Life Extension turns to under-the-radar Asian herb for weight loss product

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / vadimguzhva
© Getty Images / vadimguzhva

Related tags: Nutrition

An Asian herb that has been researched for weight loss effects forms the basis of a new Life Extension product launch.

The new product is called AMPK Metabolic Activator.  The formula is based on Gencor Pacific’s ActiveAMP, an extract of the herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum,​ a forest understory plant that is native to southern China, northern Vietnam and other regions in East Asia. While the herb has been known for centuries, and was first described by Chinese herbalists in the 1500s, it reportedly has not formed a big part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The herb has been on the market in niche fashion as a bulk tea by firms such as Grandville, MI-based Immortalitea. Gencor has developed the herb into a dietary ingredient that has some research behind it.  An 80-subject, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Obesity​ in 2014 found the extract had positive effects on abdominal fat area, body mass and weight​.

Mimicking physical activity

Gencor has stated that its ingredient works by mimicking to some degree the effects of physical activity.   The company says the ingredient stimulates the AMPk pathway by up regulating the production of  a family of proteins called sestrins, which are normally produced via exercise. AMPk is an enzyme that the company says, Switches on the same fat-burning and energy products metabolic pathways that exercise does.

The Life Extension formula teams Gencor’s ingredient with a citrus flavonoid called hesperidin.  A study published this year in the Journal of Translational Medicine​ using human mesanchymal stem cells found that hesperidin restricted fat accumulation ​by inhibiting genes involved in the three phases of adipogenesis (c/ebpβ, srebp1c and perilipin).

Life Extension said the flavonoid also helps inhibit circulating hsCRP levels, a major inflammatory factor.  It is also said to help maintain already-healthy cholesterol levels and promotes healthy vascular function.

Life Extension said that AMPk activity degrades with age, which could be postulated as one of the ways that people tend to put on weight as they age.  Thus the product could potentially have a healthy aging positioning as well as a place at the weight management table.

Belly fat can speed up natural aspects of the aging process throughout the body, because abdominal fat can create compounds that can cause inflammation and oxidative stress," ​said Dr Michael Smith, Life Extension’s chief health scientist.

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