Category Archives: supplements

How to Reduce Joint Pain and Inflammation Naturally: The Best Supplements, Exercises, and Foods

In a 2015 paper published in the medical journal Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, Leslie J. Crofford, MD wrote:

Unfortunately, treatments for chronic pain are woefully inadequate and often worsen clinical outcomes. Developing new treatment strategies for patients with chronic pain is of utmost urgency. 

Chronic pain affects 20% of adults in the U.S., myself included. After multiple broken bones in my formative years and a diagnosis of reactive arthritis (an inflammatory autoimmune condition) in 2016, I set out on a journey to discover the best natural treatments for my joint pain. 

After talking to countless health and wellness experts, reviewing research papers, and years of self-experimentation, I found a number of exercises, dietary restrictions, and supplements that significantly reduced my joint pain. 

That’s not to say these are going to work for your specific condition–because pain is highly individual–but some of these may work for you. 

Read on to learn more. 

Foods That May Increase Inflammation Cause Muscle and Joint Pain

When you’re experiencing joint issues like arthritis, your body is in an inflammatory state, which can trigger pain and other symptoms. 

What you eat may increase inflammation and have an impact on your pain levels

Here are some of the most common foods that are known to cause joint pain for certain people: 

  • Sugar
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • FODMAPs

Sugar and Joint Pain 

Researchers have found that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines, which can have an impact on joint pain.

This is a problem, because the average American consumes a hefty 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to an extra 350 calories. The CDC recommends a maximum of 12 teaspoons. 

Long story short, avoid added sugar in foods and drinks if you’re dealing with pain in your joints and see if it makes a difference. At worst, you’ll probably lose a little weight, because added sugar is one of the biggest causes of weight gain

Gluten and Joint Pain

Can gluten cause joint pain?

There’s not enough clinical evidence to this point to know for sure but it’s clear that people who are gluten sensitive have a different type of immune response to grain proteins. 

When some, but not all, people with gluten sensitivity eliminate these from their diet, they may find their arthritis symptoms also improve. For some with gluten-related joint pain, symptoms may improve within weeks after ditching gluten. For others, it may take a little longer, and for many, the problem may not be gluten at all.

So long story short, it doesn’t work for everyone, but if cutting out gluten helps you feel better, then stick with it

Dairy and Joint Pain

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2015 found that eating dairy foods increased low-grade inflammation in a small sample of German adults.

Another study of more than 40,000 people with osteoarthritis (OA) found that those who ate more dairy products were more likely to need hip replacement surgery.

While more research is needed to better understand the link (if any) between consuming dairy and joint pain, we do know that a large number of people (over 2/3 of the world’s population) are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar naturally present in milk products. 

So it stands to reason that if you’re lactose intolerant and you have joint pain, it’s probably a good idea to avoid dairy products

FODMAPs and Joint Pain

“FODMAP” stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, a group of carbohydrates that are not easily digested and may ferment in the gut, leading to bloating, gas, water-retention, diarrhea, and inflammation. 

Foods that fall under the FODMAP umbrella include wheat, certain fruits, vegetables and dairy products, and sugar alcohols, which are in some artificial sweeteners.  

Studies have found a low FODMAP diet can alleviate symptoms of IBS and reduce inflammation by reducing the amount of foods in your system that feed problematic bacteria.  

This can have a calming effect in the GI tract and may help reduce inflammation in other areas, including joints.

While there’s no peer-reviewed research to suggest a low-FODMAP diet improves arthritis symptoms, following the diet for a couple of months can help improve bacterial balance which, in some, may help to reduce inflammation. 

The Best Supplements for Arthritis-Related Joint Pain and Inflammation

Magnesium for Joint Pain

Magnesium strengthens bones; maintains nerve and muscle function; regulates heart rhythm and blood sugar levels; and helps maintain joint cartilage. 

So does magnesium work for joint pain? 

Possibly. 

Low magnesium intake is associated with increased knee pain in people with osteoarthritis. The famed Framingham Heart Study found that eating foods high in magnesium and potassium increases bone density and may help prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 420 milligrams (mg) daily for men 31 and older; 320 mg for women. 

Side effects of taking magnesium are rare, and may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness, according to the Arthritis Foundation

Magnesium may interact with some diuretics, antibiotics, antacids and laxatives. 

Fish Oil 

The research available on fish oil and joint pain is fairly limited; however, there are two studies that suggest fish oil may be a promising treatment option.

In the first study, researchers reviewed 17 randomized, controlled trials assessing the pain relieving effects of omega-3 fatty acids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or joint pain. They found that taking a fish oil supplement for 3-4 months reduced joint pain intensity, minutes of morning stiffness, number of painful and/or tender joints, and NSAID consumption.

In the second study, a 12-week, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, sixty patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (49 female and 11 male) underwent rheumatologist examination and disease activity score were calculated. Then patients were enrolled in this 12 week, double blind, randomized, placebo- controlled study where one group received a fish oil supplement and the other received a placebo. At the end of the study, researchers concluded:

Daily supplementation with omega-3 has significant clinical benefit and may reduce the need for concomitant analgesic consumption.

Turmeric 

Studies have shown that curcumin, a compound found in turmeric supplements, may support patients suffering from autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Curcumin inhibits these autoimmune diseases by regulating inflammatory cytokines and associated signaling pathways in your immune cells.

For those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, turmeric can reduce joint swelling and stiffness.

It’s important to note that curcumin has poor bioavailability alone. For maximum absorption, make sure you choose a turmeric supplement with black pepper extract.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are the building blocks for cartilage and appear to stimulate the body to make more cartilage.

There are conflicting studies on the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin, but based on what we know now it does appear that glucosamine and chondroitin can reduce the rate of collagen (joint tissue) degradation and symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees.

Glucosamine and chondroitin’s effectiveness for rheumatoid arthritis isn’t as clear, as only a handful of studies have been conducted in relation to RA. …

One study found that for RA patients, glucosamine appears to have positive effects for pain. When compared to NSAIDs for pain relief, glucosamine has shown evidence to produce similar or improved pain reduction in RA patients as NSAIDs, without the side effects.

CBD Oil for Arthritis Pain

Phytocannabinoids in CBD appear to have neuroprotective properties that could play a role in pain management.

A study published in the journal Pain in December 2017 analyzed whether CBD could prevent osteoarthritis pain and joint neuropathy. Based on their findings, researchers affirmed that it did both because it decreased joint inflammation and served as a protectant to the nerves.

A research review called published in the European Journal of Rheumatology stated:

Preclinical and clinical studies support the therapeutic application of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic pain, and to date, patients suffering from chronic arthritic and musculoskeletal pain.

Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan’s Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center notes that ongoing preclinical studies in animals have demonstrated that CBD reduces pain and inflammation, and studies of CBD in humans show that it is well-tolerated and has few negative side effects. He states:

There are observational studies that ask why people use CBD and if it’s effective, and results tend to be quite positive. People report using CBD for anxiety, pain, sleep — all things that go hand-in-hand with chronic pain.

We need more clinical studies to help us better understand how, exactly, CBD affects pain and whether or not it’s a safe and effective long-term option.

Other Causes of Joint Pain

Can Antihistamines Cause Joint Pain?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, H2 antihistamines, which help with stomach issues and include Tagamet HB, Pepcid, and Zantac, are most likely to cause joint pain

H-1 antihistamines, which are typically used to treat allergies, are not as likely to lead to joint pain. 

Cold Weather and Joint Pain

There’s not a lot of evidence around how cold weather affects joint pain but some theories suggest that the drop in barometric pressure caused by cold weather makes the tendons, muscles and the surrounding tissues in your body expand. This can cause pain, especially in joints affected by arthritis.

Can Seasonal Allergies Cause Joint Pain and Inflammation?

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there is no definitive relationship between food allergy and joint inflammation. But other doctors argue that since allergies cause inflammation, they may play a role in joint pain. 

Joint Pain and Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you’re at increased risk of various bone and joint disorders like charcot joint, diabetic hand syndrome, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis, says the Mayo Clinic.

And the American Arthritis Foundation says that people with arthritis have a 61% higher risk of developing diabetes. 

Joint Pain After COVID

Research published in The Lancet in October 2020 found that almost 15 percent of COVID-19 patients report experiencing joint pain. And for many of those who already have arthritis, it appears getting the virus may exaggerate the symptoms as well. 

However, the long-term impact of COVID on our bones and joints are still unknown, and joint pain often has other underlying causes. 

If you’re experiencing joint pain post-COVID, go talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to a pain specialist or physical therapist who may be able to better help you. 

Further Reading: 

My 10 Favorite Exercises for Reducing Aches and Pains

The Best Science-proven Natural Herbal Nutritional Supplements for Stress Relief, Anxiety, Sleep and Recovery

In this article, we’ll look at what nutritional supplements are recommended for managing stress and reducing anxiety, based on data and science

While there’s no such thing as “magic pills” that will remove all anxiety from your life, there are some supplements out there that can help you de-stress and feel a little better at the very least. 

Natural Supplements for Stress and Anxiety

If you’re considering taking a nutritional supplement during times of stress and anxiety, there’s no shortage of supplements out there that claim to help you manage turbulent times.

But which ones (if any) actually work? 

To answer this question, we’ll turn to the most objective source of information available: PubMed, the online database maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health that catalogs all science journals and clinical studies. 

Here are four natural supplements that may help you get at least some relief: 

Do Magnesium Supplements Work for Anxiety?

Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body that’s naturally present in many foods, added to other food products, and available as a dietary supplement. 

Magnesium is required for energy production, contributes to the structural development of bone, and plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. 

A 2017 research review found that magnesium supplements do appear to work for anxiety, based on several small studies. 

In a 2017 study, researchers found that: 

“Existing evidence is suggestive of a beneficial effect of Mg on subjective anxiety in anxiety vulnerable samples. However, the quality of the existing evidence is poor. Well-designed randomized controlled trials are required to further confirm the efficacy of Mg supplementation. 

In a 2020 research review, researchers stated that, “stress could increase magnesium loss, causing a deficiency; and in turn, magnesium deficiency could enhance the body’s susceptibility to stress, resulting in a magnesium and stress vicious circle.”

And a 2021 study found that taking a magnesium supplement “with or without vitamin B6, could provide a meaningful clinical benefit in daily life for individuals with stress and low magnesemia.” 

There is some conflicting evidence about the ability of magnesium to treat depression, so if you’re depressed, talk to your doctor and seek other treatment methods. In a 2020 research review called The Role and the Effect of Magnesium in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review, researchers had this to say: 

“We found three positive studies showing the efficacy of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression. In contrast, Fard et al. (2017) showed that magnesium did not reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in postpartum women.”

Magnesium Safety and Side Effects

High doses of magnesium from supplements or medications can cause nausea, abdominal cramping and diarrhea.

In addition, the magnesium in supplements can interact with some types of antibiotics and other medicines. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re considering a magnesium supplement, especially if you routinely use magnesium-containing antacids or laxatives.


Can Vitamin B6 Work for Stress Relief? 

Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is important for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy.

Food sources of vitamin B-6 include poultry, fish, potatoes, chickpeas, bananas and fortified cereals. Vitamin B-6 can also be taken as a supplement, typically as an oral capsule, tablet or liquid.

Research has shown that stress depletes your body’s stores of B-6 and supplementation with B6 vitamins could help reduce stress levels. 

In contrast to the study mentioned above in the Magnesium section, a 2018 study showed that taking a magnesium supplement with vitamin B6 provided more stress relief benefits than just magnesium alone. 

Vitamin B6 Safety and Side Effects

The Mayo Clinic says that taking Vitamin B6 in supplement form is generally safe. 

Consuming vitamin B-6 through food appears to be safe, even in excessive amounts.

However, taking too much vitamin B-6 from supplements may cause:

  • A lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements (ataxia)
  • Painful, disfiguring skin lesions
  • Heartburn and nausea
  • Sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity)
  • Numbness
  • Reduced ability to sense pain or extreme temperatures

Check with your doctor before taking vitamin B-6 if you’re using any medications. Possible drug interactions include:

  • Altretamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Levodopa
  • Antiepileptic Medications
  • Cycloserine
  • Theophylline

Is Lemon Balm Good for Anxiety? 

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb.

Several small studies have shown that lemon balm supplements may be good for anxiety: 

  • A 2021 metaanalysis found that “lemon balm significantly improved mean anxiety and depression scores compared with the placebo”. 
  • A 2018 study showed that 8-week supplementation with 3 g MO can decrease depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in patients with CSA.
  • A 2014 study found that lemon balm could have beneficial effects on mood and cognitive performance. 
  • In a 2011 non-placebo-controlled trial, researchers had this to say regarding treating anxiety with lemon balm: “treatment has been demonstrated to improve mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders, its associated symptoms and insomnia in humans.”

Lemon Balm Safety and Side Effects

Lemon balm supplements are possibly safe when used at a dose of up to 500 mg daily for up to 6 months. Side effects are generally mild and might include increased appetite, nausea, dizziness, and wheezing. There isn’t enough reliable information to know if lemon balm is safe to use for more than 6 months.

Lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Avoid lemon balm if you have thyroid disease.

Does CBD Help Treat Anxiety? 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in the cannabis plant, and is usually derived from hemp, a cousin of marijuana. 

Here’s what we know about CBD and anxiety: 

  • In one study, 80% of patients decreased anxiety levels within the first month of using a CBD supplement. 
  • A 2019 research review that looked at articles published from case reports, case series, or randomized controlled trials on human subjects found that “CBD has a promising role as alternative therapy in the management of anxiety disorders. However, more studies with standardized approaches to dosing and clinical outcome measurements are needed to determine the appropriate dosing strategy for CBD and its place in therapy.” 
  • A 2021 journal article called Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety and Mood Disorders said that “given its safety profile, CBD is considered a promising new agent in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders.” 
  • A 2020 journal article called Use of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety: A Short Synthesis of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence stated that “existing pre-clinical and clinical evidence supports a possible role for CBD as a novel treatment for anxiety disorders. The findings reviewed in this study demonstrate the potential of CBD to produce anxiolytic-like effects in pre-clinical models and the potential of CBD to induce acute anxiolytic effects when administered as a single dose in healthy volunteers and individuals with SAD. 
  • A 2019 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study that assessed the efficacy of CBD treatment for Japanese late teenagers with social anxiety disorder found “significantly decreased anxiety” for study participants who took CBD. 

Will CBD Get You High? 

CBD does not cause a “high” like marijuana because it’s too low in THC, the psychoactive substance. 

CBD is non-toxic and non-intoxicating. 

Is CBD Safe to Use?

According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

That being said, there are several serious safety considerations:

  1. CBD can thin blood, so people with thin blood or who are on blood thinners should consult a doctor before taking it. 
  2. CBD is known to inhibit the CYP450 enzyme system which is a primary means with which the body processes a large assortment of conventional medications (NSAIDs, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, steroids, anesthetics, etc.). Meaning, with both CBD and these drugs in the system, they’re processed slower than normal which can lead to problems, especially liver toxicity. 
  3. Another issue is that certain drugs are designed (prodrugs, like codeine which metabolizes into morphine inside the body) to activate during processing, and CBD can inhibit the amount of the drug being activated. 

According to a 2017 review from the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the three most common side effects from clinical studies looking at patients who used CBD to treat epilepsy and psychotic disorders were strong changes in food intake, some diarrhea, and tiredness at high doses. 

Summary

Can taking nutritional supplements during times of stress and anxiety really work to help you get relief? 

Based on the current body of evidence available, there do seem to be some supplements available in pill form that can help you achieve these outcomes … but larger studies are definitely needed to better understand the efficacy, safety, and dosing. 

Talk to your doctor if you’re having persistent anxious thoughts and before taking any new supplement for anxiety, stress, or sleep so they can help determine the best option(s) for you. 

And if you’re interested in trying any of these supplements, then check out Pure Food’s American-sourced, NSF-certified supplements for stress, anxiety and sleep right here:

What is Turmeric and What Is It Used for?

Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of curcuma longa, a plant in the ginger family. Its main active ingredient is a compound called curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color. 

Curcumin is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, curcumin has poor bioavailability, which means your body doesn’t absorb it well. You’ll learn about some strategies to overcome this below. 

Research has shown it may help you better manage conditions in which inflammation plays a role.

Turmeric Health Benefits

Turmeric is best known for its antioxidant properties. One study showed that it may help protect your body from free radicals and another study found that turmeric’s antioxidant effects may also stimulate the action of other antioxidants in your body.

Although most research studies have been small, early results seem promising.

Here’s a deeper dive into some of the health benefits of turmeric. 

Reduce Inflammation

According to a 2017 research review called Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health, turmeric “aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia”.

In one study of patients with ulcerative colitis, a common autoimmune disease, patients who took 2 grams of curcumin / day along with prescription medication were more likely to stay in remission than those who took the medication alone. Since many medications for autoimmune disorders come with unwanted side effects, this research is promising. 

Turmeric may also reduce joint swelling and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis. 

However, a 2019 review found that “Turmeric or curcumin did not decrease several inflammatory markers in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases.” 

Clearly more research is needed to understand the effects of turmeric / curcumin supplements on inflammation. 

Boost Memory

A 2018 clinical trial showed that taking 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months helped improve memory in adults. Researchers from this study found that: 

  • Curcumin led to significant memory and attention benefits.
  • Curcumin’s cognitive benefits may stem from its anti-inflammatory and/or anti-amyloid brain effects.

Reduce Arthritis Pain

A 2016 metaanalysis found that taking turmeric extract could potentially reduce arthritis pain. 

And a 2021 study showed turmeric supplements had similar pain reduction effects on osteoarthritis knee pain as NSAIDs. A 2017 research review stated: Curcumin may offer an alternative to NSAIDS for patients with OA seeking treatment but experiencing negative side effects. 

Support Heart Health

Due to its ability to help reduce inflammation, turmeric may also lower the risk of heart disease.

A 2017 study showed that turmeric may help reverse heart disease. In healthy adults who took curcumin capsule supplements for 12 weeks, resistance artery endothelial production (which plays a significant role in high blood pressure) was increased significantly. 

Another study found that patients who took 4 grams of curcumin a day saw a 65% decreased risk of having a heart attack in the hospital following coronary artery bypass surgery. 

And a 2017 metaanalysis that reviewed results from 7 studies found that turmeric may protect those at risk for heart disease by lowering certain levels of cholesterol. 

Helps Combat Depression

In a 2020 metaanalysis, researchers concluded that “curcumin, if added to standard care, might improve depressive and anxiety symptoms in people with depression.” 

While scientists are still uncovering the exact mechanisms for how curcumin/turmeric may help with depression, it appears as if curcumin can boost BDNF levels (BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is a protein that is reduced when you’re depressed). 

Another study found that curcumin may be just as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in reducing symptoms of depression. 

And finally, curcumin / turmeric also appear to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine — which are brain chemicals that regulate mood and other body functions. Researchers had this to say: 

The coadministration of curcumin along with piperine may prove to be a useful and potent natural antidepressant approach in the management of depression.

Turmeric Safety and Risks 

Doses of up to 8 grams of turmeric / curcumin have not been shown to cause serious adverse effects in humans. However, larger studies are needed. Here are some potential side effects that may occur: 

  • High doses of curcumin may produce nausea and gastrointestinal complaints. 
  • Use of curcumin with piperine may cause adverse drug reactions, as piperine greatly increases intestinal permeability. 
  • Turmeric may cause bloating, and there is a theoretical concern that it may interact with blood-clotting medications. 
  • Avoid turmeric if you have gallbladder disease.

Always talk to your doctor before starting a dietary supplement, since they could potentially interact with other medications you’re taking. Turmeric can help supplement your conventional care, but it’s not a substitute for medicine.

While the risk of side effects is low and drug interactions are unlikely, stop taking turmeric / curcumin supplements if you notice ill effects. 

Turmeric Optimal Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day? 

As a dietary supplement, research shows that 500 milligrams twice daily with food appears to be effective for most people. The dose that’s right for you depends on your overall health. More isn’t always better, so talk to your doctor.

On its own, curcumin is poorly absorbed. So look for a curcumin / turmeric capsule with piperine (a black pepper extract) or combine it with some healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc.). 

It’s usually best to take turmeric with or immediately before a meal to avoid any side effects. 

Best Time to Take Turmeric

The best time of day to take turmeric really depends on what you’re using it for. Turmeric can be used in the morning to reduce minor aches and pains and sharpen your mental focus and memory or in the evening to reduce anxiety and stress, if you prefer. 

How Long Does Turmeric Take to Work? 

Turmeric generally takes 30-60 minutes to take effect. Pairing it with healthy fats and/or black pepper extract will improve absorption time. 

How Is Turmeric Best Absorbed? 

It’s widely known that turmeric is not absorbed well by your body. However, there are several ways to help your body absorb it better, to exert maximum benefit. 

A number of all-natural compounds have been studied to help increase the bioavailability of curcumin. 

One of the most popular is piperine, also known as black pepper extract. 

One study showed that curcumin bioavailability was increased by 2,000% at 45 minutes after co-administering curcumin orally with piperine. 

So make sure whatever turmeric supplement you’re choosing has black pepper extract (like BioPerine, a safe, proven, and patented extract) to improve absorption. 

How to Find the Best Turmeric Supplement

There are a few things to look for to find the best turmeric supplement for you. 

  1. Seek out turmeric / curcumin supplements with organic ingredients, so you ingest  less pesticides/chemicals. 
  2. Choose a product with the optimal dose of 500–600 mg of turmeric per capsule. 
  3. Look for turmeric pills with 5 mg or more of black pepper extract (like BioPerine) because the black pepper extract makes the turmeric easier for your body to absorb. 
  4. Look for a turmeric supplement made in the USA in a GMP-compliant, FDA-approved facility that’s been third party lab tested for purity and safety. 

Learn More About Pure Food Turmeric + Ginger 

What is Ashwagandha and What Is It Used for? 

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is an evergreen shrub that’s found in India, Africa and parts of the Middle East.

It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to increase energy, improve overall health and reduce inflammation, pain and anxiety. 

Ashwagandha Health Benefits

Ashwagandha is best known for its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, probably due to its ability to reduce cortisol levels (a common “stress hormone”). 

Here’s a deeper dive into some of the health benefits of ashwagandha. 

1. Reduce Anxiety and Stress Levels

Ashwagandha appears to significantly reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, fatigue, and cognitive impairment, along with stress-related biomarkers like cortisol (see this study and this one). 

Another randomized, double blind clinical study found that 600 mg of ashwagandha for 60 days in people with chronic mental stress improved perceived stress levels and reduced serum cortisol by 27.9%.

2. Ashwagandha for Sleep

One study showed that ashwagandha may benefit sleep quality as well—researchers found that study participants slept much better with 250 mg / day or 600 mg /day doses of the herb compared to placebo doses.

Another randomized, double-blind clinical trial showed that ashwagandha root extract can improve sleep quality and can help in managing insomnia. 

3. Lower Blood Sugar and Fat

A couple of small clinical trials found ashwagandha to be helpful in reducing blood glucose levels and triglycerides (the most common type of fat in the blood). 

One study compared ashwagandha’s blood sugar-lowering effects to those of medications commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes. More research is needed in this area. 

4. Increase Muscle Strength and Power Output

One study found participants who took 500 mg / day of ashwagandha experienced increased speed and strength. 

Another study showed that taking 750 mg of ashwagandha each day results in increased muscle power, lower body fat percentage and reduced cholesterol levels in study participants. Some participants also experienced better sleep, but this study did not compare ashwagandha consumption against a placebo.

Another study compared men who took 600 mg daily to a placebo group and found that the men who received ashwagandha saw significant gains in muscle strength (measured using bench press and leg extension exercises) and muscle size in their arms and chests, as well as a significant reduction in body fat percentage and post-workout muscle damage.

5. Sharpen Focus and Memory

Ashwagandha may also help improve cognition and memory. 

Small studies have found that, compared to a placebo, ashwagandha significantly improved participants’ reaction times during cognition and psychomotor tests. 

One study also found that ashwagandha significantly improved participants’ attention spans, as well as their “executive function, attention, and information processing speed”.

Long story short, many clinical trials have tested the herbal substance on a relatively small number of participants. Larger studies are needed to establish ashwagandha’s benefits and risks, especially over the long term.

Ashwagandha Safety and Risks 

Ashwagandha is generally safe. According to Dr. Yufang Lin, integrative medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic

“Most people can take this supplement, although it is always best to discuss it with your healthcare provider first. Ashwagandha is generally tolerated well. However, the most common side effects are diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and nausea.”

Avoid ashwagandha or talk to your doctor if any of the following apply to you:  

  • If you have any issues with your thyroid, check with your healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha.
  • Don’t use ashwagandha if you’re pregnant because it may cause abortion (end your pregnancy).
  • Talk with your doctor if you have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer because ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels. This can interfere with your treatments.
  • Ashwagandha may increase the drowsiness effects of some prescription medications so talk with your healthcare provider before taking it.

Ashwagandha Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Optimal Dose?  

As a dietary supplement, research shows that 300–700 mg of ashwagandha root extract daily can help you achieve the most benefit. Take it with a meal if you experience any GI discomfort.  

What’s the Best Time to Take Ashwagandha? 

”Do I take ashwagandha in the morning or night?” is one of the most common questions we get. 

The best time to take ashwagandha depends on what you’re using it for. Ashwagandha can be used in the morning to sharpen your mental focus and memory or in the evening to reduce anxiety and wind down for a better night’s sleep. 

How Long Does Ashwagandha Take to Work? 

Ashwagandha generally takes 30-60 minutes to take effect. 

Is Ashwagandha Better with Black Pepper? 

Black pepper extra is often added to adaptogenic supplements like ashwagandha and turmeric to increase their bioavailability. In other words, black pepper helps your body better absorb the beneficial compounds from these adaptogens. 

Ashwagandha Capsules vs. Powder: Which Is Better? 

Ashwagandha means “smell of the horse” in Sanskrit, and it does have a bit of a pungent smell to it. That’s why we recommend capsules vs. taking it in a powder, which doesn’t taste very good. 

How to Find the Best Ashwagandha Supplement

Long story short, there are a few things to look for to find the best ashwagandha supplement for you. 

  1. Supplements with organic ingredients means less pesticides/chemicals. 
  2. Ashwagandha with black pepper extract because the black pepper extract makes the ashwagandha more bioavailable (easier for your body to absorb). 
  3. Choose a product with the optimal dose of 300–700 mg of ashwagandha per capsule. 
  4. Look for an ashwagandha supplement made in the USA in a GMP-compliant, FDA-approved facility that’s been third party lab tested for purity and safety. 

Learn More About Pure Food Ashwagandha + Ginger

New Product Update

pure food supplements

Back in 2014 when I started this business, it was always my vision to create a full line of health and wellness supplements that could help people feel better and create healthier habits in their lives.

Seven years later, this has finally come to fruition.

Each of our 12 new supplements are the gold standard in their respective category … they’re all:

  • Sourced from American-grown ingredients (never China like 99% of others)
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  • Produced in a GMP-certified, FDA-approved facility in the USA
  • Lab tested for purity and safety

Whether you’re looking to boost your immunityenergy levels, or GI healthreduce stress / sleep better, or move better, we’ve now got you covered.

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The Best Supplements to Burn Fat and Lose Weight Naturally

In this article, we will uncover some of the best fat burning, natural weight loss supplements for both women and men that have actually been shown to work in human clinical trials.

That’s not to say they’re effective 100% of the time, and there are safety considerations for some that we’ll cover below … but each supplement we will review is backed by real, credible research studies, which is more than can be said for most weight loss products on the market, unfortunately.

We won’t keep you waiting … let’s jump right in.

Best Supplements to Lose Weight / Burn Fat

Green Coffee Bean Extract 

Green coffee bean extract is a dietary supplement made from unroasted coffee beans, which are high in compounds called chlorogenic acids that have antioxidant and thermogenic effects.

While an early study showed mixed results of green coffee bean extract for losing weight, more recent studies have shed new light on its effectiveness. Here’s a look …

Research StudyFindings
The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials (2011)The meta-analytic result reveals a significant difference in body weight in GCE compared with placebo (mean difference: −2.47 kg; 95%CI: −4.23, −0.72). The magnitude of the effect is moderate, and there is significant heterogeneity amongst the studies. It is concluded that the results from these trials are promising, but the studies are all of poor methodological quality. More rigorous trials are needed to assess the usefulness of GCE as a weight loss tool.
The effects of green coffee bean extract supplementation on lipid profile in humans: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2019)The evidence from available studies suggests that taking green coffee bean extract supplements leads to significant reductions in total cholesterol, HDL-C, and LDL-C levels, and has modest, but, non-significant effects on triglycerides levels.
The effect of green-coffee extract supplementation on obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2019)In the subgroup analysis, studies that were conducted on baseline BMI ≥25 kg/m2 revealed a significant greater reduction in body weight and BMI than those performed on baseline BMI <25 kg/m2. Moreover, short supplementation periods of less than 4 weeks had no effect. The results of current meta-analysis study support the use of green coffee extract supplementation for the improvement of obesity indices, with sub-group analysis highlighting greater improvements in individuals with a starting BMI ≥25 kg/m2.
The effects of green coffee extract supplementation on glycemic indices and lipid profile in adults: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of clinical trials (2020)Green coffee bean extract supplementation improved fasting blood glucose and serum levels of insulin and total cholesterol. Also, there was a significant improvement in other markers of lipid profile in some subgroups of clinical trials.
The effect of green coffee extract supplementation on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2019)Results revealed significant reduction in systolic blood pressure after green coffee supplementation with low heterogeneity among the studies. In addition, a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure  in studies with hypertensive patients, green coffee dosage <400 mg, and administered for 4 weeks was identified. The results of the current meta-analysis study support the use of GCBE supplementation for the improvement of blood pressure indices, with subgroup analysis highlighting improvements in hypertensive patients.

Does Green Coffee Bean Extract Have Caffeine? 

Yes, green coffee bean extract does contain caffeine, but in much lower amounts than regular coffee. Green coffee contains about 10% caffeine, or 10 mg per 100 mg. Compare that to 100 mg of caffeine in one cup of regular coffee.

Green Coffee Bean Extract Side Effects 

According to the National Library of Medicine, Green coffee extracts taken in doses up to 1000 mg daily have been used safely for up to 12 weeks.

Consuming large amounts of green coffee bean extract may lead to caffeine-related side effects, including headache, anxiety, agitation, and irregular heartbeat.

There isn’t enough reliable information to know if green coffee is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Consuming a high dose of chlorogenic acid might increase homocysteine levels, which might be linked to conditions such as heart disease.

Green coffee and other supplements with caffeine should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional in people with anxiety disorders, bleeding disorders, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and osteoporosis.

Green coffee bean extract may cause interactions with medications and other drugs, including Adenosine (Adenocard), Alcohol (Ethanol), Alendronate (Fosamax), Clozapine (Clozaril), Dipyridamole (Persantine), Disulfiram (Antabuse), Ephedrine, Estrogens, Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Lithium, Medications for asthma (Beta-adrenergic agonists), Medications for depression (MAOIs) such as phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate), Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs), Nicotine, Pentobarbital (Nembutal), Phenylpropanolamine, Riluzole (Rilutek), Stimulant drugs, Theophylline, and Verapamil (Calan, others).

Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia Cambogia is a supplement that comes from the fruit rinds of the garcinia tree. These rinds contain a compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which may help prevent fat storage, control appetite, and increase exercise endurance.

Here’s a look at some of the research studies that have been conducted on the effectiveness of Garcinia Cambogia on body composition:

Research StudyFindings
Long-term effects of Garcinia cambogia/Glucomannan on weight loss in people with obesity, PLIN4, FTO and Trp64Arg polymorphismsGarcinia cambogia may reduce weight and improve lipid and glucose blood profiles in people with overweight or obesity.
Risks Associated with the Use of Garcinia as a Nutritional Complement to Lose WeightRegarding safety, although Garcinia supplements have been revealed as safe in the vast majority of the studies carried out in animal models and humans, some cases of hepatotoxicity, serotonin toxicity and mania have been reported. In conclusion, the results suggest that Garcinia-based supplements could be effective in short-term weight loss, although the data are not conclusive. In addition, the safety of the complement should be further studied.
THE EFFECT OF GARCINIA CAMBOGIA AS COADJUVANT IN THE WEIGHT LOSS PROCESSStudies suggest positive results about the effectiveness of the GC on the weight loss process. However, the ideal dosage has not been well established yet.
Effects of garcinia cambogia (Hydroxycitric Acid) on visceral fat accumulation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trialGarcinia cambogia reduced abdominal fat accumulation in subjects, regardless of sex, who had the visceral fat accumulation type of obesity. No rebound effect was observed. It is therefore expected that G cambogia may be useful for the prevention and reduction of accumulation of visceral fat.

Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrate Health:

  • Cases of liver damage associated with the use of garcinia cambogia products have been reported. This problem appears to be uncommon, but some cases were severe. Most of the reported cases involved products labeled as containing a combination of ingredients, but some involved products labeled as containing only garcinia cambogia. Don’t use if you have liver disease or take medications that can harm the liver (hepatotoxic drugs).
  • Other side effects associated with garcinia cambogia include headache and nausea, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Little is known about whether it’s safe to use garcinia cambogia during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  • Garcinia can worsen mania in bipolar disorder. Don’t use if you have bipolar disorder.
  • The HCA in garcinia might affect blood sugar levels and slow blood clotting. This might make it more difficult to control blood sugar and bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking HCA at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Garcinia might increase a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications also have this effect. Taking garcinia along with these medications might increase serotonin too much. This might cause serious side effects including heart problems, seizures, and vomiting
  • Garcinia might lower blood sugar levels. Taking garcinia along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
  • Garicina might slow blood clotting. Taking garcinia along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

White Kidney Bean Extract

White kidney bean extract is a carbohydrate blocking dietary supplement that works by inhibiting the digestion of starches. These starches are either excreted and their calories not absorbed, or fermented by bacteria in the colon.

White kidney bean extract can help fight the effects of alpha-amylase, an enzyme involved in breaking down carbohydrates into sugar. By slowing alpha-amylase activity, white bean extract is thought to prevent the body from turning excess sugar (glucose) into fat.

Here’s a look at some of the research studies that have been conducted on the effectiveness of white kidney bean extract on body composition:

Research StudyFindings
It’s No Has Bean: A Review of the Effects of White Kidney Bean Extract on Body Composition and Metabolic HealthThe evidence presented in this review indicates that WKBE aids weight loss, inducing small (average −2.6 kg) but potentially meaningful reductions in body weight in humans on a short- to medium-term basis (28 to 84 days) compared with a placebo, particularly when consumed alongside a high-carbohydrate diet
Regular intake of white kidney beans extract (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) induces weight loss compared to placebo in obese human subjectsPhaseolus vulgaris extract has the potential to induce weight loss caused by carbohydrates through its alpha‐amylase inhibiting activity.
Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of a Proprietary Alpha-Amylase Inhibitor from White Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) on Weight and Fat Loss in HumansPhaseolus vulgaris supplementation showed an average effect on weight loss difference of −1.08 kg (95% CI (confidence interval), −0.42 kg to −1.16 kg, p < 0.00001), and the average effect on body fat reduction was 3.26 kg (95% CI, −2.35 kg to −4.163 kg, p = 0.02). This meta-analysis found statistically significant effects of Phaseolus vulgaris supplementation on body weight and body fat.
A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): A review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic controlWhite kidney bean has the potential to induce weight loss and reduce spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates through its alpha-amylase inhibiting activity.
A Dietary Supplement Containing Standardized Phaseolus vulgaris Extract Influences Body Composition of Overweight Men and WomenAfter 30 days, subjects receiving Phaseolus vulgaris extract with a carbohydrate-rich, 2000- to 2200-calorie diet had significantly (p<0.001) greater reduction of body weight, BMI, fat mass, adipose tissue thickness, and waist,/hip/ thigh circumferences while maintaining lean body mass compared to subjects receiving placebo.

White Kidney Bean Extract Side Effects 

  • There is some evidence that white kidney bean extract appears to be safe in doses of up to 3 grams daily for 2-3 months for most people.
  • Eating large amounts of fresh white kidney bean husks is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Raw husks contain chemicals called lectins. These chemicals can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cooking destroys these chemicals.
  • White kidney beans and bean pod may lower blood sugar. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medications may need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.

Summary

So, we looked at three of the best supplements for fat burning and weight loss for both women and men that have been shown to work for some people in human clinical trials–green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia, and white kidney bean extract.

They may or may not be best for you personally and there are safety considerations to discuss with your doctor … but these three supplements are backed by research studies to help you lose weight and potentially burn fat, which is more than can be said for most weight loss products on the market.

Regardless, the most important thing when trying to lose weight is to create healthy habits. You can’t just take a pill and expect it to melt fat and change your body without putting in effort elsewhere (preparing healthy meals, exercising, etc.).

As many of the studies we looked at have shown, supplements may be able to help you lose weight in the short-term, but for permanent, sustainable weight loss, exercise + proper nutrition are key.

The Best Supplements to Build Lean Muscle Naturally

Most people who have tried to build lean muscle have taken supplements at some point in time. 

And unfortunately, most of those supposedly magical all-natural / herbal remedies just don’t work … especially for those of us “hard gainers” who seem to struggle with growing new muscle. 

But in this article, we will uncover three of the best muscle building, all natural supplements for both women and men that actually work in human clinical trials. That’s right–all of these are backed by real, credible research studies. [Anecdotally, I can attest to having personally used and seen great results when using this supplement stack!]

We won’t keep you waiting … let’s jump right in. 

Best Supplements to Build Muscle

Protein Powder for Lean Muscle Gain

Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein, which is why it’s the most important nutrient if you want to build muscle. 

Many people, particularly those who adhere to a plant-based diet, struggle to get enough protein to gain any muscle. 

That’s where protein powder supplements can help. But first … 

Plant vs Whey (Animal Protein): Which Is Better for Building Muscle? 

There is not a significant body of evidence to support whey and other animal-based protein powders as being more effective than plant-based protein sources for building muscle.

  • A 2021 study found that whey and plant (soy) protein were equally effective in supporting lean muscle gains.
  • A 2019 study showed similar body composition improvements after taking whey and pea (plant-based) protein for 8 weeks.
  • A 2015 study found that supplementing with pea protein produced similar muscle gains to whey protein. 

And since an estimated 68% of people are lactose intolerant, it stands to reason that many folks probably not be consuming dairy-based proteins like whey.

There are other animal-based proteins like collagen but they haven’t been studied as extensively for building muscle as whey and certain plant proteins. Some studies have shown that collagen may not be as effective as whey for muscle protein synthesis.

Regardless of which source you decide is best for you, one thing is for certain: protein powders work if your goal is losing fat and gaining lean muscle. Here’s proof … 

Protein Powder Benefits 

Here are some known benefits:

Research StudyFindings
The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic reviewProtein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
Protein Supplements and Their Relation with Nutrition, Microbiota Composition and Health: Is More Protein Always Better for Sportspeople?While studies on athletes have shown that protein and amino acid supplements may increase MPS and reduce fatigue, muscle soreness and low-to-moderate exercise-induced damage, current studies showing clear negative effects associated with high-protein diets or, e.g. BCAA supplements, are mainly reported in subjects with some type of metabolic disturbances.
Intake of whey isolate supplement and muscle mass gains in young healthy adults when combined with resistance training: a blinded randomized clinical trialSupplementation with whey protein, combined with RT can increase muscle mass with no effects on muscle strength. Whey protein supplementation may alter body composition in favor of additional fat free mass with no significant changes in body fat.
Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance TrainingThere is robust evidence which shows that consuming protein pre- and/or post-workout induces a significant rise in muscle protein synthesis.
A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adultsDietary protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged resistance exercise training in healthy adults. Increasing age reduces and training experience increases the efficacy of protein supplementation during resistance exercise. 
The Effects of Protein Supplements on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Aerobic and Anaerobic Power in Healthy Adults: A Systematic ReviewFor untrained individuals, consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training. However, as the duration, frequency, and volume of resistance training increase, protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
The Effects of Protein Supplements on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Aerobic and Anaerobic Power in Healthy Adults: A Systematic ReviewProtein supplementation may enhance muscle mass and performance when the training stimulus is adequate (e.g., frequency, volume, duration), and dietary intake is consistent with recommendations for physically active individuals.

How Much Protein Do YOU Need? Find out in this FREE guide.

Protein Powder Side Effects

Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products. So first, ensure that whatever protein powder you’re using is routinely third party tested for mold, pathogens, and heavy metals. Supplement manufacturers should have COAs they can share with you and if they don’t, it’s definitely a red flag! 

Some research suggests that whey protein might cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

However, there’s limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from a combination of food and supplements.

Don’t use whey protein if you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy products.

Possible interactions include:

  • Albendazole (Albenza). Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug’s effects.
  • Alendronate (Fosamax). Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug.
  • Certain antibiotics. Use of whey protein with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics might decrease your absorption of the drug.

Plant protein powders all absorb small amounts of heavy metals from the soils they’re grown in. Usually these levels are not high enough to have negative impacts on human health but it’s a good idea to check with the supplement manufacturer and review their heavy metal testing reports. 

Creatine to Increase Strength and Build Lean Muscle

Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.

Creatine is one of the best supplements for building lean body mass and increasing athletic performance.

Here’s proof …

Research StudyFindings
Effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscular strength in older adults: a meta-analysisCreatine supplementation increases lean tissue mass and upper and lower body muscular strength during resistance training of older adults. . 
Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysisCreatine can help increase lean body mass.
Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performanceOf 22 studies reviewed, the average increase in muscle strength following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 8% greater than the average increase in muscle strength following placebo ingestion during resistance training (20 vs. 12%). Similarly, the average increase in weightlifting performance (maximal repetitions at a given percent of maximal strength) following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 14% greater than the average increase in weightlifting performance following placebo ingestion during resistance training (26 vs. 12%).
Effects of two and five days of creatine loading on muscular strength and anaerobic power in trained athletesThe study found that a 5-day creatine loading regime coupled with resistance training resulted in significant improvements in both average anaerobic power, as measured by the 30-second Wingate test and back squat strength compared with just training alone. 
Effects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue thresholdBeta alanine and creatine supplementation both may delay the onset of neuromuscular fatigue. 
Effects of 4-Week Creatine Supplementation Combined with Complex Training on Muscle Damage and Sport Performancecreatine supplementation combined with complex training improved maximal muscular strength and reduced muscle damage during training.
Impact of creatine supplementation in combination with resistance training on lean mass in the elderlyTwelve weeks of low-dose creatine supplementation associated with resistance training resulted in increases in lean mass in the elderly.

Creatine Side Effects

According to the Mayo Clinic, evidence suggests that using creatine generally won’t hurt if taken as directed.

When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. As with any dietary supplement, it’s important to choose a product that follows recommended manufacturing practices and subscribes to third-party testing to ensure the product’s quality.

Creatine can cause weight gain, generally as lean body mass (more muscle). 

Creatine might be unsafe for people with preexisting kidney issues. One case study suggested that creatine might worsen kidney dysfunction in people with kidney disorders, but creatine doesn’t appear to affect kidney function in healthy people.

Possible interactions of creatine include caffeine. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Use of creatine with a daily amount of caffeine greater than 300 milligrams might also worsen the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Further research is needed.

Glutamine to Speed Recovery and Increase Strength Gains

L Glutamine is the most abundant essential amino acid in our bodies and one of the “building blocks” of protein. It’s a “conditional” amino acid, which means that your body can make some on its own but uses it in large amounts. 

Around 60 percent of your skeletal muscle is made up of glutamine, which is why it has been used by athletes and bodybuilders for years to help build and preserve lean body mass.  

Let’s look at the available evidence on the effect l glutamine supplements have on muscle gains. 

Research StudyFindings
The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric ExerciseL-glutamine supplementation resulted in faster recovery of peak torque and diminished muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. The effect of L-glutamine on muscle force recovery may be greater in men than women.
L-Glutamine Supplementation Enhances Strength and Power of Knee Muscles and Improves Glycemia Control and Plasma Redox Balance in Exercising Elderly WomenGlutamine supplementation, mainly when associated with physical exercises, improves strength and power of knee muscles and glycemia control, besides boosting plasma antioxidant capacity of elderly women.
Glutamine as an Anti-Fatigue Amino Acid in Sports NutritionStudies evaluated observed that glutamine supplementation improved some fatigue markers, such as increased glycogen synthesis and reduced ammonia accumulation, but this intervention did not increase physical performance. 
Effect of Glutamine Supplementation on Muscular Damage Biomarkers in Professional Basketball PlayersGlutamine could help attenuate exercise-induced muscle damage in sport disciplines with predominantly eccentric actions.
L-glutamine Improves Skeletal Muscle Cell Differentiation and Prevents Myotube Atrophy After Cytokine (TNF-α) Stress Via Reduced p38 MAPK Signal TransductionL-glutamine administration could represent an important therapeutic strategy for reducing muscle loss in catabolic diseases and inflamed aging. 

Glutamine Side Effects

L-glutamine is generally safe but may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • constipation
  • nausea
  • headache
  • abdominal pain
  • cough
  • back, leg, feet, hands, or arm pain

Summary 

So, based on a solid body of evidence, protein powder, creatine, and L glutamine are three of the best supplements for lean muscle gain. 

Finding a protein powder that works for you can be a highly personal ordeal. Whether you choose an animal protein like whey or collagen or plant-based protein, we recommend sticking with a product with USA-sourced ingredients and no added sugar (especially the latter if gaining LEAN muscle is your goal).

And any supplement you choose should be produced in a GMP-certified, FDA-approved facility, and third party lab tested for impurities like mold, food borne pathogens, and heavy metals.

The most important thing when trying to build lean muscle, regardless of your gender or age, is to create consistent habits. Supplements are just one piece of the puzzle. Doing resistance training several days a week and improving your diet with more clean, high protein foods are imperative if you want to get lean and actually stay that way! 

The Best Science-proven Natural Nutritional Supplements for Deep Sleep and Recovery

In this article, we’ll look at what nutritional supplements are recommended for deep sleep and recovery, based on the latest data and science

We’ll share a number of clinical studies published on PubMed, the online database maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. 

As we stated in our similar article about supplements that may work for anxiety, there is no magic pill that will fix all your sleep issues instantly … but there are a handful of supplements that may help you sleep a little better at the very least. And any improvement in your sleep that actually sticks and causes positive shifts in your sleep habits can make a major difference in your health. 

If you’re considering taking nutritional supplements to help you sleep better, read on to discover 6 natural herbal supplements that may help you get some relief from insomnia and a better night’s sleep.  

6 of the Best Deep Sleep and Recovery Supplements

Click to read more about the benefits and side effects of each.

Is Melatonin Good for Sleep?

Melatonin is a hormone in your body that plays a role in sleep.

It has been shown to synchronize our circadian rhythms, and improve the onset, duration and quality of sleep, meaning it may help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. 

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that taking a melatonin supplement may help with: 

  • Jet lag
  • Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (people with DSWPD have trouble falling asleep at the usual times and waking up in the morning).
  • Anxiety 

According to the Sleep Foundation, the results of melatonin for insomnia are mixed. 

Some experts reviewing it find some evidence in favor of melatonin while organizations like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) have concluded that there is not sufficient scientific support for melatonin in reducing insomnia.

Long story short, melatonin works for some people while for others, it may not have much of an affect.

Melatonin Side Effects and Drug Interactions 

The Mayo Clinic says that melatonin is generally safe for short-term use. Treat melatonin as you would any sleeping pill and use it under your doctor’s supervision.

As far as side effects go, melatonin can cause:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness

Possible drug interactions include:

  • Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs and supplements
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Blood pressure drugs
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • Diabetes medications
  • Contraceptive drugs
  • Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) and cytochrome P450 2C19 (CPY2C19) substrates
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Seizure threshold lowering drugs

Will L Theanine Help You Sleep? 

L-theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms. It’s also available in pill or tablet form.

Research on the effect of L-theanine for sleep is limited, but here’s what we know based on current evidence: 

A 2019 study found that a combination supplement of GABA and L-theanine “has a positive synergistic effect on sleep quality and duration as compared to the GABA or l-theanine alone.” 

A 2019 randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that: 

Stress-related symptom (i.e., depression, anxiety-trait, and sleep) scores decreased and cognitive function (i.e., verbal fluency and executive function) scores improved after four weeks of L-theanine administration. The reduction in sleep quality problems (disturbances in sleep latency, sleep disturbance, and use of sleep medication) was greater in the L-theanine administration compared to the placebo administration, while verbal fluency, especially letter fluency, was improved in the L-theanine administration among individuals who showed relatively low performance at pretreatment. Moreover, L-theanine administration was safe and well complied with. Therefore, L-theanine may be a suitable nutraceutical ingredient for improving mental conditions in a healthy population.

And a 2011 study found that “400 mg daily of L-theanine is safe and effective in improving some aspects of sleep quality in boys diagnosed with ADHD.” 

L-Theanine Side Effects 

When taken by mouth: L-theanine is possibly safe when used short-term. Doses of up to 900 mg daily have been safely used for 8 weeks. It isn’t clear if L-theanine is safe to use for longer periods of time. It might cause mild side effects, such as headache or sleepiness.

Is L-Tryptophan Good for Sleep? 

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that plays an important role in a handful of different bodily processes. Many people associate tryptophan with turkey and feelings of sleepiness after holiday meals, but it is found in a wide variety of foods and beverages. Some people also take tryptophan supplements, though their safety and efficacy is limited. 

A 2022 metaanalysis that looked at several studies of tryptophan’s effect on sleep found that taking a tryptophan supplementation at a dose of ≥1 g can help improve sleep quality, notably reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. 

L-Tryptophan Side Effects 

L-tryptophan supplements are considered potentially safe for short-term use. Potential side effects include headaches, blurry vision, drowsiness, stomach pain, diarrhea, or vomiting. 

L-tryptophan supplements have not been extensively studied and more research is needed to pinpoint why and how they affect the body.

L-tryptophan supplements may interact with certain other medications and produce some undesirable side effects. People who take tryptophan along with medications, herbs, and supplements that have sedative properties may experience breathing problems and excessive sleepiness. Issues may also arise with serotonergic medications, herbs, and supplements, since they – like L-tryptophan supplements – can increase serotonin production. Excessive serotonin levels can lead to vomiting, seizures, and heart problems.

Does CBD Help You Sleep Better? 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of 113 naturally-occurring compounds called cannabinoids created by the Cannabis sativa L. plant species. 

CBD can be extracted from one of two types of Cannabis sativa plants: hemp or marijuana. The main difference between marijuana and hemp is that hemp contains only trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the molecule that causes the “high” that marijuana is famous for. 

More controlled clinical trials are needed, but mounting scientific research (both animal and human studies) highlight CBD’s potential as an adjunct treatment for a wide range of maladies, including (but not limited to):

So what benefits does CBD have, if any, for sleep? 

  • CBD may hold promise for insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness, according to this study.  Researchers said, “Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.”
  • In a 2020 research review, scientists stated that endocannabinoids like CBD “play a prominent role in sleep and sleep neurophysiology.” 
  • CBD does not appear to alter your sleep-wake cycle like benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. 

Keep in mind certain types of CBD get absorbed by your body faster …

Onset Time With Capsules Vs. CBD Oil Tinctures

  • Capsules generally take 45-60 minutes to begin working. 
  • CBD oil tinctures tend to take effect within 15-30 minutes when applied directly under the tongue. 

Is CBD Safe? 

CBD is non-toxic, non-intoxicating, and non-habit forming, with few negative side effects. 

Your body does not build a tolerance to CBD, so there’s no physical withdrawal symptoms or need to continue upping doses once the therapeutic impact you desire has been achieved.

That being said, there are several serious safety considerations:

  1. CBD can thin blood, so people with thin blood or who are on blood thinners should consult a doctor before taking it. 
  2. CBD is known to inhibit the CYP450 enzyme system which is a primary means with which the body processes a large assortment of conventional medications (NSAIDs, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, steroids, anesthetics, etc.). Meaning, with both CBD and these drugs in the system, they’re processed slower than normal which can lead to problems, especially liver toxicity. 
  3. Another issue is that certain drugs are designed (prodrugs, like codeine which metabolizes into morphine inside the body) to activate during processing, and CBD can inhibit the amount of the drug being activated. 

Side Effects of CBD Usage

According to a 2017 review from the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the three most common side effects from clinical studies looking at patients who used CBD to treat epilepsy and psychotic disorders were strong changes in food intake, some diarrhea, and tiredness at high doses. 

Click Here to Download Our Free Infographic, How CBD Impacts Sleep

Does Ashwagandha Make You Sleep Better? 

Ashwagandha is a herbal treatment commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. 

One study showed that ashwagandha may benefit sleep quality as well—researchers found that study participants slept much better when taking an ashwagandha supplement compared to placebo. They stated: 

Ashwagandha root extract is a natural compound with sleep-inducing potential, well tolerated and improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia at a dose of 300 mg extract twice daily. It could be of potential use to improve sleep parameters in patients with insomnia and anxiety, but need further large-scale studies.

A randomized, double-blind clinical trial showed that ashwagandha root extract can improve sleep quality and can help in managing insomnia. 

More research is need but early results seem promising for ashwagandha and sleep. 

Ashwagandha Side Effects

Side effects of using ashwagandha may include:

  • Nausea 
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach irritation
  • Diarrhea 

Avoid ashwagandha or talk to your doctor if any of the following apply to you:  

  • If you have any issues with your thyroid, check with your healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha.
  • Don’t use ashwagandha if you’re pregnant because it may cause abortion (end your pregnancy).
  • Talk with your doctor if you have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer because ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels. This can interfere with your treatments.
  • Ashwagandha may increase the drowsiness effects of some prescription medications so talk with your healthcare provider before taking it.

Does Taking Valerian Root Work to Fall Asleep Faster? 

Results from multiple studies indicate that taking valerian root may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and help you sleep better

However, not all studies have shown valerian to be effective, and the exact dosage needed to sleep better is unclear. 

Valerian seems to be most effective after you take it regularly for two or more weeks

Valerian is also used in patients with mild anxiety, but the data supporting this indication are limited. 

Valerian Root Side Effects and Drug Interactions 

Although valerian is thought to be fairly safe, side effects such as headache, dizziness, stomach problems or sleeplessness may occur. Valerian may not be safe if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. If you have liver disease, avoid taking valerian. And because valerian can make you drowsy, avoid driving or operating dangerous machinery after taking it.

Valerian may increase the effects of other sleep aids. It also increases the sedative effect of depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines and narcotics. Valerian can interfere with some prescription medications. And it may interact with other dietary supplements, such as St. John’s wort.

If you’re thinking of taking valerian, talk to your doctor first to make sure it won’t interact with other medications or supplements you’re taking and that it’s safe to take with any health or medical conditions you have.

Summary

Does taking nutritional supplements to sleep better really work? 

Based on the current body of evidence available, there do seem to be some supplements available in pill form that can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less throughout the night, and sleep deeper … but oftentimes it can take some trial and error to figure out what works well for you. Larger studies are definitely needed to better understand the efficacy, safety, and dosing for most natural sleep aids. 

Talk to your doctor if you’re having sleep issues before taking any new supplement, so they can help determine the best option(s) for you. 

Ultimately, supplements should be a short-term fix.

If you focus your efforts on creating better sleep habits, like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, turning off electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, and limiting light exposure in your bedroom, that’s what really going to help you create sustainable changes that improve your sleep over the long-term. 

Learn More About Pure Food Sleep Supplements