Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Optavia (formerly Take Shape for Life) weight loss review

Take Shape for Life is a multilevel marketing program based around weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes.

Instead of just selling you supplements, Take Shape for Life incorporates meal replacement and exercise guidance into its business model.

Its two staple programs are the “Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan” and the “Optimal Health 3&3 Plan,” which are designed to help you lose weight and maintain weight loss, respectively.

Take Shape for Life is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Medifast, a large health and wellness corporation with annual revenues of almost $300 million.  It’s been around since 1980, so it knows its way around the weight loss business.  Take Shape for Life is just one part of its market strategy in the weight loss category.

The company saw a mild boost in search volume around midway through 2010, but searches now are trending about half of what they were at that point.  At no point in the last decade did the company experience any major surges in popularity and name recognition, so it’s a small player in the weight loss MLM arena.


As a “program-based” weight loss MLM, your sales as a Take Shape for Life distributor will depend to a large extent on how well you can sell the packaged programs.

For weight loss, the Optimal Weight 5&1 plan involves switching out most of your daily meals to meal replacement products sold by Take Shape for Life, and eating one standard “lean and green” meal per day (mostly vegetables and protein).

The meal replacement options are sold in packages that last for 30 days.  Unlike with other MLMs, where you have to manually select what you want, Take Shape for Life includes a range of meals, like nutrient bars, pasta, and pancakes.  The kits range in price from $350 to $400 per month, but remember, this covers the majority of your food intake during the month.  

Other than the meal replacement plans, all you need to cook for yourself is a lean protein and vegetable meal.  This might be chicken and bell peppers, fish and spinach, or tofu and broccoli.  

The meals themselves involve some of the classic techniques used in weight loss programs.  The foods tend to be high in fiber, high in protein, and low in fat and sugar.  If you are a low-carb fanatic, the Take Shape for Life meals don’t typically fall into that camp, and if you are not into processed foods, you also won’t really be a fan of the process.

Still, this is a reasonably sound strategy.  Increasing fiber intake is a good strategy for decreasing your weight and increasing your feelings of fullness, as described in a 2001 scientific article by Mark Periera, PhD and David Ludwig, MD (1).  

The authors note that increased dietary fiber intake has a suppressive effect on caloric intake: high fiber foods decrease your desire to eat more, since you feel more satiated, and as a result, you eat less food.  

This is why fiber-free foods like soda have a tendency to cause you to gain weight: because they have no fiber, you don’t feel full after eating or drinking them.

Increasing protein intake is also associated with increased sensations of fullness. According to research published by a team of scientists at the University of Toronto, whey protein stimulates your satiety response through a number of biological pathways, leading to a similar outcome: when you eat a meal high in protein, you feel more full afterwards, which should decrease your future desire for food (2).  

Indeed, a 2008 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that a whey protein supplement, when added to the diet of a group of overweight patients who were on a diet, increased the amount of fat lost and also helped preserve lean muscle mass.

The Optimal Health 3&3 Plan is very similar to the Optimal Weight 5&1 plan, except you only consume 3 meal replacement products per day, and eat three balanced meals per day.  

The selection of meal replacements is the same, but guidelines change on what constitutes a balanced meal. You’re no longer restricted to a lean and green meal; you can add in carbs too, as long as they are healthy and part of a well-balanced diet.  This means high in fiber, low in sugar, and still including a good amount of fruit or vegetables.

Compensation plan

To become a “health coach” (Take Shape for Life lingo for a distributor), you need to buy a training kit which costs $200.  

This is a much heftier cost to join than other MLMs, but the premise is that you are also receiving training on how to advise your own clients on their health choices.

The plan is a little unusual in that there are no wholesale discounts for health coaches or clients.  In both cases, you order your products directly from the company.  So, all of your income is related to commissions and bonuses related to the orders of your clients.

Now, no wholesale discounts are a bit of a bummer, but the commission fees are great.  You get 20% commission on client orders, plus once you move up the rankings, you’ll qualify for a growth bonus based on the product volume you can move.  

These percentages look good on paper too, but product volume is only about half of the retail price of a product (so a $400 order is only about 200 PV).


With a pretty solid weight loss program, plus an unusual but attractive compensation plan, you’d expect Take Shape for Life distributors to be raking in the cash, right? Well, not necessarily.  

The lack of brand popularity hurt its income, and no wholesale discounts definitely cuts into profits.  According to the income disclosure statement from 2015, 28% of all take shape for life coaches made no income in a year.  Another 54% made $2,500 or less.  

So, Take Shape for Life might be a good side hustle if you can get your customer base up and running, but don’t rely on it for a full-time income.  

Less than five percent of all distributors make over $20,000 per year, and it takes them years to do it.

If you’re doing it for the money, there are better ways to kill your day job.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pronabolin review: herbal testosterone booster

Pronabolin is a testosterone booster designed around a blend of several herbal extracts alongside a blend of digestive enzymes.  

Does it really work? This will require an examination of the ingredients and the science behind their efficacy.


The core of Pronabolin is its blend of herbal extracts.  The herbal blend includes tribulus terrestris, fenugreek, forskolin, milk thistle, eurycoma longifolia, horny goat weed, and black pepper extract.  

These are complimented by a proprietary mixture of digestive enzymes that are supposed to enhance the activity of the herbal ingredients included in Pronabolin.

Our team tried and tested over 25 of the top testosterone boosters to find the best:

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Whether or not this supplement works to boost testosterone and have the associated health effects of higher testosterone depends on the efficacy of its constituent ingredients.

The evidence for tribulus terrestris, an herbal extract long used as an aphrodisiac, is equivocal.  On one hand, studies in rats appear to support its use for erectile dysfunction.  In a 2008 study by Kalamegam Gauthaman and Adaikan P. Ganesan published in the scientific journal Phytomedicine, the two researchers studied the hormonal effects of tribulus terrestris in rats, rabbits, and primates (1).  In primates, the most biologically similar animals to humans, the effects of the supplement were notable: a 52% increase in testosterone levels, which achieved statistical significance.  The results in the other animals were less promising, but the net result was encouraging, according to the researchers’ conclusion.

On the other hand, a similar study in humans in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology was not as successful.  Researchers V.K. Neychev and V.I. Mitev tested the influence of the tribulus terrestris supplement on 21 healthy young men over a period of four weeks.  At the study’s conclusion, there was no increase in the men’s testosterone levels, nor was there an increase in testosterone-related precursors and other hormones (2).

A study on fenugreek seed extract had similarly disappointing results.  As described by Brandon Bushey and other researchers at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in a 2009 study, fenugreek seed extract does not affect testosterone levels (X).  In fact, it may even cause a drop in dihydrotestosterone, the more potent form of the hormone.  Their study used 45 male weight-lifters, which is a fairly large sample size, so we would have expected to see a benefit if there was one.

Forskolin, on the other hand, has more encouraging research supporting its use.  While it is mostly used as a weight loss supplement, one study investigating it for that purpose noted some effects on testosterone levels in overweight and obese men.  A 2005 study by Michael P. Godard, Brad A. Johnson, and Scott R. Richmond studied the effects of forskolin on the body composition and hormone profile of 30 overweight and obese men (3).  Over the course of twelve weeks, two groups of men received either 250 mg of forskolin or a placebo.  By the study’s conclusion, the men taking forskolin had mild positive changes in lean body mass, but a more noticeable increase in serum testosterone levels.  It remains to be seen whether this effect carries over into lean men, but evidence so far is good.  Notably, however, the dosage of forskolin in Pronabolin is half that used in this study.

When it comes to horny goat weed, evidence is lacking.  According to a review article by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom that looked at common ingredients in male sexual enhancement supplements, there are some animal model studies that appear to show an effect of horny goat weed at treating some conditions like erectile dysfunction, but there are no trials in humans (4).  

With regards to milk thistle, the evidence is even weaker–there aren’t even animal model studies that have been conducted to support its use in increasing testosterone.  Similar problems plague black pepper extract.

In contrast, a 2012 study by researchers in Malaysia found positive, promising results for Eurycoma longifolia extract.  In their experiment, a supplement containing Eurycoma longifolia was able to ameliorate the low testosterone levels of 90% of men in a 76-person cohort with low testosterone (5).  There was also a concomitant drop in complaints related to low testosterone, like lack of energy of energy, low sex drive, and erectile dysfunction.  It’s important to note, however, that research on this herb is limited and difficult to compare because extraction and standardization techniques have not been established–not all studies use the same type of extract or the same concentration, so it’s hard to tell what the actual dosage is.  Despite that, there is some evidence that Eurycoma longifolia can help with low testosterone levels.

While there are some interesting properties to the digestive enzyme blend, the bottom line is that they can only allow the included herbal extracts to be absorbed more effectively, not have independent effects on their own


Pronabolin is truly a mixed bag.  Some of the ingredients, like black pepper extract and milk thistle, have no evidence supporting their use as a testosterone boosting supplement, making their inclusion questionable to say the least.  Others, like horny goat weed, have mild evidence but nothing particularly convincing.  Eurycoma longifolia and forskolin have actual research in humans supporting their use.  Counterbalancing this are ingredients like fenugreek and tribulus terrestris, which have research in humans that’s found they are ineffective at influencing male testosterone levels.

Is this mixed bag worth it?

It’s not a terrible booster, but given the high price and the questions surrounding the efficacy of the ingredients, they are probably better options out there.

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Ligandrol review: testosterone booster for bodybuilders

Ligandrol, also known as LGD-4003, is a research chemical currently being developed as a testosterone booster, although results are not proven.

It’s known as a selective androgen receptor modulator, or SARM–this category of compounds is becoming increasingly popular among bodybuilders and athletes for the same reasons: people hope that it can build muscle without some of the drawbacks of actually injecting or using transdermal testosterone.

(If you compete in a sport, use caution, as some athletes have been banned from taking drug)


There are some advantages of potential Ligandrol over traditional testosterone.  It can be taken orally, which makes dosing much easier, and it binds in a very selective way to androgen receptors, which hopefully means there will be fewer side effects.  Testosterone, as you probably know, has a strong muscular strength-building activity, but also a strong affinity for prostate tissue.  This can cause it to have a number of negative health consequences.  An ideal compound would have the muscular affinity of testosterone, but very little affinity for the prostate; i.e., it would be “selective.”

Another advantage is its long lifetime in the body.  The elimination half life of Ligandrol is very long, meaning you would only have to take it one daily, or perhaps even less, to get results.

A pilot study published in 2013 by a team of researchers at Boston University School of Medicine tested the safety and efficacy of Ligandrol in an experiment with 76 men over the course of three weeks (1).  The men were split into four groups: one placebo group (to serve as a control) and three groups taking doses of 0.1, 0.3, and 1.0 mg per day in an oral form.  The scientists were interested in how the chemical affected lean body mass, and muscle strength, as well as hormone levels.  Several blood markers were tracked during the study, as well as for several weeks following the study to examine how coming off Ligandrol affected the volunteers.

Though the study was small, there were no drug-related adverse events detected during the three-week trial.  Muscle mass increased significantly, while fat mass remained unchanged.  Notably, testosterone levels actually went down in the test subjects.  So, if you are looking for a way to boost your testosterone levels, this is not the way to do it.  After secession of taking Ligandrol, testosterone levels had returned to baseline within 56 days.  The result is dose-dependent, too: the group taking 0.3 mg per day had a sharper drop in testosterone than the 0.1 mg group, and the same was true for the 1.0 mg group.

Side effects

At the doses tested in the pilot study, there were no adverse effects attributable to Ligandrol.  Some subjects reported headaches and dry mouth, but these were not associated with the dosage level and did not occur at a statistically significantly higher rate in the experimental groups versus the group taking the placebo.

At the higher doses sometimes used by bodybuilders, the safety of Ligandrol is unknown.  Some anecdotes online report massive negative effects, but it’s impossible to tell whether these are ascribable to Ligandrol itself; often these users were also taking other steroids or androgen receptor modulators, and may have gotten the compounds from questionable sources.  Still, it’s definitely dangerous to be experimenting with higher than tested doses of a compound that is known to have a strong pharmacological effect on your body.


It’s very important to emphasize that Ligandrol, which is also sold under the label LGD-4033, is a research chemical.  It is not a supplement–it is a highly biologically active synthetic compound that has a known effect on specific biological tissues.  If current research continues to be promising, Ligandrol will in all likelihood end up being a prescription drug used to treat conditions like osteoporosis and muscle wasting.

Though it appears to have similar effects on muscle tissue as testosterone, it promises to help you avoid some of the negative side effects of taking exogenous testosterone.  Normal testosterone has a strong affinity for muscle tissue, but also the prostate and hair follicles–hence negative side effects like prostate problems and hair loss.

Selective androgen receptor modulators like Ligandrol can help build muscle, and perhaps bone strength too (preclinical trials suggest it helps bone tissue grow stronger), without the negative side effects.  However, it is not a testosterone booster! In fact, testosterone levels drop significantly in a dose-dependent manner.  The trend based on data in the pilot study suggests that high doses of Ligandrol could drop your testosterone levels pretty much to zero–not a desirable outcome.

For these reasons, Ligandrol is not something to toy around with.  If you do decide to experiment with it, it’s best done under medical supervision.  You should have your testosterone levels checked regularly to make sure you are not dropping down to harmfully low natural testosterone levels.

All the above aside, Ligandrol does work quite well for its intended purpose: adding lean muscle mass.  Even over the course of just three weeks, a dose level of 1 mg of Ligandrol per day resulted in nearly three pounds of additional muscle mass with no change in fat mass.

Does this mean it’s worth it? It’s hard to say.  It depends on what your goals are and what your tolerance for risk and uncertainty is.  Ligandrol (or any selective androgen receptor modulator) is nothing to mess around with, so definitely take it under medical supervision.  

Track your testosterone levels as well as your muscle mass and strength gains.  Selective androgen receptor modulators are in the very early stages of development; it’s likely that Ligandrol is neither the most effective nor the safest one that will ultimately be on the market one all the dust has settled.

Athletic Greens review: top 3 superfood drink

Athletic Greens is a powder-based greens drink that aims to condense and supply a blend of superfoods — fruits and vegetables that are unusually powerful in their health benefits.  

It’s also endorsed by super-bodyhacker Tim Ferriss, who doesn’t have too many blemishes on his brand. 

Athletic Greens is loaded with over 70 ingredients – giving people who are “on-the-go” nutritional insurance that is almost unrivaled.

In our green drinks testing, we found Athletic Greens to be a top-3 winner in the category.

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The nutrition label for Athletic Greens reads like a label from a multivitamin—almost every core vitamin and mineral have close to or over 100% of your recommended daily intake.  Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, the B-complex vitamins, and zinc are all present in near or above 100% daily value.  There are a few notable exceptions: there is no notable amount of iron in Athletic Greens, relatively small amounts of magnesium and calcium, and very little dietary fiber and protein.  

It’s important to remember that these vitamins and minerals are not being added directly to the formulation as they would be in a traditional supplement—they are the result of the fruit and vegetable ingredients, and as such, this explains some of the absences.  Iron, for example, is much more abundant in animal foods than it is in plant foods.  The same is true for calcium.  

The actual ingredient list reads like a who’s who of superfoods: spirulina, wheatgrass, alfalafa, cherry fruit, spinach leaves, green tea extract, and more make up the “raw superfood complex.”  

In addition to this, Athletic Greens also contains a number of herbal extracts with suspected health or fitness benefits.  These include citrus bioflavonoids, artichoke leaf extract, milk thistle extract, and a small amount of stevia for natural sweetening.  Notably, the extraction process for most of the fruits and vegetables strips them of their sugars, so the sugar content of Athletic Greens is almost zero.

A few dietary enzymes and probiotics round out the formulation; these are likely included to aid in digesting and absorbing the bioactive compounds in the fruit and vegetable extracts.


Much of the rationale for green drinks like Athletic Greens comes from a strange realization in the medical community in the last few decades. By freeze-drying and powderizing real fruits and vegetables, a green drink aims to provide the same benefits of real fruits and vegetables in a more easily consumed form.

For a long time, scientific researchers knew that a diet high in fruits and vegetables was tremendously healthy.  A 2013 review study by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, for example, found that high fruit and vegetable consumption rates (five servings per day or more) was associated with a dramatic decrease in death rates of any cause—to the tune of over fifty percent (1). Other research on heart disease and specific types of cancer are similarly stark.  A 2006 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that each serving of fruit per day reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease by about 7%,  and a 2000 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that vegetable consumption drastically reduced prostate cancer risk (2, 3).

Despite this, studies which have tried to use the nutrients in fruits and vegetables as direct supplements have had poor results.  For example, a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied a large group of men taking vitamin E and vitamin C, which are both present in high amounts in healthy fruits and vegetables, like citrus fruits and spinach (4).  Despite this, over the eight-year duration of the study, neither vitamin C nor vitamin E had any tangible effect on the incidence of heart disease.

Scientists couldn’t resolve this apparent paradox until they started examining what else is in fruits and vegetables, other than the basic nutrients we already know about.  A study out of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that tracking the consumption of carotenoids, another bioactive compound in fruits and vegetables, was a good predictor of cardiovascular disease risk in elderly people (5).  So, there’s more to a fruit or a vegetable than just its vitamin content; this is exactly the premise of Athletic Greens.

There is still some key information missing—can a powderized and dried extract form of a fruit or vegetable be as effective as the real thing? There haven’t been any large-scale studies in humans yet, but evidence from lab animals seems promising.  Lab rats with high blood lipid levels, for example, appear to benefit significantly from a powderized spinach extract like the kind included in Athletic Greens (6).

How to use

Athletic greens should be used as a morning ritual, a meal replacement (or meal addition) or a post-exercise drink.  Given that it contains green tea extract, it may not be the best idea to take it before bed—there is some amount of naturally occurring caffeine which could keep you up. But beyond that, take it any time you would normally consume fruits and vegetables.


While the ingredient label on Athletic Greens looks like a multivitamin on steriods (and indeed, it could function as a pretty good replacement for one if you can get the missing nutrients elsewhere in your diet), it’s really more of a concentrated way to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption.  If the core premise of the product is correct—that a powderized and extracted fruit or vegetable concentrate is as effective as the real thing, Athletic Greens is a great way to boost your overall health and well-being.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The benefits and side effects of 5-HTP


5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical by-product of the amino acid L-tryptophan and assists in the formation of neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin in the body to enhance mood and reduce hunger.

It is produced from an African plant known as griffonia simplicifolia and distributed commercially, found in many appetite suppressants and fat burners.

5-HTP is usually recommended for the use of those who suffer from a variety of problems including sleep disorders, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and migraine. Other problems cured by 5-HTP may include headaches, obesity, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s disease and menstrual disorders.

It is primarily responsible for the production of serotonin in the human brain.

To understand the functioning principles of 5-HTP, we need to understand the functions of serotonin.

Serotonin is one of the principle neurotransmitters in the body which actively plays a role in inducing happiness and reducing depression.

Some psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety among others, can result in reduced serotonin levels in the body. This is where 5-HTP comes in. It works to increase serotonin levels among those suffering from low-serotonin problems.

It functions in the brain and central nervous system to increase serotonin production. This works to improve the person’s sleep pattern, lower appetite for those looking to lose weight, improves sexual behavior, and reduces pain sensation.

Dosage instructions

The recommended dosage levels for 5-HTP range from around 300-500 mg. It can be consumed either all at once or in smaller doses on a daily basis. However, the dosage can be lowered even further if it is to be paired with other similar substances.

If you intend to use 5-HTP to reduce appetite for weight loss purposes, you should not take it on an empty stomach. For best results, it should be consumed with the meal so that your body feels satisfied with the intake of food.

For consumption for the treatment of psychological or neurological disorders, you must take extreme care when pairing it with other drugs. Some of these ill-advised pairings can have disastrous consequences. For instance, pairing 5-HTP with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can even result in death. It is therefore advised that you should consult with your doctor before consuming any such combination.

5-HTP health benefits

The assistance in production of serotonin and melatonin makes 5-HTP extremely useful for the treatment of various problems. Apart from its practical uses, there are numerous theoretical benefits which are under scientific consideration.

Some of the areas where 5-HTP can be effective include:

Depression: The use of 5-HTP as the sole therapeutic substance to cure depression is a controversial concept. Although the serotonin production functions of 5-HTP make it theoretically possible for it to act as a cure for depression, the practical evidence is insufficient to effectively prove the theory.

This was the verdict of a 2002 study by the Cochrane Collaboration. After a thorough review of 108 patient trials, they agreed that 5-HTP was better than placebo drugs in curing depression. However, the evidence gained from the endeavor was deemed insufficient as conclusive proof. (1)

Obesity and weight loss: Many research reports have attempted to study the relationship between the use of 5-HTP and the reduction of hunger and weight loss. One such study was conducted using extracts of griffonia simplicifolia, which are a source of 5-HTP.

In the study, 20 overweight or obese females were required to consume 5-HTP through oral spray in three hits five times a day. After an observation for four weeks, it was noted that the women experienced a significant reduction in the tendency to binge eat and a significant increase in satiation after meals. These factors led to weight loss in the experimental group. (2)

Other studies suggest a correlation between 5-HTP use and weight loss as well. (3, 4, 5, 6)

So it can be safely assumed that regular use of 5-HTP products can lead to a reduction in hunger which can help with weight loss.

Sleep disorders: The administration of 5-HTP products can also assist in combating the effects of sleep disorders such as insomnia and irregular sleep pattern. The release of serotonin triggered by the consumption of 5-HTP is one of the leading causes of its effectiveness in improving the quality of sleep.

At least one scientific study attests to this fact. In the study, a combination of downer neurotransmitters and 5-HTP was administered to those suffering from irregular sleep. The administration of these products was noted to substantially reduce the average time required to fall asleep. It also led to an improvement in the quality and duration of sleep as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). (7)

Other uses: 5-HTP is also found to be effective in reducing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It may help reduce anxiety and panic attacks.

It is also found to be effective in improving pain, fatigue, tenderness, and anxiety in people suffering from fibromyalgia.

In case of Parkinson’s disease, lower doses of 5-HTP seem to reduce shaking, but the effects only seem to last for around 5 months. Some 5-HTP products may lead to improvement in symptoms of schizophrenia among young men.

5-HTP side effects

Although there are no guaranteed side effects of 5-HTP consumption, it may adversely affect certain people in some cases.

For instance, some of the users of 5-HTP products have developed a condition known as the Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS). It is a serious condition which may result in extreme muscle tenderness and blood abnormalities.

However, it’s important to note here that there is no scientific evidence to prove that 5-HTP, itself, has been the cause of the diagnosis of EMS. It may even be caused due to a contamination or an accidental ingredient in 5-HTP products.

Other potential side effects may include heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle problems, stomach pain, and drowsiness.

Summary: 5-HTP functions primarily by stimulating the release of serotonin and melatonin in the body. As serotonin induces happiness, 5-HTP products can be used to treat depression. It’s also an effective treatment for obesity by reducing hunger and increasing satiation.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ranking the best forskolin supplements of 2018

Forskolin is an increasingly popular herbal supplement that’s used to drop body fat by controlling your appetite and increasing your metabolism.  

It can be used to improve health overall—people use it for asthma, heart health, and preventing chronic diseases like cancer too.

Need a great forskolin supplement? Our research team has ranked the top products on the market by carefully examining all of your options.

1. BioSchwartz Forskolin Weight Loss

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BioSchwartz offers the best forskolin supplement on the marked thanks to its purity and trustworthiness as a brand. Many other forskolin supplements are made by smaller companies without a solid reputation, but that does not apply to BioSchwartz.

It’s not the highest dosage on the market, but it does have the most straightforward supplement design: the only ingredients are forskolin and vegetable cellulose—no additives, binders, or stabilizers.

2. Zenvita Formulas Forskolin Ultra

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For those looking for a higher dose of forskolin than the industry standard, Zenvita Formulas has got you covered. It offers 300 mg of forskolin per capsule, and on top of that, some of the forskolin complex that’s included is concentrated to 40% instead of the typical 20%.

Its vegan-friendly capsule also contains a few other stabilizers, but nothing that should pose any problems. In addition to the high dose per capsule, the bottle comes with 50% more capsules than a usual forskolin supplement.

3. aSquared Nutrition Forskolin

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aSquared Nutrition offers a larger supply of the standard 250 mg / 20% standardized dose. It does have a few binders and stabilizers, but with 180 capsules per bottle instead of the usual 60 from most competitors, it’s going to last a lot longer on your shelf.

If you are taking high doses of forskolin, or you plan to take it for a long time, going with the bulk purchase is a smart call.

4. Vitamin Bounty Forskolin Max Strength

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With 250 mg of forskolin root extract per capsule, standardized to 20% concentration, Vitamin Bounty provides a solid dosage of forskolin in a very pure delivery vehicle.

The only ingredient, other than forskolin itself, is vegetable cellulose for the capsule. In the purity and simplicity department, this forskolin supplement is a winner.

5. MegathomHealth Forskolin Extract

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While MegathomHealth isn’t anything special with regards to its dosage, it does win some points for simplicity.

Aside from 20% concentrated forskolin, the only other ingredients are rice flour and cellulose, which makes up the vegetable-based capsule, so fans of minimal supplement design will like this one.

6. BioGanix Pure Forskolin Extract

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The primary advantage of BioGanix is that it comes in a larger bottle with 90 capsules versus the industry-standard 60. Beyond this, you are getting a very minimal supplement: the only ingredients are forskolin (250 mg, like almost all of its competitors), rice flour, and vegetable cellulose.

It’s a good choice if you want a large supply of a hyper-minimal supplement and are willing to go with a smaller company.

7. Ebysu Forskolin Extract

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Ebysu’s forskolin supplement comes with a fairly standard 250 mg per capsule, but includes a few extra binders and excipients that some of its competitors don’t have—namely magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide.

Not a deal breaker, but there are other competitors don’t have these ingredients.

8. USA Supplements Forskolin 500 Max

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No surprises on the dosage and concentration here—like many forskolin supplements, you’ll get 250 mg of forskolin extract per capsule, standardized to a 20% concentration.

The “500” in the title comes from the fact that a serving size is actually two capsules. USA Supplements does put a small unique twist into the supplement by including small amounts of chlorophyll, but this is included alongside several binders and preservatives that may not be appealing to you.

9. California Products Forskolin

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California Products is one of the smaller supplement companies that’s jumped into the increasingly hot forskolin market, but their forskolin supplement is nothing special.

With 250 mg of 20% forskolin per capsule, plus a few stabilizers, it doesn’t distinguish itself from the rest of the pack very well.

10. Huntington Labs Forskolin

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Huntington Labs doesn’t have much going for it; it fits the profile of most of the second-tier forskolin supplements. It’s got a dosage of 250 mg with typical concentration levels, and several binders added to stabilize the capsule and preserve shelf life.

However, beyond this there’s nothing special to add, which results in this supplement being ranked at the bottom.

Forskolin benefits and side effects

Forskolin has been touted as the all-purpose miracle supplement, and the well-known TV doctor Dr. Oz once famously called forskolin “lightening in a bottle” (1).

He was referring to its supposed powers as a weight-loss supplement but in reality, forskolin may have the power to help us in many more ways than just fat burning and looking sexy. Think: garcinia cambogia but potentially better.

If you take a look at the impressively long and varied list of what forskolin might be able to do for us, the first thing you notice is it seems to do wonderful things for a very diverse set of ailments, which seemingly have nothing to do with each other.

According to third party studies, forskolin has been proven to be effective for certain heart conditions, improves asthma, reduce body fat, could potentially stop colon cancer and glaucoma )(2, 3, 4).

It seems forskolin shows great promise in the medical world. Each medical use listed above is the result of at least some amount of clinical studies.  Just how much real science has been applied in a laboratory setting for each application varies from scarcely any at all to substantial amounts.

That means it does all kinds of things in different parts of your body and on different levels, including the cellular level.  Like a benevolent agent of good works, it has resounding effects on a wide range of problems.  That range is far greater than even present-day scientists have discovered, so the future looks promising as far as discovering great things about the full impact of forskolin on various biological functions in the body.

The substance forskolin is produced by a plant called Coleus forskohlii, or Coleus for short.  There are many different types of coleus plants, but this is Indian Coleus, which may explain forskolin’s prevalence in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda).

Why it works is a bit difficult for most people to grasp, and that’s because forskolin works on the cellular level.  This is best understood by reading the following descriptions of some of the more documented uses of forskolin.

Was Dr. Oz basing his infamous description of forskolin on anything scientific?  Turns out maybe he was…

There is an oft-cited study, known as the Godard study, showing that taking forskolin resulted in decreased body fat and fat mass.  This study also showed positive changes in bone mass in just 12 weeks, as well as a trend toward increased lean body mass.  Not only that, but serum free testosterone levels were significantly increased in participants, after taking forskolin.  The men in the study took a 10% forskolin extract (250 mg) twice a day for 12 weeks.  They were overweight and obese, so this tells us that coleus (forskolin) may be an effective treatment for obesity.

As for lean and fit men (and women) taking it in order to increase lean body mass and decrease body fat, there does not yet exist a clinical study as conclusive as this famous Godard study.  We can draw connections and hope that in all likelihood that since this worked for obese men it would also work for women.  It’s perfectly plausible and probably true.

Some of the most promising science on forskolin comes in the area of treating urinary tract infections.  Here’s why Forskolin may help cure UTIs when antibiotics alone don’t get it all.  This study was done on mice but it shows great promise for humans too (5).

Turns out that UTIs, which are commonly treated with antibiotics to kill bacteria in the urinary tract, have a nasty habit of recurring.  In one third of women who get UTIs, the infection comes back even when they undergo a full round of antibiotics (6).

The problem is how the bacteria behaves…specifically with how it interacts with cells in the bladder, where the infection occurs.  Turns out E. coli, the bacteria in question, has the ability to adhere to receptors in bladder cells which, when triggered, release little sacs.  These sacs act to help the bladder expand when it gets full.  The problem is, when the bladder is emptied and no longer needs to be expanded, these sacs go back into their “host” cells.

That’s when E. coli gets a free ride into the center of the bladder’s cells, where it’s sheltered from any antibiotics a woman might take.  They can come back out any time, alive and well, causing the UTI to recur.

What’s that got to do with forskolin?  Plenty, because what triggers those little empty sacs to come out is cyclic AMP.  When c-AMP levels rise, the sacs come out and help the bladder expand.

Forskolin has been found by researchers to dramatically increase levels of cyclic AMP within cells (that’s also why bodybuilders like it, since this is what triggers free testosterone to be produced).  Therefore, when the mice in the study were injected with forskolin extract, they witnessed an 80% reduction in the amount of E. Coli in those mice.  That means forskolin may have a huge impact on how effective antibiotics will have in treatment of UTIs.

It’s a known fact that birds, fish, and amphibians recover from hearing damage much more effectively than mammals.  In fact, what many birds (and fish etc) are able to recover from, results in permanent hearing damage for mammals.

Research performed at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA showed that forskolin was able to increase mammals’ ability to recover from damage that normally would have led to permanent damage in the ears (7).

Specifically, what causes hearing loss in organisms is loss of hair cells.  It’s already been established that birds, when continuously exposed to forskolin, experience a significant increase in regeneration of these hair cells.

The study aimed to find out if the same thing happened in mammals (rats).  What they found was promising: although prolonged exposure to forskolin didn’t do much to regrow hair cells, brief exposure did.  Rats who had under one hour of exposure to forskolin saw increased cAMP levels, which was brought on by that forskolin.  The increased cAMP levels trigger something scientists call “S-phase entry”…to you and me it means more hair cells being produced, hence recovery from hearing loss.

Not only that, but further research has been performed, which is exactly what we like to see in the field of medicine, supplements, and our health.

Side effects

Taking any supplement that is not needed can be harmful, although it seems to be safe to take forskolin.

But if it’s scientific proof you want, we’re not quite there.  As with all things scientific, we shouldn’t be making assumptions, even though our common sense tells us that if it works on the obese men, it should work on everyone else.


There’s one thing that’s consistent throughout all the forskolin studies, and that’s that it increases cAMP levels.  These levels form the trigger for a multitude of cellular activity, and if we can control it, we may have the ability to do amazing things, medically.

So, while the list at the beginning of this article may seem far-fetched at first, knowing what you now know about forskolin and cAMP levels, accompanied by the example of scientific research you’ve just seen, maybe it’s not so far-fetched after all.

Dr. Oz may have been guilty of jumping the gun and exaggerating, but science and time may prove him right, after all.

Ranking the best antiperspirants of 2018

For people who sweat a lot, sometimes a regular deodorant doesn’t cut it.

Instead of just covering up body odor, you need to fight it at its source.

The way to do that is with an antiperspirant–these are distinguished from regular deodorants by virtue of the fact that they include compounds (typically aluminum salts) that physically block sweat pores from secreting sweat.

Less sweat means less bacteria, and hence less odor, in addition to the obvious benefit of less underarm sweat excretion.

Need a reliable antiperspirant? Our researchers looked into the best antiperspirants on the market and ranked them according to their quality.

1. Speed Stick Power Unscented

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Speed Stick Power is the top unscented antiperspirant on account of its reliability and sweat-blocking power. It uses aluminum zirconium to plug sweat glands and prevent excess sweating, without any added scents or perfumes.

This should be the antiperspirant of choice if you like to wear cologne or perfume, because Speed Stick Power Unscented won’t interfere with the scent. It does one thing, which is block sweat, and it does it well.

2. Secret Clinical Strength

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Secret Clinical Strength is specially formulated for women who sweat a lot but still have to have their underarms visible.

Unlike some other antiperspirants, which leave chunks of white material under your arms, Secret Clinical Strength is designed to be deposited in a clear, invisible layer on your skin.

The clinical strength version is fully 20% aluminium zirconium, so you know it has the requisite sweat stopping power that you are looking for.

3. SweatBlock Clinical Strength Antiperspirant

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SweatBlock is an unscented antiperspirant that comes in a fairly high 14% concentration of aluminum zirconium. It’s pretty simplistic on the design front, with few extraneous ingredients other than what’s necessary to make up the rest of the formulation. It’s a bit unusual in that it comes in the form of a package of single-use wipes instead of a stick formulation.

Some people do report that it causes burning or an underarm rash; this is probably going to depend on how your individual skin chemistry interacts with the antiperspirant in SweatBlock.

4. Tom’s of Maine Women’s Antiperspirant Deodorant

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Tom’s of Maine fills a rare category: all-natural antiperspirants. Usually all-natural enthusiast opt for a deodorant that doesn’t have an antiperspirant ingredient because of worries about the health effects of aluminum, but Tom’s of Maine realizes that not everybody has this luxury. Some people who sweat a lot need an antiperspirant to get through the day, but would still like to keep it as natural as possible.

To this end, Tom’s of Maine uses naturally-sourced aluminum chlorohydrate to block sweat pores. It also uses naturally sourced ingredients like palm kernel oil to condition and soothe the skin, making this antiperspirant less likely to cause side effects like itching, burning and irritation. The flip side of this is that some people find the consistency chalky and the potency lacking.

5. Degree Men Dry Protection

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If you are looking for something a little more exciting than unscented antiperspirant, Degree has got you covered. Their Dry Protection formulation for men comes in several different scents, all of them geared towards men. For a mainstream product, it’s pretty strong; it contains 18% aluminum zirconium.

This is only slightly lower than some of the clinical strength antiperspirants on the market. Degree Men Dry Protection is a good combination of sweat stopping power and odor-covering scents that are geared especially for men.

6. ZeroSweat Antiperspirant

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ZeroSweat claims that its formulation, based on aluminum chloride, can last up to seven days. To accomplish this, it uses a very high concentration of aluminum chloride.

The majority of users love it, finding that it indeed can block sweat for several days at a time. However, the high concentration of the active ingredient leads to irritation and burns on some people’s skin.

ZeroSweat is a great option if you really need a heavy hitting antiperspirant to shut down underarm sweating, but only people who really need this level of power should opt for it, at least for starters.

7. Certain Dri Prescription Strength Clinical

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Certain Dri breaks from the back and uses aluminum chloride instead of aluminum zirconium as its sweat blocking agent.

This might make it work better for people whom aluminum zirconium antiperspirants have failed, but there also may be more of a concern with regards to side effects with this ingredient.

Like with other antiperspirants, some users complain about itching, rashes, redness, and irritation in their armpit after application. These problems seem especially severe for those with sensitive skin.

8. Driclor Roll-on Antiperspirant

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Driclor is a highly potent aluminum chloride based antiperspirants. At 20% aluminum chloride content, it’s the highest concentration chloride-based antiperspirant on the market, which has advantages and disadvantages.

If you have extremely bad underarm sweating, this might be a lifesaver. However, such a high concentration of the active ingredient surely increases the risk of an adverse reaction or negative side effects compared to a more middle of the road antiperspirant.

For this reason, Driclor should probably only be reserved for people who have not had success with other antiperspirants. Still,it fills a critical niche in the market, and those who need it really appreciate the sweat stopping power of Driclor.

9. Dove Clinical Protection

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Dove Clinical Protection combines the antiperspirant power of a 20% aluminum zirconium concentration with moisturizing agents to soothe skin.

However, these moisturizers aren’t particularly high quality; it’s mostly paraffin, wax, and sunflower seed oil. If you were hoping for high quality natural oils to moisturize your underarm, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Still, Dove Clinical Protection provides a light, pleasant fragrance that sets it apart from many of the unscented antiperspirants, so it will appeal to some people.

10. Gillette Clear Gel

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Gillette branches out from shaving to antiperspirants with a moderate-strength aluminum zirconium based antiperspirant.

It’s fairly popular, but it’s lacking in most areas–it’s not particularly strong, but it also doesn’t have any qualities that might reduce skin irritation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Gillette Clear Gel has denatured alcohol as its second ingredient, making it quite likely that the drying effect of this alcohol will have negative effects on your skin, especially if it’s sensitive. Despite the popularity of this antiperspirant, it’s better to look elsewhere at first.

Part Two: Antiperspirant benefits and side effects

Antiperspirants are indispensable for people who sweat a lot. Underarm sweat can be annoying, irritating, and embarrassing.

While a standard deodorant can kill bacteria and cover up smells, it can’t to anything to actually prevent you from sweating. This is where an antiperspirant really shines.

By using a chemical compound (almost always an aluminum-based inorganic salt), an antiperspirant can physically block sweat pores from secreting sweat. This prevents both underarm wetness and odor, because body odor comes from the bacterial decomposition of organic compounds in sweat.


Antiperspirants are one of the only ways people who sweat excessively can control their underarm sweat. Excessive sweating not only causes wetness, but when a particular kind of sweat gland is affected, body odor can be much worse.

According to Dr. Dee Anna Glaser from the International Hyperhidrosis Society, excessive sweating causes activation of two types of sweat glands. These are the eccrine sweat glands and the apocrine sweat glands.

Eccrine sweat glands are activated during heat exposure and exercise, and produce sweat that is mostly water–these are the source of excessive underarm wetness in people who sweat a lot.

But the apocrine sweat glands produce sweat that is a thick, cloudy liquid that is high in organic materials like lipids and proteins. This is the kind of sweat that results in a lot of body odor, because bacteria on your skin decompose these organic materials which results in odor.

Research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists demonstrates how antiperspirants can combat this effect (1).

A team of scientists took skin samples from the human forearm and exposed them to an aluminum-based antiperspirant compound. The researchers found that the aluminum combines with keratin in the skin to physically occlude (block) sweat pores, which shuts down sweat production.

This physical blockage can last for several days, which is how antiperspirants can function while only being applied a few times per week.

According to a 2002 review article in the European Journal of Dermatology, application of aluminum containing antiperspirant should be the first line of defense against excessive sweating (2).

Other treatments, like botox injections into the sweat glands, are available, but research demonstrates that upwards of 90% of people respond to an aluminum based antiperspirant. From this, it seems that an antiperspirant is the logical choice when it comes to fighting underarm sweating as effectively as possible.

Side Effects

Antiperspirants have a number of common side effects, which include rashes, burning, and skin irritation. Unfortunately, these adverse effects seem fairly common, according to a study published in 2014 by Dr. David M. Pariser and Angela Ballard (3).

They cite one study that found that 26% of patients who were prescribed an antiperspirant had to modify their use of it because of side effects. Pariser and Ballard to on to cite other research that characterizes the frequency and severity of side effects.

In a study of over 600 patients using antiperspirants, 70% of the cases of side effects were mild and short-lived. Another 21% had moderate side effects, and the remaining 9% had severe side effects. This last group likely had to find a different way to deal with their excessive sweating, which indicates that antiperspirants aren’t right for everybody.

Sometimes, a hydrocortisone anti-itch cream can relieve side effects, though this stands a chance of worsening symptoms too.

On a more practical level, aluminum containing antiperspirants are known to cause staining on white or light-colored clothes. The precise mechanism isn’t clear, but there is a direct relationship between using aluminum-based antiperspirants and yellow staining in clothes armpits.

It’s exceptionally hard to avoid this, and it’s also hard to remove the stains. The best prevention? Wearing a cheap undershirt.

A final area of concern for antiperspirant use relates to whether it causes an increased risk for chronic diseases. Aluminum has long been rumored to be linked to breast cancer in women; this appears to be based on a 2002 study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention (4).

In it, the author interviewed a series of women with breast cancer about their underarm shaving habits and their use of antiperspirant deodorant. Using statistical analysis, the author showed that women whose breast cancer occurred earlier in life also had a tendency to shave their armpits and use antiperspirant and deodorant more often.

A number of other researchers have criticized this finding, pointing out that there may be a confounding variable that causes the association–perhaps the women who shaved more also grew up in more urban areas and were thus exposed to more environmental toxins, for example.

Most major cancer institutions have come down on this side of the argument: the American Cancer Society, for example, says there is not nearly enough evidence to conclude that breast cancer is related to antiperspirant use (5). Still, worries about this and other health effects from aluminum based antiperspirants have lead some people to switch to natural deodorants.


Antiperspirants aren’t for everyone, but sometimes, there is no other way to stop excessive sweating and body odor. If regular deodorants aren’t cutting it, or if you have excessive underarm wetness, you probably need an antiperspirant.

While there is a decent chance of getting some negative side effects like itching, irritation, or a rash, these tend to be mild and short-lived. Antiperspirants have been found to be highly effective at reducing sweating because they directly block sweat pores, stopping the source of the problem.

The bottom line is that if you have excessive underarm sweating, antiperspirants stand a very good chance of solving your problems.