What are Grains of Paradise?

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Grains of Paradise

Grains of Paradise (GOP) is a novel ingredient that I am very interested in and is starting to gain a lot of traction in the supplement industry.  There are many proposed benefits of GOP as well as many limitations which we will all be covered in this section.

What is GOP?

GOP is a compound that is extracted from the seeds from the West African Plant known as Aframomum melegueta.  GOP seeds are very rich in 3 pungent aromatic compounds: 6-paradol, 6 gingerol, and 6-shogaol.  Structurally, these compounds are very similar to capsaicin and has similar reported benefits.

Benefits of GOP

There are many proposed benefits of GOP and a decent body of research is starting to develop regarding this ingredient.  Below is an overview of some of the proposed benefits of GOP:

  • Increased Energy Expenditure
  • Anti-Diabetic Properties
  • Lower Body Fat Percentage
  • Anti-Aging Properties
  • Improved Sexual Function
  • Enhanced Cognitive Function

Let’s dive into the research regarding some of these proposed benefits.

Weight Loss

There are several ways in which weight loss can occur from supplementing with GOP:

Activating Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT)

  • Iwama et al 2009 found that when rats were injected with 6-paradol (one of the active compounds in GOP) led to increased BAT activity. The reason this is important is because BAT is the thermogenic tissue in our body that is responsible for burning off calories as heat.  When BAT becomes activated, we increase our calorie burning!

Increased Energy Expenditure

  • These findings have further been supported in humans when Sugita et al 2013 studied GOP in 19 health men. It was found that following GOP ingestion there was a 400% increase in Metabolic rate just 30 minutes after consumption and after just 24 hours there was a 6% increase in energy expenditure.

This further led to Sugita setting out to evaluate the chronic effects of GOP supplementation in a 4-week study looking at 30mg/day.  Results from this study found that there was a 7% increase in metabolism just 24 hours after administration and the GOP group burned on average 144 more calories per day compared to the placebo.  It also worth noting that the placebo group gained visceral fat and the GOP group lost roughly 250% more visceral fat!

 Anti-Inflammatory

  • GOP has exhibited anti-inflammatory properties as well. GOP has been shown to inhibit the gene cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) which is a pro-inflammatory gene

Memory

  • This is no novel finding since GOP has been traditionally used in African Medicine for anti-aging and memory. Ishola et al. 2016 found that administering GOP to rats prevented memory impairments likely by enhancing the body’s antioxidant defense.

Anti-Diabetic Potential

  • A study conducted earlier this year (Mohammed et al 2017) found that the compounds found in GOP can inhibit α-amylase and α-glucosidase which are two enzymes that play a key role in diabetes, via the enzymatic digestion of carbohydrates.

Improved Sexual Function (Libido)

  • This is another quality of GOP that has been traditionally used. Alkaloid of GOP have been found to inhibit enzymes that are related to erectile dysfunction offering potential to alleviate these issues.

Formulator’s Corner

As always, the problem can be the efficacious dosing and quality of GOP.  Much of the product out there is whole GOP herb spiked with ginger extract that has 6-paradol. The studies that display much of the benefit of GOP are using the 3 compounds: 6-paradol and 6-gingerol and 6-shogao, the true/non-spiked grains of paradise. I’ve spent years working with this ingredient. I have worked on developing the standard for 6-paradol HPLC testing. Further, we have spent 50K developing the HPTLC standard for species identification and to ensure its not spiked.

Per the research, it appears that the efficacious dose of GOP is 30-40mg (12.5% 6-Paradol) per day.  While if taken correctly it does appear to be safe, adverse reactions could occur at high doses and there may be drug to drug interactions to be concerned about.  Additionally, there is not a huge body of research out on this compound yet which is why we need to continue to do our homework!

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