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

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Fitter with Gotu Kola

Three months' supplementation using an extract of the herb Gotu Kola scientific name Centella asiatica makes over 65s fitter. After taking the extract for three months, subjects could run faster and had stronger leg muscles. These were the results of an experiment that researchers at Khon Kaen University in Thailand published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Fitter with Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola
Asian chefs use Gotu Kola as a flavour enhancer; traditional healers in Asia use it as a mild adaptogen.

Adaptogens are extracts of a natural origin with a broad spectrum of ergogenic enhancing effect. They are said to delay aging processes, enable users to undertake heavy physical exertion and are also believed to enhance sexual performance. Gotu Kola is said to have all these effects and you can buy it in almost every pharmacy or supplements store.

The researchers wanted to know whether Gotu Kola does indeed possess the properties alluded to in the folklore, so they gave 80 subjects a capsule containing 0 [the placebo], 250, 500 or 750 mg Gotu Kola extract every day for 12 weeks.

The extracts were water based. Each gram contained 29.9 mg tannic acid, 1.1 mg asiaticoside and 48.9 mg asiatic acid. Ethnopharmacologists believe that asiatic acid and its analogues are the bioactive substances in Gotu Kola. These are shown below.

Fitter with Gotu Kola

Just before and after the supplementation period the researchers measured the distance the subjects were able to run in six minutes, and how many times they could stand up from sitting in 30 seconds. They discovered that Gotu Kola improved the subjects' performance in both tests.

Click on the table below for a larger version.

Fitter with Gotu Kola

The researchers also got the subjects to squeeze a hand gripper, but supplementation had no effect on the strength in the participants' hands.

The figure below summarizes how Gotu Kola may work according to the researchers.

Fitter with Gotu Kola

"In conclusion, our study clearly demonstrated the potential of Centella asiatica to improve muscle strength, especially the muscle of the lower extremities", the researchers write.

"Centella asiatica might be useful as a natural resource in the development of functional foods improving the daily physical activity in the healthy elderly."

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:579467.

Kaempferia parviflora makes the over-sixties fitter 16.12.2012
Resveratrol keeps older endurance athletes fitter 14.12.2012
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