[00:00] Tian Chi/ GainsWave Treatments
[04:02] About Dr. Hector Lopez
[08:31] How Dr. Lopez Got Into Supplements
[32:03] Amazon’s Supplement Lines
[33:16] Thrive Market/ Health IQ
[36:12] Shocks of the Nutrition-Supplement Industry
[39:30] The Difference Between SOP and CGMP in the Manufacturing Facilities
[45:02] What Makes A Good Supplement?
[1:06:15] Newest Bioactive Ingredients
[1:27:58] End of the Podcast
Ben: Well hello, my friends. I have a funny story. I had a dog growing up, a boxer, a Brindle Boxer, and my dog’s name was Hector, and my podcast guest on today’s show is also named Hector, but he’s not a dog. He’s a pretty smart dude, especially when it comes to navigating the supplements industry. He’s a formulator, he knows a ton, so I got a chance to pick his brain for a while, and I think you’re going to really dig what you come away with on this one as far as understanding the oft confusing wide world of supplements just a tad bit better.
But before we jump into that I want to tell you about, speaking of supplements, this stuff called Tian Chi, T-I-A-N-C-H-I. Now it’s an herb extract, a whole bunch of herbs in one tiny packet, and the thing is when you buy herbs, especially Chinese adaptogenic herbs, the herbal extract are mixed at about a ten-to-one. That means they use about ten pounds of raw herb to make one pound of pure extract. This guy actually has about a 45 to one yield out of these Tian Chi herbs, meaning 45 pounds of raw herb to produce one pound of pure extract. The guy that makes it, his name Roger Drummer. He’s been on my podcast twice, one of the smartest Chinese adaptogenic herbs and Chinese medicine practitioners that I know. He lives out in Portland, Oregon.
Anyway, so he’s jammed inside this tiny pack, a schizandra, reishi, ashwagandha, aclonia. One really interesting one that’s basically known as huperzine which is fantastic for blood flow to the brain. They use that on TBIs in football players. It’s got a restorative for the liver and the kidneys. It’s got something called polygonum in it which translates to hose black hair, one of the main kidney restoratives in Chinese herbology. The list of these things go on and on and on. There’s only one Chinese adaptogenic herb blend that you will find at my website Kion at getkion.com, and it’s this stuff. That’s amazing. I get one big box, and it says on the box “Brighten Your Mind” and it actually does just that. I take it on an empty stomach, mid-morning or mid-afternoon, when I need a non-jittery pick-me-up. Check it out, getkion.com, and this is called Tian Chi. GetK-I-O-N.com, and look for Tian Chi.
This podcast is also brought to you by GainsWave. It is a well-kept secret that I’ve been using for months. It’s a bedroom biohack for guys, and they actually have one for girls, too, for fantastic sexual performance, age, stress. A ton of factors get in the way of a fulfilling sex life, and what this does is it reverses all that. This natural treatment takes a few minutes, breaks open all blood vessels, builds new blood vessels and requires no needles and no drugs, and I actually put together a huge video of my first experience with GainsWave that you can go check out. Since I started drinking the GainsWave Kool Aid, I’ve had better erections and better sex and longer orgasms. They used pulsating sound waves to increase blood flow to the penis, gives you a firmer, more resilient erection, and you can watch the video. It’s safe for work, kind of, and you can also get thrown into a promo for six treatments, and they’re actually going to include another one on the house, via 12 treatments. You get the 13th free. I’m actually going in for treatment at the time of this recording, tomorrow. So go to gainswave.com/ben, they have practitioners all over the U.S.A. Gainswave.com/ben to find against a GainsWave provider near you. Alright, let’s go talk to Hector.
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield, and if you’re like me, you take supplements sometimes, but where they came from, how they were made, how that ingredient label came to say what it says about the ingredients or claims to have in the actual bottle of whatever it is that you’re taking, it’s a real rabbit hole and a real can of worms. Those are the best two analogies I can think of to describe what goes on in the supplement industry, and occasionally, I like to get industry insiders on the show, folks who understand the nuts and bolts of what’s going on when say you toss back a handful of capsules or take some oil or powder or tablet or anything else. The guy that I managed to get on today’s show is probably one of the most well-educated fellows who exists in the nutrition supplement industry. His name is Dr. Hector Lopez. He’s an MD, and what I like about him is he’s also a certified strength-conditioning coach, so he understands exercise. He’s got a big background in sports medicine and exercise science, nutritional biochemistry, metabolism and clinical research.
He’s actually the CMO and the Partner-of-Center for something called Applied Health Sciences which is this multi-disciplinary clinical research organization, and they actually focus on really increasing the body of evidence within the dietary supplement and the natural product and the functional medicine and the functional foods and beverage industry and I’ll let him speak a little bit more of that as well as his participation in something called Nutravigilance, which basically acts to make sure that you’re not going to die or have explosive diarrhea or get a third eye growing out your head when you take a supplement. He actually has a pretty starred history in the supplement industry as well and consults a whole bunch of different professional athletes and professional athlete organizations from the NFL to the NBA to the MLB and beyond, and so I’ll let him tell you a little bit more about his history and how he got into all this in the first place, but I’ve been emailing Dr. Lopez and talking to Dr. Lopez a lot just because, as many of you know, I have this new nutrition supplement company called Kion, and I’m really working on bringing out some very unique formulations, some novel delivery mechanisms, and most importantly, supplements that are of an extremely high quality compared to a lot of the crap that you find out there in the nutrition-supplement industry, and so Dr. Lopez has been really helping me navigate through that as well. So, Dr. Lopez, welcome to the show, man.
Dr. Lopez: Awesome, man. Well thanks for having me on. I’ve got to say, I’m a little embarrassed with that intro, and that was a glorious intro. So, thank you for that.
Ben: You seem even more embarrassed because before we started recording you told me you’d never even heard the podcast before.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, that’s true.
Ben: Have you heard a podcast before? Do you listen to podcasts at all?
Dr. Lopez: I do on occasion, I have. I’ve listened to some of Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogen, and I’ve listened to some podcasts when I’m traveling sometimes, but you know what? I’m going to have to listen to yours.
Ben: Those guys are jokers. Their podcasts are teeny, tiny podcasts. Nobody listens to them, and you got to listen to The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show, dude. Who the heck are they? So how did you get into the whole supplement industry, man? I mean you’re your physician, but did you start off being interested in nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals and supplements or was this something that you developed over time?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, it’s been an interesting journey actually, so I would have to say that what’s happened to me is I’ve actually just come full circle, to be honest. So, I’ll tell you a funny story actually, so going back to when I was probably about 11 or 12 years old, and I don’t think I’ve actually ever told this story on any prior radio or podcasts or any show before, so there we go, man.
Ben: Oh boy, we get the exclusive, baby.
Dr. Lopez: You’re getting the exclusive, so actually pretty funny story, I grew up in North Jersey, North Bergen. And North Bergen, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that being, that was the initial headquarters and the very first Vitamin Shoppe. The Vitamin Shoppe store, the franchise of stores of retail?
Ben: Oh yeah, I’ve seen that. I used to wander through those and go straight to that little metal shopping cart in the middle that had all the bargain bin stuff. Grab the fish oil that was knocked down from $35 down to two, just try any of the fringe powders with the man in a can posing on the front of them. So yeah, I’ve wandered through a few Vitamin Shoppes in my time.
Dr. Lopez: I’m sure you have, so here I am, an 11 or 12-year old kid, and already at that time, I love the sciences, but I also love everything athletics, anything sports related. I remember reading through my dad’s old school weed or pubs, the magazines like Muscle and Fitness or sometimes, as we used to call it, Muscle and Fiction.
Ben: Or Flex?
Dr. Lopez: Right, Flex, all those Ironman way back when, but I was always mostly drawn to and intrigued by the science and the mechanisms and anything that would delve into, even touching upon the science of how ingredients work, how bioactive compounds really did what they did, how they could potentially support enhancing essentially what I didn’t know at the time was human performance. Whether it be cognitive or physical, on or off the field. And so, when I was about 11 and a half or 12, I actually went to the main. This is the big headquarters Vitamin Shoppe, it’s a huge distribution warehouse, and there’s a small little store front and I guess this was probably in the late 80s or so, and I approached the front desk and I asked for a manager ’cause I remember telling my parents. I said I want to work at Vitamin Shoppe, but I want to do something in their labs. I want to do something chemistry-related or biochemistry-related, and maybe I could do an internship or maybe I could just volunteer. I don’t care, whatever it took, right? So, it was pretty funny ’cause I approached the front counter and asked for the manager. He brought the manager in, and I asked him. I said, “I’m really interested in science, and I’m a great science student, straight-A science student. Great at math, I’d love to work in your lab. Where’s your bio chemistry lab here on the office?” So, after about 30 or 40 seconds of straight laughing, they said, “Oh kid, hate to break it to you, but we don’t really do any of that here.” So, I was struck with the harsh reality, it’s like finding out Santa Claus wasn’t real.
Ben: Yeah, we don’t test jack sh*t, baby. We just sell it.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, exactly. We just distribute and sell. We’re good in the marketing piece. That we’re good at. So, the blowhorn, so if you can write marketing copy, we’ll definitely do the… [laughs] So now that was the very first introduction into the harsh reality that obviously, I had a lot to learn about the industry, but I was only 11 and a half, 12 at the time. So basically, I was a decent athlete growing up but definitely not elite by any stretch. I was not one of those guys that would walk into the gym and had that sort of mesomorphic physique. They’d inhale a couple times in the gym, walk out, and they’d put on a few pounds of lean body mass over a month. That was definitely not me, so then I started getting more intrigued and more interested in the science.
Hey, if I wasn’t going to be a pro athlete and I wasn’t going to be able to play professional baseball, for example, then maybe I could find a way to make other talented athletes better, right? Make good athletes great, make great athletes exceptional, and so that got me down the path of everything that I looked at, science-wise throughout high school. I always looked through the lens of I wonder how this plays into nutrition, how does this play into strength and conditioning, exercise physiology, exercise science? Really the science of human performance and athletic feats. So that really was my genesis. I loved molecular biology and biochemistry, but I also had this passion for nutrition and the more macro-stuff how it actually all happens? From a molecular level all the way up to the macro level. S then I went to undergrad at Rutgers and double majored in Nutritional Sciences and Molecular Bio and I minored in Exercise Science, so that was it. That was basically a view in a nutshell. I was in heaven because I was studying.
Ben: Oh yeah, for sure. That’s actually similar ’cause what I did was I put together my own self-directed master’s degree course when I went to University of Idaho, and I thought there’s three things that I’m interested in: exercise, nutrition and supplements ’cause at that point, I was into bodybuilding, totally geeked out, bro science enthusiast. Dude, I was 215 pounds. I was three-and-a-half percent body fat, and I pretty much lived on creatine, and what’s that central nervous system stimulant? Redline, I think it was called?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah.
Ben: Redline, I was sponsored by ABB, so I did a lot of these ABB bodybuilding protein shakes and crapped out of straw every day, had tuna cans.
Dr. Lopez: You mean straight out of a tuna can.
Ben: Oh, for sure. You put a little relish, little ketchup in there to make it taste good. These days, I’d probably do it with Stevia on top of tuna or something crazy like that. But anyways, yeah. So, I did exercise science combined with a lot of advanced human nutrition coursework and a lot of pharmacology coursework, so I spent a lot time in the microbiology lab and the biochemistry lab doing my practicums and my internship. So, it’s kind of interesting, we wound up probably taking a lot of the similar classes in undergrad and graduate school, but you just decide to put on the big boy pants and become a doctor whereas I became a professional trainer.
Dr. Lopez: Whereas you went into personal training. Well I listen, I have a ton of respect the fitness profession, in general. I ended up getting my CSCF, as you mentioned, real early on. I was actually CSCF before I was a physician, certainly before I got my Master’s in Nutritional Biochem. So yeah, I dig it man. I get where your interests were at, and again, a lot of them were probably aligned as you say. So what happened to me interestingly enough, I had no plans to go to medical school ’cause I always felt I was just going to get in the way. I mean in undergrad, you know how you’d meet with your advisors and if you’re doing well academically, they feel like you’ve got some potential to beef up their stats if you can go to med school and score well on the MCAT. But every time they pushed me in that direction, I said I’m really not interested ’cause ultimately, I wanted to probably go to grad school, get a PhD and then get into the industry somehow. That was my plan probably, all the way up to about my junior year in undergrad, and then my dad came down with some really strange or odd symptoms.
He developed diplopia and some neurological symptoms, and then I was forced to get closer to medicine from a completely different perspective, and so when my dad, he was seeing a bunch of neurologists. I was going to a lot of the visits with them neuro-ophthalmologists, etcetera. I realized in my communications with them, I was probably in their eyes, this is the wise kid, the wise guy. Nineteen year old who thinks he knows a thing or two about patient care, and he’s good in the sciences and he’s trying to show me up, but I just realized there was such a gap between what was happening in medicine in general and what we were discovering on the applied exercise physiology, nutritional biochemistry, applied dietary supplementation, advanced supplementation, even in the life extension longevity areas of nutrition. So I felt like there was such a gap there, like there were two different islands, and they were operating in silos. So for me, I felt like you know what? I think I should go to med school and try to bridge that gap. Ultimately I felt like if I went into some sports medicine field, I could still do both a little bit, and so I decided pretty late actually. It was probably late in my junior year into my senior year, took my MCATs and did well and then ended up going to med school and then ended up in Chicago after that.
Ben: Where’d you go to med school?
Dr. Lopez: Robert Wood Johnson, it’s now Rutgers Medical School.
Ben: Yeah, I joked when I went to personal training, but I also took the MCATs, and I got accepted to six different medical schools, and none of them were the medical schools that I wanted, so I threw a hissy fit and I went back and worked for about four months in the medical industry selling surgical tools and hips and these and just became completely dislike… I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, and I got totally disillusioned with the medical industry, and then I pivoted and went back into fitness after that gig working for Biomet over in Post Falls, Idaho. So, I never actually went to medical school, obviously. But anyways, that’s okay ’cause there’s guys like you who did and wound up getting into the supplement industry.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, that’s cool though. Again, there’s definitely a lot of alignment there ‘cause of our interests, man. So, then I ended up becoming a Midwesterner for a while and I did my physiatry or PM&R, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. That was my specialty that I chose because again, advisers and counselors trying to push me into a competitive neurosurgical or orthopedic surgical field, and I just feel I just don’t want to be in the OR. I want to be able to really integrate. Honestly, a lot of people thought I was crazy but ended up starting to get involved in an interest group, various sports medicine interest has been saying listen, you may think I’m crazy, but I actually have this business plan. I develop a business plan while I was in med school that I wanted to integrate all of these things, all the things that I’m sure that had we gone to school together, who knows? We might still be practicing together because it sounds like you probably would have been interested in something like this that essentially was a complete integration of medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic. We’d have a little gym, like a studio, a fitness studio in the office, a procedure suite to be able to do PRP and regenerative injection techniques, and this was in the 90s.
Ben: Yeah, this is so funny ’cause when I graduated I partnered with a physician. Not when I graduated, but after a couple years working as a personal trainer, after I got my master’s degree, I partnered with a physician, and we opened this one-stop shop for sports medicine. We had one of the first PRP units…
Dr. Lopez: Wait, did you use Harvest PRP? You remember that? That was one of the first ones.
Ben: I don’t remember the brand, it was one of the first ones. We had full high-speed video cameras for 3D biomechanical analysis of gates and for cycling and for exercising. We had EKG set up, we had interact calorimetry and VO2 Max testing. We had a full biomechanics and exercise physiology lab that I was the director. I was the Director of Sport Performance called Champion Sports Medicine. That was my job, that was my role for six or seven years. I did wind up doing something that sounds similar to what you were doing.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Ben: I was just a PR, not the physician.
Dr. Lopez: No, it seems like that’s the theme you keep getting into here, but no, man. I think it’s awesome because again, very parallel paths here, and so long story short, I ended up going to Northwestern and doing my residency out there and then fellowship and continued to work on the business plan essentially. I said look, I’m going to invest whatever I have, anything I have. I’m not going to join a group because I felt like joining a group at that point, you’d join a surgical group for example most of the time, and you probably know because you worked in that area. In that setting, the surgeon is probably going to be a little more aggressive and is going to call the shots, and here, we wanted to shift the paradigm and make it effectively a non-surgical musculoskeletal institute that was integrative and functional. So we would bring in, we’d have nutrition protocols. We’d work with an RD who would also see patients, so it was sort a one-stop shop where patients would come in for some ailment. Let’s say rotator cuff tendinopathy, and they would leave better after rehabbing their rotator cuff, and they would leave more functional. If you were to take a look at their biomarkers across the board, they were effectively younger and more functional when they left than when they came in. So that was the model, and so after my residency, I invested everything I had to open that model. I partnered with a couple of chiropractors in New Jersey, and we opened that model. It flourished.
As you can imagine, earlier in the 2000s, there was really a dearth of that, at least in this area in New Jersey, New York. There was really no one doing everything to that extent, and so the model just flourished, so I ended up getting to the point where we regressively brought in a couple of other partners which was interesting because I think that the rapid growth and maybe not being careful enough with selecting one of my partners ended up effectively causing a rift. There were seven offices of this model, and we ended up essentially breaking up. I sold my interest back to the practice. He ended up showing some colors that were a little ugly, and I’ve since forgiven him for everything that happened, but I’ve actually thanked them because if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have been thrusted all the way back to come full circle to get into the industry again ’cause at that time I was consulting part time. I was doing some ghostwriting for a few big sports nutrition brands. The big boys that now are owned by Glandia, and actually as you mentioned before, like Redline. I was also consulting with running clinical trials for some dietary ingredients and finished products in the industry with Tim Sigafoos at the time, and we were just working part time in that capacity because, as you can imagine running a booming practice with seven offices and many employees was definitely taking up a lot of time while growing the family as well. So finally, the break up really between one of my partners and I is what thrusted me full bore into the industry again, and so Tim Sigafoos who’s a PhD, Exercise Physiologist, he used to be the chief science officer for Biotest and T. Nation. Do you remember those guys?
Ben: Yeah, for sure. I’ve written some articles for T. Nation, and what was the other one you said?
Dr. Lopez: Biotest.
Ben: That’s bodybuilding.com supplement line, yeah?
Dr. Lopez: No, so it’s actually T. Nation.
Ben: Oh yeah, so it’s T. Nation’s supplement line.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, Biotest Lab out of Colorado.
Ben: Right, sorry I get my websites mixed up that have the standard ripped men and women on them. There’s just so many.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, they are now, and they’re a dime a dozen now. A lot of them are going to go away anyway, soon.
Ben: Wait, why do you say that?
Dr. Lopez: Well, the big disrupter I guess. Not necessarily go away, but they’re going to change. They’re going to have to change, they’re going to have to adapt because the big disrupter’s coming right, which is Amazon.
Ben: Really, what do you mean?
Dr. Lopez: They’ve already shown signs of wanting to get into the industry with their elements, the Amazon elements line.
Ben: I don’t know anything about that, so Amazon’s launching its own nutritional supplements line, huh?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, well they launched already. It’s called Elements.
Ben: Is it good?
Dr. Lopez: Well, they’re doing some cool things, I must say. They’re doing some great things. They’re using the QR code where you can scan the label and get the original C of A. You get the original lot and production information from when it was manufactured, where it was manufactures, so I think there’s a lot more of that transparency. Full transparency, full disclosure. They’re doing some cool things actually, and so that’s why I’m saying they’re going to be the big disrupter because their scale, right?
Ben: That’s interesting, but they’re probably going to do a lot of the popular stuff like fish oil, multivitamins?
Dr. Lopez: Right, that’s how they started.
Ben: Greens and stuff like that.
Dr. Lopez: You’re right. That’s exactly what they did. They did magnesium, curcumin, generic turmeric, a 95% curcuminoid, turmeric. I believe they did a D3 of Vitamin D, and I think they’ve got a calcium supplement as well for women. So, they’re going to continue to expand their line, but who knows where they go next? The writing’s sort of on the wall, that they’re probably going to want to dive into some of these other functional categories maybe.
Ben: Yeah, maybe. I don’t know, you know this ’cause we’ve been talking but I’m really not that interested anymore in the basics, the multi-vitamins and fish oils just ’cause there are so many companies like Amazon that are doing those type of things. I’m wanting to develop as we are developing a lot more very, very unique formulations that are combinations of things that I’ve discovered and used myself that are mash up of a lot of things, for longevity and ketosis and gut and things like that. So basically, as a physician, you transitioned away from the traditional patient and clinical practice and dove into working with a lot of these supplement companies, and you’ve got this thing now called Nutrivigilance. Is that kinda where everything wound up?
Dr. Lopez: No, so basically, I partnered with Tim at CHS which is that Center for Applied Health Science. That’s the human clinical research center basically, a research institute. So, we do all our clinical trials at CHS in Ohio, then Supplement Safety Solutions is another company. I have a different partner there, Dr Steve Schmidt, and what we do there is that’s mostly a regulatory compliance, safety-based company. So it works on a different aspect of the industry, so CHS is doing clinical trials to validate and substantiate safety and efficacy of just about many of the most common ingredients that are available right now in the market to even multi-ingredient finished products as well. We do we do studies there at CHS. So CHS is the research that validates the safety and efficacy, then Supplement Safety Solutions does Nutrivigilance which is basically now pre and post-market safety surveillance. So what that means is if you’re a company like Kion, Kion wants to know that when they bring a product to market, and they introduce it into interstate commerce, took their consumer base, it’s important for them to abide by some of these federal regulations that are in place. For example, since 2007, there’s something called the non-prescription drug, Dietary Supplement Consumer Protection Act, and what that act does is it lays out a set of rules and guidelines that mandates that anyone who sells a product into commerce anything commercial for an ingestible product that’s a dietary supplement, is supposed to have an adverse event report and customer complaint like a product quality, complaint system in place. Now you probably wouldn’t be surprised. I was doing to say you’d be surprised how many brands out there don’t have a system. [laughs] You guys are obviously different because right from the beginning you made that a priority, but there are many brands that are still flying out there without an actual legitimate system that can actually keep an eye on the cookie jar, if you will.
Ben: I want to ask you what that means for people who are actually grabbing a supplement, and by the way, not to distract us too much or dive down too deep of a rabbit hole, but I just checked out that Amazon supplements line. I don’t like it, dude. Their multivitamin is folic acid grown on yeasts, like synthetic folic acid which is bad news bears for people. There’s a crap load of Vitamin D, there’s no Vitamin K or anything in there, so you get increased risk of calcification. Somebody needs to tell Amazon what’s up ’cause I wouldn’t use the stuff.
Dr. Lopez: I think if you think about it, if you’re them they’re trying to dip their toe in the water and be very careful with it. I’m sure they’ve got a team and army of attorneys and legal guys, and it’s almost like the prod development team there is probably being run mostly by regulatory and by legal, which is not the way you want to run a company if you want to be innovative and truly bringing something of a little more unique value, at least.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you about these fantastic little coconut wraps that I lovingly wrap my salads in. You can put a little almond butter and some fresh berries in there to make yourself a healthy PB and J. These wraps are made from coconut meat, coconut water and extra virgin coconut oil. That’s it, those are only ingredients. They’re gluten-free, raw vegan, they’re Paleo-friendly, everything is ethically source, and they come ready to roll. You can put anything in them, and they have this wonderful chewy flavor. They even have a turmeric option, flavored with a little bit of organic turmeric powder. This is just one of the many fantastic and certified organic items I order when I shop at this company called Thrive Market. It’s an online grocery store, 70% of their stuff you can’t even find on Amazon, so don’t try. The largest retailer in the country that sells exclusively non-GMO ingredients. They have a little filter on their website where you can filter stuff based on your preferences, Paleo, vegan, non-GMO, Fair Trade Certified, ketogenic, you name it. You just click a button and boom, they have everything there. It’s a fun website to visit, too, because rather than getting sticker shock at all the prices, they actually have everything at 25 to 50% below traditional retail prices. I don’t know how they do it, it’s magic. Anyways, they’re also, even though their prices are already up to 50% off, they’re giving you an extra 60 bucks in free groceries and free shipping. Extra 60 bucks in free groceries and free shipping, so what you want to do is go to thrivemarket.com/greenfield. That’s thrivemarket.com/greenfield, that automatically gets you the free groceries, the free shipping, everything.
This podcast is also brought to you by Health IQ. Health IQ uses science and data to give you lower rates on life insurance because you’re a runner or a cyclist or a strength trainer or you eat a super healthy diet, right, don’t you? Well if so, then you can save four all the way up to 33% on your life insurance. It’s like saving money on your car insurance for being a good driver. Health IQ saves you money and your life insurance for living a health-conscious lifestyle. So, what they’ve done is they’ve set up so that you can only learn more, but you can get a free quote. Very, very simple to do. You go to healthiq.com/ben. That’s healthiq.com/ben. They’ve shown that physically active people have a 56% lower risk of heart disease, 20% lower risk of cancer, 58% lower risk of diabetes and Health IQ is basically going to bat for you based on this data to get you lower rates on your life insurance. So healthiq.com/ben. Alright, back to today’s show.
Ben: You’re talking about how a lot of these nutrition supplements, companies, and we don’t want to kick the horse to death ’cause I think a lot of people know that it’s not that well-regulated, the nutrition-supplements industry. And in many cases, folks can just push out there, whatever they want and slap anything they want on the label even if the bottle doesn’t contain what it says that it contains, but when it comes to an issue like that, what are some examples of common things that people are consuming that really aren’t regulated that well. I mean in terms of one bottle versus another, what are some of the shocking things that you found in the nutrition-supplement industry?
Dr. Lopez: Alright, so obviously without giving anyone up because, as you can imagine in this position, especially under supplements safety is sometimes I feel like a priest or rabbi. We end up finding out everyone’s darkest deepest secrets, in terms of wow, that really happened, but some of these some of these things that occur they happen because of human error. They’re not necessarily intentional, so I’ll throw that caveat out there. Not everything is done with intentional malice, but I will say look, we were involved in a situation where there was a disgruntled employee and a contract manufacturer, right? And a pretty prominent sports nutrition brand unfortunately ended up succumbing to having their product run on a line that this disgruntled employee was employed on and it was during his shift, and let’s just say that he introduced less than desirable items into product, and that’s something that we were able to discover and do root cause analysis and investigation, and that’s part of what we do. That’s one of the extreme reasons why the FDA mandates that if you’re going to introduce a product into interstate commerce and you’re going to have consumers using your product, that’s why you need to have a surveillance system in place, even after the fact, after you’ve produced the product ’cause sometimes the only way you ever find out is if you’re surveilling what’s happening with consumer complaints. So that’s an example of something that ended up really shocking, it’s something that happened maybe five or six years ago with a very prominent brand.
Ben: When you say introducing a foreign compound into the nutrition-supplement, you make it sound like, forget the name of a movie where the guy’s putting hair and jacking off into people’s food. Are we talking about stuff like that or just basically steroids, hormones, actual compounds that people normally wouldn’t want in a supplement?
Dr. Lopez: No, it is more like the first.
Ben: Oh, gosh. I was afraid you’d say that. Okay, well that’s nasty. So this is a contract manufacturer, when you say contract manufacturer, what you mean is that unlike a company like Thorne, for example, the supplements were not being produced in-house by that company, but that company had contracted with the manufacturer to actually make that supplement for them, which was a very common practice in the nutrition-supplement industry.
Dr. Lopez: Absolutely.
Ben: But this was not a manufacturing practice that was being well-regulated, and so this guy was able to do that.
Dr. Lopez: Exactly, so they didn’t have the appropriate processes. So really what would happen is the problem there starts with GMP, right? That contract manufacturer really, really didn’t have their eyes dotted and their Ts crossed when it comes to good manufacturing practices.
Ben: So, they weren’t GMP?
Dr. Lopez: They were, but they weren’t following. They were they had an SOP, but what good is having an SOP if you’re actually not following your SOP with the appropriate oversight and in-process controls and etcetera. So, they weren’t following their GMP guidelines.
Ben: Okay, if people don’t know what an SOP is, you’re just referring to standard operating procedures for that particular manufacturing facility.
Dr. Lopez: Exactly, that’s correct.
Ben: And for people who aren’t familiar with CGMP, can you describe that?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, so CGMP, it’s now a federally mandated, good manufacturing practices, which basically, it’s regulated by something called 21 CFR which is the Code of Federal Regulations. It’s basically federal law, and it’s part 111 and 110. So, part 110 covers food, part 111 covers dietary supplements, and for your audience who may not know, well how do you know the difference? The quick and dirty, the easy way to tell is if you look on the back of your product or your bottle, if there’s a supplement facts panel, it’s a dietary supplement. If it’s a nutrition facts panel, then technically it is regulated as a food. So that’s the quick and dirty way. Now what the CGMP does is it basically sets up a set of rules and regulations and standards about how to run everything. Let’s say you’ve got a pre-workout product that’s got four ingredients in it, right? Now those ingredients need to come into the manufacturing facility. Somehow, they need to be delivered there, so they get delivered with paperwork, which it’s supposed to include a certificate of analysis, but part of the GMP process is it doesn’t allow you to just trust that C of A because they can be doctored, and they could be obviously fraudulent C of As.
So, what they make you do is they make you quarantine per GMP. You’re supposed to quarantine in a locked area or at least in an area that is clearly demarcated and separated off to the side. Any incoming raw materials are quarantined before they get tested again, confirmed and then released into inventory. So ingredients come in, they get tested, they get verified, then they get released from quarantine, and now they go into inventory and now they can be used for the staging process which requires something called the Master Manufacturing Record for every product that’s manufactured. Then there’s something called the Batch Production Record, and once it goes into production with the milling and the mixing and the filling of the product into either absol, tablets, if it’s a powder, a ready to mix powder, then it goes directly into a container. Then there’s the late cover, so GMP covers all of that from soup to nuts, from start to finish, including labeling, bottling, what you do with the inventory, how and when it gets released for shipping. So again, if it’s a contract manufacturer that’s working on behalf of the brand, the brand is also supposed to have their own way of verifying that the contract manufacturer they’re using is in fact following GMP guidelines. So, they’re supposed to be audited on a routine basis, and then the brand themselves is supposed to test and release the finished product, the finished good before it goes into interstate commerce, before a consumer, a customer is able to purchase it.
Ben: So you’re saying is a lot of companies don’t do that, they take shortcuts?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah of course, because it takes resources and money to do all this, right? And so yeah, if a company is motivated by economics, and they’re trying to save a buck, then this is an area they can certainly save a few bucks and it’s the process, the GMP process. In addition too, they can save a buck by using inferior quality ingredients, raw materials. Those are other ways they can obviously save a dollar or two.
Ben: Okay, so to do things right, for example, there are a few supplements that I take every day like a multivitamin, a fish oil, creatine. Those are my daily staples. Let’s say fish oil, for example. Walk me through what it would look like for a company to be doing everything right, when it comes to designing a supplement like that, that a lot of folks are taking. What will be the steps that you would love to see a company going through or that people listening in could look into when it comes to the nutritional supplement that they’re using as a staple and whether or not the company making that is actually going through each of the steps that you would like to see a company going through?
Dr. Lopez: Yes, so let’s use your example of fish oil, for example. So, fish oil is a good one because actually I used to do some consulting for Nordic Naturals. They’re definitely one of the leading fish oil brands in the world right now. So, one of the things you want to make sure is first, there’s your raw material, so what’s your source, your source of the raw materials? So you can source fish oil from different biomasses, so you can source it from sardines, you can source it from salmon, you can source it from any other fatty fish, anchovies? Some of the things you’d want to make sure if you’re going from scratch and you’re building a fish oil brand per se is first, you want to make sure that your source is fresh, that it’s reliable, that it’s sustainable and that you can test it, obviously for purity and potency. So with fish oil, you want to make sure that it’s fresh. So one of the ways you can check for oil freshness is you can see if it’s oxidized. You can check for peroxidation value. Now this is an area where it can get a little controversial because there actually could be a role, believe it or not, for consuming somewhat what people would consider well that’s rancid fish oil or rancid oil, why would you ever place rancid oil into your body? Why would you ever consume that? Well there’s actually a hormetic, there’s a theory of if you take salmon oil, for example, and ferment it, some of those oxidized byproducts are actually signaling agents, and you can actually take advantage of the hormetic response and your body can develop an endogenous antioxidant response to it.
So it’s almost like you’re introducing a stress, and then you’re adapting to that stress, but let’s just say you want the freshest fish oil possible ’cause that could be a little controversial and that could be another discussion for another day or an article. But you want to check for peroxidation value, then of course you want to see how clean that oil is, so you want to make sure that it’s independently tested using something called ICP Mass Spec. Mass Spectroscopy is a way to basically measure the level of heavy metals in the product, so you want to see what kind of heavy metal load it contains. When you’re talking about fish oil, you want to test for things like dioxins or persistent organic pollutants things like PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyl compounds. And then once you have clean oil, you want to keep it clean. So one of the things that the best fish oil companies in the world do is when they source their fish and they start to extract the oil, they actually start doing it and keep it under what’s called the nitrogen blanket. So they use nitrogen gas to keep not only the temperature down and under control, but also when you have nitrogen gas in a closed loop system, you’re basically displacing oxygen. So, you’re able to keep your oil a lot fresher, right? So you’re preventing the oxidation from taking place.
So after you know that you’ve assured exceptional freshness and you’ve got high quality oil and you’re keeping it that way, then you want to basically have control over your entire supply chain or as much as possible, and if you’re the kind of company that cannot have control over the entire supply chain from a century. If you’re talking about a botanical product from seed to shelf, or in the case of oil, from fish to bottle, then you should at least have an incredible amount of oversight over that entire process, and there should be a chain of custody that allows you to see everything that you’re oil has been through, what it’s been exposed to, what processes has it been exposed to, what temperatures has it been maintained under, how has it been cared for throughout the entire supply chain? Until it gets to the bottling facility or manufacturing facility which then goes into those stages that we talked about before into GMT. So, there’s a lot that goes into it, a good quality product.
Ben: How many companies in the supplements industry do you think are actually jumping through all these hoops with their products?
Dr. Lopez: Oh gosh. It has gotten better, I will say that, and part of the reason it’s gotten better is because of exposure. I mean social media, for example. It’s keeping more companies honest. You have tiers, you probably have a top quartile. You could probably break it up into quartiles. You have a top 25% where a quarter of the brands are really following all the necessary steps to keep to ensure that they’re providing a high quality product to their consumers. In terms of following all these steps and jumping through all these hoops, but then you’ve got another 25% that’s probably doing maybe 75% of it, and then you’ve got another probably half or 50% that’s probably only following 50% of these guidelines or these, let’s call them best practices.
Ben: How can people know when they look at the actual bottle that they’re consuming it? What are the actual things people should be looking for on the label? Are there markers, are there ways that aside from like calling a company or visiting a company’s website and scrolling through whatever laboratory analyses of things like that, that people can actually look for?
Dr. Lopez: So that would be the main thing to look for are if you called, let’s say you’re interested in a brand, you should be able to ask the brand to produce certificate of analysis of the badge or the lot of every product that they are producing. So if you’re about to purchase a product then you’ve got a lot number, you should be able to call the company or the brand and ask and require that they provide you with a certificate of analysis showing the results of that C of A for any of the major marker compounds that they’ve chosen in order to assure that that product contains what it says it contains. Now you do have third party purveyors like NSF, for example. NSF certified for sport which definitely is an organization that puts companies through the hoops of making sure that they follow not only appropriate GMP guidelines but in order to get NSF certified for sport. They also need to be prepared in a manner that minimizes any risk of cross contamination like for an athlete that’s tested, for example, a tested athlete. Same thing for informed choice, informed sport is another good one. Banned substance control group is another good one, so there’s probably a top three that you can look for if you want to make sure that a product is manufactured in a way that it will minimize cross contamination or adulteration.
Ben: Okay, what were the three again?
Dr. Lopez: So, NSF, informed choice/informed sport, and then the third is BSCG or banned substance control group.
Ben: What about that Australian one?
Dr. Lopez: TGA?
Ben: Yeah, TGA.
Dr. Lopez: So TGA is different in that they don’t test the finished product, so that it’s not necessarily as much of an issue with brands. TGA is more of a level certification that a contract manufacturer has to undergo in order to be TGA-certified. So that’s more on the contract manufacturing level. TGA basically elevates the standards beyond even GNP. So there’s like minimum requirements that is federal law that you’re supposed to follow which is GMP, and then there’s TGA and then there’s SQF which is for food, for anything that’s food-based. You want to make sure that it’s manufactured in an SQF-certified facility, but TGA is the Australian government’s standards, and TGA just definitely elevates the standards and practices, even beyond the bare minimum GMP, and then you have other things like USP, United States Pharmacopeia, but the limitation with USP is they cannot approve a product or give you a monograph or a product that is a little more exotic. Let’s say you’ve got a certain peptide or a certain alkaloid from a rare botanical or an herb. That’s something that’s going to be limited that USP will not be able to give you the approval for. And then finally, what we’re doing now is by popular demand now with a lot of the companies that we’re working, with Supplement Safety Solutions. We’re actually providing a seal as well that it’s called Nutrivigilance-verified. That’s the only physician-directed, regulatory compliance program, and so we’re going to start offering that sealed to be able to be leveraged.
Ben: So that’s what you do in Nutrivigilance is you’re basically certifying. You’re going in and you’re checking to see if everything you just described is actually being done by these players in the supplement industry, and then if it is, you’ll slap the Nutrivigilance what do you call it?
Dr. Lopez: Seal, it’s a seal. It’s like a logo, like a seal.
Ben: Yeah, but you call it the Supplement Safety Solutions.
Dr. Lopez: Nutrivigilance-verified, Supplement Safety Solutions seal.
Ben: Okay, got it. So that’s what people would look for as well would be some sort of a seal like that?
Dr. Lopez: Exactly because what that seal indicates is it indicates that brand that’s carrying that seal is working with us, and if you’re working with us, then that means you’re going to have your pre-market safety and post-market safety needs, covered. Best practices covered which means we look at all the stuff that we just discussed. Free market is manufacturing everything that goes into the product being made and manufactured before it goes to market, hence pre-market safety. Now post-market safety, that’s the vigilance and the surveillance, the ongoing monitoring of hey, what’s going on? Once your product gets out there, did we get a spike of signaling complaints, of GI complaints. Maybe there’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea for a certain batch or a certain lot, and again, that might not be because of any intentional malicious. It could have been that there was a bad batch of a certain raw material or botanical, and if we go back and reanalyze it, we might see that the microbiome analysis is off on that particular batch of that ingredient when it gets retested.
Ben: I want to move on to some of the crazy new stuff, the crazy new ingredients out there that you’re excited about. What are some of the crazy new ingredients out there? There’s new calorie restriction memetics, there’s new ketones, there are new longevity formulas, new pre-workout molecules. Tell me about a few of the molecules that you’re excited about, and also, I’m just curious how you find out about this stuff. I mean are you hopping on a plane to China and visiting labs in other countries? Are you wandering around the forest with your farmers had on digging up roots and harvesting things? How’s it actually work in the position that you were in to find new ingredients, and then what are some of those cool and ingredients?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, so you want to start with how we do what we do when we’re finding, when we’re going on the prowl for new and cool bioactive ingredients? So that’s something we do through Nova Nutra, the third company of the triad, like you mentioned before.
Ben: Wait, back that triad. Nova Nutra, Nutrivigilance and what was the other one?
Dr. Lopez: The Center for Applied Health Sciences is the research arm, the R&D, then there is Supplement Safety Solutions/Nutrivigilance which is the regulatory, then the third of the triad is Nova Nutra. And Nova Nutra, Nova, like the name implies, is where we look for innovative new ingredients, new bioactive compounds that we discover, then we study. We incubate in our lab, and then we basically button it up, so we have safety data, we have efficacy data. It’s regulatory compliant, and then what we do is we out-licensed that to a partner, a third-party partner. Basically, a raw material distributor because that’s not something we do. We want to be involved on the back end, the cool science, the discovery, and then we just want to launch it and have somebody take it, and then we want to move on to the next thing in our pipeline.
Ben: Right, so if I am over in Finland and I’m out with my twin boys and we’re wandering around the forest, tasting lingonberry and bilberry and learning all sorts of things about the antioxidant potential of these tiny little tart berries, and I think well I’d love to create an antioxidant formula that’s the ultimate Finland antioxidant powder. I would then come to you with the list of things. I’d say okay, well I want Lingonberry in this, I want bilberry in this. What’s that dark orange one that they have over there that’s so good. Forget the name of that dark orange berry from Finland. Do you know what I’m talking about? Anyways, I’ll remember it later. But anyway, I would come to you with this list. Now Nova Nutra, you would then go out, and you’d find basically raw ingredient sources that you can vet for quality and vet that hey, this is actual lingonberry, this is actual bilberry. This comes from a good source, this one isn’t fraught with pesticides and herbicides, etcetera?
Dr. Lopez: Yes, so that’s one approach. That’s one strategy, so one strategy is do have relationships with let’s call them like indigenous medicine hunters, if you will, which is what you described it like. People that are foraging remote areas of the world, talking to and actually engaging with some of the local shamans or local traditional health gurus in those areas or in those cultures, and so that’s one way to do it. If you were to approach us with that interest, then we would want to secure a source, start doing some of the analytical work. So there’s a few stages to this, so one stage is let’s discover what it is that we’re interested in, a biomass for example. So you just talked about a few berries that might be some exotic berries, maybe an amla berry for example, or from the Ayurvedic like philanthus and bleeka, for example, and you might feel hey, they’ve been consuming this berry for centuries and been using it in traditional Ayurvedic systems or local indigenous health systems for all these different ailments.
I’d love to really dig in, peel back the onion layer, if you will, on this biomass to analyze it for its bioactive compounds and then maybe even concentrate or try to standardize or extract it for some of these bioactive compounds that may be more responsible or predominantly responsible for the effect you’re looking for. If you’re just looking for general antioxidant profiles, we can talk about that at a future show as well. I don’t know what you feel about it, but the data is really showing us that if you’re looking at just pure redox potential, antioxidant potential, you’re probably looking in the wrong place as far as health optimizing or longevity and health span and lifespan optimizing compounds because really what you should be after is the signaling potential of these compounds. They might also have powerful antioxidant properties from a physical chemistry standpoint. That’s really not what’s causing it to have profound physiologic benefits, most of the time. That’s what the science is dictating, right?
So what we want to do is dig in and see what bioactives are actually responsible for the effect that you’re interested in, and then we have to take it into doing an assessment of its regulatory status, meaning is it considered an ODI or an old dietary ingredient that’s been on the market before 1994 if you want to launch it in the US? There’s international regulatory concerns that we would need to look at before taking a deeper dive and investing big dollars into really developing this ingredient, to basically bring it to market as a new branded, proprietary ingredient where we might actually even have some patented you know methods, some new novel findings for this new ingredient. Then we take it into some first and human work. So, after we determine that it’s regulatory compliant and then we get an idea for LD50 and some basic safety work in toxicology models, then we jump right to human. We call them preliminary alpha studies in our lab, and what the cool thing about having our clinical research center, the CHS that we talked about before is that lab can also serve as part of the incubator for any new ingredients that you want to bring to market.
So in our lab, we can do our first in-human experiments there and see if something’s actually moving the needle because we do things differently than you would in pharma, right? In pharma, you would go through this high throughput screening, in vitro and tissue culture and cell culture models, and then if you’ve got some molecular mechanisms, then you take it to animal pre-clinical, and then from animal, then you start your first in-human work, you’re phase one. That just takes way too long, number one, and especially when you’re talking number two, you’re talking about compounds or ingredients that are naturally occurring, and so safety is less of a toxicity, less of a concern, and if we’re not able to move the needle in humans and a small cohort of subjects, five to ten subjects, then that ingredient or that product is probably not worth bringing to market for say, or at least it falls lower on our totem pole.
Ben: Okay, got it, so by the way, sea buckthorn berry for people who are wondering.
Dr. Lopez: Ah, sea buckthorn.
Ben: I was thinking it was cloud berry. Cloud berry is another really good one, but sea buckthorn. That’s the one I really like.
Dr. Lopez: Oh yeah, sea buckthorn is high in palmitoleic acid. Omega-7, it’s one of those really good stuff.
Ben: Have that and some reindeer, and you’re off to the races, baby. I know, really good stuff. I’m going to live in Estonia for the summer with my family. At this Mind Valley University thing, so I’m sure I’ll have some over there, too. I’m pretty sure they have sea buckthorn in Estonia. If not, I’ll take the ferry over to Helsinki, find me some. Anyways though, so what I was asking though, before we go down that rabbit hole, was what are some of the ingredients that you like that are some of the newer, sexier things? Give me a few examples. Here’s an example of a calorie restriction mimetic that’s new on the scene, how would you find something like that and then you know how you would then turn around and make that available to a supplement manufacturer?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, so I’ll give you an example, a couple of the ingredients in our actual pipeline that we developed, for example. And obviously, this is full disclosure. We have IP on a couple of these ingredients, right?
Ben: A lot of people don’t know what that means when you say that you have IP.
Dr. Lopez: Oh yeah, so intellectual properties, meaning that we have an interest, a financial interest in some of these ingredients that we are bringing to market because we’ve discovered them and done a lot of the development work and then when we license it to an ingredient supplier, then we end up seeing a percentage of their sales. So, there is a business interest obviously in many of the ingredients that we bring to market, if we’re bringing a new one to market. So yeah, I just wanted to get that full disclosure to hide anything. So to give you an example, theacrine or teacrine is one of the ones that we’re most proud of, and methyllibrine. So methyllibrine is the generic compound, which is a purine alkaloid, and it’s sort of a chemical cousin of theacrine. theacrine is the brand name.
Ben: Yeah, it’s like an alkaloid that’s similar to caffeine, right?
Dr. Lopez: It is, so what’s really cool about this is the way we went down that rabbit hole is to bring that to market, is we went back and said there’s a few rare teas. Botanical species teas like camellia genus. So green tea for example, is camellia sinensis. That’s the species name for green tea or black tea basically, any major white, black or green tea is coming from camellia sinensis as the botanical. That’s the plant where you can harvest the leaves from. So, we went back and found that there was a particular tea called cuccia. Locally in the Yunan province of China, they call it call it cuccia tea, and locally in those areas the kids that are going to school, that are in high school during exam time, the parents provide a lot more of this tea to make them sharper and improve their fatigue resistance and allow them to study longer. Whenever somebody comes down with “the flu” or some other ailments, this cuccia tea, it’s been locally in that area. It’s been one of the go-to remedies. So we decided to take a look at that species, and that species is called camellia asomica, variety cuccia instead of camellia sinensis. It’s basically a different species of tea, and within that tea, you find a bunch of alkaloids like you do in many other plants.
Plants have a lot of alkaloids, and alkaloids basically just means that there are bitter compounds that are nitrogen containing. They have amien groups or nitrogen groups, so that makes it an alkaloid. Usually has a higher pH if you put it in water, so that’s where the term alkaloid comes from. So the alkaloids that were found in this particular tea were very unique, it had a unique profile. Something that you don’t find in your standard green tea or black tea or white tea, so we were really intrigued that it had actually been characterized chemically over 30 years ago, but no one ever did anything with it. They characterized 35 different compounds in this tea, and no one ever really went any further with it. There was some very early work done that we saw that was intriguing with respect to its analgesic properties and anti-inflammatory properties. But we ended up securing a source, first a botanical source, and then we ended up basically getting it synthesized. We started looking at it, to kind of give you a fast forward ’cause this is an eight-year process.
Ben: Wow, to develop this one molecule, this theacrine.
Dr. Lopez: Through one ingredient, to bring one compound, one ingredient to market. It’s been a long road.
Ben: Wait, the molecule is theacrine. What’s the ingredient called?
Dr. Lopez: Teacrine.
Ben: So, the branded ingredient is teacrine.
Dr. Lopez: All we did was take the H out and then just kept the T. So that way, it looks like tea, and people can resonate with it. Oh okay, it comes from tea. It is also found, by the way, in a fruit called cupuacu which is indigenous to the Amazon. In South America, a cupuacu fruit is theobroma grandiflorum. So they actually look like cocoa pods, and these cocoa pods are also rich in theacrine, and so we are actually in the process of securing some cupuacu from Brazil and doing some work with naturally occurring, instead of just doing this nature identical synthetic where we isolated just the theacrine.
Ben: I love those cocoa pods, by the way, like cocoa fruit, cocoa pods. Laird Hamilton, last time I was hanging with him in Hawaii, he introduced these to me. Just crack them open, and you eat all these little cocoas. Are the cocoa beans the same as the cocoa pods?
Dr. Lopez: I think they’re a little different. The pods are the larger fruit and then the beans are inside, right?
Dr. Lopez: So the pods, you crack open the big pods and that’s like the big fruit, and then they’re usually sitting the beans probably are sitting in that thick sort of almost…
Ben: Yeah, it’s like this mucous-like snotty substance.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, exactly, that’s exactly it. So that’s another place, that type of material, that white-almost paste is also rich from the theobroma grandiflorum fruit, the cocoa pod from that species is also rich in theacrine. So what’s really cool about theacrine is the reason we’re excited is at first, we noticed that there were some experiential neurocognitive. Basically, there was neural activity there, so people felt an enhanced mood, they felt anecdotally, and their perception was improved mental clarity, focus, concentration and energy, but one of the things that made it different because that sounds a lot like caffeine or like any other stimulant. One other thing that many that made it different was more the mood was more amplified than you get with caffeine, and the other intriguing aspect that we found in our first in human work with teacrine or theacrine was that anxiety actually went down, and what’s different from caffeine is that when you get the same findings of elevated mood for perceived energy, focus and concentration from caffeine, it is directly proportional to levels of perceived irritability, anxiety, jitteriness. There’s an edginess to people when they consume pure caffeine, like caffeine and hydrous or if they’re somebody who carries one of those SNPs in the cytochrome B40 and SNP 182. They’re slow metabolizers of caffeine, and they’re real sensitive to it. You have that jitteriness or that edginess obviously because you get that cardiovascular stimulation. That’s something we were not getting at all with our first in-human work with theacrine.
So we got really excited, really quickly, and then we started sponsoring more animal work, we started doing toxicology and safety work in order to get this compound to be grass or generally recognize as safe, and that’s a very high standard that you need to meet. It’s a high bar that the FDA sets in order to be able to do a ton of safety work that shows that your ingredient or your substance can in fact be consumed effectively on a daily basis, safely as part of the food supply. That means its grass. So, we were able to do all this work to get it, and now there’s even animal data that shows that this compound teacrine or theacrine, not only is it a neuroactive ingredient that’s great for energy, mood, focus and cognition and nootropic benefits, but beyond that, there’s now animal data showing that it has had hepato-protective effect and even up regulates sirtuin, certain three genes, and mitochondrial efficiency in mice that are fed theacrine over…
Ben: Wow, so you get almost like an anti-aging effect.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, so imagine an ingredient that makes you feel almost like caffeine makes you feel with a little less of the edge, without any cardiovascular response. No hemodynamic or pressor response, meaning no increase in blood pressure heart rate, and there’s animal data suggest that it actually has health span and life extension benefits, and it has hepato-protection benefits, and it has neuroprotective benefits. Beyond just it making you feel good and improving your performance, it doesn’t just make your engine work better per se, but it even has neuroprotective benefits in animal models that they do what’s called restraint and do stress. So, whenever you basically hold rodents down too long, they get exceedingly stressed, and it causes this huge inflammatory response, and it actually causes cognitive dysfunction. You cause dementia in these rodents by holding them down that long. They get learning impairments, memory impairments. They can no longer navigate mazes as well. What theacrine has been shown to do in a dose dependent fashion, meaning the more you give it up to a certain dose, the more benefit you get. You prevent that from occurring in these rodents who you hold down, and you basically introduce this stress that normally causes cognitive dysfunction. Theacrine protects them.
Ben: This is crazy.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah.
Ben: I feel like we could do a whole podcast on theacrine.
Dr. Lopez: Oh, it’s amazing.
Ben: Actually, I wanted to ask you, we might have to do part two ’cause I wanted to ask you about a whole bunch of other crazy new ingredients.
Dr. Lopez: Well if you want to do a quick flash, a lightning round.
Ben: Let’s do rapid fire, throw two more crazy new ingredients out there. Give me the 30-second overview because, before we wrap up today, I want to ask you also. The one thing I don’t want to let you go before I answer this question, it would be novel delivery mechanisms ’cause capsules are so old school. I want to know about some of these patches and lipophilic delivery mechanisms, and I’ll do a quick rapid fire with you on that because a lot of times I get these podcasts going, and actually one of the things I do is I go over people’s blood work and data with them and work with companies like Wellness FX to do this and so I’ve got the next couple hours after we finish, going over people’s blood work with them. But before I dive into that my first client is in 15 minutes. We got a few minutes to play with here. Fill me in on a couple more of these crazy new ingredients. Give me a 30-second overview, and then let’s dive into novel delivery mechanisms.
Dr. Lopez: Alright, well another one we’re excited about is… so we’re calling it Carnal Prime. You’re familiar with beta-alanine in the sports and nutrition world?
Dr. Lopez: Carnosine, beta-alanine. Imagine being able to load beta-alanine the way that people have loaded creatine forever, right? When creatine first hit the market, you could load creatine in five to seven days. You could see actual ergogenic performance improvements from creatine monohydrate supplementation, in five to seven days. With carnosine, part of the issue is the paresthesia from it, number one, limits people from being able to take more than 3.2 grams.
Ben: The nasty tingling sensation.
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, but that’s the paresthesia, the itching, tingling and burning. So, we’ve managed to find a way to put a nutraceutical blanket on called the MGPRD receptor which is the itch receptor that’s responsible for causing that darn itching, the paresthesia for beta-alanine. So now, if we put a nutraceutical blanket on it, now we can start really cranking your doses up, and one of the interesting things… So, beta-alanine is the rate limiting step for producing for your listeners. They may already know a lot of this, but there’s a peptide in muscle called carnosine, and carnosine is a peptide composed a beta-alanine and histidine, two amino acids, so it’s a dipeptide. This dipeptide has buffering capabilities, so when you’re doing high intensity activity, usually in that 60 to 200 second range of super, super all out high-intensity activity, you get hydrogen ions, acidosis, basically that’s manufactured within working muscle, and so this carnosine is there to buffer that. So if you have more of this peptide, then you can extend your capacity to do work at a high level, and so this has enormous application as obviously as everything from MMA athletes to cross fitters to high-level athletes that have a sprinting component in there to racers, etcetera. Cyclists, you name it, so we’ve managed to find a way to get 15 to 25 grams of beta-alanine per day. And what that allows us to do is to get a total doze of over 150 grams or so of total dose of beta-alanine.
That’s basically the magic dose, total dose that it takes to increase levels of intermuscular carnosine, that peptide, about 30 to 40%, enough to where then you get the ergogenic benefit. So we’re excited about that, so we’re bringing that to market in the next year. There’s also other cool stuff like alternative fuels, so an alternative fuel is basically imagine something that doesn’t really burn like a fat or oxidized like a fat, doesn’t burn a carbohydrate, but it’s also not a ketone, an exogenous ketone which obviously have started to make their way into the market over the last couple of years. So, I’m excited about that because these alternative metabolic fuels or substrates that don’t burn like a carbohydrate or like a fat clearly have metabolic health benefits in addition to potentially some really cool performance enhancing benefits. Microbiome modulations is an exciting area that’s going to continue to explode, and also the endocannabinoid system, man.
Ben: Before I let you go, ’cause I want to come back to some of these unique ingredients and we could do a separate podcast on these, but novel delivery mechanisms. They’re like patches, micro-needle injections, under the tongue delivery mechanisms, things that are not encapsulations per se that you’ve looked into that you think are going to be the next big thing in the supplement industry or things that you think are going to be really good, as far as delivering and increasing by availability of a lot of these compounds?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, you know what? I’ll be honest Ben, I’m not that tweaked by more transcutaneous, more transmucousal, lipozomal technology. It’s like we’ve kind of been there done that to be honest, right? I’m actually more excited about unique applications or delivery systems in terms of from pill fatigue, right? Everyone’s tired of consuming 15 capsules a day or for those of us that are really into the optimization, right? So, I think what I’m excited about are tabletop mobile options, things like 3D printers. Imagine being able to print off your own customized set of bioactive compounds before you leave in the morning or for the next week, before you leave on a trip. Imagine being able to print those off. You’ve got cartridges that maybe deliver basic elemental compounds, and now, you’re able to print off your own supplements. Mobile options, I think in the future, you might be able to do that, connected to your mobile phone. Those are things I’m pretty excited about. I think there’s even recently, a tabletop version that has access to 25 different ingredients, and it basically ends up creating a shot for you. It’s almost like a Mr. Coffee or one of those Nespressos or Keurig type of set ups that you can hit a button, and then you end up basically with whatever you need on demand.
Ben: And it’s crazy. I have a friend, he’s like this rich guy who lives out in Texas, and there’s only a few people in the country that have this, but they have these fancy 70 to 80,000 dollar water filtration systems, and they can hit a button and have the water there showering or bathing and deliver things like melatonin, Vitamin-C, etcetera, but there are sensors just bathing in, using the skin as a delivery mechanism. It’s crazy go-ahead dashboard on a wall. I forget the name of the guy who develops these, I think his name is Leo. I’ll see if I can find a link and put it in the show notes for folks, but it’s not smut. By the way, for people listening in, the show notes for the show are over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lopez, as in Hector’s last name. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/lopez, but yeah, a skin-delivering mechanism via water is super interesting. Anything else, any other delivery mechanisms?
Dr. Lopez: Obviously, you’ve got your basic, you’ve got mucousal, transdermal. Mucousal meaning buckle, using various films, like biofilms I guess could be a cool thing to utilize. You can apply biofilms, either to skin or to the inside of your cheek, to your gums. So, I think those are convenient ways to get some of these unique ingredients that have classically poor bioavailability systemically to be able to really crank some of those plasma levels up there to deliver a certain effect.
Ben: Cool, Aqua Palace is the name of that water system, by the way. To do that, I talked to an anti-aging conference. His website is phprescription.com, and on that website, it’s mostly just like their normal filters and stuff like that, but if you contact him and you’re listening in and you have bunch of money to throw around, you too, can just take all your vitamins as you bathe.
Dr. Lopez: That’s awesome, man.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve got enough financial affiliation with them, but it’s an interesting.
Dr. Lopez: Imagine walking in, it’s almost like you can incorporate that in through saunas and stuff.
Ben: I know, if I happened upon 70,000 bucks lying on the streets as I’m walking by, and I’ll snag it and get one of those myself. Well, Hector, like I mentioned, we scratched the surface on a lot of this stuff, so I think I’m going to have you back for a part two, but in the meantime, for those of you listening in, the show notes are over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lopez, and Hector, after we hang up here, I’ll get in touch with you. We’ll schedule a part two, sound good?
Dr. Lopez: Yeah, for sure man. This was fun, I loved doing this. It’s good stuff.
Ben: Amazing, alright well folks, in the meantime, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Hector Lopez, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week, and leave your questions, your comments, anything else that you want to know about what Hector and I talked about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lopez. Thanks.
I’m a supplement geek.
I have been for a long time – ever since I was a fledgling bodybuilder guzzling creatine and a bright-eyed college student immersed in pharmacology and advanced human nutrition classes.
But today’s podcast guest – Dr. Hector Lopez – is a true wealth of knowledge. My own education in the realm of supplements pales in comparison to his.
Dr. Lopez, MD, CSCS, FAAPMR, FISSN is recognized for applying his uniquely diverse background in PM&R, spine and sports medicine, exercise science, nutritional biochemistry, metabolism and clinical research. Dr. Lopez is the CMO and Partner of Center for Applied Health Sciences, a multidisciplinary clinical research organization focused on elevating the body of evidence within the dietary supplement, natural product, functional medicine and functional foods/ beverage industry, and he is Founding Partner of Supplement Safety Solutions, a comprehensive Pre-market and Post-market safety, Nutravigilance®, adverse event and cGMP regulatory compliance consulting company.
Dr. Lopez’s clinical career began as the founder of multiple integrative orthopedic/ sports medicine facilities, and he has since moved on after his clinical career to become a highly sought after research scientist, product innovation, safety & regulatory key opinion leader in nutra-biosciences, dietary supplements, medical foods/ beverage industries. He is the founder and managing director of an intellectual property discovery, incubation, development and tech transfer company whose goal it is to bring novel, bioactive compounds for out-licensing to the dietary supplement, natural products, functional foods/ beverage space grounded in science and safety. Dr. Lopez is a product developer and recognized consultant to professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, UEFA and MLB.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How Dr. Lopez got into the supplement industry…9:30
-Why Amazon is going to disrupt the nutrition supplements industry with their new “Elements” line (and what Ben thinks of this line)…27:30
-The shocking secrets Dr. Lopez has found in the nutrition supplements industry…36:15
-The difference between SOP and CGMP in the manufacturing facilities…39:30
-In an ideal scenario, what a nutrition supplement company should be doing with each supplement that they make…44:15
-What to look for on a nutrition supplement label, including what batch/lot the supplement came from, including NSF, Informed Choice/Informed Sport, Nutravigilance…50:30
-Some of the crazy new ingredients out there that Hector is most excited about…56:15
-Novel delivery mechanisms that go beyond things like encapsulation and tableting technology…1:05:15
-And much more!
–Gainswave. A bedroom biohack for FANTASTIC sexual performance! There are practitioners all over the U.S.
–Thrive Market Get an extra $60 and FREE shipping when you use my special link!
–Health IQ gets you the best possible rate on life insurance when you live a healthy lifestyle!
Resources from this episode: