What is Beta Ecdysterone?
Beta-ecdysterone (also known as ecdysterone, or, 20-Hydroxyecdysone) is a type of ecosteroid, a naturally occurring steroid like compound. More than 150 ecdysteroids have been identified in many plants and insects. Most commercial ecdysteroids come from plants such as Leuzea carthamoides, other sources include Brazilian ginseng. Some studies have suggested that that Beta-ecdysterone is a powerful anabolic agent, that may enhance protein synthesis and thereby increase lean muscle mass. Many nutritional companies include Beta-Ecdysterone in their products claiming it is a powerful growth promoter that has no negative hormonal consequences.
Early research by Russian researchers Syrov and Kurmukov (1976) found that ecdysterone had anabolic activity and increased protein synthesis. Animal studies in both rats and Japanese quail have demonstrated significant anabolic effects (Slama et al., 1996; Dinan, 2001). Ecdysterone is also believed to have an anabolic effect in humans (Chermynkh et al., 1988; Simakin et al., 1988; Bizec et al., 2002; Chen et al., 2005).
A Russian research study (Chermynkh et al., 1988) compared the muscle building activities of methandrostenolone, a powerful anabolic steroid, and ecdysterone. They demonstrated that ecdysterone had a wider anabolic action on contractile proteins of the muscle than methandrostenolone.
In the same year another group of Russian researchers (Simakin et al., 1998) looked at the combined effects of ecdysterone and a high protein diet. They found that when athletes combined a high protein diet with ecdysterone, lean muscle mass increased by 6-7% and body-fat decreased by 10%.
Researchers have also found that ecdysterone can help to lower blood glucose levels without altering insulin levels (Yoshida et al., 1971; Chen et al., 2005). In a recent study ecdysterone lowered blood sugar levels when they were in the normal (5.5mmol/l) and moderate range (11.1-16.7mmol/l) but not when it was in the high range (22.2mmol/l). Therefore, it could be of benefit in the treatment of type-II diabetes, and may aid weight loss.
Ecdysterone may also exert anti-tumour properties (Konovolova et al., 2002) and may act as a strong adaptogen and anti-oxidant (Kuzmenko et al., 1997; Kuz’menko, 1999).
Despite these positive findings by Russian researchers, there has been no research, performed outside of Russia, that looks at the effects of ecdysterone on human performance. Therefore, ecdysterone cannot be confirmed as an effective anabolic agent, in humans, until further research is performed, in a well-controlled trial and on a large scale, that is widely available for review purposes.
It is extremely unlikely that ecdysterone, at the doses normally recommended by nutritional companies, is as effective as their claims – some internet sites are making extravagant claims like “gain 7lbs of lean muscle in 10 days”.
As discussed above, although the Russian research looks promising, until further research is performed, the anabolic effect of ecdysterone cannot be confirmed. It seems unlikely that, at the doses used in many nutritional supplements, ecdysterone is as effective as the claims made by nutritional companies.
Beta Ecdysterone Benefits
- Appears to have an anabolic effect when taken at a dose of around 5mg per kg (i.e. 350mg for a 70kg man)
- May enhance weight loss and muscle size
- Appears to control blood sugar levels
- Appears to act as an antioxidant
Although, at this point in time, it is not clear as to how effective ecdysterone is as an anabolic agent, the dose used by many nutritional companies is significantly lower than that recommended by researchers. Many companies use doses as low as 50-90mg. However, researchers recommend that ecdysterone is taken at a dose of 5mg per kg of bodyweight (Bizec et al., 2002). Therefore, an athlete weighing 70kg would need around 350mg of ecdysterone, and a 100kg athlete would need around 500mg of ecdysterone – significantly more than what is provided in most nutritional formulas!
Beta Ecdysterone Side effects
Beta ecdysterone appears to be generally free of side effects
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Chermynkh, N. S., Shimanovskii, N. L., Shutko, G. V. and Syrov, V. N. (1988) The action of methandrostenolone and ecdysterone on the physical endurance of animals and on protein metabolism in the skeletal muscles. Farmakologia I Toksikogia. 51 (6), 57-60.
Chen, Q., Xia, Y., and Qui, Z. (2005) Effect of ecdysterone on glucose metabolism in Vitro. Life Sciences. Article In Press.
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Konovolova, N. P., Mitrokhin, I. And Volkova, L. M. (2002) Ecdysterone modulates antitomour activity of cytostatics and biosynthesis of macromolecules in tumour-bearing animals. Izvestiya Akademic Nauk, Seriya Bilogicheskaya. 6, 650-658.
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Slama, K., Koudela, K., tenora, J. and Mathova, A. (1996) Insect hormones in vertebrates: anabolic effects of 20-hydroxyecdysone in Japanese quail. Experientia 52 (7), 702-706.
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Yoshida, T., Otaka, T., Uchiyama, M. and Ogawa, S. (1971) Effect of ecdysteone on hyperglycemia in experimental animals. Biochemical Pharmacology. 20, 3263-3268.