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Arachadonic acid, or ARA, might sound like some sort of spider extract, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s actually the fatty acid that is responsible for causing inflammation in your muscles. Some studies suggest that supplementing with ARA may actually be good for you, despite the science that says fighting inflammation is the only way to go.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been told that you should fight inflammation when it occurs in order to relieve your pain and allow an injury to heal. Most people have been doing this for the last half century without really even thinking about what’s actually happening inside their bodies. However, the truth is that your body needs inflammation to grow, and if you fight inflammation with NSAIDs, ice, and other remedies, you’re actually stunting your muscles’ ability to grow. New research shows that causing inflammation with the help of arachadonic acid can help you put on lean muscle mass.
Arachadonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that takes residence inside your muscle cell membranes, called sarcolemma. When you lift weights or perform resistance training of any kind, you’re actually damaging the tiny fibers that make up your muscle tissues. When this occurs, enzymes move into the sarcolemma and release arachadonic acid. It’s at this point that your body breaks down the acid into the building blocks it needs to create hormones called prostaglandins. It’s these prostaglandins that cause the pain and tenderness you feel after an intense workout, and they’re also why so many people reach for the ibuprofen to relieve the inflammation.
With all of this in mind, it might sound like adding more arachadonic acid to your body would cause even more inflammation. Simply put, it does. That’s exactly what it is supposed to do. The inflammatory response directly triggers the body’s repairing response, which is required for muscle growth. What’s more, inflammation also improves the number of nuclei in your muscle cells, and this has a tremendous effect on the synthesis of proteins. When you take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, this process can’t occur.
It might seem that avoiding NSAIDs and other inflammation fighters might be enough to improve the rate at which your muscles repair themselves and grow. However, the repair process itself quickly depletes your body’s stores of arachadonic acid, which means the beneficial inflammatory reaction is short-lived. That’s why so many people are relying on ARA supplements; it keeps the inflammation process growing, which studies have shown helps the muscles grow much more quickly – especially if you work out frequently.
Arachadonic acid, then, is the opposite of an anti-inflammatory. It is a naturally-occurring substance that stimulates swelling in your muscles, allowing them to repair themselves much more quickly and efficiently. When this occurs, your muscle tissues grow much larger at a much faster rate, allowing you to get the bulk – and the look – you want.