Have you heard of Anatabloc? It’s an anti-inflammatory supplement sold at GNC and elsewhere, touted for joint support and to reduce chronic inflammation. I first heard of Anatabloc when a friend bought it from GNC for some knee pain. I was intrigued because Anatabloc didn’t seem to be the same as other arthritis supplements. Does Anatabloc really work? What follows is my review of the research in support of Anatabloc and the company that makes it. FYI, as you do your own research, keep in mind that while some people call it “Anatablock” online the product is really spelled Anatabloc.
What is Anatabine?
Before we delve into Anatabloc, I need to tell you about Anatabine (also called anatabine citrate). Anatabine is said to be the active ingredient in Anatabloc. It is a chemical that is found naturally in egg plants, potatoes, green tomatoes and other members of the Solanaceae family of plants as well as tobacco and tobacco smoke.
Anatabine “looks” like nicotine chemically, and is also used some anti-smoking supplements. Anatabine has a longer half life than nicotine, so it stays in the body longer, which is the reason it’s being looked at to help people quit smoking. For more info, see the anatabine Wikipedia page.
How does Anatabloc work?
According to the product website (anatabloc.com), these are the basics behind how Anatabloc is supposed to reduce chronic inflammation:
1. Anatabine enters the cells of the body where it…
2. Deactivates a protein called NFkB.
3. When NFkB is deactivated, it can’t enter the nucleus of the cell (the brain center of the cell) and thus, can’t cause excessive cellular inflammation. As such, chronic cellular inflammation is said to be decreased.
If Anatabloc really does reduce cellular inflammation, theoretically it may help conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and heart disease, which are linked to chronic inflammation.
According to Anatabloc.com, Anatabloc contains these ingredients
|Vitamin A||500 IU|
|Vitamin D3||40 IU|
I want to focus only on Anatabine for this review because this is said to be the “secret sauce” in Anatabloc. Also, I’m not aware of any research that combined all three of these ingredients, so it’s hard to tell if they add anything to the effects.
On “The Science” page of the Anatabloc website (Anatabloc.com) it’s stated that ” Anatabloc® has been shown in pre-clinical tests to assist in maintaining healthy levels of c-reactive protein, indicating that it helps provide anti-inflammatory support.”
The big word in this sentence is “pre-clinical.” For me, the word pre-clinical is fancy talk, meaning that there is not much peer-reviewed proof.
The website does say “Anatabloc® has been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects in-vitro, in animal studies, and in human epidemiological studies” and that….” A clinical trial using Anatabloc® is ongoing. Two additional trials will get underway by year-end.”
Translation: Test tube studies and lab animal studies seem to support Anatabloc as well as one study of a population of people. That isn’t the best of evidence in my book, but it is something.
There is a page on the Anatabloc site called “For Healthcare Professionals” that is supposed to help doctors better understand Anatabloc. However, that page is blocked to everybody who is not a licensed healthcare professional. That includes me.
I didn’t like that that they would not show me their proof, but no worries. Any research published on Anatabloc will be found in the National Library of Medicine. So, what I want to do now is summarize the research I could find on Anatabloc and Anatabine.
When I searched the National Library of Medicine specifically for “Anatabloc” I was unable to locate any research studies. So, the product Anatabloc itself seems to have no proof.
Next, I searched for “Anatabine.” Now, I found some research. Here is a summary of the inflammation-related research on anatabine that I discovered.
1. In a study titled “Anatabine ameliorates experimental autoimmune thyroiditis” published in 2012 in the journal Endocrinology, anatabine reduced the inflammation of the thyroid gland in female mice.
2. In another mouse study published in 2011 in the European Journal of Pharmacology, titled “Anatabine lowers Alzheimer’s Aβ production in vitro and in vivo”, anatabine was shown to reduce proteins indicative of Alzheimer’s disease as well as a protein called NFkb.
While I could not read the entire study, others online also say that this investigation also noted reduced levels of C reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
This is the study behind the online hype that Anatabine (Anatabloc) might be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a mouse study! No study —yet —has shown that Anatabine (or Anatabloc) improves Alzheimer’s symptoms in people.
3. In 2013, a mouse study titled Amelioration of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by Anatabine was published in the journal PLOS One. In this study 29 mice were injected with a chemical that basically created a “mouse version of multiple sclerosis” called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).
Since EAE is similar to MS, researchers study EAE in animals to see how multiple sclerosis works in humans.
The mice were then randomly given a placobo (water) or anatabine in water. The amount of anatabine used was 20 mg per kilogram of body weight for 16 days.
At the end of the study, researchers noted that treatment with anatabine “delayed the onset of EAE” and mice had a “decreased severity of neurological defects.” Based on this, researchers speculated that anatabine might offer some help to people with multiple sclerosis.
While this is a very interesting investigation, it does not prove anatabloc helps people with MS. It might but I just don’t know. I wonder what would happen if Anatabloc were randomly given to 100 or so people with MS to see what happens after several weeks. I hoping somebody does this study soon.
As an aside, I’ll mention that there is also some MS research on a supplement called Protandim, so see that review for additional information.
4. Another study, published in 2013, in the European Journal of Pharmacology was titled “Anti-inflammatory activity of anatabine via inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation.” This was a mouse study too.
In 2013, a study was published in the FASEB Journal titled, Anatabine Significantly Decreases Nicotine Self- Administration. This study used 4 rhesus monkeys. Monkeys were given injections of saline (as a control treatment) or injections anatabine about 15 minutes before they had access to food or nicotine. The researchers wanted to see if anatabine was able to reduce the monkey’s craving for food or nicotine. The researchers noted that anatabine significantly reduced the monkeys craving for nicotine, but had no significant effect on food intake. The saline treatment had no effects on either nicotine or food.
These 5 studies appear to be the only published research on Anatabine currently available. I could not find any human research of anatabine reducing chronic inflammation in people. I will update this list as more research is published.
Note. I also could not locate the “epidemiological study” that the Anatabloc website says was conducted.
It’s possible that there is more research on the Anatabloc science page, but since that page is blocked to everyone but licensed health care professionals, I can’t access it.
As far as I can tell, Anatabloc appears to be marketed primarily to people with arthritis and joint pain. Anatabloc TV commercials even say it’s “scientifically proven to help regulate excess inflammation in joints and muscles.” If that’s so, why can’t I find any arthritis or joint pain research on Anatabloc or anatabine?
Summary of Anatabloc research
Let’s now summarize the published research studies I was able to locate about Anatabine/Anatabloc.
- Anatabine ameliorates experimental autoimmune thyroiditis. This is a mouse study
- Anatabine lowers Alzheimer’s Aβ production in vitro and in vivo. This is a mouse study
- Amelioration of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by Anatabine. This is a mouse study
- Anti-inflammatory activity of anatabine via inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation. This is a mouse study
- Anatabine Significantly Decreases Nicotine Self- Administration. This is a monkey study
So, given these 4 mouse studies and 1 monkey study, I have to ask the questions:
- Where is the human research on Anatabloc?
- Where is the human arthritis research on Anatabloc?
As reported by Reuters, there is a human trial of Anatabloc that is in the beginning stages. It is tentatively called “A Three Month, Single-Site or Multi-Site, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Trial to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability and Potential Effects of the Dietary Supplement Anatabine in Subjects with Alzheimer’s Disease.”
When this trial is completed and published I will update this review with that new information.
So, for the moment it seems to me that the primary evidence for Anatabloc is 4 mouse studies. Still, the finding that anatabine appears to reduce inflammation —in mice —is intriguing. I was particularly interested in the work showing that anatabine reduced thyroid damage. Might this one day help people with hypothyroidism? It’s a question I’d like to see addressed in future studies. Right now there is no proof that Anatabloc helps people with hypothyroidism.
Who makes Anatabloc?
This is where things get a little complicated. It’s said that Anatabloc is produced by a company called “Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals.” With an impressive name like that, you’d think this was a big pharmaceutical company like Merck or Pfizer. That’s what I thought. But, I couldn’t find a website for Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals.
I found this strange.
When I went to the Anatabloc website (Anatabloc.com), I saw that they don’t list an address for Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals. They do however give a number to call and order Anatabloc : 800-778-2031.
So I called this number, and discovered that it’s not the phone number for Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals. Rather, this number takes you to a call center in Michigan where people can order Anatabloc. I wanted to know where Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals was located, but the person I spoke with could not tell me. He did refer me to another call center number (800 391 9164) which is the customer service call center, located in Lansing Michigan.
The person I spoke with at this call center told me that Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals is located at 181 Marsh Hill Road Orange CT 06477. The link I’ve provided shows what this address looks like. It’s a highway. I only saw a house in the distance. Other than that, I saw nothing but highway and trees.
So, I then checked the Better Business Bureau website for Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals and discovered yet another address. The address the BBB has is 4470 Cox Rd Ste 110, Glen Allen, VA 23060. This address is a parking lot adjacent to a large building.
According to Google, several businesses are located at this address, including Star Tobacco Inc. This is important, because if you Google Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, one of the websites that comes up is Star Scientific.
It turns out that Star Scientific and Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals are the same company! Star Tobacco Inc. is a subsidiary of Star Scientific —as is Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals. This make sense because Anatabine— the main ingredient in Anatabloc —is also found in tobacco.
Star Scientific is a publicly traded company. Its stock symbol is STSI. Star Scientific works to reduce the damage from smoking tobacco. In other words, part of their work is to try to make a “healthier” form of tobacco.
According to a 2012 blurb about Star Tobacco in Bloomberg Business Week, Star Tobacco lists yet another address of 801 Liberty Way Chester, VA 23836. According to Loopnet.com this is a distribution center. I’m guessing this might be where they ship Anatabloc from?
The customer service person I spoke with told me that Star Scientific does the actual science on Anatabloc, while Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals is the maker and distribution center for the product.
Since Star Scientific works with tobacco, I can only guess that they chose the clean, wholesome-sounding name, Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, to distance themselves from the negative association people usually have of tobacco products.
Update. As reported in the Winston-Salem Journal on 12/17/12, Star Scientific is getting out of the tobacco business to focus on development of Anatabloc and other health and wellness products. The reasons for the change are cited as being due to US tobacco regulations and the “negative impact” of having a company in the tobacco business at getting researchers interested in investigating anatabine as a product to reduce excessive inflammation.
The journal also cites that Star Scientific’s association with GNC puts their product within reach of most people in the US, given that there is a GNC within 5 or less miles of 95% of all Americans.
Anatabloc and John Isner
As is reported on the Sports Pro Media website on Jan 7 2013, American tennis star John Isner has partnered with Star Scientific, after the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) relaxed its rules about players wearing corporate logos during tennis matches. Sports Pro Media says that John Isner was the first tennis player to capitalize on the new relaxed rules.
The website quotes John Isner, who was already using Anatabloc, as saying:
” Anatabloc has allowed me to stay on the court longer and in the gym longer, while at the same time helping with the recovery process. I simply do not feel as sore and fatigued as I have in the past.”
Based on these statements, I predict that various websites —and day traders of Star Scientific stock —will be making references that Anatabloc improves exercise performance and recovery from exercise.
To that I say, just show me the research. Having looked at all of the Anatabloc research, I can say categorically that there are no published exercise studies on Anatabloc right now. The same is true for Anatabloc and muscle soreness also. Likewise, there is no evidence either way that Anatabloc improves aerobic exercise ability.
If Anatabloc really does reduce inflammation, then it’s possible that it might help delayed muscle soreness —the pain we feel after working out too much. There is an “Inflammation theory” of delayed muscle soreness. But, theory aside, it’s a big step to say Anatabloc reduces muscle soreness or helps exercise based on the testimonial of somebody who has a financial association to the company that makes Anatabloc. Again, maybe it does or maybe it doesn’t. Just show me the published research.
As I understand it John Isner is the second athlete to endorse Anatabloc. The first I became aware of was pro golfer Fred Couples.
Anatabloc side effects
I’m not sure if Anatabloc has any bad side effects at this time. The mouse research I saw showed no side effects. One pdf document I discovered online titled “General information Anatabine Citrate” (Google it and it should pop up) noted that when rabbits where given anatabine, there was a reduced birth weight in baby rabbits. This however this did not seem to impact the health of the baby rabbits.
Because anatabine “looks” like nicotine, its possible that Anatabloc may alter the moods or emotional state of some people. Feelings of depression have been reported by at least one person who commented on this review (see the comments for more information).
Does Anatabloc help weight loss?
Some websites discuss the issue of anatabloc helping people lose weight or if it might help reduce weight gain that sometimes happens when people quit smoking. Currently, I see no published peer reviewed proof that Anatabloc helps people lose weight or reduces weight gain following smoking cessation.
I mentioned above that one unpublished rabbit study noted lower birth weights in baby rabbits. Might this be the “proof” behind the online buzz that Anatabloc helps people lose weight? I don’t know but if it is, then I say save your money on Anatablc-weight loss supplements.
I’ve also read at different websites that there are plans for an Anatabloc face cream. I recommend saving your money on this until there is human research proving that this skin cream firms the skin.
Should I invest in Star Scientific?
Because Star Scientific is a publically traded stock —and because Anatabloc might have some medical applications down the road — it’s likely that people will see websites that list all sorts of amazing things about Anatabloc. Be careful because sometimes unscrupulous people say things about a company to create hype and pump the stock price up. They then dump the stock later, for a profit. This trick is sometimes called “pump and dump.” Unless you’re a pro at investing (think, Warren Buffett), I recommend you talk to a financial advisor first before risking any money.
As I understand it, there is a “free trial” where people can order a sample of Anatabloc for under $5. Ordering the free sample means you will have to give them your credit card. It also enters people into an autoship program where they send Anatabloc each month. You must cancel this auto ship before the allotted time period expires or your credit card will be charged about $80 per month. Be sure to ask how long you have to cancel if you take them up on the free trial offer. Those who do not want to go through this can also get Anatabloc from GNC at full price (about $100 per bottle).
Does Anatabloc work?
This is the big question and for now, I can only say that I don’t know. I don’t know if Anatabloc will help arthritis pain, multiple sclerosis or any other condition. The research I saw looked very preliminary, too little in fact for me to justify the cost of Anatabloc, which at GNC, was about $100 a bottle. Still, I know -and understand – that people who are seeking answers will try it because $100 is a small price to pay for pain relief.
While from a cell physiology perspective, there may be something to Anatabloc (because of anatabine), the lack of human research makes me skeptical. There is a part of me who wonders if Anatabloc is just another product, rushed to market, based on little proof, but there is another part of me who’s intrigued. Still, the scientist in me needs better proof than what I see so far. So, I’m hoping that people write and let me know if Anatabloc helped them or not. Right now, I’m on the fence.
What do you think?