Is Ecdysterone a Banned Substance? | What You MUST Know

Dr. Mike Jansen

Last Updated August 27, 2022

Dr. Mike Jansen

 August 27, 2022

Are you curious about whether ecdysterone can be taken by professional athletes? Have you been asking questions, such as:  Is ecdysterone a banned substance? And what do the governing bodies in competitive sports have to say about ecdysterone?

Then you’ve come to the right place, as we detail exactly how this natural anabolic is viewed by the NCAA, WADA, and more. We’ve done extensive research about this popular bodybuilding supplement so that you can get the facts you need to make an informed decision on whether to use it or not.

In any case, be sure to consult with a doctor or licensed healthcare professional before using any sort of supplement. At the end of the day, maintaining your health and safety should always be a top priority.

Disclaimer: The contents of Testosterone.org are for informational and educational purposes. We do not provide legal advice. Likewise, we do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician prior to consuming any over-the-counter supplements, like a natural testosterone booster, and/or getting a prescription for a pharmaceutical medication. Your access to Testosterone.org is subject to our full disclaimer and terms of use.


What is Ecdysterone?

The bodybuilding and fitness community is recently abuzz with talk of a new ‘natural steroid’ that has all the benefits of regular steroids, without the side effects. 20-beta-hydroxyecdysterone, also called ecdysterone, belongs to a naturally occurring group of plant hormones called phytoecdysteroids [1]. Spinach and quinoa tend to contain high amounts of ecdysterone, as do certain fungi.

Ecdysterone and other phytoecdysteroids are also found in arthropod insects, like ants and centipedes, to help them with molting. To date, research shows that more than 300 different ecdysteroids have been isolated from animal and plant sources [1]. What’s interesting to note, is that ecdysterone has a very similar chemical structure to testosterone – but they’re different in some ways as well [2].

One key fact to be aware of, is that ecdysterone is not a steroid, as your hormone levels won’t rise or fall during or after using it [1, 2]. However, ecdysterone is often lumped into the same category as steroids because of its potent anabolic properties. Research carried out by Russian scientists in the 1970s on ecdysterone has shown that the effects of ecdysterone are comparable to those gained from taking the popular oral steroid dianabol [3, 4]. In addition, further studies even showed that the gains from taking ecdysterone were even greater than those resulting from commonly used synthetic steroids [4].

The controversy about ecdysterone has even reached mainstream media outlets, due to the potency of this supplement, and the benefits it can have for humans [6]. It’s usually taken for the purpose of performance enhancement and has thus been dubbed a ‘natural’ alternative to steroids. These benefits include increased muscle mass, greater strength, faster recovery times, and enhanced endurance and stamina [1, 4].

The first pharmacological tests on ecdysterone were conducted on rats and mice in the 1960s, with the purpose of noting down any adverse effects on vertebrate organisms. Ultimately, there remains little doubt that ecdysteroids like ecdysterone do have anabolic effects on mammals [3].


Ecdysterone


Is Ecdysterone a Banned Substance?

Choosing to take a performance-enhancing drug is often less consequential for recreational athletes since there’s no need to adhere to the strict protocols mandated in professional sports. On the other hand, when a supplement like ecdysterone rises in popularity to the extent that it has been discussed in the mainstream media [5], it’s worth looking deeper into what the rules currently are regarding this ‘natural’ supplement. Namely, how do governing bodies of professional sports treat ecdysterone? What is WADA’s current ruling on ecdysterone? How does the NCAA view ecdysterone?

Ecdysterone is classified as a phytoecdysteroid, which is a class of over 200 naturally occurring plant hormones [2]. This is one of the primary differences between ecdysterone and conventional anabolic steroids, which are synthetic. Of course, it’s crucial to always be able to determine the validity and precision of any claims made when sports supplements are being marketed, especially if the product in question is compared to steroids, or is even labeled as a ‘legal, natural steroid’. Although typically marketed as a ‘legal steroid alternative’ or ‘natural steroid’, ecdysterone is not legally classified to be an anabolic androgenic steroid.

It’s easy to see why marketing messages can cause confusion here. However, after numerous tests, trials, and experiments, it’s been proven that ecdysterone induces anabolic effects in human subjects, such as improved strength, significant gains in muscle mass, heightened stamina, and decreased the time required to recover from exercise [1, 4]. These effects are achieved by increasing the activity of polyribosomes – the cytoplasmic parts in cells where protein synthesis occurs [4].

It should also be noted that there are even more ways in which ecdysterone differs from regular anabolic steroids. Cycling ecdysterone properly doesn’t result in an increase in blood pressure [6]. Quite the opposite – studies have shown that ecdysterone can help ease high blood pressure and prevent dilated cardiac hypertrophy [7]. Decreased testosterone production and liver toxicity are also adverse effects common with steroids that do not occur when using ecdysterone [8]. This is because, while the structure of ecdysterone is similar to other anabolic compounds, it does not bind to vertebrate steroid receptors.


Ecdysterone and WADA

WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) is a foundation tied to the Olympic Committee that promotes research and education related to preventing the use of drugs in sports. They also monitor the World Anti-Doping Code, which is a list of rules established in 2004 prior to the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and upheld by the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport. Later in 2009, more than 600 professional sports organizations adopted this code [9].

Essentially, they’re responsible for determining what drugs can and can’t be used by athletes competing in the Olympics and the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding). They also oversee and work in tandem with the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), which determines the rules for doping in regards to the NFL, UFC, and MLB [9, 10].

WADA’s current stance on ecdysterone has changed recently in 2020, as controversy and an increased interest in this supplement have risen. In fact, from 2015 to 2019, more than 15 substances have been placed on the WADA monitoring program, with ecdysterone being one of them. This mainly came about because of two studies from 2015 and 2019.

Data showed that ecdysterone leads to higher concentrations of IGF1, as well as increases in muscle mass. In light of all this, researchers recommended that WADA at least start taking a more serious look at how ecdysterone was being used, and even be included in their banned list underclass S 1.2 – “other anabolic agents” [7, 11].


Ecdysterone


Ecdysterone and the Olympics

Since WADA’s determination of which substances are banned directly translates to Olympic events, the same rules apply. Ecdysterone isn’t banned outright in Olympic sports, but it may very well be banned soon since it’s been placed on the monitoring list.


Ecdysterone and NCAA

Ecdysterone is currently not a substance included on the NCAA’s list of banned substances and is therefore allowed to be used by all college athletes [12].


Ecdysterone and Pro Sports

When it comes to professional sports leagues, such as the NFL and MLB, ecdysterone also has yet to appear on their lists of banned substances. However, it should be noted that another class of substances that have recently become more common in mainstream fitness, called SARMs, are currently on both lists. As we said before – once a substance gains a lot of publicity, it usually ends up getting banned shortly after [13, 14].


Ecdysterone and Bodybuilding

Ecdysterone has undoubtedly become popular in the bodybuilding community. It’s often viewed and advertised as a convenient alternative to traditional anabolic steroids, SARMs, and pro-hormones, mainly due to it posing little to no side effects, while still promoting muscle growth and strength gains.

Another factor to consider is that it’s available in both capsule and powder form. Unlike most anabolic steroids like testosterone or D-bol, ecdysterone does not need to be injected with needles to work. Although oral steroids do exist, such as dianabol, athletes who have a phobia of needles tend to be averse to using the most common anabolic steroids. With ecdysterone, they can still reap potent benefits for their physique, while entirely avoiding syringes

But what makes a good ecdysterone dosage? Despite various studies conducted on ecdysterone’s efficacy, a standardized recommended dose has yet to be backed by science. Studies cited in this article have mainly focused on ecdysterone cycles between 8-12 weeks, with minimal harmful effects being noticed.

Our recommendation to users would be to keep cycles within this range, and to not exceed two cycles per year, mainly due to safety concerns, and because the body needs time to recover and return to homeostasis. The studies referenced here also have analyzed the effects of daily Ecdysterone dosages ranging from 30 mg per day to 2 g per day [3, 8]. Since most Ecdysterone supplements for bodybuilding are dosed at 500 mg per capsule, we would suggest not exceeding 1000 mg per day.

Ultimately, research on ecdysterone is still being conducted, and so experimenting with a relatively new supplement like Ecdysterone should be done responsibly.


Is Ecdysterone Safe?

Even though we’ve now established that ecdysterone is natural and not yet a banned substance, you might still be wondering – is ecdysterone safe to take? It’s always crucial to properly assess the benefits and risks of taking any sort of supplement.

For instance, if we look at anabolic steroids, adverse side effects, even minor ones, can almost be expected on cycle or after coming off. While some steroids have stronger effects than others, the dosage and length of the cycle can also play a role in how your body reacts to them. On the lighter side, a user could experience an increased appetite and muscle soreness. On the other hand, skin rashes, shrinking of the gonads, high blood pressure, and hair loss are some of the more serious effects that have been reported [15].

This is good news for those choosing instead to cycle ecdysterone since nearly every study published on it has reported data showing that ecdysterone is not toxic to humans, and is generally safe to use [1, 3, 7].

We can look to one particular study from 2006, when researchers set out to compare the effects of ecdysterone and select other compounds on training adaptations. They invited 45 men with athletic backgrounds and habits to take part, who were then divided into three groups, each taking a certain substance. One of those groups took just 30 milligrams of Ecdysterone once per day. This study concluded that the men were significantly stronger on mainly two lifts – the bench press, and the leg press, while no adverse side effects were reported [6].


Is Ecdysterone Legal?

It’s understandable that there’s still a lot of confusion regarding whether ecdysterone is legal or not, especially since it’s so often compared to conventional steroids. As of early 2022, when this article was written, ecdysterone is 100% legal and available to buy as an over-the-counter supplement. It’s critical that this difference between ecdysterone and traditional anabolic and androgenic steroids be considered.

For anyone who may still be wondering ‘is ecdysterone a steroid?’, the answer is straightforward: ecdysterone is not classified as an anabolic steroid, and is therefore completely legal to purchase, possess, or consume in the United States [15].

Although it’s been mentioned that ecdysterone could be added to the list of banned substances by WADA, this wouldn’t affect its legal status for use outside the area of professional sports. Competitive athletes would be the only ones barred from using ecdysterone or beta-ecdysterone.

If someone were found selling, buying, possessing, or consuming ecdysterone, WADA’s ruling would not directly result in ecdysterone being added to the list of controlled substances in the United States, and therefore, would not be punishable by a fine or jail time.


Ecdysterone


Best Ecdysterone Supplements | 2022 Edition

Determining which vendor to make your next purchase of ecdysterone supplements from can be difficult, due to a wide selection of seemingly similar products available on the market today. We set out to get the facts on which vendors offer the most value when it comes to ecdysterone supplements. We sought to get the answers to several pressing questions about the different supplement retailers online. What is their shipping like? Do they have a proper and thorough manufacturing process? Are there satisfied reviews on their site?

Considering all the evidence we gathered, our top recommendation for a legitimate and reliable source to buy ecdysterone capsules from would be Huge Supplements. Instead of being manufactured overseas, where proper procedures aren’t always followed, their products are made in an FDA-approved facility in the United States. You can also order their products anywhere in the world unless you’re located in the European Union. Plus, they offer free shipping if you place a domestic order for over $100.

One aspect about Huge Supplements Ecdysterone that really makes it stand out is that it includes cyclodextrin, which is a polysaccharide that speeds up the absorption of ecdysterone into the body and increases its effectiveness.

To learn more about Huge Supplements Ecdysterone and make your purchase.

Order the best Ecdysterone from Huge Supplements...

Our second recommended vendor to buy ecdysterone from is Intelligent Elephant. Intelligent Ecdysterone also includes cyclodextrin, so it works more effectively than other ecdysterone products. For crypto enthusiasts, you’ll also be pleased to learn that they accept payments made in Bitcoin and Ethereum.

You can learn more about Intelligent Ecdysterone and make your purchase here


What are the Benefits of Ecdysterone?

Ecdysterone supplements are known to produce anabolic effects comparable to synthetic steroids like dianabol, along with a few other benefits. Athletes who take ecdysterone tend to notice improvements in both their lean muscle mass and strength [1]. This advantage mainly comes from the increase in protein synthesis that occurs because of taking ecdysterone supplements, which can be as high as 20%. In addition, increases in both skeletal muscle mass and muscle protein have been documented in various studies about ecdysterone [3, 6].

Ecdysterone usage has also been tied to weight loss. A study conducted in Russia focused specifically on how taking ecdysterone daily affected a group of athletes following a resistance and endurance exercise program for three weeks. It was later found that their body fat levels dropped significantly, with an average reduction of up to 14% [3].

Like many steroids, ecdysterone has also been shown to increase stamina and endurance. For instance, it was found that swimmers taking ecdysterone could spend up to 22% more time in the water while cycling ecdysterone. An additional benefit of taking an ecdysterone cycle is that it allows humans to recover more quickly from intense exercise. Improved appetite, sleep, and general well-being of subjects without significant side effects have been noted in studies on ecdysterone [1, 8].


Is Beta-Ecdysterone a Banned Substance? | Verdict

In short, while ecdysterone is controversial for its muscle-building properties, it is not yet a banned substance, nor is it illegal. However, the status of such a powerful compound is always subject to change. Since ecdysterone is currently on WADA’s list of monitored substances, it very well may become banned from use in competitive sports soon.

With that said, we would highly recommend you take advantage of its current status, and purchase either Huge Supplements’ ecdysterone or Intelligent Elephant’s ecdysterone while it’s still available over the counter. Ultimately, ecdysterone is a substance that’s generally safe to use, with superb potential. It’s already being widely accepted as a supplement of choice by athletes looking to improve their performance but isn’t quite ready to experiment with substances that carry a higher risk profile.

As always, please use any sports supplements and compounds responsibly, and make sure you consult with your doctor before carrying out any experiments.


 

References

  1. 20-Hydroxyecdysone: The pro-anabolic, plant steroid. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www.huhs.edu/literature/20-Hyroxyecdysone.pdf
  2. Phytoecdysteroid. Phytoecdysteroid – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/phytoecdysteroid
  3. Gorelick-Feldman J, Maclean D, Ilic N, Poulev A, Lila MA, Cheng D, Raskin I. Phytoecdysteroids increase protein synthesis in skeletal muscle cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 May 28;56(10):3532-7. doi: 10.1021/jf073059z. Epub 2008 Apr 30. PMID: 18444661.
  4. Dinan, L. (2001, April 30). Phytoecdysteroids: Biological Aspects. Phytochemistry. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031942201000784
  5. Spinach chemical should be put on doping ban list, say researchers By Jack Guy and Stephanie Halasz, CNN Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT) June 25, 2019
  6. Wilborn, C.D., Taylor, L.W., Campbell, B.I. et al. Effects of Methoxyisoflavone, Ecdysterone, and Sulfo-Polysaccharide Supplementation on Training Adaptations in Resistance-Trained Males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 3, 19 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-3-2-19
  7. Parr MK, Ambrosio G., Wuest B., Mazzarino M., de la Torre X., Sibilia F, Joseph JF., Diel P., Botrè F. Targeting the Administration of Ecdysterone in Doping Control Samples. Access: http://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/685230v1
  8. Pérez-Piñero S, Ávila-Gandía V, Rubio Arias JA, Muñoz-Carrillo JC, Losada-Zafrilla P, López-Román FJ. A 12-Week Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, Evaluating the Effect of Supplementation with a Spinach Extract on Skeletal Muscle Fitness in Adults Older Than 50 Years of Age. Nutrients. 2021 Dec 6;13(12):4373. doi: 10.3390/nu13124373. PMID: 34959924; PMCID: PMC8706266.
  9. What we do. World Anti-Doping Agency. (2022, February 24). Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.wada-ama.org/en/what-we-do
  10. Perishable. (2022, February 10). Frequently asked questions (faqs). U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.usada.org/resources/faq/
  11. The inclusion in Wada prohibited list is not always … (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eduard-Bezuglov/publication/349614675_The_Inclusion_in_WADA_Prohibited_List_is_not_Always_Supported_by_Scientific_Evidence_A_Narrative_Review/links/603a30f14585158939d2a327/The-Inclusion-in-WADA-Prohibited-List-is-not-Always-Supported-by-Scientific-Evidence-A-Narrative-Review.pdf
  12. NCAA banned substances. NCAA.org. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2022, from https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2015/6/10/ncaa-banned-substances.aspx
  13. Prohibited substances list – mlb.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2022, from http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/prohibited-substances.pdf
  14. List of prohibited substances I. Anabolic Agents. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2022, from https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/Active%20Players/2016NFL_PES_Policy_ProhibitedSubstancesList.pdf
  15. Anabolic steroids. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/brochures/steroids/public/
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