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Couple of milligrams ecdysterone daily strengthens bones

If young people ingest a couple of milligrams of ecdysterone every day their bones will get stronger. Ecdysterone supplementation at a young age may help prevent brittle and porous bones in old age, write researchers at the University of California at Davis in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

Because we live longer, osteoporosis is becoming an increasing problem. More and more people suffer from brittle and porous bones, which, if they break only mend with difficulty or not at all. Scientists are diligently seeking ways of delaying osteoporosis, but so far have not found any medicine that really strengthens bones.

So maybe we're going about things in the wrong way, the researchers reasoned. Maybe we should pay less attention to trying to combat osteoporosis, and more attention to ways in which we can boost the growth of bone mass at a young age. If we can increase peak bone mass at a younger age, we might be able to build up reserves, as a result of which bone breakdown later on in life would cause fewer or even no problems.

A naturally occurring substance that might help boost peak bone mass is ecdysterone [structural formula at right]. Ecdysterone is an ecdysteroid found in spinach, quinoa and some herbs. Bodybuilders have used extracts of these herbs with varying success as a muscle-building agent.

Animal studies have confirmed the anabolic effect of ecdysterone and have also shown that ecdysterone makes bones stronger. [Phytomedicine. 2010 Sep;17(11):884-9.] [Phytomedicine. 2010 Apr;17(5):350-5.] [Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Dec;31(12):2245-9.] [Eur J Pharmacol. 2013 Jan 5;698(1-3):48-56.]


And you can feel it in your bones (er, no pun intended) where this is leading. The researchers gave mice that were a few months old a small amount of ecdysterone every day and measured the effects this had on their skeleton. The mice were given the stuff for three weeks in a very low dosage: 0.5 mg ecdysterone per kg bodyweight. The human equivalent of this dose for someone weighing 80 kg would be just 4 mg ecdysterone per day.

The researchers gave the mice the supplement 5 days a week. The researchers didn't work weekends a consequence of not enough Asians working in the lab.

The bones of the male and female mice became more compact as a result of the low dose of ecdysterone [bEcd], as the figure below shows. The effect was only seen in intact mice. In the mice that had undergone surgical intervention [ORX] [OVX] and therefore produced no testosterone or estradiol, ecdysterone had no effect.

Couple of milligrams ecdysterone daily strengthens bones

Couple of milligrams ecdysterone daily strengthens bones

Ecdysterone also made the bones of the intact mice stronger, as you can see in the figure above.

"In summary, we found that the short-term administration of ecdysterone in growing intact mice resulted in marked enhancements in [...] bone formation that was associated with significantly increased [...] bone volume", wrote the researchers. "These findings imply the potential use of ecdysterone in the bone mass augmentation in growing males and females."

"Ecdysterone may differ from the other anabolic hormone treatments that have caused some real problems when taken from the laboratory to human models such as serious cardiac complications. However, its efficacy in humans awaits further investigations."

The study was funded by the American government.

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2015 Aug;473(8):2495-504.

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