The Doctor’s Prescription for Healthy Living magazine
By Lori Foster
Master herbalist Paul Schulick likes to play it safe. So, while other companies promoted all kinds of carbohydrate blockers, stimulants, cathartics and diuretics that promised weight loss and more energy, his company avoided the category altogether. Schulick and his colleagues at New Chapter preferred to offer nothing at all, convinced that there was a better and healthier way.
Then new research began pouring in. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that cinnamon helps improve fat metabolism. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a relationship between obesity and low levels of antioxidants. The link between chronic stress and low antioxidant levels had already been established.
Schulick was intrigued.
He got excited and busy.
The result is a new and unique supplement that promises to help people lose weight, gain energy and maintain healthy blood-sugar levels with herbs most of us can find in our own kitchen cupboards. Supercritical Diet and Energy combines 13 herbs, including cinnamon, peppermint, cloves, rosemary, cayenne pepper and turmeric. All have been proven individually to enhance particular aspects of health. New Chapter, based in Vermont, is the first to roll them all together.
“I think for the people who aren’t even interested in losing weight, they will still feel vital and energetic from using the rhodiola and the maca (ingredients in the supplement),” says Schulick, the company’s CEO. “They’ll have a wonderful antioxidative response and have a healthier digestive system. So, it’s really a daily tonic. It will work for everybody.”
The supplement is also 70 percent certified organic.
“This I believe will be, if not the first, one of the first that will be made from mostly organic ingredients,” he adds. “We’ve worked on this for the last year intensely, to source these herbs as certified organics. If you know an herb is grown with pesticides and fumigates, it kind of defeats the purpose.”
Supercritical Diet and Energy tackles weight loss and energy production from several fronts. It works to simultaneously increase metabolism, combat the effects of stress, balance blood-sugar levels, increase antioxidant levels and protect delicate cells in the body from overexposure to particular herbs. Here’s how each of the ingredients works independently and together to achieve these results:
THE STRESS BUSTERS
Most of the fat we eat goes directly into our bodies’ fat tissues, where it is stored as triglycerides for later use. To tap into that stored energy, we have to break down the triglycerides into smaller particles, a process called lipolysis. A new study combined with well-documented knowledge about the effects of stress on immunity proves stress can prevent that breakdown from happening.
This was exciting news for Schulick.
“The stress response system tends to function poorly, obviously, when people are under chronic stress, and this can disrupt the whole balance of fat metabolism. I had not been aware of anyone who was introducing a product that strictly was working on the neurochemistry of dieting and weight loss and so I was particularly attracted to that,” he says. “I just find that approach to be novel and a breath of fresh air in the whole diet area.”
The study—by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—focused on people who suffer from syndrome X, a pre-diabetes condition in which insulin receptors don’t work the way they should. Traditional diets and supplements are less effective for these people because their bodies resist efforts to release stored fats. The study found that syndrome X sufferers have low levels of antioxidants, a necessary ingredient in the fat-breakdown process. At about the same time, Japanese researchers found that antioxidant levels were low in obese people in general.
This is what got Schulick thinking. In otherwise healthy people, chronic stress can cause the body to respond as if it is in chronic danger. That means we produce more white blood cells to fend off the perceived invader and, in turn, create more oxidants. This excess of oxidants throws off the balance of antioxidants in our systems. These new studies support Schulick’s theory that chemical imbalance contributes to the weight gain and energy loss of people who are chronically stressed.
To increase antioxidant levels, Schulick added to his formula extracts from herbs we already use to spice our chicken, add color to our rice, or flavor our tea. Cloves, peppermint, rosemary and turmeric are all common herbs that are exceptionally high in antioxidants, according to a study by the Norwegian Crop Institute. The study found that herbs are generally a far greater source of antioxidants than vegetables. This alone is fascinating information and clearly makes a case for shoppers not to simply expect their antioxidant needs to be filled with vegetables alone. (Herbs do have their place, contrary to all the attention paid to green superfoods.)
But Schulick’s research showed that pure antioxidants alone are not enough to fight the negative effects of stress. He also threw rhodiola and maca into the mix. Both are ancient herbal medicines and nutritional supplements that target the endocrine system, which regulates metabolism. They are part of the adaptogen group, a category of herbs that help the body better handle illness and stress.
A study conducted at Armenian State Medical University in Yerevan found that Rhodiola rosea helps improve endurance in athletes. In another study at the Fujita Health University School of Health Sciences in Japan, night-duty physicians who took rhodiola showed greater mental skills and less fatigue than those who took placebos. The herb also has a thermogenic effect, helping to speed up metabolism by discouraging the formation of certain proteins that prevent us from breaking down stored fat. Rhodiola, also known as golden root, grows in the mountains of eastern Siberia, where natives have relied on its healing and anti-aging properties for centuries.
“I use the herb myself. It’s one of my favorite botanicals now,” Schulick says.
Maca root, a member of the potato family, has been used by the native Indians of Peru since at least 3800 B.C. for nutritional and medicinal purposes. It is loaded with amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Maca supports endocrine function and the hormones that control sexual function, digestion and energy levels. Chronic stress weakens the endocrine system. Maca helps improve its response.
Improves Sexual Function…
A potential benefit that New Chapter does not claim on the product’s package is maca’s ability enhance sexual function in men and women.
“The most confounding question about maca’s effect is its ability to influence sexual performance without affecting serum hormone levels such as luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, testosterone and estradiol,” according to an herb information website produced by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “It is therefore assumed that maca acts on the receptors for these hormones. Alkaloids purified from the maca root are thought to affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, explaining why maca can induce effects in both sexes.”
In fact, maca was introduced to Europeans via Peruvians who used it for its effect on livestock reproduction, which clearly caused them to copulate more frequently. Mouse studies also show maca is clearly aphrodisiacal—at least to mice who were asked to do nothing more than enjoy their enhanced libido!
Antioxidants can help stop people from gaining more weight, but Americans still have plenty to lose. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, according to the National Institutes for Health, and around 30 percent are classified as obese. The extra fat puts these people at high risk for all kinds of ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and some forms of cancer.
Though Schulick doesn’t advocate supplements that claim to increase weight loss by simply increasing metabolism, he admits that moderate boosts can’t hurt. In his usual cautious manner, he prefers to approach metabolism with herbs that already are proven safe and effective: green tea, cayenne pepper, and ginger. This is a wise healthy choice. Ginger, of course, is a New Chapter premiere herb, and our HL reporters have visited the new ginger farm Luna Nueva in Costa Rica, one of the areas where New Chapter obtains its organic ginger. And ginger is an herb we at HL want you to get to know. It is great, and you can’t have enough from supplements. (Don’t expect to get real ginger effect from most processed ginger ale, either.) Green tea is certainly a great herb, one for all time. And cayenne, when used intelligently, probably does synergize the two others.
Several well-documented studies show that all three herbs work independently to increase the speed of fat metabolism, but Schulick says he worries about people who take large amounts of any one product. Some people might be sensitive to constant, high, daily does of cayenne pepper or ginger. So his formula includes conservative amounts of all three. For instance, the recommend dose of green tea is ten cups per day. Schulick’s extract contains the equivalent of two cups.
“I chose the lowest potency of everything that was the most effective,” he says. This is almost a homeopathic approach but not quite, because these are very pure, well orchestrated extracts of the most potent parts of the herbs; with New Chapter, quality means low potency is even better than higher potencies of poorly crafted herbal products.
To help ensure that people who are sensitive to certain herbs suffer no ill effects from a daily dosage of Supercritical Diet and Energy, Schulick added two herbs to his formula that are known for protecting the mucous membranes that line the body’s digestive, respiratory and urogenital tracts, and the inner surface of the eyes. Sea buckthorn and calendula target these cells, which are constantly under fire from stress, disease and aging.
Probably the most exciting breakthrough in recent research for Schulick was the discovery that cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar in people with pre-diabetes. About 17 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and another 20 million suffer from pre-diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. Those 20 million still have a chance to avoid the full-blown disease. Diabetes is of special concern for Schulick; it runs in his family.
“I put all of my health attention on it because I know how devastating diabetes can be,” he says.
Healthy systems work like this: We eat foods that contain glucose, a source of energy. The glucose is absorbed into our bloodstreams with the help of insulin, a hormone produced by the body. Our bodies take the energy that they need from our blood and then store the rest in fat cells for future use. An imbalance in that system can trigger two different types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is a less common condition in which the body simply does not produce enough insulin. These sufferers tend to develop the condition at a young age and must depend on daily insulin injections. More than 90 percent of people with diabetes suffer from type 2, in which the body forgets how to use insulin properly over time. In either form, diabetes can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and other organs.
A study by the Human Research Center of the USDA and the University of California, Santa Barbara, caused a stir in the diabetes world when it showed that cinnamon has an active ingredient that is similar to insulin. It works in conjunction with real insulin to keep blood sugars low. In one study, conducted in Pakistan, people with type 2 diabetes who took cinnamon powder daily had blood sugar levels that were 20 percent lower than those who took no cinnamon. The American Diabetes Association suggests a half teaspoon of cinnamon daily to aid blood-sugar regulation.
To further enhance insulin reception, Schulick added fenugreek to Supercritical Diet and Energy. Fenugreek appears to reduce gastrointestinal glucose and cholesterol absorption and increase bile acid excretion, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website. It helps the body use insulin better by targeting the receptor sites.
New Chapter’s product does not claim to take the place of insulin injections or insulin drugs for those who need it. Rather, Schulick says, it claims only to help people who have not developed the disease to maintain a healthy blood-sugar balance.
“All individuals who have metabolic problems should also check with their doctors,” he adds.
Schulick says he is confident that Supercritical Diet and Energy will quickly become a popular supplement, especially since so many of the ingredients are so familiar to all of us. The key, he explains, lies in the combination of the ingredients and in the low doses. While all of the herbs have their own special areas of health enhancement, many of them also contribute to the success of the others. Schulick, the son of a physician, is a strong believer in the power of multiple herbs. “We see that the healthiest cultures are those that eat the most spices.”
Schulick used the lowest effective dose of all ingredients in this formula. That gives him confidence that unlike many other supplements that promise weight loss and energy enhancement, Supercritical Diet and Energy, which retails at $49.95 for a one-month supply, will deliver results and be around for years to come.
“I am a formula chicken,” Schulick said. “I really don’t like playing with controversial things. I tend to be very, very cautious.”
Supercritical Diet and Energy and all New Chapter herbal formulas are available nationwide at health food stores and from health professionals. Contact New Chapter toll-free at (800) 543-7279 or visit their website at www.newchapter.info and use their online store locator service.
Spice It Up!
No longer can we use antioxidants as an excuse for drinking lots of red wine—unless the wine is spiced with oregano…or maybe a little peppermint. Perhaps some cloves?
A USDA study told us four years ago that we can get far more antioxidants from herbs than from fruits and vegetables, even more than in the grapes that are crushed to make red wine. But a new study by a group of scientists in Norway has found that some herbs contain up to 1,000 times more antioxidants than others.
Low levels of antioxidants are associated with cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. A recent study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that people who suffer from pre-diabetes have low antioxidants levels. Stress, in general, makes us produce more oxidants, bumping out the antioxidants that help regulate our metabolisms.
So it makes sense to include plenty of antioxidants is our diets for weight control and disease prevention. The 2003 study by The Norwegian Crop Institute found that the herbs with the highest concentrations of antioxidants are oregano, sage, peppermint, garden thyme, lemon balm, clove, allspice and cinnamon. A few Chinese herbs—cinnamomi cortex and scutellariae—also made the list.
Master herbalist Paul Schulick included peppermint, clove, rosemary, turmeric and cinnamon in his newest product, Supercritical Diet and Energy, because the studies convinced him that they are safe and essential. According to Schulick, CEO of New Chapter, the healthiest cultures in the world consume the most generous amounts of spices.
Here’s a look at the ways in which the ingredients in Supercritical Diet and Energy help you maintain healthy blood-sugar levels, promote fat burning, and optimize energy and well-being…
Antioxidant Response (Addresses the research that suggests that adults with metabolic syndrome have suboptimal levels of antioxidants, which help improve metabolism): Peppermint, clove, turmeric, and rosemary
Adaptogens (Help support the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis): Maca and rhodiola
Thermogenic (Boost metabolism): Green tea, cayenne and ginger
Cell protectors (Help ensure that certain herbs will not cause irritation in people with sensitivity to such herbs as cayenne and ginger): Sea buckthorn and calendula
Phytoglycemic (Insulin resistance): Cinnamon and fenugreek
“About herbs.” Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Web site. www.mskcc.org. Accessed 15, Nov 2004.
“Cinnamon extracts boost insulin sensitivity.” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, News & Events. www.ars.usda.gov. Accessed 15, Nov 2004.
“Cinnamon may help to alleviate diabetes says UCSB researcher [Press release].” Eurekalert Web site. www.eurekalert.org. Accessed 15, Nov 2004.
Darbinyan, V., et al. “Rhodiola rosea in stress-induced fatigue — A double-blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated lose-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty.” Phytomedicine, 2000; 7(5),365-71.