Often when looking around to try and find a new supplement to build muscle, aid recovery and stimulate muscle growth, people often turn to creatine monohydrate or amino acids such as glutamine, the more ‘well known’ supplements. However there is one supplement which receives less press but is just as effective, Mega Cissus, a high potency source of Cissus Quadrangularis (a perennial plant of the grape family found in India and Sri Lanka.) Here we look at the health benefits and reasons for why you should be thinking about adding Cissus Quadrangularis to your fitness regime and the science supporting it as an effective sports supplement.
Cissus and Muscle Mass
Cissus Quadrangularis is an ancient medicinal plant that was prescribed in the ancient Ayurvedic texts as a general tonic and analgesic, with specific bone fracture healing properties. More recently there have been more research papers published on its anti-glucocorticoid, anti-catabolic, anti-lipase, anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties where it has been praised for aiding in everything from fat loss to bone and tendon.
More recently, it has been reported that Cissus Quadrangularis could greatly aid in increasing muscle mass too. When you’re looking to increase muscle mass (muscular hypertrophy) in the gym, you want to load your muscles above their habitual level by lifting a weight and bringing about the appropriate hormonal and chemical conditions that cause your muscle cells to grow. When you lift weights, your endocrine system releases anabolic hormones (i.e. testosterone and growth hormone) but because of the stress your body is under, you may also release cortisol which is bad for building muscle because it can inhibit protein synthesis and stimulate amino acid degradation.
Increase anabolic hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) + reduce excessive levels of catabolic hormones (cortisol) = build muscle
Studies show that Cissus is capable of interacting with the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) by binding to it and acting as a GR antagonist, ensuring cortisol doesn’t bind to the receptor and therefore reducing cortisol’s negative effects and helping your muscle mass development.
How Cissus Quadrangularis can help your bones and tendons
If you train to a high level with regular, intense exercise, you will know that constantly training the body to get stronger, quicker and fitter will sometimes lead to small injuries where the body has just been overworked (the fine line between ‘stimulation’ and ‘annihilation’). For those of you that do pick up a slight injury, Cissus can help with your recovery.
Studies have shown that injured athletes using Cissus saw a significant influence in the rate of fracture healing. Cissus influences the early regeneration of all connective tissues of mesenchyma origin (namely the fibroblasts), the chondroblasts and osteoblasts involved in the healing and quicker mineralisation of the callus. It also delivers nutrients to the injured tissue and, unlike pain relief products, not only soothes the pain of connective tissue injury but also works to repair it.
Regarding bone fractures, it is theorised that Cissus causes less amount of tissue reaction in the fractured area leading to optimum decalcification in the early stage with minimum of callus formation. So deposition of calcium is just enough to join the two broken segments of bone so that it’s recovery happens much faster. Cissus is also shown to cause early gain in the tensile strength of fractured bones by building up the chemical composition of the fractured bone, namely its mucopolysaccharides, collagen, calcium and phosphorus as well as its functional efficiency.