Black ant infographic

Black Ant Summary:

Ants are the strongest creatures pound for pound in the world and are without a doubt one of the hardest working as well. By consuming these creatures, some cultures believe this power can be given to the human body. This may not be very far off, since black ants pack a potent dose of protein, minerals, and a growth hormone known as ecdysterone.

The benefits of black ant include enhancing the immune system, mild stimulation, highly nutritious, improvement in sexual function, energy tonic, and since it contains a natural growth steroid it's also a subtle growth stimulant.

Black ant is used to combat low libido, improve general sexual function, as a pre-workout for athletes, as a nutritional supplement, as a Qi tonic, to improve a weak immune system, to fight fatigue and low energy levels, and to improve concentration during long hours of study and work. 

Black ants image

Botanical Name:

Polyrhachis vicina

 

Family Name:

Formicidae

 

Part Used:

Whole insect

Herbal Actions:

  • Nutritive
  • Libido enhancer
  • Sexual potency enhancer
  • Immunomodulator
  • Mild stimulant
  • Natural Steroid
  • Tonic

Dosage

Liquid Extract (1:2)

xxx-xxx ml/day

Dried/Powdered

xxx - xxx g/day

A note on usage.

The powder can be used in cooking, added to smoothies, or capsulated and taken as is.

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Indications:

  • To improve immune function
  • As a preworkout supplement
  • As nutritional supplement
  • Qi tonic
  • As an athletic enhancement supplement
  • Low libido
  • Low energy/fatigue
  • To improve concentration

 


A Note on Consuming Insects:

Consuming insects as food or medicine is not a new concept, and likely predates human history. Fortunately in modern times we have the ability to extract the desired constituents from these insects in either a liquid extract, or powder form where it can then be encapsulated, added to smoothies, or baked with. In this way we can consume bugs, without having to actually eat them.

 

Common Names:

  • Black Ant
  • Polyrhachis
  • Hei Ma Yi (China)

Traditional Use:

In places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, where this supplement is very popular, it is sold in many health clubs as a preworkout elixir. Students in these areas also commonly consume this to prevent burnout from a busy workload, and to improve their concentration.


Botanical Description:

Polyrhachis vicina Is generally the species used. Polyrhachis as a genus contains 697 species. These insects can be found in the high mountains of China, and as far south as Southern Australia. This is the genus where the majority of study has been done by far, however, some other ants have also been used as food and likely contain very similar compounds.


Habitat, Ecology, Distribution:

Polyrhachis vicina can be found in the High Mountains of China, all the way through to Southern Australia. 


Constituents:

Black ant nutritional information infographic

The nutritional content of black ant is quite impressive, containing between 42% and 67% protein of total weight, and only 10% fat content. On top of this, black ant contains high amounts of chitin, which is am insoluable fibre found in the exoskeletons of insects as well as in fungi. 

The amino acid content in black ants is also impressive, with the limiting amino acids being methionine, and cysteine. Phenelalanine, tyrosine, and triptophan are all contained in high amounts in black ant. These amino acids all are used as precursers to various neurotransmitters in the brain and throughout the body, it is important to have a healthy dose of these amino acids in order to maintain healthy levels of these neurotransmitters. This may play a role in some of black ants effects in combatting low libido, improving sexual health, and enhancing athletic performance. 

Black ant also contains high amounts of the minerals calcium, zinc, magnesium, and manganese, and also includes potassium, phosphorous, iron, selenium, chromium, and sodium. 

Vitamins included in black ant are B1, B2, B12, D, and E. On top of this, black ant contains high amounts of the steroid ecdsterone. This compound has been the study of a lot of rescent research for its growth stimulating effects. 


Pharmacology/Medical Research:

 

Athletic Enhancement

Your muscles need zinc for muscle contraction to occur, and for the cells to divide and grow (resulting in muscle growth). This is how the high levels of zinc contained in black ant contribute to the beneficial effects on power in the human body.

Ecdysterone is an insect hormone contained in high amounts in black ant, and even in some plants. It is structurally very similar to androgens, and some suggest its use as a safer alternative to anabolic steroids. More study is needed to determine the effectiveness of this compound however. 

Black ants are actually an ideal supplement for athletes and are recommended to be consumed with other athletic tonics such as suma, maca, ginseng, or eleuthero.

Taking this “herb” (used in this context to describe a medicinal compound from nature) before a workout, will deliver the best results. The effects are generally felt fairly quickly, and build over time. Another great use is as a tonic during times of particular weakness, or for the very old or very young to generate strength, or to increase sexual activity in those with low sex drive.

 

Immune Enhancement

We can also relate at least some of the positive effects ants have on the immune system to the zinc content. Chinese medicine has used ants for this purpose for a long time, and considers it to have bi-directional activity. Meaning it has the ability to both improve a poor immune system, and dial back an over productive one (as in the case of autoimmune disorders), making this an extremely valuable (and safe) tonic for the immune system.

 

Nutrition

Black ants contain a rich source of nutrients and in fact, contains the HIGHEST amount of Zinc of all known living organisms. (Source). 

 

Sexual Potency

The high nutritional content of zinc is also partly responsible for black ants effects on improving sexual potency. Zinc is an essential mineral in a variety of sexual functions from spermatogenesis, to the formation of erection. 

In terms of traditional Chinese medicine, black ant also tones the kidneys, which are considered the source of sexual energy (Teeguarden, 1998). 


Toxicity and Contraindications:

None found.


Cautions:

None listed. 


Traditional Chinese Medicine:

In traditional Chinese medicine, black ant is considered a premier Qi tonic, considered by some to be even more powerful than the highly esteemed Ginseng. It is considered an adaptogen and is in the same class of “superstar” Chinese tonics as Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), cordyceps, reishi (Ganoderma), and schizandra (Teeguarden, 1998). 

Black ants Qi tonic

Synergy:

In the Chinese medical system, black ant is thought to have synergy with ginseng and codonopsis as a powerful Qi tonic. 


Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment


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References:

  1. Ant Web. (2016). Genus: Polyrhachis - AntWeb. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from http://www.antweb.org/description.do?name=Polyrhachis&rank=genus&project=allantwebants
  2. Australian Health and Medical Research Council. (2015). Nutrient Reference Values | Nutrient Reference Values. Retrieved from https://www.nrv.gov.au/
  3. Whitney, E. N., & Rolfes, S. R. (2002). Understanding nutrition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  4. Cai, Y., & Yu, G. (2001). The effects of Polyrhachis vicina on immunoregulation in mice.Indexed for PubMed, 24(7), 499-502.
  5. Duan, T., Bi, N., & Huang, M. (1999). The treatment of intrauterine growth retardation with ant polyrhachis vicina roger. Indexed for Medline (Chinese Journal), 34(5), 290-292.
  6. Food and agriculture organization of the united nations. (2013). Chapter 6: Nutritional Value of Insects for Human Consumption. In Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. Rome.
  7. Teeguarden, R. (1998). Radiant health: The ancient wisdom of the Chinese tonic herbs. New York: Warner Books. Pg.210-211
  8. Shen L, Li D, Feng F, Ren Y. (2006). Nutritional composition of Polyrhachis vicina Roger (Edible Chinese black ant). Journal of Science and Technology. 28. 107-114.
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