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leuzea, maral root, ecdysten, leuzea carthamoides, ecdysterone, carthamoides, leuzeae, adaptogen

(Russian Leuzea)

The product of 21st. century for your health and fitness.
Herbal stress-protector, muscle-gainer and energy-booster


euzea carthamoides DC. (Asteraceae) is a perennial medicinal plant of Siberian origin. Its roots, which have a novel type of pharmacological action classified as adaptogenic, are commonly used for medicinal purposes in Russia.

Adaptogens were discovered in 1947 by the Russian scientist Dr. Nicolai Lazarev, who in fact coined the name "adaptogen". Dr. Lazarev was also the mentor of Dr. I. Brakeman, who conducted extensive research on adaptogenic herbs. Dr Brakeman's first major focus was the now well known Panax Ginseng, also called Korean or Chinese Ginseng. This worked, but unfortunately it has a few drawbacks that have since become evident. It sometimes has side effects such as causing over-excitement or constipation, and when taken it can be too heating and stimulating to some people. Dr. Brakeman soon moved on to other herbs and became recognised as the world's leading expert on adaptogens. Since then more than a thousand experimental and clinical studies on adaptogens have been done - most of them in Russia and Germany. Most of these studies have shown the outstanding stress-protective and immune system enhancing capacities of adaptogens. You may be familiar with the names of what are now called "first-generation" adaptogens: Panax Ginseng, American Ginseng, and Japanese Ginseng. But in this article I want to tell you about adaptogens of the "second generation". The most promising adaptogenic herbs today are probably Leuzeae carthamoides (Maral root), Rhodiola rosea (Golden root) and Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng).

Three phases of stress progression
1) Alarm phase - When some new stress factor strikes the organism it causes a sudden release of internal stress-hormones - corticosteroids and catecholamines. If the stress is very intense it can damage the regulatory systems of the body permanently and at once (for example in case of exposure to high levels of nuclear radiation). But if you are lucky, or if you are taking adaptogens, you will smoothly progress further to the "adaptation phase".
2) Adaptation phase - If the stress factor continues (for example, in sport it might be heavy athletic training) our body learns to tolerate the stressful stimulus - "adapt" - and increases its resistance to the stress factor. The "adaptation phase" is usually a safe period. The more we can stay in the "adaptation phase", the better.
3) Exhaustion phase appears, when the body fails to fight stress any more and simply gives up. In this "exhaustion phase", disease symptoms rapidly appear and get worse. Diseases associated with stress may appear in the first "alarm phase", but they mainly appear in the third "exhaustion phase" when the body cannot fight stress any more. This third phase usually develops after a period of months or years. Everything depends on the duration of the "adaptation phase". Sometimes the body may be lucky and escape this third phase altogether, provided that it can keep the stress under control. We can help to achieve this by taking adaptogens; they can help us to stay in the "adaptation phase" for as long as possible. Taking adaptogens, you will be able to cope with stress better. The initial "alarm phase" will smoothly progress to the "adaptation phase". Adaptogens can help you to stay in the safe "adaptation phase" for a much longer time or even permanently, so preventing you from proceeding further to the extremely dangerous "exhaustion phase". We will tell you now more about one of the promising herbal adaptogens of the second generation - Leuzea carthamoides (Russian leuzea).

Plant description
Leuzea carthamoides DC. (syn. Rhaponticum carthamoides [Willd.] Iljin) is an endemic species in South Siberia, on the Altai and Saian Mountains. It grows in the high alpine and subalpine meadows at 1200-1900 m above the sea level (Postnicov 1980). The plant has a woody rhizome with wiry roots of a length of 20-40 cm. The leaves are alternate, oval or elliptical, 10-20 cm long. The flower stems, 1-3 per plant, appear in the second year, their height ranges between 80 and 170 cm. The solitary capitulum has a diameter of 3-6 cm and the florets are violet, The 1000 seed weight (TSW) is 11-19 grams, the length and width of the seeds are 5-8 mm and 2-4 m, respectively. Rhaponticum derives its traditional name Maral Root from the famous Mongolian, Dzhamtsyn, who spoke about a plant that imparted strength to the maral deer, who fed on it.
Complete List of Scientific Articles (Abstracts)

The principal constituents of the whole plant are ecdysteroids (5 beta-cholest-6-on-7-ene derivatives) and flavonoids. Also polyacetylenes and triterpenes have been isolated from different parts of the plant (Girault et. al. 1984, Szendrei et. al. 1984, Varga et al. 1986 and 1990). Of the isolated compounds, only 20-hydroxyecdysone is currently considered to play an important role in the action of this plant. (Syrov and Kurmukov 1976). The main flavonoides are 6-methoxy-kampferol, patuletin, isorhamnetin-glycoside and quercetin-5-glycoside. All leaf and root samples contained 20-hydroxyecdysone as a main compound of Leuzea. The 20-hydroxyecdysone of the roots ranged from 0.12 to 0.20%, being higher than that of the leaves.

The 20-hydroxyecdysone content of the leaves ranged between 0.006 and 0.10%. According to the quantitative and qualitative data obtained experimentally, the optimum time for root harvest of Leuzea carthamoides is at the end of August when the 20-hydroxyecdysone content is the highest.

Leuzea considerably increases the capacity of tired skeletal muscles, and contributes to a more sparing use of carbohydrates and an enhanced new synthesis of glycogen and high-energy phosphorus compounds (Salnik 1967). When given to athletes, its extract is claimed to increase endurance, reflexes and concentration, while the athletes grew tired later and recovered earlier (Saratikov 1966). The rhizomes and roots of Leuzea carthamoides are officially listed in the Russian Pharmacopoeia. The fluid extract and the crude ecdysteroid fraction obtained from the roots are used in the production of Ecdysten tablets, which are used in the official medicine in Russia. Also other preparations made from these are marketed in a number of countries (Varga et.al. 1985); Cupka 1992). Leuzea provide high-value fodder material, the composition of the fresh and dry hay of Leuzea improved the tolerance of the animals to the extreme Siberian climatic conditions and increased milk production in cows (Vavilova and Kondratev 1975). In a recent study, a diet, containing 10% of Leuzea in meal increased the body weight and development of certain internal organs and affected the behavior of different experimental animals (Selepcova et.al. 1995). Leuzea carthamoides (Rhaponticum) is an old folk medicine for fatigue. It has been traditionally used as a stimulant, for overcoming impotence, and to assist convalescence from long illness. Russian and Eastern researchers have found that Rhaponticum has a beneficial effect on memory and learning, and can help break addictive behaviours. It increases working capacity in tired skeletal muscles, relieves neurosis, and benefits anabolic and adaptogenic processes Gadzhieva, R.M. et al. (1995). It enhances speed, strength, and functioning of the muscle system. Leuzea extracts has been used by Eastern Bloc athletes as a non-hormonal natural anabolic, adaptogen, and bio-stimulant.

Low Toxicity
In doses up to 40 mg/kg the extract was non-toxic. In certain doses in mice and rats Leuzea carthamoides exerted a moderate central stimulation action, increased ambulating and rearing, increased central nervous excitability and improved learning and memory without any pronounced side-effects (Petkov 1984).

Leuzea carthamoides is now slowly but surely becoming more widely accepted. In today's culture of hustling and bustling, with chaos coming from every direction, I do not think we can afford to ignore nature's medicine any longer. It is in our interest to take advantage of these powerful herbs if we want to survive the demands modern life imposes on us. One does not have to be a professor or scientist to research herbs and educate oneself on how they work. The motivation depends on how much one desire to improve one's quality of life. Since life is so short, my advice is: don't wait until you have a day off, maybe next week. Why not take adaptogens as soon as possible, so your week will be more productive?

Selected References:
1. Cupka, P., Kamenska, R. (1992): Leuzea tekuty extrakt. Nase Liecive Rastliny 5: 131-132.
2. Gadzhieva, R.M. et al. (1995) A comparative study of the anabolic action of ecdysten, leveton and Prime Plus, preparations of plant origin Eksp Klin Farmakol Sep-Oct 58(5): 46
3. Galambosi, B., Varga, Zs., Hajdu and Jokela, K. (1997): Introduction of Leuzea carthamoides DC. As an adaptive medical plant in the nordic climate. Drogenreport Jg. 10, Heft 16: 5-9
4. Girault, J-P., Lafont, R., Varga, E., Hajdu, ZS., Herke, I., Szendrei, K. (1988): Ecdysteroids from Leuzea carthamoides. Phytochemistry 27: 737-74
5. Petkov, V., Roussinov, K., Todrov, S., Lazareva, M., Yonkov,D. Dragonova, S. (1984): Pharmacological Investigation on Rhaponticum carthamoides. Planta Medica 50: 205-209
6. Postnikov, B.A. (1980): Maralii koren (Rhaponticum carthamoides/Willd.Iljin, Leuzea carthamoides DC.). In Atlas Arealov i ResursovLekarstvennykh Rasteni. Moskav. p.103, 263.
7. Salnik, B.Yu. (1967): Effect of extracts of Eleutherococcus and Leuzea on carbohydrate-phosphorus and oxidative metabolism during a rated muscle load. Ref. C.A. 67; 1999c.
8. Saratikov, A.S. (1966): Nekotorye itogi izyskannya i izucheniya stimulatorov tsentralnoinervnoi sistemy rastitelnogo proishozhdenia. In: Stimulatory Tsent. Nerv. Syst. Izd. Tomsk Univ. 3-23
9. Selepcova, L., Sommer, A., Vargova.M. (1995): Effect of feeding on a diet containing varying amounts of Rhaponticum carthamoides hay meal on selected morphological parameters in rats. Eur.J.Entomol 92: 391-397
10. Szendrei, K., Reisch, J., Varga, E. (1984): Tiophene acetylenes from leuzea roots. Phytochemistry 23: 901-902
11. Syrov, V.N., Kurmukov, A.G. (1976): Ob anabolicheskoi aktivnostifitoekdizona-ekdisterona, vydelennogo iz Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin. Farmakol i Toksikol 5: 690-693
12. Varga, A.E., Szendrei, K., Hajdu, ZS. (1985): Investigation of the adaptogenous Leuzeae radix and preparations produced of. Herba Hungarica 24 (2-3): 165-176
13. Varga, E., Szendrei, K., Hajdu, SZ., Hornok, L., Csaki, GY. (1986): Study of the compounds contained in Hungarian-grown Leuzea carthamoides DC. (Asteracae) with special regard to the ecdysteroids. Herba Hungarica 25 (1): 115-133
14. Varga, E., Sarik, G., Hajdu, ZS., Szendrei, K., Pelczer, II., Jerkovich, GY. (1990): "Flavonoids from Leuzea carthamoides". Herba Hungarica 29 (1-2): 51-55
15. Vavilova, P.P., Kondratev, A.A. (1975); Novyje kormovue kultury. Rosselkhozdat. Moskva, 346 p.
Complete List of Scientific Articles (Abstracts)

Leuzea carthamoides (Maral root)
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What is it?
According to modern science adaptogens are natural plant products that increase the body's ability to cope with internal and external stress factors, and normalise the functions of the body. They help maintain the stable internal environment inside the body known as homeostasis. An important characteristic is that they are safe, possessing few known side effects.


The most promising adaptogenic herbs today

are probably Leuzeae carthamoides (Maral root),
Rhodiola rosea (Golden root)
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng).


Adaptogens help you cope with stress-related situations so you can train harder, recover more quickly, and achieve more of your body's full performance potential. Leuzea has a marked anabolic effect, and aids the body in the synthesis of muscle protein. Its extract, when included in the diet, has a pronounced tonic effect and has abilities to protect the bodily system from environmental stress. It may help the body to re-build damaged muscle tissue. Adaptogens such as Leuzea are often prescribed to elite athletes by sports physicians in order to replenish the depleted mental and structural reserves exhausted during hard training. Leuzea was used by elite Soviet and Russian sportsmen in order to upgrade psychological and physical reserves that were exhausted due to hard training. After regular intake of Russian Leuzea the muscle component in the body increases while the fat tissues are melting. Gadzhieva, R.M. et al. (1995)

activity - quality

There are many products on the market that contain Rhaponticum carthamoides. But unfortunately these products often have only limited or even no biological activity. Common reasons for these deficiencies are incorrect species of plant, wrong climatic region, harvesting at the wrong season, over-drying, or use of an inferior extraction method. Root harvest requires a strong shaker and additional washing the roots. According to our washing experiment, using tap water with normal pressure, there were no differences in the 20-hydroxyecdysone contents between the non-washed roots and the roots washed over 30-60-90-120 and 150 seconds (0.11%). It seems that 20-hydroxyecdysone is hardly soluble in water. The manufacturing process of preparing of dry extract is a key factor in the preparation of a high quality adaptogenic extract, as is the selection of high quality raw materials using proper assay methods.


Dry roots of
(20-hydroxyecdysone content: 0.1-0.2%)