Abyss Unparalleled is Nimbus Nutrition’s sleep-aid. Unlike other sleep-aids we’ve reviewed, Abyss Unparalleled actually contains no Melatonin (we’re not saying that’s good or bad, just different) and instead makes use of some pretty unique ingredients…
RELORA (MAGNOLIA OFFICINALIS AND PELLODENDRON):
Relora is a patented combination of Magnolia bark and Phellodendron bark which has been investigated for a variety of implications, mostly pertaining to relaxation and sedation.
A 2000 study, published in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology”, found that Honokiol (an active compound found in Magnolia) was able to reduce anxiety in mice. These findings were replicated in a later (2011) study from the “Journal of Medicinal Food”, in which magnolia alkaloids demonstrated similar potency to low doses of Diazepam.
A 2008 study from “Nutrition Journal” found that Relora was able to reduce stress in older women, without causing any adverse effects.
A 2009 study, published in “Phytotherapy Research”, noted that injections of Magnolol, an active component of Magnolia, was able to increase non-REM and REM sleep in rats via acting on GABA receptors.
Overall, Magnolia, as well as the combination of Magnolia and Phellodenron (Relora), has clear implications for reducing stress, anxiety, and causing mild sedation. Abyss Unparalleled contains 250mg of Relora.
A 2007 study, published in the “Indian Journal of Experimental Biology”, 100-200mg/kg of Ashwagandha extract was shown to was of similar potency to .5mg of Diazepam for decreasing sleep-latency (time it takes to fall asleep) and improving sleep quality. Similar results were obtained in a 2008 study from the “Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science”.
The human studies that have been conducted thus far have either been confounded with the inclusion of other herbs or have not directly investigated the effects of Ashwagandha on sleep, but there are various reports throughout studies (investigating other effects) of Ashwagandha also improving sleep quality/latency. Abyss Unparalleled contains 200mg of Sensoril, a patented form of Ashwagandha.
Theanine is a non-dietary amino acid found almost exclusively in Green Tea, where it is believed to be the primary bioactive responsible for the relaxation benefits, despite Green Tea also containing somewhat significant levels of Caffeine (depending on the type).
A 2012 study from “Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology”, noted a reduction in biomarkers of stress in rats given an oral dose of Theanine and subjected to an acute stressor. These findings were replicated in a later (2013) study in which Theanine administration was also able to prevent stress-induced memory impairment (in rats).
A 2003 study, published in the “Korean Journal of Nutrition”, found that Theanine supplementation was able to induce alpha brain wave release, resulting in a state of alert relaxation.
A 2007 study, published in “Biological Psychology”, investigating the effects of Theanine on physiological measures of stress noted that 200mg prevented heart rate increase and perception of stress in healthy humans subjected to an acute mental stressor.
A 2011 study from the “Journal of Functional Foods” found that Theanine supplementation reduces various physiological indications of anxiety and improved reaction time in high anxiety individuals.
Although the physiological actions of Theanine with regards to sleep remain relatively under-researched, its mechanisms do imply that it may improve quality of sleep. Abyss Unparalleled contains 100mg of Theanine which, according to the bulk of the research, is enough to facilitate some relaxation benefits.
GABA is the primary inhibitory (downer) neurotransmitter in the brain, as opposed to Glutamate which is the primary excitatory (upper) neurotransmitter. While increasing GABA levels in the brain certainly has an anxiolytic effect, supplemental GABA cannot effectively cross the blood-brain-barrier so supplementation with GABA itself isn’t really an effective way of increasing it in the brain. There are anecdotal reports of orally supplemented GABA inducing relaxation, but there are no studies confirming these reports. At 200mg per serving, Abyss Unparalleled does not contain a particularly high dose of GABA, compared to other sleep-aids we’ve reviewed, and given that even the effects of high doses remain questionable, it’s not clear how much additional benefit can be attributed to GABA here.
5-HTP is the direct precursor to the “happy” neurotransmitter Serotonin, which plays a vital role in sleep. Though the relationship between 5-HTP supplementation and sleep quality remains under-researched, a 2010 study found that a combination of 5-HTP and GABA was able to enhance sleep quality in humans. Unfortunately, this study was confounded with the inclusion of other ingredients which may have altered the results. That being said, there is a litany of subjective, anecdotal reports of 5-HTP improving sleep quality as well as duration and latency (time it takes to fall asleep). While we wouldn’t regard these reports as facts, they certainly lend credibility to the already established notion that 5-HTP may improve certain aspects of sleep.
Abyss Unparalleled contains 200mg of 5-HTP, an effective dose as far as most of the research is concerned, and in-line with the subjective reports of better sleep quality.
Piper nigrum, also known as Black Pepper, contains Piperine. Several studies have found that black pepper extract, when combined with other supplements, has increased the absorption of those supplements (as measured by plasma levels). Piperine’s ability to increase absorption of other compounds is due to the inhibition of certain enzymes which breakdown most compounds, as well as the slowing of intestinal transit (increasing the amount of time these compounds are exposed to the possibility of uptake).
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Abyss Unparalleled contains a relatively unique blend of sleep-aids and relaxation agents, for the most part, at effective doses. What is perhaps the most unique thing about the formula is that it doesn’t contain any Melatonin which, while certainly an effective sleep-aid, can often lead to next-day grogginess (even at low doses). While there is certainly no guarantee that Abyss Unparalleled won’t result in any grogginess, it may be worth a shot to those who have tried Melatonin, or Melatonin-containing sleep-aids, and have had negative results. At about 80 cents per serving, Abyss could be considered slightly expensive, when compared to more traditional sleep-aids, but considering the effective doses of key ingredients, its actually pretty fairly priced, albeit not exactly a bargain.
[expand title=”REFERENCES” tag=”h5″]
- Kalman, Douglas S., et al. “Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on stress levels in healthy women: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Nutr J 7.11 (2008): 1-6.
- Sufka, Kenneth J., et al. “Anxiolytic properties of botanical extracts in the chick social separation-stress procedure.” Psychopharmacology 153.2 (2001): 219-224.
- Garrison, Robert, and Walter G. Chambliss. “Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on weight management: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine12.1 (2006): 50.
- Ma, Hong, et al. “Magnolol enhances pentobarbital‐induced sleeping behaviors: possible involvement of GABAergic systems.” Phytotherapy Research 23.9 (2009): 1340-1344.
- Chen, C. R., et al. “Magnolol, a major bioactive constituent of the bark of Magnolia officinalis, exerts antiepileptic effects via the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor complex in mice.” British journal of pharmacology 164.5 (2011): 1534-1546.
- KURIBARA, HISASHI, et al. “The anxiolytic effect of two oriental herbal drugs in Japan attributed to honokiol from magnolia bark.” Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology 52.11 (2000): 1425-1429.
- Han, Huishan, et al. “Anxiolytic-like effects of 4-O-methylhonokiol isolated from Magnolia officinalis through enhancement of GABAergic transmission and chloride influx.” Journal of medicinal food 14.7-8 (2011): 724-731.
- Kumar, A., and H. Kalonia. “Effect of Withania somnifera on sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats: possible GABAergic mechanism.” Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences 70.6 (2008): 806.
- Kumar, Anil, and Harikesh Kalonia. “Protective effect of Withania somnifera Dunal on the behavioral and biochemical alterations in sleep-disturbed mice (grid over water suspended method).” Indian journal of experimental biology 45.6 (2007): 524.
- Krishnamurthy, Manjunath Nandi, and Shirley Telles. “Assessing depression following two ancient Indian interventions: effects of yoga and ayurveda on older adults in a residential home.” Journal of Gerontological Nursing 33.2 (2007): 17-23.
- Manjunath, N. K., and Shirley Telles. “Influence of Yoga & Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population.” Indian Journal of Medical Research 121.5 (2005): 683.
- Raut, Ashwinikumar A., et al. “Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) in healthy volunteers.”Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 3.3 (2012): 111.
- Powers, Michael E., et al. “Growth hormone isoform responses to GABA ingestion at rest and after exercise.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 40.1 (2008): 104-110.
- Takeda, Atsushi, et al. “Unique induction of CA1 LTP components after intake of theanine, an amino acid in tea leaves and its effect on stress response.”Cellular and molecular neurobiology 32.1 (2012): 41-48.
- Song, Chan Hee, et al. “Effects of theanine on the release of brain alpha wave in adult males.” Korean Journal of Nutrition 36.9 (2003): 918-923.
- Higashiyama, Akiko, et al. “Effects of l-theanine on attention and reaction time response.” Journal of Functional Foods 3.3 (2011): 171-178.
- da Sesto, Via Cesare. “Suntheanine: A pure and safe L-theanine dietary supplement for relaxation and stress relief.”
- Tamano, Haruna, et al. “Preventive effect of theanine intake on stress-induced impairments of hippocamapal long-term potentiation and recognition memory.”Brain research bulletin 95 (2013): 1-6.
- Kimura, Kenta, et al. “L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses.” Biological psychology 74.1 (2007): 39-45.
- Borzelleca, J. F., D. Peters, and W. Hall. “A 13-week dietary toxicity and toxicokinetic study with L-theanine in rats.” Food and chemical toxicology 44.7 (2006): 1158-1166.
- Badmaev, Vladimir, Muhammed Majeed, and Lakshmi Prakash. “Piperine derived from black pepper increases the plasma levels of coenzyme Q10 following oral supplementation.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 11.2 (2000): 109-113.
- Majeed, Muhammed, and Lakshmi Prakash. “Targeting Optimal Nutrient Absorption with Phytonutrients.” (2007)