Olympus Labs Oracle Pre Workout Analysis: Is It Safe/Effective?
Olympus Labs has always prided itself on being innovative with their products, particularly in bringing novel, lesser-known ingredients to the market. Over the years, I’ve tried several products from the brand, some good, some not so good.
My first experience with Olympus Labs was their Conqu3r Unleashed pre workout supplement, which I enjoyed immensely and I honestly wish it still existed. The last time I tried a product from the brand was their Re1gn pre workout, which looked good on paper; however, there were some production delays/delivery difficulties and after trying multiple flavors of the product, both CJ and I had rather unpleasant (“awful”) experiences with the product. Keep that in mind, as there is a particular ingredient in Re1gn that also finds a home in Oracle.
As for the reason why Re1gn was not a good fit for me, it could be any number of issues, including the overdosing of certain ingredients that were not explicitly labeled.
Anyway, after a multi-year hiatus, Olympus Labs has re-emerged in sports nutrition, offering a pre workout supplement — Oracle.
Per Stack3D, Olympus Labs says:
“the upcoming Oracle pre-workout will provide impressive euphoria, energy, and focus, as well as enhanced pumps, all rolling together for a balanced experience.”
Looking at the supplement facts panel, I have several thoughts…
Olympus Labs Oracle Ingredients
Right off the bat, the multiple proprietary blends should be a red flag to consumers. You have no idea of the dosages, and after my experience with RE1GN, I’m not likely to trust OL’s prop blends (fool me once…) — what you choose to purchase and experiment with is your choice.
There’s also another issue upon first inspection of the Oracle pre workout label, specifically regarding the QA/QC of the supplement facts panel (SFP):
“The Caffeine Matrix” lists a total of 405mg of three different caffeine sources:
- Targeted Release Caffeine: 200mg
- Quick Release (caffeine anhydrous): 105mg
- DiCaffeine Malate: 105mg
Adding those three up, that results in a total of 410mg…not 405mg.
While this isn’t a massive difference in terms of how much caffeine consumers will end up getting from a full serving of Oracle, it is a glaring QA/QC oversight. For a brand that has largely been off the radar/on hiatus from the mainstream, you’d think they would have double and triple-checked every facet of the product to make their re-emergence impeccable.
Of course, any individual or company can make mistakes (including your friendly, neighborhood Supplement Engineer), but there are other concerns I have regarding the ingredients profile...
Olympus Labs Oracle Ingredients Breakdown
Since Oracle contains a partially-proprietary/partially-open label/partially correctly (or incorrectly) printed supplement fact panel, I am not able to speak with 100% certainty as to the dosages of each and every ingredient. However, I can offer insight into efficacious dosages of the selected ingredients as well as what the scientific literature reports.
Let’s start with the first semi-prop blend…
“Innovative Performance Matrix” (3.36g)
Oracle’s “Innovative Performance Matrix” (which really isn’t all that innovative, if we’re being honest) is combination of three ingredients:
- Ligustrazine (std. min 99% ligustrazine phosphate)
Of the three, only S7 is open-labeled at a dose of 50mg in a full (2-scoop) serving. Assuming what is stated on the label is actually in the tub, that leaves a remaining 3,310mg split between beta-alanine and ligustrazine.
Renowned as the pre-eminent endurance-enhancing ergogenic, beta-alanine is pretty much a “must-have” in pre workouts for most companies today. Understand that the primary manner in which beta-alanine boosts endurance is via its enhancement of carnosine levels in the body. Carnosine serves as an intracellular buffer that reduces H+ ions, ultimately enabling muscles to contract for longer periods of time before succumbing to metabolic fatigue.
Despite a considerable body of evidence showing its benefits (particularly for prolonged exertion), if we’re being honest, the real reason supplement companies include beta alanine in pre workouts is for its tingle-inducing effects (paresthesia) — essentially, consumers think a supplement “hits harder” if they’re experiencing tingles, flushing, etc. FYI, …the “tingles” are harmless and a mere by-product of consuming relatively “high” doses of the supplement in isolation. Anecdotally, the tingles subside with regular/daily supplementation of beta-alanine and/or taking it in combination with a meal.
Keep in mind that beta alanine is a saturation-based ingredient (a la creatine monohydate, PeakO2, etc.). Supplementing with beta-alanine (even in high doses) does not offer immediate benefits — it only causes the tingles. To realistically obtain the benefits of beta-alanine, it needs to be taken consistently (preferably daily).
The saturation amount of beta-alanine is ~179 grams. This means that if you’re taking a pre workout that contains 3.2g beta-alanine daily, it will take about 8 weeks to reach saturation, at which point you will actually realize the ergogenic properties of beta-alanine. Consuming 6.4g/day will allow you to reach saturation in 4 weeks. Keep in mind, the studies in which individuals consume 6.4g beta-alanine per day ingest the supplement in divided dosages (e.g 1.6g BA 4x/daily).
With the understanding that most pre workouts contain between 1.6-3.2g beta-alanine per full serving and that the average individual only trains three maybe four times per week, and the average individual’s only beta-alanine supplementation occurs via pre workout supplements, it’s highly unlikely the average consumer using Oracle (or any other pre workout supplement) is actually maximizing the potential ergogenic properties of beta-alanine. It also warrants mention that this is a tactic employed by the vast majority of supplement companies on the market who claim to include beta-alanine to “boost endurance/performance” but really include it to make the products seem like they “hit harder.”
Also, keep in mind that beta-alanine really only benefits performance when engaged in repeated bouts of effort interspersed with brief periods of rest (e.g. HIIT, boxers, martial artists, football players, etc.) or those engaged in endurance exercise. Furthermore, a position stand issued by the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) stated that :
“Daily supplementation with 4 to 6 g of beta-alanine for at least 2 to 4 weeks has been shown to improve exercise performance, with more pronounced effects in open end-point tasks/time trials lasting 1 to 4 min in duration.”
Given that Oracle supplies 50mg S7 (which leaves a remaining 3,310mg divided between two ingredients), my guess is that Oracle includes approximately 2.4-3.2g per serving.
Let’s now look at the other significant player in the “innovative performance matrix”…
As mentioned at the outset, Olympus Labs is a company that has always prided itself as a company committed to R&D, and as a result of their efforts, they’ve introduced several unique ingredients to the market. That tradition continues with the inclusion of ligustrazine, which supports blood flow and pumps.
Also known as Tetramethylpyrazine, Ligustrazine is a chemical found in cocoa beans as well as Ligusticum striatum (syn. L. wallichii), which is native to India, Nepal, and Kashmir. It is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and has been used in Chinese clinics for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, inlcuding coronary heart disease, cerebral thrombosis, and vasculitis.
While humans studies in which ligustrazine is consumed orally are sparse, there is a randomized control study from 2019 including 120 individuals with pulmonary hypertension. The disease involves oxidative stress, vascular inflammation, and and imbalance of intracellular calcium homeostasis.
Individuals in the ligustrazine group received 100mg three times per day for four weeks in addition to “routine therapy” that included phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, sildenafil and tadalafil. The control group only received “routine therapy.”
Researchers noted that “oral intake of TMP is safe, without obvious adverse reactions.”
An update/correction was published in 2020 stating that “Treatment with TMP will be finished in March 2020. Since then, there have been no published results.
Previous research from the same lab found that ligustrazine injections (100mg/kg/day) prevented rats from developing pulmonary hypertension and ameliorated three models of established pulmonary hypertension.
A 2014 study using isolate human arteries found that Suxiao Jiuxin, a popular patented drug in Chinese medicine that is a combination of ligustrazine and borneol, demonstrated “potent vasorelaxant effect on various vasoconstrictor-mediated vasoconstriction. Its benefits were mediated by endothelium-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
Numerous other trials have been conducted using the Suxiao Jiuxin pills and noted reductions in major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), improved heart function, electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, and lipid profiles.
A 2016 meta-analysis of 16 RCTs investigating the utility of ligustrazine for the treatment of unstable angina concluded that “combined with conventional medicine [ligustrazine] was associated with an increased rate of marked improvement in symptoms and an increased rate of marked improvement of ECG compared with conventional Western medicine alone.”
Researchers also noted a reduction in the consumption of nitroglycerin and the level of fibrinogen (a glycoprotein complex produced in the liver that assists with blood clotting).
The dosage included in the meta-analysis was 80 ligustrazine 99% purity.
Other cell culture and animal studies indicate that ligustrazine may help reduce kidney and brain damage induced by ischemia perfusion in rats via scavenging oxygen-free radicals as well as inhibit the process of inflammation. For example, ligustrazine has been shown reverse the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome and caspase-1 and inhibit the expression and secretion of IL-1β in LPS-treated LO2 hepatocytes.[8,9]
Regarding the dosage, each Suxiao Jiuxin pill is 40mg (split between ligustrazine and borneol). Most dosing protocols recommend individuals consume 5-6 pills 3x/day. That’s a total of ~720mg (18 pills x 40mg/pill).
As mentioned above, the lone human study orally dosing ligustrazine used 300mg/day (100mg thrice daily).
Regarding Olympus Labs Oracle, I would estimate there is between 100-300mg ligustrazine in every full serving. If a “full” 3,200mg (3.2g) beta-alanine is included, that would mean consumers are getting 110mg Ligustrazine in every serving.
I’ve discussed S7 at length as well as my disdain for companies that try to promote it as this “game-changing” nitric oxide booster. Check out this podcast where Dr. Scott Stevenson and I go in-depth into the truth about S7.
S7 is a proprietary combination of seven plant-based ingredients developed by FutureCeuticals that has been clinically shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) by 230% in humans. Researchers noted that S7 enhanes NO production by modifying the “redox signaling” process in humans and significantly inhibiting the production of mitochondrial and cellular reactive oxygen species. This resultedin a 2.3-fold increase (230%) of bioavailable nitric oxide.
As a cellular health and tertiary pump ingredient, S7 is a decent option and is backed by two (small) human clinical trials. Keep in mind that it has not been studied yet in regards to intense exercise (resistance training, powerlifting, MMA, etc.) and won’t deliver increased pumps and vascularity like L-Citrulline, Nitrosigine, or NO3-T (nitrates).
Immaculate “FocusED” Matrix
I’m not exactly sure why the ED was capitalized in “FocusED”…when I see ED, I automatically think of erectile dysfunction (not that I’ve ever had that problem). However, there is a phenomenon known as “stim d***” and results from a man’s inability to “stand tall and strong” after consuming certain gray-area stimulants (e.g. DMAA, DMHA, etc."). So, could this be Oracle warning users what may happen after taking this combustible concoction of stimulants?
Anyway…let’s take a look at the blend:
Eria Jarensis emerged several years ago as a successor/alternative to the “aggressive” stims of years past that are no longer allowed to be used in dietary supplements (DMAA, DMHA, AMP Citrate, etc.). The reason for its inclusion is that the plant contains a number of bioactive compounds that deliver phenylethylamine (PEA)-type substances. The two most prominent ones identified in Eria Jarensis are N-methyl-phenethylamine (N-methyl-PEA) and N,N-dimethyl-phenethylamine (N,N-dimethyl-PEA).
PEA is a natural monoamine alkaloid that acts as a CNS stimulant. It acts fast, boosts mood, energy, and euphoria, and its effects are fast-fleeting…usually subsiding ~15min or so (at most).
The “enhanced” forms of PEA found in Eria Jarensis offer the prospect of longer-lasting energy and euphoria.
Likely dose here is 300mg, this estimate is based off the total prop blend (887mg) and the published dose of the next ingredient...
Developed by OmniActive (the same company behind LuteMax 2020 and CapsiMax), EnXtra is an award-winning caffeine-free extract of alpinia galanga shown in human clinical studies to enhance alertness and focus for up to 5 hours with and without caffeine.[12,13,14]
Pairing it alongside caffeine, EnXtra® helps to prolong the energy and focus-boosting effects of caffeine as well as offset any potential crash that certain caffeine consumers (usually those more caffeine-sensitive individuals) may experience when taking higher amounts of the stimulant.
As to how EnXtra increases energy and pairs well with caffeine, studies demonstrate the active components present withing enXtra can block dopamine reuptake, which increases dopamine levels — further enhancing mood, motivation, focus, decision-making, etc. It also has a pronounced effect on acetylcholinesterase — the enzyme that break down the “learning neurotransmitter”, acetylcholine.
EnXtra has been shown to be without significant adverse effects, and it does NOT impact heart rate, blood pressure, and sleep, even when consuming 600mg of enXtra — 2x the dose in Olympus Labs Oracle.
Briefly touched on above when discussing Eria Jarensis, PEA is a mood-enhancing CNS sitmulant with a very short half-life (~5-10 minutes). PEA is great for providing the initial impetus (which is a euphemism for “kick in the ass”) to get amped-up for your training session, after which the other stimulants in Olympus Labs Oracle can take the reins and power you through the end of your workout. Combining Eria jarensis with PEA and the next ingredient in Oracle could make for some long-lasting "feel-good" vibes.
Another under-the-radar ingredient that’s likely never been encountered by most consumers, genistein is an incredibly well-researched isoflavone found in soy as well as the Japanese pagoda tree (sophora japonica).
Isoflavones, including genistein, that possesses anticarcinogenic (specifically hormone-related cancers) and antioxidant properties.
Its anti-cancer benefits are attributed to the:
- Structural similarity to 17β-estradiol
- Down-regulation of genes related to cell proliferation and cell cycle
- Induction of apoptosis
- Inhibition of NF-κB activation
- Reduction of Akt protein level
- Down-regulation of androgen-mediated carcinogenesis
- Antioxidant benefits
It also warrants mentioning that genistein has 4% binding affinity for estragen receptor ER-α and 87% for ER-β. As an added benefit, injections of genistein may also protect rat testicular cells from radiation.
What does all of this have to do with a pre-workout?
Well, genistein also has been investigated for its mood-enhancing and anti-depressive benefits. Specifically, researchers note that “genistein might improve major depression through suppressing miR-221/222 or increased the expression level of Cx43.”
miR-221/222 are microRNA that regulate the expression of several genes, including oncogenic (cancer causing) genes. Additionally, miR-221 and miR-222 have to associated with depression. On the flip side, Cx43 has been identified as a noteworthy suppressor of depression. Seeing as genistein both suppresses miR-221/222 and/or boost Cx43 expression, it promotes greater mood.
Other research notes that Genistein may function as a reversible MAO-inhibitor. MAO (monoamine oxidase) is a group of enzymes that metabolize catacholimes, including dopamine, noradrenaline, and PEA. Inhibiting MAO promotes stronger, longer-lasting levels of these neurotranmsitters/catecholamines, supporting more powerful and sustained enregy, mood, and motivation. Previous MAO inhibitors seen in pre workouts supplements include hordenine and garcinol.
However, a major limitation of genistein is its poor bioavailability. Studies investigating its bioavailability have noted it varies as low as 6.8% to 50%. There are no absorption enhancers included in Oracle, such as BioPerine or AstraGin.
One other cause for (potential) concern are the research findings:
Researchers report that genstein may interfere with thyroid function, testosterone production, and allergies (hypersensitivity), as well as increase the risk of cancer proliferation. Keep in mind, that the majority of research paints genistein in a positive light, with multiple potential benefits; however, these potentially serious side effects warrant mentioning. As always, the dose makes the poison, but…we have no idea how much genistein is in this product.
Previously appearing in RE1GN, KannaEase is an extract of kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) standardized for total alkaloids >= 0.5% alkaloids and 0.2% mesembrine.
Personally, I really enjoy this ingredient, especially in nootropics or sleep supplements. KannaEase as well as the other popular branded kanna extract on the market (Zembrin) are typically included for the mood-enhancing properties as well as their anxiogenic (anxiety-reducing) properties.
The reason for this is that the bioactives present in KannaEase and Zembrin function as a dual serotonin transporter blocker (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, SSRI) and selective inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4).[22,23]
Research using Zembrin indicates that it may be a promising nutraceutical for cognitive disorders, as it has been found to significantly enhance executive function and cognitive flexibility (via PDE4 inhibition).
As for why KannaEase is included in RE1GN, we can reference a RE1GN-related forum post from Olympus Labs HQ:
Essentially, KannaEase can help “tame the beast” of stimulants by providing a strong, yet controlled and “productive”, boost in energy, mood, and focus, while also combatting the crash, jitters and edginess that some users experience with high-stim products.
STIM-X (C. Macroceres Extract)
As I mentioned before, this ingredient was included in OL’s previous pre-workout, Re1gn, and its overdosing led to a product recall, specifically of the “Dragon’s Mist” flavor. While there has been much speculation as to what’s STIM-X actually is standardized for, I have it on good authority (from a previous consultant of OL) that it is extremely similar to alpha-yohimbine or a chemical cousin of it. This is likely the cause of the adverse reactions experienced from the original run of RE1GN.
For many individuals, yohimbine and alpha-yohimbine are a great stimulant that is fast-acting all the while boosting mood and motivation while also suppressing appetite and boosting fat burning. However, as I (and many other pre workout consumers) can attest, consuming too much yohimbine/alpha-yohimbine can result in rather unpleasant side effects.
Hopefully, the QA/QC is dialed in for this relaunch (fingers crossed…I’ve already discussed the issue with the SFP above).
The Caffeine Matrix
Touched on earlier, the caffeine matrix is a blend of fast-acting and sustained-release caffeine sources to provide rapid and long-lasting energy, focus, and motivation, helping to power you during your training and for hours afterwards. Based on the numbers listed on the SFP, Oracle should deliver a caffeine payload yield of 300mg per full serving -- divided across the three forms included in the product.
This is a great dose of caffeine, on par with OL’s previous pre workout offerings as well as many other pre workout supplements and energy drinks on the market.
Something else that doesn’t exactly jive with me. An independent, highly-trusted source in the industry informed me that the first “review” published on StrongSupplements.com (the primary retailer offering Oracle) was written by the OWNER of Olympus Labs:
I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the first review of a product written by the owner of the company producing the supplement counts as “unbiased”…
Olympus Labs has delivered some phenomenal supplements over the years during which they’ve introduced numerous novel nutraceuticals and botanical extracts. Oracle looks primed to deliver a lot of energy and focus, but is lacking in pumps (unless ligustrazine is some ultra-effective NO-booster/pump-enhancer).
We need supplements companies to continue to delve deep into the research and innovate with their formulas. It’s exceedingly tiring (and boring) to see the same formulas (essentially -- 300mg caffeine, 6g L-Citruline, 3.2 beta alanine, etc.) show up on the market with the only difference being the flavors or company selling it.
For that, I appreciate what Olympus Labs is doing. At the same time, previous experiences and a history of delivering products on time to consumers who pre-order products (not to mention the aforementioned SFP errors) give me pause.
What do you think?
Are you interested in trying Olympus Labs Oracle? Have you tried any of OL’s previous supplements over the year?
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