Gamma oryzanol is a naturally occurring mixture of plant chemicals called sterols and ferulic acid esters. Some evidence suggests that gamma oryzanol increases testosterone levels, stimulates the release of endorphins (pain-relieving substances made in the body), and promotes the growth of lean muscle tissue.
Although it appears in grains such as barley and corn, gamma-oryzanol is extracted from rice bran oil for commercial purposes. In Japan, this concentrated mixture of ferulic acid and other compounds is commonly added to foods and beverages. The bulk of research on gamma-oryzanol's health benefits has been done in Japan, although supplements are now available in the United States as well.
Apparently acting on the brain's control of digestion, and possibly through a direct effect on the stomach, gamma-oryzanol may help to ease heartburn and other digestive-system discomforts. Ulcer sufferers have taken it with some success. Gamma-oryzanol supplements have also relieved pain, nausea, vomiting, and other post-meal gastrointestinal symptoms in study participants suffering from gastritis (stomach inflammation). Japanese scientists conducting various trials have discovered that gamma-oryzanol may ease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, and may even help to lower cholesterol. In addition, antioxidant properties in the extract may protect heart vessels from free-radical damage.
Body-builders have tried gamma-oryzanol supplements to boost their performance, but clinical trials indicate that this is fruitless. In a 1997 study, male weight trainers who took gamma-oryzanol supplements (500 mg a day for nine weeks) failed to perform better than participants taking a placebo. Nor were levels of various hormones, including endorphins or testosterone (a male hormone), affected in any way.
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