Steroids without the stigma: Broccoli and mustard greens - The Packer

Steroids without the stigma: Broccoli and mustard greens

08/13/2012 12:11:00 PM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstBarry Bonds would have been lauded and not scorned if broccoli and mustard greens were his performance enhancing drugs.

In news that seems too good to be true, a release from the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute suggests that some veggies may trigger a response similar to anabolic steroids.

Excerpts from the release:

KANNAPOLIS, NC – Mustard greens and cabbage could very well be back-up plants for Popeye’s spinach when it comes to building muscles and increasing physical performance.  Recent studies show that brassinosteroids present in mustard and other Brassica plants such as cabbage or broccoli trigger a physiological response in rats that is similar to anabolic steroids. Researchers hope that these substances in plants can be used to provide effective, natural, and safe alternatives for age- and disease-associated muscle loss, or be used to improve endurance and physical performance.

The researchers studied rat skeletal muscle cells, exposing them to different amounts of homobrassinolide, a plant steroid. They then measured protein turnover and found that muscle cells respond to brassinosteroids by increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein degradation in cell culture. The result was a significant increase in net muscle protein.  The next step was to feed healthy rats a homobrassinolide daily for 24 days.  The researchers measured changes in body weight, food consumption and body composition. The rats that were fed the plant steroid showed an increase in lean body mass over those that were not fed the substance. Results from the study also showed an increase in the number and size of muscle fibers crucial for increased physical performance.
According to the researchers, the findings suggest that therapies using brassinosteroids could represent a viable future approach for repairing damaged muscle.”

TK:  Can you imagine if researchers can genetically modify (or selectively breed) broccoli or cabbage to contain higher levels of brassinosteroids? Functional veggies that would promise to add muscle mass would fly off the shelves, in my view. Super performance without the stigma.

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Tim Yokota    
East Lansing, MI  |  August, 14, 2012 at 08:48 PM

These press releases are worth running through the BS detector. And I don't meant the BrassinoSteroid analyzer. At least someone should do a reality check. The paper described reports that the dose was 60 mg/kg/d, equivalent to about 5 grams of brassinosteroid for a person. That amount increased leg strength by 7%. Not exactly Popeye, but for some it would matter. Eating enough mustard greens to get that amount could be a challenge, as it is on the order of 500 tons a day. Breeding a high-brassinosteroid plant presents a challenge, since the noteworthy thing about brassinosteroids is that it takes tiny amounts to regulate plant development, and small changes have profound effects on plant organization.

U.K.  |  January, 07, 2013 at 02:33 AM

An interesting article from the NHS in the U.K. is found in the following link. It comments that the research paper had no mention of Mustard. Someone in the newspaper office obviously put two and two together and came up with five. Eating high amounts of Mustard could be dangerous and it is not known what effect high amounts of plant steroid have on humans. I got excited when seeing the headline but this is a very early stage in research. It could be years before the effect on humans is known.

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