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Activation of aquaporin

Antimicrobial, antiviral, antitumor, antibiotic

Anabolic steroidal

Important Chemical Components:

Clerodane diterpenes

Phytoecdysteroids, including α-ecdysone, 2-desoxyecdysterone, ecdysterone, sileneoside A, and turkesterone

Iridoid glycosides

Origin Classification:

This ingredient is considered natural, but was not certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA) when this book went to press.

Personal Care Category:

Skin hydration, skin conditioning

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:



Ajuga turkestanica is a perennial herb and member of the mint family Lamiaceae. There are over 300 species of the genus Ajuga found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and North America. A. turkestanica is indigenous to Uzbekistan. It derives its name from the fact that it contains a powerful ecdysteroid called turkesterone. Ecdysterones are a group of plant sterols that have a steroid-like effect on the human body.


This plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat fevers, toothaches, dysentery, malaria, high blood pressure, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as antifungal, antihelminthic, anti-inflammatory, antimycobacterial, and diuretic agents.1 Athletes and body builders have used A. turkestanica as an anabolic steroid because it contains phytoecdysteroids.2 Many bodybuilding supplements containing turkesterone can be found on the Internet. A. turkestanica is known to contain several bioactive compounds and has been used in traditional medical approaches to heart disease as well as stomach and muscle aches.3,4 In addition, it is one of the many species of Ajuga gaining attention for demonstrating medicinal properties with the potential for commercial applications.5 In November 2000, US Patent Number 7060693 was filed for the cosmetic use of A. turkestanica (awarded in 2006) by scientists at Dior Research.


There are three classes of potentially bioactive compounds found in the Ajuga genus5:

  1. Clerodane diterpenes are recognized sources of antimicrobial, antiviral, antitumor, antibiotic, and amoebicidal activities.6

  2. Phytoecdysteroids have anabolic steroid activity. A. turkestanica reportedly contains several phytoecdysteroids (turkesterone, 20-hydroxyecdysone, cyasterone, cyasterone 22-acetate, ajugalactone, ajugasterone B, α-ecdysone and ecdysone 2, 3-monoacetonide) as well as the iridoids harpagide and harpagide 8-acetate.5,7–12

  3. Iridoid glycosides, especially abundant in Ajuga decumbens, have exhibited anticancer activity.13


A. turkestanica extract is included in some anabolic muscle growth supplements.


Patented extracts of A. turkestanica were shown in 2006 to have sufficient ecdysteroids and other active ingredients to improve the differentiation of keratinocytes, thus facilitating skin hydration and yielding antiaging effects (Table 30-1).14,15 The patent inventors observed that the extracts are especially effective in regulating epidermal water and glycerol transport, achieving improved hydration of the basal layer by working in concert with or enhancing aquaporin-3 (AQP-3).14,16 AQP-3 is a water transport ...

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