The ginseng steroid Rg1 makes humans fitter
Ginseng roots contain a dozen steroid-like substances, and one of them is ginsenoside Rg1. After they have taken 2 caps with of 5 milligrams of the ginseng steroid Rg1, young inactive men's fitness levels increase. During intensive exercise they perform better, while their muscles suffer less damage. And afterwards they recover faster.
Taiwanese scientists from the University of Taipei experimented with a dozen male, healthy but untrained students. They let them exercise several times, and gave the students a cap with 5 milligram ginsenoside Rg1 on the evening before the session, and another cap an hour before the session. On another occasion the students received a placebo.
The researchers have been studying ginsenoside Rg1 for quite some time now. Their research is paid for by the Taiwanese government, and by US-based NuLiv. [nulivscience.com] NuLiv produces ingredients for supplements that are based on herbs that Asian traditional healers have been using for centuries.
When the researchers asked the students to cycle as long as possible at an intensity of 80 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max], they saw that the supplement increased the time to exhaustion by 20 percent.
After the session, the students consumed a high carbohydrate meal. When the researchers monitored the blood of the students, they noticed that the ginseng steroid accelerated the uptake of glucose [bottom left]. Bottom right you see that supplementation with ginsenoside Rg1 increased the amount of glycogen in the muscle cells.
Anti-inflammatory & antioxidant effects
After exercise, the TNF-alpha concentration increased in the muscle cells. The ginseng steroid inhibited that uptake. At the same time, the substance caused the muscle cells to produce more of the anti-inflammatory interleukin-10.
After the exercise session, the damage caused by the activity of free radicals [TBARS] increased in the muscle cells. Supplementation with ginsenoside Rg1 inhibited this increase.
"The major finding of the study is that pre-workout Rg1 supplementations significantly increased endurance performance at high exercise intensity", write the researchers.
"Untrained participants were able to undertake approximately 20% additional work on a cycle ergometer compared with placebo trial. The ginseng-based steroid Rg1 can offer ergogenic benefits for humans."
PLoS One. 2015 Jan 24;10(1):e0116387.
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