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  • Ingredient Explained: Horny Goat Weed

    Ingredient Explained: Horny Goat Weed

    Horny goat weed is one of the few supplements that has stood the test of time. It has been used for thousands of years across a number of continents, before finally becoming a popular option for bodybuilders across the globe.

    But what is it, and what does it do?

    Step 1: What is it?

    Horny Goat Weed (also known as “Epimedium” in a more technical sense) is a flowering plant native to China that was traditionally used to increase libido.  

    Legend has it that, thousands of years ago, Chinese herders would notice their goats becoming more sexually active after eating the epimedium growing in the field. As you can imagine, it didn't take long to be a product of human consumption, and the name “horny goat weed” was born.

    Step 2: What does it do?

    The most discussed bioactive compound in Horny Goat Weed is called “icariin” which acts to increase blood flow throughout the body (as well as various other functions).

    Consequently, horny goat weed can accelerate blood flow to the penis, increasing erectile strength. It has even been shown to offer significant benefits to males suffering erectile dysfunction [1].

    On top of its ability to improve erectile function, horny goat weed can also impact upon libido There is a large body of evidence demonstrating that taking horny goat weed regularlycan increase libido and sex drive [2]. While most of the research exploring this topic has been conducted in males, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that it can do the same for females.

    Moving away from the “sexual health” side of things, icariin has also been shown to increase the layering of new bony tissue, while also preventing the breakdown of old bony tissue. As a result, it can contribute to increases in bone density, and may even prevent the onset of osteoporosis in older individuals [3]

    Furthermore, there is some evidence indicating that the icariin in horny goat weed can mimic testosterone once it enters the body. As such, there is reason to believe it can help facilitate the  development of new muscle tissue and metabolism of fat [4] -- particularly in individuals with low testosterone.

    While this effect has not been explored over any long term training studies, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence supporting its use in this manner.

    Lastly, horny goat weed has also been shown to interact with the cells of the brain in a way that can improve mood and emotional wellbeing, while also reducing the signs and symptoms of anxiety [5]. This improvement and emotional wellbeing may help improve training session-quality in the gym, and life-quality out of the gym.

    Step 3: How do I take it?

    To date there are no clear dosage guidelines for horny goat weed. However, based upon previous research, we can identify some recommendations.

    Some research has indicated that a higher dosage of ~13 milligrams of icariin per kilogram of body weight per day will promote the testosterone-like effects of horny goat weed. As most supplements contain about 20% icariin, this means a horny goat weed dosage of:

    • 4500mg per day for a 70kg human
    • 6000mg per day for a 90kg human
    • 7500mg per day for 110kg human

    Conversely, some research [3] has shown a positive effect using doses as low as 300mg per day (60mg of icariin) -- suggesting that a lower dose might be a suitable starting point for most individuals.

    With that in mind, we would suggest starting around 300-500mg per day, and increasing gradually over time.

    Step 4: What are the top products?

    As with any supplement, there are a few things you want to look out for when it comes to buying horny goat weed.

    Before anything else, you want it to be affordable. This means looking for the best value for money horny goat weed on the market (we suggest looking for those that have minimal branding, as this is normally a great way to save money).

    Secondly, you want to be sure it provides a clear overview of its active ingredients. The product should contain a significant amount of horny goat weed per capsule. Additionally, it should not contain any proprietary blends (this is a huge red flag).

    Lastly, check the reviews. If other people have had a good experience, then you are more likely to as well.

    References

    1. Punyawudhoa, B., et al. "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of Cappra® for the treatment of mild or mild to moderate erectile dysfunction in Thai male." African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 10.2 (2013): 310-315.
    2. Liao, H. J., X. M. Chen, and W. G. Li. "Effect of Epimedium sagittatum on quality of life and cellular immunity in patients of hemodialysis maintenance." Zhongguo Zhong xi yi jie he za zhi Zhongguo Zhongxiyi jiehe zazhi= Chinese journal of integrated traditional and Western medicine 15.4 (1995): 202-204.
    3. Zhang, Ge, Ling Qin, and Yinyu Shi. "Epimedium‐derived phytoestrogen flavonoids exert beneficial effect on preventing bone loss in late postmenopausal women: a 24‐month randomized, double‐blind and placebo‐controlled trial." Journal of bone and mineral research 22.7 (2007): 1072-1079.
    4. Shindel, Alan W., et al. "Erectogenic and neurotrophic effects of icariin, a purified extract of horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.) in vitro and in vivo." The journal of sexual medicine 7.4pt1 (2010): 1518-1528.
    5. Xiao, Heather, Nicholas Wignall, and E. Sherwood Brown. "An open-label pilot study of icariin for co-morbid bipolar and alcohol use disorder." The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse 42.2 (2016): 162-167.
  • Ingredient Explained: Tongkat Ali

    Ingredient Explained: Tongkat Ali

    The supplement roundabout is a very real phenomenon, where compounds that were popular years ago slowly make their way back into the mainstream after a bit of a hiatus -- with Tonkat Ali being a prime example.

    But given what it does in the human body, you have to wonder why it ever went away in the first place.

    Step 1: What is it?

    Togkat Ali (also known as “Eurycoma longifolia” in scientific circles) is a plant found growing in the Malaysian rainforest. 

    It has been used for centuries across indonesia in traditional medicine practices to increase erectile strength, treat erectile dysfunction, improve libido, and enhance sexual performance -- which is why it is colloquially known as “Malaysian Viagra.”

    However, this is not where its benefits stop.

    Step 2: What does it do?

    Tongkat Ali is a unique plant that contains several bioactive compounds known as “Quassinoids.” These compounds interact with the body in a number of ways, which can provide several unique benefits.

    As I have already alluded to, Tongkat Ali has been shown have a profound effect on libido and sexual function, with studies even suggesting it is a potent treatment for erectile dysfunction [1]. Interestingly, it also appears to increase sperm production and motility, suggesting it may offer a way to improve male fertility [2].

    Taking more of a “fitness perspective” on the matter, Tongkat Ali has also been shown to cause an increase in testosterone levels (albeit in older men) [3]. This suggests that it may offer a viable method to prevent age-related declines in testosterone, and may even provide a potent natural testosterone booster in male adults.

    Burling on this in more detail, a recent study demonstrated that individuals who supplement with Togkat Ali while undergoing a resistance training program see more muscle growth than those who complete the same program without supplementing with the compound [4]. This suggests that it may also promote increases in muscle growth, making it a potential addition to any mass gaining supplement routine.

    Finally, Tongak Ali also appears to have a positive effect on mood and emotional wellbeing. Its supplementation has been shown to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, reduce anger, and increase happiness [5].

    While this may not sound like a big deal, there is some evidence to suggest that life stress can negatively impact training adaptations related to strength and size [6]. With this in mind, reducing stress may be a viable way to enhance recovery, and by extension, improve gains.

    Step 3: How do I take it?

    As with most herbal supplements, there are no clear guidelines regarding the optimal dosage of Tongkat Ali. However, much of the research  discussed in this article used dosages between 200 and 500 mg.

    Additionally, there is some evidence suggesting that up to 1200 milligrams per day can be tolerated by humans -- although there is no need to take this much based on the current literature.

    As such, we would recommend taking between 300 and 500 mg per day to maximize training outcomes.

    Also please note that there is yet to be any research looking at Tongkat Ali supplementation in pregnant or breastfeeding women. As such, it is unclear if it is safe for consumption during pregnancy or while breastfeeding  (and we would suggest avoiding it).

    Step 4: What are the top products?

    There are a few things we think are important when looking to buy Tongkat Ali.

    Firstly, don't get caught out paying too much. We would suggest looking for brands that have minimal advertising (which tends to cost a lot) and only provide scientific evidence to support their use. That is how you get the best value Tongkat Ali on the market.  

    Next, make sure the amount of Tongkat Ali is clearly defined on the label. Many supplements use proprietary blends that are ultimately a way for them to provide less of the active ingredient. In line with the recommendations above, you want a supplement that has at least 200mg of Tongkat Ali per serve.

    Lastly, have a look at the online reviews for the supplement. If other people have had a good experience, then you probably will as well.

    References

    1. Kotirum, Surachai, Shaiful Bahari Ismail, and Nathorn Chaiyakunapruk. "Efficacy of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) on erectile function improvement: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Complementary therapies in medicine 23.5 (2015): 693-698.
    2. Tambi, Mohd Ismail Bin Mohd, and M. Kamarul Imran. "Eurycoma longifolia Jack in managing idiopathic male infertility." Asian journal of andrology 12.3 (2010): 376.
    3. Henkel, Ralf R., et al. "Tongkat Ali as a potential herbal supplement for physically active male and female seniors—a pilot study." Phytotherapy Research 28.4 (2014): 544-550.
    4. Hamzah, S., and A. Yusof. "The ergogenic effects of eurycoma longifolia jack: a pilot study.” Br J Sports Med 37 (2003): 464-470.
    5. Talbott, Shawn M., et al. "Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 1-7.
    6. Bartholomew, John B., et al. "Strength gains after resistance training: the effect of stressful, negative life events." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 22.4 (2008): 1215-1221.
  • Product Review: Betancourt Nutrition B-NOX (formerly Bullnox) Androrush

    What could be better than a pre-workout that amps you up and gets you ready to crush your workout? How about a pre-workout that does all that AND helps to support healthy testosterone levels?

    Betancourt Nutrition B-NOX, formerly Bullnox, Androrush promises to do that and a whole lot more but is it all hype? Can a pre-workout really be so powerful that it can amplify your energy and testosterone levels?

    Let's take a looks at the benefits, pros, and cons of B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition to see if it's worth buying.

    PROS OF BETANCOURT NUTRITION B-NOX ANDRORUSH

    It's important to look at B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition as two things: a pre-workout AND a testosterone booster. With that said, it has a lot to live up to. First up: B-NOX Androrush as an energy booster.

    Right out of the gate, B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition is coming out swinging. It features an impressive energy blend that focuses on more than just caffeine. You're getting energy support in the form of stimulants AND muscle fuel. As a carbohydrate source, the maltodextrin found within is going to give your muscles the fuel it needs to keep pushing intra-workout.

    What's more, B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition has the following heavy hitters for energy:

    Beta-Alanine
    • May be able to boost your intra-workout strength levels while supporting your performance.

    Dicreatine Malate
    • Converts into ATP, the preferred fuel source of muscle tissue. As a result, this type of creatine may be able to boost your workload output.

    Theobromine
    • This raw chocolate extract may be able to boost your energy levels. It's also a useful weight loss support supplement. (1-3)

    As a form of testosterone support, B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition has a really impressive line-up. You're getting ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6), which has been shown to support healthy testosterone levels. (4-6) It also provides several other ingredients including Tribulus terrestris extract that may be able to have a significant impact on your testosterone levels. (7)

    Combine all of this with a solid blend of amino acids, creatine, and the absorption boosting black pepper extract and what you have is a very impressive pre-workout supplement that also acts as a powerful testosterone booster.

    CONS OF BETANCOURT NUTRITION B-NOX ANDRORUSH

    The biggest problem with B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition is the fact that, like most companies, it uses a proprietary blend. While all of these ingredients are terrific, you have no idea how much you're getting of each. This is an issue because even if you're using the best of the best, if you don't have the required dose for maximum benefit then it's a waste of money. With that said, the proprietary blend of B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition is over 15 grams. That helps to reassure the user that they are getting their money's worth.

    SHOULD YOU BUY BETANCOURT NUTRITION B-NOX ANDRORUSH?

    If you're looking for a pre-workout supplement with a huge bonus, then B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition is what you need. Its hard hitting energy formula is backed up by a list of trusted testosterone boosters. That makes for one great supplement. If you're concerned about the proprietary blend, which we don't think you should be, then you can always double up on the dose. That will give you over 31 grams of energy and testosterone support.

    Click here to buy B-NOX Androrush from Betancourt Nutrition.

    REFERENCES

    1. Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

    2. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94.

    3. MU Eteng, HA Ibekwe, UI Umoh, PE Ebong, IB Umoh, EU Eyong. Theobromine rich cocoa powder induces weight loss and changes in lipid profile of obese wistar rats. Discovery and Innovation Vol. 18 (3) 2006: pp. 191-196.

    4. Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. Arch Androl. 1981 Aug;7(1):69-73.

    5. Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R.Biol. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

    6. Symes EK, Bender DA, Bowden JF, Coulson WF. Increased target tissue uptake of, and sensitivity to, testosterone in the vitamin B6 deficient rat. J Steroid Biochem. 1984 May;20(5):1089-93.

    7. Rogerson S, Riches CJ, Jennings C, Weatherby RP, Meir RA, Marshall-Gradisnik SM. The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):348-53.

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