Could the orange colored pills in a little blue bottle turn back the hands of time? The makers of a natural supplement called Protandim say it is a cutting edge, scientific breakthrough in anti-aging.
A 10 News viewer asked us what's in it and if it's worth the roughly $50 a month price tag.
You may have heard about Protandim from your friends. It is sold through multi-level marketing which means the people who sell it may also try to recruit you to sell it too.
Donny Osmond told Dr. Phil it's the closest thing he's found to the fountain of youth.
"It's called Protandim and it works. I've been telling everybody. 'You feel differently?' I do," Osmond told Dr. Phil.
However, he did not mention on the show he is a paid spokesperson.
10 News viewer Helen Cimino told us she is also convinced it works after it helped the arthritis in her wrist.
Now she sells Protandim.
She told 10 News she truly believes it is a miracle pill because it worked for her.
"I can only tell people it works for me. I've only been on it for 5 months. Who knows from now on what else it will do," she said.
So what is in Protandim?
The company says 5 ingredients:
- Turmeric extract (anti-inflammatory spice)
- Green tea extract (energy, anti-cancer properties)
- Milk thistle (liver detox)
- Bacopa extract (memory issues)
- Ashwagandha extract (anxiety/stress issues)
10 News asked integrative physician, nutritionist and author of 10 Years Younger, Dr. Steven Masley if it's worth the $50 a month pricetag. He had already researched the product for some of his patients who had been asked to invest in the company.
Dr. Masley told us he's not surprised Helen feels better. Two of his favorite ingredients are in Protandim: turmeric, or curcumin, and green tea.
STORY: Watch 10 News Anchor Heather Van Nest's story about the benefits of turmeric/curcumin
Dr. Masley said the ingredients are safe and exciting, but he would like to know how much of each ingredient is in the product.
"I love green tea and curcumin, those are excellent agents for helping health, but they don't put the dose so I don't even know if they're at the appropriate dose or if they're in the right form that they would be absorbed."
He said the proprietary blend does not appear to contain enough of the ingredients to be effective.
The label lists 675 mg of all 5 ingredients combined. Dr. Masley said some of these ingredients, at much higher doses, have been shown to improve arthritis symptoms and brain and liver function.
Dr. Masley reviewed the studies the company uses to promote the product and says most are lab tests that appear to be used for "excessive marketing." Before he recommends it to his patients, Dr. Masley said he would also like to see more independent studies where no one is making a profit out of the outcome of the study.
(Scroll down to see the 4 questions Dr. Masley would need answered before he would recommend Protandim to his patients)
"I am concerned that this specific combination in Protandim has not been shown to result in any clinical improvement (more energy, less pain, better brain function). Most of the studies have been performed on lab animals and all the results I have seen, address non-clinical laboratory results that don't address human symptoms," said Dr. Masley.
Dr. Masley has been recommending his patients take the two main ingredients. He said high quality turmeric/curcumin and green tea cost much less than this combination supplement.
"You could buy green tea and drink it for $5 a month and you could buy a good quality curcumin product for $15-20 a month. Those would be the two key take homes. If you have other issues, cognitive decline, anxiety, sleep... then you might think about some of the other agents but I don't usually recommend them unless you have those conditions."
Keep in mind, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate vitamins and supplements. You have to trust the manufacturer to provide the correct amount of ingredients or go with a high quality brand that undergoes third party testing.
As for Helen, she told 10 News, Protandim is worth the investment.
"Anything I believe in, I go wholeheartedly."
Dr. Masley stresses you should always discuss any vitamin/supplement you are taking with your doctor. Inexpensive products may be contaminated with lead or other agents, so quality (third party tested) is important.
For additional information on how to find a high quality supplement, you can click here.
The maker of Protandim says it is a proprietary blend. A company spokesperson adds that the synergy among the five ingredients makes them 18 times more potent together than individually. However, Dr. Masley says there are no comparative studies yet to support that claim.
Here are Dr. Masley's recommendations:
Curcumin (an extract of turmeric). Typical prevention dosage 500 mg daily.
Typical arthritis therapy dosage 500-1000 mg daily. This is a wonderful compound anyone with inflammation issues should consider taking. Actively studied for memory loss and cancer therapy.
Green tea extract (Camellia sinensis). Active agent dosage typically is 250-500 mg daily, which is also available in 4-8 cups of green tea daily.
Generally used for cardiovascular disease prevention, weight loss, and green tea for mental clarity. Most people should drink a few cups of green tea daily.
Milk thistle extract (silybum marianum). Dosage varies with extract concentration, typically 200-400 mg daily. Typically used for liver inflammation, liver disease, or to enhance detoxification.
Ashwagandha dosage varies with concentration, 250-500 mg daily. Used for insomnia, relaxation, and calming.
Bacopa monnieri Dosage varies with concentration, 250-500 mg daily. Used for memory loss and to enhance concentration. More human studies needed.
The four things Dr. Masley would like to see that would compel him to recommend this product to his patients would be:
1. High Quality. I'd like to see a TGA logo on their product first, or a USP logo second, or at the minimum would be a GMP logo, certainly something much better than their website comment, "to the best of our knowledge we meet or exceed the Current Good Manufacturing Practices". That is not good enough.
Some of the company products that I recommend have had their laboratories evaluated by the FDA and meet or exceed the requirements to produce drugs.
2. How Much Ingredient Is In the Product? Let me know how much curcumin, milk thistle, etc is in the pill. Currently I'm being asked to trust this company based upon anecdotal results. My patients deserve better.
Proprietary often means we don't want you to know because there isn't enough product to make it work. Granted there could be some amazing synergy that occurs between these agents, but then they should have clinical outcome studies to prove their combination works.
3. Proven Clinical Outcomes. I'd like to see randomized clinical trial outcomes in humans in a peer reviewed medical journal that has been written by independent researchers that are not associated with the profits of this product that show outcomes that would be expected from these ingredients.
For example they should show: better brain function, improvements in liver inflammation, better blood pressure control, less joint pain from arthritis, decreased cancer rates or better cancer outcomes in humans. None of the studies I have seen on their website focus on clinical outcomes in humans, yet at proper dosages that I'm not convinced are in this product, the current ingredients have been shown to achieve these type of clinical improvements. When they call non-clinical laboratory test results clinical outcomes, either they are using excessive marketing or they are deceiving themselves.
4. Is it absorbed? Since they list magnesium stearate as an ingredient which is used to improve packaging but has been proven to decrease absorption, I would want to see curcumin and other ingredient blood levels after using this product to ensure it is being absorbed properly. Good supplement companies provide this type of data when absorption is questionable.
More info: Get a fresh perspective on health: Heather's Natural Health
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