What is Dendrobium extract?
The fascination with stimulants and nootropics is nothing new to the sports nutrition and performance realm; however some aspects seem to be progressing rapidly. With supplement companies fighting over who has the strongest or ‘best’ pre-workout /fat-burner it seems a new frontier is upon us. Enter the ‘feel good’ aspect.
As some of us here at Supplement Inner Circle have found out Detonate (powered by Dendrobium) is simply a fantastic way to start our day or to keep us going through-out the day along with Craze for pre-workout epicness.
So we thought it might be of some interest to understand the mechanisms of action behind this new ingredient.
A brief history of Dendrobium
As with a lot of the ingredients we hear of these days they all have roots (pun intended) in Traditional Medicine somewhere not here. Which is just the case for Dendrobium (Pronounced: den-DROH-bee-um) or Shihu in Southern Asia where the plant is native. Dendrobium Nobile is a member of the orchid plant family and is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dendrobium Alkaloids have been found to exhibit antioxidant, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities (in Rats) . Other derivatives also exhibit antioxidant, anticancer, and immunomodulatory (immune system augmenting) effects. 
Plus its Pretty!
So why is this just gaining popularity now?
With supplement companies clamoring to get 1,3 Dimethylamylamine off of their labels for fear of reduced sales because of 1,3’s newfound ‘stigma’. (Even OxyElite Pro has made the switch) This is good news to consumers because competition breeds innovation and with new research coming out discovering a variety of potent chemical alkaloids in Dendrobium that when standardized (concentrated) can deliver steady and sustained energy levels and improved mental focus!
Dendrobium Extract works in a few ways, but one thing that most users will undoubtedly notice is that it puts you in a good mood. It is thought to do this by signaling the release of Epinephrine, Norepinephrine & Dopamine. It is thought that the signaling mechanism is Dendrobium’s high phenylethylamine (PEA) content. PEA is known as an endogenous neuroamine, as the body’s natural amphetamine. However we simply cannot take PEA and have a Good Time-so to speak. When ingested orally PEA is rapidly metabolized by MAO-A, MAO-B. In English; these are basically our body’s defense against our minds from getting too high, otherwise every time you had a protein shake you would technically develop a ‘high’ from the Amino Acid Phenylethylamine content-This is quite a stretch but hopefully will help us understand when something has MAO- Inhibitor (MAOI) properties.
It is known that MAO inhibitors can substantially increase the concentration of phenylethylamine in the brain. It is thought that the alkaloids in Dendrobium contain two derivatives of phenylethylamine
Both of these derivatives allow for less MAO breakdown which allow for higher concentrations of PEA in the brain.
Now unfortunately little evidence is available at this time to support the claim that Dendrobium contains those two derivatives, so only time will tell if this truly is a replacement or simply a repeat of what happened with DMAA….
However if this is ‘on the level’ then Dendrobium & its alkaloids have massive potential not just in the sports nutrition realm, but many other applications as well i.e., depression (PEA deficiency).
I hope this has helped us understand the mechanisms of action ‘whether they be known or proposed’ behind the inclusion of Dendrobium in products like Detonate, B4 & Craze. Since this ingredient could potentially be the next-big-thing; I felt it warranted for us to be as informed as possible so that we can convey that knowledge when/if customers begin asking about it.
1 Yoon MY, et al. Neuroprotective effects of SG-168 against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells. J Med Food. (2011) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21128832
2 Ng TB, et al. Review of research on Dendrobium, a prized folk medicine. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. (2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22322870