PB125 is said to be the “next generation Nrf2 activator” made from “naturally-occurring plant-based ingredients.” Sounds impressive but what exactly does that mean? It means PB125 is an antioxidant supplement. If activating NrF2 sounds familiar, it should, because this is how the supplement called Protandim is said supposed to work too. Protandim is one of the most popular supplements in America. So what's better: PB125 or Protandim? In this review, I'll cover the research in PB125, its ingredients and compare it to Protandim.
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From the supplement's website, the PB125 is said to:
- Help support the body's natural antioxidant defenses
- Reduce TBARS
- Decrease markers of cellular inflammation
- Activate the Nrf2 pathway
I'm sure TBARS and NrF2 are unfamiliar to most people so lets talk about those next.
What Are TBARS?
TBARS are short for ThiobarBituric Acid Reactive Substances. They are compounds formed when fat is damaged by free radicals. Reducing TBAR formation, is taken to mean less free radical damage to our cells.
- Higher TBAR levels = more free radical damage (oxidative stress)
- Lower TBAR levels = less free radical damage
To measure your TBARS, you want to ask your doctor for a “Lipid Peroxidase test.” This test costs about $200 although it may be less depending on where you live.
Ask your doctor if your insurance will cover the test.
The makers of the Protandim supplement also claim to be able to lower TBAR levels too. Dr. Joe McCord, who heads the Pathways Bioscience research team, used to work for LifeVantage, the company which makes Protandim.
What Is NRF2?
NRF2 sounds complicated – because it is. Basically, NrF2 is a protein which helps regulate our natural antioxidant defenses. Anything which enhances / activates NrF2 is thought to improve how well we deal with free radicals.
So, the idea is, better NrF2 activation = better ability to fend off free radical damage to our cells.
NrF2 regulates antioxidant defenses such as:
Another name NRF2 for this is NFE2L2.
The PB125 supplement is said to possess “NRF2.0 Technology.”
Notice the difference: NRF2 vs. NRF2.0 .
It's a subtle difference meant to convey that PB125 is better/more advanced than other supplements which claim to activate the NRF2 antioxidant pathway. It's the 2nd generation of NRF2.
It's really good marketing if you ask me 🙂
What Foods Activate NRF2?
Various foods and supplements have been shown to activate NRF2 including:
- Fruits and vegetables (especially green vegetables)
- Turmeric and curcumin
- Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA)
- Brocoli (and its Sulforaphane ingredient)
- Green tea and EGCG
- Plumbagin (venus flytrap extract)
- Protandim supplements
So, if you are eating these foods, spices or supplements, you are activating your NRF2 system.
PB125 Video Review
PB125 Clinical Research
Does PB125 have any clinical research proving it works? On the supplement website, the company makes reference to an investigation involving 9 men with elevated TBARS.
After taking PB125, their TBARS were reduced.
Sounds good, but they don't tell us if this study is published as a clinical paper. There is much we do not know about this investigation such as:
- How much PB125 did they take? I assume it was 1 capsule per day.
- How old were the men?
- How long did the study last?
- Did the men change their diet during the study?
For now, I'll assume this is not yet a peer-reviewed investigation. To double check, I searched Pubmed.gov and did not see any published clinical studies on this supplement.
Searching online for “PB125 clinical research” did not reveal any research either.
In a Press Releases, dated 3/16/18, the company states Pathways Bioscience received a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to pursue Phase I research. That's good.
The NIA website also lists PB125 as a compound they are conducting tests on. That's good too.
Any Other Research?
On the pathwaysbio.com homepage, pictures of 3 clinical studies are listed.
- Oxidative stress in health and disease: the therapeutic potential of Nrf2 activation.
- The clinical potential of influencing Nrf2 signaling in degenerative and immunological disorders.
- Superoxide dismutase. An enzymic function for erythrocuprein (hemocuprein)
But these are not studies of PB125.
The first 2 investigations are of another NrF2 supplement -called Protandim -which Dr. McCord used to be involved with.
The 3rd study describes Dr. McCords 1969 discovery of superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant enzyme – yes he really discovered this stuff!
I'm confident eventually there will be peer-reviewed clinical research on this supplement. When those studies are published, I'll update this review.
Let's now look at the ingredients in PB125 as they relate to activating NrF2.
Each 1 capsule of PB125 has the following 3 active ingredients:
|Ingredient||Amount per capsule|
|Rosemary leaf extract (Rosmarinus officinalis standardized to Carnosol content||68 mg|
|Ashwagandha root extract (Withania somnifera standardized to Withaferin A content||23 mg|
|Luteolin (from Sophora japonica bud extract||9 mg|
The supplement label also lists these other ingredients:
- Rice flower
- hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
These two ingredients have no role in the effects of the supplement.
Rosemary Leaf Extract
The supplement label tells us rosemary leaf extract (Rosmarinus officinalis) is standardized according to the amount of carnosol it has. This tells us carnisol is the extract used.
Additional studies reveal these compounds have also been investigated for reducing cellular inflammation and helping diseases such as cancer and diabetes. But the majority of studies seem to be limited to lab animals and isolated cells (“test tube studies”).
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) also called “Indian ginseng,” is a popular herbal ingredient in several supplements previously reviewed such as:
Like all herbs, ashwagandha has many different extracts. The PB125 label tells us the ashwagandha in this supplement is standardized to the withaferin A extract it contains. This tells us withaferin is very important to the results of the supplement.
Withaferin A has been documented to induce NrF2. Many studies appear to be preliminary, being limited to isolated cells and mice.
Other researchers have noted ashwagandha can boost levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in lab animals. Superoxide dismutase is a powerful antioxidant enzyme. Ashwagandha was also shown to reduce auto-antibodies and free radical damage in rats which had arthritis.
Researchers in India have reported ashwagandha reduces the perception of daily stress in people more than a placebo did. This study used 300 mg of a “high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract.” The researchers did not name the specific supplement used in this investigation.
- the spice, thyme
Keep in mind, luteolin is not lutein, the eyesight health nutrient found in carrots and spinach. Luteolin is found in many foods however.
Foods Containing Luteolin
Foods rich in luteolin include:
Most studies appear to involve lab animal (mice/rats) and isolated cell research.
Does luteolin (or Sophora japonica) augment NrF2 in people? It's difficult to say without seeing human research.
Luteolin And ALS?
In some circles, Luteolin has a reputation for improving symptoms of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). I was intrigued by the testimonials I saw in this video:
The supplement they are talking about in the video is called LutiMax (LutiMax.com). At least one study has noted people experiencing “ALS reversals” tend to take more supplements such as luteolin.
While clinical studies on on LutiMax cannot be located, given the severity of ALS, I thought this was worth mentioning for those searching for answers.
How Much Does PB125 Cost?
Each bottle costs $50 on the supplement website. A bottle will last you 2 months (60 capsules). Shipping is only $5 per order – that's very reasonable. Tax may be extra depending on where you live.
Over the course of 1 year, PB125 will cost $300 (this does not including shipping and tax).
Where Can You Buy PB125?
You can purchase this supplement directly from the PathwaysBio.com. Currently, the supplement is not sold at stores like Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, Walgreens, Vitamin World, Kroger, CVS, Rite Aid, Costco or Walmart.
Who Makes PB125
The company is called Pathways Bioscience, LLC. The PB in the supplement name is a reference to Pathways Bioscience. The company is located at 12635 E Montview Blvd, Aurora, CO 80045.
This address seems to be some type of science hub because other businesses at this same location include:
- Gates Biomanufacturing Facility (GatesBioManufacturing.com) which is associated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
- Z Biotech (zbiotech.com)
To be sure, there is a lot of science going on at this location.
The PB125 company was founded in 2014. Dr. Joe McCord is the co-founder of Pathways Bioscience and the head of its research team.
The company phone number is 720-372-4815.
Email: [email protected]
PB125 vs. Protandim
Protandim is a very popular anti-aging /NrF2 supplement. Not only that, the co-founder of Pathways Bioscience – Dr. Joe McCord – used to work for the Protandim company (LifeVantage corporation).
But, both companies are separate from each other. They do not appear to be related in any way.
So, PB125 vs. Protamdin: What's better? Let's compare the ingredients to each other:
|PB125 (1 capsule)||Protandim (1 capsule)|
|Rosemary leaf extract Carnosol) 68 mg||Milk thistle extract 225 mg|
|Ashwagandha root extract (Withaferin A) 23 mg||Bacopa extract 150 mg|
|Luteolin (from Sophora japonica bud) 9mg||Ashwagandha 150 mg|
|Green tea extract 75 mg|
|Turmeric extract 75 mg|
So how are they different? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Both PB125 and Protandim contain ashwagandha. This tells us ashwagandha is important to both. While Protandim has more of the herb, this does not necessarily make it better. Also, PB125 standardizes its ashwagandha to withaferin A. Is withaferin A better than ashwagandha? I cannot say.
2 There are several published studies on Protandim. So far, PB125 does not seem to have any published research. But, the Protandim research has some issues, in my opinion. See the Protaindim review for more insights.
3. Both supplements contain ingredients which appear to augment NRF2.
4. PB125 costs less than Protandim.
So what lowers TBARS more: Protandim or PB125? Good question. So far, no studies have compared PB125 and Protandim to each other.
The big question however, is does either supplement reduce disease risk in humans?
PB125 Side Effects
If you're basically healthy, I think PB125 is pretty safe for most people.
Here are some general things to consider. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than is recommended for the first week. This is to see how you respond.
- Talk to your doctor if you have any health issues like diabetes, heart/blood pressure issues or thyroid problems.
- Talk to your doctor/pharmacist if you take any medicines. For example, withaferin A seems to “looks like” a heart drug called digoxin.
- Stop taking the supplement at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- Don't take if you are pregnant/breastfeeding
Talk to your doctor if you have cancer. Your doctor may want you to avoid taking antioxidant supplements during radiation and chemotherapy.
What is PB123?
PB123 is the version of PB125 sold in Mexico, Central America and South America. It's similar to PB125 but not identical. PB123 contains the following ingredients:
- Ginger extract (6-gingerol)
There is no ashwagandha in PB123. In place of ashwagandha is ginger extract (6-gingerol). Evidence suggests this extract of ginger can activate Nrf2 in isolated cells.
While this is good, the reasons why ginger extract is used in place of ashwagandha are not known.
PB123 is sold via a partner of Pathways Bioscience called Activz (Activs.com). Another difference is the sale PB123 has a multi-level marketing component to it. In other words, people in Mexico, Central and South America can become independent distributor of PB123.
In the US, there is no multi-level aspect to PB125 .
1 Is the supplement patented?
Yes it is. The supplement was patented by Dr. Michael Hypertson and Dr. Joe McCord. It is US patent # WO2017041054A1. The patent also discusses other combinations of herbs which they call PB127, PB129 and PB131.
2 Is this a drug or supplement?
We are discussing a dietary supplement. There is no doubt about this. The company website explicitly states this too.
3 Do they ship internationally?
Not at this time. Right now, it's just sold/shipped in the US.
4 Is it made in America?
Yes. The bottles say “made in USA.”
5. Is there an autoship program?
No. There does not seem to be autoshipments. When you run out, go back to the website and order more. I actually liked this.
6. How many capsules do you take per day?
Only 1 capsule per day.
7. Can you take it on an empty stomach?
The company does not say either way.
8. Why do they call it PB 125
The letters PB refer to the company, Pathways Bioscience. As for the “125” I am not sure. Adding up the 3 ingredients in the supplement, comes to 100, not 125.
Can You Make Your Own?
I think this supplement is reasonably priced. It comes to about $25 a month. But, since some will ask if you could save money buy purchasing the individual ingredients, I'd say this might be possible. All 3 ingredients can be found on Amazon:
The only issue with doing this might be if PB125 undergoes special processing to concentrate the extracts in a way which is different from other companies.
Because ashwagandha is the common ingredient between PB125 and Progandim, some might wonder if they could just take this. But, in the supplement patent, they state the addition of luteolin produced a larger increase in NRF2 activation than the other ingredients.
In other words, the the company makes the argument all 3 ingredients produce a better effect than any single ingredient alone.
PB 125 Pro and Con
|Patented formula||Product lacks human clinical research|
|Ingredients raise NRF2 in preliminary research||Most studies on ingredients involve non-humans|
|Real scientists invented it||Some evidence cited is for a different supplement|
|No auto-ship program||Unknown if it reduces disease in humans|
|Each bottle lasts 2 months. Not expensive||Does it ↓TBARS/activate NRF2 in humans?|
Does PB125 Work?
I'd like to wait for human clinical studies before passing judgement. The ingredients seem logical from a “raising NRF2” perspective but the larger question is what does this mean in the long run? Would taking PB125 long-term make us healthier or lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, etc.? Let's see what their future studies say.