Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Body Building

Rueben Martin, winner of the novice class in the 2013 WWF NABBA Nationals

Rueben Martin, winner of the novice class in the 2013 WWF NABBA Nationals

Body building has come a long way since the early Greek and Egyptian days when gladiators used to lift heavy stones to work out. Modern day body building started in the late 1890’s and is credited to the German, Eugen Sandow. It was he who organized the first official body building competition which was held in 1901 and competitions have a come a long way since then. In 2013, the Mr Olympia prize money was nearly one million dollars. The sport has led to many people opting to use steroids to obtain massive muscle gain which was unheard of one hundred years ago. On the other side of the coin is a growing demand for natural products including Chinese herbs to maximize their training and muscle growth. Acupuncture is used to improve fitness, muscle strength and flexibility.

The ancient Chinese  kung fu monks were the first practitioners who specialized in treating injuries and used acupuncture and Chinese herbs to improve fitness and muscle strength.

There are some common injuries that body builders are prone to which include

All these sports injuries are commonly treated with acupuncture and are covered by ACC. Many body builders after reporting such success with their treatment of injuries have then tried acupuncture for athletic enhancement.

Research has demonstrated that acupuncture can increase arterial blood gas, that is, it can improve fitness. Other acupuncture research has also shown that it can increase muscle strength. John Terilli, a former professional body builder and the only Australian ever to win the Professional Mr Universe Title in 1994 has used acupuncture and Chinese herbs in the past. Fortunately, John Terilli didn’t wait around for 20 years to see if research confirmed the benefits of acupuncture.

There has been a general trend among body builders to try all sorts of supplements including Chinese herbs. One such Chinese herb, Tribulus has been around for over 10 years and now New Zealand Deer horn has been cleverly marketed in the United States under brand names such as Velsulin IGF-1. Chinese medicine has been using deer horn for centuries to strengthen the body and improve the function of bones and sinews.  The difference being, Chinese herbalists  use deer horn in combination with other herbs to make it more effective.

Many athletes  inquire about tribulus if it is as good as what they say. The reason for the popularity of tribulus  is because of successful marketing and not from word of mouth success. There has been a two thousand year history of herbalists diagnosing patients and then putting together a prescription tailor made for the individual’s exact needed requirements. It is no different when prescribing a Chinese herb formula to help an individual achieve their maximum training potential with body building.

A Chinese herb formula can have up to 20 different herbs in it. The combination will vary depending on the constitution of the body builder and whether there are any other health problems present.

And congratulations to Reuben Martin who recently won   in the novice class of the 2013 WWF NABBA Nationals in Auckland.   Reuben  regularly travels down from Auckland  to Napier for acupuncture and is prescribed Chinese herbs. Reuben says  “The beauty about the Chinese herbs is that they treat a whole lot other health issues at the same time as improving my training.”

About Heiko Lade

Hi, I'm Heiko Lade - qualified acupuncturist at The Acupuncture Clinic in Napier, New Zealand. If you have any questions about what you’ve read or would like more details about what I can do for you, please contact me.


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