The plural of “anecdote” is “data”. When Anatabloc was taken off the market two years ago, customers bemoaned the loss of the only product they had ever found that relieved their arthritic symptoms. One of them contacted me through this blog, and told me that before it disappeared, he stockpiled three years’ inventory, which he is still taking now.
Anatabine is a naturally-occurring chemical constituent of eggplant, tomatoes and (especially) tobacco. The chemical structure is similar to nicotine
Anatabine is interesting because
- Inflammation is one of the primary means by which the body self-destructs as we get older.
- NFκB is the best-known pro-inflammatory hormone that increases with age, to our detriment.
- Anatabine is reported to block the action of NFκB.
Beginning more than 10 years ago, anatabine was promoted by Star Scientific Co as a nutraceutical under their trade name, Anatabloc. Impatient with the steady rise of sales, Johnnie Williams of Star Sci used political influence with Virginia’s Gov Bob McDonnell to get Medicaid to pay for anatabine as a drug. A scandal two years ago brought down Williams and McDonnell both. (Jon Stewart skewered the story at the time, and though his take on the politics may be well-grounded, his implication that any chemical found in tobacco must be poison is silly.) Anatabine was dragged down with the two, and now research on a promising chemical is foundering. Anatabine is no longer available for purchase in the America or Europe.
In the only published clinical study of anatabine, it was found useful for an obscure auto-immune syndrome of the thyroid. In the government web site ClinicalTrials.gov, there are three more completed trials for which I was unable to find publications as yet. The most interesting relates to the effect of anatabine on C-Reactive Protein in the blood, which is a well-established marker of inflammation. That study was conducted by Michael Mullan of Roskamp Inst. In this video, he reviews a mouse study suggesting anatabine might be useful for slowing progress of Alzheimer’s Disease. Psoriasis is another disease of inflammation gone awry for which it may be useful, and reportedly Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals is banking on psoriasis for their first clinical approval, from which they might leverage research on other applications. Smoking cessation is another promising early application. But in the long run, Rock Creek scientists have their sights set on Alzheimer’s Disease. (I’ve been unable to raise a response from Rock Creek’s principal scientists to find out more.)
What’s the evidence for blocking NFκB?
These three studies [1, 2, 3] all claim to observe that NFkB activity is lower in mice taking anatabine. The mechanism is to block phosphorylation of NFkB, which is an energizing stage in the biochemistry that initiates its activity. Dosages were injected, at 2mg/kg. These studies followed from cell studies in vitro observing the same chemistry.
All studies come from the same team of scientists, associated with RockCreek Pharma and the Rosskamp Inst, both in Tampa, FL. I wish there were independent groups replicating their findings, and I suspect that it is the political scandal that has driven them away.
I learned from Examine.com of two more herbs that block NFkB, to wit Boswellia (frankinicense) and Feverfew.
Anatabloc contained a dosage of only 1mg per pill, but rodent studies suggest that the effective human dosage is likely to be at least 10 times higher than that.
Safety, and the Bottom Line
Reported side-effects of anatabine include headache and stomachache. Perhaps this is why the dosage in Anatabloc was kept so low. Rock Creek Pharma claims that a phase-1 trial of oral anatabine found no side effects, but anecdotal evidence suggests that some people have serious responses.
The best evidence we have may be from a user survey conducted by scientists affiliated with Rock Creek, and written up as a journal article.
Of the 78 respondents who stopped taking the supplement for some period of time for any reason, 83% experienced a noticeable return of their joint pain symptoms. Forty-four of 65 (68%) respondents indicated that their symptoms returned within 2–3 days or less, and 64 of 65 (98%) indicated that their symptoms returned within one week or less (Fig. 3). Almost all of the respondents (64 of 65, or 98%) who had stopped using anatabine and felt their joint pain symptoms return subsequently felt those symptoms decrease once they resumed using the supplement.
The survey indicates a lot of satisfied customers, but does not touch on the issues of dosage or side-effects.