He & his co-inventor, Prof Rod Mackinnon, stumbled upon the power of hot, spicy substances helping muscles to stop cramping.
He shares some great information on why muscles cramp and how it is not just a lack of electrolytes or dehydration, but tired nerves!
I enjoyed this interview as it just highlights how we think we know what causes something then a new breakthrough discovers a whole new way to help optimise our bodies.
Special thanks to Prof. Bruce Bean for joining me on the show. Enjoy the episode!
] – Introducing Dr Bruce Bean, Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and co-inventor of HOTSHOT
] – Bruce talks about the beginnings of the natural cramp remedy called HOTSHOT
. How a shared interest in ocean kayaking with Professor Roderick MacKinnon
– who is also a research neurophysiologist and Nobel prize winner for chemistry
– led to an interest into what causes muscles to cramp. [2.01
] – Research showed that everything we had been taught about muscle cramping turned out to be wrong; it’s not caused by dehydration, it’s not caused by electrolyte depletion or the build-up of lactic acid. Bruce explains how, it is the motor neurons that control the skeletal muscle itself that suffers a mini-seizure and that is what causes a muscle to cramp. This knowledge led to self-experimentation with various remedies until finally, the finished version of HOTSHOT was born. [3:33
] – How information about the real cause of muscle cramping – uncovered by researchers such as Martin Schwellnus, an exercise physiologist in South Africa, among others – informed Bruce and Roderick who then focused on finding the remedy. (ref
] – Dehydration being the culprit for muscle cramps is a common misconception. There are unfortunate cases of people having died due to drinking too much water/electrolyte solution when suffering muscle cramps, thinking it was due to dehydration; too much water/electrolyte solution can lower blood sodium to dangerous levels. (Listen to Dr James DiNicolantonio
about getting more salt) (Read Prof Tim Noakes book Waterlogged from Amazon
for more detail on this problem in runners and sports men and women) [5:32
] – Bruce explains that, as far as he is aware, there is no real scientific evidence confirming that magnesium helps cramping, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence so it might be working on a neurological level. HOTSHOT underwent rigorous controlled studies to confirm that it works, the only other remedy that underwent such testing is Quinine; which can no longer be used in the US due to serious side-effects. (FDA ref
] – Research showed that HOTSHOT causes a significant reduction in muscle cramping (reduced by roughly about half). (ref
] – When runners talk about pickle juice, what are they talking about and how is that different? HOTSHOT is completely different in its composition, but because pickle juice contains acetic acid it could have a similar mechanism. Bruce explains how HOTSHOT and acetic acid both activate TRP (transient receptor potential) ion channels. HOTSHOT stimulates nerves more effectively with an added benefit of being far more palatable than acetic acid! [8:32
] – HOTSHOT stimulates neurones in the mouth, oesophagus, and stomach. Bruce explains the hypothesis behind this; the cramping results from the excessive activity of the motor neurons in the spinal cord that control the muscles, there is a balance between inhibition and excitation in nerve circuits, the imbalance in the direction of excitation from the motoneurons results in cramping. Strong input into the circuit from somewhere else – in this case, the mouth oesophagus, and stomach – damps down the motor neurons producing the cramping. [10:25
] – Bruce explains the hypotheses that because these sensory nerves in the mouth, oesophagus and stomach are being stimulated, neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin may be modified. This is similar to vagal stimulation, which is being used as a treatment for epilepsy. [12:35
] – What might make someone more prone to cramping during sporting events? Bruce speculates that it could be that there is something different about their modulatory transmitter systems, which vary a lot between individuals. [12:58
] – The fact that the cramping always occurs in the muscle that is used repetitively indicates it is not a lack of electrolytes in the blood that causes this. [14:19
] – HOTSHOT is completely natural with plant based ingredients, it’s organic, it’s NSF certified (which is important for professional athletes), it’s non-invasive and much safer than taking Quinine. [15:18
] – Talking about biohacking and how both Bruce and Roderick experimented on themselves to come up with a solution. [17:20
] – The name HOTSHOT implies the ingredients are spicy or hot. Is that the best way to describe them? Yes, there is a sensation of warmth, the different receptors that are being stimulated are the same receptors that are activated by capsaicin, ginger and cinnamon. [19:11
] – HOTSHOT is mild and nothing like biting into a chilli! However, individuals who are particularly sensitive to hot food might not like it. Large majority enjoy it and even most of the individuals who are not fond of spicy food are happy to take it if it helps with muscle cramping. [20:40
] – As far as Bruce is aware, HOTSHOT does not cause heartburn or other side-effects. Camille Herron from the USA was the 2017 Comrades Marathon ladies winner
. Camille had HOTSHOT as part of her racing gear on the day of the event; Bruce tells us how the first people who were really interested in HOTSHOT were, in fact, ultra-marathon runners and Ironman triathletes. [22:09
] – Could golfers also benefit from taking HOTSHOT? They suffer from the yips, a tremor in their hands. Bruce explains how HOTSHOT has not been tested for this yet, but it would be interesting to see if it could help golfers. [22:58
] – Because HOTSHOT affects the nervous system it could potentially help with a multitude of situations where the nervous system gets over excited. Bruce explains that people shouldn’t fear experimenting with HOTSHOT as it is a completely natural product and there are no side-effects! [23:57
] – What about dosage? Because it works on the nervous system it is not dosed in the same way other drugs are. Most people find the 50ml shot it’s packaged in, is an optimal dose regardless of their size. It can be taken all at once, or half now half 5 min later, or some people even take it before, during and then again after training. It is really up to the individual. [25:43
] – Bruce talks about experimenting with different methods of taking HOTSHOT. People can try swirling it around the mouth and gargling to test what gives them the best effect as it probably varies from person to person. Some effects have even been seen when it’s just gargled and spat out. [27:13
] – There are no experiments done around taking HOTSHOT for night cramps, but it is perfectly safe to try it. Bruce shares how it helped him personally. Gary suggests people who suffer from tension headaches or tension in their neck and shoulders should also give HOTSHOT a try. (Maybe even for some low carb cramp side-effects or possibly keto-flu symptoms
, but the 10g of carbs per serving might be too much for some) [29:50
] – Because HOTSHOT is natural, organic and safe to use Bruce encourages people, in the spirit of self-experimentation, to give it a go. [30:37
] – For caffeine sensitive individuals HOTSHOT might be an alternative way to perk up in the morning. Could it also be helpful with hangovers or help students with studying? Bruce shares a story about, James Develin, professional NFL football player being a regular HOTSHOT user. [32:18
] – HOTSHOT is available to purchase on the official website or on Amazon
Now it’s time to share your thoughts.