Good nutrition, including food from the major food groups, vitamins and minerals together with a proper disciplined exercise is a pre-requisite for an athletes’ performance. Of course one also has to be mentally strong to face competitive sports to have an edge over their peers. These appear to be the given that all athletes take to prepare for optimum performance. Therefore, it is often the slight edge in an athletes’ performance that tips him over to be the winner. The desire to win sometimes leads to the misuse of steroids knowingly or unknowingly which have often caused heartbreak among top athletes beginning with Ben Johnson, the 100 m Olympic gold medalist in 1984 who was stripped of his gold medal, to closer to home, some of our own respected and loved Sportsmen who were not spared the shame, when they failed the doping test.
There is however a supplement that acts as an adaptogen ie blends in with ones’ own body to bring out the best in a persons’ physical and mental performance without any side effects. This supplement is derived from an herb and has shown promising effects in sporting individuals without the doping effect! This supplement is from the herb Tongkat Ali.
Biotropics Malaysia Bhd produces standardized Tongkat Ali water extract in the form of a capsule with the brand name nu-prep. Nu-prep has undergone numerous and rigorous clinical and animal research locally and worldwide to ensure its safety and efficacy in humans over the last 12 years. The initial study was conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Malaysian government.
Some of the key scientifically proven findings shown to improve areas relating to sports performance are given below:
Water extract of Tongkat Ali can improve muscle mass, lean body mass, muscle strength and endurance 1,2,3. This is seen in groups who were put on Nu Prep for more than 2 weeks especially in adult men in intense strength training noticeable in biceps1. The studies were conducted in men and women from 28 to 72 years of age. The older age group (57-72 years) were senior cyclists of an amateur cyclists club3. Women also benefited from strength training demonstrated in improvements in chest press, leg press and handgrip. Nu prep Tongkat Ali helps to maintain and improve muscle strength and size which are important in being in a fit form for competition.
With vigorous training prior to a competition, one often suffers from fatigue and the ability to recover from it faster is a requisite to be able to train harder and more frequently and being better prepared for a competition. In a study conducted among mountain cyclist, cyclists experienced faster recovery from fatigue in an intense 24 hr mountain biking4. The stress hormone, cortisol levels were 32.3% lower compared to Placebo.
This suggest that Nu Prep extract can maintain normal levels of cortisol (low) and testosterone (high) to promote an overall “anabolic” hormonal state which is a muscle building state (versus a “catabolic” which is a muscle breaking state characterized also by elevated cortisol and suppressed testosterone) during intense endurance exercise. This is good news for those preparing for a competition and need to train hard. Faster recovery from an intense bout will may prepare the athlete better for competition as they get to practice more frequently.
Optimal physical form and agility is important for an individual in plays competitive sports. In a study conducted among adult males in Hospital USM, Penang, when tested for the Physical function (PF) domain of the Quality of Life questionnaire in (100 men in placebo controlled randomised study), a marked improvement was observed in those who took Tongkat Ali over 12 weeks compared to those who were on placebo.
Competitive sports not only require a healthy body but also a focused mind. In order to be focused, one needs to be calm. Tongkat Ali has been tested in animals and humans for the ability to reduce stress. In a study conducted by Dr. Talbott in USA, moderately stressed adults (32 men and 31 women) tested in randomised placebo controlled study showed significant improvements in the TA group for Tension (−11%), Anger (−12%), and Confusion (−15%)6. Stress hormone profile (salivary cortisol and testosterone) was significantly improved by TA supplementation, with reduced cortisol exposure (−16%) and increased testosterone status (+37%). A reduction in stress hormone enables one to function optimally without the fatigue which is one of the manifestations of stress, while the improvement in testosterone primes the athlete into top performance. A reduction in tension, anger and confusion will certainly improve the mental focus of the athlete.
Even though Tongkat Ali improves performance in sportsmen, it does not have a doping effect7. Sportsmen can safely consume Tongkat Ali for improved performance either in body building or other sports as it reduced tiredness resulting from overtraining, reduction of pain post intense exercise8 and provides the extra burst of energy in competitions.
Journal of International Society of Sport Medicine 3 (1): S32