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Ecdysterone supplements: Anabolic Used By Russian Athletes for Decades


By Robert Schinetsky


Individuals who take their fitness seriously always look for a way to improve their performance, size, and strength.

Proper diet, training, sleep, and stress management will deliver the vast majority of results to fulfill most people’s wants and desires.

But a select few amateur and professional athletes want to eek out every last bit of performance and muscle gain from their bodies.

This is where supplementation comes into play.

A number of options (both legal and illegal) have been marketed to those to take their results to the next level.

While those “illegal” options (anabolic steroids) do provide benefits, they also come with a laundry list of side effects.

While ecdysterone is prized for its potential muscle-building benefits, which we’ve covered several times previously, recently published research continues to unearth some lesser-known yet equally alluring activities.

Today, we highlight some of the newest findings concerning this potent phytosteroid!

What Is Beta Ecdysterone?

Ecdysterone (20-hydroxyecdysone) is a natural compound found in plants and arthropods, serving as a primary steroid hormone. Ecdysterone belongs to a class of compounds called ecdysteroids, which affect a wide range of biological processes, including:

  • Bone growth
  • Reproduction
  • Host defense against predation


So let’s address the million-dollar question: is ecdysterone a steroid? The answer might surprise you. Although it is not under the category of illegal steroids, ecdysterone (20-hydroxyecdysone) is a naturally occurring steroid belonging to a family of compounds called ecdysteroids.

Ecdysteroids are the androgens of insects that play a vital role in both growth and reproduction.[10]


There are structural similarities to testosterone, and are viewed as the most similar “testosterone-like” compound active in arthropods.


The primary reason ecdysterone supplements (and ecdysteroids, in general) have received increasing amounts of interest in recent years is due to their anabolic (pro-muscle building properties), and the research backing
its anabolic potential.

So does ecdysterone work when it comes to building muscle? Several studies have demonstrated that ecdysterone is able to significantly increase muscle hypertrophy both in vitro and in vivo.[1, 32, 33]

In fact, some animal studies show that ecdysterone may be superior to anabolic androgenic steroids (such as metandienone or estradienedione) as well as the selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) S-1 for enhancing anabolism when similarly dosed.[32]

Before exploring follow-up studies on the matter, it’s worth exploring details of the preliminary studies.

While cell cultures and animal models can certainly spark intrigue of ecdysterone benefits, it certainly helps to have some actual human research where a compound is orally ingested and shown to increase blood levels and produce a desired outcome, which in this case is muscle growth, and (more importantly) be safe when ingested.

For this, we’ll reference a 10-week study involving 46 healthy, young, resistance-trained men that was carried out testing the ergogenic and hypertrophic qualities of an ecdysterone-containing supplement.[34]

While 46 individuals began the study, only 40 successfully completed the trial, according to the researchers.[34] 

At the start of the trial the 46 men were divided into four groups:

Placebo group (n = 12)

Control group (n=12)

Ecdysterone1 group (n = 12)

Ecdysterone2 group (n = 10)

All subjects, except for those placed in the control group, performed three resistance-training sessions per week using a two-day split (workout A and workout B) with each workout containing six barbell exercises that trained the
whole body.

Subjects in the control group received the recommended serving of an ecdysterone-containing supplement supplying 100mg beta-ecdysterone (from spinach) alongside 100mg L-Leucine, but did not perform any
resistance training.

Subjects in the Ecdysterone1 group received the suggested serving of the ecdysterone-containing supplement (100mg beta-ecdysterone + 100mg L-Leucine) in conjunction with their resistance training workouts.

Subjects in the Ecdysterone2 group took a “high dosage” of ecdysterone, which equated to consuming 4 times the suggested serving size. This delivered a daily total of 400mg ecdysterone and 400mg L-Leucine.

In addition to testing the supplement in healthy human subjects, researchers also performed an in vitro investigation to garner greater understanding of how ecdysterone may potentially enhance muscle hypertrophy and
athletic performance.

C2C12-derived myotubes were incubated with one of three similar dosed treatments:

Ecdysterone (from the ecdysterone-containing supplement)

Ecdysterone control (procured from a nutraceutical lab)

Estrogen (E2)

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) -- an endogenous anabolic androgenic steroid 

The magnitude of growth (hypertrophy) was found to be similar across all treatments.

These findings are similar to previous in vitro ecdysterone studies which incubated C2C12-derived myotubes with one of the following[32]:



Insulin-growth factor-1 -- an endogenous anabolic growth factor IGF-1

Now, here’s where things get a bit interesting regarding the study.

The researchers performed some QA/QC-testing on the supplement under investigation and found that although the product claimed to supply 100mg of ecdysteroids per capsule, it actually contained a mere 6mg per capsule![34]

Based on this, subjects in the Ecdysterone1 and Control groups only received 12mg of ecdysterone per day (plus any leucine contained in the capsule), and the “high-dose” Ecdysterone2 group only received a total of 48mg of ecdysterone per day, equivalent to 0.6 mg/kg BW in an 80-kg volunteer.[34]

While this particular finding calls into question the quality of the products from the company that produces the particular ecdysterone-containing supplement used in the trial, the more noteworthy finding for individuals considering ecdysterone supplementation is that significant results may be able to be attained with very small doses.

Researchers performed extensive blood work on all subjects receiving ecdysterone to identify if ecdysterone was present in the blood as well as if it caused any adverse hormonal alterations.

Furthermore, researchers also tested the ecdysterone supplements for the presence of anabolic steroids (a common contaminant in “natural” muscle builders).


As we stated, this trial found significant increases in hypertrophy in both in vitro and in vivo models. 

Researchers determined this by noting improvements in total bodyweight and muscle mass.

But that’s not all.

Both ecdysterone groups increased their performance significantly compared to the placebo group (the group that only performed resistance training but did not receive ecdysterone).

More specifically, both ecdysterone groups increased their 1-RM bench press.[34]

And remember, these results occurred with subjects only receiving a mere 12mg or 48mg of ecdysterone per day, not 200mg or 800mg like the researchers originally thought the subjects were receiving!

This means that benefits from ecdysterone may be realized with doses as low as 0.15-0.6 mg/ kg BW!

During their blood tests, researchers noted a dose-dependent increase in ecdysterone, meaning the men who received the “high dose” ecdysterone treatment demonstrated higher blood levels of ecdysterone than either  Ec1 and CO group (both administration of 2 capsules).

Furthermore, researchers detected no contaminants in the products used in the trial, nor did they find evidence of any significant change in urinary steroid hormones. This is particularly noteworthy as “muscle building” supplements by and large are notorious for being “spiked” with various illegal anabolic agents (steroids, prohormones, etc.).

They also found no increase in biomarkers that would indicate liver or kidney toxicity from ecdysterone supplementation, providing evidence that not only is ecdysterone effective, but SAFE![34]

Together, these findings suggest that the anabolic effect of ecdysterone is based on a different mechanism than that of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and synthetic anabolic androgenic steroids (more on this below).

Researchers concluded the paper stating:

“These data underline the effectivity of an ecdysterone supplementation with respect to sports performance. Our results strongly suggest the inclusion of ecdysterone in the list of prohibited substances and methods in sports in class S1.2 “other anabolic agents.”[34]

In other words, the increase in muscle size and athletic performance accompanying ecdysterone supplementation was significant enough for the researchers to suggest that ecdysterone should be added to the list of WADA’s banned substances!

All too often when a supplement study is published showing significant results from a natural compound, it’s usually funded by the company that produces the supplement, which calls into question just how “reliable” the research and findings are.

However, this study wasn’t industry funded. It was funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency!

Obviously, this is just a single study, and while the results are remarkable, the researchers do state for the need for more studies to be carried out on the activity of ecdysterone benefits.

Still, for those seeking an all natural compound that is safe and effective for increasing athletic performance, strength, and muscle mass, ecdysterone offers an alluring option.


Most recently, a 2020 study using cell cultures discovered that ecdysterone inhibits myostatin gene expression in a dose-dependent manner.[25]

Myostatin is an autocrine regulator that inhibits muscle growth in mammals.

From a mechanistic standpoint, inhibiting myostatin may allow for greater muscle growth! It also means ecdysterone could be a viable option for older individuals looking to combat sarcopenia -- an age-related degeneration of skeletal muscle characterized by a loss of muscle mass, strength, and balance as well as the ability to walk and/or stand.

As we’ve previously noted, it would be great to see more studies conducted using ecdysterone in combination with resistance training to replicate these findings or add to the existing body of knowledge regarding ecdysterone and muscle building.

Until that time, let’s shift our attention to some of the other potential benefits that may come with ecdysterone supplementation.


Beyond its anabolic properties, ecdysterone also has a number of other alluring effects, particularly regarding metabolic health.

For starters, cell cultures and animal models have found that ecdysterone exerts hypoglycemic[8,9] and anti-obesity effects.[23,24]

Animal studies also note that ecdysterone may help prevent hyperglycemia in insulin-resistant subjects by decreasing hepatic glucose consumption.[26]

Other animal studies where subjects had high-fat-diet-induced obesity found that oral administration of ecdysterone for 13 weeks prevents insulin resistance and hyperglycemia by decreasing adipose depots, upregulating adiponectin expression in adipocytes, and modulating inflammatory adipokine expression.[23,27]

Ecdysterone also exerts protective effects against lipid peroxidation from free radicals.

These findings could have significant relevance as more than ⅔ of the population is considered to be overweight or obese. Significant portions of the world’s population also present with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Supplements are not enough to combat a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, but finding a natural compound that can complement and enhance lifestyle adjustments to improve health outcomes and reduce the prevalence of chronic lifestyle diseases is quite intriguing (if not almost necessary given the skyrocketing rates of unhealthy individuals around the globe).

A recently published study by Buniam & colleagues suggests that ecdysterone may also be a useful option in combating the progression of cardiometabolic syndrome.[28]

Cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS) is a collection of conditions characterized by several cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Central obesity
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Compensatory hyperinsulinemia
  • Glucose intolerance

Buniam et al. noted that ecdysterone may help combat cardiometabolic syndrome by controlling whole-body glucose homeostasis by activating protein expression in the liver as well as helping to control serum LDL cholesterol levels and maintain arterial blood pressure.[28]

Ecdysterone may also benefit those dealing with systemic inflammation and inflammatory conditions,
such as arthritis.

A 2017 study collagen‑induced rheumatoid arthritis (CIA) rats noted that treatment with ecdysterone (20mg/kg)  may effectively abolish the inflammatory cascade and oxidative stress process, thereby conferring anti‑rheumatoid arthritis effects.[30]

Again, more research needs to be carried out to fully elucidate the multi-faceted actions of ecdysterone as well as see how the compound works when administered orally to human subjects, but the preliminary mechanistic data in cell cultures and animal models is very intriguing.


Despite sharing a structural similarity to testosterone, ecdysterone does not appear to have any binding affinity for, and thus cannot activate, the androgen receptor.[29]

That being said, despite having no direct influence on testosterone itself, ecdysterone may be able to exert testosterone-like effects via signal transduction pathways (although the exact mechanism has yet to be fully elucidated. This may ultimately result in the same biological significance as testosterone.

Even if ecdysterone may not be able to directly increase testosterone and/or activate androgen receptors, there are other supporting mechanisms by which it may aid sexual health.

Being overweight or obese overweight has been identified as a risk factor for a number of diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and some forms of cancer.

It’s also been known to lead to sexual dysfunction, including infertility, in both men and women.

As we mentioned above, ecdysterone has been shown in animal models to help reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and exert anti-obesity effects -- all of which serve to support sexual health!


Ecdysterone is typically heralded in sports nutrition for its potential anabolic and sports-performance benefits. This is due to animal and human data showing ecdysterone supplementation increases protein synthesis, physical endurance, and muscle growth.[1,2,3]

As it turns out, ecdysterone also exhibits antioxidative and neuroprotective effects.[4]

Two studies published in 2022 appearing in the journal Neurochemical Research as well as Physiology & Behavior, found that ecdysterone, in combination with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), led to improvements in amyloid-beta (Aβ)-induced Alzheimer’s disease in rats.[4,6]

Amyloid-beta protein is the key diagnostic criteria of Alzheimer’s disease. Together with the tau (τ) protein, they are responsible for much of the neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s patients.

However, these phenomena begin with and are fueled by oxidative stress (the imbalance between antioxidants and oxidants). This imbalance develops due to increased free radicals or decreased antioxidant defense.

As we just mentioned, ecdysterone demonstrates antioxidative effects, making it a potential option for those looking to improve antioxidant defense.

The new pair of studies examined the beneficial effects of HIIT alone or HIIT + ecdysterone supplementation on rats with Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, moderate-intensity cardio, as well as high-intensity interval training, has emerged recently as a viable option for improving cognitive function and memory[5], with greater improvements in memory function being noted in elderly adults engaging in HIIT.

In this study, adult male rats were treated simultaneously with HIIT exercise and ecdysterone (10 mg/kg/day), beginning 10 days after Aβ-injection, and they continued on this regimen for eight consecutive weeks.[4,6]

Researchers noted that Aβ-injection resulted in impaired learning and memory performances in both novel object recognition and Barnes maze tests as well as greater anxiety-like behavior, increased oxidative stress as evidenced by decreased total antioxidant capacity content, lower glutathione peroxidase enzyme activity, increased total oxidant status, and neuronal loss.[4,6]

Both the HIIT-only group as well as the HIIT + ecdysterone group were both effective at improving deficits induced by Aβ-injection. Ecdysterone, by itself, improved spatial/passive avoidance learning and memory impairments, recovered hippocampal activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione reductase (GRx), and prevented the hippocampal neuronal loss.

However, the combination of HIIT + ecdysterone proved to be the most effective, resulting in a “more complete and powerful improvement in all the above-mentioned Aβ-related deficits.” The researchers noted that ecdysterone before and after belies the benefits of adding ecdysterone to HIIT, being in part to the phytosteroid’s ability to improve oxidative status in the hippocampus as well as prevent neuronal loss.[4]


Anabolic steroids have long been used by athletes to build muscle, accelerate recovery, and improve performance. However, continued use of these pharmaceuticals can suppress luteinizing hormone production as well as decrease the number of cells that produce testosterone.

As a plant steroid that has been found to enhance sports performance and muscle growth, ecdysterone is being utilized more and more by athletes. The question is, being that ecdysterone is a plant steroid, could its use lead to the same deleterious consequences as designer steroids?

Appearing in Future Science OA, groundbreaking research showed for the first time the effects of short-term ecdysterone supplementation (3 days) on progesterone levels in mice and how this might affect the arteries that carry blood to the muscles.[7]

A small, but statistically insignificant, increase in plasma progesterone was noted. Researchers did find that CYP17A1 (the gene which produces the enzyme that breaks progesterone down was considerably decreased.[7]

The reason this is noteworthy is that elevated levels of progesterone were able to dilate both muscle and mesenteric arterioles, as well as enhancing the vasodilatory effect of ecdysterone in these arterioles.[7] Researchers concluded that both of these activities may have the potential to increase muscle blood flow and sports performance.


The final study to recap today comes from Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.[8]

In it, researchers were investigating the potential bone regeneration activities of ecdysterone in vivo and in vitro.

Previous in vivo studies have found that β-ecdysterone can regulate the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) by targeting estrogen receptors, thus playing an important role in the process of bone regeneration. Note: BMSCs are cells that possess the ability to differentiate into bone, cartilage, fat, nerves, or myoblasts (muscle cells).

The present study found that β-ecdysterone is a novel bone regeneration regulator that can stimulate MC3T3-E1 cell proliferation and induce bone regeneration through the BMP-2/Smad/Runx2/Osterix pathway. FYI, BMP2 is one of the primary transcription factors involved in bone formation.

Ecdysterone research may have shown osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs by activating estrogen receptors in vivo. Previous research indicates that ecdysterone promotes lean mass gains via estrogen receptor-beta (ERβ) activation.[9]

Concluding their findings, the researchers stated:

“β-ecdysterone can be used as a safe and effective agent for bone regeneration to resolve insufficient bone regeneration and severe osteoporosis caused by decreased osteogenic capacity.”[8]

Ecdysterone Research: To recap, ecdysterone has been found to:

  • Support lean mass gains
  • Aid exercise performance
  • Help reduce inflammation
  • Improve glucose tolerance
  • Exert anti-obesity effects
  • Enhance blood flow
  • Offer neuroprotection
  • Bolster antioxidant defense
  • Support bone formation

How Does Ecdysterone Work?

Researchers have investigated how ecdysterone is able to deliver significant health benefits while at the same time not significantly impacting hormone levels in the body.

Previous studies have shown that ecdysterone shows no significant binding at the androgen receptor or estrogen receptor-alpha (ERɑ).

As it turns out, ecdysterone’s induction of hypertrophy is mediated by estrogen receptor-beta
(ERβ) activation.[6]

This is noteworthy as ERβ signaling is involved in regulating skeletal muscle growth and regeneration by stimulating anabolic pathways, activating satellite cells, and modulating immune function.[12]

Ecdysterone has also been proposed to enhance muscle protein synthesis via direct or indirect stimulation of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.[11]

Is Ecdysterone Safe?

If you’re wondering whether there are Ecdysterone side effects, you’ll be interested to know that one of the best things about ecdysterone is its safety profile.

A large part of what makes the class of ecdysteroids an intriguing option for individuals looking for a natural anabolic is that they have very low toxicity (LD50 > 6g/kg).[1]

Furthermore, unlike anabolic steroids, ecdysteroids do not increase blood pressure, and despite their anabolic activities, they do not possess androgenic, estrogenic, or anti-estrogenic) effects.[10]


Advanced Molecular Labs Ecdy Sterone (20-hydroxyecdysone) is a natural anabolic support supplement supplying 500mg beta-ecdysterone per capsule (derived from Cyanotis Arachnoidea) of the highest quality (exceeding 95% purity) to aid muscle protein synthesis and lean mass gains.

Each capsule of AML Ecdy Sterone also includes 2,000IU Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin that serves a number of roles in the body including cell growth, neuromuscular function, and immune function. It also helps combat inflammation, and most pertinent to our purposes here, supports the synthesis of numerous steroid hormones in the body, including testosterone.


How and when to take ecdysterone: take one capsule of AML’s ECDY Sterone immediately following your workout.

For added benefit, Advanced Molecular Labs recommends consuming 1 capsule of Ecdy Sterone with 1 serving of AML Post Workout immediately after exercise on an empty stomach, before eating a post-workout meal.

AML PostWorkout contains 5 grams of pure leucine, 5 grams of creatine monohydrate and 2.5 grams of betaine.

The reason AML recommends stacking Ecdysterone with AML PostWorkout is that leucine serves as an mTOR activator and creatine functions as a myostatin inhibitor.[13]

Myostatin is a catabolic regulator of skeletal muscle mass that controls the proliferation of myoblasts (immature muscle cells) by downregulating myoblast determination protein 1 (MYOD1).

MYOD1 is a protein that plays a major role in regulating muscle differentiation.[14]

Creatine supplementation in conjunction with resistance-training has been shown to lead to greater reductions in myostatin levels than resistance-training alone.[13]

Let’s not forget about betaine.

Betaine is a metabolite of choline composed of a molecule of glycine surrounded by three methyl groups, hence its name -- trimethylglycine.

Betaine assists in methylation as well as cellular hydration, and it also supports endogenous creatine production
in the body.

Research indicates it is beneficial for improving athletic performance as well as lean muscle mass.[15]

Additional studies show betaine supplementation stimulates growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) secretion. and subsequently improves the insulin IRS/AKT mTOR protein synthesis pathway.[16,31]

To top it off, a recently published meta-analysis also concluded that betaine supplementation might be an effective approach for reducing body fat, too![17]

Combining AML Ecdysterone and AML Post Workout supports muscle growth from multiple pathways, ultimately helping individuals recover faster and grow more muscle.

Order your supply today and start enjoying the benefits of Ecdysterone:

AML Ecdysterone

AML Post Workout


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  2. Parr MK, Botrè F, Naß A, Hengevoss J, Diel P, Wolber G. Ecdysteroids: A novel class of anabolic agents?. Biol Sport. 2015;32(2):169– doi:10.5604/20831862.1144420

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  33. Csábi, J., Rafai, T., Hunyadi, A., & Zádor, E. (2019). Poststerone increases muscle fibre size partly similar to its metabolically parent compound, 20-hydroxyecdysone. Fitoterapia, 134, 459-464.

  34. Isenmann, E., Ambrosio, G., Joseph, J. F., Mazzarino, M., de la Torre, X., Zimmer, P., Parr, M. K. (2019). Ecdysteroids as non-conventional anabolic agent: performance enhancement by ecdysterone supplementation in humans. Archives of Toxicology, 93(7), 1807–1816.doi:10.1007/s00204-019-02490-x