Potential Risk of Higenamine Misuse in Sports: Evaluation of Lotus Plumule Extract Products and a Human Study

Potential Risk of Higenamine Misuse in Sports: Evaluation of Lotus Plumule Extract Products and a Human Study / Ching-Chi Yen, Chun-Wei Tung, Chih-Wei Chang, Chin-Chuan Tsai, Mei-Chich Hsu, Yu-Tse Wu. - (Nutrients 12 (2020 2 (21 January); 285).
- PMID: 31973198.
- DOI: 10.3390/nu12020285


Since 2017, higenamine has been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list as a β2-agonist prohibited at all times for sportspersons. According to WADA's report, positive cases of higenamine misuse have been increasing yearly. However, higenamine occurs naturally in the Chinese herb lotus plumule-the green embryo of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn) seeds-commercially available as concentrated powder on the Asian market. This study evaluated the major phytochemical components of lotus plumule products using an appropriate extraction method, followed by a human study in which the products were orally administered in multiple doses to investigate the risk of doping violations. Comparing various extraction methods revealed that optimized microwave-assisted extraction exhibited the highest extraction efficiency (extraction time, 26 min; power, 1046 W; and temperature, 120 °C). Subsequently, the alkaloids in lotus plumule products were quantitatively confirmed and compared. Human study participants (n = 6) consumed 0.8 g of lotus plumule (equivalent to 679.6 μg of higenamine) three times daily for three consecutive days. All participants' urinary higenamine concentrations exceeded the WADA reporting cut-off of 10.0 ng/mL. Accordingly, lotus plumule consumption may engender adverse analytical findings regarding higenamine. Athletes should avoid consuming lotus plumule-containing products during in- and out-of-competition periods.

Original document


Research / Study
21 January 2020
Chang, William Chih-Wei
Hsu, Mei-Chich
Tsai, Chin-Chuan
Tung, Chun-Wei
Wu, Yu-Tse
Yen, Ching-Chi
Adverse Analytical Finding / presence
Other organisations
E-DA Hospital
I-Shou University (ISU)
Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU)
National Health Research Institutes (NHRI Taiwan)
Taipei Medical University (TMU)
Doping classes
S3. Beta-2 Agonists
Food and/or drinks
Document category
Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
23 January 2020
Date of last modification
5 February 2020
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