EPO also known as Erythropoietin is a hormone in your body. It plays a vital role. That of helping your body generate Red Blood Cells. To quote wiki ” It is a cytokine (protein signalling molecule) for erythrocyte (red blood cell) precursors in the bone marrow. Human EPO has a molecular weight of 34 kDa.” Several international scandals have been linked to this magical hormone.
Often when you read about an athlete being banned it was because of EPO. They were taking drugs or doing other things to increase their EPO levels. This would cause the amount of RBC to increase in their bodies. An increase in RBC, up to a point, reduces muscle fatigue. This it is believed gives you the edge over others by improving endurance.
In 1984, a genetically engineered version of EPO was introduced in the market. This allowed athletes (or even those who wanted to become one really) to just pop a pill. Of course, various forms of bans and tests followed to prevent people from creating unfair advantages. There are several natural ways of increasing EPO. For example, you can move to a higher altitude for a while. Run, cycle, mountain climb. All of this will increase EPO. Your body produces more RBC to cope. Also, Rhodiola has been known to increase the production of EPO naturally.
Besides reducing muscle fatigue, EPO has been tested for hypertension, ischemic heart and neural issues. The idea was to evaluate if an increase in RBC can reduce the stress of these diseases on your body. Unfortunately, this has not been proved conclusively so far.
As always, there can be too much of a good thing. If your EPO goes up too much, your blood can thicken. This turns it from free flowing to something that resembles grease. Your body obviously does not appreciate. In my case, my EPO increases just watching my reader count go up, so thank you for reading.