My name is Charlie.
I’m a supplementaholic. You know that Health Kismet blog post, “5 Signs You’re Spending Too Much Money On Supplements“? It may as well have been written about me.
Over time I’ve come to realize that the excitement is mostly in the thrill of the hunt. Learning about new products and understanding how they work (or… if they work) has become a passion of mine. Fortunately, this great big oasis of data we know as the internet has no shortage of resources for a supplement hunter such as yours truly to continue on their quest.
Here are a few of my favorite places to learn, and occasionally sound off as well…
1) Online Reviews – My starting point for researching a particular product? User feedback. Amazon and iHerb generally lead the pack in quantity (though not necessarily quality) of reviews posted. More often than not, reviewers will have taken a product with a particularly symptom in mind (ie. cordyceps to address chronic fatigue) – and their performance evaluation is sink or swim. It either worked, or it didn’t.
Of course, online reviews come with an important caveat: they can be faked. As much as I’d like to trust an open peer review system, it’s not terribly uncommon for reviews to be written by someone with a vested interest in you buying said product. Overly excited endorsements, with a reviewer shouting from the high heavens that you NEED to buy this product RIGHT NOW are most likely not genuine. As a safeguard, I always check to see if the review was written by a site member with a “verified purchase” of the item. That’s not a foolproof sign of authenticity, but it helps. Some sites, such as iHerb, won’t let customers post reviews at all if they have not previously bought the item. I’ll also check their member profile and review history. If they’ve only posted one review, and it’s an ecstatic infomercial-esque sales pitch, I consider it null and void.
2) Immortal Hair – A stalwart male pattern baldness community in the online world, Immortal Hair was founded a decade ago by a health researcher named Brian Simonis. Brian delves into the etiology of male pattern baldness and advocates an extensive holistic regimen to combat it. Now, I’ve got a pretty nice head of hair, and *knock on wood* have shown zero indicators of MPB. Why is Immortal Hair one of my favorite resources on the web? Because nearly everything Brian recommends is within a broad spectrum of optimizing your general wellness, not just focused on the mane. Poor hair can often correlate with a deficiency or lack of balance somewhere in the body. Often the best way to address those root causes is with supplementation, improved diet and physical fitness. Brian’s tools benefit everybody – not just those higher on the Norwood scale.
3) Smart Drug Smarts – On Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law asked me for podcast recommendations. I had one instinctive answer – Smart Drug Smarts. The brainchild (no pun intended) of Jesse Lawler, Smart Drug Smarts is a freakin’ bad ass podcast that explores the inner crevices of our brain, what makes our neurons tick, and how we can enhance them. Jesse skillfully articulates advanced topics in a way that is digestible to the “layperson”. Most episodes feature an expert guest, and Jesse picks their brain (no pun intended… again) in what is guaranteed to be an insightful and fascinating conversation. The Smart Drug Smarts episode on caffeine, for instance, is probably the best half hour that’s ever been done on everybody’s favorite (legal) drug.
3) Longecity – If the internet were a college campus, Longecity would be the where all of the ultra smart, probably socially awkward, and definitely a little bit crazy undergrads go to play beer pong. Longecity is a non-profit community with the mission to provide “the facilities for supporting an international community of those with an interest in life extension”. Their forum, an online community with thousands of devout users; is a seemingly endless discussion of supplementation, nootropics, anti-aging techniques, brain food, and damn near any other cool alternative health concept that you can think of.
4) Reddit – Reddit is kinda like Longecity, except everybody is invited. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know Reddit has a subreddit on… well I’m not sure what they don’t have a subreddit on. Through my years of browsing, I’ve stumbled on quite a few Reddit users who are incredibly knowledgable on natural medicine. Here’s a list of the ones I follow, and some of my favorite subreddits. As in the case of Immortal Hair/ male pattern baldness – I may not be the exact user these boards are intended for (I’m not a vegan for example), but the knowledge offered is still valuable to overall wellbeing in it’s own right. You can tailor the health strategies provided as you see fit.
5) Peak Testosterone – In the same vein as Immortal Hair, Peak Testosterone is an online community pioneered by a health enthusiast aiming to optimize his testosterone levels. While that may not necessarily be my larger focus, there is no shortage of evidence indicating that testosterone levels in the proper range are indicative of virility, especially in aging men. So why not take advantage of a comprehensive online resource that specializes in terrific T-levels? I may not follow every recommendation to the the letter, but there is still a great takeaway to be had, especially for males.
6) Jing Herbs Podcast – If you follow traditional Chinese medicine, chances are you’re familiar with Jing Herbs and have take a few of their products. Started by TCM practitioner Dr. George Lamoureux, his LA based company is one of the premier Chinese herbal manufacturers operating today. Dr. Lamoureux and his colleague John Bonds host a weekly(ish) podcast that is particularly well done, enjoyable and informational. I also recommend the Herbal Ed podcast by Herb Pharm founder Ed Smith. Ed is insanely knowledgable about herbs and has probably forgotten more about them than most will ever know. He’s also quite articulate and funny – the majority of his podcasts are speeches and lectures he’s given at industry symposiums. Unfortunately though, Herbal Ed hasn’t uploaded a new podcast episodes in years. Ed, if you’re reading this – bring the show back please! 🙂
7) Listening to your body – At the end of the day, if a product makes you feel better than when you started taking it, consider it a success. If you’ve noticed no improvements whatsoever, or your condition as worsened, you should probably bag it. Any time I’ve ever recommended a supplement, vitamin, or herb to anyone, it’s always come with the caveat – “try it for a few days and see how you feel”. There’s no better indicator of effectiveness than whether or not YOU felt the desired effects.
There’s a ton of supplements on the market, and exponentially more information about them to be found online. It’s truly an embarrassment of riches, but hopefully the tried and true sources above make navigating the web waters a little easier. May your voyage be healthy and your smoothies be green!