Butea superba in sports doping

butea collecting team

Doping in sports has a bad name. But what is doping, and what is not?

Lance Armstrong had testicular cancer that warranted treatment with certain medications. Some of these medications can be used to enhance performance in sports.

Actually, anything that puts an athlete at optimal health is performance enhancing.

Athletes treat infections with antibiotics. The antibiotics certainly help performance by eliminating performance-limiting obstacles.

Athletes of any specialty are typically very health-conscious. Their diets often include vitamins and supplements. And athletes use them for performance-enhancing properties.

What is doping, what is not? The boundary is hard to draw.

Athletes consult physicians on how to bring their bodies into optimal states to win in sports competitions. To ask physicians is an obvious choice. Physicians know human physiology. Physicians prescribe medications to improve or tilt homeostasis specifically for certain sports events. But what is improvement of health, what is doping?

High altitude training enhances the body’s ability to utilize oxygen. Some sports, like long-distance running, is dominated by athletes from high-altitude countries.

And in weightlifting, a stunted growth is often of advantage, and people from ethnicities where stunted growth is more common, tend to dominate.

Or look at Olympic swimmers, especially the women’s competition. Some participants who do well look like having a past of anabolics use. To say the least.

Butea superba enhances health.​ And not just that. It enhances hormonal health. But unlike doping with anabolic steroids, butea superba activates the whole hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.​

The effect is something like genetically derived high testosterone. And that’s beneficial for athletic performance and overall health, and in the mating arena, too.

Will butea superba be detected in anti-doping tests that target steroids use? Probably not. Anti-doping tests typically measure ratios of certain hormones related to the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.

In a 2008 scientific study named “The effect of butea superba roxb., a Thai traditional medicine, on endogenous steroid levels in males”, conducted by the Department of Pharmacology of the prestigious Thai Mahidol University in cooperation with the Thai National Anti-Doping Centre, it was found that the levels of endogenous steroids were raised, but their ratios were unchanged. Here quotes from the abstact of the study:

“After oral administration of ground Butea superba Roxb. root and tuber, twenty-four hour urines were collected and analysed for endogenous steroids by GC/MS. The amount of LH was also determined in the same sample by fluoroimmunoassay… Elevations of several endogenous steroids were observed after short term administration of Butea superba Roxb. Among these are androstendione, testosterone, estradiol and estriol. The concentration of the glucocorticosteroids, cortisol and tetrahydrocortisol, were unaffected. Slight increase in urinary LH was observed. No significant change in T/DHT, androsterone/etiocholanolone and T/estradiol ratios were observed.”

For the full study, see:

http://www.dc.mahidol.ac.th/th/images/download/Doping_Papers_NDCC/Cologne16_383.pdf

Butea superba is well established in sports communities that enhance results by pharmacological means. Among scientifically-oriented, steroids-using bodybuilders, butea superba is commonly added to on-cycle stacks to avoid a complete shutdown of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis when using heavy calibers like Trenbolone, and for the purpose of maintaining libido when on “juice”.

Butea superba is also well-established for post-steroid cycle recovery, when there is a definite need to stimulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis to get back to normal hormonal profiles.

However, in sports that qualify for Olympic competition, the use of butea superba has so far been limited. Sure, butea superba isn’t in the a league with performance enhancers such as EPO or standard testosterone.

But a performance improvement of just 5 or 10 percent can make a difference between a medal or no medal. Even 2 percent can.

And butea superba’s function and classification as health supplement, not as drug, is of great advantage.

Butea superba doesn’t cause doping-positive results because hormonal profiles stays in natural delimitations, with natural hormonal ratios.​