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

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Animal study: ibuprofen is really a doping substance

You might conclude that anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen should be put on the doping list after reading an animal study that Brazilian sports scientists recently published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. The study suggests that endurance athletes will not only book better times after taking ibuprofen, but they will also make better progress with their competitive preparation if they take ibuprofen.

Animal study: ibuprofen is really a doping substance
The researchers got one group of young male rats to swim regularly [Training] over a six-week period, and compared them to a non-active group [Sedentary].

At the end of the six weeks, the researchers gave half of the rats in each group ibuprofen [structural formula shown below]. The human equivalent of the dose used would be 150-200 mg daily.

The researchers then got all the rats to swim to the point of exhaustion three times, with a break of three days between each swimming session.

The first, second and third figures below show how long the rats were able to keep swimming on the first, second and third occasion respectively. The administration of ibuprofen extended the amount of time both the trained and untrained rats were able to keep their heads above water. In addition, the performance-enhancing effect of ibuprofen became stronger as the experiment progressed.

Animal study: ibuprofen is really a doping substance

Animal study: ibuprofen is really a doping substance

Animal study: ibuprofen is really a doping substance

The researchers found no evidence of significant effects of ibuprofen in the rats' muscles, but did find effects in their brains. The most noticeable effect was that ibuprofen reduced the concentration of inflammatory factor interleukin 1–beta in the cerebral cortex.

Animal study: ibuprofen is really a doping substance

Ibuprofen reduced pain stimuli in the lab animals, and also the perception of muscle fatigue and pain the researchers suspect. As a result, the rats kept up the swimming for longer and the training stimulus of the sessions became stronger.

"Additive anti-inflammatory effects of exercise and ibuprofen intake support the hypothesis that this combination may constitute a more effective approach, as ergogenic aids may be a useful means to prevent exercise-induced fatigue", wrote the researchers. So maybe anti-inflammatories should be put on the doping list...

The researchers do warn athletes thinking of experimenting with ibuprofen. The type of anti-inflammatories that ibuprofen belongs to have side effects, write the Brazilians, which include "some more prevalent and some rare like stomach/intestinal ulcers and bleeding, abnormal kidney and liver functions, asthma and respiratory reactions, immune reactions, joint destruction (in osteoarthritis), kidney failure, liver injury and failure, and severe skin reaction."

There is a safe, natural alternative to ibuprofen, which you can read more about here.

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016 Oct;26(10):1160-70.

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Endurance Doping
Pain Killers