The country that invented gunpowder and built the Great Wall may have a more modern secret at hand that
could help you in the gym. The Chinese have apparently devised a cocktail of herbs derived from edible
mushrooms that may serve as a potent ergogenic aid by allowing you to get rid of lactic acid more
quickly Think about it: If you engage in intensive weight training, your muscles will produce more
lactic acid than you can quickly get rid of. That increased acidic environment results in muscle
fatigue due to lactic-acid buildup and ultimately plays a role in the pain you experience toward the
end of a tough set. So if you could take something to help eliminate excess lactic acid, then of course
it should help your performance.
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study at Beijing Medical University Sport Research Institute, 30 male subjects were given either a placebo or 500 mg or 1,000 mg per day of a complex herbal formulation consisting of eleuthrocin, flammulina, cordycin, jilin ginseng, ganoderma and citri reticulata. Treadmill maximal oxygen uptake tests were performed at the beginning of the study and after two weeks of supplementation for all groups. The group that ingested the 1,000-mg dose was also tested at four weeks.
After two weeks, only the high-dose (1,000 mg) group showed an improved clearance of lactic acid; this was also demonstrated when researchers tested the same measures at four weeks. The authors hypothesized that lactic acid was quickly used by skeletal muscle for the production of energy. So if you want to apply this at the gym, you could for instance get on a bench press, do as many reps as possible at a load equal to your bodyweight, rest briefly (around 30 seconds) and repeat this for five sets. Under normal circumstances you'd quickly fatigue from the accumulation of lactic acid. If you were using the herbal concoction and if it really works, however, you might be able to perform a greater total number of reps through all sets.
One last note: The ingredients of this herbal formulation have apparently been used in Chinese medicine for years. Study subjects reported no known side effects. Interestingly flammulina is a mushroom commonly found in Chinese dishes that, in addition to possible ergogenic benefits, may have lipid-lowering and anticancer properties.