Alkalize. Balance. Detoxify. These are words used to describe “It Works, Greens”, a supplement said to restore pH balance to the body. With restored alkalinity, it’s said, you will experience immune system health and increased energy. I’ve been intrigued by –and had questions about – claims that we can alter the alkalinity of the body to improve health for a while now and so when It Works Greens came to my attention, I thought I’d review it and see what I might discover. If you were curious also, keep reading and let’s see what we can find out about it. Also see my review of It Works Fat Fighter as well as the ThermoFit review for more information.
It Works Greens Research
When I goggled “It Works Research,” and “It Works Greens Research” I didn’t see any websites mentioning clinical trials on the product. I also checked ClinicalTrials.gov. No relevant research showed up. Finally, I checked the National Library of Medicine (PubMed.gov) and saw no studies either.
If clinical evidence does exist, showing that the product alters the overall pH of the body or promotes other health benefits, it cannot be located. That doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t work, but rather that it may not yet been studied in clinical research. I'll update this section as I become aware of research.
It Works Greens Nutrition Facts
According to the product label, a serving of It Works Greens (Berry Flavor) is 2 level scoops (this equals 4 grams) mixed with 8 oz of water. These 2 scoops have the following basic nutrition information:
|Amount Per Serving||Percent Daily Value|
|Total carbs||2g||1% DV|
|Dietary Fiber||1 g||4% DV|
|Magnesium (dimagnesium malate)||50 mg||12% DV|
|Potassium (potassium citrate||250 mg||7% DV|
Other ingredients listed are Natural flavors and silica. They don’t say what the natural flavors are.
A couple of things occurred to me when I looked at the Nutrition Facts label.
One thing is while they tell us how much potassium and magnesium the Greens has, they don’t tell us how much protein is in the product. Since blue green algae has protein, I'm sure it's present. A hunch is that it's present in small amounts.
This is the form of magnesium used in It Works Greens. Basically magnesium is chemically bonded to another compound (malic acid) to increase its absorption in the body. How relevant this increased absorption is I can’t say. Magnesium malate is also sold on Amazon if you want to see what others are saying about it.
This is the type of potassium used in It Works Greens. It’s the mineral potassium, bonded to citric acid. Like magnesium above, I believe this is to increase absorption. According to Drugs.com, potassium citrate is used to alkalize the urine to reduce kidney stone formation.
Two scoops of It Works Greens provides 250 mg of potassium. For comparison, 1 cup of spinach has over 800 mg of potassium. This potassium review at MayoClinic.com gives potassium content of various foods.
The comments about potassium citrate on Amazon may provide additional insights on this product.
The Berry Flavor of It Works greens also contains these other ingredients
- Natural flavors (not sure what they are)
- Malic acid
- Citric acid
- Rebaudioside A (this is Stevia)
These other ingredient likely play no role in any of the effects the product might have.
The Proprietary Blends
It Works Greens contains two proprietary blends containing several different ingredients. Here are the amounts contained in each of them:
- Greens Proprietary Blend has: 1080mg (about 2.2 grams). It used to be 2231 mg.
- Whole Food Proprietary Blend 2 has 1475mg. It used to be 330mg.
To put things in perspective, 1 ounce of anything equals 28 grams.
While we are not told us how much of each ingredient is in these proprietary blends, we do know that the ingredients listed at the beginning are present in the greatest concentration, while those at the end of the list are present in the lowest concentration.
As you look at the ingredients tables below, read them from left to right. This will help you get an idea of the most and least abundant ingredients.
Greens Proprietary Blend (1,080 mg)
The Greens Blend ingredients have changed since this review was created. The table below reflects the current ingredients.
Here are the ingredients in the first proprietary blend. Read the table from left to right. This will tell you which ingredient is present most and least.
|Blue green algae (spirulina)||Parsley||Barley grass
|Spinach||Clorela||Alfalfa extract (aerials)|
|Matcha green tea||Watercress||Rosemary leaf|
|Plantain leaf||Dandelion leaf||Lemon grass|
|green tea leaf extract||Dulse|
Previously The Greens Blend contained soy lecithin and soy protein isolate. In the new version, these ingredients were removed. Spirulina was in the previous ingredients list too and it remains in the current version of the product.
This is a type of blue-green algae. Blue green algae contains some protein. Since this is the 3rd ingredient listed in this proprietary blend, my guess is a good amount of the 2231 mg is composed of spirulina.
This ingredient has been removed from this blend. It's now present in the Whole Foods Blend below. See below for more information.
Bacillus Coagulans (no longer in product)
This is a probiotic bacteria. The label states that It Works Greens contains a specially, trademarked version called LactoSporewhich is a product from a company called Sabinsa corporation. This company makes several supplements including the type of ForceLean which I covered in my review of Coleus Forskohlii.
On ClinicalTrials.gov, I found a study on the safety of LactoSpore but the results don’t yet appear to be completed.
Astragalus Root Extract (no longer in product)
It’s scientific name is Astragalus membranaceus. I also covered this herb in my review of Zi Xiu Tang so see that for more insights. There are many extracts in the root of this plant. The company does not tell us what extract of Astragalus is in It Works Greens. That said, there have been some studies noting that extracts of astragalus can improve various aspects of the immune system.
Much of the research I saw however involved exposing cells to astragalus extracts rather than giving the herb to people. In other words, I’m not aware of any research that showed astragalus reduced colds/flus or improved cancer outcomes.
Astragalus is also sold online, likely because of its reported immune enhancing benefits.
They don’t tell us what extract from green tea It Works Greens Has. Is the extract caffeine? Is it Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)? I can’t comment if I don’t know the extract or the amount in the product. The product contains both green tea and matcha green tea which is more concentrated.
Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract (no longer in product)
This herb is often used because of its reputation to help memory although several studies have noted it does not help memory. If I knew the reason why gingko is in the product, then I could say more.
Aloe Vera Gel (no longer in product)
This is the last ingredient present in this proprietary blend. As such, it is present in the lowest amount. There has been some research that aloe vera might reduce blood sugar levels . It might do many other things too however without knowing the amount in the product and the reason why it’s used, I can’t comment more than this.
Whole Food Proprietary Blend (1,475mg)
Here are the ingredients in the Whole Food Proprietary blend of It Works Greens. This is the current version of the product. One serving of this blend provides a total of 1475mg of all these ingredients. Since pea fiber is first on the list, this blend contains mostly pea fiber Read the table from left to right to see which is present the most and the least.
|Pea fiber||Apple fiber||Eleuthero root extract|
|grapefruit juice||white willow||Onion|
|Papaya juice||Peach||Pear juice|
|Brussels sprouts||Lemon juice||Raspberry juice|
|Strawaberry juice||Pumpkin||Black currant|
|Goji (Lycium barbarum)||Sunflower lecithin||Astragalus root extract|
|Turmeric||Meadowsweet herb (aerial parts)||Black berry fruit|
|Acerola||Billberry fruit extract||Cranberry|
There are 28 ingredients in this blend of ingredients. I won’t cover them all but as above, just mention those that I thought were most interesting to me
Eleuthero Root Extract
This is also called Siberian ginseng. There are many different compounds in Siberian ginseng. Since It Works Greens uses the root, I take that to mean the whole root. This might be preferable in that it has the potential to provide a wide spectrum of those different compounds.
That said, without knowing the reasons it's present or amount used, I can’t comment on the evidence for those effects.
In this study from 2001 titled The effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus and Panax ginseng on steroidal hormone indices of stress and lymphocyte subset numbers in endurance athletes, Siberian ginseng had no effect on various immune system cells or hormone levels (including testosterone) in people.
Goldenseal (no longer in product)
It's scientific name is Hydrastis Canadensis. Whenever I see goldenseal I think back to the days when people used to think it would help them pass drug tests. The idea was that goldenseal would mask illegal drugs from being detected in urinalysis tests. For the record, it doesn't do this.
Goldenseal contains many different compounds. One of those is called berberine and this has some evidence that it may help the immune system work better. In this study, both Goldenseal and Astragalus (which is also in Greens) did appear to stimulate some immune system cells. That said, much of the research I saw appeared confined to test tube studies.
White Willow Bark
It's now called just “white willow” in the ingredients. White willow bark contains compounds that appear to “look like” aspirin and because of this, I sometimes see it in arthritis supplements. For example, this ingredient is also in Instaflex (click to see the review). I can’t think of a reason why it would be in It Works Greens. If anyone knows, let me know and I’ll be happy to update this review.
Pau d'arco Bark (no longer in product)
It's scientific name is Handroanthus impetiginosus (I can't pronounce it either). I've honestly never seen this ingredient before in any of the supplements I've reviewed to date. This is the bark of a tree that grows in South America and Florida. While some of the ingredients in Pau d'arco bark may have antibiotic effects, I'm honestly not comfortable with seeing it in supplements.
From what I was able to gather, Pau d'arco bark was looked at as a possible cancer treatment in the 1960s until it was found that the amount that might help, overlapped with the amount that might cause internal bleeding. Granted, this effect was seen in amounts much more than is in this product. For more information on this, I direct you to these reviews:
My personal opinion is I wish they would remove Pau d'arco bark from this product. Update. It has been removed.
Turmeric is now in It Works Greens. I like that because there is a lot of healthy benefits to turmeric. Unfortunately, turmeric is listed toward the bottom of the list so there might not be much in the product. Either way, turmeric is pretty inexpensive. often add it to my smoothies and oatmeal.
Another name for Amla is Indian gooseberry. It's very popular in Ayurvedic medicine for many reasons. It's sometimes touted to grow hair and restore hairs natural color but I doubt if that's why it's present here. See the Indian Gooseberry review for more on this ingredient and hair.
Is It Gluten Free?
The promotional material I have states that Greens contains a small amount of gluten. According to the FDA, to be called “gluten free,” products must have less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Since I don't see “gluten free” on the label, I'll assume it has more than that amount. Here is the FDA gluten free report.
Update 7/18/16: Information sheets on the product website now state that orange and berry flavor greens are made with gluten free ingredients.
Does It Contain Soy?
Not anymore. Soy lecithin and soy protein isolate have been removed from the It Works Greens ingredients.
Are The Ingredients GMO?
No, It Works Greens contains only non-genetically modified ingredients. Even the soy is non-GMO. For those wanting to limit their exposure to genetically modified foods, this is a good thing.
Can Kids Use Greens?
The Greens supplement are for adults only. This is likely because of the lack of clinical information about how some of the ingredients might act in kids. When in doubt, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. The It Works company says not to give this product to kids.
Does Greens Only Contain Greens?
When I first heard of It Works Greens, I was under the impression that it was a fruit and vegetable supplement, something similar to Juice Plus, which I reviewed previously (click to read that review). But looking over the ingredients in the proprietary blends, you can see that this product contains more just fruits and vegetables.
Yes, there is broccoli, spinach and kale, but it also has white willow bark and Siberian ginseng, and other things that I doubt is in most of our kitchens. I mention this not to slam Greens but just to point this out in case you were thinking like I did when you first heard the name of the product.
Does It Works Greens Alkalize The Body?
The idea of being more alkaline as a way to promote health has been around for a long time. Acid foods – such as meats and grains- are said to be bad, while eating more alkaline foods – like fruits and vegetables – are said to be good for us. I’ve even been to health fairs where people would place their tongue on a piece of pH paper to test show whether they were acid or alkaline.
Honestly, I never understood this. Even if the mouth or urine is acidic, that does not mean the same thing as the acidity level in the blood.
The degree of alkalinity (or acidity) is measured by the pH. This is a scale from 0 to 14. A pH of 1 is very acidic while a pH of 14 is very alkaline.
A neutral pH (neither too acid or too alkaline) is 7.0.
Here’s the thing: the pH of our blood is about 7.35 to 7.45. In other words, the pH of healthy human blood is normally slightly alkaline. The body is usually very good at maintaining this healthy pH range.
This is actually very important because significant deviations from this range (making the blood either too acid or too alkaline), could actually kill us!
Having said all that, I do believe it's best to eat a more “alkaline diet” – but that’s not because it makes us more alkaline.
Rather, eating a more alkaline diet means we are also eating more fruits and vegetables and flooding our bodies with all of their healthy antioxidants and other compounds. I believe that is what helps us stay healthy.
I don’t believe that eating these foods significantly alters the pH of the blood and make us more “alkaline.” I think the benefits of eating more “alkaline foods” is that they tend to contain many health-promoting compounds like antioxidants and phyto-nutrients.
Life Shotz is another super drink people are talking about. See that review for more information.
It Works Greens Side Effects
I think if you are healthy, It Works Greens is likely pretty safe. I’m not aware of any negative side effects from It Works Greens at the time I wrote this review. I did notice a variety of comments on Amazon so do check too as there are some interesting discussions about the product.
That said, here are some things that I believe are worth mentioning based on the ingredients in the product. This list is not complete.
- Talk to your doctor if your are pregnant or breast feeding. This is just in case some of the ingredients are passed to the baby.
- Speak to your doctor or pharmacist first if you are thinking about giving It Works Greens to children. Even the company says not to do this.
- Stop taking It Works Greens at least 2 weeks before having surgery. This is to reduce surgery complications. Some of the ingredients in have blood thinning properties. This is important for those who take blood thinner medications too.
- If you take any medications, speak to your doctor first.
Again, I think if you are healthy you will be OK. If you have any health issues, show the ingredients to your doctor first and see what they say.
Does It Work?
If we define “work” as “does It Works Greens alkalize the body”, then, at this time, I’d have to say I'm skeptical. This conclusion is based on the fact that in healthy people, the pH of the blood is always slightly alkaline and I’m not aware of any good proof that supplements can alter this for any significant length of time. Could it be that the product has other effects? Sure, but that would take research to know for sure.
So, does it work? It’s hard to know either way if it does anything more than eating more fruits and vegetables would. I'll be honest and say that I believe the product is overly complicated. Why doesn't It Works Greens just contain green vegetables?
If you are healthy and the product starts you on the road to eating more fruits and vegetables, then I’d say that is a step in the right direction. If you are already eating this way, then it's up to you if need it or not.Here's It Works Greens on Amazon