Ligustrazine in bodybuilding supplements
In web stores there are more and more muscle-building supplements with ligustrazine. One of the first was Hydra Head Six from the ever-innovative Anateus Labs. Whether those supplements work? We dare not say that. But that lugustrazine, a substance naturally found in herbs and foods, has a positive effect on muscle growth? Not impossible, we think.
Ligustrazine is an alkyl pyrazine. It is also called tetramethylpyrazine. The substance is naturally found in the roots of the Asian plant Ligusticum wallichii. In smaller concentrations, ligustrazine is found in fermented foods such as natto.
The effect of lugustrazine is probably two-fold. Ligustrazine increases the activity of NO in blood vessels, making them more flexible and able to transport more oxygen and nutrients.
At the same time, ligustrazine is a calcium blocker. Calcium blockers make blood vessels smoother - and can, in theory, slow down muscle breakdown. When muscle cells break down muscle proteins, calcium ions play an important role. Blocking the release of calcium ions in muscle cells blocks muscle protein catabolism.
In 2017, Chinese researchers at Northwest University in Xi'an published an animal study in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. The researchers made sure that rats could not use a hind leg for a period of 14 days.
Part of the animals received no active substances, and acted as the control group. The researchers administered the remaining test animals ligustrazine daily during the experiment. They pumped the substance with a tube into the stomach of the test animals.
The researchers divided the animals that received ligustrazine into 4 groups. Each group received a different dose.
The inactive muscles of the test animals receiving ligustrazine showed less muscle breakdown after 14 days than the muscles of the rats in the control group.
The researchers achieved the best results with the highest dose [TMP4]. The human equivalent of that dose is somewhere between 400 and 700 milligrams per day.
The Chinese discovered that ligustrazine, among other things, inhibited the activity of the catabolic signal molecule MuRF1.
Click on the figure below for a larger version.
Muscle fiber type
The researchers studied 2 muscle groups in the inactive leg of the test animals: the soleus and the extensor digitorum longus. A major difference between these two muscle groups is that the soleus consists for the most part of slow slow twitch muscle fibers.
What we tell in this report about the muscle-enhancing effect of ligustrazine relates to the soleus. The researchers found the same effects in the extensor digitorum longus, but to a significantly less convincing extent.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2017;96:513-23.
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