Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Pinoresinol and vanillic acid | Phytochemicals that mimic the anabolic effect of IGF-1
Supplements containing vanillic acid and pinoresinol, two compounds found in several plants, may help boost muscle growth. According to a fascinating Korean in vitro-study, both compounds promote anabolism by interacting with the receptor for IGF-1.
In 2008, American researchers had discovered that catalpic acid, a fatty acid in the Indian Bean Tree bean, improves the body composition of mice, probably by increasing the sensitivity to insulin. [Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;27(5):764-72.] The Koreans wondered if there were other interesting compounds in Indian Bean Tree beans.
First, they found that none of these substances damaged the cells.
Second, they found that 2 of 15 compounds, vanillic acid and pinoresinol, stimulated the growth and development of the young muscle cells.
The optimum concentration for stimulating muscle cell proliferation was on the order of a few micrograms. If the bioavailability of vanillic acid and pinoresinol is not too bad, supplementation with these two phytochemicals may be an option.
You would also expect this activation of anabolic pathways if you exposed muscle cells to an anabolic hormone such as IGF-1. So the Koreans used models to calculate whether vanillic acid and pinoresinol might interact with the IGF-1 receptor.
The figures below show that this was indeed the case. Both compounds, at least in silico, were able to activate the IGF-1 receptor.