So we were interested to see that SD Pharmaceuticals was selling a supplement called Creatine HCL, supposedly a more concentrated version. The improved solubility of SD Pharmaceuticals Creatine HCL means there’s no water retention – at least according to the manufacturer. But since creatine of any kind is known to add water to muscle tissue, we were a little skeptical about that claim. So we looked a little closer at both the company and the product, and this is what we found:
Athletes have been using creatine since the sixties, and after thirty years it became popular as a dietary supplement. It’s created in the body and is also in foods such as meat, fish, and eggs.
Creatine HCL itself is regular creatine, but bound with hydrochloric acid, which may sound dangerous, but that’s exactly the kind of acid in your stomach. In theory, creatine HCL is more soluble in water than regular creatine. But there’s been no research as yet to prove that solubility makes it more effective.
There’s been some concern that high doses of creatine of any kind can have an adverse effect on the kidneys, liver, or heart. That may or may not be the case, but what is definite is that creatine causes your muscles to draw water from elsewhere in your body, which can cause dehydration.
In some cases, creatine can cause gastric upset and possibly even muscle cramps.
Since SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL isn’t available to buy through the manufacturer’s website, we checked through the online retailers listed there.
We found some of them listing its suggested retail price as high as $59.99, but then knocking the price back down again to just under $40.00, just like pretty well everyone else who carries it.
Then again, other retailers listed on the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website don’t seem to carry it at all.
Even though SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL doesn’t appear on Amazon, that’s not to say there’s a lot of other creatine HCL products on sale there. And many of those alternatives cost about half the price of SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL – if not less.
Since there wasn’t any of SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL on Amazon, we couldn’t get a decent overall picture from the reviews that would have been left there. So we went back to the company website to check the product out a bit more and discovered that in the six years the company’s been in operation, the two people running it (and presumably overseeing its website) have seen fit to write and upload two whole blog posts in all that time.
It’s things like that which gives us very little confidence in the company or the product, so to be on the safe side we’re going to reject SD Pharmaceuticals.
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Creatine is a molecule the body produces to benefit the brain, liver, heart, bones, and muscles. It’s also found in meat, fish, and eggs, so it’s possible that you’re getting enough in your diet and producing enough in your body already.
Creatine supplements in general tend to be used by athletes looking for more muscle power. But at the start of any course of creatine, muscles will grow, but only because they leach water from the rest of the body. That means most of that growth is just additional water, and why it’s essential to hydrate properly while exercising if you’re taking a course of creatine of any kind.
Some experts recommend starting a course of any kind of creatine HCL with higher doses at the beginning (the “loading” stage), and then continuing with lower doses (the “maintenance” stage).
Other experts think that there’s not much point in loading with creatine for very long, because your muscles are going to get saturated within a matter of just a few days.
SD Pharmaceuticals just tell users to take 4 750-mg scoops (no more, no less) a day for “a minimum of 4 weeks”.
There are several different forms of creatine on the market today, but whether creatine HCL is superior to any of them remains to be seen. In fact, many experts agree that there’s not much difference between the types of creatine and that the cheapest form, creatine monohydrate, is on a par with most of the others anyway.
From the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website,
“Muscle, Strength & Performance
No Unwanted Side Effects”
So now you know.
It depends on what you want it to do. If you want to lose weight, then no, it definitely won’t work – at least to start with when your muscles will be absorbing so much extra water. We’re told that since muscle tissue is about 73% water, if you put on 10 pounds of muscle, 7.3 pounds of that gained weight would be water.
If you just wanted creatine for the extra energy it could provide for quick bursts of activity, such as lifting weights and sprinting, then yes, SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL does work. That’s because it helps speed up the generation of energy within cells, leading to an increase in the amount of work they can do.
Each serving contains 750 mg Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL), or to give it its full chemical name Glycine, N-(aminoiminomethyl)-N-methyl-, monohydrochloride. That’s according to the product website, but we also found the image of a sample pack elsewhere on the web.
This told us it also contained sucralose, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, malic acid, and acesulfame potassium. These were listed as “non-medicinal” ingredients.
Whether these ingredients were deliberately omitted from the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website it’s hard to say. But our guess is that since the product information on the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website lists those 750 mg of creatine HCL as the “medicinal” ingredient, then yes, that omission could well have been deliberate.
Perhaps the answer is in the next section: “Side effects”.
WebMD says that creatine is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in high doses. It doesn’t say how high those doses have to be before they’re considered possibly unsafe, but we’ve come across bodybuilding websites talking about loading dosages many times bigger than the 750-mg scoop SD Pharma suggests.
We’re often told creatine can possibly harm the liver, kidneys, or heart, and perhaps even cause anxiety as well. And we’re often told that no, creatine doesn’t cause any of that. However experts do agree that, because creatine draws water from the rest of the body into muscle tissue, there’s cause for concern because of dehydration.
As for any of those other, “non-medicinal” ingredients? One of them, acesulfame potassium, contains methylene chloride, which can also be found in paint stripper, degreaser, and propellant gas.
Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, mental confusion, liver and kidney problems, nausea, and visual disturbances.
It’s also carcinogenic. Perhaps that’s why it’s not mentioned on the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website as an ingredient.
From the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website, “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Not intended for use by persons under the age of 18. Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you have a kidney disorder. May result in weight gain. Ensure to drink enough fluid before, during and after exercise. Store under normal storage conditions (dry, well-ventilated premises at 15-25ºC).”
Not really. And that’s the scary part. We had to go all the way to New Zealand (figuratively speaking) before we found one, and that was about the, “extremely sweet highly citrusy kind of flavour”.
But then we headed back to Canada, SD Pharmaceuticals homeland, and despite all the claims that creatine HCL was so, so much more soluble than regular creatine, we found this review,
With water alone though, the scooped powder tended to mix poorly. It globbed into a bolus and just sank to the bottom. I’d have to stir the water with a spoon, and chug it before the ball of wet powder sunk to the bottom again.
SD Pharmaceuticals doesn’t give us that usual spiel that we’re going to love SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL, most likely because they just make the stuff and leave the sales spiels to all the other retailers instead.
Then again, there’s not much in the way of sales-y anything on retailers’ websites, but it’s quite possible a few of them offer some kind of money-back option.
You’ll have to check with the retailer that appeals most to you.
Well, you’re not going to find it for sale on the SD Pharmaceuticals website, but there’s a “Where to buy” link there that takes you to several further links. These are mainly Canadian companies, which may or may not ship to the US, even though the website does say, “FOR U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY” in capital letters.
We didn’t find any SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL on eBay or Amazon when we last looked, but then again when we find any kind of supplement product there we tend to wonder whether it’s being sold by a disillusioned multi-level marketing ex-distributor.
According to the SD Pharma’s Creatine HCL website, SD Pharmaceuticals is always on the lookout for “partners” and “distributors”, but doesn’t appear to operate an MLM basis.
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