Saturday, July 28, 2012

SPECIAL: The Impact of Prohormones on Your Health

Do prohormones really work?

We can spend days, months, and years trying to find the latest and greatest form of protein.  You've heard them all; whey, casein, soy, cold filtered, cross-flow micro filtered, hydrolysates, protein peptides, nano filtration, super duper super protein!  The list goes on!  Still at the end of the day when gains are what you want, you turn to prohormones and designer steroids.  They are by far and away the most effective legal tool a bodybuilder and physique enthusiast can consume.  A 2009 published research paper (1) on anabolic steroid use had the following to say (prohormones and designer steroids are simply pre-cursors to AAS):

"Controversy raged for decades over the effectiveness of AAS in promoting muscle mass and strength. Despite the admitted illicit use of AAS by athletes, the record breaking in Olympic events, and the obvious appearance in musculature enhancement, the medical and research community disputed and denied the AAS effects [3,4].  After a considerable period of scientific controversy, it is now clear that anabolic-androgenic steroid hormones are effective in increasing both muscle mass and strength [5]."

Think about the last time you were tossing around weights in the gym and a prototypical gym rat asked you "what are you on?"  Sound familiar?  Chances are you were actually on a prohormone cycle.  Doesn't sound familiar?  Well chances are you have yet to experience the unreal results you can get from prohormones.  Which is why we exist...we love prohormones!

What are the negatives of prohormone use?

^No pun intended.  We have said enough about the awesome potential of prohormones and designer steroids.  And maybe you have not jumped in the prohormone pool of fun simply because you fear the potential negatives, which pre-dominantly occur after your cycle.  The giant hurdle that comes after your prohormone cycle is know as Post Cycle Therapy (PCT).  On cycle, the additional hormones essentially trigger what is known as the negative feedback loop (more on this later).

How does your body produce natural testosterone?

Off cycle your body produces gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus, which tells the pituitary to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH).  LH then tells your testicles to spit out some testosterone into your bloodstream.  This would all be fine and dandy if your body continued to do this non-stop, but the hypothalamic-pituitary axis essentially monitors free testosterone in your body.  If it feels it's getting too high, it shuts off the source (LH), which in turn decreases the testicles output of testosterone.  Sperm is produced in a similar manner but through the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).  This is how your body determines your natural testosterone levels.

What happens to natural testosterone during a prohormone cycle?


During a prohormone cycle your body recognizes the increased testosterone levels (or a similar effect) from your prohormones and designer steroids.  So it becomes reactive quite quickly depending on the compound.  The increased levels then "shut down" or more accurately "suppress" the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, which significantly decreases your body's natural testosterone levels.  Unfortunately even after you stop the cycle your body doesn't easily go back to producing high levels of natural testosterone.  The suppression that follows your cycle can vary by individual as well as severity and duration.  In fact one study measured testosterone levels in men from 12 to 43 months after steroid cycles and found that 13 of 15 were in the lower reference ranges for testosterone levels, and 2 of 15 were below the normal range (2)!  

What happens to your gains Post Cycle?

A 2004 USC study attempted to determine how quickly we lose the strength and muscle gains from a cycle (3).  They gave men 20mg's per day of a popular illegal oral steroid known as anavar (which by today's standards is considered a low dose).  Over 12 weeks the men gained ~6.6 lbs of lean body mass.  They then stopped the cycle, waited 12 weeks, and measured lean body mass again.  They found that the men had lost all of their lean body mass gains!  They also gained about 8-10% in strength on cycle (based on leg press, chest press, leg extension, and lat pulldowns).  By the end of the 12 weeks off cycle they had lost all the strength gains.  Later research states this was due to anabolic steroid-induced hypogonadism or low testosterone as a result of the negative feedback loop (1).  

What happens to your liver on cycle?

There are many different pro hormones and designer steroids, but one thing is for certain, they negatively impact the function of your liver.  In fact one man who abused pro hormones (this is why you should cycle them) was checked into the emergency room after reporting acute weakness, fatigue, fever, chills, and high blood press (4).  He literally had trouble walking up his stairs.  They found his liver enzymes AST and ASL (markers of liver stress) were elevated nearly 34 times normal levels!  That may have been unassociated with his prohormone use, but they also found elevated levels of gamma glutamyl transferase, which is just another biomarker used to confirm the suspicion of liver stress and inflammation.  Now this is obviously an extreme case, and also a result of abuse, however even with responsible cycles your liver undergoes some level of stress.  Of which some are more susceptible than others.

How do prohormones effect blood pressure?

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise determined the effect of steroid use on blood pressure (5).  They compared a control group (no steroid use) of healthy young men vs. a group that had previously cycled steroids, and was currently using steroids.  To no surprise they found that blood pressure was elevated at all time points over 24 hours compared to the control group.  They also found it increased muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and reduced blood flow to the forearm.  MSNA is an independent predictor of heart failure, while reduced forearm blood flow is typically associated with a negative prognosis!  They concluded their research with the following statement:

"These findings suggest that AAS increases susceptibility to cardiovascular disease in humans."
What can I do to maintain my health and keep my prohormone gains?

One of the most important things you can do to return to "gainsville" after a prohormone cycle is plan a proper post cycle therapy.  This means reversing all those negative effects we previously discussed.  The first step is returning your natural testosterone to optimal levels.  An important legal supplement to assist with this process is known as d-aspartic acid.  D-aspartic acid has been shown to do the following in healthy men (6):

  • Increase LH output 33.3% on average
  • Increased Testosterone 42% on average
Increasing LH and Testosterone is step #1 in recovering from a prohormone cycle.  The faster you do this the faster you will be able to maintain your gains.  Natural testosterone suppression is also often associated with a weakened immune system (7).  The last thing you want to happen during PCT is getting sick, and being unable to train.  Thankfully the combination of Cystine and Theanine (two amino acids) have been shown to improve immune system function in men (8, 9).  A final defense towards low testosterone and immune system function is the use of an anti-estrogen.  The use of an anti-estrogen in a low testosterone male has previously been shown to increase both sperm density, testosterone, and of course lower estrogen (10).  Again the natural compound known as Androst-3,5-dien-7, 17-dione has shown that it's a powerful anti-estrogen both in research and in numerous real world users since it's introduction to the supplement market (11).  

Finally to further promote your immune system and muscle from the catabolic hormone cortisol, the use of an 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) inhibitor is critical.  7-Keto-DHEA and 7-OH-DHEA are both competitive inhibitors of 11β-HSD, and thus reduce cortisol.  This keeps you lean, and properly modulates thyroid function (See: ReBoot™ - 7-Keto-DHEA & 7-OH-DHEA).  All six (d-aspartic acid, cystine, theanine, Androst-3,5-dien-7, 17-dione, 7-Keto-DHEA, and 7-OH-DHEA) can be found in ForeRunner Labs ReBoot™.  Taking ReBoot™ after your prohormone cycle will help optimize your hormone levels and return them to their pre-prohormone levels, ensuring you are able to maintain your mass and strength as well as support your immune system.
Is ReBoot™ all I need for post cycle therapy (PCT)?

While ReBoot™ will help your body optimize it's hormone levels and immune system recovery, it does not address the issue of liver stress, or blood pressure previously described above.  For this we recommend Advanced Muscle Science's Super Cycle.  Super Cycle is a "support" supplement designed to return your health to normal as quickly as possible after a prohormone cycle.  Super Cycle contains N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) which is an amino acid bonded to a acetyl group.  NAC is actually used to treat non-acetaminophen liver failure.  The US Acute Liver Failure Study Group suggested it's use in people with acute liver failure from the use of medications or herbal products (12).  In fact the man we previously described with 34 times the normal level of liver enzymes was treated with NAC.  Super Cycle also contains milk thistle (80% extract) and zinc aspartate, which are both associated with improved liver health.
Super Cycle also contains hawthorne berry, which has been used to treat heart conditions since the 1800's.  For our purposes it is useful to restore blood pressure to normal levels, and improve other cardiovascular biomarkers.  A 2011 analysis assessed the outcomes of human clinical studies involving the use of hawthorne berry on chronic heart failure.  The review found that hawthorne berry improved maximal workload, exercise tolerance, weakness, fatigue, and frequency of heart palpitations (14).  Finally Super Cycle also contains 6 other ingredients designed to improve your health after a prohormone cycle.

Can prohormones be used safely?

The answer to this question is unequivocally YES!   By using prohormones in moderation, in responsible doses, and properly planning your recovery period you can safely use prohormones.











4 comments:

  1. Thanks What a great info you have given us by your blog. I like it and will share it to my friends.




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  2. Good advice. But injectables are still.a better way of doing it. That being said your body doesnt have to break them down. But no one should go to the injectables if you dont know were to get them or how to use them. But yes and steriod can be used safely with no abuse and proper cycle.

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