Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Human study: mistletoe boosts effect of strength training

Human study: mistletoe boosts effect of strength training
You'll get more muscle growth and more fat loss out of your strength training if you take an extract of mistletoe with it. South Korean scientists at Ewha Womans University write about this in Experimental Gerontology. Even though the Koreans did their experiment on humans rather than lab animals, we don't yet recommend you rush to the store to stock up on mistletoe supplements...

The researchers got three groups of 18 people aged 55-75 to do weight training three times a week for 12 weeks. One group took a placebo, another took 1 g mistletoe extract daily, and the other group took 2 g mistletoe extract daily.

Supplementation with 2 g mistletoe extract daily boosted the amount of kilograms fat that the participants lost and the amount of muscle mass they gained.

Human study: mistletoe boosts effect of strength training

The 2 g dose of mistletoe boosted the production of the muscle-building signal protein myogenin in the participants' muscle cells and reduced the production of the catabolic signal protein atrogin-1.

Human study: mistletoe boosts effect of strength training

At the high dose of the extract, the IGF-1 receptors in the muscle cells also became more sensitive.

Athletes who are interested in experimenting with mistletoe should perhaps do a little more research first. It is known that European mistletoe - Viscum album - is toxic when taken in high doses.

Human study: mistletoe boosts effect of strength training

The Koreans used water-based extracts that had been made from a local sub-variety of Viscum album - Viscum album L. var. coloratum Ohwi. The extracts were made from the twigs, stem and leaves - so not from the fruit - and were standardised for chlorogenic acid [structural formula shown above]. They were produced by the Samyang Corporation [], a manufacturer of food ingredients. Samyang contributed financially to the study.

About half a dozen sub-varieties of Viscum album grow in South Korea. Some of these have a different composition from the European variety. We do not know the extent to which the active ingredients in the Koreans' extracts differ from the active ingredients in American and European supplements.

Exp Gerontol. 2017 Jan;87(Pt A):48-56.

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