2023 was a prolific year for the research-rich supplier, which announced or submitted for publication five separate branded ingredient studies this year.
Clinical research is the gold standard for today’s nutraceutical ingredients. Leading suppliers are investing in studies—a huge financial and time commitment—to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of their own branded ingredients. One new ingredient study is a big deal; two is even better. And five studies in one year? Remarkable. This is why Nutritional Outlook chose PLT Health Solutions (Morristown, NJ) as the winner of this year’s Best of the Industry Ingredient Supplier award.
In 2023, PLT announced or submitted for publication new human clinical studies on five of its branded ingredients. The company either submitted the studies for publication in 2023 or is in the process of completing manuscripts which will be submitted for publication next year.
Two of the ingredients are brand-new ingredients launched in 2023: 1) Nutricog, a brain health ingredient blending Ayurvedic herbs haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and 2) Spectramune, an immune-health ingredient combining haritaki and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera).
Additional studies were announced in 2023 on three other existing PLT branded ingredients: 1) weight-management ingredient Slendacor, a blend of turmeric (Curcuma longa), moringa (Moringa oleifera), and curry leaf (Murraya koenigii), 2) respiratory-health ingredient AlvioLife, a combination of boswellia and Bengal quince fruit extract (Aegle marmelos), and 3) joint/mobility-health ingredient AprèsFlex, which comprises two proprietary boswellia-derived extracts.
Seth Flowerman, PLT Health Solutions’ president and CEO, says that while the company has long been committed to clinically researching its ingredients, calling it “part of our company’s DNA,” 2023 was a standout year for the firm and reflects the company’s ongoing work to support its research team. He notes: “2023 was a big year for us because of the long-term investments we have made in our capabilities. In the last five years, we have added to our science team—drawing people from the consumer products companies we work with. This allows us to understand and anticipate the needs of the market.”
Below are highlights of the key findings of this latest slate of company studies.
The biggest takeaway from the Nutricog study, which PLT submitted for publication this year, is that the ingredient can support cognitive health in adults as young as 40 years of age. The 120-day, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 100 male and female subjects aged 40-65 years and showed significant benefits for immediate recall, delayed recall, overall learning, learning rate, focus, as well as for cognitive speed and accuracy during multitasking. The study also stands out because its effects were measured by not just one but two different cognitive tests: the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) and the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).
Flowerman explains why this study is significant for PLT as a company. Cognitive health supplements and nutrition tend to focus on two consumer groups: young people (prenatal supplements or children’s supplements for healthy brain development), or seniors (supplements that support mental health in the face of aging). But, he says, younger consumers—specifically in the 18-54 age range—have been underserved.
This is the market PLT is now targeting with Nutricog. With this study data in hand, Nutricog can address the cognitive health needs of a younger demographic, opening doors to new consumers. “The market opportunity with this group is massive,” Flowerman notes. People in the 18-54 age range are generally looking to shore up cognitive performance, well-being, stress reduction, and quality of life, he adds. This includes everyone from working adults and students to athletes seeking to support mental and thus physical performance.
It’s also an opportune juncture. “The search for well-being and the self-care trend that we saw come out of the pandemic have changed the landscape for the cognitive health–support market,” Flowerman says. “Younger people are turning to supplements in this area to improve their quality of life.”
He now calls Nutricog PLT’s “most important cognitive function ingredient.” The company’s brain health portfolio, which addresses concerns such as cognitive function, stress and mood, and mental energy, now totals five branded ingredients: Synapsa, Rhodiolife, Zembrin, zumXR, Zynamite, and now Nutricog.
The study on Spectramune, which was submitted for publication in 2023, showed the ingredient stands out because it supports multiple facets of the immune system. “Most immune-health ingredients target only one phase of the human immune system,” says Jennifer Murphy, PLT’s director of innovation and clinical development.
The four-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted in healthy male and female subjects aged 35-60 years. Analysis of immune biomarkers showed that supplementing with Spectramune resulted in broad improvements in immune cells, including in innate, cell-mediated, and humoral immunity. The company says this means the ingredient supports immune health in multiple ways, including strengthening the “first line of immune defense,” which is innate immunity; slowing the body’s immune response when it encounters unfamiliar pathogens, providing cell-mediated immunity; and addressing humoral immunity by supporting the body’s remembered response to new pathogens and vaccinations.
Slendacor, Alviolife, Aprèsflex
The studies on PLT Health Solutions’ other existing ingredients yielded similarly compelling insights.
The 2023 human clinical trial on weight-management ingredient Slendacor, whose manuscript the company says is currently in development, examined the ingredient’s thermogenic effects in humans. Among other findings, the study revealed that supplementation resulted in increased resting energy expenditure and increased calorie burning. Importantly, the firm says, based on heart rate and blood pressure data from the subjects, Slendacor showed no stimulant activity, setting it apart from other thermogenic ingredients.
Meanwhile, the six-week randomized controlled trial on respiratory-health ingredient AlvioLife, which was submitted for publication this year, was conducted in healthy human subjects. It found that at the end of the study, the subjects, who reported being sensitive to air pollution, showed significant improvements in lung function, lung capacity, and aerobic exercise capacity, as well as reductions in upper respiratory tract symptoms.
Flowerman says AlvioLife is unique because it was “specifically developed to promote respiratory health.” He points to the ingredient’s opportunities in the immune-health market. The respiratory-health market has lots of room to grow, he adds: “The market for supplements for respiratory health is not large—even though logic suggests that it should be. Everyone in North America and parts of Europe were reminded of the need during the wildfire season this year as smoke invaded towns and cities all over the world. Australia is in the midst of this right now.”
Finally, in 2023, PLT Health Solutions announced the results of a six-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study on joint-health ingredient AprèsFlex. The company says the study will be submitted for publication in Q1 2024. This is the company’s fourth study on AprèsFlex and found that the proprietary boswellia ingredient helped improve joint comfort in human subjects and was associated with a reduction in pain and joint stiffness and an increase in mobility.
Notably, this study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate effects on subjects’ joints. During October’s SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, PLT’s manager of clinical research, Dawna Salter-Farfan, PhD, RD, said that the MRI analysis employed in this study “was cutting-edge because we looked at the cartilage tissue itself.” She added that it’s the only joint-health nutraceutical study the company is aware of in the public domain that used MRIs to look at cartilage tissue. The company added that this is the longest study done so far on AprèsFlex, showing that joint-health improvements continued throughout the six-month study.
The results of these studies further bolster PLT Health Solutions’ ingredient portfolio. They also add to the knowledge base about how nutraceutical ingredients can benefit human health.
PLT Health Solutions credits its “innovation partner” Laila Nutraceuticals (Krishna, Andhra Pradesh, India) as a “driving force” in developing the clinical studies mentioned above. Laila Nutraceuticals not only manufactures all the branded ingredients featured in these studies; it also played a key role in the studies’ design and execution.
Flowerman says that the company’s open communication with its own customers helps it to hone and design future research. One factor in the company’s success is the “recognition of the increasing role PLT plays as an innovation partner for customers and the importance of solid science in developing exciting new products and building compelling consumer messaging and trust,” he says. “We use the relationships we’ve had with our global research partners over the last decade and continually solicit feedback from the market to understand how to design market-facing clinicals that can deliver on-pack claims that consumers can trust and companies can rely on based on a rigorous approach to study design.”
Don’t expect the company to slow down on its research efforts, either. “While the last 15 months have been very active for PLT completing and announcing clinical studies, the future will be more of the same,” Flowerman concludes.