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Hemavol Review

Hemavol

 

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Hemavol is definitely one of iForce Nutrition’s most well-known supplements, although now there are so many pump-based pre-workouts out which have taken some of the shine away. Still, Hemavol is pretty stacked with effective pump-inducing ingredients.

AGMATINE SULFATE:

Agmatine remains very under-researched, despite possessing a variety of health/performance implications. Recently, Agmatine has become quite pervasive in pre-workout supplements because of its alleged ability to regulate Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS), an enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine, and either elevate or reduce its presence, depending on the type of NOS. NOS is a widely misunderstood enzyme, mostly due to supplement companies not properly explaining its function and how that function relates to physical performance. It is largely thought that NOS is the enzyme that “breaks down” NO, when it is actually the enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine in the first place.

Nitric Oxide generally has a positive connotation in the bodybuilding/athletic community because it is associated with vasodilation, which clearly has performance/health benefits. However, this beneficial effect of NO only pertains to NO in the blood vessels. Elsewhere in the body (like the brain) NO can inflict damage and actually be quite harmful. So ideally, what we really are after is a way to reduce NO in the areas of the body where it can cause harm, while increasing it in blood vessels where it can beneficially influence physical performance.

It’s important to understand that there are several types of NOS, all which are required for the production of NO. Inducible NOS (iNOS) and Neuronal NOS (nNOS) are considered harmful because they elevate NO in immune cells (causing inflammation) and the brain (causing neuronal damage), while Endothelial NOS (eNOS) is considered beneficial as this is the kind which increases Nitric Oxide in the blood vessels, resulting in vasodilation. Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate eNOS (the “good” NOS) while inhibiting the other NOS enzymes (the “bad” NOS). However, as mentioned above, Agmatine remains under-researched because it is a relatively new entrant in the supplement industry. Currently, most of the research has been done in vitro, with absolutely no studies regarding the potential physical performance benefits of Agmatine in humans. Because of the lack of human studies, no optimal dose has been established for Agmatine, though average doses in pre-workout formulas are 500-1000mg. Hemavol contains 500mg of Agmatine Sulfate per serving.

CITRULLINE MALATE:

Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of Free Radical Research”, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Malate given to male cyclists before a race increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.

You may be wondering: How can Citrulline be more effective at increasing Arginine than Arginine itself? The problem with supplemental Arginine is that it is metabolized in the intestines and liver into other substances such as Ornithine and Urea. The intestines and liver contain relatively high levels of Arginase, the enzyme that converts Arginine to Ornithine and Urea. As a result, very little goes on to be involved with the synthesis of NO because it is being diverted for other purposes. Citrulline, on the other hand, is able to bypass the liver and is metabolized into Arginine elsewhere, where not as much Arginase is present. Thus, more of the Arginine is able to convert into NO.

A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline Mallate supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males. A 2011 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that supplemental Citrulline increased muscular contraction efficiency (less ATP was required for the same amount of power), in-line with the findings of the above-mentioned human study. Hemavol contains 2500mg of Citrulline Malate per serving which, despite being less than the doses used in the above mentioned studies, is more than most “pump-based” pre-workouts.

GLYCEROL MONOSTEARATE:

Glycerol is a colorless, odorless, syrup-like substance found in such household products as soap, cough syrup, and hair care products. However, NO-Xplode contains several powdered forms of the substance. Glycerol is also used by athletes for its ability to counter dehydration due to its propensity for cellular water retention. Originally, Glycerol was purported to enhance athletic/exercise performance. However, while several studies have demonstrated increased water retention as a result of pre-exercise Glycerol consumption, none have demonstrated a clear performance enhancing effect as a result of that. While the evidence is not in favor of Glycerol as a performance enhancer, Glycerol has been shown to increase cellular water uptake (similar to creatine), which ultimately may result in a fuller muscle feel.

NORVALINE:

Norvaline is a close chemical relative of the popular amino acid Valine, though its effects are different. Norvaline has been shown to inhibit Arginase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of Arginine both in vitro and in vivo (rats). The result would theoretically be an increase in Arginine, which would result in more Nitric Oxide. However, Norvaline has never been studied in humans as it relates to performance enhancement, so for now we are left with only a theoretical mechanism of action. Given a lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established for Norvaline. Hemavol contains 125mg, which is more than we generally see in pre-workouts.

ALPHA GPC:

Alpha-Glycerophosphatidylcholine aka Alpha GPC is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Recently, it has gained a lot of attention in the bodybuilding/weight lifting community because its alleged ability to boost HGH (Human Growth Hormone) secretion with just a single dose. Indeed one study found that after ingesting a dose of 1000mg of Alpha GPC, HGH levels in the blood were significantly higher than the placebo group. In addition, it was noted that supplementation also resulted in increased “hepatic fat oxidation” (in the liver). Alpha GPC is widely considered the most bioavailable form of choline, although studies comparing the bioavailability of various forms are scarce. Over time, alpha GPC may increase the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Increased acetylcholine levels are associated with better concentration, memory, and reaction time. Unfortunately, Hemavol contains nowhere near the dose used in the above mentioned study and likely contains less than 100mg, given that it shares a 150mg blend with Vitamin C, Rutaecarpine, and Epimedium.

RUTAECARPINE:

Rutaecarpine is one of the active compounds found in Evodia rutaecarpa along with Evodiamine (another ingredient found in fat-burning supplements). A 1999 study, published in “Cardiovascular Drug Reviews”, found that Rutaecarpine acted as an effective vasodilator in rats and may increase nitric oxide. Two separate studies, one in 2005 and one in 2011, found that Rutaecarpine supplementation in rats effectively reduced the effects of caffeine when taken at doses of 20mg/kg or 80mg/kg. While human studies are lacking, these studies indicate that there is a significant antagonistic interaction between Rutaecarpine and caffeine, so ideally we only like to see Rutaecarpine in supplements that do not contain caffeine, like Hemavol. Again, because of this lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established for Rutaecarpine.

EPIMEDIUM:

Epimedium (also known as Horny Goat Weed) is primarily seen in supplements aimed at treating Erectile Dysfunction. For thsi purpose, it is actually pretty effective and works via inhibition of the enzyme PDE5. However, since its secondary mechanism of action is Nitric Oxide related, it makes sense that Epimedium is starting to pop up in performance enhancement supplements as well. While there haven’t been any studies directly tested the effects of Epimedium on measures of physical performance, several preliminary studies have been conducted specifically to determine the effects of Icariin, the active compound found in Epimedium, on Nitric Oxide Synthase enzymes (needed to synthesis Nitric Oxide). A 2007 in vitro study from “Vascular Pharmacology” found that Icariin was able to increase the expression of Endothelial Nitric Oxide (eNOS) in human endothelial cells. Studies involving rats have yielded similar results, lending further credibility to the notion that Icariin may be useful for increasing NO levels in humans. However, until human trials are conducted, we cannot possibly know the degree of efficacy and/or optimal dosage.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Hemavol is definitely one of the best pump-based, non-stimulant pre-workout we’ve come across. While the formula won’t provide the mental stimulation that many pre-workout users are used to, it certainly has the potential to provide noticeable pumps. The Hemavol formula is essentially a mixture of proven NO boosting ingredients, as well as several with pretty strong preliminary support. At about $1 per serving, Hemavol is pretty appropriately priced (though not particularly competitively priced), given an estimated reconstruction cost of about $1.25 per serving. For those who prefer to avoid traditional stimulant-based preworkouts and are instead after an entirely physical, pump-based product, Hemvaol is worth a shot.

REFERENCES
  1. Xu, Hai-Bin, and Zhao-Quan Huang. “Icariin enhances endothelial nitric-oxide synthase expression on human endothelial cells in vitro.” Vascular pharmacology 47.1 (2007): 18-24.
  2. Liu, Wu‐Jiang, et al. “Effects of icariin on erectile function and expression of nitric oxide synthase isoforms in castrated rats.” Asian journal of andrology 7.4 (2005): 381-388.
  3. Shindel, Alan W., et al. “Erectogenic and neurotrophic effects of icariin, a purified extract of horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.) in vitro and in vivo.” The journal of sexual medicine 7.4pt1 (2010): 1518-1528.
  4. Mun, Chin Hee, et al. “Regulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase by agmatine after transient global cerebral ischemia in rat brain.” Anatomy & cell biology 43.3 (2010): 230-240.
  5. Morrissey, Jeremiah J., and Saulo Klahr. “Agmatine activation of nitric oxide synthase in endothelial cells.” Proceedings of the Association of American Physicians 109.1 (1997): 51-57.
  6. Abe, Kazuho, Yuzuru Abe, and Hiroshi Saito. “Agmatine suppresses nitric oxide production in microglia.” Brain research 872.1 (2000): 141-148.
  7. Bendahan, D., et al. “Citrulline/malate promotes aerobic energy production in human exercising muscle.” British journal of sports medicine 36.4 (2002): 282-289.
  8. Sureda, Antoni, et al. “Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise.” Free radical research 43.9 (2009): 828-835.
  9. Giannesini, Benoît, et al. “Citrulline malate supplementation increases muscle efficiency in rat skeletal muscle.” European journal of pharmacology 667.1 (2011): 100-104.
  10. Sureda, Antoni, et al. “Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise.” Free radical research 43.9 (2009): 828-835.
  11. Saheki, Takeyori, Shigeo TAKADA, and Tsunehiko KATSUNUMA. “Regulation of Urea Synthesis in Rat Liver Inhibition of Urea Synthesis by L-Norvaline.”Journal of biochemistry 86.3 (1979): 745-750.
  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults.
  13. Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise
  14. Montner, P., et al. “Pre-exercise glycerol hydration improves cycling endurance time.” International journal of sports medicine 17.01 (1996): 27-33.
  15. Magal, M. E. I. R., et al. “Comparison of glycerol and water hydration regimens on tennis-related performance.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise35.1 (2003): 150-156.
  16. Wingo, Jonathan E., et al. “Influence of a pre-exercise glycerol hydration beverage on performance and physiologic function during mountain-bike races in the heat.” Journal of athletic training 39.2 (2004): 169.
  17. Hitchins, S., et al. “Glycerol hyperhydration improves cycle time trial performance in hot humid conditions.” European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology 80.5 (1999): 494-501.

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