Quite a mouthful, huh? And pretty impressive sounding, even if it is Marketing 101.
But is HemoDrene™ really all that special? Is it really light years ahead of everything else on the market? Here’s our first clue in determining the answer to that question…
A single, two-pill daily dose of the “HemoDrene™ Proprietary Matrix” contains 1677 mg of ingredients. This is spread over 6 proprietary matrixes (which I’ll discuss in detail momentarily) which boast over 30 different ingredients (I counted 34!).
Sounds great, right?
Um, no. Here’s why….
The medicinal plants, food compounds and herbs that are typically found in weight loss products are much like pharmaceutical drugs; they need to be present in a potent enough dosage to have any effect. By jamming 34 ingredients into two capsules you are all but ensuring most ingredients simply cannot be present in doses high enough to have any effect (we call these “kitchen sink supplements”, or as Elissa has recently proposed, “clown car supplements“).
The reason why supplement companies do this, of course, is that it looks mighty impressive. In reality, you’re getting at best a handful of ingredients at useful dosages, while the rest are present in the tiniest amounts.
That also makes reviewing a product like HemoDrene difficult; we have no idea how potent each “matrix” is, or how much of the various individual ingredients is present in each.
All we can assume is that ingredients/matrixes are listed on the label in order of prominence (i.e., matrix #1 contains more mg of ingredients than matrix #2 and so on).
And, if the ingredients in the first matrix or two are actually present in useful dosages, we can pretty much write off the remaining 4 matrixes (and their accompanying ingredients) as offering any value at all.
With those caveats out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the various matrixes in HemoDrene™…
Matrix #1: Lipid Metabolism Activators: Consists of an indeterminate amount of the following ingredients…
a. Red raspberry ketones: Raspberry ketones are similar in structure to capsaicin and synephrine—two compounds thought to enhance weight loss via the stimulation of norepinephrine (although real evidence to validate this theory is in short supply).
One study performed on rodents (you can view the specifics of the study here) showed that raspberry ketones prevented fat synthesis as well as the rise of blood triglycerides and overall, helped prevent obesity. A preliminary human pilot study suggested…
“These preliminary data support the efficacy of Razberi-K supplementation for the management of body fat in healthy men and women, particularly when used in conjunction with exercise…”
It may be that raspberry ketones do show some promise, but a dramatic effect has yet to be demonstrated in any credible, independent human studies.
b. Nelumbo nucifera rhizome extract: There is some evidence indicating that this extract helps to reduce the blood sugar levels of hyperglycemic and diabetic rats. If this effect “translates” to humans, this ingredient could serve as a potent blood sugar modifier.
c. Salacia reticulata extract: An Ayurvedic plant common to Sri Lanka and India, one small animal study (see The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 132:1819-1824, 2002) showed a “mild anti obesity” effect.
One of Salacia’s aqueous extracts, Salacinol, may be a potent glycosidase inhibitor , which may partially explain its anti-obesity effect (glycosidase is an enzyme involved in the metabolism of sugars).
d. Mango leaf extract: The HemoDrene advertising copy states…
“Mangifera Indica leaf extract is an extremely powerful phenolic antioxidant that exhibits strong blood sugar reducing properties.”
That’s true—it is a potent antioxidant, and there is some animal data (see Phytother Res. 2001 Aug;15(5):456-8 and Phytother Res. 1999 Sep;13(6):504-7) that appears to validate its blood sugar lowering capabilities.
Remember though… these are animal studies. The folks who would have you believe such animal study citations make their products relevant might be happy if you ignored other, less beneficial studies. Like this one for instance. It shows mango leaf extract has an anti-fertility effect in male rats.
e. Oolong tea extract (60% Teasaponin): As the full review of Oolong shows, there is some evidence it is useful for weight loss. The question with HemoDrene™ is… is there enough of it here to elicit a response?
f. Green tea extract (60% EGCG): Like the Oolong tea above, there is plenty of evidence green tea and its crucial constituent—EGCG—is helpful for weight loss. Is there enough in this product? Who knows?
g. Pomegranate leaf extract (40% Punicalagins): Preliminary animal studies show promising results for weight loss (see J Agric Food Chem. 2007 May 2;55(9):3741-8. Epub 2007 Mar 30, Nutrition. 2006 Jan;22(1):54-9. Epub 2005 Oct 12, Lipids Health Dis. 2004 Nov 9;3:24), but to date, no published human-based data exists.
h. Grape seed extract: Not sure if this is used here merely as an antioxidant, or whether its standardized for kaempferol, which has shown anti-obesity activity in animal and in-vitro experiments. Human data is lacking.
i. Capsaicin USP: Capsaicin is the chemical that gives chile peppers their “heat.” The theory is that capsaicin “revs” up your metabolism by creating heat, thus burning off extra calories.
There are several animal studies (see J Appl Physiol 95: 2408-2415, 2003, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001 Dec;65(12):2735-40, J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Aug;47(4):295-8) that bear this theory out, and a couple of human based studies as well (see Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001 Sep;65(9):2033-6, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Dec;70(12):2824-35).
However, this study (Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jan;292(1):R77-85. Epub 2006 Jul 13) says it best…
“Capsaicin has been shown to be effective, yet when it is used clinically it requires a strong compliance to a certain dosage, that has not been shown to be feasible yet.”
In other words, in order for capsaicin to have an effect on your metabolism, it has to be taken in doses much too high to make it practical.
Matrix #2: Neurogenic Performance Optimizers: Contains an indeterminate amount of the following ingredients…
a. D-Phenylalanine USP: A synthesized version of phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and precursor to both tyrosine (and the neurotransmitters derived from it – epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine) and phenethylamine (PEA). L-phenylalanine may also have antidepressant activity via conversion to phenylethylamine (PEA).
b. 4-Hydroxyphenylalanine: Also known as tyrosine.
c. Thiamine Di(2-Methylpropionate) Disulfide: A “supposedly” super-potent version of thiamine (also known as vitamin B1) which plays an important role in energy metabolism, and is thought to play a role in appetite suppression.
d. Choline Bitartrate: Choline serves a number of vital functions, including maintaining the structure/function of cell membranes, normalizing homocysteine levels (via a metabolite, betaine), and serving as a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important to learning and memory.
e. Geranium extract (1,3-Dimethylamylamine): This is geranamine, a central nervous system stimulant commonly used as a nasal decongestant. Several supplement companies are using geranamine in their product’s formulas claiming it suppresses appetite, elevates the metabolism and ramps up cAMP levels. There is exactly ZERO clinical evidence to validate this claim.
Matrix #3: Inferno™ Thermogenic Support Matrix: Contains an indeterminate amount of the following ingredients…
a. Evodiamine: An extract of a Chinese plant that some claim burns fat by increasing the body’s production of heat, as well as reducing the body’s ability to store fat. The only validating data for evodiamine is a small, animal based study.
b. Pure guggulsterone E&Z 99%: A small body of evidence indicates guggulsterones may also have value as a fat burner (see J Postgrad Med. 1995 Jan-Mar;41(1):5-7) specifically by increasing thyroid T3 hormone levels.
c. Salvia sclarea extract: Salvia sclarea may have a positive effect on increasing cyclic AMP (a cell regulating compound) in the body. Increased levels of cAMP can raise thyroid hormone levels and spur further weight loss. Alas, the validity of this compound is largely undocumented at this time.
d. Caffeine malate: A combination of caffeine and malic acid, supplement retailers claim this “special form” of caffeine is both easier on the stomach and more effective than regular caffeine.
And while caffeine’s fat burning characteristics—although mild—are well established (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97), there is no published research to indicate that this form of caffeine is any more effective.
e. Jaborandi dry extract: A South American medicinal plant with both diaphoretic (sweat-boosting) and diuretic properties.
Matrix #4: InsuLean K™ Insulin Support Matrix: Contains an indeterminate amount of the following ingredients; alpha lipoic acid, D-pinitol, banaba leaf extract, Gymnema sylvestre (studied for years as an alternate diabetes treatment—animal studies are positive!) and Goat’s Rue Extract—an ingredient that has demonstrated the inhibition of platelet aggregation (in vitro), as well as weight loss in mice. It’s hard to believe any of these ingredients can be present in all but the tiniest doses.
Matrix #5: Diubolic™ Diuretic Support Matrix: Pretty straight forward stuff here; all the common diuretics are present: Taraxacum, Buchu Leaf Extract, Parsley Leaf, Juniper Berry, and Dandelion Root Powder. Just to put this matrix into perspective, most decent natural diuretic formulas on the market contain anywhere between 700-1500 mg of these ingredients alone—almost as much as the entire HemoDrene formula!
So there you have it. The complete HemoDrene formula (yikes!). As you can see, most of the primary ingredients have very little supporting human-based data, and the ones that do (oolong and green tea, for example) are much further down the list. All the issues I mentioned earlier—ingredients need to be present in a potent enough dosage to have effect, yada, yada, yada—are a serious barrier to this product’s ability to deliver the sort of benefits claimed by the advertising.
One issue of note; the product advertising states…
“Peanut Shell extract is also unique to the HemoDrene™ formula. This exciting compound, new to the sports supplement industry, uses a separate and distinct mechanism of dealing with fats. What a tremendous fat loss knockout punch!”
However, I didn’t see this ingredient (or the presumed active compound, luteolin) listed on the ingredients label. What happened here? Did they re-formulate the product but forgot to revise the ad copy? Or did they screw up the label? Such sloppyness can hardly be described as confidence inspiring.
This formulation is, without a doubt, short on demonstration, and long on speculation.
After I reviewing it, I can say one thing with authority… this is the ultimate “clown car” supplement, and not one I would plunk my credit card down on. I really do wish supplement retailers would concentrate on formulating smart products with a few, proven, concentrated ingredients.
It would be a refreshing change.