Young asian woman jogging at the park - by Doug Cook RD

Can Thrive Patch Help You Lose Weight?

Young asian woman jogging at the park - by Doug Cook RD

 

The Thrive Patch is a weight loss product that you apply to your skin.

 

According to the manufacturer, Le-vel, the patch is part of the foundation of their 8-week weight loss program.

 

The Thrive Patch, and the program, promises “ultra premium results, with benefits such as improved health, wellness, and fitness, as well as, weight management and nutritional support”. Not surprisingly, there are loads of other Thrive Patch products to buy for even greater results.

 

This article reviews whether or not there’s any evidence to support the program and product claims.

What is Thrive Patch?

The patches are part of the overall THRIVE experience, an 8-week premium lifestyle system which will help you “experience and reach peak physical and mental levels” (1). It consists of three steps including:

  • Premium lifestyle capsules (multivitamins with minerals)
  • Ultra micronized shake mix (very low calorie, protein shake)
  • Lifestyle Derma Fusion Technology (DFT) patches (various ‘weight loss’ and health-boosting ingredients)

 

Step 1 – take 2 Thrive premium lifestyle capsules on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up

Step 2 – take an ultra micronized shake mix 20 minutes later

Step 3 – apply one of the patches to dry skin in the morning and then change it out for a fresh one in the afternoon

 

The patch and the program is part of a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that’s got a large global reach. In short, anyone who’s promoting the product is in essence, an ’employee’; one of thousands of sales reps.

 

The Thrive Patch uses what they referred to as Derma Fusion Technology (DFT); a type of transdermal delivery of the active ingredients. Transdermal patches aren’t new. It’s a medicated adhesive patch that is placed on the skin to deliver a specific dose of medication through the skin and into the bloodstream. A common use with with nicotine replacement therapy.

How does Thrive Patch even work?

In addition to taking lots of supplements that include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and probiotics, as well as, the protein shake, the patch provides a host of ingredients to support the THRIVE 8-Week Experience. The patches’ various ingredients are advertised to promote “clean and healthy weight management and an overall healthy lifestyle”.

 

With patches on for 24 hours a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, they’re said to deliver 24 hours of weight loss nutritional support. But do they?

 

No research has been conducted to on the products to assess whether or not they are effective for weight loss. Even though some of the patches’ ingredients have been studied, those results can’t be automatically extended to any of the patches.

 

However, it’s unclear how much of these ingredients the Le-Vel products contain and whether they’re available in quantities high enough to have any effect.

Thrive Patch. The ingredients.

Forslean

This is the commercial name for the herb Coleus forskohlii, a common herb in Ayurvedic medicine. A member of the mint family, the herb has traditionally used to treat pain, inflammation, reducing digestive issues and improving the skin.

 

Coleus forskohlii has been studied for weight loss. One double-blind, randomized trial took 23 mildly overweight females who were given 250 mg of Forslean twice a day for 3 months. The herb seemed to slow gains in body mass (2).

 

In another study, coleus forskohlii’s effect on body composition, testosterone, metabolic rate, and blood pressure in overweight and obese men was examined. They also used 250 mg, twice a day for 12 weeks and found favourable effects on body composition while increasing bone mass and testosterone levels (3).

 

These studies used supplemental Forslean capsules in a specific dose; 250 mg per capsule, standardized to contain 10% of the active ingredient coleus forskohlii. Research on transdermal Forslean has not been done and therefore it’s unknown if patches will deliver Forslean to the body in the same way. Even if the herb could be detected in the blood using the Thrive Patch, whether or not it would be at a therapeutic level is unknown.

 

Green coffee beans in a mug - by Doug Cook RD

 

Green  coffee bean extract

This ingredient hit the market a few years ago, also promoted as a weight loss ingredient. Green coffee bean extract is extracted from coffee beans that haven’t been roasted which are rich in chlorogenic acid.

 

Green coffee bean extract, and by extension, chlorogenic acid, has been promoted to support weight loss but blocking the absorption of carbs, improving insulin sensitivity and fat loss.

 

A study of 12 healthy people found that chlorogenic acid reduced the absorption of glucose (post digestion of dietary carbohydrate) by 6.9% compared to placebo (4). In another study, 30 obese subjects given chlorogenic-enriched coffee over a 12 week period resulted in a 5.4 kg weight loss compared to only 1.7 kg in those receiving regular coffee (4).

 

Not all studies found similar results however. A randomized trial of 28 subjects saw no change in their BMI after weeks of chlorogenic supplementation  (5)

Garcinia cambogia

This has been around and promoted for weight loss for years and years with a recent resurgence.

 

Garcinia cambogia is a fruit that resembles a pumpkin with yellow/greenish fruit (6). Supplements are made from extracts of the fruit’s peel. It’s the peel that contains high amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA).

 

HCA has been promoted to suppress appetite, increase energy expenditure (burn fat), and improve athletic performance.  Regarding its effectiveness with weight loss, not surprisingly there’s been mixed results. Some studies have found benefit, including a meta-analysis that found a statistically significant difference in weight loss favouring HCA (7, 8, 9).

 

On the other hand, a 12 week, placebo-controlled trial that included 135 overweight subjects failed to find any benefit in weight loss from HCA (10).

Coenzyme Q10

Also known as ubiquinone (oxidized state), or ubiquinol (reduced state), coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a molecule that supports energy production the mitochondria of your cells. Mitochondria can be thought of as the ‘power generators’ of your cells converting oxygen and food energy into ATP – the  chemical energy currency that powers your cells metabolic activities.

 

CoQ10 is produced by the body and of course can be purchased as a supplement. Foods rich in CoQ10 are those that have high energy demands such as heart, kidney and liver. It is also found in beef, chicken, herring, sardines,  and peanuts.

 

Supplemental CoQ10 has been shown to have some general heath benefits like reducing oxidation of fatty tissues, reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia and Peyronile’s disease, improve endothelial dysfunction, and increase exercise capacity after a heart attack (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

 

However, when it comes to increasing fat burning or energy expenditure, or any of the other claims attributed to Thrive Patch, there’s simply no evidence that CoQ10 supports weight loss at all.

 

Coenzyme Q10 molecular structure - by Doug Cook RD

 

White willow bark

This is humanity’s first generation pain killer. White willow bark contains salicin, a compound that’s similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the analgesic found in Aspirin.

 

White willow bark has been used to relieve pain, headaches, and inflammation for centuries in Europe and China. Hippocrates recorded the use of a powder made from the bark and leaves from the willow tree to treat headaches, pains and fevers.

 

While white willow bark and its active ingredient salicin might have been great as a low dose pain killer back in the day, no research has demonstrated that it helps with weight loss. Beyond websites with unsubstantiated ‘opinions’, PubMed Central and other trusted sites don’t have any cataloged high-quality studies on this ingredient. Why it’s included in the Thrive Patch product line is more than a mystery.

Cosmoperine

Cosmoperine is just the trade name for an ingredient derived from black pepper: tetrahydropiperine. According to a Cosmoperine website, “when included with other biological actives, it enhances their bioavailability and utilization”.

 

Cosmoperine is used in the cosmetic industry, hence “cosmo”, to supposedly increase the ingredients’ penetration of the skin including Coleus Forskohlii and others. The suggestion is that Cosmoperine is partly responsible for the patch’s DFT, thereby enhancing the transdermal absorption of the patch’s ingredients.

 

Aloe vera fresh leaf on the wooden table.

Aloe vera

As part of the patch’s ingredients which are advertised to support weight management, mental acuity, appetite management, energy and metabolism, aloe vera has been part of the natural healing circles for centuries.

 

Aloe is part of a group of plants referred to as succulents. Aloe has been promoted and studied for various health benefits (18). These include treating constipation, diabetic food ulcers, sunburns, IBS, depression and more but with little to no meaningful benefits (19, 20, 21, 22, 23).

 

Regarding aloe’s role in the patch, like some of the other ingredients, it’s unclear why it’s there. Regardless of any efficacy, any amount of aloe in the patch is likely infinitesimal. Keeping in mind that studies on aloe used much higher doses (e.g. several pills per day or several ounces of aloe juice) than could ever be jam packed into a Thrive Patch.

Limonene

Limonene is a compound also known as lemon extract. It is naturally found in high amounts in lemon juice, as well as, citrus peel and citrus pulp. It is found in very high amounts in traditional lemonades too.

 

Preliminary studies have shown limonene to exert anti-cancer effects and it may help to reduce fat buildup in the liver. But, how this fits in with the THRIVE experience is unknown.

 

There hasn’t been any claims made for limonene that are line with those made by the Thrive Patch and it’s unlikely any can/will be. Also, dosages of limonene needed for the benefits mentioned above are in the 1000 mg per day ballpark. The patch just couldn’t compete with that nor could they deliver any limonene-related promise.

L-arginine

An amino acid found in the diet, L-arginine is also a popular dietary supplement used by athletic-oriented and active people. Arginine is used to make nitric oxide, a molecule that increases blood vessel dilation or relaxation. The hope is that blood vessels that are more relaxed will increase blood flow, thereby delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the body, including working muscles.

 

Unfortunately, this effect does not stand up to the scrutiny of well designed studies. While some observed effects have been noted, they haven’t translated into improved benefits with any clinically meaningful impact (24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

 

If and when any benefits are discovered to justify L-arginine’s inclusion in the Thrive Patch, I’ll update this post.

 

Molecular structure of L-arginine (important amino acid)

Transdermal delivery

As already mentioned, Derma Fusion Technology (DFT) is a reboot (word exaggeration?) of the already established principle of Transdermal drug delivery. Nothing new with this concept but perhaps a focus group preferred the buzz or sound DFT instead?

 

Transdermal delivery means that a compound or molecule is absorbed through the dermal layer, e.g. “skin”, and into the blood stream. It’s been around for many years. The most common use is a nicotine patch to help people manage the withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation (29). Patches are easy to use but technically, aren’t even necessary. Analgesic creams (Aspercreme, Voltaren), or Androgel for testosterone replacement are other good examples of transdermal drug delivery.

 

The real crux of the matter when it comes to Thrive Patch, is that it’s unclear how much of the active ingredients are in the patches. It’s equally unclear whether they’re present in sufficient amounts to have any therapeutic effect.

 

On top of that, I also can’t find any research demonstrating that DFT is effective at delivery any of the ingredients into the circulation let alone at concentrations to be effective, even if the ingredients have any demonstrated benefits.

Thrive Patch safety and side effects

Not surprisingly, Thrive Patch is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women (30). This is just prudent advice like most supplements carry.

 

Also not surprisingly, the Le-Vel website doesn’t list any possible side effects. This is because, in part, it would be bad for business but also because to the best of my knowledge, the products haven’t been rigorously studied.

 

However, there are review websites and forums that have listed anecdotal and alleged side effects, such skin rashes at the site of the patch. Other complaints include nausea, palpitations and headaches.

 

Getting clear, unbiased information on side effects remains challenging without research using the actual products themselves.

Bottom line

The Thrive Patch claims to provide “ultra premium results, with benefits such as improved health, wellness, and fitness, as well as, weight management and nutritional support” along with “improved mental acuity, appetite management, energy and metabolism”. A very tall order indeed.

 

Though some of the ingredients have various health benefits, any research done on them cannot be extended to the patches. The dosages used in other studies are going to be very different (as in much higher) compared to the amount in any of patches.

 

It’s also unclear whether the patch’s dermal fusion technology can deliver these ingredients through your skin both effectively and in sufficient amounts.

 

It’s true that the product line has received many positive reviews, but it’s also true that many people that use it, and love it, also sell it. As a MLM company, this makes it difficult to differentiate between genuine recommendations and sales pitches.

 

We need good quality research! Without it, it’s impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions.

 

As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Doug Cook RDN is a Toronto based integrative and functional nutritionist and dietitian with a focus on digestive, gut, and mental health.  Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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