Anabolic steroids – Complete guide

Anabolic steroid is a compound, a group of synthetic hormones, usually derived from testosterone, that can produce numerous physiological effects including increased protein synthesis, muscle mass, strength, appetite and bone growth. When used in excessive doses, anabolic steroid is known to cause numerous side effects, including high blood pressure, increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and hepatotoxicity among others.

There is a wide apprehension that anabolic steroid is a dangerous and deadly drug. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether usage of anabolic steroid does offer matching utility.

Whereas there is no doubt that sportspersons, bodybuilders, weightlifters, macho youth and others do abuse the drug, which is why the US government has enacted the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, it is also true that there has been a lot of propaganda and misconceptions about their use.

In this website, we have attempted to put together information about anabolic steroid, focusing on issues that concern the public. There is an emphasis on what harm can anabolic steroid cause, which we believe is justified because this is how the drug is viewed at today.

At the same time, we believe it is wrong to club anabolic steroid in the category of other banned substances, like cocaine or heroin, for the simple reason that anabolic steroid has good medical value for great many patients in dire need of recovery from serious ailments.

Types of Anabolic Steroids

Types of anabolic steroids depend on the way the drug is administered into human body. Three common means to apply anabolic steroids are oral, transdermal and by injection. While oral administration is in the form of pills, transdermal application is done by gently rubbing crèmes on skin or using transdermal patches. For these 2 types of anabolic steroids, expert medical help may not be necessary except for mandatory consultation with doctor prior to using them.

However, if one intends to use injecting type of anabolic steroids, consulting a qualified doctor is a must. These steroids are commonly injected intramuscularly – hence the term IM anabolic steroids – at places like buttocks, outer thighs and shoulders. People are known to have the steroid injected in triceps and biceps among other areas of body, but this can prove dangerous in the event of so doing.

Injecting type of anabolic steroids is administered with the help of 1-1.5″ 18-25 gauge needles, and the person who is administering is expected to be cautious so as not to affect blood vessels.

There are several proven techniques, so to say, of using anabolic steroids. One, that is quite popular, is what is termed as ‘cycling’. A typical example is where the drug is used in cycles of weeks or months rather than continuously. Cycling thus refers to cases when multiple doses of anabolic steroids are taken over a specific period of time, followed by an interlude for a while, and then commencing again.

Further, in order to derive maximum effectiveness from their usage even while minimizing negative effects, users often take recourse to combining several different types of anabolic steroids, referred to as ‘stacking’.

Because of prevalence of usage of steroids among college-going youth, often to their detriment because of lack of sufficient knowledge, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has banned many types of anabolic steroids, some of which are given below:

  1. Boldenone
  2. Androstenedione
  3. Testosterone
  4. Dromostanolone
  5. Dihydrotestosterone
  6. Methenolone

Anabolic Androgenic Steroids

What an anabolic androgenic steroid is can be best understood taking the words separately. Anabolic or anabolism refers to that metabolic process in living organisms and cells – such as inside our body – that helps in synthesizing or bringing together smaller molecules to build larger ones. As against catabolism, that does the opposite, anabolism tends to coalesce complex molecules, letting them grow as a whole.

Androgenic stands for that property of a natural or synthetic chemical compound in vertebrates (for example, human beings) that stimulates or controls development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. More commonly, androgen is indicative of developing male sexuality, though testosterone, a well-known androgen, secretes in both the testes of males and the ovaries of females.

Steroid, occurring as it does from sterol like cholesterol, a naturally happening steroid alcohol, is a group of organic compounds including many types of hormones, alkaloids and vitamins.

What follows therefore is that anabolic androgenic steroid is a type of naturally occurring or manmade substance that assists in growth of cells and combining smaller molecules in human body. In other words, anabolic androgenic steroid results in growth of several types of tissues, especially bone and muscle.

Use of anabolic androgenic steroid is popular among people who are interested in enhancement of physical performance – for example athletes and other sportspersons. Some individuals use it because they perceive its use will improve their appearance, in which case it almost becomes an addiction.

In the present time, anabolic androgenic steroid rakes up more controversy than its share, which is mainly on account of abuse of the drug. Many countries have devised stringent measures in attempts to control its use and distribution. However, it has medicinal benefit too.

Classified as Schedule III drugs in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act (U.S. Department of Justice-DEA, 1997), anabolic androgenic steroid is prescribed for treating anemia, osteoporosis, growth stimulation, gonad dysfunction, gynecological disorders, and chronic wasting conditions like cancer and AIDS, among others.

Steroid profiles

Anabolic steroids are defined as being synthetic derivatives of testosterone. This information precedes any explanation of these drugs.

Synthetic means artificial or man made. This infers that man has created a complex substance from a simpler substance by chemical reactions or synthesis.

Most anabolic steroids are made from Mexican Sarsaparilla root. This natural plant is chemically altered and synthesized to form the active anabolic steroid ingredients. This is not to infer that the Mexican Sarsaparilla root is an anabolic substance on its own.

It is virtually inert when ingested before this synthesis has been applied. It would be almost like assuming that since wine is made of grapes, one could be intoxicated by ingesting grapes.

Testosterone & anabolic steroids

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men. It is produced primarily by the testes and controls a great number of metabolic functions. It is an androgen which stimulates growth in tissues in which it acts, one of them being muscle.

Testosterone has anabolic and androgenic effects.

The anabolic effects are isolated to be the ones which affect muscle tissue directly.

The androgenic effects are primarily responsible for secondary sexual characteristics in men: facial hair, deepening of the voice, sex organ development and erection, as well as aggression.

The term anabolic instead of androgenic steroid implies that some effort has been made to alter the testosterone molecular structure so that the drug exerts more of an anabolic effect than an androgenic effect.

If we want a simplified interpretation of the original definition “anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of testosterone.” we might do so by saying this: “anabolic steroids are man made copies of a male hormone. The hormone which makes boys men, and which makes muscle tissue grow.”

Legal Anabolic Steroids

Legal anabolic steroids are usually those that qualify for use by people suffering from certain ailments only upon doctor’s advice. Even as there is an element of controversy around their usage – and for good reason – medical practitioners and physicians do prescribe legal anabolic steroids to help patients tide over health problems. Whether or not the doctor feels necessary to suggest it, the fact remains that in US and many other countries, anabolic drugs are not available without doctor’s prescription.

What are the illnesses that may call for treatment with anabolic steroids? This varies from person to person and of course depends on how the consulting doctor views the situation. However for certain illnesses, anabolic steroids are suggested more often than not.

Briefly they are as under:

  • For treating some typical cases of anemia, and also to mitigate discomfort in certain types of breast cancer among women.
  • To help patient gain weight after he/she has suffered a severe illness, injury, or continuing infection. They may also be prescribed if for reasons not clear, patients do not gain or maintain normal weight.
  • In cases of hereditary angioedema, that causes swelling of face, arms, legs, throat, windpipe, bowels, or sexual organs, suitable steroids may be suggested by doctors.

In US and Canada, legal anabolic steroids are prescribed in following dosage forms:

  • Oxandrolone – oral tablets in US
  • Oxymetholone – oral tablets in US and Canada
  • Stanozolol – oral tablets in US
  • Nandrolone decanoate and phenpropionate – parenteral injection in US and Canada

As a patient about to be prescribed legal anabolic steroids, following information about your general health need to be brought to the doctor’s notice:

  • If you are allergic to anabolic or androgenic drug, or to any other substance like food, preservative, etc.
  • If you are pregnant, for during pregnancy anabolic drugs are never suggested. If you are breast-feeding, tell that to doctor.
  • If you have other medical problems, like diabetes, enlarged prostrate, cardiac trouble, blood pressure, etc.

Anabolic Steroids Use

In quite a few illnesses, medical practitioners prescribe anabolic steroids. Use of it is however suggested with caution since the drug is known to show harmful side effects. Ironically, anabolic steroids are used more for non-medical reasons than otherwise, and this has been so ever since its utility for performance enhancement has become widely known among athletes and body-builders. Glossing over what prompts people resorting to anabolic steroids’ use – or is it misuse – here are some main reasons:

  1. Professional athletes in their attempts to over-perform use anabolic steroids. One remembers Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson winning the 1988 Olympic 100-meter dash in Seoul to make a new world record, but later stripped of the title when tests revealed that he partook banned steroid, stanozolol.
  2. Men suffering from behavioral syndromes, believing they look small and insignificant even though they are muscular, use anabolic steroids. Similarly, women with this problem take the drug as they tend to think they are flabby, though in actual they are quite lean and muscular.
  3. It is seen that people who have suffered physical or sexual abuse in the past often take recourse to the drug with the belief that it will make them look stronger and abler thus discouraging any future attacks.
  4. Adolescent youth get a kick out of doing risky things, like driving fast, drinking atrociously and suchlike. They are easily attracted to anabolic steroids’ use.

Are anabolic steroids not used for medicinal purpose? But yes they are. Some examples are:

  1. Helping patients gain weight after a severe illness, injury, or continuing infection. They may also be administered when patients do not gain or maintain normal weight because of unexplained medical reasons.
  2. Treating certain types of anemia and also some kinds of breast cancer in women.
  3. Treating hereditary angioedema that causes swelling of face, arms, legs, throat, windpipe, bowels, or sexual organs.

Anabolic Steroids in Sport & Exercise

In most cases, people use anabolic steroids in sports and exercise. Sportspersons, including athletes, bodybuilders, footballers and others, who put a lot of stake in improved performance on the field, resort to frequent usage of the drug. The same goes for those who wish to build muscles and cut down on body fat, thereby presenting themselves with well-toned physique.

Researchers have found that there is a growing tendency among youth to abuse anabolic steroids. In sport and exercise the phenomenon is known to be happening for quite awhile. But there are cases where apparently well-built persons too use the drug, believing that without it they will look small and insignificant. In medical parlance, it is called muscle dysmorphia, which surprisingly is prevalent in both men and female, though to a lesser degree in latter’s case.

Even as anabolic steroids are known to cause less to grievous harm to health over short to long term of usage, what is equally true is that there are many myths surrounding its supposed ill-effect. One such is that anabolic steroids cause shrinking in penis and testicles. While that is true in short term, over long term the size returns to normalcy soon after exogenous androgen administration is halted. This is one reason why boys at tender age are never suggested to use the drug, for in their case the effect can be quite damaging.

Be that as it may, the fact that the drug can boost muscle size and ability to perform well in exerting games would mean that the use of anabolic steroids in sports and exercise is not going to go away forever. To that extent, the role of agencies to control the abuse of the substances is important.

And indeed that is the reason why the US Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 has been enacted to ban selling and using anabolic steroid and pro-hormone without relevant medical prescription. To what extent the new act is able to check the abuse of anabolic steroids in sport and exercise, while not unnecessarily preventing genuine medical reasons, remains to be seen.

Anabolic Steroid Suppliers

Type in the phrase ‘anabolic steroid supplier’ in your favorite search engine, you are likely to be inundated with hundreds of thousand search results. This may perhaps give the impression that the drug is easily available off the shelf. Nothing however is further from the reality.

The US Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 clearly prohibits sale and possession of anabolic drugs except in circumstances where a registered doctor has specifically prescribed its need. At the same time, the law holds no ambiguity in so far as getting it from anabolic steroid supplier abroad.

It is amply understandable keeping the provisions of the law in mind that if any attempt is made to ship in anabolic steroid from sources in other countries to anyone other than an importer who is registered by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), such a transaction is treated as committing a felony. With that in perspective, it can be said that suggestions like one can have it from anabolic steroid supplier abroad have no basis whatsoever.

Contrary to what one may believe, anabolic steroids are results of sophisticated pharmaceutical processes. They can be made only by large pharmaceutical companies, which are either legitimate producers, or else, underground laboratories with large overheads.

In cases where the production is illegal, there are often chances that the drug quality, not having to conform to any standard, is questionable or perhaps dangerous. Then again, many anabolic steroids still in wide use are basically for veterinary purposes. Which means that possibly illegal anabolic steroids are actually veterinary grade.

In the 90s many US companies such as Ciba, Searle and Syntex have stopped making the drug, possibly because of increased public questioning due to its widespread abuse. However, in many other countries, notably those in Eastern Europe, anabolic steroids are produced in large quantity.

One suspects that drugs produced in east European countries find their ways in US, albeit mostly illegally. With the stake against it so high, isn’t it wise for the sake of health not to trust just another anabolic steroid supplier?

Buying Anabolic Steroids

Is it legal to buy anabolic steroids from online pharmacies or elsewhere? In the United States and many other countries, purchase and/or possession of anabolic steroids are not permitted in absence of valid medical prescription. The prohibition is on account of widespread abuse of the drug mainly among sportspersons, and also among the youth who feel they need it to increase their muscle size or to reduce their body fat.

Medical experts feel people who buy anabolic steroids without the backing of doctors’ prescription usually do so because they suffer from behavioral syndromes, such as muscle dysmorphia.

Little do they realize that unnecessary use of the drug may in the long run cause more harm to health than good. Which is why in 2004 the Anabolic Steroid Control Act has come into effect in US, which holds that possession of banned drug without valid medical prescription is a federal crime.

That does not mean it is wrong to buy anabolic steroids. For quite a few ailments, medical practitioners may suggest taking the drug like any other healing medicine, though because of its harmful side effects, it will be rare that the drug is suggested. Usually, in case of following sufferings, doctors prescribe anabolic steroids:

  1. Catabolic states such as chronic infections, extensive surgery, burns, or severe trauma.
  2. Anemia associated with renal insufficiency, sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia, and bone marrow failure.
  3. Angioedema.
  4. Growth failure, including short stature associated with Turner’s syndrome.

In addition to above, or rather more commonly, anabolic steroids are prescribed for treatment of chronic wasting conditions including cancer and AIDS.

On the flip side, danger of using anabolic drugs without medical supervision is just too obvious to ignore. There are many reports of its harmful side effects, which include increase in blood pressure and cholesterol, hepatotoxicity, and alterations in left ventricle morphology.

In view of above, it is important that there ought to be sufficient caution before one decides to buy anabolic steroids. It is also necessary to consider expert medical advice.

Anabolic Steroids Online

Doubts as to whether buying anabolic steroids online is a valid proposition remain in many minds. There are reasons for that. Even as the US government has made it illegal to possess and sale anabolic drugs and pro-hormones without valid prescription from medical practitioners, in many countries – except UK, Canada and handful of others – there is no such law.

Which has meant that an average Internet user in US, having no recourse to otherwise buy the drug based on doctor’s suggestion, is tempted to purchase anabolic steroids online from other sources. In the eye of law, such actions too are held illegal, because in its opinion, there has to be a doctor patient relationship that suitably justifies doctor’s prescribing the drug, which is based on his assessment of patient condition.

Since research works have shown that uncontrolled use of anabolic steroids can cause serious impairment to one’s overall health, the crusaders against their use have taken it upon themselves to do whatever they can in order to stop their unauthorized usage. Mark the word, unauthorized.

The point is their campaign has taken the matter to such an extent that the separating line between authorized and unauthorized use of anabolic steroids is nearly obliterated. Today, anabolic steroid is looked at with suspicion in mind as if it is in same class as heroin or cocaine. This has resulted in doctors’ avoidance in prescribing the drug in almost all cases, save in extreme emergencies.

With such a tough going, it is advisable not to try anabolic steroids and pro-hormones at all unless doctor’s prescription is ready at hand that can stand the most trying scrutiny. Anything less is just not conducive to go for the drug.

Does that mean it is illegal to buy anabolic steroids online? Surely not if you have doctor’s prescription with you. In which case, you may as well buy the drug from a brick-and-mortar store nearby. Unless you have some pressing need to prefer buying anabolic steroids online.

History of Anabolic Steroids

Surprising it may seem, but tracing the history of anabolic steroid will reveal that there was prevalence of its use among professional athletes in ancient Greece. In those times, athletes used natural steroidal substances in order to enhance androgenic and anabolic growth in the body.

As the history of anabolic steroid unfolds, one would find that in early 1930s, German scientists discovered the drug in modern pharmaceutical form – albeit accidentally. There was however no immediate interest to pursue research into the drug’s utility.

After a hiatus of nearly 2 decades, the first serious scientific attention to anabolic steroid came upon in 1950s when methandrostenolone or Dianabol was approved by the FDA for use in US in 1958 after it was known to have had promising trials in other countries.

In spite of sporadic trial and use of anabolic steroid from 60s through 80s, doubts remained as to whether it had any real effect. In 1972 a study was done whereby no big difference could be noticed between those who received anabolic steroid injection and those who were given placebo.

Later in 1996, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decided to examine the effect of the drug by injecting testosterone enanthate in high doses intramuscularly at the rate of 600 mg/week for 10 weeks. The results gave clear indication of increase in muscle mass and decrease in fat mass among those who took the test as against those who took placebo injections.

Meanwhile, the US Congress approved the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, and accordingly the anabolic steroids are placed into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

It is not known how the history of anabolic steroid will trace its route in future. For now, as recently as on January 20, 2005, the CSA has been further amended to make way for Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, vide which both anabolic steroids and prohormones are now controlled substances.