Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Colorodo High School Bans Spike Energy Drink After Students Become Sick

According to a video report by CNN, Doherty High School, in Colorado Springs, Colorado has banned it's students from consuming Biotest's Spike Shooters Energy Drink after "In a span of a week, 18 Doherty High School students [...] reported becoming, after drinking an energy drink called "Spike Shooter". The principle of the school banned the drink "on campus" and then "convinced a near-by convenience store to pull [Spike Shooters] off the shelves".

Dr. Jill Martin, the high school's principle, is quoted as saying "If this product is so potent that you have to read the instructions and consider whether to drink it or not something is wrong." Although CNN clearly points out that the label states very clearly that drink should not be consumed by anyone under eighteen. However, it is unreported at this point as to whether any of the students at the high school who consumed the energy drink and reported sickness were over this age, one girl in the report, a 14 year old diabetic, Rachael Woodrum (I'm unsure if I am spelling her name correctly due to a lack of transcript of the video), consumed the drink and become violently ill. According to doctors, the drink may have actually increased her metabolism, something that would be a selling point for any supplement product on the market that would advertise itself for weight loss.

Yet, there appears to be a discrepancy in the report and what is actually written on the products label. An image from the video clearly shows that the label reads: "WARNING: DO NOT IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 OR ELDERLY." (I wonder what the standard age for "elderly" is? When you can get the seniors special at IHOP or your hair starts turning gray?) But, on a can of Spike Shooter I purchased a few weeks ago at Vitamin Shoppe, the label reads
"...IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 16 OF ELDERLY." This is also reflected on the label on the Bodybuilding.com store. This is quite a strange age range to limit users of a dietary supplement to (as Spike Shooter would be classified as a dietary supplement). Click the thumbnail image below to view the enlarged label as shown in the CNN video report.

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Warning: Extremely Potent

Spike Shooter is an offshoot energy product, introduced by BioTest Laboratories last August. It was initially only sold in cases of 48 off of the Biotest/T-Nation website. Although it is known that Spike is a creation of Biotest, the manufacturer on the can and in the interview is listed as Spike LLC, possibly a move by the company to limit it's liability in case lawsuits start flying. The original incarnation of Spike is an energy pill, which contains a completely different set of ingredients than the Spike Shooter drink, although both have identical packaging. The Spike energy pill comes as a single serving size tablet, which contains a proprietary formula called T-MAX. The ingredients of T-MAX are labeled as:

Spike Tablet: 400 mg
-T-MAX™[Biotest proprietary thiamine di(2-methylpropionate) disulfide], caffeine

It is believed that this is nomenclature for a "gray area" compound known as Sulbutiamine. Sulbutiamine is sold as a drug in some countries, and is precursor to thiamine (Vitamin B1). It's known as a stimulant and a nootropic (smart drug). The caffeine is included to enhance the stimulant effects of the compound, although a caffeine free version of the Spike tablets are available. Spike tablets were sold at stores such as Walmart and Walgreens for a time, but recently mysteriously disappeared off the shelves, while other similar fat burners and energy pills, such as VPX Redline, continue to be available. Reviews of Spike tablets have been mixed, however, other supplement companies have added this same ingredient to their post-ephedra stimulant products, such as Anabolic Xtreme's Stimulant X.

Spike Shooter has a completely different formula than it's predecessor, and sets itself apart from most energy drinks in that it isn't loaded with sugar as one of it's main ingredients. Spike Shooter contains no calories, no carbohydrates, no fat, no protein and no sugar. The first major ingredient on the can is Vitamin B12 in the form methylcobalamin, a version of B12 mostly studied for reducing homocysteine levels, but also thought to be more effective in areas of the brain. The rest of it's ingredients are also in the form of a proprietary blend.

Two of the most controversial ingredients in this product are Yohimbine HCL (incorrectly labeled here as "Yohimbe HCL" (a non-existant ingredient - either a typo on this printed label or from the manufacturer) and the staggering 300mg of caffeine.

Yohimbine HCL is another "gray area" supplements that is also sold as a drug in other countries for erectile dysfunction, but classified in the US as an "Unclassified Therapeutic Agent" according to the PDR. Prior to a few underground manufacturers selling this synthetic alkaloid, it was only available as Yohimbe, often standardized for Yohimbine, which is thought to be the alkaloid responsible for it's main effects on libido and fat burning by way of blocking alpha(2) adrenoreceptors, responsible for fat storage. α2 receptor sites are located in areas known for fat storage, such as abdominal adipose tissue. Yohimbe and Yohimbine also have a very low dosage required for its stimulating effects, with users not recommended to take more than 3mg at a single serving. Since Spike Shooter has a proprietary blend, it is unknown how much Yohimbine HCL is in the drink, although it is the last one listed, so it should be the smallest dose in the formula.

At the top of the Spike Shooter can it reads "WARNING: EXTREMELY POTENT" and "READ LABEL BEFORE DRINKING", which is what the high school's principle was referring to, quoted above. Whether or not this is a marketing technique or an actual warning is up for debate.

Irregular Heart beat After One Can?

The reporter of the story decided to test out Spike Shooter for himself. He claimed to have a healthy heart history, works out several times a week, and drinks several cups of coffee a day. It's unknown whether or not he had any coffee prior to his ingestion of the Spike Shooter drink that day. However, he had a doctor hook him up to an EKG machine and test his results before and after drinking the can of Spike. Before consuming the drink, his heart results were normal, according to the exam. Afterwards, not only did his blood pressure rise, but he reported developed an irregular heart beat - an extremely dangerous side effect for a simple OTC energy drink. This is exactly the same problems that were reported with ephedra before its ban, and now it appears Spike, and possibly even Yohimbine, might be headed towards that same road.

Double Standards?

Despite the fact that CNN was extremely critical of the Spike Shooter drink, they don't seem to have any problems with advertising some of the same (and competing) energy drinks mentioned in this article on their site. As I was doing a search for a text version of the article I could link to for this blog post, I noticed the following advertisements at the top of CNN's "Sponsored Results". Click the thumbnail image below to view the full image.

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You can view the full report on this story from CNN through YouTube in the embedded player below. Feel free to post your comments.

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