HEALTH

SiCap wakes up consumers

BY Michael Johnsen

ALBANY, N.Y. SiCap, makers of Sinus Buster capsaicin nasal spray, last week announced a new capsaicin-based energy spray called Spray Awake. According to the manufacturer, Spray Awake delivers caffeine in small, sustained amounts to reap positive results without the unwanted side effects associated with energy drinks, shots or pills.

“Oral sprays are the most efficient way to deliver sustained energy without jitters or a crash,” stated Scott Latella, SiCap director of sales. “The key is to ingest caffeine in small, sustained doses under the tongue so it doesn’t get broken down in the body. This exclusive Spray Awake formula provides a natural time-release element for caffeine delivery.”

Spray Awake uses a capsaicin extract to deliver sustained doses of caffeine in a sublingual dose. Capsaicin is derived from hot peppers, and it’s known to create super-permeability through the mucous membranes, the manufacturer stated.

“Although the capsaicin in Spray Awake is derived from peppers, it’s not spicy or overwhelming,” noted Wayne Perry, SiCap director of innovations. “This natural formula tastes like mint. The capsaicin actually soothes your mouth and throat while also quenching your thirst.”

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Injection-only therapies for gut issues soon may become oral medicines

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN JOSE, Calif. New injection-only therapies may be available as oral medicines one day. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, including lead researcher Tejal Desai, are looking at ways to enhance the “oral availability” of drugs by designing new delivery devices that will help their absorption in the gut.

Desai plans to present her research at a meeting of the scientific society AVS here on Nov. 12. Working with a Bay-area biotechnology company, she is making devices that are sort of like spiny beads filled with drugs. The spines on these beads are silicon nanowires designed to form an adhesive interface with the tiny, hair-like cilia that cover the cells lining the gut. They are designed to stick like burrs to the cells lining the gut and slowly release their drugs there. Localized in one spot, the drugs have a better chance of diffusing into the bloodstream.

Of the many characteristic traits a drug can have, one of the most desirable is the ability for a drug to be swallowed and absorbed into the bloodstream through the gut. Some drugs, such as over-the-counter aspirin, lend themselves to this mode of delivery. Other drugs cannot be swallowed and must be administered instead through more complicated routes. Insulin, for instance, must be injected.

The reason why insulin and many other drugs cannot be swallowed is that they cannot survive the trip through the digestive tract — wherein they are first plunged into the acid bath of the stomach and then passed into the intestines, which are filled with enzymes designed to break down such molecules as insulin. Aspirin does fine in the gut because its active ingredient is a small chemical that doesn’t get broken down. Conversely, insulin is quickly degraded.

Desai currently is fine-tuning the geometry of the nanowires in order to optimize their adhesion. Her laboratory has done a number of toxicity studies with the beads, and their plan next is to look at how effectively they can deliver proteins, peptides and other macromolecules that are not usually taken orally.

One of the advantages of this approach, Desai said, is that it may be applicable for delivering drugs to other parts of the body as well, including such mucosal tissues as the insides of the nose, lungs or vagina, where the surface cells also are coated with such cilia.

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Study: Lactose intolerance is lower than expected among Americans

BY Michael Johnsen

ROSEMONT, Ill. Prevalence of lactose intolerance may be far lower than previously estimated, according to a study in the latest issue of Nutrition Today published last week.

The study, which used data from a national sample of three ethnic groups, revealed that the overall prevalence rate of self-reported lactose intolerance is 12% – with 7.7% of European Americans, 10.1% of Hispanic Americans and 19.5% of African-Americans who consider themselves lactose intolerant.

These new findings indicate that previous estimates of lactose intolerance incidence – based on the incidence of lactose maldigestion – may be overestimated by wide margins. Previous studies have found lactose maldigestion, or low lactase activity in the gut, to occur in approximately 15% of European Americans, 50% of Mexican Americans and 80% of African Americans. The new study shows that lactose intolerance, based on self-reported data, may actually occur far less frequently than presumed.

“There’s so much confusion surrounding lactose intolerance,” stated Theresa Nicklas, of the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and lead study author. “By getting a better handle on the true number of people who deal with this condition every day, the nutrition community can be better equipped to educate and provide dietary guidance for Americans, including strategies to help meet dairy food recommendations for those who self-report lactose intolerance.”

Since increasing daily consumption of dairy can be an effective strategy for ensuring adequate intake of necessary nutrients (such as calcium, magnesium and potassium), those who do experience symptoms of lactose intolerance should know there are several practical solutions that can allow for consumption of milk and milk products.

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