Natural Supplements, Chinese Herbs, and Nutrition Tips For Muay Thai

By John Simmonds

The following guest post is by John Simmonds who is living in Costa Rica as a licensed acupuncturist, massage therapist, and nutrition counselor.

John Simmonds with training partner Bart DeGraaf at Brenda’s Jungle 
Gym, Nosara, Costa Rica

John Simmonds with training partner Bart DeGraaf at Brenda’s Jungle 
Gym, Nosara, Costa Rica

I’m a soon to be 48 year-old Muay Thai fan who loves working out to learn and practice techniques and tech sparring. Although I have started Judo at 6 years-old and studied a wide variety of other martial arts including Aikido, Karate, Kung Fu, Kenpo, Jiu Jitsu and Boxing,  I have never been as enthusiastic about a style as I am about Muay Thai.

In order to be able to keep up with Muay Thai classes and fitness training to reinforce my sparring, drills and application of techniques, I focus on natural supplements, herbs, and nutrition. As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I have applied my knowledge of Chinese herbs along with my addiction to reading on the subject and have come up with a good system for me. I am going to be 48 years old this year, so don’t have the physical advantages of someone in their 20’s or early 30’s, but with the regimen I am about to share with you, I can ease up on the aches and pains, accelerate my recovery, and maximize my efforts in the ring and at class.

I am always trying to refine my efforts, so this is by no means the be all and end all of regimens. It works for me and I’m guessing there’s a good chance it will work for you. I workout in the Costa Rican jungle, so it’s not dissimilar from Thailand’s climate – super hot and super humid. When I went back to the States to train, I found that my endurance was excellent, staying the distance in a two hour class and not feeling like puking when I was doing my last set of kicks to the pads.

Natural Supplements and Chinese Herbs For Muay Thai

siberian ginseng natural supplement for muay thaiSiberian Ginseng

Cell replication, is a huge part of recovery and oxygenation of the cells and tissues are also very important for maximum fitness along with blood flow.  Siberian Ginseng (it is not a real ginseng) otherwise known as eleutherococcus senticosus, eleuthero and Siberian root, has several benefits:  such as increased endurance, learning improvement, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-depressant effects.

During the Cold War, it was known as “The Russian Steroid”  and it was standard for Russian athletes to be given this herb. I take 850 mg once a day and cycle 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off.  The Chinese name for this is Ci Wu Jia and if you can get it in raw form and cook it as a decoction it seems to work more effectively.  It helps me to recover from hard tech sparring in half the time.  I get Nature’s Way brand from

Foti root

foti root muay thai supplemenyI take Siberian Gingseng along with Foti root, or He Shou Wu (Her Show Woo).

He Shou Wu helps maintain the strength and stability of the lower back and knees. It is used to maintain youthful sexual drive, normally abundant sperm count in men and to support the health of the ova in women. It is widely used in Asia to maintain the youthful condition and color of the hair. It can calm the nervous system and has components that are potent antioxidants with gentle actions in the liver and the eyes.”

This natural supplement is great for Muay Thai because it contains zinc and iron to help adrenal gland function. I take two 610 mg caps and cycle 6 months on, one month off. While we’re talking about the adrenal glands, I eat two eggs every morning for the B5 and because eggs are awesome. The yolk is the best part, so please don’t buy into the misinformation that the yolk is going to have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels – it actually has a beneficial effect, boosting the “good” cholesterol. One egg should contain sufficient daily protein for your average adult, so double it up and you should be good to go. Again I use Nature’s Way from

Mucuna pruriensMucuna pruriens

I recently came across something interesting: Mucuna pruriens. This has L-Dopa, a precursor to dopamine, a happy neurochemical, and it boosts HGH. Boosting HGH naturally can be done in a couple of ways, but Mucuna is my number one go-to. I take about a tablespoon in my smoothie almost every day. It helps injury repair, muscle recovery and ultimate contributes towards rejuvenation (at my age that’s always a bonus), and of course, elevates my mood.  I use Banyan Botanicals via

If you add in some wind sprints that will also help boost HGH. This is simple and can be done anywhere – four minute warm up followed by a 30-45 second sprint, going all out. Then 90 seconds walking and repeat a total of eight times.  Lift those knees high on the sprints and you will work your abs, quads, and glutes, and also put more power into your superman punch, flying knee etc.

Creatine Monohydrate

creatine monohydrateI take a little creatine monohydrate cycling on and off. This has some pretty bad press and it not supposed to be so great for the kidneys, but in moderation can be beneficial for training. It converts ADP to ATP, providing immediate local muscle fuel. I overdid this in the 90’s and had to go up a waist size in jeans just to be able to fit my legs in. Not a smart move, but an interesting experiment. I was also benching 450 lbs at the time, which is also pretty stupid in retrospect. I am now 50 lbs lighter and feel sharper, quicker, and more effective.

“Creatine increases both maximal force production and protein synthesis. Doses of 5–20 grams per day have been demonstrated as safe and largely devoid of side effects, though people with preexisting kidney conditions should use creatine under medical supervision. Athletes generally use a “loading phase” of five to seven days at 10–30 grams per day, but this can cause severe intestinal discomfort. You can achieve the same muscular saturation with lower doses for a longer period of time.

Take 3.5 grams upon waking and before bed for the entire 28-day duration. If you use powder, mix in 5–6 grams total, as losing one to two grams in solution is hard to avoid.”

– Tim Ferris, The Four Hour Body

Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented ButterGreen Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented Butter

For testosterone boosting and getting more drive in my workouts I use Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented Butter and Skate Oil.

Two capsules before bed and two upon awakening. This boosts cholesterol, which boosts GnRH (Gonadatropin-Releasing hormone), which boosts luteinizing hormone, which boosts testosterone production. For more on this protocol, I highly recommend reading “The Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferris. It’s a great collection of data and should be read by all athletes for maximum performance improvement.

Bear in mind that after 40, the testosterone count typically declines. The normal range is 300 – 800 ng/dl and it is highly worthwhile getting a plasma testosterone test from your local lab. I get this also from

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 5.49.41 AMRejuvenox

To counter oxidative stress and to boost general health, immune system and heart health (America’s #1 killer is heart disease) I use a 4 in 1 product called Rejuvenox that I created with my partner. It seems pricey, but if you buy two and get one free, it lasts for months. Also, if you buy each component individually (EGcG as talked about in “The Four Hour Body,” astaxanthin, ubiquinol – a more bioavailable version of COQ10 – and tumuric) you’ll pay twice as much.

X Jow

Aches and bruises are best dealt with using liniments. I recommend X Jow, a Chinese Dit Dar Jow variation created by Aram Nalbandyan, a full contact Kung Fu practitioner and fellow acupuncturist out of Los Angeles. It works. That’s all I have to say about that.

Nutrition Tips For Muay Thai

the warriors dietOri Hofmeklar wrote a book called “The Warrior Diet” that allows you to eat pretty much whatever you want and boost metabolism, HGH levels, and overall fitness and endurance. In a nutshell it is a one meal a day program starting with the healthy stuff and then moving to the less healthy stuff. Intermittent fasting of about 17 hours helps mental acuity and physical endurance and helps to optimize digestive function and regulate insulin. I add a daily juice (just veggie juice that I make with a juicer and drink fresh) for high vitamin and mineral intake, focusing on leafy greens for blood oxygenation and ginger and turmuric as an anti-inflammatory.

Last but not least I practice meditation. The Samurai would practice meditation every morning, focusing on the worst, most violent thing that could happen to them. After that, the day was a bonus. I use meditation to quiet my mind, so when I am in clinches or taking a barrage of punches, I can regain my equilibrium and switch from defensive posture to offensive. It might sound far-fetched, but it works for me. Slowing down the heartbeat rate and keeping my head clear is important even when I am sparring. Learning to focus is all part of meditation and I try and do 20 – 45 mins per day.

That’s about as simple as it gets. Once I have a program like this in place, I ride it until the wheels fall off or until I find something new that I can geek out on and push myself a little further.

Thanks for reading my article, thanks to Sean for this awesome blog and Sawat-Dee Kap!

For Sean’s recommendations on supplements, click here!

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Sean Fagan
Sean "Muay Thai Guy" Fagan owns & operates the largest online Muay Thai community and the #1 training resource for nak muay of all levels.

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