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Ecdysterone bodybuilding benefits

Posted by Fred

I've beeing using your Ecdybolin Supplement and it's giving me great results in muscle gains and fat loss, thanks! I just wanted to share this article on ecdysterone benefits from the Muscle and Fitness April 1997 issue.


Can The Plant Sterol Ecdysterone Help Your muscles Grow?

By Rick Brunner

            Because plant sterols – a group of compounds characterized by their chemical structure – have certain similarities to anabolic steroids, an important question bears answering: Are plant sterols anabolic in humans? This is something that has puzzled sports researchers for years. And if scientists still can’t agree whether plant sterols help promote protein synthesis in human muscle cells, then athletes are even more confused. Though similar in structure to anabolic steroids (chemically speaking), most of the plant sterols used by athletes over the past decade, like sitosterols and stigmasterols, have no effect on stimulating protein synthesis. 

            I think we have not only been using the wrong plant sterols but have tossed all plant sterols into the same pot. That’s like putting glutamine into the same class as other amino acids such as threonine (while significant research backs up glutamine’s use in sport nutrition as a cell volumizer and immune stimulator, threonine plays a limited role). I believe that some plant sterols, but by no means all of them, help support muscle growth in bodybuilders who consume an optimal diet rich in protein.

            Since 1988, I’ve worked closely with leading experts in plant sterol research as well as coaches and athletes who have used plant sterols. The two main sterols used worldwide are an ecdysterone called 20-hydroxyecdysterone and the furostanols.  In my opinion, these plant sterols can be anabolic in human muscle cells and are of great use to athletes. The plant sterol 20-hydroxyecdysterone – also known as ecdysterone or beta-ecdysterone – has received more attention, both in research since 1966 and use by athletes since 1985.

            The training programs of bodybuilders and other strength athletes may benefit from 20-hydroxyecdysterone’s growth-promoting effects during high-volume and high-intensity training cycles. “With ecdysterone, I can train within a greater intensity zone and higher tonnage without overtraining, and I make greater gains than I thought possible,” says Mike “Bubba” Stokes, two time (1995-96) Armed Forces powerlifting champion (1,870 pounds total at a 198-pound bodyweight). “In the past, I’d kill myself if I tried to increase my volume at a high weight, but the plant sterols allows me to safely train heavy, with almost twice the volume.”


            Why do some researchers believe 20-hydroxyecdysterone is anabolic in humans, while others have their doubts? Perhaps it comes down to having the research on which to base their decision. Scientists and athletes alike deserve proof. The scientific research conducted with ecdysterones on animals and humans has been done outside the United States in countries like Japan, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, Russia and France. This research is often published by “outsiders” in foreign journals in a foreign language. Unless a researcher in the West really digs, the study gets buried along with the thousands of others produced every year. The research simply falls through the cracks.

            In addition, some researchers question the validity of the animal studies – are they valid for humans? Pioneering research conducted by Vladimir Syrov, PhD, from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Julia Holadova, PhD, from Kiev in the Ukraine, and others from the former Eastern Bloc have confirmed that 20-hydroxyecdysteroneincreasess lean body mass, hemoglobin and erythrocyte (cells transport oxygen) content in animals and humans. (1-7); According to Syrov, scientists from Russia, and other former Eastern Bloc countries tested 20-hydroxyecdysterone on elite athletes from many sports. “Ecdysterone increases the capacity for work, improves recovery and stimulates muscle growth in well-trained athletes,” he explains.

            Jay Schroeder, consulting strength coach to Olympic and professional level athletes, has recommended 20-hydroxyecdysterone to lifters for the past five years. “In intense training ecdysterone has no substitute,” he says “It has allowed the athletes I train and myself to reach championship levels that were impossible to reach before, drug-free.”

            Another proponent of plant sterol use is Dragomir Cioroslan, head coach of the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team. “In elite weightlifting, a supplement either works or it doesn’t.  Because of the seriousness of our training, there’s no room for placebo effect. Ecdysterone has helped elevate our performance and stay competitive.”

            In the United States and other western countries, research on ecdysterone has taken a different path than in the former Eastern Bloc countries. Particularly in the United States, the interest targets the effect of ecdysterone on insect physiology.

            In the early days of ecdysterone research on animals, Japanese scientists Okui, Otaka and Matsuda discovered during the 1960’s that ecdysterones significantly increased the lean bodyweight and bone density of birds and rodents. This included an increase in the intensity of the biosynthesis of proteins in liver, heart, kidney and muscle.” (8)

            By the late 1970’s, Syrov and other former Eastern Bloc researchers quickly recognized the tremendous anabolic activity of ecdysterones from plants. So did Sergey Portougalov, MM, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Biologically Active Substances in Moscow, who recommended that the Soviet Olympic Committee dispense it to elite U.S.S.R. athletes of Olympic and world-class caliber. Today, the Russian supplement which contains the plant steroid 20-hydroxyecdysterone, is used in the strength-training programs of many elite Russian athletes.


            A few plants have been discovered to contain a significant quantity of ecdysterone.  Using ethanol as an extraction solvent, I’ve isolated 20-hydroxyecdysterone from the African Ajuga remota, the Pfaffia paniculata root from Brazil and a specific variety of Spinacia oleracea grown in California. All three plants have been eaten by humans for many years and are widely known folk medicine to contain tonic and adaptogenic (enhancing the body’s ability to adapt to stress) effects.

            How does ecdysterone work in human muscle? According to researchers from Japan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the Ukraine, 20-hydroxyecdysterone has a pronounced capacity to stimulate muscle cell cytoplasm by increasing the assembly of protein chains from amino acids. (2) along with strength training, 20-hydroxyecdysterone has been shown to increase protein synthesis by 190% (±31) above that of control animals, while training alone caused an increase of 131% (±20.3).

            The reason for the pronounced increase in muscle protein synthesis has been traced to the action of ecdysterone in the muscle cell during the translation and translocation processes of protein growth.(3) Syrov’s studies since 1976 have shown ecdysterone to stimulate a wider spectrum of anabolic action on contractile proteins of skeletal muscle and a pronounced influence on increasing physical endurance. Holadova has hypothesized that the anabolic action of 20-hydroxyecdysterone is in part due to an increase in potassium and calcium ion levels within the cell that cause it to swell, leading to an increase in DNA,RNA and protein synthesis.

            Ecdysterone is not only safe but healthy. Research has shown that 20-hydroxyecdysterone helps stabilize cells from potential damage by cortisol, normalize the cells’ adenosine triphosphate and creatine energetic processes, increase the adaptive potential of the heart and improve liver function. (1,4-7) Plus, unlike anabolic steroids that reduce the body’s ability to make testosterone, ecdysterone has no such harmful effect – it works with the body’s natural testosterone and growth hormone to increase muscle protein growth. (1)

            The daily dosage for athletes using 20-hydroxyecdysterone is usually 300 mg but can be as high as 900mg. Plant extracts containing 20-hydroxyecdysterone are now available in the United States. If you use 20-hydroxyecdysterone take it with creatine, glutamine and a high-protein diet for maximum benefit. A large amount of amino acids in the cell, along with the increase in cell volume, may allow 20-hydroxyecdysterone to stimulate the assembly of additional amino acids into muscle proteins. In this way, you may be able to stimulate greater gains in muscle mass and strength than you’ve ever achieved before.


1.     Syrov, V.N. Phytoecdysteroids: their biological effects in the body of higher animals and the outlook for their use in medicine. Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology 57(5): 61 - 66, 1994.

2.     Chermykh, N.S .,  et al.  The action of methandrostenolone and ecdysterone on the physical endurance of animals and on protein metabolism in the skeletal muscle. Pharmacology and Toxicology 51(6): 57 – 60, 1988.

3.     Syrov, V.N. Mechanism of the anabolic action of phytoecdysteroids in mammals. Biological Science 11: 16 – 20, 1984.

4.      Syrov, V.N.,  et al. Effect of phytoecdysteroids and nerobol on parameters of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and phospholipid spectrum of liver mitochondrial membrane in experimental diabetes mellitus of rats. Ukrainian Biochemical Journal 64(4): 61 – 67, 1992.

5.     Kurmukov, A.G., Ermishina, O.A. The effect of ecdysterone on experimental arrhythmias and changes in the hemodynamics and myocardial contractility induced by coronary artery occlusion.  Pharmacology and Toxicology 54(1): 27 – 29, 1991.

6.     Syrov, V.N., Khushbaktova, Z.A., Nabiev, A.N. An experimental study of the hepatoprotective properties of phytoecdysteroids and nerobol in carbon tetrachloride-induced liver lesion. Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology 55(3): 61 – 65, 1992.

7.     Osinskaia, L.F., Saad, L.M., Kholodova, Y.D. Antiradical properties and antioxidant activity of ecdysterone. Ukrainian Biochemical Journal 64(1): 114 – 117, 1992.

8.     Okui, S., et al. Stimulation of protein synthesis in mouse liver by insect-moulting steroids. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin (Tokyo) 16(2):384 – 387, 1968.

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