The anabolic effect of ecdysterone in spinach
Ecdysterone is the hormone primarily responsible for molting (development) in insects. It is also found in plants, including spinach. In human applications it may have anabolic effects.

In plants, it is used to control insects: it causes insect death due to premature shedding, weight loss or other metabolic damage.

This hormone is also found in spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and in other plants (e.g. Brazilian ginseng, sweet-root fern).

Ecdysterone has been reported to have several positive effects in human applications. The most prominent of these is the anabolic effect, which is being investigated for its potential use as a doping agent in addition to its therapeutic use. Previous animal studies have already demonstrated anabolic effects: increased muscle mass and performance compared to controls and other commonly used anabolic steroids. In mammals, it binds to the estrogen receptor beta.

Some related publications: Parr, 2015; Parr et al., 2014; Báthori et al., 2008.

In a 2019 study investigating the effects of a spinach extract supplement in adult men, muscle gain and performance enhancing effects were demonstrated in humans (a 10-week study with different doses of ecdysterone in 46 subjects). Other hormone, urine and liver enzyme levels were also tested, and the results showed that ecdysterone did not cause the negative effects seen with other anabolic agents.

All the studies on the anabolic effects of ecdysterone recommend the inclusion of ecdysterone in the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) list of group S1 (anabolic substances).

In addition to the therapeutic application of the anabolic effect, several positive effects are attributed to the compound, including:

There are many dietary supplements containing ecdysterone or spinach extract on the market. In Hungary, spinach is not included in the list of plants that cannot be used in food supplements, but other plants containing ecdysterone are.


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