US company Mannatech may have rocked the gaming world with quasi-scientific claims that its products “may have a positive, direct effect on player performance, which can be a big advantage for competitive e-sports players or those just trying to take down the bad guys in their favorite game.”
The announcement may send shockwaves across a global gaming community already awash with claims of ‘hax’ and cheating and may now even bring Sharapova-levels of scandal to professional gaming tournaments which may now have to step up anti-doping strategies.
According to Mannatech themselves, research carried out by Mannatech using, “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trials published in peer reviewed journals have shown that Ambrotose powders can positively impact brainwaves associated with attention in young adults and improve memory and alertness in middle-aged adults.*”
The conspicuous asterisk unfortunately does not cite which independent, peer-reviewed publications these were but did clarify the following, “*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Nonetheless, the promise of ‘positively impacting brainwaves’ may resonate with the type of people who drink organic rosehip tea laced with supplements of horseradish DNA and Sycamore root. The burgeoning and highly-profitable antivax movement may also be interested. Any promise of increased gaming performance will likely resonate with at least a dozen-or-so young teenage gamers who live in the north of Sydney, Australia who equate and adjectify the term ‘MLG’ with excellence and believe Doritos and Mountain Dew clearly provide the best nutrition for gamers.
Mannatech apparently has a history of innovation in this field. According to its own press release it is “the founder of the M5MSM, the Pioneer of Glyconutrition and the global innovator of naturally sourced supplements based on Real Food Technology® solutions” and presumably some other bollocks too. Its promotional video is both eye-opening and mouth-opening.
Mannatech’s in-house doctor, doctor Rolando Maddela, said, “We have found in previous studies that Ambrotose powder may give a helpful boost in memory, focus and attention as well as having perceived beneficial changes in well-being... For some involved in video games, Ambrotose products may give the competitive advantage they are looking for. For others it may make the video game playing experience simply more enjoyable.* Just four grams per day of Advanced Ambrotose® powder or Ambrotose Complex, taken according to directions, would be expected to support gamers’ performance.”*
The science of the claims revolves around this impressive-sounding gumpf, “Mannatech’s Ambrotose powders are based on the company’s pioneering development of Glyconutritional technology. Glyconutritional technology encourages cellular communication and is shown to support cognitive functions – including memory, focus and attention, as well as supporting the body’s immune and digestive systems to encourage overall health.*”
The top Google hit for “Glyconutritional” comes up with the following, eloquent statement from yet another doctor: “Glyconutrition is, I believe, one of the health technologies which is already impacting the health world. It has earned four Nobel Prizes in the last eight offered in the field of medicine, which is a powerful testimony in and of itself.
“However, glyconutrition is already referred to as one of the top ten technologies which will change our world. That is the position of the prestigious M.I.T. referencing this field of “glycomics” (a commonly used scientific name), which is the field of glyconutrition (popularized name among scientists and laity alike).”
Google lists many similar web pages all of which coincidentally are promoting products. However, in stark contrast is the following paper from a website calling itself the Oxford Journals from the Oxford University Press. The abstract reads, “The discipline of glycobiology contributes to our understanding of human health and disease through research, most of which is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Recently, legitimate discoveries in glycobiology have been used as marketing tools to help sell plant extracts termed “glyconutrients.” The glyconutrient industry has a worldwide sales force of over half a million people and sells nearly half a billion dollars (USD) of products annually. Here we address the relationship between glyconutrients and glycobiology, and how glyconutrient claims may impact the public and our discipline.”
The paper is titled, “A Glyconutrient Sham” but it only comes a lowly fourth in the Google ranking which confirms that it’s a less popular viewpoint. It’s difficult to know who to believe.
PC World has requested some of the product and aims to test the claims made by Mannatech in the near future. We hope to either confirm the “science*” behind the claims or dismiss them as homeopathic bullshit summed up by Tim Minchin thusly, “What do you call “alternative medicine” that works? Answer: Medicine.”
We spoke to Tony Trubridge, manager of top Australian pro gaming outfit, Team Immunity. He explained how doping in ESL’s professional gaming tournaments came to the forefront last year when top players openly bragged about using Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug, Adderall in tournaments. While the disturbing nature of the claims weren’t directly tested, moves were made by tournament organisers and team managers to include clauses in contracts which proscribed any potentially-performance enhancing drug taking. This wasn’t backed up with stringent testing environments and penalties, however, and only random drug testing has ever subsequently occurred with no high-profile failures being recorded. Whether Ambrotose powder is as potent as Adderall, Pseudoephedrine or even Mountain Dew remains a mystery.