract not only provided a mechanism of rapid transport of very critical nutrients, but also contained Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor, which is most probably responsible for the amino acids and peptides to be utilized in the right manner, by “directing” their correct use by the body.”

Analysis

A search of the medical article databases for Proto-Embryonic Stage Extract (PESE) revealed no search results for these terms.  A search of Google Scholar only produced two results, both of which were just US patent applications.  Unfortunately, a patent application does not provide any scientific validation to justify marketing claims.  If the company can provide independent evidence that PESE has specific actions and benefits within the body, I will happily consider it and publish it here.

The company’s claim that it can direct the use of nutrients in the body does not appear to have been independently verified as of this writing and, as such, appears to be speculation and conjecture.  However, recall above where I mentioned that the body is quite efficient on its own at digesting the nutrients we consume and shuttling them off to where they’re needed.


Claim

Laminine for Mood Enhancement and Reduced Depression?
“Depression is caused by many external factors, including stress. In the brain, the serotonin uptake and release mechanism is affected. Laminine contains the amino acid Lysine; derived from PESE and vegetable proteins. The combination of these two components delivers a higher level of Lysine in the OPT9 than either ingredient would by itself. Lysine is known to regulate serotonin levels in the brain.”

Analysis

This is a case of misleading cause and effect associations.  For example, here the Laminine marketing script says that 1) depression is associated with serotonin levels; 2) Laminine contains the amino acid lysine; and 3) lysine is known to regulate serotonin levels in the brain.

All of the above is technically “true,” but it gives me the faulty impression that taking this product will improve depression. To the best of my knowledge, I have not come across any independent evidence to support the idea that the product has an effect on depression.

LifePharm goes on to state that “clinical studies have shown that Laminine may be beneficial in enhancing libido among those taking anti-depressants” but my search of the clinical trials databases did not reveal a single result to this end.

The company later states that “many people taking Laminine report a pronounced improvement in their mood and an increased ability to manage stress on a daily basis.”  This is more emotive sales copy.  It is based on an anecdotal testimonial data and is not part of a tightly controlled scientific experiment.  Amusing, but not independent evidence of efficacy.


Claim

Laminine Enhances Cardiovascular and Libido?
“The PESE and Vegetable proteins provide a very potent dose of Arginine.  Arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide and plays a vital role in a variety of biological processes. The inner lining of blood vessels uses nitric oxide to signal the surrounding smooth muscle to relax, thus resulting in increased blood flow. Effects include modulation of the hair cycle, and increased libido. Nitric oxide is also known for growth hormone formation, increasing defense of the organs against effects of aging.”

Analysis

This claim is misleading because it’s not a claim at all. Rather, it is a statement of two facts which may lead consumers to draw faulty conclusions in their own mind: 1) It may be true that PESE and vegetable proteins contain arginine; and 2) it is involved in nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation (increasing blood vessel diameter).  The assumption here is that because this product contains arginine that it will lead to enhanced libido and cardiovascular function.

To the best of my knowledge, I am unaware of any published independent scientific studies that Laminine can improve libido, cardiovascular function, or defend organs against the effects of aging.


Claim

Laminine Removes Toxins?
“PESE contains Cysteine, which is a precursor to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, receiving much attention nowadays for healthier looking skin.  Antioxidants fight free radicals, harmful compounds in the body that damage cell membranes and DNA. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet light, radiation, cigarette smoking, and air pollution) can increase the number of these damaging particles. Free radicals are believed to play a role in aging as well as the development of a number of health problems, including heart disease and cancer.”

Analysis

It may be technically true that PESE contains cysteine and that this amino acid is involved as a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione.  As with nearly all of the other Laminine claims, this one is another misleading melange of words which lead to faulty extrapolations of efficacy in the minds of consumers.

To the best of my knowledge, I have not seen a single published independent scientific study which shows Laminine can protect against free-radical induced heart disease and cancer.

Does it work?

There are numerous weepy and emphatic testimonials scattered across the internet with people declaring Laminine worked miracles, changed their lives, and helped their dog sleep better, but this must be taken with a grain of salt given that it is a multi-level marketing product heavily promoted by LifePharm distributors.

Anecdotal testimonials may appear truthful and heart-felt and many users may in fact believe it helped them, but just the intention to improve can be enough to give the impression it “worked.”  Dr. Christian Thoma authored an interesting article on the placebo effect.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen dozens of network marketing companies just like LifePharm pop up, produce an army of distributors all claiming their product is the best ever, and then once the product runs its life-cycle and goes on the downslide, they pack up shop and move onto the next big thing.e

Side effects: is it safe? 

I am unaware of any consumer reports of significant adverse effects from taking Laminine.  Given that it is just an amino acid, vitamin/mineral supplement, I can’t imagine it would have much of a pharmacological effect in the body of a well-nourished individual.  One woman on RipOffReport.com claimed it gave her hot flashes but, in all fairness, this is a testimonial too and there is no way to determine if it was the product or something else that caused this.

Consumer complaints

The bulk of information on the internet and social media appears to be driven by its independent sales distributors which appear to crowd out complaints from the search rankings.  However, the few consumer complaints that have appeared showed up on RipOffReport.com and ComplaintsBoard.com, with the latter referring to possible improprieties regarding cancelling his membership before the 30-day trial.  A number of other comments, good and bad, appear in a bulletin board-style forum.

How much does it cost?

I performed an internet search to find out how much Laminine costs and where consumers can buy it.  I noticed a rather large disparity in prices which might be due to the fact that it’s a multi-level marketing product and perhaps its distributors are able to sell it retail for whatever they want.

One website had a Laminine 3 Pack on offer for $108 plus $8.95 shipping and handling, the Family Pack Plus for $320 plus $21 S&H, and finally the Fast Start Package which also looks to be a business builder package (become a distributor) for $1035 plus $36 S&H.

According to promotional literature on the LifePharm website, the direct wholesale cost if you become a distributor is $33 per box and this can be on-sold via retail for $43.

I won’t say that Laminine is an MLM scam, but I do think you should do your homework before investing in any MLM “business opportunity.”  For more information on whether joining a multi-level marketing company is right for you, visit: http://www.mlmwatch.org

How to get a refund

Consumer reports regarding refunds suggest that in order to get a refund, you must ship back the empty containers to the company at your own expense for $3.31.  There are also reports that a call center is uses to address customer service issues which means they can only follow the protocol they’re given (and probably not offer much else regarding health questions).

Conclusion

Overall, I find Laminine to be nothing more than a simple amino acid, vitamin, and mineral supplement, all of which are readily available in a standard diet.  The carefully orchestrated mix of invented jargon and scientific facts stops short of making overtly false claims, but may lead consumers to make faulty extrapolations of efficacy which are not substantiated by independent scientific evidence.  In conclusion, I would discourage consumers from purchasing Laminine or recommending it to others.

What do you think about Laminine?  Please comment below.

The rules: please keep your tone civil and stick to the issues at hand.  Comments that include personal attacks from hateful anonymous trolls and which do not provide a valid email address nor add anything constructive to the topic will be marked as spam and deleted.  Thank you for your understanding.

Calorad Collagen Supplement Review 2016

Calorad Collagen Supplement Review 2016

Calorad collagen supplements stormed onto the scene around the mid to late 1990s with claims that you can “lose weight while you sleep.” They have since moved away from this and now make claims that it can help you improve your shape and sculpt your body.

The currently active website for Calorad (calorad.com) claims that the products is “known internationally” and is “sold in many industrialized countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Poland and others.”

But as of February 2016, it appears few people are actually searching for it on Google, returning less than 100,000 results for the term “Calorad.” A promotional video on YouTube only has 1900 page views in two and a half years. Not quite the supplement juggernaut it once was.

Interestingly, Calorad does seem to be enjoying a bit of a resurgence in Nigeria. In fact, this article receives most of its views from the small West African nation, which makes sense given the Calorad Nigeria Facebook page has over 14,000 subscribers.


Calorad marketing claims

The company website claims that Calorad is a “major phenomenon” with “millions of users” and that it:

  • “is the most powerful protein supplement in the world market”
  • “is an amazing powerful body sculpting and health supplement”
  • “provides a perfect chain of amino acids to support your body in many critical areas including fat loss, rebuilding lean muscle, restoring the body’s collagen base, and providing balance to the metabolism.
  • “will improve your sleep”
  • “helps you attain your ideal shape”
  • “gives you more energy and make you feel great”
  • “will help you achieve your goal of total well-being of body and mind”

That sounds like a pretty impressive list, but is there any evidence that supports these claims?

In a word: no.

As I’ll discuss below, there is interest in the scientific community about the therapeutic use of collagen for arthritis sufferers, but nothing that supports lofty claims of enhanced weight loss.

Calorad research rundown

There is a Wikipedia page which provides a few references for collagen hydrolysate, but none of these directly support marketing claims around weight loss and muscle gain.

One reference suggests that cartilage-derived type II collagen can help relieve arthritis pain, but it is not clear whether or not Calorad was used in the study.

Another study suggests that collagen hydrolysate can help improve symptoms of fibromyalgia with concurrent temporomandibular joint problems, but as there are a number of collagen-type supplements on the market, it is not known if Calorad was used in this study.

There are other reports here and here which are cited on the wikipedia page, but these references do not support claims for weight loss, muscle gain, energy levels, improved sleep, etc.

The bottom line is that the main marketing claims for Calorad appear to be embellished hot air with no clinically proven substance.

Calorad testimonials

The company also lists a number of anecdotal testimonials claiming that (of course) Calorad is great. Whilst I have no doubt that people can lose weight at the same time they’re taking the product, this does not mean that the product caused the said results.

One of the main limitations of testimonials is that they do not separate cause and effect from coincidence.  For example, if someone started using Calorad at the same time they started eating healthier and exercising, then they would have lost weight and felt healthier anyway. But many people might erroneously attribute their results to the product with no consideration for all the hard work they did with their diet and exercise.

What are Calorad’s ingredients?  

Calorad’s ingredients are actually quite basic and, in practical terms, make it nothing more than an expensive protein supplement

The ingredients include:

Collagen hydrolysate

Hydrolysed collagen is nothing more than degraded protein (collagen is a bodily protein). Why not eat an egg or a slice of chicken, or a can of tuna for $1.39?  The source of the collagen appears to be of both marine and bovine sources, but there is limited disclosure across the variety of Calorad websites.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera exerts a laxative effect that can cause gastrointestinal upset in some individuals. Frequent trips to the toilet certainly could cause “weight loss” on the scale, but this would not do much in the fat loss department.

Glycerin

Glycerin is probably used as a mild sweetener, as many users have mentioned Calorad’s off-taste.

Potassium sorbate, methyl paraben, sodium benzoate

Nothing more than preservatives to keep the collagen from spoiling.

Water and natural lemonade and orange flavour

Just a couple of extras for flavour and volume, but would hardly have any effect in the body.

Citric acid

Citric acid is just the natural acid from a lemon. It is used in products as a preservative.

The bottom line on Calorad’s ingredients: There doesn’t appear to be anything magic here. All of these nutrients can easily be found in food that we already eat on a daily basis.

calorad review

Does Calorad work for weight loss?  

It is probable that the said weight loss associated with Calorad stems from the fact that you’re not supposed to eat anything before bed – three hours to be exact. Then you’re supposed to take Calorad on an empty stomach right before going to sleep and watch the weight melt away.

Enter critical thinking here: Let’s say you were previously eating 2500 calories per day, and hypothetically, 500 of those calories were regularly consumed within three hours before bed. So now you’re replacing those 500 calories with 14 calories worth of Calorad, for a deficit of 486 calories per day.


Considering about 3500 calories per pound of fat (half kg), we estimate that 486 calories (round up to 500 for simplicity purposes) multiplied by 7 days per week equals 3500 calories extra that are not being consumed.

This alone would constitute a pound of fat (half kg) per week. Add in exercise and the caloric deficit would be larger, consequently leading to greater weight loss.

No magic here, just elementary arithmetic. If you eat less that what our bodies need, you lose weight. You can save that extra money you were going to spend on Calorad and instead spend it on fruits and veggies at the supermarket.

Can Calorad increase muscle mass?

Believe it or not, claims persist that Calorad will actually increase muscle mass. Irrespective of what is claimed, muscle does not just spontaneously develop from consuming of a protein supplement.

To take this one step further, you could inject yourself with anabolic steroids (not that I advocate that) and not gain an gram of muscle unless you add in some heavy resistance training. Bottom line: it’s quite unlikely that taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements will cause an increase in lean body mass unless you do the hard work.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, consuming protein while lowering calories can help minimise muscle loss associated with its breakdown for use in gluconeogenesis (forming glucose from not carbohydrate sources).

But even so, this would not cause an increase in lean body mass. In this case, the burden of proof is on the company to provide legitimate evidence that it can, in fact, INCREASE lean body mass, and consequently the metabolic rate.

If you’re selling Calorad, then you should be able to provide evidence that the product can support muscle growth. To date, no research exists to support this claim.


Calorad reviews

To the best of my knowledge, there are no other independent and unbiased reviews on the internet that do not have an ulterior marketing motive.  I would advise you to be wary of other reviews that are selling the product or slamming Calorad but then offering their own products.

How can I contact the company that makes Calorad?

If you need to get in touch with the company, there is an email and physical address, though I had to do a bit of digging through the website to find them.

Corporation Santé Naturelle Carpe Diem Inc.
470, boul. Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier, Suite 103
Mont-Saint-Hilaire
Québec  Canada J3H 6K3

Carpe Diem Customer Relations: info <at> corporationcarpediem.com

Does Calorad work?  The verdict

Before you take out your credit card and start typing in your digits, let’s quickly review the facts.

First, the company makes some very lofty claims and has nothing to support them other than a few testimonials and a “take our word for it.”

Second, there does not appear to be anything in the product that has been shown to cause fat loss or muscle gain.

Third, the testimonials on the company website are not evidence that the product does what they say.

The bottom line is that Calorad appears to be an expensive protein supplement with no body of scientific evidence supporting marketing claims.