Ultimate Guide to Turkesterone

Engineer & Nutrition Coach Weighs the Evidence

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: October 18, 2022

In the last few years, turkesterone has popped up all over the internet as a potential alternative to anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. While the compound is not new, its use for muscle growth is still in its infancy.

That means taking turkesterone could make you one of the first aboard the gains bandwagon. But trendy supplements can be a waste of money if the hype doesn’t live up to reality.

This article aims to educate you on turkesterone, how it works, and what the science says about its safety and effectiveness. So you’ll know if this supplement is worth trying or avoiding.


Turkesterone FAQ

Before we get into the studies and science, it’s best to start with common questions surrounding turkesterone. This way, you’ll have a basic understanding of what it is and what it does.

What is turkesterone?

Turkesterone belongs to a class of compounds called ecdysteroids. These hormones control molting and metamorphosis in insects.

Analogs of ecdysteroids, called phytoecdysteroids, are found in various plant species. And turkesterone is the bioactive substance isolated from the plant Ajuga turkestanica.

Moreover, research suggests phytoecdysteroids like turkesterone also regulate many biological processes in mammals like us.

Turkesterone Structure

Is turkesterone a steroid?

Technically, turkesterone is a phytoecdysteroid or a type of plant steroid. However, it is not the same as anabolic steroids like testosterone.

This is because turkesterone doesn’t bind to the same androgen receptors as human steroids. Therefore, it cannot be categorized as an anabolic or androgenic steroid.

Is Turkesterone natural?

Because turkesterone comes from the ajuga turkestanica plant, it’s as “natural” as any other plant extract or plant-based supplement. However, it’s currently being investigated by various agencies to determine if it should be legal or banned.

Is turkesterone banned?

Currently, turkesterone is not banned as an ingredient in supplements by the FDA. And it’s also not banned for use in sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Therefore, it is 100% legal to buy and use turkesterone as a nutrition supplement.

Is turkesterone safe?

Turkesterone appears to be a safe compound when consumed orally by humans. However, one study found that up to 25% of turkesterone supplements contain other ingredients, which may cause unexpected side effects if taken in large amounts1.

While turkesterone has not been linked to side effects on its own, you should use caution when using supplements that are not tightly controlled or regulated.

Does turkesterone work?

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz from supplement companies and gym bros touting turkesterone’s effectiveness for increasing muscle size and strength. But the reality is that this compound isn’t very well understood, and most of the claims aren’t substantiated by evidence.

Turkesterone Effectiveness

Determining the effectiveness of turkesterone requires an in-depth review of the available data. So we must look at scholarly articles surrounding turkesterone and other naturally-derived steroids.

Turkesterone Muscle Growth

Scientists have studied turkesterone and other ecdysteroids for decades. Since the 1970s, most research has focused on finding compounds that could help people suffering from sarcopenia (muscle wasting).

Generally, muscle wasting occurs in old age or due to forced inactivity. But substances that reverse muscle wasting are also of interest to bodybuilders and recreational lifters seeking to improve their appearance or strength.

Unfortunately, despite this history, research surrounding turkesterone is still lacking. And most of the studies to date were performed in test tubes or using rodents instead of humans.

However, there have been a few studies involving humans. And when taken together, we might be able to glean some information about if and how turkesterone builds muscle.

Turkesterone Supplement

1. Test Tube Turkesterone Studies

For in vitro (test tube) studies, researchers use mice cells as a model for human skeletal muscles. While not the same as human clinical trials, test tube studies are a well-established method for preliminary research.

One such study analyzed muscle fibers exposed to an Ajuga turkestanica plant extract comprised of turkesterone and 20-Hydroxyecdysone (HE). After exposure, researchers measured the myostatin response, a protein that inhibits growth.

They showed that turkesterone and HE downregulated myostatin by 4 fold compared to the control and twice as much as Dianabol2, a popular anabolic steroid. A finding that indicates turkesterone works by inhibiting muscle breakdown rather than increasing androgenic activity like traditional anabolic steroids.

Turkesterone Mystatin Downregulation

It’s studies and data like this that lead some people to jump to the conclusion that turkesterone is better than steroids. But let’s pump the brakes because it’s a massive leap from test tubes to gym gains.

In vitro data sheds light on the potential physiological effects of ecdysteroids, including turkesterone. But these tests don’t necessarily mean that taking a turkesterone supplement results in muscle growth.

2. Animal Turkesterone Studies

Studies involving living biological specimens are the next logical step in understanding the effects of turkesterone on skeletal muscle growth. And several rodent studies have demonstrated that ecdysteroids can increase protein synthesis, which typically leads to growth.

In addition, studies involving larger animals like birds, sheep, and pigs have also been carried out. In general, turkesterone and other ecdysteoids show increases in protein synthesis, muscle growth, and overall body size.

However, there are other studies that show no effect7. So the outcome could depend on the dosage, method of administration, age, and external stressors.

Table 1. Animal Ecdysteroid Studies & Growth Effects
Animal Ecdysteroid Dose Mode Duration Effects Study
Mice 20-Hydroxyecdysone, Cyasterone ~1 mg/kg Oral 90 days Increased liver protein synthesis Hikino et al. 1969
Mice Turkesterone 5 mg/kg Injection   Increased liver protein synthesis Syrov et al. 1978
Rats 20-Hydroxyecdysone 5 mg/kg Oral 7 days Increased muscle weight Syrov et al. 1976
Rats Turkesterone, Ponasterone A up to 10 mg/kg Injection 10 days Increased muscle weight Syrov et al. 1975
Quails 20-Hydroxyecdysone up to 500 mg/kg food Oral 28 days Increased growth Slama et al. 1996
Sheep Ecdysone 0.02 mg/kg Oral, i.v. 35-150 days Increased growth Purser et al. 1994
Pigs 20-Hydroxyecdysone up to 0.4 mg/kg Oral 30 days Increased growth Kratky et al. 1997

As you can see, there are numerous animal studies linking turkesterone to increased protein synthesis and body mass. Plus, recent research suggests that phytoecdysteroids could aid post-workout muscle recovery and increase athletic performance4.

Nevertheless, scientists admit that conclusions drawn from animal testing are tentative and that more data from human testing with turkesterone is needed.

3. Human Turkesterone Studies

Unfortunately, human studies involving turkesterone are extremely limited unless you broaden your search to include other forms of ecdysteroids, such as ecdysterone.

An often-cited 1988 study on ecdysterone’s effect on muscle and fat mass apparently found that ecdysterone and protein intake resulted in a 6-7% increase in lean muscle and a 10% reduction in body fat5. And that result supposedly took just ten days! However, this sounds too good to be true, and I couldn’t find the actual study to back it up.

In a more recent study, researchers provided different doses of ecdysterone to young male weightlifters and measured changes in muscle mass and strength. After ten weeks of resistance training, the group taking ecdysterone saw significantly greater increases in muscle mass and bench press 1RM6.

Turkesterone Muscle Growth
Turkesterone Strength Increase

The results from this study seem impressive. But it’s important not to get your hopes up based on a single data point. So far, this is the only detailed study involving ecdysteroids and human weightlifters, and it has yet to be replicated.

this study had a relatively small sample size, with only 11-12 individuals in each group. Also, there is no indication that the researchers controlled calorie intake or macronutrients between groups. Nevertheless, if we take this study at face value, it reveals some interesting insights.

For example, the participants were experienced lifters, which means they were past the newbie gains phase. And they only worked out three days per week on a basic total body training split, which is sub-optimized for muscle gain.

In addition, this study used relatively small doses. Despite the being labeled as 100mg, supplement analysis revealed there was only 6mg of ecdysterone per capsule. And the participants took either two capsules or eight capsules, corresponding to 12 mg or 48 mg dosages.

Turkesterone Dosage

In animal studies, Turkesterone and other ecdysteroid dosages range from as low as 0.1 mg/kg all the way up to 10+ mg/kg of body weight. But the average dose is around 5 mg/kg.

By comparison, limited human studies suggest that 0.5 mg/kg could be an effective dose. That corresponds to around 40 mg of turkesterone daily for the average adult.

Table 2. Ecdysteroid Dosage by Body Weight (0.5-5 mg/kg)
Body Weight Daily Dose
120 lbs 27-270 mg
140 lbs 32-320 mg
160 lbs 36-360 mg
180 lbs 41-410 mg
200 lbs 45-450 mg
220 lbs 50-500 mg
240 lbs 55-550 mg
260 lbs 59-590 mg

Turkesterone Side Effects

Unlike testosterone and other androgenic steroids, turkesterone does not act via androgen receptors. Therefore, it does not cause the adverse side effects of traditional anabolic steroids, such as acne or gynecomastia.

Moreover, turkesterone is usually taken orally, so it does not come with the pain or risks associated with injections. At the same time, it is not toxic to the liver or kidneys like oral steroids such as Dianabol.

Instead, turkesterone appears to act via different pathways and does not cause any known side effects. Still, you should be aware that there can be other ingredients in turkesterone supplements that could cause side effects.

Turkesterone Supplements

Another problem with turkesterone supplements is that they don’t always contain what the label says. Most turkesterone products on the market today contain Ajuga turkestanica extract, reportedly standardized to 10% turkesterone by weight.

So if the label says 500 mg of Ajuga turkestanica extract, it should contain 50 mg of turkesterone. However, an independent analysis of popular turkesterone products revealed that most contain less than 1 mg of turkesterone per capsule!

Moreover, the active ingredient in those supplements was ecdysterone (20-Hydroxyecdysone). So you’re probably buying a beta-ecdysterone supplement, with potentially some trace amounts of turkesterone.

Turkesterone vs Ecdysterone

Ecdysterone vs. Turkesterone

Ecdysterone and turkesterone are nearly identical in terms of chemical structure, except that turkesterone contains an extra oxygen group (C27H44O7 and C27H44O8, respectively).

In the body, ecdysterone and turkesterone appear to have similar biological effects. So, the main difference between ecdysterone and turkesterone is that there are more studies on ecdysterone.

Just be aware that supplement labels can be misleading, and you might not get what you paid for. Worse yet, you might get other things you didn’t want!

Best Turkesterone Supplement

While researching this article, I used the beta-ecdysterone supplement from Nootropics Depot. According to their in-house testing, this supplement has 250 mg of ecdysterone.

In addition, it has around 6 mg of turkesterone per capsule, which is more than most supplements labeled as turkesterone. With their analytical testing and transparency, Nootropics Depot is a solid ecdysteroid/turkesterone supplement.

Turkesterone Bottom Line

Ecdysteroids are the most abundant steroids in nature because they are produced by insects and many plant species. And they seem to have a wide array of beneficial effects on humans.

For this reason, many supplement companies use ecdysteroids like turkesterone to provide anabolic effects. However, the supplements on the market today don’t always live up to expectations.

Often, studies are funded by supplement companies seeking to validate their products. Therefore, those findings should be taken with a grain of salt due to confirmation bias and conflicts of interest.

In addition, many studies reporting positive effects of turkesterone have been published in obscure journals. And usually, there are limited details on the experimental design and methodology.

Therefore, it’s difficult to make any firm conclusions from most studies surrounding turkesterone. And more thorough research is needed, especially with human subjects.

With the current level of research, taking a turkesterone supplement is still a bit of a gamble. You may notice some results or not get anything for your money.

If you’re the type who likes to experiment with new supplements, then a good turkesterone supplement might be worth a shot. All you have to lose is money if it doesn’t work.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a shortcut to muscle growth where you don’t have to eat right and train hard, turkesterone isn’t for you.

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By |October 18, 2022|Supplements|0 Comments
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