Do nitric oxide supplements at the pharmacy really work?

Before we can get into what role nitric oxide supplements play in health, a quick look at the compound itself will clear up a lot of things. Basically this compound is supposed to be produced naturally in the human body and this happens when it breaks down arginine. This is an amino acid that is found in a number of food items such as shrimp, green vegetables, turnkey, crab etc. So if there is a sufficient amount of such food in a diet chances are there is no need for supplements.

The compound plays a large role in transporting different cells in the body, assists blood circulation and regulates the activities of several organs as well such as the brain, liver, lungs and stomach. It is also a well known vasodilator which basically means that it dilates blood vessels and makes them larger as well for better blood flow. This is good news for body builders who do a lot of weight training and is also the reason why some choose NO supplements. (Click here to see reviews of the top NO supplements on the market.)

What are Nitric Oxide Supplements?

Even though the name implies that the drugs contain nitric oxide, they do not. That’s because NO is a gas which is a product of synthesis. That is why most of these supplements, as shown in this Advocare review, contain a mix of primary ingredients of one or more amino acids such as alpha ketoglutarate [1] which is a good source of arginine.

This amino acid is said to boost muscle, endurance besides NO levels in the body and they are sold and marketed as muscle builders. In order to ensure the supplements sell, the drugs often come with cited research claiming that it boosts NO levels and widens blood vessels to enhance blood flow, two effects that body builders and athletes covet. That’s because when blood flow increases, over worked muscles get nutrients that much faster which in turn increases protein levels. This is why supplements for nitric oxide and arginine are described as natural steroids in addition to the fact that the latter can increase the production rate of the growth hormone during workouts.

Before we can get into what role nitric oxide supplements play in health, a quick look at the compound itself will clear up a lot of things. Basically this compound is supposed to be produced naturally in the human body and this happens when it breaks down arginine. This is an amino acid that is found in a number of food items such as shrimp, green vegetables, turnkey, crab etc. So if there is a sufficient amount of such food in a diet chances are there is no need for supplements.

The compound plays a large role in transporting different cells in the body, assists blood circulation and regulates the activities of several organs as well such as the brain, liver, lungs and stomach. It is also a well known vasodilator which basically means that it dilates blood vessels and makes them larger as well for better blood flow. This is good news for body builders who do a lot of weight training and is also the reason why some choose NO supplements. (Click here to see reviews of the top NO supplements on the market.)

What are Nitric Oxide Supplements?

Even though the name implies that the drugs contain nitric oxide, they do not. That’s because NO is a gas which is a product of synthesis. That is why most of these supplements, as shown in this Advocare review, contain a mix of primary ingredients of one or more amino acids such as alpha ketoglutarate [1] which is a good source of arginine.

This amino acid is said to boost muscle, endurance besides NO levels in the body and they are sold and marketed as muscle builders. In order to ensure the supplements sell, the drugs often come with cited research claiming that it boosts NO levels and widens blood vessels to enhance blood flow, two effects that body builders and athletes covet. That’s because when blood flow increases, over worked muscles get nutrients that much faster which in turn increases protein levels. This is why supplements for nitric oxide and arginine are described as natural steroids in addition to the fact that the latter can increase the production rate of the growth hormone during workouts.

This is music to the ears especially for those who are in search of fast and effective solutions to get leaner and increase muscle mass at the same time. However, the truth is far from being savory. While it is true that these supplements can increase nitric oxide levels such as citrulline and arginine, it cannot aid in muscle growth.

The reason is simple. Even though the growth hormone has strong anticatabolic effects, it does not stimulate bone growth and so does nothing to increase strength. This was proven by a study [2] which analyzed a subject who lifted weights five times a week for a total of 12 weeks and followed a normal high protein and post workout diet plan to sustain himself.

Long story short, the main finding of the study concluded that the spikes in crucial hormones such as the growth hormone, testosterone and IGF-1 remained within normal physiological levels. The interesting discovery was that it had little to no effect on muscle growth and strength. The subject did gain more muscle, but the variations in the size of the hormone spikes had little to no bearing on the results. In other words, raising anabolic hormone levels which NO steroids claim to do, can be done naturally and they have little effect on muscle growth.

The reason why nitric oxide supplements are hailed by bodybuilders is because most of them take it alongside insulin doses and anabolic steroids to increase potency.

Side Effects of NO Steroids

Anything which is ingested that is not produced naturally by the body has side effects and not all of them are good. The following are some that can result from taking nitric oxide supplements:

Irregular Blood Pressure

Since NO effects blood vessels and can constrict them, an excess dose can result in a rapid drop. This can be followed by headaches, nausea, light headedness, vomiting and loss of balance. The symptoms can also get worse while urinating or when standing up from a sitting position. If these conditions are imminent, then it would be best to quit the supplements for a while.

Upset Stomach

An upset stomach almost always results from supplements and the nitric oxide variety are no different. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, cramps in the stomach and loose stool. In order to ensure this does not happen as frequently the supplements should be taken with food. If the side effects get worse or refuse to abate, a visit to the doctor should be in order.

Fluctuations in Body Electrolytes

Since these supplements can change the internal environment of the body, it can result in high potassium, chloride, low phosphate and sodium as well as high creatinine levels. In other words, the supplements should not be used if there is an issue in the kidneys or liver. These organs are responsible for regulating electrolytes and can react adversely to the side effects the supplement can cause.

If there are no side effects or they are negligible, your doctor may prescribe arginine injections to increase NO levels in the body naturally. However, this also comes with its own side effects including numbness, headaches, lower back pain, restless legs and it can even kill off tissue surrounding the site where the needle is inserted.

In conclusion we can say that even though nitric oxide supplements can give a boost to muscle and strength, the effects are negligible at best and can be achieved via natural means. Anything that is not produced by the body naturally should be avoided if the body is young and healthy enough to produce it itself with proper diet and regular workouts. Otherwise debilitating health issues will be imminent and prolonged ingestion can cripple growth and break down muscles.

New weight loss supplement removed from several pharmacies for “drastic results”

Anybody who’s ever gone on a diet in an attempt to try and shed the extra pounds will know that losing weight can be extremely difficult. Along with the temptation to eat fatty foods or skip exercise, weight loss can also be affected by a range of health factors that we can’t control such as hormone production or a person’s metabolic rate.

In fact, studies show that only around 15% (1) of people actually succeed when it comes to losing weight using conventional weight loss methods such as diet plans, calorie counting, and regular exercise. Those who repeatedly find that conventional weight loss methods aren’t working too well for them are the ones that are most likely to turn to herbal medicines and other dietary supplements to give their weight loss a boost. One such supplement is known as forskolin, a natural plant compound which many claim to be an effective aid for weight loss.

What is Forskolin?

Forskolin is an active compound which can be found in the roots of a tropical plant related to mint known as the Indian coleus. This plant (2) has been commonly used in herbal medicines for centuries, and many claim that it is highly effective in treating a whole range of different diseases and health conditions. Today, modern medicine backs a range of these claims, showing that some of the health benefits of forskolin are definitely true, or at the very least, plausible.

In January 2014, forskolin saw a significant increase in popularity in the USA as a weight loss supplement after it was mentioned on an episode of the Dr. Oz Show. (3)

Forskolin and Weight Loss

So, how does forskolin help with losing weight? Many studies have investigated the effect of this herbal dietary supplement on fat metabolism – but, most of them are animal (4) or test-tube experiments, meaning that they’re not really applicable to humans. Still, many successful dieters are claiming that forskolin is their secret.

Simply put, forskolin works to stimulate fat cells to release fat which is stored in the human body. Basically, it causes the fat cells to mimic the actions which they complete whenever the body uses fat for energy, burning it off.

However, forskolin alone won’t help you to shed the pounds. On its own, the release of fat cells won’t be enough to cause weight loss – it needs to be combined with a calorie deficit. In much the same way as exercising won’t result in much difference if you eat junk food every day, for forskolin to work effectively, energy expenditure must exceed energy intake (5).

In order to ensure that your energy intake is lower than your energy expenditure, you can take a range of weight loss supplements. These work by supressing the appetite, causing you to snack less, reduce the efficiency of digestion to help you feel fuller for longer, and increase your metabolic rate. So far, forskolin is not known to cause any of these things to happen.

However, clinical trials of forskolin in humans have shown some very promising results – studies (6) suggest that taking forskolin as a dietary supplement can help to promote weight loss whilst preserving muscle mass.

So, can forskolin help me lose weight?

As of now, there have only been two small studies (7) which investigated the effect of forskolin for weight loss in humans. Both studies were randomized clinical trials – good news, as this is often seen as the gold standard of human scientific research.

The largest trial was carried out with thirty male participants, all of whom were either overweight or suffering from obesity. There were then randomly divided into two different groups – the forskolin group, and the placebo group. Each group was made up of fifteen participants, however only the forskolin group were given 250mg of Coleus forskohlii extract to take twice per day over a twelve-week period. The second group were given placebo (dummy) pills.

Results: (8) After the twelve weeks were up, the study found that the men in the forskolin group had lost significantly more body fat than those in the placebo group, however, their actual body weight had not changed. Along with this, participants in the forskolin group also experienced a significant increase in free testosterone in the body, a hormone which can stimulate the release of fat from fat cells, possibly explaining the loss of body fat observed in the study. Testosterone increase can also result in increased muscle mass. The forskolin group did have a trend which leaned towards an increase in lean body mass, however this was not statistically significant.

In the second study, a group of twenty-three female participants received the same dosage of Coleus forskohlii extract over the same twelve-week time period. However, the results of the female study differed – in contrast to the male participants, forskolin supplementation did not appear to have any significant effect on body fat loss in women. But, the results did suggest that taking forskolin may be effective for preventing further weight gain.

To conclude, studies suggest that taking forskolin does not actively cause weight loss, however it can encourage loss of body fat and testosterone production in men, and prevent against weight gain in women. More research is, however, needed before a definite conclusion can be drawn.

Further Health Benefits

The Indian coleus plant, which forskolin is derived from, has for centuries played a large part in many aspects of traditional herbal medicine. Historically, it has been used to treat a range of conditions – including heart disease, bronchitis, constipation and asthma. As a dietary supplement for humans, consumption of forskolin may also:

  • Lower the risk of osteoporosis by improving bone density
  • Promote the formation and maintenance of muscle mass by increasing testosterone production in men
  • Help to relieve symptoms of asthma by widening the air passages in the lungs.

Further studies using test-tubes or animals have also suggested further possible benefits of forskolin as a supplement.

Typically, forskolin is taken with a dosage of 100-250mg of Coleus forskohlii (10% forskolin) twice daily. So far, forskolin does not appear to have any negative side effects in humans, however it’s good to bear in mind that full evaluation of its safety profile has not yet been carried out.

It’s only a matter of time before forskolin is offered at pharmacies across the nation.