So, it's likely by now that you've heard of Ecdysterone. Your interest may have spiked when you heard that this plant extract may have the ability to produce similar results to that of anabolic steroids, without the associated risks and side effects.
However, you may be sceptical of the claims, surrounding its effectiveness and safety. This article has been created to inform you on what exactly ecdysteroids are, and whether they are as beneficial and risk-free as many believe.
What are Ecdysteroids?
Ecdysteroids are a class of naturally-occurring hormones found in certain plants and insects.
In fact, the name “ecdysteroids” is a coined term: ‘ecdy’ is derived from ecdysis, which is the moulting process of insects before increasing in growth. Plants also create this chemical compound in response to stress. And ‘Steroids’ due to the four carbon ring polyhydroxylated ketosteroid base structure. However, have no fear, ecdysteroids do not act like anabolic steroids.
Types of Ecdysteroids
Types of ecdysteroids include turkesterone, beta-ecdysterone, ecdysone and 2-deoxyecdysone. Of all the ecdysteroids, turkesterone and beta-ecdysterone have so far been found to be the most effective at increasing muscle mass and stamina, and are the most commonly used as supplements.
What is Ecdysterone Also Known By?
Many ecdysterone supplements are marketed under different names, despite usually being the exact same extract. If you’re looking for a Ecdysterone bodybuilding supplement, these are the common names for them;
- Ecdysterone 20-Hydroxyecdysone
What Do Ecdysteroids Do In Humans?
Fascinatingly, humans have receptors for ecdysteroids, and when activated promote various health benefits. On a molecular level, ecdysteriods are synthesised from dietary cholesterol once metabolised. Then ecysteriods are understood to play an essential role in morphogenesis, which is the process required for tissue development.
This extract initially caught the attention of scientists due to having similar genetic structures to androgenic hormones, thus having the potential to be used as testosterone replacement therapy. However, there was no evidence of binding affinity to androgen receptors, and most research was then withdrawn.
However this research did show ecdysteroids to accelerate muscle protein synthesis (1), demonstrating this extract to be anabolic (muscle-building) and not androgenic. Scientists then began to research Ecdysteriods to understand how this plant hormone promotes anabolic activity without interfering with natural hormonal activity in the body.
A study discovered that Ecdysterone does not bind to androgen or estrogen receptor-alpha, but to estrogen receptor-beta (ERβ). It may be surprising to hear that the activation of an estrogen receptor is beneficial for muscle growth, but ERβ plays a vital role in skeletal muscle growth (2).
Additionally, Ecdysterone has also been shown to accelerate muscle protein synthesis by stimulating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway (3). This will also enhance muscle repair and development.
Is Ecdysterone a Steroid?
Yes, technically Ecdysterone is a steroid. But it's important to know that the molecular makeup of “steroids” is not exclusive to synthetic anabolic steroids that are designed to mimic testosterone. Ecdysterone is a phytoecdysteroid, which is a hormone released by plants and insects.
Despite having a similar structure to testosterone, there is no evidence to suggest that it works like it. Additionally, as ecdysterone is not a synthetic testosterone variation, and therefore does not bind to androgen receptors, Ecdysterone will not take testosterone levels above and beyond natural levels, like synthetic testosterone. Therefore, it does not have the risks and side effects associated with “anabolic steroids”.
Do Ecdysteroids Have Similar Anabolic Effects As Synthetic Steroids?
We all know that anabolic steroids can increase muscle mass and strength significantly over a short period of time. But how do ecdysteroids compare?
Firstly, research has demonstrated Ecdysterone to increase muscle mass to a similar extent as anabolic steroids and SARMS (5). This study directly suggests that Ecdysteroids are just as effective as some androgenic steroids at building muscle.
Further research has shown that 10 weeks of Ecdysterone supplementation combined with resistance training leads to significant greater increases in lean muscle mass compared to resistance training alone. This study also reported that those who supplemented Ecdysterone to significantly increase their one repetition max (4).
Is Ecdysterone Safe?
Currently, there aren’t any side effects associated with Ecdysterone use, therefore research suggests that it is safe to take. Ecdysterone does not trigger steroidal responses, and hasn’t been reported to have any toxicity as of yet.
As explained in the previous section, ecdysteroids do not act like testosterone variations, and therefore will not directly add testosterone to your body. This sort of intervention is necessary during hormone replacement therapy, and is often used by bodybuilders looking to increase muscle mass growth into the unnatural realm. However, there are multiple side effects associated with ingesting exogenous testosterone or testosterone like compounds, such as gynecomastia, mood fluctuations, liver problems and increased risk of blood clots, just to name a few. But as Ecdysteroids do not bind to androgen receptors or directly influx testosterone levels, these risks are eliminated.
What foods are high in Ecdysterone?
Some foods such as spinach, quinoa and asparagus contain Ecdysteroids, usually in the form of 20HE.
The optimum way to take Ecdysterone is to take a supplement, as vegetables like spinach only contain a small amount.
Is Ecdysterone banned?
No. Anti-doping agencies can not test for ecdysterone as it is not on the list of banned substances. However, this lack of listing is being raised as a concern due to its noticeable effects on athletic performance.
Where to Buy Ecdysterone
At Prohormones UK, we offer German Pharma’s Beta Ecdysterone. Each vegan friendly capsule contains 250mg of high potency 95% Ecdysterone.