Black Ant (Polyrhachis spp.)

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Black Ant Summary

Black ant is exactly as it sounds... black ants. They contain a rich source of zinc, and other trace minerals, and provide a potent dose of protein. They are low in fat and carbohydrates, and contain a fibre known as chitin. As a nutritional supplement black ants are perfect for the body builder or athlete. The zinc, complete protein, and high fiber makes them one of the most well rounded protein sources available.

Aside from the nutritional value, black ants have a few key medicinal actions as well. They contain a growth hormone known as ecdysterone, which has been shown to have mild anabolic steroid activity in humans. This opens the floor to black ants use to a wide number of conditions, especially when combined with the rich source of protein, zinc, and trace minerals needed to grow and repair muscles.

In Chinese medicine where its use is most popular, black ant is used as a cognitive enhancer for students, to promote the repair of broken or damaged bone and muscle tissue, as an athletic performance enhancer, and to treat sexual dysfunctions in both men and women.

Consuming black ant is easy, as it can be taken as a powder in a smoothie or protein shake, made into backed goods, capsulated, or taken as a liquid extract.

 

+ Indications

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

+ Contraindications

  • None noted.

Herbal Actions:

  • Nutritive
  • immunomodulator
  • Mild CNS Stimulant
  • Mild anabolic steroid
  • Male Tonic
 

What Is Black Ant Used For?

Black ant is mainly used as an athletic performance enhancer as an addition to the supplementing regimen. It is also popular amongst students looking to increase their cognitive endurance for long hours of study.

The nutritional content of black ant, especially the protein and zinc make it useful for a wide range of conditions from a nutritional standpoint, including anemia, poor immune function, malnutrition, and weak sexual function.

 

Traditional Uses

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

+ 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).

 

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.

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

Whole ant body

Family Name

Formicidae

Distribution

Mountainous Regions of China
Islands of Southeast Asia and The South Pacific
Mountainous regions of Australia

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Constituents of Interest

  • Ecdysterone
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Amino acids

Common Names

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

CYP450

  • Unknown

Quality

  • Warm

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Long term use acceptable.
 

Entomological Info:

Polyrhachis as a genus contains 697 species. Although only Polyrhachis vicina has been thoroughly studied, it is likely that many of these other species contain very similar compounds.

 

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 Function

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.

+ Sexual Function

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.

 

Chemistry

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.

 
 

Clinical Applications Of Black Ant:

Black ant is very useful as an athletic enhancement supplement, and for treating damaged bone and muscle. It's nutritional content makes it useful for blood deficiencies like some anemias, poor immune function (low WBC), and low albumin levels. it is also useful for sexual dysfuncitons of various sources, and symptoms of malnutrition.

 

Cautions:

Black ant is reported to have a mild stimulating nature. If sleeping difficulty is experienced, take black ant earlier in the day or cease use.

 

Synergy

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

 

Recommended Products Containing Black Ant:

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Black Ant 10:1 Extract

Lost Empire Herbs

Made from Polyrhachis vicina roger

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Black Ant 20:1 Capusles

Barlowe's Herbal Elixirs

Made from Polyrhachis vicina roger

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Pheonix Formula

Lost Empire Herbs

Made from Shilajit, Pine Pollen, Polyrhachis Ant Extract and He Shou Wu

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Author:

Justin Cooke,BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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