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Laxogenin: A Natural Plant Steroid (Benefits, Drawbacks & Dosage)

Updated: Aug 16

Laxogenin is a naturally occurring steroid found in plants. Many professionals and bodybuilders take laxogenin because they think it is a safer way to grow muscle and improve performance.

But, how safe is laxogenin, and does it work? In this article, I dive deep into the science behind this natural plant steroid, its safety, dosage, benefits, and drawbacks.

Table of Contents:

man pouring laxogenin supplement into hand

What Is Laxogenin?

Laxogenin is a supplement that comes in a variety of forms. It belongs to the brassinosteroids family of plant hormones, which have a similar structure to animal steroid hormones.

Brassinosteroids are plant hormones which promote growth in plants. (1, 2)

The stems of the Asian plant Smilax sieboldii contain about 0.06 percent laxogenin and are the primary natural source of laxogenin. However, it may also be produced from the bulbs of Chinese onions (Allium chinense). (3, 4)

The laxogenin found in supplements is derived from diosgenin, a more prevalent plant steroid.

In fact, diosgenin is a basic ingredient utilised in the production of more than 50% of synthetic steroids, including progesterone, cortisol, and testosterone. (5)

Despite laxogenin supplements being marketed as natural, most supplements do not include laxogenin, but rather its synthetic counterpart, 5a-hydroxy laxogenin (also known as laxosterone).

According to a study of 12 supplements supposedly containing laxogenin, 5a-hydroxy laxogenin is always produced from synthetic laxogenin.

Notably, 5 supplements had no 5a-hydroxy laxogenin at all, and 8 were contaminated with diosgenin. (6)

Laxogenin is a naturally occurring steroid found in some plants. Most supplements include its synthetic counterpart, 5a-hydroxy laxogenin, as well as other impurities.

How Does It Work?

Laxogenin is often mislabeled as a prohormone. A prohormone is a chemical that serves as a building block for the synthesis of hormones.

Androgenic prohormones are supplements which the body transforms to testosterone or other anabolic steroids once ingested.

Laxogenin, on the other hand, is a plant steroid, comparable to cholesterol-derived human sex hormones. It is a unique plant-derived chemical that impacts several pathways within the body.

Human steroid hormones, such as testosterone, work through influencing nuclear receptors.

Plant steroids (brassinosteroids) such as laxogenin definitely enhance plant growth, but their effects on people and animals are much less apparent. (7, 8)

Contrary to popular belief, laxogenin is not a prohormone. It functions similarly to sex hormones found in the body but in a different manner.

Mechanism of Action

Plant steroids work in a very different manner than human steroid hormones. They only bind to the cell surface, which sends a signal to the interior of the cell to promote muscle growth. (7, 8)

They particularly activate a protein known as AKT1 or protein kinase B, which promotes muscle growth and inhibits muscle protein breakdown. (7, 9, 10)

Furthermore, natural laxogenin derivatives inhibit the enzyme that degrades cAMP (phosphodiesterase). This raises cAMP levels, which promotes fat breakdown and activates the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) response. (4, 11)

Laxogenin is thought to promote muscle growth and fat breakdown by activating an anabolic protein and the fight-or-flight response.

Muscle Building Effects

Laxogenin is marketed as a muscle building and toning supplement. It is alleged to boost muscle protein synthesis by 200 percent, like testosterone and other anabolic steroids.

In rats, another plant brassinosteroid enhanced food intake, weight growth, lean body weight, leg muscle weight, and physical fitness.

This chemical and its synthetic derivatives both increased protein synthesis and decreased protein breakdown in muscle cells. (7, 8)

Brassinosteroid derivatives having a similar structure to laxogenin increased overall weight and protein content of the liver, heart, kidneys, and leg muscles in one Russian study without increasing sex hormone levels or imitating their effects. (12)

Phytoecdysteroids, a family of plant compounds with a similar structure to brassinosteroids, enhanced muscle development in mice and protein synthesis in muscle cells. (13, 14, 15)

While all of these chemicals are related, they are not the same. Laxogenin and its derivatives found in some supplements may have comparable anabolic effects.

However, since they have not yet been investigated, laxogenin's muscle-building potential is still unknown.

Overall, the evidence supporting laxogenin's alleged muscle-building effects is largely inadequate.

In animals, laxogenin-like substances promote protein synthesis, muscular development, and physical fitness. Laxogenin may have comparable anabolic properties, however more research is needed to establish this.

Does Laxogenin Work?

There seems to be some promising research suggesting there is some potential muscle building and fat burning effects of laxogenin.

However, there is limited research in humans, most of the research is animal or cellular studies.

Another factor to consider is that most supplements use 5a-hydroxy laxogenin which is not laxogenin in its pure form. Some supplements may even contain no laxogenin whatsoever. (6)

Other impurities are also found in some supplements, such as diosgenin, in which its biological effects in humans are unknown.

To summarise the research, laxogenin may help increase muscle mass and anabolic activity by working in a similar way to testosterone and other steroids, by activating AKT1. (7, 9, 10)

Laxogenin may also have the ability to block the enzyme phosphodiesterase which degrades cAMP. This increases cAMP levels, promoting fat breakdown and activating the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) response. (4, 11)

User Reported Benefits

Listed below are some of the user reported effects of laxogenin supplementation, bear in mind these effects are anecdotal and therefore not proven and trustworthy.

  • Recovery time is reduced

  • Increased strength gains

  • Muscle soreness after exercise is reduced

  • Reduced mental and physical fatigue

These effects from laxogenin supplementation line up with the current theory and evidence of its mechanism of action, however it is not proven and could simply be the placebo effect.

Other Potential Effects

While there is no clinical evidence to support the use of laxogenin for any of the diseases mentioned in this section, a review of current animal and cell-based studies is provided below to guide future exploratory efforts.

Note: The research below does not and should not be used to suggest any specific health benefit.


In mice, laxogenin inhibited the development of lung tumours. In two experiments, natural and synthetic laxogenin derivatives destroyed leukaemia and colon cancer cells. (16, 17, 18)

In cell tests, other natural and synthesised brassinosteroids killed prostate cancer cells and inhibited tumour development. (19, 20)

Tissue Damage

A natural laxogenin derivative protected tissue against free radicals and inadequate oxygen delivery in a cell research.

This indicates that laxogenin may be able to counteract oxidative stress, explaining its positive effects on muscle repair. (21, 22)

Further animal and human research is required, though.

Blood Sugar

The plant brassinosteroid homobrassinolide decreased blood sugar levels, sugar synthesis in the liver, and insulin resistance in obese mice.

It inhibited the activity of two enzymes that produce sugar from protein and fat in cells. (23)

According to animal and cell-based research, laxogenin and related chemicals may help fight cancer, reduce blood sugar, and prevent oxidative stress-induced tissue damage. However, human research is very sparse.

Safety, Legality & Side Effects

Laxogenin's muscle-building properties and other potential applications have only been studied in animals and cells.

To assess the efficacy and negative effects of laxogenin products, clinical studies are needed.

Furthermore, none of the research utilised 5a-hydroxy laxogenin, which is often the type of laxogenin found in supplements.

Instead, they looked into pure laxogenin, natural and synthetic laxogenin derivatives, or other related chemicals.

The most often referenced study by supplement makers is from 1976 and was a Russian study.

So far, only animal and cell-based studies have been conducted, and none of them have utilised the chemical present in most laxogenin supplements being 5a-hydroxy laxogenin. Therefore, the safety of this supplement is unknown.


Laxogenin is officially categorised as a dietary supplement. It is not formally authorised for any medical purpose and has no proposed health benefits or usages.

Due to its status as a dietary supplement, it is legal to manufacture, sell and consume.

Side Effects

The most frequent adverse effects include stomach discomfort and renal problems. They may induce the following symptoms. (24)

  • Diarrhoea

  • Increased urination

  • Migraines

  • Shock (in high dosages)

People with renal illness or those taking medications that are removed via the kidneys should avoid using laxogenin and Smilax supplements due to the risk of kidney damage and issues.

It is essential to note that the majority of these effects relate to supplements derived from other Smilax species, such as sarsaparilla, which may not contain any laxogenin.

In animal tests, laxogenin was shown to be safe. However, no human studies have been conducted to prove its safety.

Some users of laxogenin supplements have reported experiencing headaches while using large oral dosages (~200mg).

Laxogenin was shown to be safe in animals, but no human trials have been conducted. People using large oral dosages complain of experiencing headaches.

Dosage & Should You Use Laxogenin?

Because no dose data from clinical studies are available, producers and consumers developed unofficial dosage recommendations based on trial and error and anecdotal reports.

The typical dosage is 100 mg/day for 4-12 week cycles, followed by a 4-week off-cycle interval. Some people argue that coming it off laxogenin isn't required, but no research exists.

The majority of consumers believe that laxogenin may be safely used with other drugs. Some use it in conjunction with PCT, while others utilise it to preserve muscle gains during off-cycle times.

Laxogenin should be taken at a dose of around 100 mg per day for 4 to 12 weeks, according to users and producers.

Should You Use Laxogenin?

There is very little research into laxogenin, and even less or even no research at all into the form of laxogenin used in most supplements; 5a-hydroxy laxogenin.

No data exists on its safety, dosage, or effects, and this is why I don't recommend laxogenin.

There are much safer, proven, and effective supplements, such as creatine and protein powder supplements.


Laxogenin is a naturally occurring steroid found in a variety of plants. Most supplements include 5a-hydroxy laxogenin, a synthetic version of it, as well as untested impurities.

Laxogenin is said to increase muscle development and fat burning without causing steroid-like adverse effects. It was shown to be safe in animal tests, but no human research exists.

According to preliminary studies, laxogenin may promote muscle development, athletic fitness, and muscle rehabilitation. It may also have potential effects on cancer and blood sugar levels.

Mostly anecdotal data exists for dosage and side effects, very minimal data exists on its safety, therefore I don't recommend you to take laxogenin.

Further Reading

> How Is Testosterone Affecting Your Body? (Explained)

> Growth Hormone: Is It Useful for Muscle Growth? (Explained)


This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, read more about us.

This evidence-based analysis of laxogenin features 24 references, listed below.

1. Bishop GJ, Koncz C. Brassinosteroids and plant steroid hormone signaling. Plant Cell (2002) ✔

2. Wang Q, Xu J, Liu X, Gong W, Zhang C. Synthesis of brassinosteroids analogues from laxogenin and their plant growth promotion. Nat Prod Res. (2015) ✔

3. AKAHORI A, YASUDA F. [Laxogenin, a new steroidal sapogenin isolated from Smilax sieboldi Miq]. Yakugaku Zasshi. (1963, May) (Japanese) ✔

4. Kubo S, Mimaki Y, Sashida Y, Nikaido T, Ohmoto T. Steroidal saponins from the rhizomes of Smilax sieboldii. Phytochemistry. (1992, Jul) ✔

5. Yu B, Tao H. Glycosyl trifluoroacetimidates. 2. Synthesis of dioscin and xiebai saponin I. J Org Chem. (2002, Dec) ✔

6. Bharathi A, Amar G C, Ji-Yeong B, Saqlain H, Yan-Hong W, Mei W, Jianping Z, Patricia A D, Ikhlas A K. The power of hyphenated chromatography—Time of flight mass spectrometry for unequivocal identification of spirostanes in bodybuilding dietary supplements. J of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. (2019)

7. Esposito D, Rathinasabapathy T, Poulev A, Komarnytsky S, Raskin I. Akt-dependent anabolic activity of natural and synthetic brassinosteroids in rat skeletal muscle cells. J Med Chem. (2011, Jun 23) ✔

8. Esposito D, Komarnytsky S, Shapses S, Raskin I. Anabolic effect of plant brassinosteroid. FASEB J. (2011, Oct) ✔

9. Hajduch E, Alessi DR, Hemmings BA, Hundal HS. Constitutive activation of protein kinase B alpha by membrane targeting promotes glucose and system A amino acid transport, protein synthesis, and inactivation of glycogen synthase kinase 3 in L6 muscle cells. Diabetes. (1998) ✔

10. Rommel C, Bodine SC, Clarke BA, Rossman R, Nunez L, Stitt TN, Yancopoulos GD, Glass DJ. Mediation of IGF-1-induced skeletal myotube hypertrophy by PI(3)K/Akt/mTOR and PI(3)K/Akt/GSK3 pathways. Nat Cell Biol. (2001, Nov) ✔

11. Hursel R, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Thermogenic ingredients and body weight regulation. Int J Obes (Lond). (2010, Apr) (Review) ✔

12. Syrov VN, Kurmukov AG. [Experimental study of the anabolic activity of 6-ketoderivatives of certain natural sapogenins]. Farmakol Toksikol. (1976, Sep-Oct) (Russian) ✔

13. Syrov VN, Kurmukov AG. [Anabolic activity of phytoecdysone-ecdysterone isolated from Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin]. Farmakol Toksikol. (1976 Nov-Dec) (Russian) ✔

14. Lafont R, Dinan L. Practical uses for ecdysteroids in mammals including humans: an update. J Insect Sci. (2003) ✔

15. Cheng DM, Kutzler LW, Boler DD, Drnevich J, Killefer J, Lila MA. Continuous infusion of 20-hydroxyecdysone increased mass of triceps brachii in C57BL/6 mice. Phytother Res. (2013) ✔

16. Baba M, Ohmura M, Kishi N, Okada Y, Shibata S, Peng J, Yao SS, Nishino H, Okuyama T. Saponins isolated from Allium chinense G. Don and antitumor-promoting activities of isoliquiritigenin and laxogenin from the same drug. Biol Pharm Bull. (2000, May) ✔

17. Pérez-Labrada K, Brouard I, Estévez S, Marrero MT, Estévez F, Bermejo J, Rivera DG. New insights into the structure-cytotoxicity relationship of spirostan saponins and related glycosides. Bioorg Med Chem. (2012, Apr) ✔

18. Timité G, Mitaine-Offer AC, Miyamoto T, Tanaka C, Mirjolet JF, Duchamp O, Lacaille-Dubois MA. Structure and cytotoxicity of steroidal glycosides from Allium schoenoprasum. Phytochemistry. (2013, Apr) ✔

19. Obakan P, Arisan ED, Coker-Gurkan A, Palavan-Unsal N. Epibrassinolide-induced apoptosis regardless of p53 expression via activating polyamine catabolic machinery, a common target for androgen sensitive and insensitive prostate cancer cells. Prostate. (2014, Dec) ✔

20. Rárová L, Zahler S, Liebl J, Kryštof V, Sedlák D, Bartůněk P, Kohout L, Strnad M. Brassinosteroids inhibit in vitro angiogenesis in human endothelial cells. Steroids. (2012, Nov) ✔

21. Zhang YW, Morita I, Shao G, Yao XS, Murota S. Screening of anti-hypoxia/reoxygenation agents by an in vitro model. Part 1: Natural inhibitors for protein tyrosine kinase activated by hypoxia/reoxygenation in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Planta Med. (2000) ✔

22. Zhang YW, Morita I, Zhang L, Shao G, Yao XS, Murota S. Screening of anti-hypoxia/reoxygenation agents by an in vitro method. Part 2: Inhibition of tyrosine kinase activation prevented hypoxia/reoxygenation-induced injury in endothelial gap junctional intercellular communication. Planta Med. (2000) ✔

23. Esposito D, Kizelsztein P, Komarnytsky S, Raskin I. Hypoglycemic effects of brassinosteroid in diet-induced obese mice. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2012, Sep 1) ✔

24. Bucci LR. Selected herbals and human exercise performance. Am J Clin Nutr. (2000, Aug) (Review) ✔

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.

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