U-Z - Glossary

Usnic Acid

Derived from the simple lichen, usnic acid is advertised as an “uncoupling agent.” Basically, what this means is that usnic acid ramps up and enables the “energy creation” processes in the cell, which manifests itself as heat and consequentially, an increase in the metabolic rate. While there is a small amount of preliminary animal-based data to support this, to date no human evidence exists. Worse, anecdotal...

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Valerian Root Extract

A medicinal plant (Valeriana officinalis) used to relieve anxiety and promote sleep.  Valerian is sold as a standalone supplement, as well as in combination with other herbs such as hops. See “Valerian Root: Benefits and Side Effects of This Natural Sleep Aid!” for more...

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Wild Yam

Botanical name: Dioscorea villosa.  Wild yam has been included in both bodybuilding and women’s supplements for the same reason: its diosgenin content. Diosgenin is used in the manufacture of synthetic human sex steroids, and Dioscorea is a particularly rich source of it.  The necessary steps to convert diosgenin, however, occur only in the laboratory—not in the body. Diosgenin has no known hormonal activity in-vivo. Wild yam...

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ZMA

A combination of vitamin B6, zinc monomethionine aspartate and magnesium aspartate marketed as a testosterone booster.  ZMA initially took the bodybuilding world by storm on the strength of a study showing increased testosterone and IGF-1 levels in collegiate football players. Less impressive results were obtained from a subsequent study, however. The current consensus is that supplemental ZMA (or similar combinations of the relevant...

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Zinc

An essential mineral for human nutrition. Zinc is an important component of many enzymes and proteins and has important antioxidant, immune and anti-inflammatory activities. Zinc also plays a role in normal reproductive and sexual functions for both men and women. It’s well known that marginal zinc deficiency can impair testosterone production in men. See the Zinc review for more information; also the Linus Pauling Institute...

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Xanthinol Nicotinate

Also known as xanthinol niacinate and Complamin (commercial formulation).  Xanthinol nicotinate is a combination of xanthinol (a derivative of theophylline) and the B-vitamin niacin.  It’s considered to be a “smart drug” or nootropic, due to its ability to improve memory and microcirculation.  Flushing can occur with higher doses, although this reaction does not occur as frequently as it does w/niacin, its parent...

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