EPO or erythropoietin is a hormone responsible for red blood cell production. It is produced primarily by the kidneys. Liver also produces it but in much smaller amounts.
When oxygen levels in the blood are low, the body signals the kidneys to increase production of EPO.
EPO then stimulates additional production of stem cells from the bone marrow which are eventually transformed into red blood cells.
Red blood cells are rich in hemoglobin which is a type of protein that transports the oxygen via the circulatory system to the tissue, all over the body. So, more EPO means more stem cells and red blood cells, higher hemoglobin levels and oxygen levels in the blood.
Since EPO significantly increases aerobic abilities, especially endurance, it is often abused by endurance athletes such as marathon runners and cyclists. It was one of the main PEDs used by Lance Armstrong and several other top cyclists which competed in Tour de France, at the time.
ERYTHROPOIETIN AND HEART DISEASE
Besides increasing VO2 MAX, it has other beneficial effects on the cardiovacular system. This mainly applies for people that want to boost their own natural production since injecting exogenous EPO may actualy lead to heart failure.
Since EPO raises red blood cell count, it makes your blood thicker. Athletes that abuse EPO may start working out in the middle of the night, in order to prevent formation of blood clots which may lead to heart attack or heart failure.
On the other hand, erythropoietin produced by your own body can help reduce the risk of heart disease since its levels are regulated by the endocrine system. This prevents excessive accumulation unlike when using performance enhancing drugs or PEDs.
EPO is primarily used to treat anemia, especially in people with kidney failure but it can also be used to treat anemia in people with congestive heart failure. However, EPO receptors are present throughout the cardiovascular system because of which it has even bigger role on heart muscle and blood vessels.
It can be used to treat hypertrophy of the heart muscle, especially left ventricular hypertrophy. According to some studies, EPO may also increase ejection fraction and improve exercise performance, while raising "good" HDL cholesterol.
ERYTHROPOIETIN HERBAL BOOSTERS
While there are a couple of herbs which can increase natural production of this powerful hormone, two of them stand out. This includes Echinacea and Astragalus, a well known adaptogen. These two act on bone marrow causing it to increase production of stem cells.
Stem cells are able to transform into any other type of cell. However, to do so, the body needs to increase production of several cell signaling molecules, including EPO.
Besides astragalus, other adaptogens may improve the function of bone marrow and kidneys which are responsible for production of stem cells and EPO. Horny Goat Weed is another herb which is known by the herbalists to improve kidney function.
Kidney cleansing herbs can also be helpful, by flushing the toxins and helping them function optimally. However, their effect would probably be negligible, in relatively healthy person.
ERYTHROPOIETIN AND EXERCISE
Although some herbs may help boost natural production of EPO, exercise is the most effective way to do so. However, it also matters which kind of exercise you preform.
The more intense exercise, the greater the stimulus. Although jogging can increase the levels of EPO, it is not the most effective. On the other hand, if you are jogging or even walking on high altitude, then slow paced activities can be very effective.
Even sleeping on a high altitude or in altitude chamber can increase the levels of EPO. That being said, doing sprint drills on a high altitude can skyrocket your natural erythropoietin production. If you are a beginner, just walking on a high altitude can be challenging, let alone jogging or even sprinting.
The point is, if you want to increase your EPO levels naturaly, by working out, start slowly and work your way up. Otherwise, you will get the feeling of oxygen deprivation really quickly which may cause dizziness and even fainting.
While blood test can show you where are your erythropoietin levels, a look at your blood can also tell you a lot. The higher EPO, red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels, the darker the color of your blood.
I noticed this after I was taking a high dose of certain immune system formula with Echinacea and Astragalus for about two weeks. I was with my father in a vineyard working, when I accidentally cut my hand on a branch.
Although the cut wasn't that big, I noticed that my blood was very dark red and thick. While usually I would bleed a little bit, this time the blood seemed to coagulate in a few seconds as I could remove entire scab of blood from my wound, almost immediately.
Working out regularly, especially doing sprint drills, improved my endurance significantly. However, after taking immune system formula with Echinacea and Astragalus, I experienced even greater improvement in my performance and cardiovascular endurance.
Also, till this day I didn't do altitude training since there really isn't any high mountain in the area of my residence. However, I am doing sprint drills on a small hill near my town and I am seeing some awesome results.
Mixing these two herbs and sprinting, especially on the high altitude, may help you achive maximal erythropoietin and oxygen levels in the blood, naturally.
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