Sometimes in formulating, you just get lucky. Sometimes something totally unexpected just walks through the back door. Sometimes it's a little like the discovery of penicillin. You look for one thing; you get another. And instead of throwing it out as old mold, you recognize in that mold a whole new class of healing potential. Well, my formulation of an appetite-suppressant/energy formula was a bit like that.
From Soda Pop to Miracle Energy Tincture
A little over 6 months ago, I was contacted by a start-up company. They asked me if I had ever heard of Red Bull, Citrus Blast, or Energy Fuel. As it turns out, these are “energy” sodas – primarily fueled by taurine and caffeine. They asked me if I could design a soda for them that would do the same thing. But they wanted me to do the “Jon Barron thing” with it – make it healthy.
I played with the idea a bit until we discovered that when producing soda pop, you have to produce many thousands of cans or bottles in each run for the bottlers to gear up their production lines. This was more than the start up company wanted to commit to so I then offered to produce a tincture for them that would do the same thing, but would not require a large manufacturing commitment. They liked the idea and gave the go ahead.
As fate would have it, during the previous year, I had been exploring some exotic brain enhancement herbs for use in a new and improved “brain tonic.” So I developed a tincture for the start-up using two of those exotic herbs, mulungu from the Amazon Rainforest and Bacopa from the Indian Ayurevedic tradition. But even as we got the first test batches ready to go, the start-up company closed its doors.
Not wanting to waste the samples, I sent out a number of bottles to my network of “testers.” I got back some very surprising responses.
- Many of the testers got back to me within a couple of days and demanded immediate access to be able to buy the product. They “loved how it felt.” They didn't "want to be without it."
- A large number said, “It's a great appetite suppressant. Not that it actually suppresses appetite. It just makes me feel so good physically and mentally, I don't need to eat comfort food or midday snacks for energy.”
- Others said that the "energy boost and mental clarity lasts for hours."
- Smokers noticed a decreased urge to have a cigarette
- Those with major stress noticed they had the "relaxed energy" needed to get through the day
- Still others said that it was "wonderful with wine." What they actually said was that "a couple of droppers swished in the mouth a few minutes before drinking a glass of wine amplifies and extends the pleasant feelings of that single glass of wine for 3-4 hours." The net result was that they drank less (a major positive), felt better, had no drop-off during the evening, and were much less affected in the morning.
Back to Basics
At this point, I began to realize that I had something here that was significantly more than I had expected when I formulated it. (Although, to be sure most people did indeed report an increase in energy and mental clarity.) So I pulled the formula back home and began to work on it – to refine it – to see if I could improve what it did.
It's important to understand that the hardest part in developing a “new” formula is that there are no reference points. You have no guide in selecting ingredients, other than your own personal knowledge base and your own intuition. And you have no guide in determining how much of each ingredient to use other than lots and lots and lots of trial and error. With that in mind, I continued to work on the formula for the next six months to “perfect” it. In addition to the mulungu and bacopa, I added green tea to sharpen the effect of the mulungu, and stevia to help maintain blood sugar levels, thereby keeping energy levels up.
Mulungu is an excellent sedative and reliever of nervous system problems. The traditional use of mulungu for anxiety and stress, which has been well documented by researchers, shows that it effectively alters anxiety-related responses. The researchers reported that mulungu extract has an effect similar to the commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug diazepam.
In addition, one of the main effects of mulungu is a strong physical sensation of well-being. It is experienced as a very pleasurable warmth and tingling in the body. It is this pleasurable sensation that works so well as an appetite suppressant. You just feel so good that you don't want to eat.
Normally, when taken by itself, mulungu can cause drowsiness. But when taken with a stimulant such as green tea, the pleasurable sensations are amplified, and they are accompanied by increased mental clarity.
A classic brain and nerve tonic, Bacopa is a medicinal herb that has been used effectively for hundreds of years as a brain and nervous system restorer. It is known to increase mental clarity and promote improved memory and intelligence. It also assists in heightening mental acuity and supports the physiological processes involved in relaxation. Bacopa is thought to help nourish neurons as it restores depleted synaptic activity. Studies have indicated that Bacopa can help:
- Improve memory
- Enhance episodic memory
- Increase learning speed and learning capacity
- Relieve stress and anxiety
- Support healthy cerebral function
- Promote awareness and perception
- Improve concentration and attention span
- Diminish attention-deficit problems
- Balance emotional states
- Nourish and rejuvenate the mind
- Lower mental fatigue
- Protect the brain from free-radical damage
- Help in the handling of increasingly difficult tasks
- Promote vigilance
- Inhibit age-related cognitive decline
And the most interesting of the many effects of Bacopa is its ability to help increase novelty-seeking behavior, an attribute of intelligence associated with increased mental pleasure and increased lifespan.
Green tea contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. These alkaloids provide green tea's stimulant effects. Just a small amount of green tea provides enough of these stimulating alkaloids to work perfectly with the mulungu to enhance its sensation of physical pleasure, while at the same time augmenting mental clarity.
In addition, green tea antioxidants are of the same family as grape seed and pine bark extracts. They are polyphenols, chief of which are the flavonoids called proanthocyanidins. In green tea, the main proanthocyanidins are the catechins, and the most powerful of the catechins is Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), found in the highest concentration in green tea.
Green tea works to prevent tumors from developing the blood vessels they need to survive. Green tea has also been shown to inhibit metastasis. And it is the first known natural telomerase inhibitor. That is to say, it eliminates the "immortality" of cancer cells which is their trademark and which makes them so deadly. Green tea is particularly effective in destroying the causes of leukemia, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
And the benefits of green tea don't stop there. It has also been shown to be effective in regulating blood sugar, reducing triglycerides and in reversing the ravages of heart disease. (Incidentally, the Japanese, who drink large amounts of green tea, have some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world.)
Green tea seems to be able to almost totally prevent cancer causing DNA damage in smokers -- a possible explanation as to why the Japanese, who are among the world's heaviest smokers, have such a low incidence of lung cancer.
And finally, green tea has great benefits for the brain as well, serving as an effective MAO inhibitor, protecting against brain-cell death from glucose oxidase, over-production of nitric oxide, and lowering the amount of free iron reaching the brain (a bad thing). The net result is that there are strong indications that green tea extract may play a major role in protecting against both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Stevia is included for its ability to help the body regulate blood sugar. Researchers have reported that stevia seems to correct both high and low blood sugar. This helps prevent midday energy dips that normally encourage people to snack throughout the day.
Although many people will probably end up using this formula either to enhance their drinking experience or just enjoy the pleasurable physical and mental sensations it produces, its true functions are to:
- Control desire for snacks/cigarettes by offering the body a more pleasurable experience than comfort food or the urge to smoke.
- Provide an instant energy/brain boost at any point in the day you feel a dip -- thereby mitigating your desire for between meal food prompted by a postprandial dip.
It does both very effectively.
Note: if swished in the mouth for about 30 seconds before swallowing, this formula begins to take effect in about 60 seconds. If just swallowed, as when taken with a drink, it starts working in about 15 minutes.
In 2012, I was forced to revist this formula as mulungu was placed on the endangered species list. Having only enough on hand to last 6-9 months, I needed to find an alternative. I found it in ashwagandha, and as it turns out ashwagandha has several other benefits. For example, mulungu is an excellent stress reducer and sedative to calm agitation, but it can cause drowsiness in some people. Ashwagandha provides all of the benefits of mulungu without the downsides. Also, there are far more clinical studies supporting the benefits of ashwagandha than there are for mulungu. Here's one supporting its antistressor effects.1 And here's one indicating that ashwagandha may actually stimulate nerve regeneration.2
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian ginseng, has been part of herbal medicine for at least the last 4,000 years. And like ginseng, it functions as a general tonic, an “adaptogen,” which means its potential benefits are wide ranging. Historically, it has been used as a:
- Stress reducer
- Legal athletic performance enhancer
- Sex enhancer
- Immune enhancer
And like mulungu, ashwagandha stimulates the body's pleasure centers. It just plain "feels" good.
Note: ashwagandha: is part of the nightshade family. That means if you have an allergy to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, or bell peppers, you will probably not be able to use this formula as it is likely to stimulate the same allergy.
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- 1. Archana R, Namasivayam A. "Antistressor effect of Withania somnifera." J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jan;64(1):91-3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10075127
- 2. Tomoharu Kuboyama, Chihiro Tohda,Katsuko Komatsu. "Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by withanolide A." British Journal of Pharmacology (2005) 144, 961–971 http://8-12hz.com/media/Neuritic-regeneration-and-synaptic-reconstruction-induced-by-withanolide-A.pdf