Lately it seems Turkesterone to be one of the most hyped bodybuilding supplements in the world. But why does this ecdysteroid work wonders? Let's find out!
If you're a bodybuilder, you must have heard of the new supplement that is dominating much of the market, Turkesterone. It is said to improve muscle hypertrophy and overall athletic performance in bodybuilders. Well, if you're a curious person like me, I think you're wondering why this supplement has a positive effect on your workouts and therefore your results.
In this article we will look at what Turkesterone is, and of course how it supports muscle hypertrophy. This will be based purely on scientific publications and not on opinions or non-scientific articles.
What is Turkesterone?
Due to the name, Turkesterone, many people often think that this compound is extracted from turkey. On the contrary, Turkesterone is extracted from a plant, Ajuga turkestanica, which is native to Central Asia, particularly Uzbekistan, and which has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It is used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, fever, malaria, dysentery and gastrointestinal disorders. Turkesterone is also present in significant amounts in the Maral root (or Leuzea), Vitex species and Rhaponticum acaule. In the diet of the western world, the best sources of Turkesterone are still Spinacia oleracea (spinach) and quinoa. However, the amount in these plants is too low, making them an inadequate source of this ecdysteroid. Ecdysteroids extracted from plants are called phytoecdysteroids. In plants and insects, they are like human testosterone. They act as anabolics to promote muscle growth.
The supposed anabolic property of ecdysteroids was first believed to be used by the Russians. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), ecdysterone, one of the most active phytosteroids, was believed to have been illegally used by Russian athletes since the 80s to increase their athletic performance. They called it "The Russian Secret".
Synthetic Steroids vs Natural Steroids
To better understand compounds such as ecdysteroids, it is necessary to know what steroids are. Basically, steroids are chemicals, usually in the form of a hormone like testosterone, that are naturally produced by the body.
They support the healthy functioning of our cells, tissues and organs. In addition to the natural steroids in our body, there are also synthetic steroids.
Synthetic or man-made steroids come in two types: the corticosteroids and the anabolic steroids. The corticosteroids are involved in fighting inflammation in our body, just like cortisol. They can be taken to fight inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and asthma. Anabolic steroids, also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids, are synthetic substances similar to testosterone, the male sex hormone. They stimulate the growth of muscle tissue and improve athletic performance. Prolonged use of this unnatural (synthetic) steroids have been shown to have harmful side effects.
Interestingly, natural anabolic steroids like the ecdysteroids have no harmful side effects like the synthetic ones. The synthetic ones have been shown to readily bind to the androgen receptor proteins in skeletal muscle tissue cells - an action that often has side effects, unlike natural steroids such as ecdysteroids, which cannot bind to androgen receptors, while providing significant muscle building benefits.
How does Turkesterone work?
Thus, Turkesterone is an ecdysteroid, it is believed to follow the same pathways in the body as its sister compound, ecdysterone, whose mechanism of action has been established. They work by activating the estrogen receptor beta to produce the biological response of muscle growth in skeletal cells. According to research, this estrogen receptor is involved in stimulating the growth, repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle, through the regulation of anabolic pathways, and that of the immune system.
Another study stated that ecdysteroids, such as turkesterone, can promote muscle protein synthesis through their ability to increase mRNA translation efficiency and the functional activity of polyribosomes. Interestingly, the same study was able to point to the possibility that ecdysteroids limit protein breakdown, which was attributed to a drop in glucocorticoid levels. A study published in 1999 by Hasselgren found that glucocorticoids inhibit the synthesis of proteins and stimulate their breakdown in skeletal muscle. This usually occurs via the ubiquitin-proteasome system and the autophagy lysosome system.
Another study also showed how ecdysteroids can increase the amount of leucine absorbed into body cells. If you don't know, leucine is one of the three essential branched-chain amino acids. Such amino acids can be used to provide energy to skeletal muscle cells during exercise. In addition, leucine is an essential amino acid for protein synthesis. It is also involved in several essential cellular processes such as metabolism and tissue regeneration.
How effective is Turkesterone?
There are plenty of anecdotal reviews claiming that Turkesterone excels at building muscle mass. Animal experiments in labs have proven to some extent the muscle building power of Turkesterone. Also of the related substance ecdysterone has been shown to induce muscle growth in a human clinical study. The investigation included:
- A 10-week intervention study of strength training in 46 young men.
- Over the course of the training, the participants were administered different doses of ecdysterone-containing supplements. These include ecdysterone, metandienone, and other similar compounds.
- Then blood and urine samples were analyzed for ecdysterone and potential biomarkers for performance enhancement.
- At the end of the study, the participants who had received ecdysterone showed significantly greater gains in muscle mass than the other groups
- The analysis of their blood and urine also showed no increase in biomarkers for liver or kidney toxicity.
- Interestingly, when the ecdysterone compound was tested in vitro, the same hypertrophic effects were observed.
- In addition, the study found that the athletic performance of the participants who received ecdysterone increased.
But hey! Why is the emphasis on ecdysterone? Well, Turkesterone is an ecdysterone. Research has shown that Turkesterone is the strongest ecdysterone we have been able to identify to date. That is precisely why the industry is developing techniques to extract as much Turkesterone as possible from a plant. At the moment, however, there is only one plant from which 10% Turkesterone can be extracted. This is the Ajuga Turkestanica plant that only occurs in Uzbekistan and to a lesser extent in Tajikistan. This is the reason that specifically more Turkesterone is offered online than other ecdysteroids.
Let's take a look at one of the animal-based studies that used Turkesterone as one of the anabolics. Although the research is quite old, it does provide some basis for going further. It was published by Syrov in the year 2000. The study involved:
- The anabolic potential of several phytoecdysteroids and star anabolics was tested, including ecdysterone, Turkesterone and dianabol, which were among the most powerful anabolic steroids on the market at the time.
- Interestingly, the results showed that turkesterone led the pack in terms of muscle/weight gain.
What are the side effects of Turkesterone?
As we have seen before, natural anabolic agents such as the ecdysteroids do not have the same side effects as the synthetic ones because they do not bind to the androgenic protein receptors. Mild to life-threatening side effects have been associated with synthetic anabolic steroids (so here falls Turkesterone cannot below).
That said, there are anecdotal side effects that have been described. This means that these have not been detected during research into Turkesterone. However, any symptoms are mild and can occur especially when taken on an empty stomach or if the recommended dose is exceeded. Some of these effects include nausea and mild abdominal pain. It is therefore important to always take the Turkesterone during a meal. By doing this you prevent any minor side effects and the Turkesterone is better absorbed by the body.
Current research shows promising possibilities when taking Turkesterone. Not much should be expected, as it is still new in the anabolic supplement world. Remember that creatine took years of research and scrutiny before it was finally accepted as a muscle building supplement. As with any new supplement, there are always yay and nay-sayers.
However, it must be said that many people enjoy using this anabolic compound to promote muscle growth.