ANABOLIC FACTOR - CHAPTER 1
Table of Contents
Drugs behave in paradoxical manner. The primary goal of drugs is to heal you. However, side effects occur; and, if undetected or unmonitored, they could cause irreparable damage to your well-being. Take antibiotics, for example. Antibiotics are considered as the cornerstone of preventing and treating diverse infections. Their drawback is that they could cause (among others) immunologic and toxic effects through the compound or its metabolites. In this way, drugs could also harm you. The same is true of synthetic steroids.
You must know that any drug use has its attendant responsibilities – you have to be an informed and responsible user. Don't believe everything your peer or your physician tell you about steroids – you've got to find out for yourself. After all, it's your health that is at stake here.
Your steroid use should not begin with “I want to use steroids” statement. It should start with this: “Should I use steroids?” Then ask yourself “Why”, and if you can answer to your self effectively, your next question should be: “How am I going to use steroids effectively and safely?”
This book is to help you answer the last statement. This is your introduction to the world of synthetic steroids. It may be a bit boring sometimes, but it's insightful and informative. You will learn everything you need to know about steroids – their properties, development of AAS, drug profiles, legal issues, sides, PCT, aromatization, etc. Most of these things are jargons to you now, but later as you read on all of these will clearly come into focus.
Everything You Must Know About Steroid Hormones.
The purpose of a hormone is to send a signal to dictate the function of the body. Different hormones give out different signals when interacting with receptor sites. Steroids are a class of lipids common in both plants and animals including humans. Lipids are a broad class of organic products found in living systems. The term is most commonly associated with fats. The body uses cholesterol as the base or substrate, to create most hormones in the body. There are diverse kinds of steroids, but for the purpose of this book, you only need to know some of them, the ones of interest to humans looking to achieve a better quality of life through enhanced physical appearance and increased performance.
Steroid hormones are a subset of animal steroids that include estrogen, estradiol, and progesterone. Another group on this subset is androstenediol, androstenedione, and testosterone. Estrogen, estradiol, and progesterone are primarily made in the ovary and in the placenta during pregnancy, they control the ovulation cycle in females. These are, therefore, more associated with the female in the species, but are also present in males and play a very important part. FYI, birth control pills are technically steroids since they contain derivatives of estrogen and progesterone.
The group of androstenediol, androstenedione and testosterone, on the other hand, is collectively known as androgens. Androgens are hormones that play a role in the secondary male characteristics. Probably, you are more familiar with the latter of this group – testosterone – which is considered the male sex hormone which is principally found in the testes. This group is associated with the males. Remember that both sexes have both of these two hormones. In men, estrogen is present in relatively smaller amount. In women, testosterone (androgen) occurs in significantly lesser quantity.
Testing Your Testosterone Knowledge
In the human body, testosterone travels the blood system in one of two states - “Bound” or “Free”. The bound type is mostly attached to SHBG (sexual hormone binding globulin). The free testosterone circulates in the bloodstream and interacts with different parts of the body where Androgen Receptor sites are found, parts which include the skeletal muscle cells. There, it binds or 'Docks' with receptors (specifically the androgen receptor).
This 'Docking in' activity results in a signal being generated at the receptor site. The signal then travels to the cell center (nucleus) where your DNA is located. This activates the specific genes, and this eventually causes an increased synthesis of the two primary contractile and structural proteins like myosin and actin. These two proteins are your body's requirements to do and sustain muscle contractions. Also, this receptor complex activity results to carbohydrate storage in the muscle tissues.
Synthetic steroids – which also go by such names as juice, Arnolds, gym candy, sauce, gear, or roids – are man-made hormones designed to attach to the Androgen Receptor in muscle cells and other tissue the way Testosterone does. The molecular structure of man-made steroid is manipulated by their creator/designer in order to achieve desired results. Some Steroids are designed for quicker weight gains, or increased strength, others for fat loss and water flushing. The chemists who develop these Steroids, start with Testosterone as the blueprint, and then add molecules at different positions of the structure to change the basic effects of Testosterone. One common modification is adding a molecule that will prevent the steroid from interacting with the Enzymes responsible for changing male hormones, into female hormones. A process we will discuss in detail later in this book.
Over the years many have been created, tested, and put to use in medicine, only the most effective and practical are still being used today.
Practicality and/or effectiveness maybe the reasons why two discontinued drugs are still in great demand nowadays. Manufacturers of Parabolan and Masteron have stopped production of their respective brands. This does not mean, however, that these drugs are off the market. The demand for these two compounds has encouraged the suppliers. Of course if someone offered you either of these two brands today you're not getting anything but counterfeited versions courtesy of unregulated underground laboratories.
Parabolan (tranbolone hexahydrobenzylcarbonate) by Negma in France has stopped production in 1991. During its existence, Parabolan is considered to be an 'extremely potent mass/strength drug'. This is because Parabolan gives rapid and superlative buildup of muscle strength and mass in the league of testosterones and Dianabol. However, unlike test and Dianabol, this drug does not result to estrogen-related reactions. This is because trenbolone was designed to not aromatize. You could say that Parabolan is an exception to the rule since mass drugs, in general, tend to aromatize. The effectiveness of Trenbolone made it a favorite among athletes, and this rampant use of Parabolan by athletes, is one of the reasons it was discontinued by the pharmaceutical company that introduced it to the market. Yet its unavailability did not diminish demand, and in the late 90's, new versions of Tranbolone hit the market via underground laboratories.
Masteron (drostanolone propionate) is yet another popular compound that has been discontinued. This is a European injectable that is used to treat estrogen-related conditions such as breast cancer. Drostanolone is a derivative of DHT, specifically 2alpha-methyldihydrotestosterone, which makes it structurally unable to aromatize. Consequently, estrogen-related effects such as gynecomastia and water retention are unlikely to occur.
Role of Steroids
The main role of steroids, or anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), is to promote protein synthesis in the body and build up and strengthen muscle mass. Therapeutically, they help out in stimulation of bone growth and appetite, induce male puberty, and are potent anabolic agents capable of treating diseased patients who suffer from chronic wasting. Chronic wasting could be caused by debilitating diseases such as cancers and AIDS.
In the athletics, AAS are popular both with professional and amateur athletes. Steroids use is commonly practiced in sports that rely on strength and size like football, wrestling, and baseball. In endurance sports, such as swimming and track-and-field, steroids are also widely used. In weight training and bodybuilding use of these drugs is an 'open secret' to obtain muscle strength and definition. In sports where winning is measured in milliseconds, an athlete using steroids will have an unfair advantage over athletes who are not doping. Steroids have been used by many athletes to go beyond their genetic limits, something the sports-world considers cheating, and rightly so.
Even in veterinary medicine, steroids have been used for the promotion of feed efficiency (appetite), weight gain, physical attributes (hair coat, muscles), vigor, among other things. They also treat diseases like anemia and battle tissue breakdown in cases of illness, injury, or trauma.
Steroid Side Effects
Despite the various uses of steroids in the medical community, these drugs continually get negative stamp because of their ill effects, mostly due to ling-term use. Testosterone's androgenic characteristics are proving to be more controversial than its anabolic effects. This is because androgenic properties are blamed for male pattern baldness, acne, and enlargement of the prostate. In females, they initiate hirsutism (excessive hair growth), hoarsening and deepening of voice, menstrual cycle dysfunction, and enlargement of the clitoris. Both sexes could also experience sexual (increased libido) and psychological (aggression, mood swings) reactions due to this hormone.
The tissues that are affected by androgenic properties of testosterone like the skin and scalp share one similarity – they have elevated levels of the 5a-reductase, an enzyme that will attach to testosterone and change its structure to that of to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
The role of DHT, also referred to as stanolone, is always a point of contention among steroid users and experts. This is because DHT causes undesirable effects to the body such as those mentioned above. How is this so? Testosterone's conversion to DHT markedly increases its potency since DHT has a greater binding affinity with androgen receptors than its base steroid (testosterone). Thus, when testosterone converts to DHT the androgenic effects (both positive and negative) have a high probability of occurring and/or the occurrence is more pronounced.
It is important to know, however, that DHT does not only cause negative reactions. This metabolite has tumor-suppressing capabilities used in the treatment of certain breast cancers. It is also used in therapy for hypogonadism. The negative image of steroids is primarily brought about by the effects caused by steroids abuse. Inappropriate and prolonged abuse can result in various health problems, some of which may be irreversible. Many view these adverse reactions as stop signs for steroid use. But keep in mind that any type or form of drugs could cause serious health concerns if users are misinformed and/or irresponsible. It's good to listen to cautionary tales and educate yourself through thorough reading of relevant information, before making any choices about your health.
The following are conditions commonly associated with steroid use:
Masculinization. Ingested or injected synthetic male hormones will attach to Androgen Receptor sites in the hair follicles, genitalia and other body parts. Male-like hair growth on the body and face, hoarsening and deepening of voice, are the typical adverse reactions female users suffer. In some women, the tissue that makes up the clitoris will enlarge to the size of their thumb. These are specifically true with the prolonged use of strong androgens, steroids like Trenbolone, Dianabol and Anadrol.
Feminization. This effect is not a direct response to the steroids, since the steroids used by athletes are meant to boost male characteristics. This is a side effect that manifests itself when synthetic male-hormones that enter the body are converted to female-hormones by enzyme interaction or by some synthetic steroids that have the ability to bond to both male and female type of reception sites, without any need for enzyme interaction. This side effect is especially troubling for males who were born with naturally high concentrations of progesterone receptors. Some steroids, whose structures will now allow aromatase enzymes to attach to them, attach themselves to progesterone receptors unchanged. The growth of breast tissues on males, also known as gynecomastia, is one of the most dreaded effects of steroids use. Male users must be vigilant of their estrogen levels, since injecting synthetic steroids will cause a surge in estrogen. Bloating PMS-like depression and Gynecomastia are the main side-effects associated with increased levels of Estrogen in male steroid users.
Acne. This is one of the most common problems encountered by steroid users both male and female. You see this skin condition occurring typically in teenage boys. This is because it is during the adolescence that testosterone levels of males are at their peak. The sebaceous glands, which secrete oil in most surfaces of the body, are stimulated by androgens. Synthetically introducing testosterone in the system could result to supraphysiological amounts of androgens in the body thereby resulting to over-stimulation of these glands.
Breakout of acne in the face, back, and shoulders could be treated with topical medications such as Accutane. Keeping the affected areas hygienic prevents accumulation of dirt and bacteria thus preventing further breakout. Many bodybuilders follow a 1-2 times per week tanning regimen to keep from developing acne.
Psychological Problems (Aggression, Depression, Mood Swings). The psychological sides remain to be one – if not the most – controversial effects of steroid use. Males tend to be more aggressive than females, and that's a known fact because of their testosterone levels. But could steroids really jack up negative emotions? Some users argue that steroids are used as an alibi for an abusive and volatile behavior.
Psychological stresses could be caused by hormonal imbalance. When you're using steroids such imbalance may occur because of fluctuating testosterone levels. There are also the so-called “psychological withdrawal symptoms” whereby low self-esteem and altered self-image are experienced. Such symptoms occur when users end steroid dependence and have to contend with loss of size and strength as well as decreased performance levels.
Cardiovascular Complications. Use of AAS could result in high blood pressure as a consequence of these drugs' ability to elevate cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. Add to that is the problem of water and sodium retention most steroids are infamous for.
A high triglyceride level means a high total cholesterol level, including high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and a low HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is known as the 'bad' cholesterol while LDL is the 'good' cholesterol.
In athletes, total cholesterol level seems to be dependent on the kind of training they undergo. Aerobic training is known to counterbalance the increasing effect of steroids in total cholesterol. It does not, however, counteract the decline in HDL-cholesterol.
The exact effect of steroids on triglycerides is not yet certainly determined. So far, it seems that these compounds affect the hepatic triglyceride lipase (HTL) and lipoprotein lipase (LPL). HTL (occurring in higher levels in males) is responsible for the clearance of HDL-cholesterol while LPL (whose activity is relatively higher in females) is concerned with the cellular uptake of free fatty acids and glycerol.
Regarded by many as the safest steroid in the arsenal of performance enhancement, the Steroid known as “Anavar” (oxandrolone) has been known to cause high cholesterol it its users only days into a cycle.
Liver Damage. It has been noted that the oral steroids have high probability of exerting damage to this organ than the injectables. Orals are designed to survive passing the liver after ingestion. Numerous and extensive studies have been carried out to really pinpoint the cause of liver damage done by oral steroids. One thing stood out – 17-alpha-alkylated steroids (orals) are more likely to endanger your liver than those which are not. This does not mean, however, that injectables would not cause liver damage (hepatotoxicity). It has been reported that parenteral nortestosterone administration has caused lesions to the liver. And there have been occasions when the same has been noted after injection of testosterone esters.
Liver diseases may include intra-hepatic cholestasis (obstructed bile duct), hepatic peliosis (blood-filled cavities within the liver), and hepatocellular carcinoma as may be caused by increase of plasma activity of liver enzymes.
Steroid use is known to cause increase plasma activity of liver enzymes such as lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) and alkaline phosphatase (AP).
Most studies are conducted with diseased and hospitalized patients as subjects. They have been undergoing anabolic steroids treatment for prolonged duration for various illnesses such as pituitary gland dysfunction, impotence, and anemia.
In longitudinal studies involving athletes, whereby subjects are observed repeatedly over a period of time, contrasting results are gathered. In some, notable increase liver enzymes are noted. While in others, there is no alteration at all. In incidents of accretion it has been reported that the increase is in moderation and that such change returns to normal level within weeks of abstinence from steroids, this could mean that hepatic enzyme leakage has got something to do with the condition of the liver prior to steroid treatment. Thus, individuals with abnormal liver function are predisposed to such risks.
Signs and symptoms of liver diseases include jaundice, a palpably enlarged liver, and acholic feces (pale in coloration due to the absence of bile). Keep in mind though that some diseases are asymptomatic. You need to undergo serum enzyme tests to determine hepatocellular and biliary tract integrity.
Other conditions associated with steroids use are blood clotting disorders, sexual dysfunction, certain cancers, immune system disorders, birth defects, headaches and alopecia. You must remember that some individuals are predisposed to the aforementioned effects. Say, a certain drug may result to hepatotoxicity to other users but not to you.
You could be safe by being aware of the signs and symptoms, undergoing regular clinical check-ups, and (again) by being an informed user. However, the best way to avoid liver damage when using steroids is to add N2Guard to your cycle and PCT. N2Guard will keep your liver, kidneys and organs clean.
Anabolic Steroids Versus Human Growth Hormones: Very Different Hormones
Recently, steroids and another form of drug – human growth hormone – have become the receptors of controversies and bad publicity. Of course, this is nothing new because both of these compounds have been 'basking' in the limelight since their development.
The breaking news incident has taken place May 2007 and involved Sylvester Stallone, a.k.a. Rambo/Rocky Balboa, who was attempting to 'import' 48 vials of HGH on his flight to Sydney from the US. Much of the media furor is about what to call the compounds – some media organizations labeled them as steroids and Stallone insisted they are HGH. What's the difference between these two? Oftentimes, these two terms are used interchangeably but anabolic steroids are not the same as human growth hormones. Here's why.
While anabolic steroids are very simple structures from early in evolution, Growth hormones are very complex composed of whole protein sequences that fit together like a puzzle. If put side by side, the size of a single testosterone molecule, would be very much smaller and simpler compared to Human Growth Hormones'.
It is good to note that because humans and other vertebrates share the same Testosterone hormones, humans can and do use steroids made purposely for animals. Not so with HGH. The layout for a protein like growth hormone is genetically encoded in a series of special segments called exons. This is to say that the large and complex growth hormone is unique to each species and the human body would not be able to utilize any other animal's Growth Hormone. This means that the protein sequence has to be just right in order for it to work. Human growth hormone has a “191” protein sequence.
Curiously enough, the basic Testosterone hormone is made by the testes, a relatively simple organ from early in evolution. Growth Hormone is made in the brain by the pituitary gland. This hormone is called somatotropin when in the form of recombitant (artificial) DNA.
The growth hormone most notable function is to promote bone development from birth through adulthood. Basically, HGH decides if you're going to be a 5'8” or 6'2” individual, the amount of HGH declines once humans reach adulthood – some say from the ages of 30-35 – same thing that happens with testosterone. Testosterone levels decline as you reach adulthood.
Deficiency in HGH causes dwarfism, delayed puberty, and stunted growth. As you get older, you tend to tire easily, your bones become brittle, and your mental and physical processes seem to lose their usual vibe. This is in part the result of decreased amount of HGH. This is why this compound is being touted as the 'fountain of youth' since use of this is said to reverse or stop the process if aging. Many doctors in the anti-aging field readily prescribe HGH to those patients who are old enough to need it.
Excessive amounts of HGH in the body could result to various illnesses. In children, the usual condition is gigantism, which is characterized by a tall stature. In adults, acromegaly (excessive growth of hands, feet and face), hirsutism, high blood pressure, and excessive sweating are the usual symptoms.
Exercise does stimulate the secretion of HGH; however, the more important question is does HGH improve your physical ability? So far, HGH's impact on athletic performance is not yet determined. True, this hormone does exert its effect on muscle hypertrophy (as proven by animal testing) yet its consequence on muscle strength remains arguable.
The basic difference between steroids and HGH, in so far as bodybuilding and powerlifting is concerned, is that steroids make your cells bigger while HGH increases the number of these cells. And because HGH's function is generally anabolic, it only plays in your muscle definition not on your muscle strength. It keeps you lean and very muscular, but that's about it. This means that if you're taking HGH, according to medical information, you have that vascular look but would not be able to take in an increased weightlifting load.
Steroids History 101
Substances that boost performance have been in use in many societies around the world. In fact, the use of steroid hormones has been recognized even before their identification and synthesis. There has been a recent study by Yu-Hsuan Lee of Harvard University which has documented the history of performance-enhancing substances. Lee says that there have been records of the use of such going to as far back as ancient times.
Incredible as it may seem, performance enhancers may have been used in all competitive sporting events since the first Olympics in ancient Greece! That is according to the resourceful Mr. Lee. As he states: “The Greek physician, Galen, is reputed to have prescribed 'the rear hooves of an Abyssinian ass, ground up, boiled in oil, and flavored with rose hips and rose petals' to improve performance.” Lee adds: “Ancient Olympic athletes attempted to boost testosterone (the hormone that anabolic steroids are designed to produce) by eating sheep testicles, a prime source for testosterone.”
With the advent of modern chemistry come the myriad trial-and-error experiments of these substances. Case in point is the attempt of a Romanian chemist in Berlin in 1887 to synthesize amphetamines from Ma Huang (Ephedra sinica). The ma huang is a cone-bearing shrub which is considered as an ancient Chinese stimulant. This experiment yielded no positive results.
Steroids are experimented on and used for various reasons. It is reported that steroids have been used on German soldiers in World War II to increase their aggression.
In athletics, steroid programs are carried out with the intention of enhancing the performance of athletes. In 1954, the Soviet Union and the Eastern Germany were the pioneers of these programs purposely to give their Olympic and amateur weightlifters an edge over their competitors; it is a success story. Consequently, the US Olympic team followed suit. John Zeigler, a physician for the US Olympic team, collaborated with pharmaceutical company Ciba to come up with synthetic anabolic steroids for American weightlifters. The result is the compound methandrostenolone more commonly known as Dianabol. From then on, manufacture and popularity of AAS products has multiplied.
How they became illegal in the USA
In 1967, the International Olympic Council banned the use of these drugs in the Olympic events. Subsequently, sports organizations and associations have also adapted a prohibitive stance on steroids.
In the United States, to trace back the relationship of anabolic steroids with the legal authorities, one should backtrack to 1970's and the 1980's. Back then, regulation of anabolic steroids in that country were handled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under its Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Steroids were not considered as controlled substances and Americans could get a hold of these products through a prescription by licensed physicians. Important to know that trafficking of these drugs was already considered illegal before anabolic steroids were classified as controlled substances in that country.
In 1988, amendments of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act set forth criminal penalties for traffickers of these substances. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act provides the authorities of an effective enforcement of forfeiture and seizure operations against illegal dispensers of steroids.
The mid-1980's dawned and with it are media reports that highlighted the abuse of anabolic steroids in America's sporting world, and the so-called 'silent epidemic' event, which is steroid abuse occurring in high schools in the US. This prompted the government to take more decisive measures and that meant amending the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to include anabolic steroids.
The amendment has pushed through despite strong opposition from medical professionals and representatives of regulatory agencies such as the FDA, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. And by February 27, 1991, anabolic steroids were classified as controlled substances, a category they now share with such drugs as heroin and cocaine. American federal law placed steroids under Schedule III class of the CSA.
Indeed, the future of steroids in American looks grim, at least from the perspective of steroid users and producers. Selling steroids or illegally possessing them is a federal felony. Fines could reach up to $250,000 and jail terms could last up to ten years.
The legality of steroids and their use vary widely from one country to the next. In places like Canada and The United Kingdom, the sale of steroids is illegal, but not their use. While in other countries like Mexico and Costa Rica, the laws are lightly enforced and not too harsh for Pharmacist and Veterinarian stores that dispense steroids without a prescription. An in-depth look at your country's own laws and regulations is a good place to start when considering Steroid use. You may find that your country is not concerned with legislating and enforcing laws against Steroid use, or that the legal implications may far outweigh your desire to use these substances.
Stigma in the Pro League
In pro baseball there was never a formal policy regarding the use of steroids until 2002. That year, Ken Caminiti, who won as 1996 MVP, openly admitted that he had been a steroid user while playing major league baseball.
President Bush's statement on his 2004 State of the Union Address has dealt another blow to American users in the athletics. He has put an appeal to athletes and pro sports leagues to eradicate the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. As a result, more stringent drug-testing policies and punishment have been imposed on athletes in that country.
Both of these events have played significantly on how sports fans and the American public in general view steroid use. Both events further highlighted the negative aspects of steroids use. The notion that these drugs can be abused and the users can be physical abusers (aggression and 'roid rage' are terms constantly being associated with steroids use), put a damper to steroids and their followers.
How are steroids being used today
Nowadays, steroids are still being used for medical purposes. They supplement hormone levels as caused by injury, trauma, or chronic wasting as a consequence of diseases such as cancers and AIDS. And, of course, they are still popular for their performance-enhancing attributes.
In some countries the demographics of steroids users are as follows:
- Several studies show anabolic steroid users tend to be mostly middle-class heterosexual men with an average age of about 25. They are noncompetitive bodybuilders and non-athletes and use the drugs for cosmetic purposes.
- A 2007 American study reports that individuals using AAS for non-medical purposes had a higher employment rate and tend to have a higher household income.
- Same study says AAS users tend to be informed (they do research) on their choice more than any other group of users of controlled substances.
- A 2006 American survey shows that 1.6% percent of U.S. 8Th-graders say they have used the drugs during their lifetimes, while one in every 100 8th-grade boys reported using steroids during the previous 30 days.
Despite the health risks and the threat of legal sanctions in some countries against suppliers and buyers, AAS are being sought after by athletes, popular figures and the mainstream. Remember that possessing these compounds without a valid prescription has been declared illegal in some countries for a long time now, and yet steroids are still in great demand in these same places. Why? The answer to that is quite simple: As long as the anabolic benefits are there and as long as there are people willing to gain something out of those benefits, there will be cult followers of steroids.