New anabolic – mustard?

We have seen a wave of new products released purported to build muscle via non-hormonal mechanisms. Products such as Ursobolic and Anabeta were based on studies showing anabolic effects of their respective nutrients in studies conducted previously.

Now, we anticipate a new trend among supplement companies eager to explore the anabolic potential of that well known muscle builder mustard!

Mustard Muscle Builder

Before you dismiss this as a joke we ask you to turn your attention to the results of a recent study (1) investigating the potential of a specific extract found in mustard seeds called brassinosteroids, which are similar in structure to anabolic steroids.

In the study, oral administration of homobrassinolide (a specific type of brassinosteroid) at a dose of 20mg/kg for 24 days, or 60mg/kg for 24 days led to an increase in food intake, weight gain, lean body mass and gastrocnemius muscle mass. The rats which were fed a higher protein diet noticed greater effects. Both oral and subcutaneous administration of homobrassinolide showed low androgenic activity which means the effects were not mediated through higher levels of testosterone. The study also measured the fitness of the rats and, in untrained healthy rats, there was a 6.7% increase in lower extremity strength. At the end of the experiment the rats were dissected and showed that the treatment with homobrassinolide led to an increase in the number of type IIA and IIB muscle fibres which are most associated with strength and performance in the gym.


Our Comments

While we can see a craze for bodybuilders slathering mustard onto their chicken breasts now we advise caution before you do so.

Gym Rat

First, the study examined a concentrated extract found in mustard seeds whose presence in mustard sauce would be much reduced. It is not known how much mustard would need to be consumed at this point to reach an equivalent effect.

Second, while the homobrassinolide showed both an increase in muscle protein accretion and a reduction in muscle protein breakdown, leading to a net protein synthetic effect, this was in rats and a study in humans would provide more conclusive proof of the potential benefits of homobrassinolide.

Future research directed at exploring the benefits of either whole mustard sauce or the extract would be required before we can consider mustard sauce or its extracts as an anabolic agent in humans. While the fact that it showed positive effects on muscle growth independent of the androgen receptor is intriguing, it is too early at this stage to say more than that this is a potential future avenue we may see the supplement industry going down.


Author: Reggie Johal



  1. Debora Esposito, Slavko Komarnytsky, Sue Shapses and Ilya Raskin (2011):Anabolic effect of plant brassinosteroid

© 2012, Reggie Johal. All rights reserved.

About Reggie Johal

Reggie Johal is a former Great Britain American Football player and the founder of Predator Nutrition. He has a strong background in strength and fitness coaching with articles published in Flex and other leading online and print magazines.

2 thoughts on “New anabolic – mustard?

  1. Ive thought for a while that the supplement industry seems “lost” and in my view continues to produce gimmicky products that have little credit to them .If they latch on to this , it will only support my view.

    As soon as the word anabolic appears in any text , whether it be a study , product description , its music to many of us and something we want to hear.and something the manufacturers realise.-after all anabolism means growth and growth means more muscle.and sales mean more profit.

    Call me a skeptic but i personally dont want gimmicky products , i want something that will deliver., guaranteed!

  2. I have using a spoonful off mustard before and after working out for sometime after i read a study in a magazine. I have found that it does help with weight loss, gained some lean mass but it such a small amount still and it was over a peroid off time!!! The drawback…yes there are drawbacks….upset stomach..pooping every hour or two hours…harsh taste….but other than that im not dieing
    or anything……!!!! Really there is no limitless magic pill people we just gotta put in the work as far as the gym and eat right and we will look and feel better! The human body is like a soaks up what ever we put in it good or bad, there is almost a receptor for everything

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