Evidence Based

Tempol: 8 Potential Health Benefits + Risks

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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Tempol is a synthetic compound that can be used to lower stress, prevent oxidative damage, and improve heart disease and diabetes. Read more to find about this chemical antioxidant.

What is Tempol?

Tempol, also known as 4-Hydroxy-TEMPO, is a stable, synthetic compound that mimics the superoxide dismutase enzyme. The enzyme helps to increase the rate of turning the superoxide radical into oxygen or hydrogen peroxide [1].

Tempol protects against radiation and is used as a chemical antioxidant [2].

Tempol restores the effects of TNF-alpha, which is involved in immune function and acute inflammation [3].

In rats, Tempol is able to decrease blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity [2].

Tempol is very similar to Tempo but is more appealing because it is cheaper [4].

It has the potential to improve diseases caused by oxidative stress, particularly diabetes and diseases associated with diabetes, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, and nephropathy.

Tempol is able to act as a superoxide dismutase, meaning it prevents the production of free radicals through oxidation of iron [5].

Potential Health Benefits of Tempol

1) May Reduce Oxidative Stress

Oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons are highly reactive and have the ability to cause a lot of damage by chemically reacting with cell components and causing destabilization [6].

The build-up of these oxygen free-radicals is referred to as “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress can cause many problems in the body, such as brain diseases, gene mutations, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, blood vessel disorders, high cholesterol, heart problems, and inflammatory diseases [6].

Clinical evidence shows that oxidative stress plays a role in the development of hypertension. Hypertension further contributes to the development of renal failure, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and stroke [7].

Tempol prevents the production of free radicals through oxidation of iron, thus stopping oxidative stress [5].

2) May Help Diabetic Patients

Free fatty acids bind to GPR120, a type of G Protein-Coupled Receptor. This controls anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing effects. Improving the G Protein-Coupled Receptor also allows for increased insulin sensitivity [8].

If the G Protein-Coupled Receptor is defective, then there will be elevated levels of free fatty acids. This results in lipid accumulation and insulin resistance because free fatty acids increase insulin secretion. This has implications for the development of Type 2 Diabetes [9].

Lack of insulin also increases free fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue, then more cholesterol-rich LDL particles are produced, and there are further problems with insulin concentration in the blood [10].

Mice that were fed high-fat diets and given Tempol had lower blood glucose and insulin levels than mice that were not given Tempol [11].

Thus, Tempol may have the ability to treat and to prevent symptoms associated with Type 2 Diabetes [11].

Diabetes is characterized by the accumulation of free glucose in the blood. Hyperglycemia causes oxidative stress through glucose autoxidation, which generates free radicals.

Supplementation with antioxidants, such as Tempol, decreases the level of blood glucose in patients with diabetes [12].

Diabetic nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease that occurs when IgA (Immunoglobulin A) builds up in the kidneys, causing inflammation and kidney tissue destruction. IgA is an antibody that normally protects the body against foreign substances.

IgA nephropathy attacks the glomeruli, the area of the kidneys that is responsible for the filtration and excretion of fluid and waste. When IgA damages the glomeruli, the kidneys leak blood and protein into the urine [13].

Oxidative stress is known to play a major role in Diabetic Nephropathy, particularly in causing tissue damage. Tempol can reduce oxidative stress and thus the destruction of kidney tissue [14, 15].

3) May Reduce Hypertension

Patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) tend to have kidneys with a decreased ability to excrete sodium.

Dopamine usually promotes sodium excretion through activation of the kidney Dopamine D1 Receptors. Dopamine also inhibits sodium reabsorption. Therefore, problems with the Dopamine D1 Receptor may contribute to the patient’s inability to maintain proper levels of sodium [8].

The exact pathway of these mechanisms are unknown, but there are suggestions that Tempol’s ability to improve Renal Dopamine D1 Receptor function can help improve the maintenance of sodium balance in the body and thus improve hypertension [8].

4) May Help Treat Obesity

Mice which received Tempol did not gain as much weight as mice without Tempol. Tempol has the ability to impact the gut and can treat both obesity and diabetes [11].

Tempol reduced some members of the bacteria Lactobacillus in their guts, which increases tauro-beta-muricholic acid (a bile acid found in the gut). The increased levels of this bile acid inhibit the farnesoid X receptor, which usually controls the metabolism of bile acids, fats, and glucose. When the acid inhibits the receptor, a greater amount of fat and glucose is broken down [11].

Therefore, Tempol may reduce weight gain and cause weight loss. For this reason, Tempol may have the potential to treat obesity [11].

5) May Decrease Risk of Heart Disease

Oxidative stress causes damage/injury to the muscles of the heart, as well as diabetic cardiomyopathy.

There is a strong association between diabetes and heart problems, such as cardiomyopathy, cardiac dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease.

Tempol’s role as an antioxidant can decrease oxidative stress, and therefore decrease cardiac dysfunction associated with reactive oxygen species [10].

6) May Protect the Brain

Tempol’s role as an antioxidant allows it to have neuroprotective effects. This is because oxidative stress triggers apoptotic (bursting) cell death [5].

Apoptotic cell death can cause eye degeneration in patients with glaucoma.

Oxidative stress can cause brain trauma, ischemic stroke and Parkinson’s Disease [5].

Tempol diminishes oxidative stress and thus acts neuro-protectively to prevent these neurological diseases [5].

7) May Improve Kidney Function

Oxidative Radicals play a role in renal ischemia-reperfusion, which happens when blood flow to the kidneys is restricted and can cause kidney failure [16].

Scientists gave rats with restricted blood flow Tempol. They assessed renal function using plasma concentrations of urea, creatinine, Na+, gammaGT, and aspartate aminotransferase and NAG, which are symptoms of ischemia-reperfusion [16].

Tempol significantly decreased the increase in urea, creatinine, Na+, gammaGT, aspartate aminotransferase, and NAG. These are symptoms in patients with renal ischemia-reperfusion [16].

This suggests that Tempol may improve kidney function and injuryTempol also decreased kidney damage and reduced oxidative stress [17].

8) May Protect Against Radiation

Tempol’s antioxidative abilities indicate that it can be a great radioreceptor- a substance that protects cells of surrounding normal tissue from radiation damage [18].

Tempol has shown to be promising in cancer patients, and it may be able to decrease hair loss in patients undergoing radiation to the head [18].

Potential Risks

Tempol is not irritating to the skin but can be corrosive to the eye [19].

The repetitive oral dosage of Tempol may cause toxicity, although a single dosage has low to moderate toxicity.

Tempol risk and exposure are very low [19].

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About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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