I’ve fielded a lot of questions about turkesterone recently. 

For those that don’t know, turkesterone is an ecdysteroid that some people take as a health and fitness supplement.

It’s a matter of the moment because studies apparently show that taking turkesterone can boost muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth, enhance physical performance, improve glucose sensitivity, appetite, and digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and more.

How much of this is actually true, though, and how much is internet hype and marketing hot air?

Learn the answers in this evidence-based turkesterone review.

What Is Turkesterone?

Turkesterone is an ecdysteroid—a type of hormone found in plants and animals that’s structurally similar to an androgen (a hormone that promotes the development of masculine traits like hair and muscle growth, deepening of the voice, and strength).

In plants, ecdysteroids play a role in defending against insect pests, while in animals, they control the molting and metamorphosis of arthropods (animals with exoskeletons).

Recently, turkesterone has also become a popular health and fitness supplement that’s purported to boost strength and muscle gain, reduce fatigue, and accelerate recovery.

Turkesterone: Benefits

Research apparently shows ecdysteroids . . .

There’s a catch, though: these claims are all based on the results of animal research.

While animal studies are important for helping us fathom how substances work, we should be hesitant to extrapolate the findings to humans.

There’s actually very little research on the effects of ecdysteroids on humans and no turkesterone studies specifically.

That said, scientists at German Sport University Cologne conducted a study that supplement companies often tout as proof that turkesterone has steroid-like properties.

Again, this wasn’t a turkesterone study. Instead, the researchers studied ecdysterone, which is a similar ecdysteroid.

The researchers split 46 male participants with at least one year’s experience of barbell training into four groups: 

  • A placebo group, who took placebo pills every day and lifted weights 3 days per week.
  • A low-dose group, who took 200 mg (2 x 100 mg pills) of ecdysterone per day and lifted weights 3 days per week.
  • A high-dose group, who took 800 mg (8 x 100 mg pills) of ecdysterone per day and lifted weights 3 days per week.
  • A control group, who took 200 mg (2 x 100 mg pills) of ecdysterone per day and didn’t lift weights.

The study write-up didn’t include much information about the training program, except that each workout consisted of six barbell exercises for the whole body. However, the pre-study testing involved the bench press and squat, and the researchers mentioned that the participants had to be able to deadlift, so it seems likely that the participants followed a well-designed training program.

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After 10 weeks, the results showed that the high-dose group gained about 4.5 pounds of muscle and the low-dose group gained about 3.5 pounds. Impressive results, but not gobsmacking.

Here’s where things get suspicious: the group that took a placebo and lifted weights lost almost a pound of muscle, whereas the group that took 200 mg of ecdysterone and didn’t train gained about 0.5 pounds of muscle. 

That is, simply taking ecdysterone was more effective than lifting weights for gaining muscle, which is highly implausible.

Perhaps even more bizarre than this, though, is that a subsequent analysis of the ecdysterone supplement used in the trial showed that although the label on the bottle said each pill contained 100 mg of ecdysterone, they really only contained 6 mg per pill. 

This means even the high-dose group took a tiny amount of ecdysterone during the study—nowhere near enough to produce any effects—yet they allegedly built muscle at a lick.

And if this wasn’t enough to set your BS detector aquiver, another study conducted by scientists at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor found contradictory results—that ecdysterone doesn’t affect fat loss, muscle and strength gain, or hormone levels whatsoever. 

Incidentally, this study had a much better design and used more accurate methods of measuring muscle gain and fat loss than the study from German Sport University Cologne.

In sum, turkesterone and other ecdysteroids are interesting molecules. Still, we know very little about how they work, especially in humans, and many of the supplement industry’s claims aren’t substantiated by strong evidence.

Turkesterone: Side Effects

We don’t have enough research to know the side effects of turkesterone.

Rodent studies show that ecdysteroids such as ecdysterone are toxic at doses of 6,400 mg per kg of body weight when injected, or 9,000 mg per kg of body weight when taken orally.

The highest dose scientists have safely tested in a human study is 800 mg, which is roughly the equivalent of about 10 mg per kg for a 180-pound man.

In other words, the doses most people take are probably safe, but we can’t know for certain until we have more evidence.

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Turkesterone: Dosage

Because we have little research on ecdysteroids in general, and no turkesterone studies to work from, there’s no established clinically effective dose for turkesterone.

Most commercially available turkesterone supplements recommend taking around 500 mg per day, though this dose doesn’t appear to be based on any scientific evidence.

Furthermore, the labels on ecdysteroid supplements are often inaccurate, which makes discussing optimal turkesterone dosage even more tricky.

For example, research conducted by scientists at The Free University of Berlin showed that 8 out of 12 commercially available ecdysteroid-containing supplements contained far less ecdysteroid than the label suggested (in 6 the actual amount in the supplement was found to be less than 20% of the amount reported on the labeling).

Thus, even if we knew how much turkesterone you should take to experience benefits, there’s no way to tell whether the supplement you use actually contains that amount.

FAQ #1: Is turkesterone a steroid?

Technically, yes, but it’s different from the kind of drugs typically referred to as “steroids” in bodybuilding circles. 

Turkestoerone is an ecdysteroid hormone that’s produced naturally by animals and plants. When we refer to steroids in a bodybuilding or sports context, we’re talking about unnatural substances known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) that behave very differently in the body than ecdysteroids. 

FAQ #2: Is turkesterone natural?

Yes.

Don’t fall into the trap of conflating “natural” with “safe,” though. 

Many natural substances are toxic to humans (cyanide, for example), so don’t assume that turkesterone is safe because it isn’t man-made. 

FAQ #3: Does turkesterone work?

Most people are interested in taking turkesterone because they think it’ll boost their performance and help them build muscle, but there’s currently no evidence showing it can do either of these.

Until research tells us otherwise, it’s reasonable to say that no, turkesterone doesn’t “work.”

FAQ #4: Is turkesterone safe?

We don’t have enough research to say for certain whether turkesterone is safe or not.

Results from animal studies suggest that ecdysteroids aren’t toxic unless they’re taken in high doses, but we can’t necessarily extrapolate these findings to humans.

FAQ #5: What does turkesterone do?

Research shows that ecdysteroids have numerous positive effects on animals, including boosting muscle growth and physical performance.

People hope that ecdysteroids such as turkesterone will have similar effects on humans, but there’s no evidence this is the case yet.

FAQ #6: How much turkesterone should I take?

We don’t know the safe and clinically effective turkesterone dosage because no studies have examined it specifically.

The highest dose of ecdysteroids given to humans during a study without any adverse effects is 800 mg, but it’s unclear whether we can expect the same results with turkesterone. 

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FAQ #7: What are turkesterone’s negative side effects?

We don’t know the side effects of turkesterone because no studies have examined it specifically.

Some research on other ecdysteroids such as ecdysterone shows that doses up to 800 mg are well tolerated, but this isn’t enough evidence to say the same is true of turkesterone.

FAQ #8: Does turkesterone increase testosterone?

Probably not.

We don’t have research showing turkesterone’s effect on testosterone specifically, but research on similar ecdysteroids shows that they have no effect on hormone levels.

Yes, it’s legal to buy, sell, and take turkesterone.

It’s also currently not a prohibited substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), though this may change soon.

FAQ #10: What’s the best turkesterone supplement?

There’s no scientific evidence that turkesterone helps you build muscle or perform better. As such, I can’t recommend any turkesterone supplements, let alone say which is best.

FAQ #11: Are the turkesterone before and after pictures online realistic?

Probably not.

Most turkesterone before and after pictures are produced by supplement companies to sell their products, which means there’s a good chance the images have been doctored to appear more impressive than they are.

Oh, and given the prevalence of steroid use among fitness models, it’s reasonable to assume that many of the athletes you see in the most striking “after” photos owe more to the “extracurricular supplements” they take than turkesterone.

FAQ #12: Ecdysterone vs. Turkesterone: Which is better?

There’s very little evidence that ecdysterone or turkesterone can help you reach your health and fitness goals. Thus, neither is better or worse than the other—they’re equally useless. 

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