What Is Turkesterone?

If you’re a bodybuilder, or lift heavy things and fitness on the regular, then you might have heard of the new “natural” steroid turkesterone. With only a handful of human studies, results have been encouraging in support of the ergogenic benefits of ecdysteroids. Marketed to increase strength, build more muscle mass, and burn body fat, we’re going to dig into the evidence to find out exactly what turkesterone is, what it does, and if the research supports the claims.

What Is Turkesterone 

Turkesterone is what’s known as a phytoecdysteroid. Ecdysteroids are anabolic steroids derived from arthropods or insects. They also occur in various plant species and non-arthropod invertebrates and are believed to contribute to the deterrence of invertebrate predators [R]. Commercially available turkesterone is derived from the plant Ajuga turkestanica, Leuzea, and Maral Root, an adaptogen. Notably, there are also rich in conventional foods, such as quinoa, spinach, and chestnut. Phytoecdysteroids are molecularly similar to testosterone, which is theorized as one if it’s proposed mechanisms of action for induced muscle growth and enhance physical performance, by increasing protein synthesis [R, R].

Recent studies suggest that Turkesterone and the anabolic effect of ecdysteroids, is mediated by the estrogen receptor binding. In comparison with other prohibited anabolic agents metandienone (dianabol), estradienedione (trenbolox), and SARM S 1, all administered in the same dose (5 mg/kg body weight, for 21 days) ecdysterone has revealed to be even more effective in recent animal studies [R, R].

Other observed pharmacological benefits in addition to the anabolic properties of turkesterone include adaptogenic, anti-diabetic, immunoprotective, hepatoprotective and cardioprotective [R].

Turkesterone Benefits

Increases Lean Muscle Mass

Muscle protein synthesis is the biological process of building new protein cells to rebuild and repair muscle tissue, via amino acids. This biological process is a result of intense physical stress, caused by micro-tears and mini trauma done to the muscle tissue during training. Studies suggest however that the intensity/workload is negligible on the rate of MPS. MPS is truly controlled by exercise in addition to nutrient intake. 

One of the proposed mechanisms of action of Turkesterone, is its ability to increase muscle protein synthesis.

A 10-week interventional study published in the Archives of Toxicology investigated the performance enhancement effects of ecdysterone supplementation in young male athletes. Different doses of ecdysterone-containing supplements were administered to 46 study participants. Significantly higher increases of lean muscle mass were observed in those that dosed with ecdysterone, as compared to placebo. Increased one-rep bench performance was also observed with enhanced hypertrophic effects, and no increase in biomarkers for liver or kidney toxicity [R].

A recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health established that phytoecdysteroids does not alter muscle mass or protein synthesis signaling pathways [R].

Ecdysteroids May Be Safer Than Other Anabolic Agents

Considerable progress has been made over the past four decades researching the potential benefits and uses of ecdysteroids and phytoecdysteroids. However, most of the current evidence has only been researched with in-vitro animals studies, not human based evidence. Therefore, several questions still remain regarding the safety and efficacy of ecdysteroids, such as turkesterone as a potential therapeutic agent.

Research suggests that ecdysteroids could be a therapeutic alternative to anabolic agents. One of the largest areas of concern is that synthetic anabolic steroids can be toxic to the liver, however studies suggest there is no relative increase for liver and kidney toxicity from ecdysteroid supplementation. Unlike anabolic-androgenic steroids that bind to androgen receptors, turkesterone and ecdysteroids do not cause any steroidal side effects. Ecdysteroids bind to the human estrogen receptor inducing greater hypertrophy mediated by estrogen activation. Although stimulating mediating different anabolic pathways, Turkesterone is in fact one of the most anabolic ecdysteroids [R].

May Increase Endurance And Energy Output

Although there is a paucity in the evidence, some evidence suggests that turkesterone may promote and generate Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) [R]. ATP provides the energy your body needs to drive molecular and chemical energy. Essentially, it is your body's internal fuel tank. When energy is needed by muscle cells, energy is metabolized from glycogen and fat into ATP. ATP serves as a shuttle delivering more energy to increase strength, reduce muscle fatigue, and boost power output.

Turkesterone Dosage

More evidence is needed to provide a recommendation for an optimal ergogenic dose of turkesterone. However most turkesterone supplements provide 500-600mg per dose. Common cycles run between 8-12 weeks, however since turkesterone is not an androgenic steroid and does not cause suppression or toxicity, you can run it indefinitely.

Despite the lack of evidence, several sports supplement brands now offer turkesterone as a potential performance enhancing supplement for building muscle mass and optimizing body composition. As a natural anabolic steroid, producing similar anabolic effects to androgenic steroids, it does provide an intriguing offer. There is concern with the lack of regulation and quality in supplements containing turkesteorne and ecdysterone. A recently analysis of supplements containing ecdysterone found that most were 99% less than the label claim [R]. if you decide to supplement with these compounds proceed with caution, as the most likely will not contain a clinically effective dose of ecdysterone and turkesterone. 

Turkesterone And Ecdysteroids: Takeaway 

Current evidence contends that turkesterone and ecdysteroids show promise as potential ergogenic aids, for building muscle mass, optimizing body composition, and improving athletic performance. Although more research is needed to prove their safety and efficacy, researchers contend that the presence of ecdysterone and turkesterone in the diet is proof of their safety, which is a reasonable supposition. Current research does provide plausible pathways, however more human evidence is needed to elucidate the role of these compounds in the human body and their direct mechanisms of action.


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References

Dinan L. Phytoecdysteroids: biological aspects. Phytochemistry. 2001 Jun;57(3):325-39. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9422(01)00078-4. PMID: 11393511.

Jonathan Gorelick-Feldman, Wendie Cohick, Ilya Raskin, Ecdysteroids elicit a rapid Ca2+ flux leading to Akt activation and increased protein synthesis in skeletal muscle cells, Steroids,Volume 75, Issue 10,2010,Pages 632-637,ISSN 0039-128X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.steroids.2010.03.008.

Syrov VN. [Mechanism of the anabolic action of phytoecdisteroids in mammals]. Nauchnye Doklady Vysshei shkoly. Biologicheskie Nauki. 1984 (11):16-20. PMID: 6525371.

Isenmann E, Ambrosio G, Joseph JF, Mazzarino M, de la Torre X, Zimmer P, Kazlauskas R, Goebel C, Botrè F, Diel P, Parr MK. Ecdysteroids as non-conventional anabolic agent: performance enhancement by ecdysterone supplementation in humans. Arch Toxicol. 2019 Jul;93(7):1807-1816. doi: 10.1007/s00204-019-02490-x. Epub 2019 May 23. PMID: 31123801.

Parr, M K et al. “Ecdysteroids: A novel class of anabolic agents?.” Biology of sport vol. 32,2 (2015): 169-73. doi:10.5604/20831862.1144420

Lawrence, Marcus M et al. “Phytoecdysteroids Do Not Have Anabolic Effects in Skeletal Muscle in Sedentary Aging Mice.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 18,2 370. 6 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijerph18020370

Ambrosio G, Wirth D, Joseph JF, Mazzarino M, de la Torre X, Botrè F, Parr MK. How reliable is dietary supplement labelling?-Experiences from the analysis of ecdysterone supplements. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2020 Jan 5;177:112877. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2019.112877. Epub 2019 Sep 11. PMID: 31568967.

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