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Is AstraGin a Scam?


SUMMARY: It is our opinion that AstraGin is not only a scam, but one of the worst ingredients in sports nutrition. The reason brands have to make such vague and generic claims about AstraGin is that the science is so poor and misleading. AstraGin themselves use hedging words like "it may support" or "the working theory". Don't just avoid a product containing AstraGin, avoid the brand entirely, as it is a massive red flag that the brand does not understand science or is actively screwing their customers over. This seems to be why only small brands typically use AstraGin.

AstraGin has gotten into trouble with unsubstantiated claims from the National Advertising Division, the Better Business Bureau, and received a Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Notice of Penalty Offense Concerning Substantiation of Product Claims.

In order to even view the AstraGin website, you must agree to a legal disclaimer, which includes "Information supplied by NuLiv [the creators of AstraGin] should not be used or relied on". To their credit, they do give you a heads-up that they are lying to your face. 

One of the original patents for this ingredient was filed in 2006, roughly 18 years ago. This ingredient is so old and dated that it could get a gun and vote. Despite this, it took 18 years for them to get around to doing an absorption clinical trial in humans. Unfortunately, they used deceptive dosages and completely unrealistic dosage timing. There are some very sketchy statistical issues, and even with all this, by our count, nearly 90% of outcomes measured came back insignificant.

We found the pricing for AstraGin. A large brand can pay around $0.014 (~a penny and a half) per serving. Insanely cheap, most people won't even pick up a penny off the ground. Despite this, countless brands screw their customers over and underdose their products to save fractions of a penny.

It is truly disheartening how widely used this ingredient is, but on the bright side, it's a fantastic way to quickly identify brands that either don't care about science, simply don't understand it, or prefer to cheap out on their formulation. Avoid AstraGin brands at all cost!

Agree with our opinion? Disagree? Either way, be sure to let the FTC know here.
Alternatively, email Christine DeLorme from the FTC's Division of Advertising Practices directly: [email protected]

A List of Brand that have NEVER used AstraGin (buy from them).

Given how bad AstraGin is and how it's a clear indicator that a brand does NOT understand science, we wanted to make a list of brands that have NEVER used it. We just picked these ten at random, but if you know of more, please email us and we can add them.

Nootropics Depot (The owner actually came out against AstraGin, he understands science)
Kaged Muscle

Muscle Tech (The brand famous for protein spiking isn't scummy enough to use AstraGin.)

Jym Supplement Science

Six Star


RSP Nutrtion


EVL Nutrition


Cutler Nutrition
Have brands actually read the science?

What is AstraGin?

AstraGin is a blend of 47.5% Astragalus Membranaceus (a shrub) and 47.5% Panax Notoginseng (which is a Ginseng plant) with 5% maltodextrin (a carbohydrate) as an inert bulking agent.

It proports to reduce inflammation in the gut as well as "enhances absorption by increasing nutrient transporters within the gut through; such as CAT1 for arginine, lysine, and histidine absorption, SGLT1 for glucose absorption, FR for folate absorption", however on NuLivs own product, sold on Amazon, they say "The working theory behind AstraGin is that it helps support a better gut health environment.". So it seems like NuLiv has little knowledge, and they themselves call it a theory. 

Is AstraGin safe?

AstraGin is probably safe. It is self-affirmed GRAS in the USA but it looks like the work was never submitted to the FDA. There is some publicly available data here. The two ingredients composing AstraGin have been used for hundreds of years and are well studied. The potential side effects are outlined below.

What are the side effects of AstraGin?

AstraGin does have potential side effects, some of which are outlined here. We can find no public study on the side effects of AstraGin in humans, only rats, so we have broken down the side effects of the two ingredients (Astragalus Membranaceus and Panax Notoginseng) per WedMD as well as the conclusion of rat data provided by NuLiv. 

Serum cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were increased in males and females. Cholesterol was increased in the high-dose group in the males and in females in all the groups that were administered the NF [AstraGin]. Triglycerides were increased in the mid- and high-dose groups for both sexes. Increases were also observed for alanine amino transferase (ALT) (in males of the high-dose group and in females in all the treatment groups) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) (in males of the high-dose group and in females in the low-dose group). Aspartate amino transferase (AST) was increased in females only, i.e. in the low- and mid-dose groups. Furthermore, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was increased in both sexes, in males in all treatment groups and in females in the high-dose group. In males, phosphorous was increased in the mid- and high-dose groups and remained higher (statistically significant) also after the recovery period. In females, succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and total protein were increased (SDH in the mid- and high dose groups, total protein in all groups receiving the NF [AstraGin]).

A number of statistically significant findings were observed for absolute and relative organ weights, but the observed changes were small, often not dose-related and in many cases a result of rather low values in the control groups (with respect to historical controls). No differences were seen in urinalysis.

The Panel notes that a considerable number of changes were observed in clinical chemistry, including markers of liver and kidney toxicity. Even though the size of individual changes was rather small and within historical ranges, the effects were seen consistently in both sexes, were often dose-related and, in the case of phosphorus, also observed after the recovery period. The Panel considers that taken together, the findings imply a potentially adverse effect of the NF [AstraGin].

Call me old-fashioned, but I would prefer more than two sentences on something that might change the size of my testicles, even if they consider it small and not relevant.

Absolute and relative organ weights were not different between the groups, except for a higher testes to brain weight ratio in the low-dose males and a lower absolute and relative to body weight kidney weight in the high-dose males. However, the differences were small and considered biologically not relevant.

Panax Notoginseng - Side effects might include dry mouth, flushed skin, insomnia, nausea, and rash.

Astragalus Membranaceus - Very high doses may suppress the immune system. So you should avoid using astragalus if you are taking immune-suppressing drugs. Pregnant or nursing women should not use astragalus root. If you have an immune system disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or another autoimmune disease, you should not use astragalus root.

Website Disclaimer

Astragin Disclaimer
This disclaimer is insane and absurd!

In order to even view the AstraGin site, you have to agree to a disclaimer that includes the phrase "Information supplied by NuLiv [the creators of AstraGin] should not be used or relied on". This is truly insane, we have never seen this before! They outright tell you they are going to lie to you, and their information is incorrect. If the creators of AstraGin won't even stand by their product, why should anyone use it? 

National Advertising Division BBB / FTC - Unsubstantiated Claims

AstraGin has gotten into trouble with unsubstantiated claims from the National Advertising Division, the Better Business Bureau, and received a Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Notice of Penalty Offense Concerning Substantiation of Product Claims. NuLiv Science, after reviewing the NAD decision, in its advertiser’s statement, said “the challenged claims, as worded verbatim in the attached document have been discontinued". Verbatim is carrying a lot of weight there, as they are still making the claims, just not worded exactly. Full BBB article here. FTC’s Notice of Penalty Offenses Concerning Substantiation of Product Claims here.

Discontinued Claims

  • “AstraGin™ is the first and only natural food and dietary ingredient that has been demonstrated in cell, animal, and human studies to significantly improve the absorption of many essential life supporting and health promoting nutrients, such as amino acids, glucose, and vitamins, in digestive tracts.”
  • “AstraGin™ has also been demonstrated in close to a dozen in vitro studies to safely improve the absorption of amino acids, glucose, glucosamine, and vitamins in CaCo-2 cells, the gold standard used to study the absorption rate of new drugs…”
  • “AstraGin™ is a self-affirmed GRAS ingredient. It has undergone a 28 day in-vitro toxicity study where it was proven safe at 1000 times the recommended dosage. There are no known side effects to the usage of AstraGin.”

On NuLivs own product, sold on Amazon, they say "AstraGin has demonstrated it may support better bioavailability of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, glucosamine and more." which seems very similar to discontinued claim #1.

It also says "Over 12 in-vivo and in-vitro studies have demonstrated AstraGin can support bioavailability of arginine, beta-alanine, citrulline, creatine, curcumin, leucine" which is basically claim #2.


Astragin Pricing

AstraGin pricing, screenshot above. You can see how cheap this product really is. It costs anywhere between roughly $1.4 cents per serving and $1.7 cents. Despite it being so cheap, there are numerous brands underdosing this product, trying to screw consumers over to save fractions of a penny.

Studies / Science

The Cell / Rat Study

The science is appalling after 18 years. We had an extremely hard time even finding the rat and cell studies, so we have hosted it here.

As best we can tell, this is all just internal NuLiv cell data, nothing independent. Cell data is an extremally poor predictor of what works in humans, that's why the FDA wants HUMAN data for drugs and the FTC wants HUMAN data for claims.

They also have a single study on rats. They say it's "in Normal and IBD Rats" but than the results e.g. figures to say they were all in the colitis rats? Where are the normal rats? I assume AstraGin didn't work on those? We have cured things like cancer, aging and Alzheimer in rats but have obviously failed to do that in humans. Rat data is of extremally poor value, testing on rats with IBD has zero value for how AstraGin is actually used. We can't find AstraGin used on any product targeting IDB. We actually agree with NuLiv for once..."Information supplied by NuLiv [the creators of AstraGin] should not be used or relied on". It's garbage.

Ironically, the fact that the AstraGin human studies on Arginine failed so spectacularly shows just how poor cell and rat data are at predicting human outcomes. This is why anyone semi-competent wants human data.

Animal and in vitro studies may provide useful supporting or background information, but, without confirmation by human RCTs, they aren’t sufficient to substantiate health-related claims. Animal studies have only limited value in predicting the effect of a product in humans, making it difficult to extrapolate results in animal research to benefits for humans. In vitro studies look at a product’s effect on isolated cells or tissues and may help identify a possible mechanism of action, but similarly are of limited value to predict benefits for humans. - Federal Trade Commission

The Human Studies

After waiting 18 years, these humans studies must be awesome...right? WRONG, the first human study on absorption they decided to do was on people with IBD / Ulcerative Colitis, linked here. It's like they want to be an Ulcerative Colitis company, but we can find ZERO people marketing to Ulcerative Colitis patients. This whole study is irrelevant. Interestingly, they didn't do a 50mg "clinical dose" but did 100mg per day for 3 months.

By our count, 43 out of 47 (91%) measured end points came back statistically insignificant. Hopefully our math is wrong. If 91% of the things you are looking at don't work out, maybe the 4 positive end points are errors?

For the second study, they decided to look at Arginine in normal people, as linked here. Arginine seems like a weird first choice since most of their customers are using AstraGin on other ingredients but it's better than nothing.

A total of 31 subjects were recruited for this study. One subject withdrew during the
trial, and 30 subjects completed the study. Six subjects were excluded due to incomplete data or large individual differences, and the data of 24 subjects were ultimately presented.

6 out of 30 subjects were excluded for statistical anomalies! 20%! 1/5th! That's insane. Maybe if 1/5 of your subjects don't return the results expected...your product might not work. Look at these charts:

Everything highlighted in yellow is NOT statically significant.

Even after weirdly excluding 1/5th of subjects, 11 out of 13 (85%) of things measured are not statistically significant. So if our math is right, between one irrelevant UC human study and one study where 20% of people were excluded, 54 out of 60 measured end points, 90%, came back insignificant. 

Bad Science Gets Bad Claims

You know the science is bad because on NuLivs own AstraGin product, sold on Amazon, they say:

"AstraGin has demonstrated it may support better bioavailability..."

"The working theory behind AstraGin is..."

Can't you use the term "may support" with literally anything? It seems meaningless. Doing jumping jacks while you drink your pre-workout "may support bioavailability"?


We believe this is the foundational patent for AstraGin (2009-04-15
Application filed by Nuliv Holding Inc). The only reason we are referencing it is so you can truly see that this ingredient has been around for almost 18 years, and it really took them this long before they decided to test it on living humans for absorption. 

Given that there are only a few years left on the AstraGin patent (expiration 2026-08-31), and how simple it is to make, we expect there will be a ton of generic knockoffs soon.

It's seriously simple to make AstraGin:

1. Buy some Panax Notoginseng on Amazon here.

2. Buy some Astragalus Membranaceus on Amazon here.

3. Skip the maltodextrin as filler, wait 2 days for Amazon Prime. Mix both ingredients 50%, 50%. Be sure not to sell it in the USA until 2026-08-31. (not legal advice!)

This is so easy to make, you wonder if there are counterfeit AstraGin products or brands buying 1kg fron NuLiv than just making their own for the rest of the order. Especially internationally, without the USA patent protection. Even if you only buy 1kg of material at a time, it seems like you could make your own AstraGin for less than $70/kg, which seems to drop considerably if you buy in bulk off Alibaba, maybe even as low as around $15-20/kg? That works out to around 1/50th of a penny per serving (0.002 cents). Nearly free! Hopefully, brands negotiate a lower price, as the current pricing has a hell of a margin. They obviously weren't investing much money into R&D the past two decades. 

Even NuLiv seems to just order the ingredients themselves from China, at least according to this customs record. 


Why Does No One Talk About AstraGin Loading?

Astragin Loading

As we were reading about the AstraGin science, we realized no one seems to talk about AstraGin loading. Similar to Creatine, it seems that AstraGin takes a long time to build up and work. This makes sense when you think about it, you can't instantly repair the gut. It seems like it would take multiple doses over a period of time before AstraGin worked. 

Their cell studies seemed to use a 24-hour loading phase and their rat study (graph above) seemed to use a 7 day loading phase. To the best of our knowledge, there is no data on how long or how much AstraGin should be taken for optimal results in humans. However, in the Ulcerative Colitis human clinical trial, subjects took 50mg twice a day e.g. 100mg for 3 months. Even with that colossal loading period 91% of endpoints measured came back insignificant which means you might have to use an even higher dose for longer. It seems, at the very least, you might have to take AstraGin at twice NuLivs "Clinical Dose" for up to 3 months.

The Emperor Has No Cloths

AstraGin is so strange, it seems like people know the science is bad but just choose not to say it? Why is no one objective about this ingredient? Is it just too widely used? It's a very emperor has no cloths situation. Take PricePlow for example, in their review online of a pre-workout product, they say "Research shows that AstraGin can increase the absorption of pretty much anything you ingest – amino acids, minerals, vitamins, you name it". Very positive (and not substantiated). But on an Instagram story (UPDATE: apparently this post was removed, we have posted a copy of the video here), filmed in a car, maybe a Freudian slip, they say:

AstraGin "heavily relies on cell data. The main human data they have is in sickly's helpful at lowering intestinal inflamation...which I think personally is more compelling then the absorption data". - PricePlow

Quite a bit less flattering and more objective.

AstraGin is just a trademarked name for a combo of astragalus and ginseng. It is not as potent of a p-glycoprotein inhibitor like piperine is... It's actually pretty crappy at what they are marketing it for, and it is just astragalus and ginseng. Might as well combine them yourself for cheaper at that rate. I think it is pretty silly they are marketing a simple combo like they are. - Owner Nootropics Depot

The Owner of Nootropics Depot is on the right side of history.

Why Do Brands HIDE AstraGin?

We have never seen this before either, but while researching this post, we noticed a number of brands that seem to hide their usage of AstraGin. It is in their product, but they make no mention of its benefits on the label or their website. It's incredible strange, why would a brand put it into their product and make no mention of it? Are they getting it for free? Did they put it in and then realize it was a terrible ingredient? It truly makes no sense.

We have highlighted two below: Core Nutritionals and MyProtein. They go ingredient by ingredient on their site explaining what the ingredients do...then just skip over AstraGin with no mention. MyProtein is particularly funny as they mention the benefits of Piperine to increase absorption but actively gloss over AstraGin is even in the product.

Core Pump - AstraGin on the nutrition label, no mention at all on the (very extensive) ingredients list 

MyProtein The PreWorkout - AstraGin on the nutrition label, actively glossed over on the ingredients list.


Articles keep saying the Clinical Dose of Astargin is 50mg...but in their human clinicals they use 100mg, which broadly fails. Wouldn't the clinical dosage be what was used in the clinical? On top of that, they then say 100mg is for "health therapeutic formulation" WTF does that mean? Even if we accept that 50mg is the dosage, tons of brands are still screwing customers over by putting in less to save fractions of a penny. Customers should be getting at least a full clinical dose of 50mg, or what we would argue is the actual clinical dose of at least 100mg minimum.

ProductAstraGin in one serving (mg)Clinical Dose - 50 mg (although probably should be 100mg) Any HUMAN evidence on this formulation or dosing?Underdosing customers to save approximately how many cents per serving?
PharmaFreak Amino Freak2.51.3 cents
PrimeGENIX DIM 3X2.51.3 cents
Smarter Nutrition Magnesium101.1 cents
Trusted Nutrients CoQ10101.1 cents
BSN Clean Creatine101.1 cents
The Genius Brand Genius Burn12.51 cent
NuLife Advanced Bariatrics Iron +Vitamin C12.51 cent
NuLife Advanced Bariatrics B-Complex12.51 cent
Raw Nutrition Christopher's Secret Stuff12.51 cent
VMI Sports Arima-XD151 cent
VMI Sports Arima-XD150.9 cents
True Athlete Training Formula170.9 cents
Innovus Pharmaceuticals PEVArx200.8 cents
Innovus Pharmaceuticals Vitaros200.8 cents
Innovus Digeryxin200.8 cents
Animal Creatine Chews250.7 cents
Apollon Nutrition Hooligan Bare Knuckle250.7 cents
GHOST BCAA250.7 cents
Alpha Lion StimTropic250.7 cents
Ghost Amino250.7 cents
Ronnie Coleman Amino-Tone250.7 cents
Jacked Factory Nitrosurge 250.7 cents

Jacked Factory Pumpsurge 
250.7 cents
SNS Optimize-T250.7 cents
Optimum Gold Standard Pre-Work250.7 cents
Ryse Pump Daddy250.7 cents
Jacked Factory KSM-66250.7 cents
BlackMarket AdreN.O.lyn250.7 cents
Furosap XT250.7 cents

Bucked Up Pre-Workout Non-Stimulant
250.7 cents

Apollon Nutrition Hooligan Extreme Pre-Workout 
250.7 cents
Jacked Factory Build XT250.7 cents
Smarter Nutrition Enzymes250.7 cents
Ghost Gamer250.7 cents
NuMedica OsteoV250.7 cents
PMD ACG3 Supercharged+250.7 cents
DAS Labs Woke 250.7 cents
ATP Science Vegan Essential Aminos250.7 cents
Woke AF250.7 cents
BSN N.O.-Xplode250.7 cents
Glaxon Xeno Amino250.7 cents

Liberty Labz Stand the F%#k Up
250.7 cents
Transparent Labs Preseries 250.7 cents
Bucked Up BAMF 250.7 cents
NuMedica Osteo Vegan250.7 cents
Morph Xtreme Bombsicle
250.7 cents
Bucked Up Black Deer Candy250.7 cents
Bucked Up Pre-Workout250.7 cents
EnergyFirst PreFuel 27.50.57 cents
Myokem mTOR PRO500 cents
Astroflav Elevated500 cents
GHOST Size500 cents
Morphogen Emodin500 cents
Ghost Pump500 cents
NutraBio Alpha EAA500 cents
Sparta Nutrition Pre-Workout500 cents
Morphogen Creatine Monohydrate500 cents
BodyTech Elite Nitrulline 50???0 cents
Alpha Lion Superhuman Greens500 cents
 Morphogen  Morphodrive 500 cents
BodyTech Flash Point500 cents
Ghost Legend500 cents
C4 Dynasty500 cents
Redcon1 MOAB500 cents
GNC Beyond Raw Concept X500 cents
High Performance Nutrition PA(7)1000 cents
Ronnie Coleman Myo-Blitz?????????
ProSupps AminoLinx ?????????
EPX Body Ultra Pure MSM?????????
PMD ACG3 Supercharged?????????
ProSupps No3 Drive?????????
Top Secret Nutrition Natural T?????????
Applied Nutriceuticals ThermoVate ?????????
MusclePharm Assault ?????????
BSN Hyper FX?????????


Ghost Energy

Ghost Energy
Some Ghost products have 50mg of AstraGin, so they clearly know the clinical dose. Ghost Energy has 25mg of AstraGin per can, which means Ghost consciously and deliberately underdosed this particular product to save somewhere around $0.007 (seven tenths of a penny) per can on a product that sells on Amazon for around $2.33 per can. Beyond underdosing, there is zero cell data, zero rat data and zero human data on how AstraGin works on any ingredient in this product, despite Ghost claiming it helps improve everything. In fact, a quick Google search will tell you that the mechanism of action behind AstraGin is fundamentally incompatible with Caffeine. Which probably reflects how much effort Ghost put into this formulation. Even NuLiv, who is apparently down to claim anything works with AstraGin, doesn't have the audacity to mention caffeine.

As a fun exercise, you would have to take 2 cans in the morning and 2 cans at night (good luck sleeping) for a total of 800mg of caffeine a day to get the clinical dosage used in the UC study...for a period of 3 months. Please don't do this, attempting to mimic the UC clinical dose of AstraGin from Ghost Energy will probably kill you. This is such a horrible formulation, we are surprised Mondelez allowed them to use their trademarks on this. Not a good look for Sweedish Fish...

Apollon Nutrition Hooligan

Apollon describes this product as "STRONG AF", while giving you an underdosed 25mg of AstraGin per serving. Each serving contains 360mg of caffeine from two sources. In order to mimic the UC study dosing, you would need to take 4 servings, or 1,440mg of caffeine a day. Please don't do this, attempting to mimic the UC clinical dose of AstraGin from Apollon Hooligan will probably kill you.

GNC Concept X

To their credit, GNC at least read the studies and said they were garbage pre clinical lab studies. Their site says AstraGin is "A patented blend of two botanicals that enhances the absorption of vital nutrients in pre-clinical laboratory studies." To the best of our knowledge, there is no human evidence AstraGin works on a single ingredient in the product. In fact, the single largest ingredient in the product, Citrulline, has actually been proven NOT to work with AstraGin in their own human studies.

Bucked Up Woke AF

Similar to Hooligan this is a "loaded" pre-workout that only contains 25mg of AstraGin per serving while having 333mg of caffeine. In order to mimic the UC study dosing, you would need to take 4 servings, or 1,320mg of caffeine a day. Please don't do this, attempting to mimic the UC clinical dose of AstraGin from Woke AF will probably kill you.

Agree with our opinion? Disagree? Either way, be sure to let the FTC know here.
Alternatively, email Christine DeLorme from the FTC's Division of Advertising Practices directly: [email protected]