Anabolic compounds in Ajuga turkestanica may potentially improve muscle growth and recovery.
Believed to carry bio-active compounds that resemble androgens in structure, Ajuga turkestanica could potentially impart such post-workout benefits as:
- Increasing muscle mass. Ajuga turkestanica has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis in animals.
- Improving muscle recovery. The herb may increase the muscle-regenerating activity of satellite cells.
Ajuga turkestanica is a small flowering plant native to Uzbekistan. Traditionally, the shoots and leaves of the herb have been used as a kind of organic remedy for heart complications, stress, and body aches, especially as a hot broth.
Its health effects are believed to stem from compounds known as ecdysteroids – plant chemicals that are proposed to have anabolic effects akin to testosterone and other androgens. Common ecdysteroids include: 1
- sileneoside A
- ecdysterone, typically found in maral root
The potential anabolic properties ecdysteroids have led some to suggest the use of Ajuga turkestanica as a safe alternative to anabolic steroids for boosting muscle mass, recovery, and physical performance.
How Ajuga Turkestanica Might Help Post-Workout Formulas
Stimulating protein synthesis
Ecdysteroids have been shown to possess anabolic properties that may ultimately lead to an increase in muscle mass2, and ecdysteroids from Ajuga turkestanica in particular3 have been demonstrated to increase muscle protein synthesis in isolated animal cells.4
These anabolic effects have been suggested to result from two biological mechanisms:
- Accelerating the translocation process. Ecdysteroids have been shown to increase the rate of protein molecule formation by speeding up the translocation part of muscle development rather than producing new muscle cells.5
- Increase notch signaling, which is essential for the proliferation of muscle cells.6
Ajuga Turkestanica’s Potential Post-Workout Benefits & Uses
Ajuga turkestanica contains a considerable amount of ecdysteroids with anabolic properties that research has shown may have such potential post workout benefits as:7
- Increasing muscle mass
- Rejuvenating muscle repair
The major practical use of Ajuga based on these benefits is as an anabolic supplement ideal for sports and exercises related to resistance training, especially bodybuilding and wrestling.8 Having said, there is currently zero research on the anabolic effects of Ajuga and other sources of ecdysteroids in humans.
Research in mice indicates that Ajuga turkestanica may support muscle cell growth and regeneration.
In this randomized, controlled investigation, mice were assigned to a control group or given Ajuga turkestanica extract (ATE, 50 mg/kg body weight) daily for 28 days. After supplementation, the triceps brachii muscles were analyzed. Compared to the control, Ajuga turkestanica was found to significantly increase the percent of active Notch signaling molecules that are used to activate satellite cells, which are responsible for muscle regeneration.
- The researchers concluded that “ATE supplementation in aged mice increases Notch and Wnt signaling in triceps brachii muscle… then phytoecdysteroids may provide a protective effect and maintain the integrity of aged skeletal muscle.”10
In this investigation, mice were given either the ecdysteroid turkesterone at 5 mg/kg of body weight or the anabolic steroid nerobole at 10 mg/kg of body weight. Turkesterone was found to stimulate protein biosynthesis in the liver.
- The researchers concluded that “Actinomycin D, which inhibited the stimulation of protein biosynthesis in liver tissue of mice treated with nerobole, did not affect the phenomenon in mice treated with turkesterone.”11
In this investigation mouse cells were treated with either Ajuga turkestanica extract (ATE) or the anabolic steroid nethandrostenolone. After 6 hours of incubation, Ajuga turkestanica demonstrated no significant loss of viability and a two-fold down regulation of caspase-3, a marker of cell death, and a four-fold down regulation of myostatin, which is a protein that blocks muscle cell growth.
- The researchers concluded that “our results indicate the potential for an ATE to support muscle mass without typical androgenic side effects of synthetic anabolic drugs.”12
In this investigation, male rats with diabetes were administered the ecdysteroids ecdysterone and turkesterone at 5 mg per kg of mass and the anabolic steroid nerobol at 10 mg per kg of body mass every day for 15 days. The combination resulted in a decrease in the content of free fatty acids in the blood as well as normalized overall phospholipid content.
- The researchers concluded that “phytoecdysteroids in the first turn normalize the fractions of phospholipids which play the structural role in the mitochondrial membranes.”13
There are currently no clinical studies examining the potential impact of Ajuga turkestanica on exercise performance.
- No successful clinical research has delineated dosage for Ajuga turkestanica.
- Ajuga turkestanica supplements are offered at a wide range of 200 mg – 2 g daily.
- 20:1 liquid or powdered extract in gelatine capsules or as a tincture
- Pure dried plant steeped in hot water
Supplements in Review Says
- Ajuga turkestanica 200 mg standardized to 20% turkesterone post-workout.
Ajuga turkestanica may possibly enhance muscle growth and recovery. Early research in animals has shown that Ajuga turkestanica may be capable of enhancing muscle recovery and increasing muscle protein synthesis, which could in turn lead to increased muscle mass. Though not yet proven effective in clinical trials, Ajuga could eventually turn out to be a viable alternative to anabolic steroids.
Start with a low dose of ajuga turkestanica standardized to 20% turkesterone. We recommend waiting for clinical research to prove the safety and efficacy of Ajuga turkestanica. If insistent on trying it out, we suggest starting with a daily serving of 200 mg standardized to 20% turkesterone.
- Syrov VN, et al. The anabolic properties of turkesterone phytoecdysone and turkesterone tetraacetate in experiments on male rats. Probl Endokrinol (Mosk). 1976 May-Jun;22(3):107-12. ↩
- Syrov VN. Comparative experimental investigation of the anabolic activity of phytoecdysteroids and steranabols. Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 34(4):193-7. ↩
- Lev SV, et al. Ecdysteroids from tissue and cell cultures of Ajuga turkestanica. Chem Nat Compd. 1990;1:51-2. ↩
- Cheng DM, et al. In vitro production of metabolism-enhancing phytoecdysteroids from Ajuga turkestanica. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture.93(1):73-83. ↩
- Syrov VN. Mechanism of the anabolic action of phytoecdisteroids in mammals. Nauchnye Doki Vyss Shkoly Biol Nauki. 1984;(11):16-20. ↩
- Arthur ST, et al. The effect of physiological stimuli on sarcopenia; impact of Notch and Wnt signaling on impaired aged skeletal muscle repair. Int J Biol Sci. 2012;8(5):731-60. ↩
- Guibout L, et al. The minor ecdysteroids from Ajuga turkestanica. Phytochem Anal. 2015 Sep-Oct;26(5):293-300. ↩
- Lafont R, et al. Practical uses for ecdysteroids in mammals including humans: an update. J Insect Sci. 2003;3:7. ↩
- Báthori M, et al. Phytoecdysteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids–structure and effects on humans. Curr Med Chem. 2008;15(1):75-91. ↩
- Arthur ST, et al. Ajuga turkestanica increases Notch and Wnt signaling in aged skeletal muscle. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2014;18(17):2584-92. ↩
- Syrov VN. Effect of turkesterone and nerobol on the activity of the protein synthesizing system of mouse liver. Vopr Med Khim. 1978 Jul-Aug;24(4):456-60. ↩
- Zubeldia JM, et al. In Vitro Characterization of the Efficacy and Safety Profile of a Proprietary Ajuga Turkestanica Extract. Chinese Medicine. 2012 Dec;3(4):215-22. ↩
- Syrov VN. 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. Ukr Biokhim Zh (1978). 1992 Jul-Aug;64(4):61-7. ↩