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Harnessing the Anabolic Power of Plants

Did you know that plants have their own “testosterone?” It’s true; plants have a variety of hormones – at least 10 different hormones – that regulate their organ size, reproductive activity, and, of course, growth.

Unlike prohormones or real-deal steroids, plant-derived anabolics are not thought to have any negative health consequences. Just as sweet, the FDA will not sweep in and take away what is sure to become a new staple in bodybuilding supplementation plans, as ingredients extracted from nature do not violate their laws.

If you’re thinking this sounds like some sort of vegan bodybuilder propaganda, we don’t blame you. We were skeptics too – until we read the research on these new brassinosteroids and the myostatin inhibiting properties of epitcatechin. So what's the deal?

What are Brassinosteroids and Myostatin?

Brassinosteroids have been a known compound since the late 1970’s, but only this year have they come to the forefront as nutritional supplements. Early research on brassinosteroids concerned their therapeutic potential in various cancers, and it is known that, in plants, the brassinosteroids are principally responsible for inducing plant growth. In mammals, brassinosteroids have been safe to consume in doses up to 4g/kg (the greatest amount tested), which is a lot when normal dosing is measured in milligrams.

Of greater interest however, oral consumption of brassinosteroids enhances muscle anabolism and fitness with minimal androgenic side effects, suggesting safety in both sexes. More on that in a bit!

Myostatin has been referred to by experts as the “final frontier in bodybuilding.” The first few were the discovery and study of nutrition and training, supplementation as an extension of nutrition, and most recently, anabolic androgenic steroids. Anybody involved in athletics has at least heard of performance-enhancing drugs – principally as steroids.

Testosterone was first synthesized in a laboratory in the 1930’s, used (as testosterone or derivative, such as dianabol) in sport in the 1950’s, and famously outlawed in 1991. They’re known to be the most effective muscle-building agents on the planet, but there is potentially one that is even more powerful.

We just don’t know what it is yet. That is why it is the final frontier. However, we know what this mystery compound would have to do – inhibit myostatin.
The word, myostatin, translates to muscle inhibitor. Animals, like dogs and bulls, which are genetically myostatin deficient are literally enormous, shredded freaks of nature (give it a Googling). In the cattle industry – this is referred to as “double-muscled.” If bodybuilders doubled up, we’d have 500-600 pound competitors at the Mr. Olympia!

Sooo… what does myostatin have to do with plants?

Brassinosteroid Supplement Research

The ground-breaking new study on brassinosteroids was the first to examine them for their capacity to grow skeletal muscle. Treatment of L6 muscle cells with brassinosteroid increased protein synthesis by 37% while decreasing protein breakdown by 9% for a 46% net improvement in muscle protein balance.
When supplemented daily, brassinosteroid led to a 14% increase in lean body mass in just 24 days while also increasing strength. As novel an approach as this is, these are all of the data available, but they sure look good so far!

There have been a few more investigations on epicatechin’s myostatin-inhibiting properties, including human supplementation research. But first, let’s clear the air.

Myostatin-Inhibiting Supplement Research

Yes, epicatechin is the polyphenol found in dark chocolate (not milk or white chocolate) and green tea. A few drawbacks to these sources, though, are the fat and sugar that would be co-ingested with chocolate in order to achieve a minimally efficacious dose of ~100mg epicatechin would also nab you about 25-40g of fat, 20-40g of sugar, and likely no less than 250 calories. For green tea, you’d would have to drink about 10 cups per day. For both of these, that’s just the minimally efficacious dose – a maximally efficacious dose is double, if not more, than that!

The first study on epicatechin and myostatin was in 2014, and it found that 7 days consumption of 1mg/kg epicatechin improved handgrip strength and the follistatin to myostatin ratio. Follistatin inhibits myostatin, so the ratio could be showing an increase in follistatin only (unlikely), an increase in follistatin and a decrease in myostatin (most likely), or a decrease in myostatin only (unlikely).

A second study in 2015 observed increased muscle follistatin, decreased muscle myostatin, and enhanced muscle regeneration in addition to increased AMPK and mitochondrial biogenesis. The later 2 points suggest that epicatechin (100mg per day) will also enhance endurance and fat-loss while preserving muscle gains.

Finally, the most recent study in 2018 studied epicatechin supplementation (1mg/kg/day) in combination with resistance training. When epicatechin was supplemented during a resistance training program, the increase in muscle was 39.7% greater with supplementation than resistance-training alone, and the group that received epicatechin but did not exercise at all had 90% of the increase in muscle that the lifting-only group had, while the placebo group experienced a 0% change. This was accompanied by doubled strength gains and significant improvements in the follistatin to myostatin ratio.

Using Laxogenin & Epicatechin for Muscle Growth

No amounts of brassinosteroid can even be thought to be obtained from eating a lot of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. And as we now know, to get decent quantities of epicatechin we are presented with a handful of complications. What are growing men and women to do?!

Obtaining helpful quantities of beneficial food components is just about the entire reason the supplement industry exists. In the case of brassinosteroids, as laxogenin, and epicatechin, Kodiak Sports Nutrition is proud to bring you 12 Gauge – an Advanced 5-Stage Anabolic Activator – featuring 100mg of the brassinosteroid, 5-Alpha Laxogenin, and 200mg epicatechin.

12 Gauge features efficacious doses of these 2 novel muscle-building ingredients as well as vitamin and mineral support with testosterone-boosting Vitamin D and Boron, and other 4 other herbal extracts to support healthy testosterone production, IGF-1 activity, and absorption. If you care about building lean muscle and you’ve read the data above or check out the studies in the references below, you already know you’ll love Laxogenin and Epicatechin. Look no further than 12 Gauge – the best muscle-building supplement available!


  1. McDonald, C., Henricson, E., Oskarsson, B., Aguilar, C., Nicorici, A., Joyce, N., ... & Villareal, F. (2015). Epicatechin enhances mitochondrial biogenesis, increases dystrophin and utrophin, increases follistatin while decreasing myostatin, and improves skeletal muscle exercise response in adults with Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). Neuromuscular Disorders25, S314-S315.
  2. Gutierrez-Salmean, G., Ciaraldi, T. P., Nogueira, L., Barboza, J., Taub, P. R., Hogan, M. C., ... & Ramirez-Sanchez, I. (2014). Effects of (−)-epicatechin on molecular modulators of skeletal muscle growth and differentiation. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry25(1), 91-94.
  3. Mafi, F., Biglari, S., Afousi, A. G., & Gaeini, A. A. (2018). Epicatechin Supplementation and Resistance Training-Induced Improvement of Muscle Strength and Circulatory Levels of Plasma Follistatin and Myostatin in Sarcopenic Older Adults. Journal of aging and physical activity, 1-27.
  4. Esposito, D., Rathinasabapathy, T., Poulev, A., Komarnytsky, S., & Raskin, I. (2011). Akt-dependent anabolic activity of natural and synthetic brassinosteroids in rat skeletal muscle cells. Journal of medicinal chemistry54(12), 4057-4066.
  5. Murkunde, Y. V., & Balakrishna Murthy, P. (2010). Developmental toxicity of homobrassinolide in wistar rats. International journal of toxicology29(5), 517-522.
  6. Kuzmitsky, B. B., & Mizulo, N. A. (1991). Study of acute toxicity of epibrassinolide and its preparative forms. Tech. Rep. Acad. Sci. Belarus, Minsk, 1-44.