Thyme extract may increase athletic endurance, rat study suggests

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: wmaster890/iStock
Photo: wmaster890/iStock

Related tags: Antioxidant

Exhaustive running time of rats supplemented with thyme extract was significantly prolonged compared to a control group, researchers in Iran report.

Thyme was researched because of its high flavonoid and antioxidant properties, but lack of occurrence in sports supplement research, the scientists wrote in their report, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​.

Antioxidant supplementation for exercise and training is still disputed​ regarding its usefulness, but previous studies cited by researchers in this present study suggest that “antioxidant supplementation may help athletes to cope better with intensified training periods and prevent excessive ROS-induced reductions in performance capacity during exhausting exercise,”​ they wrote.

The study was designed to determine the influence of thyme extract supplementation on oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation), antioxidant status, and endurance performance after a 2-month period of endurance training on rats.

Study design

Twenty male rats were divided into two equal groups and fed a standard rat chow with or without a thyme-hydro-alcoholic extract dissolved in distilled water to a 400 mg/kg concentration.

The endurance capacity was analyzed by treadmill running to fatigue at the end of each training period. To do this, rats were placed on a motorized treadmill at a speed of 36 meters per minute until they were exhausted, which was defined as the inability of the rat to maintain an appropriate pace despite continuous hand prodding.

Outcomes: Effect of thyme extract on endurance

Looking at lipidic indices of the rats, there were no significant differences between the supplemented group and the non-supplemented group, indicating that “thyme extract supplementation did not effect on weight gain or loss,” ​they wrote. But there was a significantly lower amount of total serum cholesterol and HDL-C in the supplemented group.

“The most obvious finding to emerge from the analysis is that the exhaustive running time of rats in thyme extract supplemented group was significantly prolonged—over four times longer—compared to that of the non-supplemented group,” ​they wrote.

“Although no study has directly examined the effect of thyme extract supplementation on endurance performance, others have reported positive effects of different poly-phenolic compounds,”​ they added. “Such an improvement in performance seems to be related to cardiovascular, chemo-preventive, immunological, or other adaptations rather than mitochondrial biogenesis.”

For future studies on thyme extract’s efficacy in helping training endurance, the researchers called for a human trial, as well as taking samples at different times (immediately, 24 hours, and 48 hours following exercise) as well as use lower dosage of thyme extract “to better understand the effect of this extract on oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, antioxidants level, and markers of mitochondrial biogenesis.”

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Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Published online, DOI: 10.1186/s12970-017-0167-x
Effect of thyme extract supplementation on lipid peroxidation, antioxidant capacity, PGC-1α content and endurance exercise performance in rats
Authors: M. Khani et al.

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