Few grams Astragalus daily improves endurance training performance by sixty percent
Endurance athletes looking to improve their stamina may benefit from Astragalus membranaceus. It's easy to get hold of and according to an animal study published in Molecules, your endurance training will result in more stamina improvement if you also take 3 g a day of Astragalus.
Astragalus membranaceus is known for its immuno-stimulatory effect in the supplement world, but there are indications that Astragalus can help athletes too. And endurance athletes in particular. If you add Astragalus extracts – or certain components of these, of which a few are shown here – to kidney cells, the latter start to produce more EPO.
The Taiwanese researcher Tzu-Shao Yeh, of Taipei Medical University, wanted to know whether supplementation using Astragalus membranaceus would actually improve athletes' performance. To find out he gave mice Astragalus daily for six weeks. The human equivalent of the dose was 1 g per 20 kg bodyweight per day [AM1]. Another group was given a daily dose of five times this amount [AM5].
The mice were given the Astragalus membranaceus orally.
Yeh trained the mice five times a week, getting them to swim for a gradually increasing amount of time.
One control group of mice trained but was not given Astragalus. Another control group did not train and were not given Astragalus either.
Immediately after the swimming session Yeh analysed the mice's blood and muscles. Astragalus supplementation resulted in less increase in the amount of lactic acid, ammonia and creatine-kinase in the blood and for less decrease in glucose levels.
It seems that Astragalus makes the energy metabolism more efficient and protects muscles from breakdown. Astragalus did not have an effect on muscle mass.
It's also interesting that, at the end of the six-week training and supplementation period, the researchers found that the mice had forty percent less triglycerides in their blood. Astragalus did not have an effect on the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. It's possible that Astragalus supplementation stimulates the mitochondria's oxidation of fatty acids.
The Taiwanese suspect that Astragalus membranaceus improves endurance capacity by boosting the uptake of glucose by the muscle cells. They refer to a Chinese study from 2010, in which a polysaccharide from Astragalus activated the glucose transporter GLUT4 in mice. [J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jan 8;127(1):32-7]
"Although the detailed anti-fatigue mechanisms of Astragalus membranaceus remain to be elucidated, this study provides science-based evidence to support traditional claims of anti-fatigue results with Astragalus membranaceus treatment and suggests a use for Astragalus as an ergogenic and anti-fatigue agent", the researchers conclude.
Molecules. 2014 Mar 3;19(3):2793-807.
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