We have previously posted about an "all natural" EPO supplement that is making its way around the industry at the moment. It has been widely promoted in the Blood Horse and other industry publications. The products primary agent was the herb Echinacea angustifolia with the science behind its efficacy in boosting red blood cells in thoroughbreds questionable.
It seems that there is another lesser known EPO supplement that is also doing its rounds. The supplement is based on Rhodiola rosea, a herb that has been widely used as a traditional chinese herbal medicine to combat the effects of hypoxia in mountain climbing. The science behind this EPO supplement might have a little bit more to it. Salidroside is the active ingredient of Rhodiola rosea and has a proven erythropoiesis-promoting effect. Subsequent studies have shown that it does this by stimulated the accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) protein, and Rhodiola-ethanol has also been shown (in rats) to increase myocardial function (heart capacity).
While Salisroside is widely available for purchase, none of the above has been proven in thoroughbreds to have any effect on performance, so the jury is out on this supplement also.