Echinacea is a beautiful bright flower, a member of the daisy family and native to North America. Although it’s recognized for its immune supporting benefits, this pink petalled flower may also be the ultimate doping agent.
Doping (short for blood doping) is the process of increasing red blood cell count in the human body. In doing so, more oxygen is delivered to the muscles, thereby increasing aerobic ability and endurance. Simply put, doping enhances athletic performance.
Doping is banned in professional sports because illicit drugs are used to activate such an effect. In 2012, cyclist Lance Armstrong was charged by the USADA for doping, and subsequently stripped of all seven of his Tour De France titles.
Enter mother nature
According to Craig Dinkel, founder of Biotropic Labs, there may be a natural solution. The former NCAA swimmer believes doping can be achieved with echinacea supplementation.
Echinacea increases macrophage activity. Macrophages are a type of cell which stimulates the production of Erythropoietin Hormone (EPO), which, in turn, produces red blood cells. EPO in synthetic form was the drug of choice for Lance Armstrong.
If echinacea can upregulate EPO activity with the same end result as a synthetic drug, the implications for professional athletes are potentially huge.
Does it really work?
This is where things get murky. Despite uptake across endurance athletes, studies looking at the efficacy of echinacea do not support its case.
So if it doesn’t improve fitness, why in the pink petal are athletes using it?
For one, studies are few and far between, and two, every one of us is different. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily bode well for another. The key takeaway is to try it out for yourself and see.
Echinacea is perfectly legal and a widely available supplement. Other benefits include:
- Anti-cancer properties
- Anti-inflammatory agent
- Skin healing properties
- Mental health benefits
- Respiratory Aid
Check out Biotropic Labs for up-to-date products, or do your own independent research – quality is key.
As always, pushing for health.
Photo Credit: healthybutsmart.com