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

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Rhodiola rosea boosts heart muscle capacity in animal study

If endurance athletes react in the same way to Rhodiola as the rats that doctors at the Chi-Mei Medical Center in Taiwan used in their experiments, then Rhodiola rosea is an even more interesting supplement for endurance sports than you already thought. The Taiwanese published the results of their study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, showing that Rhodiola rosea boosts the production of PPAR-delta in the cells.

Endurance athletes who are not afraid of molecular science know that PPAR-delta is a fatty acid sensor in fat cells and muscle cells. The better the mechanism works the more fat you burn, the higher your metabolic rate is and the greater your endurance capacity. Substances that stimulate PPAR-delta, such as GW501516, help significantly improve endurance performance, whether or not they are combined with Aicar or a NO booster.

The Taiwanese researchers already knew from other animal studies that supplementation with Rhodiola rosea protects the heart muscle from stress. [Eksp Klin Farmakol. 1994 Nov-Dec; 57(6): 61-3.] They had discovered themselves that diabetes can cause heart failure as a result of reduced PPAR-delta activity. That's why the researchers wanted to know whether they could help the heart function of rats with diabetes by using Rhodiola rosea – and if this was possible, whether the effect had anything to do with PPAR-delta.

The researchers gave diabetic rats [STZ] 75 mg ethanol extract of Rhodiola rosea every day for three weeks. They observed that the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood [Cardiac Output] was maintained, while this ability in untreated STZ rats was lower than in healthy animals [Contrl].

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The researchers discovered that the heart cells of the STZ rats produced less PPAR-delta than the heart cells of healthy animals. They also noticed that supplementation with Rhodiola rosea boosted the concentration of PPAR delta to a more or less normal level.

"Increased cardiac expression of PPAR-delta is involved in Rhodiola–ethanol extract-induced increase of cardiac output in STZ-diabetic rats", the researchers write in summary. "This finding provides a new mechanism of action for Rhodiola."

If Rhodiola does indeed boost the production of PPAR-delta in healthy endurance athletes, then a whole range of new performance-enhancing possibilities opens up. For example, fish fatty acids are PPAR agonists, and Artemisia iwayomogi is a PPAR-delta-agonist.

To name but a few ideas.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Nov 21;144(2):234-9.

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