Numerous Delicious Updates

In which we knock out hemp protein, psyllium husk, coconut oil, Nooppept, lavender, 7-keto, and beetroot

Written by Kamal Patel
Last Updated:

The last two weeks have seen numerous popular supplements added to the Examine database, with quite a few of them also doubling as food products.

  • Hemp protein is a protein source derived from hempmeal (seeds after the oil has been extracted) and is mostly marketed for its 'balanced' fatty acid content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It does appear to have a balanced profile, but the benefit of this in practical terms is doubtful due to the omega-3 source being alpha-linoleic acid rather than the fish oil omega-3s (EPA and DHA). Although there is no THC content in hemp protein like there is in marijuana, there does appear to be some limited cannabinoid content; the practical relevance of these cannabinoids in hemp protein is currently not known (and it is unsure whether one can extrapolate data from marijuana onto hemp protein).

  • Psyllium has been added and is the first in the new dietary fiber category page. Psyllium appears to be quite effective and proven as a 'bulk laxative' (laxative secondary to forming stool) and due to its low fermentability in the colon it resorbs a fair bit of water and possible gas to increase fecal mass, softness, and regularity. At least one study has noted decreases in flatulence associated with psyllium ingestion, and although there are health effects associated with psyllium (reduced serum glucose and cholesterol) these do not appear to be unique to psyllium and instead just common to any gel-forming fiber.

  • Coconut oil is a highly saturated source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), and appears to be somewhat effective as both a skin and hair moisturizing agent when directly applied (although the greasiness of coconut oil might need to be accounted for. When used as a part of a fat loss diet, there appears to be sufficient evidence to support the role of coconut oil in place of other fatty acids to increase the amount of fat lost over a period of time. The effect size is not remarkable, and sometimes the benefit is small enough that the difference is not significant; however, there does appear to be a beneficial effect of coconut oil MCTs on fat loss.

Of supplements that are not food products:

  • Noopept was finally added, and based on limited evidence it does appear to be very similar in mechanism to piracetam while requiring a much lower dose. Similar to piracetam, however, it does require more evidence in otherwise healthy subjects or animals to confirm a cognitive boosting effect

  • Lavender was added to round out our aromatherapy section, and actually appears to be a much more supported aroma than all the others. The aroma of lavender appears to be able to induce a reduction in anxiety and some limited sedation in numerous trials, and oral ingestion of lavender essential oil has some surprisingly robust evidence for it for reducing generalized anxiety disorder.

  • 7-keto DHEA was taken from the DHEA page and given its own entry due to the low hormonal activity of it. While 7-keto DHEA appears to be an anti-stress molecule and mitochondrial uncoupling agent, it requires more evidence and some larger studies to validate its usage in humans as the limited evidence right now is highly confounded with conflicts of interest or other nutrient inclusion. That being said, 7-keto DHEA may be able to increase the metabolic rate or at least attenuate the rate of decline during dieting.

  • Nattokinase is a dietary enzyme found in some fermented soy products that is said to be cardioprotective by reducing fibrin binding and thus reducing the risk of thrombus formation. The evidence to support this claim is very limited and currently there isn't any evidence to support the usage of nattokinase over simply eating natto (which may actually be more effective, as nattokinase is but one of many enzymes created during the fermentation process)

The major update this week is:

Beet root, but more precisely its active ingredient known as inorganic nitrate. Nitrate is commonly ingested in vegetables and appears to also be endogenously produced in the body to a limited degree (almost meeting the nonlegitimate criteria of our pseudovitamin category if it can be linked back to a disease state associated with a deficiency). Nitrate's metabolite, nitrite, circulates in the blood and is readily converted to nitric oxide with preferential conversion in deoxygenated areas of the blood and microcirculation.

It appears to quite reliably reduce blood pressure in persons with elevated blood pressure, and although blood pressure in healthy persons at rest in unaffected it seems to attenuate the rise in blood pressure during exercise.

Nitrate supplementation at or around 500mg reduces the oxygen cost of exercise and appears to be able to make mitochondria more efficiently work (secondary to nitric oxide). Due to this, usage of nitrate supplementation before exercise that is not maximal exertion but more glycolytic in nature (sprinting, prolonged resistance training upwards of 12 reps or so, crossfit) is able to prolong time to exhaustion, improve performance on time trials, and sometimes reduce the rate of perceived exertion. The effect size of nitrate is larger in these trials, nonexistent in maximal power output, and lesser in prolonged endurance exercise but appears to be greater than that of beta-alanine supplementation.

Finally, nitrate is converted to nitric oxide independently of the NOS enzyme (mediates conversion of L-Arginine into nitric oxide). This suggests that nitrate supplementation would be potentially additive with L-Arginine or L-Citrulline as they do not interfere with one another, but this requires some testing.

Nitrate appears to be a potential pseudovitamin compound with cardioprotective and performance enhancing effects, with the latter being slightly more effective than beta-alanine.