A Plethora of Updates

Ginkgo, iodine, sesamin, and more

Written by Kamal Patel
Last Updated:

Ginkgo Biloba is well known as a cognitive enhancer, and is perhaps the world's most famous nootropic. It has a plethora of studies on its effects and mechanisms of actions, but (at least for the brain) its benefits can be summed up as 'a potential good choice as a bandaid for cognitive decline'. It doesn't seem curative, although there is some benefit associated with supplementation, and this does not necessarily extend to youth trying to use something for cognitive enhancement.

Other benefits of ginkgo include ocular health (increasing blood flow to the eyes without causing an increase in intraocular blood pressure) and an unreliable yet pretty notable reduction in symptoms of acute mountain sickness. Topical application of ginkgo flavonoids (at a modest 0.3%) may also greatly increase moisture content of the skin, but there is not much evidence for that claim; mostly everything else is either a general antioxidant effect or not really significant.

Iodine has been added to the vitamin and mineral database, and while it is indeed an interesting page to read, there is not much supplemental usage for it. There is a perfect storm of events that must occur for supplementation to be a good idea, and the chance of this perfect storm occurring is quite small (ie. a vegetarian or vegan pregnant women who actively avoids salting their food and does not consume seaweed). Iodine supplementation does not increase the metabolic rate of thyroid hormones despite being used to make them; if anything, there is an acute suppression of thyroid hormones with high doses of iodine.

Moringa oleifera is an up and coming supplement due to its 'antioxidant' properties, and it has a collection of molecules with a structural similarity to sulforaphane and actually has a paracetamol content (probably too small to matter). There are a few promising avenues with moringa including its antiinflammatory effects and interactions with colon cancer, but at this moment it cannot be recommended as a supplement. Despite marketing claims, moringa does have a toxicity level to it when overconsumed, and may also be an abortifacient (causes abortion).

Rooibos is a tea from Africa that is rising in popularity due to its pleasant taste and antioxidant content. Similar to moringa, however, it seems that the antioxidant properties have been mostly overhyped since the main bioactive is not well absorbed from the intestines. Interestingly, rooibos is one of the few plants that is healthier when not fermented (ie. green rooibos) but even then it is a very small health boost.

Sesamin has been updated since its page was made on Examine a year ago, and while back then it was claimed to hold promise in promoting circulation, fat loss, and neuroprotection, this update lessens the hope for those roles somewhat but clarifies on a potential usage for sesamin, particularly in multivitamins; sesamin can promote bodily retention of vitamin k and a particular vitamer of vitamin E known as γ-tocotrienol. Sesamin is somewhat of an indirect vitamin due to this.

The fat loss effects of sesamin have been severely downgraded since the last update (from 'some promise' to 'little to no promise') and it is still quite unclear how sesamin works with estrogen. The 'incredible promise' associated with neuroprotection in Parkinson's has still not been explored or replicated but seems to be related to antioxidant effects.

Celastrus paniculata is a seed touted to be a cognitive enhancer, but there is not enough evidence to either refute or prove this (limited evidence does accept a positive effect, but due to how limited it is, celastrus cannot yet be recommended). Oddly, it is a very potent intestinal relaxant in vitro and, pending future research, could have clinically relevant anti-spasmolytic and anti-constipative effects.

Anethum Graveolens is dill, the plant that confers the characteristic potato chip flavoring. It has some preliminary evidence for reducing triglycerides, but it seems that human studies have both failed to find any effect. The only interesting thing at this moment in time is the hallucinogen content in immature dill plants; the same molecule found in nutmeg.

Asteracantha Longifolia is an ayurvedic libido enhance and cognitive enhancer with traditional uses somewhat similar to both ashwagandha and anacyclus pyrethrum, that being said there is way too little evidence to conclude anything about this plant at this moment in time aside from 'might be a potent antioxidant'.