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

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Crocetin: the energy booster from gardenia

The ornamental plant Cape jasmine scientific name Gardenia jasminoides contains crocetin [structural formula also shown below], a relative of lycopene and beta-carotene. According to physiologists at Osaka City University, a daily dose of 15 mg of the carotenoid has a stimulant effect. It improves performance in subjects suffering from fatigue.


The researchers are part of the 21st Century COE Program Base to Overcome Fatigue. This programme was started by the Japanese government to search for substances that can help prevent karoshi, is the phenomenon of employees literally working themselves to death, and dying at their desks. In the project the researchers are studying whether they can prevent karoshi through supplements or functional foods such as EGCG, Q10, citric acid, caffeine and ribose.

Interestingly, the project is focused on boosting endurance capacity. We, the humble makers of this web magazine, wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to deal with companies that are working their workers to death. But of course, we aren't experts.

The researchers gave 7 men and 7 women a placebo, 3 g vitamin C or 15 mg crocetin daily for 8 days in a row. The substances were divided over 8 capsules. On day 8 the researchers got their subjects to cycle twice, for 2 hours each time. Half an hour after starting and half an hour before stopping [and they were tired, therefore] the subjects had to cycle as hard as they could for 10 seconds.

Crocetin: the energy booster from gardenia

On that day the subjects took their supplements half way through the test.

The crocetin supplement raised the maximum speed reached under fatigue conditions. In the men, but not in the women.

Crocetin: the energy booster from gardenia

The researchers have not yet worked at how crocetin enhances performance. What they did discover is that during rest crocetin boosts the amount of free fatty acids in the blood.

Nutr Res. 2009 Mar; 29(3): 145-50.