Herbal Supplements

Most Popular Herbal Supplements for Bodybuilding: A Comprehensive Guide

Bodybuilding is a sport that requires not just rigorous training but also careful attention to nutrition. While a balanced diet forms the backbone of this nutrition, herbal supplements can provide additional support in achieving bodybuilding goals. This article delves into some of the most popular herbal supplements utilised by bodybuilders and their potential benefits.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, a staple herb in Ayurvedic medicine, is renowned for its adaptogenic properties. It helps the body manage stress, a crucial benefit for those undergoing intense physical training. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can enhance muscle mass and strength, making it a popular choice among bodybuilders.

2. Ginseng

Ginseng, particularly Asian and American varieties, is often used by athletes for its energy-boosting and performance-enhancing effects. Research has indicated that ginseng may improve physical performance, reduce fatigue, and even speed up recovery from intense exercise.

3. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is another popular herbal supplement amongst bodybuilders. It’s believed to help increase testosterone levels, which can contribute to muscle growth and enhanced strength. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that fenugreek supplementation improved strength and body composition in resistance-trained men.

4. Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus terrestris is often touted for its potential to enhance athletic performance and body composition. Some research suggests that this herb might enhance strength and lean muscle mass in resistance-trained males.

5. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen known for its ability to help the body adapt to physical stress, like intense workouts. It’s been suggested that Rhodiola can improve endurance and shorten recovery time after strenuous workouts.

6. Moringa

Moringa is a nutrient-dense plant that is high in protein, making it a great supplement for bodybuilders. It can support the body by providing an extra nutritional boost, enhancing overall performance.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, is often used for its anti-inflammatory properties. This can be particularly beneficial for bodybuilders, as it can help with muscle recovery and relieve pain associated with intense workouts.

8. Maca Root

Maca root, native to Peru, is often used as an energy booster due to its rich content of B-vitamins. It’s also thought to promote hormonal balance and improve endurance, making it a popular supplement among bodybuilders.

9. Tongkat Ali

Tongkat Ali, also known as Longjack or Malaysian ginseng, is often used for its potential testosterone-boosting properties. Some studies suggest it may enhance muscle strength in men, which is beneficial for those involved in bodybuilding.

10. Cordyceps

Cordyceps, a type of medicinal mushroom, is believed to boost energy levels and improve athletic performance. It’s also been suggested that Cordyceps can support heart health and reduce inflammation, further benefiting overall physical performance.

11. Milk Thistle

While Milk Thistle is primarily known for its liver-protective effects, it can also be beneficial for bodybuilders using supplements or medications that may affect the liver. By helping to protect this vital organ, Milk Thistle ensures the body can efficiently process and eliminate toxins.

12. Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is often used by male bodybuilders due to its ability to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent and potentially harmful form of the hormone. By maintaining healthy testosterone levels, Saw Palmetto may help support muscle mass growth.

13. Holy Basil

Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is another adaptogenic herb that can potentially help your body adapt to stress and promote mental balance. This can be beneficial for bodybuilders who are under physical and mental stress from intense training regimes.

14. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is often used to enhance cognitive function, but it also has potential benefits for bodybuilders. It may improve blood flow, which can help deliver nutrients to muscles more efficiently, aiding in recovery and growth.

15. Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is packed with antioxidants known as catechins, which can boost metabolism and aid in fat burning. This can be particularly beneficial for bodybuilders during the cutting phase when the goal is to maintain muscle while shedding fat.

16. Yohimbe

Yohimbe, derived from the bark of an African evergreen tree, is often used for its fat-burning capabilities. It can be especially useful for bodybuilders looking to achieve a lean physique.

17. Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola is an herb that may help reduce inflammation and speed up wound healing. These properties can potentially support faster recovery from the muscle micro-tears that occur during intense weightlifting sessions.

18. Echinacea

Known for boosting the immune system, Echinacea can be beneficial for bodybuilders to keep their immune systems strong amidst intense training periods. Some research also suggests that it might increase production of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that encourages the formation of red blood cells, enhancing oxygenation and potentially improving endurance.

19. Dandelion Root

Dandelion root is often used as a natural diuretic, helping to reduce water retention. This can be particularly beneficial for bodybuilders looking to achieve a lean and defined physique, especially before a competition.

20. St John’s Wort

St John’s Wort is a popular herb used primarily for its mood-enhancing properties. It can potentially help manage stress levels, which is crucial for bodybuilders undergoing rigorous training schedules.

21. Valerian Root

Valerian root is known for its sleep-promoting properties. Adequate rest is crucial for muscle recovery and growth, making this supplement potentially beneficial for bodybuilders.

22. Devil’s Claw

Devil’s Claw is often used for its anti-inflammatory properties. It may help manage post-workout inflammation and speed up recovery, which can be particularly useful for those engaged in intense training.

23. Ginger

Ginger is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It can help manage muscle soreness after intense workouts, supporting quicker recovery.

24. Panax Notoginseng

Panax Notoginseng is a type of ginseng that is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can support muscle recovery and overall physical performance.

Safety and Side Effects

While herbal supplements can offer numerous potential benefits, it’s important to remember they can also have side effects. These can range from mild issues like digestive upset to more serious problems like allergic reactions or interactions with other medications. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.


Herbal supplements can provide a variety of benefits for bodybuilders, including supporting muscle recovery, enhancing physical performance, and managing stress levels. However, they should not replace a balanced diet and regular exercise regime. Always remember to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, and ensure you source products from reputable suppliers for safety and efficacy.