Examine.com is one of the most popular websites for supplement users, along with Labdoor and ConsumerLab. Their site summarizes medical research about many popular vitamins and supplements, and can be more convenient than parsing through all of the clinical trials yourself.
Examine.com describes whether a vitamin or supplement has been studied to treat a specific health condition, and what the outcome of those trials were.
In this article we’ll review some of the pros and cons of Examine.com and conclude whether we believe the service is worth the money. At the time of updating this article, an Examine.com membership costs $29 monthly or $987 for lifetime access.
Pro - Convenience
Using Examine.com can be very time-efficient compared to evaluating tens or hundreds of clinical trials to determine the safety and efficacy of a dietary supplement, and to determine what dosage is effective.
This is especially the case with supplements that have been studied extensively like panax ginseng. Reading all of the available medical research on panax ginseng would take thousands if not tens of thousands of hours. It's been studied in thousands of clinical trials and meta-reviews published in scientific journals.
On Examine, users can just search the compound and read the summary, dosage recommendations and some highlighted medical studies. The user experience (UX) is high-quality, and the content is well written.
Another convenience of using Examine is the writing is accessible, and doesn't require a scientific background to understand. Published clinical trials are often written in a very academic manner, and with many arcane words, which may be difficult for someone without a specific background to interpret.
Pro - Medical Expert Writers
As a consumer, you can generally tell a website is serious about the accuracy of their health content if it’s written or reviewed by a credentialed medical professional. It’s one of the reasons we've built a team of credentialed medical experts to author and review our health articles, such as Medical Doctors (MD) and Registered Dietitians (RD).
Examine follows a similar strategy: most of their team has an advanced degree in science or nutrition, and their articles are reviewed by their Founder Kamal Patel who’s been a nutrition researcher for 20 years and has published various papers in scientific journals.
Examine's About page highlights information about all of their team members, and it appears that they've added a significant number of medical experts since we originally wrote this article, which is a good sign.
Con - Outdated Research
This is somewhat inevitable for a company that requires updated information on hundreds if not thousands of supplements, but much of the research on Examine that we've reviewed is outdated, and their site has no content on what we would consider to be some of the most promising new supplements.
NMN, or nicotinamide mononucleotide, is one of the most fascinating chemical compounds to be studied in the last decade or so. It’s primarily used for anti-aging because it’s a precursor to NAD+. It can reduce mitochondrial dysfunction and extend human lifespan based on some preliminary medical research. However, there is no section on Examine covering NMN at all, at the time of updating this article.
Even the reviews that do exist on Examine often neglect to reference and summarize recent medical trials. Astragalus is a good example. This herb is taken mostly for anti-aging effect, and there have been many papers published recently suggesting it may be useful to that end.
On Examine’s astragalus review though, there is no Aging section in the “Human Effect Matrix” at the time of updating this article. This section is where the brand summarizes medical studies on a compound. They instead mention beneficial effects on immunity, nasal congestion, diuresis and a few other health categories.
Con - Price
As referenced in the intro section, Examine costs $29/month or $987 for unlimited access, which is relatively expensive for research summaries in our opinion, especially with so many being outdated.
As a comparison, ConsumerLab only costs $95 for two full years of access, or less than 15% of the cost of Examine's monthly rate. ConsumerLab actually publishes proprietary research on supplements and maintains expensive testing equipment, while Examine has no such overhead.