My friend Sol Orwell is a persistent mofo and I’ve previously written about just how hard a worker he is, even in a communication vacuum. His website, examine.com, is my go-to guide for peer reviewed data on supplements and their human effect. While some people like to get caught in hours of researched data on supplements (raises hand), sometimes you need to get to the point: I want to do X, does Y help me with that?” That’s where Sol’s new product, “The Supplement Goals Reference Guide” comes into play.
Specifically, So sent me an email and asked if I thought there’d be any market for the product. I reviewed it and liked it so much that I offered to interview and this is what we came up with:
Sol, I’ve previously noted you’re at least very, very persistent. What is the motivation to undertake this massive tome? Burned by supplement claims? Looking to fix an ailment without the doctor’s prescription pad?
Hahaha. I have to be honest – your blog post made me happier than any other blog post on Examine.com/me ever.
Here’s my quick story: I am the immigrant dream. I moved to Canada in my mid-teens, and immediately started dabbling with websites. By university I had incorporated my first company, and a few years later, I retired.
The rat race was not for me. VCs (venture capitalists-Skyler) came after me, but I had a comfortable base of revenue. I wanted to travel (which I did), and just relax in life.
About 3-4 years ago, I finally started taking my health seriously. Being a very analytical person, I started writing notes, learning, researching, and so forth.
And it was frustrating. There was all this brilliant information across the web – on a disparate network of forums, on blogs, and so forth, and that knowledge was (essentially) lost within the week.
I wanted to create a reference that would become a centralized place for this information. A place for people to submit studies, question conclusions, have discussions, and so forth. And I found supplementation and nutrition to be fascinating, and thus … supplements J
It was also a place I think that was more ripe for exposure in an evidence-based manner. We have a lot of smart brilliant guys doing it in exercise, but in supplementation and nutrition? Not many.
And so we created our own niche. And we’ve expanded the niche. We started from roughly 50 visitors a day to 12,500+/day now (and we are only getting started!)
I really like what you’ve done with this new product. I really like examine.com as a concept but I’m likely to treat it a bit like Wikipedia: I’d go in looking for information on creatine and 4 hours later I’m seeing if Curcumin has clinical efficacy for post-workout stank. Is this what lead you to flip the script with the Supplement Goals Reference Guide?
One of my greatest sources of pride is when someone tells me how they opened up the site, clicked on a link, and then looked up and time had just sunk away. If we can be the TV tropes of nutrition and supplementation, I couldn’t be happier.
Getting to the point was definitely an impetus of mine. I’ve reached the stage now where if I’m hanging out, my friends will often badger me with questions about supplements. I was recently on a podcast, and I answered one of their questions with “I was taught that if you don’t have to remember it, don’t. Look it up.”
And that’s what the reference lets me do. My buddies ask me a question, I pop it open, search (I am admittedly a terrible terrible typer), and viola – they have their answer.
In making this product, what supplement-goal relationship were you most surprised to see? For instance, given my understanding of how, mechanistically, coconut oil should raise HDL but your research found that not only does it not seem to raise HDL, but it lowered it and rather poorly at that. What relationships most surprised you?
Oooh – that’s a tough one.
I’m going to go with Inositol. It’s a beast. It *notably* helps with PCOS, decreases panic attacks, and decreases anxiety.
Hell – I’ve been trumpeting berberine and it’s anti-diabetic effects for a while now. I may hae to add inositol and its anti-PCOS effects on that list.
I’d also add it was kinda cool seeing spirulina, one of the most beloved supplements of hippies, turn out to be pretty bad ass. If you are a middle-aged person, it’s one to seriously consider (I make my mom take it).
A funny one was that l-carnitine seems to have a notable effect in improving your sperm’s quality. Not mobility, but the actual sperm themselves. The things you know!
One last thing: updates. Studies are constantly being published. Is this product static or will there be updates?
Buying it in gives you lifetime access. Every day at roughly 5am, the system extracts human studies (excluding rat studies, petri-dish, etc), and re-generates the PDF. So as we update our internal database, the PDF stays up to date.
I should note that the price will be increasing to $39 as of Saturday, noon EST. We wanted to create some buzz to start, and thus introduced it with an introductory price!
Sol has put a lot of sweat into this, doing what some of us used to do when younger but can’t anymore because of other responsibilities or interests: taken the best human studies on various supplements, categorized them based on effect power on real, live human beings, and made it into an easy to search product.
To put it another way: save yourself time, save yourself money, and spend more time training and recovering than looking at the newest, latest, and greatest supplements. Get your Supplement-Review Reference Guide today!