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This is how the creatine-tarragon combo works

Athletic Edge Nutrition has Creatine RT, the chic make Jarrow Formulas has Creatine Surge and Magnum has Big C. Preparations that combine creatine with extracts of the herb tarragon [Artemisia dracunculus] are popular. An animal study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows how these supplements may work.

On 26 May 2011 three German researchers – Ralf Jaeger, Ivo Pischel and Martin Purpura – obtained the American patent for improved supplements containing creatine and L-carnitine. [United States Application US20110123654] The addition of an extract of Artemisia dracunculus improves the uptake of these substances by the muscle cells, according to the patent information.

You can also find this information in an abstract that the researchers published in 2008 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. [Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, 5(Suppl 1): P4.]

The abstract describes a study in which creatine disappears faster from the bloodstream after ingestion when human subjects also took 1000 mg Artemisia dracunculus extract. [A] In the figure below the B curve represents the creatine concentration in the blood of test subjects who only took creatine.

This is how the creatine-tarragon combo works

Artemisia dracunculus chases creatine into the muscle cells, the study suggests. Whether this really is the case, the researchers don't say explicitly. In 2011 researcher Ivo Pischel published another abstract, which showed that Artemisia dracunculus slightly enhances the effect of insulin in healthy people. [Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2011, 8(Suppl 1): P16.] This would explain why herbalists in many countries use tarragon as a remedy for diabetes. [Proc Nutr Soc. 1991 Dec; 50(3): 641-51.] Because muscle cells absorb creatine better in combination with glucose and insulin, this may be the mechanism that causes the creatine-tarragon combo to be effective.

Fundamental research done by Pennington Biomedical provides more insight. In an animal study, published in 2011 in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the researchers gave mice that react badly to insulin feed containing 1 percent ethanol extract of Artemisia dracunculus [PMI5011]. As a result of this the HOMA index [fasting glucose level times fasting insulin level]. This means that the extract induced the cells to 'listen better' to insulin.

This is how the creatine-tarragon combo works

This is how the creatine-tarragon combo works

The extract caused the mice's muscle cells to produce more of pretty much all the proteins that make the insulin receptor work – from the IR insulin receptor to GLUT4 transport protein to insulin-receptor substrate to Akt. But how Artemisia dracunculus does this the researchers are not exactly sure. It may be because the extract boosts the activity of phosphatase enzymes, they think. Phosphatases separate phosphate groups from molecules and in so doing may activate the insulin receptor.

Incidentally, the researchers discovered another interesting effect of Artemisia dracunculus. "Skeletal muscle from animals randomized to PMI 5011 was demonstrated to have decreased 20S proteasome activity and reduced gene expression of specific proteins as part of the ubiquitin–proteasome system in skeletal muscle", they write.

Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7 Suppl 1):S58-64.

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