Review: Applied Nutriceuticals IGF-2 Herbal Anabolic
“IGF-2 is a powerful anabolic blend of the strongest herbal anabolic compounds on the market; precisely formulated and dosed to provide dramatic, noticeable results FAST.
The unique ingredients in IGF-2 have been scientifically proven to significantly increase testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) levels, providing the user with more lean muscle, strength, and fullness than ever before possible from an OTC product.
IGF-2 is especially effective for men over 40 as a natural hormone replacement therapy product due to its aforementioned ability to help stimulate testosterone and HGH production, potentially to that of an 18 year-old!”
Hmmm… strong words. Is there really any evidence that IGF-2 can roll back the hormonal clock more than two decades?
Well, let’s put it this way… Applied Nutriceuticals lists 32 references on its web site, and not a single one of them provides direct support for this contention. And beyond a few vague testimonials, this is all the proof that the company provides.
So, if you’re a 40+ year-old guy looking for some over-the-counter (OTC), natural hormone replacement therapy, let’s just say that you should approach this claim with a bit of skepticism.
Of course, this doesn’t mean there’s no substance to IGF-2 at all… in truth, hype is the wind beneath the wings of virtually every bodybuilding supplement company on the face of the planet. So let’s not hold the company’s toes too close to the fire on this point, and focus on answering more substantive questions… namely:
- Does IGF-2 raise testosterone and/or growth hormone at all?
- Does it provide enough of a hormonal boost to trigger significant changes in body composition and/or strength?
- Are there any other health or performance benefits it could provide?
To answer these questions, we need to start with the label. What’s in IGF-2 that makes it “…one of the strongest herbal anabolic compounds on the market?”
Amount Per Capsule: 700mg
Safed Musli (50% Extract)
Mucuna Pruriens (Standardized To 25% L-Dopa)
Rhodiola Rosea (3% Rosavins)
Dodder Seed (Cuscuta Chineses)
Up to 150 Lbs: 2 Capsules (6 Daily)
200-250 Lbs: 3 Capsules (9 Daily)
250+ Lbs: 4 Capsules (12 Daily)
Before digging into the details, I’d like to call attention to two features that I consider “pluses” for any supplement.
1. the formula is simple. IGF-2 contains only 4 active ingredients. All too often, bodybuilding supplement manufacturers try to impress (and overwhelm) their customers with looooong lists of “sciency” ingredients.
But a long list increases the likelihood that some of the ingredients will be “label decoration” (ingredients added in vanishingly small amounts, in order to pad the label).
This is an all-too-common marketing trick used to convince potential purchasers that they’re getting more for their money than they really are. When it comes to supplements, however, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, silly) rules: a supplement formula need not be complicated to be effective.
2. Standardized extracts are used. This is a good thing, because the amount of active compounds can vary—sometimes quite a lot—in natural products. Standardized extracts compensate for this variation, so manufacturers can deliver precise amounts of key compounds to their customers.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at each one of the ingredients.
Safed Musli is Chlorophytum borivilianum—an Ayurvedic medicinal herb. As a “Rasayana” drug, the roots are credited with aphrodisiac and immune-enhancing properties. Several steroidal saponins, dubbed “borivilianosides,” have been identified in samples. The roots also contain triterpenoidal saponins, sapogenins, polysaccharides, alkaloids, vitamins and minerals.
Safed musli is certainly an intriguing plant, although what’s known about it pales beside what isn’t known. For all its apparent value, there are only a few, scattershot studies available to support the claims being made for it. And all of them are either in-vitro, or small trials performed on mice/rats… none are in human beings.
In-vitro studies suggest that safed musli has antioxidant activity. Rodent studies using various extracts suggest that it could reduce stress, boost sexual activity and sperm count, improve immune response, inhibit tumor growth, improve lipid metabolism and relieve diabetes-induced sexual dysfunction.
So far so good, but whether it does any of these things in humans is still an open question. Traditional use and anecdotes are certainly places to start, but they’re far from conclusive.
Mucuna pruriens is also known as “velvet bean”—a tropical legume used as a food, feedstock and traditional medicine. In the latter capacity, it’s credited with aphrodisiac, anti-stress and fertility-enhancing effects.
Velvet bean is also used as an alternative treatment for Parkinson’s disease, as it’s a naturally-occurring source of l-dopa (a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine).
Beyond its therapeutic uses, l-dopa has been used experimentally as a “challenge” to test for defects in the ability to produce growth hormone. In one study, for example, 500mg oral l-dopa produced significant increases in circulating GH.
So it’s reasonable to assume that IGF-2 “works” as a growth hormone secretagogue—just like the ads claim. And—taken at face value—Applied Nutriceuticals’ own little(!) in-house trial on HGH-Up (another, related l-dopa-based supp) lends credence to this.
There’s a catch, however. Although supplement marketers are fond of citing studies on the benefits of growth hormone, there isn’t a shred of reliable evidence that GH secretagogues like L-dopa can induce human body composition changes similar to those obtained with growth hormone injections. So while it’s fair to say that IGF-2 probably boosts GH production, this doesn’t mean it will facilitate the kind of physique changes that users are looking for.
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb used in Russian folk medicine. Positive effects on physical/emotional stress have been documented in several animal studies and human clinical trials. I’ve used Rhodiola before and liked it… I found that it helped to keep me on my feet and thinking after a brutal workout. Over time, however, it started cutting into my sleep (which meant it was time to quit!).
Lastly, Dodder Seed is Cuscuta chinensis, a parasitic plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Since it’s an invasive plant pest, importation of whole seeds into the US is not allowed; however powders and crushed seeds are permitted.
Dodder—or Semen cuscutae (as it’s also known)—is used in TCM to treat “kidney-yang deficiency,” the symptoms of which may include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low sperm count and/or impotence.
There is very little experimental data on dodder, and what exists is fairly typical of studies on lesser-known medicinal plants: a handful of in-vitro and/or rodent studies that demonstrate biological activity, yet are difficult to extrapolate to human use.
For example, administering the “total flavones” in dodder seed lessened the hydrocortisone-induced testosterone decline in male mice. Obviously, this lends itself to the marketing of a supp that ostensibly boosts T… but this is a highly-contrived set of experimental conditions that may—or may not—translate into “real world” benefits.
Likewise, T increases were seen when healthy immature rats were gavaged with 300mg/kg flavonoids extracted from C. chinensis, but that works out to a human equivalent dose (HED) of more than 3g for a 70kg man… which is waaaay more total flavonoids than could possibly be in a product like IGF-2.
At best, we can anticipate that dodder seed…
- is relatively non-toxic; and
- may help reduce oxidative stress, depending how it’s prepared.
So based on the above information, what can we conclude about IGF-2?
Well, there’s evidence that safed musli, M. pruriens and R. rosea can help alleviate physical/psychological stress. Since ample doses (4200mg–8400mg) of IGF-2 are recommended, it’s highly likely that it could offer a boost to stamina and post-workout recovery.
Antioxidant components in the herbal ingredients might also help reduce oxidative stress. And given the reputations of safed musli and dodder seed, a libido boost could also be in the cards, although whether this is mediated by testosterone remains to be seen—the evidence is pretty thin at this point.
Spikes in growth hormone secretion are also likely, although—as noted above—this may not yield the results users are seeking.
Overall, IGF-2 appears to be a well-made supplement, so I had no hesitation about giving it a try myself. Since I’m under 150 pounds, I took 6 caps/day: 3 first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and 3 before bed—just as directed. I did not get any stronger, bigger or leaner in the 40 days I took it, although I did notice two positive effects.
While it’s tough to quantify, I seemed to fall asleep faster, and slept more deeply while using IGF-2. And, I also felt somewhat more energetic post-workout than I usually do when I’m not using a pre-workout stimulant product (I deliberately refrained from taking any while using IGF-2).
In other words, it pretty much worked the way I figured it would… there were no real surprises.
So to return to the questions above, I’d answer them thusly (in bold):
- Does IGF-2 raise testosterone and/or growth hormone at all? (T: unproven/GH: probably)
- Does it provide enough of a boost to trigger significant changes in body composition and/or strength? (unproven; and given the history of OTC (over the counter) GH secretagogues, doubtful)
- Are there any other health or performance benefits it could provide? (highly likely: potential for adaptogenic, antioxidant, sleep and/or libido-enhancing effects)
Overall, IGF-2 isn’t a miracle worker, but it could be worth experimenting with (it’s available from BodyBuilding.com, our recommended online retailer) —particularly if you could use a little more sleep and a little less stress in your life.
|Summary of Applied Nutraceuticals’ IGF-2|