Rising To The Challenge
While it's clear that exercise causes HSP to rise, studies show the natural activation process can take three hours or more after the stress begins. Now, however, a new fitness supplement called PrePair claims to give HSP a gentle nudge, causing levels to rise as soon as 15 minutes after a workout starts. And it does so using an extract made from the skin of the prickly pear cactus fruit.
"The extract mobilizes your natural supply of heat shock proteins almost immediately after the body experiences stress - which in turn helps the repair process to begin right away," says Marilyn Booker, the clinical director of Perfect Equation, the company that distributes PrePair in the U.S.
It is because of that ultra quick HSP response that Booker says athletes are less likely to feel fatigue, and have a greater ability to workout harder and longer with less risk of muscle damage or post workout pain.
The key ingredient in PrePair is called Tex-OE, extracted from the skin of the cactus fruit. According Booker, what makes PrePair different from other prickly pear cactus sources is the patented process that separates the extract from the fibrous skin - intrinsic, she says, to obtaining results.
"Fiber prevents the extract from being absorbed by the body - so in order to gain the benefits we had to develop a patented process that separates the extract from the fibrous skin, " Booker tells WebMD.
It also allows the supplement to last in the body up to three days - but, says Booker, "If your muscles aren't under stress, the heat shock proteins won't rise."
And the company offers some human, cell culture, and animal studies to back up their claims. Human studies conducted by the company on divers, cyclists, and runners found those who took PrePair claimed to have roughly twice the strength, distance or stamina they did before.
But while results are impressive, it's important to note that PrePair's studies were small, and not published in any medical journal, which means they were not subject to review by experts who could verify either the results, or the conditions under which the testing was carried out.