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By Dr. Luke Bucci, PhD
In this blog, Dr. Bucci lays out the latest research on the ingredients that are unique to OptygenHP’s formula. Both the Optygen and OptygenHP formulas share the ATPro Matrix, Chromium, and adaptogens cordyceps and rhodiola (the Optygen formula). OptygenHP adds two more adaptogens – ashwagandha and Senactiv® (which is a blend of adaptogens) – along with a kicker: beta-alanine. These additions give OptygenHP more ways to improve your performance and recovery than Optygen.
We don’t expect you to take our word for that, though. We did our homework before designing the formula, and we have the science to support those claims, including from the last few years, well after we created Optygen and OptygenHP. In the interest of staying current (and maybe indulging in a little “we told you so”), here is the latest clinical research for each additional nutrient in OptygenHP. (For more information on each ingredient, check out the Ingredient Cards for Optygen and OptygenHP on their webpages.)
ASHWAGANDHA (WITHANIA SOMNIFERA) EXTRACT
For over 4,000 years, ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic health practices in India for many health-promoting purposes, similar to Asian Ginseng (Panax spp.). Roots are the usual part used, but increasing use of leaves and whole plants are in vogue, because all plant parts contain withanolides, the major active agents.
The latest human clinical studies support ashwagandha’s role in Ayurvedic practice, showing significant improvements in exercise performance in both sedentary persons and elite athletes. It also benefited relevant non-performance activities, including overall antistress, mental functions, QOL and sleep qualities. The daily doses showing benefits ranged from 120-1,000mg, though the higher doses in that range show no additional benefit. OptygenHP contains 150mg of ashwagandha extract standardized to alkaloids, withaferin-A, and withanolides, ensuring it’s over the baseline 120mg mark for effective dosing.
The latest research on ashwagandha
Citations for Latest Ashwagandha & Endurance Exercise Reviews: Akhgarjand 2022; Bonilla 2021; Cheah 2021; Dharmasena 2020; Lopresti 2021; Perez-Gomez 2020; Speers 2021; Wal 2013.
SENACTIV® FOR ENDURANCE EXERCISE
Senactiv® is a concentrated, patented combination of two little-known adaptogens: notoginseng (Panax notoginseng) and chestnut rose hips (Rosa roxburghii) concentrated extracts. Clinical human research shows Senactiv® has an elegantly illustrated rationale for enhancing exercise performance: it boosts the complicated, hidden machinations of muscle recovery in a big way. Recent research involving three-hour cycling sessions shows that muscle repair processes immediately after exercise are increased, and that repaired muscles rebuild better for the next exercise bout.
Senactiv® accomplishes this by consistent daily intake – not just immediately after exercise is done. Muscles need to be primed for action ahead of time, not trying to sift through helpful compounds delivered when they are under difficulty and not working normally. To work properly, the active agents in Senactiv® need to be in place and ready.
The first of the two adaptogens, notoginseng, supplies essentially pure ginsenoside Rg1. This is found in other ginsengs; however, common ginseng extracts and preparations have a number of ginsenosides with competitive actions, which works for aging and health, but also washes out the properties of Rg1 by itself. Rg1 is potent and needs only a small dose (5 mg is enough as shown by human studies).
The other adaptogen, chestnut rose hips extract, also requires a relatively small dose to deliver a plethora of compounds in clinically effective quantities that work to accentuate Rg1 actions. Together, the two provide just what we look for: better performance, better muscle health, and better recovery in a small dose (50mg per serving of OptygenHP).
The latest research on Senactiv®
Citations for Latest Senactiv® & Endurance Exercise: Hou 2015; Lee 2021; Liang 2005; Pumpa 2013; Wu 2019 27, 2019 580, 2020.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that boosts muscle levels of carnosine, a major buffer of acidity formed from supramaximal anaerobic exercise, when your aerobic oxygen supply can no longer keep up with your exercise output. Thus, any physical activity that is exhausting and increases acidity in muscles benefits from increased muscle carnosine levels. Performance in long-distance running and cycling depends on the ability to develop high anaerobic power outputs during decisive moments.
When designing OptygenHP, we targeted performance in those specific moments, where races are won or lost. Steep climbs, breakaways, break chases, and particularly sprints in the finale – beta-alanine can boost performance precisely when you need a boost most, in those moments where everyone’s engine is running in the red, and whoever can dig deeper wins. Even before beta-alanine had enough human studies for a consensus, we realized that it was good for those key anaerobic race portions, and set out with our usual new product development and testing. The rest of the world is gradually catching up.
The benefits of beta-alanine for high-intensity exercise performance are also condoned by a worldwide collection of authoritative groups: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Sports Medicine, Australian Institute of Sports, Dietitians of Canada, International Associations of Athletics Federations, International Olympic Committee, International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and Sports Dietitians Australia.
Clinical research shows that muscle levels of carnosine are easily built up and maintained at lower doses (~1,000mg daily) of beta-alanine, taking at least 6-12 weeks to achieve benefits from daily supplementation. If stopped, muscle carnosine levels very slowly decrease over a period of 6 months. Daily doses with benefits ranged from 1,000-6,400mg, showing a plateau for benefits at 1,000mg. To comfortably clear that 1,000mg hurdle, OptygenHP provides 1,500mg beta-alanine per serving.
Beta-alanine also produces a non-performance effect that many of you may be familiar with. Some persons may experience paraesthesis (itching or prickly-feeling skin) soon after a dose. This is normal, short-lived, and not problematic, so go with the tingle.
The latest research on beta-alanine
Citations for Latest Beta-Alanine & Endurance Exercise Reviews: Australian Institute of Sports 2021 March, 2021 April; Brisola 2019; Burke 2019 73, 2019 156, 2021; Caruso 2022; Close 2022; Forbes 2020; Gonzalez 2022; Hoffman 2018; Kerksick 2018; Matthews 2019; Maughan 2018 104, 2018 439; Saunders 2020, 2021; Sports Dietitians Australia 2023; Stecker 2019; Tambalis 2022; Varanoske 2019; Vicente-Salar 2022; Woitas 2022.
WHAT OPTYGEN & OPTYGENHP DO FOR HIGH-VOLUME ENDURANCE TRAINING
Both Optygen and OptygenHP were designed after extensive field testing on elite endurance athletes, with feedback guiding adjustments before launch. Each was backed up by a controlled human study on trained endurance athletes, a rarity for sports supplements (Creer 2007; Larson 2007). Feedback from users continues to be very favorable – and, as the above research summaries show, the clinical studies are also still supporting the formulae.
Optygen was introduced in 2002 and has remained the yardstick for a successful adaptogenic blend for endurance exercise. Its effects on endurance performance were determined in 2007 using highly trained distance runners by a study from Luther College (Larson 2007). After seven weeks, Optygen users showed a significant increase in time to onset of lactate threshold – 42% compared to the placebo group. Other measures, including VO2max and cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone), were numerically in favor of Optygen, but the subject numbers prevented statistical significance.
Four years after Optygen debuted, OptygenHP was introduced with even more adaptogenic support based on newly available ingredients (ashwagandha, beta-alanine, and Senactiv®). Like Optygen, empirical field-testing feedback and results from a pilot study showed OptygenHP also had benefits. In the pilot study, after eight weeks, OptygenHP significantly increased training volume, bumping it up by 27% in highly trained collegiate runners (Creer 2007). OptygenHP also significantly reduced the Stress Score Performance by 28%, including a significant 26% decrease in salivary cortisol and a 36% increase in testosterone : cortisol ratio, signifying an anti-stress effect reduced adverse overtraining/overreaching effects.
OPTYGEN OR OPTYGENHP - WHICH IS RIGHT FOR ME?
First Endurance has a policy of constant improvement, even if the original formula is successful and popular. Reports from field trials and decades of use in real life for both Optygen and OptygenHP consistently find better than normal performance and not being as fatigued at the end of long events. In short, both help you to keep training and perform at a higher level.
Optygen is a good starting point, but if you are pushing yourself to your limit, under extreme stress, and the stakes of your endurance ambitions are high, then OptygenHP provides additional adaptogenic support for improved recovery and more anaerobic power with beta-alanine.
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Optygen & OptygenHP
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Larson KR. Supplementation using a commercial herbal-based product (Opytgen) may increase running performance in highly trained collegiate distance runners: a pilot study. Report, Luther College, 2007.