Combine Astragalus with Ginseng to boost the effect of creatine

A combination of Astragalus, Ginseng and creatine works better than creatine on its own. Sports scientists at Wichita State University discovered this when they gave a patented supplement containing creatine, Astragalus membranaceus, and Korean and American Ginseng to a group of over 55s and got them to do weight training.


A combination of Astragalus, Ginseng and creatine works better than creatine on its own. Sports scientists at Wichita State University discovered this when they gave a patented supplement containing creatine, Astragalus membranaceus, and Korean and American Ginseng to a group of over 55s and got them to do weight training.

The supplement that the researchers studied is a creation of David Tuttle. In 1997 Tuttle published a book on creatine together with supplement expert Ray Sahelian: Creatine, Nature’s Muscle Builder. [] In the same year Tuttle filed a patent application for a creatine supplement that also contained Astragalus and Ginseng, claiming that it would lead to better results than creatine on its own. [US Patent 6,193,973]

A year later Tuttle filed a patent application for the same supplement, but this time claiming that the combination he had devised would also strengthen the immune system. [US Patent 6,465,018]

In 2006 American researchers published the results of a study that Tuttle had sponsored, in which they had tested his supplement on 44 men and women aged between 55 and 84. The subjects were healthy and prepared to do strength training three times a week for three months. The subjects did a full-body workout each training session, which consisted of bench-press, lat-pull, biceps-curl, leg-press, leg-extension and leg-curl exercises. For each exercise they did 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

The researchers divided their subjects into three groups. One group was given a placebo, another took 3 g creatine daily and the third group took Tuttle’s combo supplement. The latter group consumed 3 g creatine, 750 mg Astragalus membranaceus, 450 mg Panax ginseng and 300 mg Panax quinquefolius daily. The subjects took their capsules with breakfast, lunch and their evening meal.

During the 12 weeks that the experiment lasted all subjects gained strength. The creatine group gained more strength than the placebo group, and the creatine plus Astragalus-Ginseng group gained more strength than the creatine group.



The figure above shows the increase in maximal strength [1RM] in each of the three groups.

The group that took the Astragalus-Ginseng-creatine combo also lost a statistically significant larger amount of fat than the creatine group.


The reduction in fat mass was also borne out by what the researchers saw when they analysed their subjects’ blood. In the Astragalus-Ginseng-creatine combo group the levels of VLDL and triglycerides dropped considerably. This is good for cardiovascular health.


Our previous posting on Astragalus membranaceus described how a supplement containing this extract improved the endurance capacity of mice, probably because Astragalus boosts the activity of the glucose-transporter GLUT4 in the muscle cells, and possibly because it also leads to an increase in fat burning.

“The data suggest that older adults participating in a strength training program can gain additional health and psychological benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels […], when consuming creatine combined with a botanical extract consisting of Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius and Astragalus membranaceus”, the researchers conclude. “Further research on the use of creatine as an ergogenic and anabolic aid, and the ability of Ginseng and Astragalus to act as hypolipidemic agents in older adults is needed.”

Effects of creatine, ginseng, and astragalus supplementation on strength, body composition, mood, and blood lipids during strength-training in older adults.


The effects of supplemental dietary creatine and a botanical extract consisting of ginseng and astragalus were evaluated in 44 adults aged 55-84 years participating in a 12-week strength-training program. Participants consumed creatine only (Cr), creatine plus botanical extract (CrBE), or placebo (PL), and performed bench press, lat pull down, biceps curl, leg press, knee extension, and knee flexion for 3 sets of 8-12 reps on 3 days per week for 12 weeks. The 1-repetition maximum for each exercise, body composition (full-body DEXA), blood lipids, and mood states were evaluated before and after the intervention. Training improved (p < 0.05) strength and lean mass for all groups, however greater gains were observed with Cr and CrBE compared with placebo (but no difference was found between Cr and CrBE). Only CrBE improved blood lipids and self-reported vigor, and the CrBE group lost significantly more body fat and gained more bench press strength than Cr. These results indicate that strength and lean mass gains achieved by older adults participating in a strength training program can be enhanced with creatine supplementation, and that ginseng and astragalus may provide additional health and psychological benefits. However, these herbs do not appear to have an additive effect on strength and lean mass gains during training. Key PointsStrength and lean mass can be enhanced with creatine supplementation in older adults participating in a strength training programGinseng and astragalus do not appear to provide any additive effect on strength or massGinseng and astragalus may provide additional health and psychological benefits such as lowering cholesterol levels and improving self-reported levels of vigor.

PMID: 24198682 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3818675


Strength training speeds up cancer patients’ recovery

Doctors are saving the lives of more and more cancer patients, but chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery all have heavy side effects. Patients who have undergone treatment usually need years to make a full recovery. Strength training can help speed up recovery, researchers at Maxima Medical Centre in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, discovered.

Ingrid de Backer published the results of a study in 2008 in the British Journal of Cancer, and the study received a prize for the best study on exercise and cancer rehabilitation. Indeed, De Backer’s results are interesting for all cancer survivors.

De Backer carried out her experiment with 49 subjects, all of whom had just undergone cancer therapy. It was a diverse group, but the biggest subgroup was of women who had had breast cancer.

De Backer got the patients to do intensive weight training twice a week. They performed vertical-row, leg-press, bench-press, pull-over, crunch and lunge exercises.

During the first 12 weeks the subjects did 2 sets of 10 reps of each exercise. During the last training period the focus shifted to increasing the number of repetitions – more than 20 reps per set – but not increasing the weight.

Before and after the strength training lasted the subjects did a short interval training on an exercise bike.

The training programme lasted 18 weeks. The subjects in the experimental group had a consultation with a sports doctor, who gave each subject a personal exercise programme. “These personalised advices were based on the patient’s individual interests and motivation”, the researchers write.

A control group of 22 cancer patients did no training.

The researchers measured the subjects’ muscle strength before the programme started, immediately after completion and a year later. The figure below shows that the patients retained the muscle strength that they had gained.


The figure below indicates that the strength training helped reduce fatigue and improve quality of life. The effects were not dramatic, but they were statistically significant. If you click on the figure a larger version will appear. This shows that the positive effects of the strength training were still present a year later.


“Based on these results, we suggest that guidelines for rehabilitation in oncology patients should include high-intensity resistance training”, the researchers conclude in their article.

Long-term follow-up after cancer rehabilitation using high-intensity resistance training: persistent improvement of physical performance and quality of life


The short-term beneficial effects of physical rehabilitation programmes after cancer treatment have been described. However, little is known regarding the long-term effects. The purpose of this study was to investigate the long-term effects of high-intensity resistance training compared with traditional recovery. A total of 68 cancer survivors who completed an 18-week resistance training programme were followed for 1 year. During the 1-year follow-up, 19 patients dropped out (14 due to recurrence of cancer). The remaining 49 patients of the intervention group were compared with a group of 22 patients treated with chemotherapy in the same period but not participating in any rehabilitation programme. Outcome measures were muscle strength, cardiopulmonary function, fatigue, and health-related quality of life. One year after completion of the rehabilitation programme, the outcome measures in the intervention group were still at the same level as immediately after rehabilitation. Muscle strength at 1 year was significantly higher in patients who completed the resistance training programme than in the comparison group. High-intensity resistance training has persistent effects on muscle strength, cardiopulmonary function, quality of life, and fatigue. Rehabilitation programmes for patients treated with chemotherapy with a curative intention should include high-intensity resistance training in their programme.


Walnuts make bad cholesterol harmless



People who eat lots of nuts live longer than people who don’t. This is mainly because nuts reduce the chance of developing fatal cardiovascular disease. Nutritionists agree on this, but how and why nuts have this effect remains an unknown quantity.

Researchers at Loma Linda University in the US tried to find out more about how walnuts work by doing an experiment on 16 adults. On one occasion the subjects were given breakfast that consisted of 90 g walnuts [Walnut] and on another occasion a breakfast based on oil, white bread and egg protein [Control].


After consuming the control meal, the amount of oxidised LDL in the blood rose. LDL is a bit like a molecular oil tanker, which transports cholesterol through your blood vessels. Oxidised LDL is like a leaking oil tanker. A small oil leak means that the blood vessel walls have to absorb lots of cholesterol and bad fats, and as a result the vessels become narrower.


After consuming walnuts the amount of oxidised LDL did not increase. The researchers believe that this was partly due to the vitamin E analogue gamma tocopherol. Walnuts contain large amounts of gamma tocopherol, and after eating walnuts the concentration of this protective vitamin rose in the subjects’ blood.


Nuts also contain catechins. Together with the gamma tocopherol these reduce the effect of aggressive molecules, free radicals, the researchers believe. And as a result gamma tocopherol and catechins also protect LDL against oxidation.

The researchers base this theory on other observations: they found a higher antioxidant effect [ORAC] in the blood after the walnut meal and also less malondialdehyde. Malondialdehyde is a marker for free radical activity.


Effect of a walnut meal on postprandial oxidative stress and antioxidants in healthy individuals.



In vitro studies rank walnuts (Juglans regia) among the plant foods high in antioxidant capacity, but whether the active constituents of walnuts are bioavailable to humans remains to be determined. The intention of this study was to examine the acute effects of consuming walnuts compared to refined fat on meal induced oxidative stress. At issue is whether the ellagitannins and tocopherols in walnuts are bioavailable and provide postprandial antioxidant protection.


A randomized, crossover, and controlled-feeding study was conducted to evaluate a walnut test meal compared to one composed of refined ingredients on postprandial serum antioxidants and biomarkers of oxidative status in healthy adults (n?=?16) with at least 1 week between testing sessions. Following consumption of a low phenolic diet for one day and an overnight fast, blood was sampled prior to the test meals and at intervals up to 24 hours post ingestion and analyzed for total phenols, malondiadehyde (MDA), oxidized LDL, ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), hydrophilic and lipophilic oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), uric acid, catechins and urinary excretion of phenylacetate metabolites and of urolithin A.


Mixed linear models demonstrated a diet effect (P?< ?0.001) for plasma ?-tocopherol but not for ?-tocopherol with the walnut meal. Following the walnut test meal, the incremental 5 hour area under the curve (AUC(0-5h)) was reduced 7.4% for MDA, increased 7.5% for hydrophilic and 8.5% for lipophilic ORAC and comparable for total phenols, FRAP and uric acid. Oxidized LDL was reduced at 2 hours after the walnut meal. Plasma concentrations of gallocatechin gallate (GCG), epicatechin gallate (ECG) and epicallocatechin gallate (EGCG) increased significantly at 1 hour after the walnut test meal. Quantities of urolithin-A excreted in the urine were significantly higher following the walnut meal.


Compared to the refined control meal, the walnut meal acutely increased postprandial ?-tocopherol and catechins and attenuated some measures of oxidative stress.

PMID: 24410903 [PubMed – in process] PMCID: PMC3893411