We get it, you've actually taken a look at the back of a supplements label for once and thought ... What in the bloody dickens are these ingredients? At the moment its feeling like a new "innovative patent-pending" ingredient breaking the market every other week, and it sure is making for confusing label reading. But never fear mate, by the end of this article you'll be a library of knowledge on ActiGin®, so that'll be one less confusing ingredient!
To answer "What is ActiGin®?", lets start off with the NuLiv Science line for ActiGin®:
"ActiGin® is NuLiv Science’s proprietary sports nutraceutical composed of two highly purified and fractionated extracts from Panax notoginseng and Rosa roxburghiiproduced by a NuLiv Science pharmaceutical extraction and processing technology."
To break that down further, ActiGin® is comprised of the Ginsenoside "Rg1" extracted from Panax notoginseng. Worth noting is that Rg1 is also the defining component in Notoginseng and Korean ginseng (commonly simply referred to as Panax ginseng) which is commonly used to differentiate them from American ginseng (aka. Panax quinquifolium), which has comparatively lower Rg1 concentrations.
ASIDE: The structurally descriptive name of ginsenoside Rg1 is (3β, 6α, 12β)-3,12-Dihydroxydammar-24-ene-6,20-diyl bis-β-D-glucopyranoside. So I hope you can understand why we'll prefer to stick with Rg1 for the purposes of this article.
The second component of the formula seems to be an unspecified extract of the Rosa roxburghii (aka. Chestnut Rose) plant. What components of this ActiGin® has selected for seems unspecified.
ASIDE: The really interesting part about the ActiGin® pairing, is that no one seems go give a flying f*ck about this Rosa component. NuLiv Science themselves barely mention it, and provide zero links to the benefits this ingredient provides in itself. Funnily enough, Rg1 however has plenty of dedicated chat. So the question is, why did they choose the pairing? Does the Rosa extract provide any value in itself that led them to their development? Onward in discussing ActiGin®'s functions and I'll make some theories as to what is going on. The critical might think this could be a case of combining two ingredients because it sounds good to the marketing team, not because they have specific complimentary function that is anything better than supplementing the two individually.
So we know ActiGin® contains both an Rg1 extract and that from Rosa roxburburghii. But the reality with supplements is that dosage is critical. Being a proprietary blend, these aren't opening disclosed. However from the patent application we can glean the following details:
"...wherein the herbal composition is standardized to contain 30% to 40% (weight % in total) of a total saponin,0.6% to 2.0% of Vitamin C, and 2.0% to 4.0% of polyphenols, and a ginsenoside Rg1 (Rg1), as one indicator component ranging from 5 mg to 50 mg for one serving."
To clarify, "saponin" is a class of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and could mean quite the range of substances. Rg1 is one said saponin, so you might assume the intention is that the majority of that 30% to 40% make up is to be Rg1. But that's assumption, we don't know it for sure and the body of it could be any distribution of the MANY saponins ginsengs are known to contain, and I assume are also present in Rosa roxburghii. That said, the qualifier then comes in that Rg1 should be present in the range 5mg to 50mg. This is really positive news because the minimum dosage of 5mg has been shown beneficial in clinical trials for the functions ActiGin claims to provide, which we discuss more below. Conclusion: Rg1 dosage is good.
Polyphenols are a class or organic structures, these are popular due to their antioxidant properties. This is likely in reference to the Rosa roxburghii extracts main function to provide these polyphenols, however worth noting is that these could also be sourced from the Notoginseng. This is a hard one to say if dosage is adequate, as I assume different polyphenols vary by antioxidant activity and very little research is available on Rosa roxburghii extracts. Watch this space, I will update it after further research.
What does ActiGin® do?
To be more accurate to how we're answering this question, the rephrase "What has ActiGin® been clinically shown to do?" is more accurate. As with all supplementation, the exact effects will vary from person to person and under different conditions. It is always key to keep this in mind when ever you are evaluating the benefits of a supplement, and how you might recommend it to others.
Now before we dive head first into the technical discussion, this ActiGin® promotional video should help paint the general picture of where this is going.
Now to approach the actions methodically, we'll break discussion into three sections according to the NuLiv Science claims that ActiGin® assists to "REenergize", "REcover", and "REgenerate".
Release Energy > Spark Momentum
ActiGin® increases the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is responsible for producing more ATP (energy our body uses).
No surprises, this is the big claim that ActiGin® is marketed and well known for. Everyone wants more energy, and the smallest 1% could mean the difference between a gold medal and nothing for some.
In one clinical trial utilising just a 5mg Rg1 extract orally taken an hour before 60mins of 70% VO2 Max cycling, resulted in a 12% increase in endurance performance. Another clinical trial utilising multiple doses of Rg1 prior to the exercise found a 20% increase in endurance performance.
Great stats, but here is where it gets interesting. For a reason unknown to my research, NuLiv Science seem to be attributing increased POST-EXERCISE citrate synthase activity to providing more energy. They aren't really wrong there, the increase in citrate synthase activity is notable (see figure below). This will even have increased energy implications. But this is more of a recovery benefit than a performance one. However NuLiv has seen it fit to use headlines such as:
"ACTIGIN® INCREASES ENERGY LEVEL IN 60 MIN CYCLING (70% VO2 MAX) BY 47%"
To be frank that's just plain wrong. An accurate (yet less marketing flashy) line would be:
ActiGin® has been shown to increase citrate synthase activity by 47% 3 hours after 60min cycling at 70% VO2 max.
And then they could explain how this is in fact quite valuable, because citrate synthase is a pace making enzyme at the start of the citric acid cycle which produces ATP. This may result in more ATP produced, but citrate synthase is not a direct measure of energy output and there could also be other factors that throttle the increased benefits provided. This really is a classic case of the marketing team bastardising the actual demonstrated result.
Conclusion: Yes we do have evidence that ActiGin® increases endurance performance, but there isn't really evidence to say that it is because it provides more at the time energy via ATP pathways. What we do know, is that the citrate synthase enzyme activity of the citric acid ATP pathway is up-regulated post exercise - and as a pace setting component it is possiblethat this is beneficial to total energy. In reality, more research definitely seems to be required.
Rapid Recovery > Competitive Advantage
ActiGin® supports the reduction of a wide range of exercise-induced inflammation markers such as IL-6, MDA, and more glycogen leading to faster recovery and less soreness.
For recovery effects, there seem to be a number of mechanisms of focus. Some recovery benefits are being attributed to increased glycogen shuttling into the muscles being exercised. Restocking depleted fuel reserves.
"a significantly accelerated rate of glycogen accumulation in exercised skeletal muscle was observed after Rg1 administration"
One notable feature is how Rg1 supplementation has a notable effect on markers of myogenisis, which is the formation of new musclular tissue. Myf5 mRNA expression is commonly regarded as a valuable marker of myogenesis. In one clinical trial Myf5 mRNA expression by 81% immediately following a 60 min cycling exercise. Worth noting, this does not mean 81% more "gains", but it is a notable increase on a factor that should support more "gains". Like with the citrate synthase discussion, this is not a measurement of final outcome.
New Muscle Cells > For Longevity
ActiGin® has shown in a human clinical study that it can actually promote the removal of old cells and replenish with new healthy muscle cells.
ActiGin® is has been designed to provide increased macrophage function during exercise. Take these snippets from their patent application:
"Accordingly, the present invention provides an anti-aging method aiming to eliminate senescent cells in skeletal muscle using exercise after consumption of an herbal composition that potentially stimulates phagocytic function of macrophage for in situ senescent cell clearance."
This activity was demonstrated in thisdouble blind, cross over study with 12 young athletic males (NuLiv funded), where they received a relevant dosage (5mg) of Rg1, or placebo was received one hour prior to exercise. After one hour of 70% VO2 Max Cycling exercise, more than 60% of pre-existing markers of deteriorating cells had been cleaned out in Rg1 users. Negligible difference was observed for Placebo.
For readability, this chat regarding the clinical tests and outcomes have been (obviously) summarised to what I identified as key details. As with any clinical trial there are a number of nuances and specific variations in each one, so best to give the papers a read for yourself to accurately understand the full picture! (See them in the references below).
Overall, the more you look into this product the better it seems the Rg1 component functions for recovery and cell health maintenance. And while energy performance benefits seem evident, NuLiv really needs to be more careful in how they communicate it in order to stay truthful. As with all standardised compounds, it's also excellent to know a herb has been controlled for quality, not just by adulterants but also for the seasonal and conditional variations that cause differing ratios of bio-actives.
While it is frustrating that NuLiv do not disclose the exact concentrations or ratio of Ginsenoside Rg1 and Rosa roxburghii, it is comforting to know that by the patent application, their minimum potential dosages are relevant and beneficial. The only caveat I have there, is that clinical trials do tend to have a knack for proving what they are looking to prove, and not reporting the failures. So when there is financial incentives in the mix, it always pays to consider outcomes in a balanced manner. One study I would particularly like to see is how ActiGin® specifically performs compared to a standard Notoginseng or Panax ginseng extract alone. This would prove the value of their innovation above what was already available on the market. This feels particularly required because all of their referenced supporting research is actually based on Rg1 supplementation alone, not in pairing with Rosa roxburghii as is the case with ActiGin®.
Conclusion:ActiGin® appears to be a beneficial ingredient on paper and in clinical settings for the use cases of Recovery and Cell Regeneration. It has shown "at-the-time" performance benefits, though the mechanism by which this occurs is to be determined. Time is yet to prove its value in real day-to-day use cases, how much of a role the Rosa roxburghii is playing, and if ActiGin® holds value above a standardised ginseng extract alone. But at the end of the day, Rg1 has certainly proven to be an awesome compound, so even by this component alone - ActiGin is likely a very beneficial ingredient in a supplement stack.
How could I supplementActiGin®?
Based on the scientific literature, as well NuLiv science's own documentation, here is how we would recommend supplementing with ActiGin® to achieve the intended functions:
50 - 100mg, taken 60 - 30 minutes before exercise. NuLiv Science's single ingredient ActiGin® product itself is dosed at 100mg and follows the 30minute guideline. However, all the clinical studies published to date have applied it 60 minutes prior, and some which showed benefit were supplemented at 50mg per dose.
Take for multiple days in a row for best results. It's pretty simple. Clinical trials including multiple dosages performed better than those with single dose.
What supplements include ActiGin®?
We only stock one product that includes ActiGin® itself. That is CreaMAX by Strom Sports Nutrition. This is a Creatine Monohydrate product true to Strom in covering the basics of what we know is good, then including a touch of modern innovation to provide that beneficial edge as compared to competitor products.
Each serve of CreaMAX includes:
5g patented Creapure® (a micronised Creatine monohydrate);