The Whole View, Season 3, Episode 80: Shady Supplements & Science Studies w/ Susanne Mitschke

Welcome CEO and Co-Founder of Citruslabs, Susanne Mitschke to The Whole View! Stacy and Susanne dive into what questions to ask as consumers when researching supplements and cosmetics and why transparency is key in finding brands that are meeting safety and efficacy standards. Susanne gives listeners a crash course in clinical trials, consumer perception studies, and in decoding substantiated product claims amid marketing fluff.

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Key Takeaways 

Introductions

  • Born and raised in Germany, Susanne lived in Austria and Scotland before calling Los Angeles her home since 201
  • She is an award-winning entrepreneur, co-founder, and CEO of Citruslabs. Founded in 2015, Citruslabs is the fastest-growing provider of clinical trials for brands. It has supported over 500 clinical trials with 150,000 participants enrolled covering supplements, skincare, medical devices, CBD, pet wellness, and FDA-regulated products and treatments with brands you would recognize7.
  • Furthermore, Forbes featured her on the 30 under 30 list twice!

Shady Supplements & Science Studies

  • What do all the terms mean? Clinical research is the field, while clinical studies is the subset that refers to efficacy and safety testing. The safety testing we see through most cosmetics are not tested through human clinical testing, but through toxicology tests in a lab. Clinical trials imply that researchers conducted the research on humans.
  • While there are some safety standards for over-the-counter products (OTC), most don’t need. There is a difference between safety testing and efficacy testing, as efficacy testing seeks to understand if the product actually work as their claims say they do.
  • Study design is important. So, a gold-standard design is a randomized control study that is double-blind, that involves a placebo. Studies should also involve biomarkers (like blood or stool samples). However, these can be very expensive for companies. It’s also not the only way to get information and can work well in conjunction with perception studies.
  • A perception study and a clinical study both aim to gather data to make claims, but they differ in terms of their methodology, rigor, and goals. While a perception study focuses on gaining insights into consumers’ perceptions and experiences, a clinical study is designed to produce robust, scientifically-validated results that can be used to support product claims. In short, a perception study is useful for gaining insights into consumers’ perceptions, while a clinical study is designed to produce robust, scientifically-validated results to support product claims [source].

Next Steps

  • Transparency from brands is key. How is the brand treating their research? Is it something they’re proud of? If a brand has a dedicated research page on their website, typically that’s a really good sign. Listing the clinical trial on ClinicalTrials.gov is also helpful, though not required.
  • At a minimum, if you’re at a store, and you’re not sure if you should buy a product or not, check their website. Look for a page that points you to a clinical study or gives more about the science. So if it just says “these are our claims” or “this is done by third party testing” with very little additional information, it’s hard to know what they’re research was really about.
  • Other questions to ask and answers to look for when looking at a brand, its claims, and studies:
    • Did they use existing research or was a study conducted on the actual product?
    • What was the study design?
    • How did they select the participants? What were the criteria?
    • What was the methodology behind the study?
    • Who conducted the study?
    • What was the research question and how long was the intervention period?

Studies, References & Products

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Note: Stacy and her guests are not medical professionals. This podcast is for general educational purposes and NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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