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 October 2013 researchers published a human follow up to the mouse-thyroid gland study. In the study titled Anatabine supplementation decreases thyroglobulin antibodies in patients with chronic lymphocytic autoimmune (Hashimoto's) thyroiditis: A randomized controlled clinical trial, researchers gave 146 people, with thyroid problems, either Anatabloc or a placebo for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, those people receiving Anatabloc had significantly lower antibodies (TgAB) made against thyroglobulin (thyroid hormone) than those who received the placebo.
Interestingly – and unfortunately – Anatabloc did not reduce antibodies that destroy thyroid peroxidase (TPO) an enzyme that helps make thyroid hormone.
So in other words, Anatabloc appeared to reduce antibodies against thyroid hormone (TgAB) but not the enzyme that helps make thyroid hormone (TPO).
This may be important because, as is mentioned in a review at MedScape, antibodies against TPO appear to be associated with destruction of the thyroid gland. If Anatabloc did reduce these TPO antibodies, then it might slow down the destruction of the thyroid gland. But, it didn’t do this, and that is too bad. For those who want to know more, here is a MayClinic review of thyroid peroxidase (TPO).
The study also notes that while Anatabloc was found to be safe, more people in the Anatabloc group had side effects (adverse events) than those in the placebo group. Side effects associated with Anatabloc use included:
- Skin tingling
There was also a greater dropout rate -due to side effects – among those taking Anatabloc (8%) than those in the placebo group (1%).
While this is an interesting study that is worthy of follow up investigations, one potential problem was that people who took levothyroxine (a common thyroid medication) were allowed to take part in the study. This may have contributed to the lower thyroid hormone antibodies. This is also mentioned to in the study.
3. 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.
Tip. Another product touted to reduce inflammation and NFKB is Zyflamend. See my Zyflamend review for more information.
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 6 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 reduced thyroid antibodies in people with Hashimoto's disease. This is a people 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
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.
Anatabloc And Muscle Soreness
In 2013 a study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It was titled The effects of anatabine on non-invasive indicators of muscle damage: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled cross over study. This study was looking to see if Anatabloc (6-10 mg per day for 10 days) reduced muscle soreness after exercise. The people used in the study were 18 healthy young men.
For those who are interested, this study used mint flavored Anatabloc.
This study noted that anatabine, at the dosage used, did not reduce feelings of exercise induced muscle soreness (DOMS) compared to placebo. Likewise Anatabloc did not improve recovery of strength following exercise either.
Anatabloc also had no effect on resting heart rate or resting blood pressure. While this study only lasted 1o days, if corroborated by longer studies, this might be good news for those with high blood pressure who are interested in Anatabloc.
Anatabloc And Concussions
I am not aware of any Anatabloc research indicating that taking the product reduces the risk of concussions or improves recovery time or reduces damage from concussions. On December 13, 2013, the FDA sent a warning letter to Star Scientific, – makers of Anatabloc – to remove aspects from their websites that hint that Anatabloc might help concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The FDA has also posted a consumer-friendly report on dietary supplements and concussions on their website.
See the Nerium EHT review for more insights.
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.
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 (stock symbol now is STSI:US). 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.
Update. As is reported on the Charlottesville Virginia Legal Examiner website, Star Scientific is officially changing its name to Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals. This proves what I felt all along, that Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals was basically a made up name. For investors, the stock symbol will be changed from STSI to RCP.
Question: is there really a rock creek near the company?
Update. As is reported on the website DailyProgress.com on December 30 2013, the CEO of Star Scientific is stepping down and in his place will be Dr Michael Mullan, who is the CEO of the Roskamp Institute, in Florida. The Roskamp institute is responsible for some of the research on Anatabloc.
For those who are interested, these are the Anatabloc studies with a connection to to the Rosekamp Institute:
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 a pro athlete. As mentioned above in the Research Update section, at least one study has shown that Anatabloc (mint flavored) does not appear to help muscle soreness.
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).
Anatabloc And 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.
Anatabloc Facial Cream
In addition to Anatabloc lozenges, there is also an Anatabloc face cream. I recommend saving your money on this until there is human research proving that this skin cream firms the skin.
Update. On November 5th 2013, a study titled, Effects of a Facial Cream Containing the Minor Alkaloid Anatabine on Improving the Appearance of the Skin in Mild to Moderate Rosacea: An Open-Label Case Series Study, was published online in the journal Case Reports in Dermatology. This study involved 10 people with rosacea who used an Anatabloc skin cream twice a day for 30 days. Before and after pictures were taken.
At the end of the study, 5 people reported, via surveys, that they felt the cream helped their rosacea. A doctor noted improvement in the skins appearance in 7 of the 10 people. There were no side effects reported.
This is an interesting study, but I would like to point out a few things I noticed:
1. The study only had 10 people. That's not a lot.
2. There was no placebo group
3. The study mentions that Star Scientific provided the anatabine cream used in the study. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I like it when companies invest in researching their product.
Because this investigation only had 10 people, I consider this a pilot study (baby study) that should be followed up by a larger, double blinded, placebo controlled study. The authors of the study mention this need as well.
Should I Invest In Star Scientific?
Because Star Scientific is a publicly 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 if Anatabloc works or not. I don't know if Anatabloc will help arthritis pain, multiple sclerosis or any other condition. The research I saw looked very preliminary, although it appears the company that makes Anatabloc is pursuing better research, so that's good. Still, I know -and understand – that people who are seeking solutions to their pain issues will try it because $100 or so a bottle is a small price to pay for pain relief.
Also see my review of Zyflamend which is also touted to help pain.
What do you think?