An energy drink you’re not supposed to swallow? I had to check this out for myself. This was an opportunity to experiment with something novel, and yet, this experience was something many consumers encounter at one point or another — suspicion of unfamiliar chemicals and ingredients.
Supplement Savvy Step ONE: Understanding the Product’s Purpose
Swish Energy is a unique product — it’s not exactly an energy drink because you’re not supposed to swallow it. It’s more of an energy mouthwash. This is a brilliant concept; it’s an untapped market. It’s true that some caffeine is absorbed sublingually (beneath the tongue), and this delivery system is less susceptible to the complaints the FDA had with the “caffeine inhaler” idea (read the FDA’s warning letter), or caffeinated gum (GEG rant here).
Step TWO: What to Ask BEFORE you buy
There are three questions you need answers to before you buy a new supplement. You may not always get the truth to these three questions, but asking them may eliminate some of the most shady products from your cart. First, figure out where the product is manufactured. Something “Made in the USA” might still be coming from someone’s basement, but at least that manufacturing location will be subject to FDA regulations. Yes, there are regulations for supplements, too.
Second, figure out who’s selling the product to you. If it’s a sales-person with no science background just reading a script, buyer-beware. If the product’s founders have a background in pharmaceuticals, chemistry or food science, that is better than someone who is just an entrepreneur with a Scientific Advisory Board. When the CEO is a scientist and not just a business-person, it’s more likely they’re going to make decisions based on food science.
Third, find a picture of the actual label — facts panel and ingredient statement. This is often the most important part, and will tell you more than any of the claims on the front of the label. Once you’ve got a picture of the facts panel and ingredient statement, you’re ready for Supplement Savvy Step THREE!
Step THREE: How to Research Unfamiliar Ingredients and/or Chemicals
As John Coupland once said, “I tried avoiding ingredients I can’t pronounce, but sadly I can pronounce them all.” Like Dr. Coupland, I understand the point behind the “pronounceable ingredients only” strategy, but I can’t take such advice seriously when I know so many people who can’t properly pronounce “acai” and “quinoa”.
Before you shell out your hard-earned cash on a new supplement, it’s worth your time to do a Google-search on the ingredients in the product you’re considering. BEWARE – there is a LOT of awful misinformation on the internet, so always look at multiple sources (the product’s own site and Wikipedia don’t count). The more you populate your Favorites list with sites and sources you know are credible, the quicker and more reliable your search is going to be.