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Parlodel is the trade name for Bromocriptine mesylate (Bromo for short). It is an ergot derivative with D2 dopamine receptor agonist and D1 dopamine receptor antagonist activities. In medicine, it is a versatile drug with many uses thanks to its dopamine increasing effects. In bodybuilding, it's used for its ability to inhibit prolactin, and during calorie restricted dieting.

bromocriptine chemical structure

Fig 1. Bromocriptine Chemical Structure

Table of Contents


Bromocriptine was first used in the 1970's for treatment of Parkinson's, and to suppress HGH when high dosages were used. Since the late 80's its been used off label for cocaine withdrawal; in addition, in 2009, it was approved by the FDA for treatment of type 2 diabetes for its effect at improving glycemic control. Many of its uses involve how bromo is related to dopamine increasing effects.

parlodel bottle

Fig 2. Parlodel Bottle

How it Works

Bromocriptine mesylate is a dopamine agonist. It activates dopamine receptors in the absence of that receptor's physiological ligand, the neurotransmitter dopamine. Essentially, it will forcefully increase dopamine in the body.

Understanding Dopamine

Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter, which plays an important role in the human brain and body. With the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter: a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. When a person is addicted to drugs, dopamine levels will be increased.

Parkinson's disease involves a dysfunction of the dopamine system, which will result in tremors and motion impairment. There is also evidence that schizophrenia involves altered levels of dopamine activity. Furthermore, ADHD and restless legs syndrome are believed to be associated with decreased dopamine activity.


There are a couple ways Bromocriptine is used in bodybuilding.

Prolactin inhibition: Whenever a progestin based compound is used (trenbolone and nandrolone decanoate), prolactin levels will rise. Using bromocriptine to bring down prolactin levels will keep prolactin based gynecomastia away and also keep libido strong.

Calorie restricted dieting: When a bodybuilder cuts calories, leptin levels will drop and the body will respond by holding onto nutrient stores. It is believed that bromocriptine will help normalize the slowing metabolism during this time, and it will help maintain normal leptin stimulation. This phenomenon is connected to its dopamine effects.


Prolactin is a hormone protein that plays the role of enabling females mammals to produce milk. It is not fully understood why males have prolactin, but we do know that it provides sexual gratification after ejaculation. After ejaculation, the male loses interest in sex, this is called the sexual refractory period, where prolactin levels go up. Therefore, lower prolactin levels should decrease the refractory period. In general, high prolactin levels can cause impotence and loss of interest in sex (low libido).

Side Effects

There is no shortage of possible side effects with Bromo, and many bodybuilders have avoided this drug for that reason.

Nausea is one of the most common side effects and is usually the first thing noticed. Guys will feel terrible when using bromocriptine, sick like they want to throw up. Low blood pressure, dizziness and confusion can also occur. There are a host of less likely sides including: anxiety, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, and lethargy.


The normal starting dose in bodybuilding is 2.5 to 5mg, either split during the day or everyday. If side effects become too great then cutting the dose in half can be effective.

Bromocriptine vs. Cabergoline vs. Pramipexole and Half Life

Bromo was very popular in the bodybuilding world until recently, and there are several reasons why it lost popularity. The side effects tend to be higher versus other dopamine drugs like cabergoline and pramipexole. Also, the half life is only 12 hours vs. cabergoline which has a 3-4 days half life. This means you must take it at least everyday, while cabergoline can be taken once every 3 days.

Trade Names

Bromocriptine has several trade names.

  • Parlodel
  • Cycloset
  • Brotin (Pakistan)


Want to read about Bromocriptine on our forums? check out these threads:


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Written by
Steve Smi (Also known as Steve Smith), has over 12 years of experience in the bodybuilding and fitness industry. He's the co-Host of the popular Evolutionary Radio Podcast - over 500,000 listens! He has been a personal trainer and writer for the last 10 years with over 1000 articles written. He's been a moderator on forums for over 10 years. Steve holds the following certifications and records: NASM Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist Florida Local Powerlifting champion Top writer for 2019 Fitness rated

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