A relatively new supplement on the bodybuilding and athletic scene is turkesterone. This supplement belongs to the ecdysteroid family of supplements and has gained popularity as of late for its muscle growth properties. Is all the hype surrounding this supplement warranted, or is it a waste of money?
Let’s look deeper at this supplement and see if it can do what everyone claims.
What is turkesterone?
Turkesterone is a phytoecdysteroid. Phytoecdysteroids are plant steroids and are very similar to ecdysteroids which are steroid hormones found in insects. These phytoecdysteroid and ecdysteroid compounds are often referred to as natural steroids because of how similar their chemical structure is to that of testosterone. Because of how similar these ecdysteroids and phytoecdysteroids are to testosterone, they have the ability to stimulate an increase in muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth.
These anabolic compounds stimulate the development and maturity in plants and insects, the same as testosterone does in people. Ecdysteroids are what cause the molting and cocooning process in insects. Some plants produce phytoecdysteroids, and they are structurally similar to ecdysteroids. Plants have these ecdysteroids as a defense mechanism against insects eating them. If insects eat plants containing these ecdysteroids, they will begin the molting or cocooning process, stopping them from eating the plant.
The most common source found in supplements is derived from the Ajuga turkestanica, Leuzea plants, and Maral Root. Ajuga turkestanica is the most common source as it contains large quantities of phytoecdysteroids such as turkesterone.
Turkesterone muscle growth
As we alluded to above, turkesterone can increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis and mimic the effect of testosterone to some extent within the body and elicit some of the similar anabolic effects seen with testosterone.
Increasing the rate of protein synthesis can result in greater muscle repair and recovery from resistance training. This increased protein synthesis, recovery, and repair will lead to skeletal muscle hypertrophy and muscle growth in the long run.
Does turkesterone build muscle?
Based on the scientific research done, turkesterone does build muscle. By stimulating an increased rate of protein synthesis, turkesterone can cause muscle hypertrophy and increases in muscle mass.
A research study using ajuga turkestanica extract was done to see if it could help with sarcopenia, a muscle loss condition primarily seen in the elderly. The study found that the ajuga turkestanica extract, which is high in turkesterone, helped to stimulate muscle hyperplasia. It accomplished this by stimulating the notch receptor.
Another study using the ajuga turkestanica plant extract found that the plant extract can inhibit myostatin more effectively than the anabolic steroid methandienone (Dianabol) could. Myostatin is a myokine released by myocytes (muscle cells) that inhibits muscle growth, so if you can decrease myostatin levels within the muscle, you will be able to build more skeletal muscle.
Ecdysteroids like turkesterone can increase the uptake of leucine into the muscle cells. As discussed in great detail in our leucine and muscle growth article, leucine is the most anabolic of all the amino acids and stimulates protein synthesis and muscle building.
Another way ecdysteroids work with leucine is that the structural tail of ecdysteroids like turkesterone resembles that of the leucine metabolite HMB. HMB is a well-study and documented supplement that increases protein synthesis and muscle mass.
Does turkesterone increase testosterone?
There is no evidence to indicate that turkesterone increases testosterone levels. Turkesterone shares a similar chemical structure to testosterone, but this does not mean that it stimulates increased testosterone production in any way.
Does turkesterone need a pct?
Turkesterone does not require post-cycle therapy (pct) because it does not bind to the androgen receptor and thus does not signal the body to shut down endogenous testosterone production while taking it.
Normally, whenever you are taking a supplement, that increases testosterone levels and increases binding at the androgen receptors. These increased test levels cause the body to sense an overabundance of androgens circulating, stimulating the receptors. Because of this, the body will down-regulate the androgenic hormones such as testosterone to balance itself or get back to homeostasis. This downregulation of testosterone is why you would need a post-cycle therapy or PCT to boost your natural or endogenous testosterone production back to normal levels.
Other Beneficial effects
In addition to the already mentioned benefits, such as
- increased protein synthesis
- increased muscle protein content
- increased hypertrophy
- increased muscle mass
Turkesterone has other benefits that might help athletes and bodybuilders in the gym and competition.
Increases cellular energy
One study found that the ecdysteroid 20-hydroxyecdysone can normalize and increase ATP levels in people with deficient vitamin D. Apparently, vitamin D deficiency can negatively impact ATP and creatine phosphate in the cells. The test subjects supplemented with 20-hydroxyecdysone had their creatine phosphate and ATP levels normalized and some increased.
Increasing Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) levels within the muscle cells gives your muscles more stored energy to use during intense training and muscle contractions. Another benefit is that the 20-hydroxyecdysone increases the creatine phosphate levels in the cells; this can also provide more energy for the working muscles.
When ATP gets used by the muscle cell, it breaks the high-energy bond, which converts ATP into ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate). Then creatine phosphate comes along and donates a phosphate to the ADP molecule, and this turns it back into ATP and is ready to be used for energy again.
Heal the skin
Ecdysteroids have healing properties when applied topically to the skin. Ecdysteroids such as turkesterone can stimulate keratinocyte differentiation. This stimulation of keratinocytes can speed up the healing of minor wounds and burns.
The half-life of turkesterone has not yet been studied, so we do not have an exact time for its half-life. However, most ecdysteroids have a half-life of 4 to 9 hours in humans when ingested orally.
Turkesterone Side Effects
To sum it all up, turkesterone is a promising anabolic supplement. It has a good amount of scientific data backing up its muscle-building claims, and with its growing popularity, more research should be done going forward.
We have covered that it is a good supplement for those looking to increase skeletal muscle mass, but it is also a supplement that has some benefits for improving ATP and cellular energy stores and output, which could help fuel workouts and maximum performance.
With its strong safety profile and good research supporting its benefits, it is a supplement that is worth trying if you are looking for something to help increase your muscle mass.