Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Ecdysterone repairs cartilage in joints
Ecdysterone, a steroid found in spinach-type plants, helps joint cartilage to grow. Endocrinologists at the University of Goettingen, Germany, reached this conclusion from experiments they did with rats. Bodybuilders are familiar with the muscle-growth effects of ecdysterone supplements but according to the Germans, ecdysterone may also help strengthen joints and bones.
Because animal studies have shown that ecdysteroid compounds have anabolic effects, the Germans did tests on female rats whose hormone producing ovaries had been removed [ovx]. The Germans wanted to know whether ecdysterone protected the rats' bones and joints. They were not disappointed.
Estradiol worked even better. The researchers checked whether ecdysterone had an estrogenic effect: it didn't. Referring to the literature, the Germans suggest that ecdysterone works through the Retinoid-X-Receptor [RXR].
Bones grow in length through growth plates located near the end of bones. Estradiol makes the plates smaller and thinner; ecdysterone makes them larger and thicker.
Bones are only partly composed of hard cells, the compact area. The inside of bones is made of soft trabecular tissue, which is where red blood cells are manufactured. Ecdysterone also causes this softer tissue to grow faster.
Endurance athletes sometimes use ecdysterone because it enhances the production of red blood cells. The Germans' study goes some way to explaining how ecdysterone can have this effect.