You know them by their unique special names like 1-AD, 4-AD and 19-Nor. But, what the heck are they and what do they do? What are the differences between pro-hormones and pro-steroids and do they all work and are they safe or dangerous?
In fact, what are each designed to do and do they do it at all? Do some of these agents truly convert into full on anabolic hormones once they reach the liver, or are they simply rendered ineffective by the liver?
Some manufacturers of the Pro-steroid 1-Testosterone claim it does not undergo any liver conversion or degradation, and it is said to be “up to 7X-more anabolic or stronger than testosterone” in it’s “as-is” state. If true, is this a problem for us in the dietary supplement world? Actually yes.
But, in the case of pro-hormones and pro-steroids, one needs to first define what a “dietary supplement” is.
It was around 1996, when androstenedione (“andro”) was introduced to the supplement industry commercially, having been rumored to be “a so-called East German miracle” (as a substitute anabolic steroid since way back in the late 70’s and 80’s).
Androstenedione has already naturally occurred in plants and animals as a metabolite of DHEA. It has been marketed as one or two uplink metabolite – a couple of enzymes from pure testosterone, even closer than DHEA.
In the body DHEA is made from cholesterol and is two steps away from testosterone and/or estrogen. Note that DHEA can go to either testosterone or estrogen depending upon what your body needs!
Andro’s purported natural anabolic activity has been based on a 30+ year old study. In the original, an intravenous dose of andro caused increased testosterone levels in a group of male subjects by over 300%.
But even then, back in 1996 members of the United States Judicial System were not making a big deal about andro because it wasn’t “a steroid”; again, being a naturally occurring substance and similar to DHEA, but one step closer to testosterone or estrogen.
But what happened when the so-called East German miracle came up in 1998, when a guy named Mark McGuire became a new homerun baseball king and breaking the long standing single season record of former New York Yankee Roger Marris? Well, when he was asked if he credited any supplement for his improved performance and recent gains in muscle mass, he gave credit to andro (it do not help when a nosy sports writer actually saw a bottle of andro inside his locker, which is really why it came up at all).
Now, all of a sudden the “media” became interested in pro-hormones and athletes were exclaiming their enhanced performance, to the extent they were breaking professional records, due to andro, when in reality, some were surely using more ‘potent’ substance… if you get my drift.
Boom! All of a sudden we have 4-androstenediol (4-AD, 4-androstene-3-beta 17-beta-diol) and claims are made that they are three times stronger than androstenedione with NO conversion to estrodiol or estrogen. Now there’s competition.
First, we were all introduced to a bigger and better 4-androstene pro-hormone and at the same time 19-nor-4-adrostenediol (19-Nor) hit the market. Its “makers” claimed that 19-Nor is non-estrogenic and converts to nandrolone (nortestosterone) in the liver. That’s nice, so now if one uses 19-Nor, you probably test positive 9 out of 10 times for the powerful real anabolic nandrolone, on an IOC steroid test yet may get only 1/20th the anabolic effect.
Now we have dietary supplements causing people to fail drug tests. To make things worse some organizations have purchased and tested non-pro-hormone supplements and found them spiked with pro-hormones and pro-hormone supplements were spiked with actual steroids! Ugh –contamination.
Now we have a secondary problem. With supplement companies competing for a piece of the multi-million dollar pro-hormone industry, media attention, and where competing manufactures strive to develop stronger pro-hormones, it was only a matter of time until the first pro-steroid was released.
This is 1-AD and it is not a pro-hormone, but is a pro-steroid and 1-AD debuted in 2000.
Because 1-AD (1-androstene-3 beta, 17beta-diol) converts to boldenone/1-testosterone in the liver, it has been marketed as a powerful anabolic with low androgenic and estrogenic side-effects.
In 2001, a competitor of the original 1-AD company began to synthetically manufacture a 1-Testosterone and promote it as a “steroid” that basically was able to slip through all the FDA cracks.
Well, we all knew this claim would quickly draw attention! Indeed, for the first time there appears to be some bad news in that 1-AD and 1-Testosterone (1-Test) can reduce libido. (That really isn’t all that much… so does a low fat diet or an anti-depressant medicine, but it also appears that if they are taken in high enough doses (400-mg to 900-mg daily for 3 or more weeks), they may cause some actual testicular shrinkage.
Look, even though pro-hormones and pro-steroids have not been associated with any serious illness or death (like ephedrine—God forbid) nonetheless, because they are marketed to convert into testosterone and steroids in the body, or to be “steroid-like” after ingestion, (and with some users stating they get steroid effects), this has led people to think these substances are just like steroids, and legal! Now we have a HUGE PROBLEM!
If there was a legal substance that produced effects on the human body “just like” cocaine or marijuana, common since would tell you that it’s just a matter of time until these loop-hole substances are classified and regulated with real-deal cocaine and marijuana.
A side note: THG, the now banned designer steroid is technically NOT a pro-steroid because it does not convert into a steroid. Instead, it’s technically an injectable steroid that no one knew about, and it couldn’t be tested for because it was an “underground drug”.
Once the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found out THG was being made and used, they could go back and test urine samples for that (THG) chemical structure and they acted VERY fast.
Now, pro-steroids differ because they are not underground, or are promoted as injected legal anabolic substances. THG was kept hush so that was like admitting something was “not fair” about using it.
As I write this, there are bills in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate structured to classify pro-hormones and pro-steroids as “controlled substances”. These bills will amend the Controlled Substances Act to include every substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (not estrogens, progestin, corticosteroids, and/or dehydroepiandrosterone-DHEA, but all else).
With the ephedrine scares, these agencies are stomping at the bit to satisfy the public that there are at least, some kinds of regulations on supplements. In fact, they are looking now at both pro-hormones and pro-steroids.
The problem is that pro-hormones started off with weak andro, again, which is naturally occurring and converts to testosterone or estrogen, (with most converting to estrogen), but the situation has evolved to where now, much stronger, “lean muscle mass increasing, potentially testicle-shrinking synthetic pro-steroids,” have hit the market.
So, with some slick marketing and some slick names these products (and, oh yeah, throw in some liposome delivery oil base), suddenly have substances that are basically “legal steroids.” A legal steroid is legal UNTIL it gets banned.
How long will it be before these supplements are no longer available?
Recently an aggressive California Attorney General argued that the California Schedule III list covers all possible forms of 17 beta-diol substances making possession of androstenediol a misdemeanor (which shows that education is no guarantee against the stupidity of an other useless statute).
If supplement companies would have left the development of pro-hormones at 4-AD where it was, nationwide legislation would not be pending. Instead, what started off as a clear dietary supplement and used by professional athletes and bodybuilders has now degraded into products being spiked, drugs tests failed, and a real damaged pro-hormone industry!
In fact, it is likely that class-action easy-money false lawsuits will start cropping up everywhere and pro-steroids and hormones will be made a scapegoat for every person’s genetic weakness or malady like ephedrine has been. Yes, in all these cases, the facts, not emotion clearly show that ephedrine at its worst, only agitated an underlying condition or weakness and NEVER actually caused any illness or death).
As we know, bottle label warnings do NOT suffice. DHEA has never been sold as testosterone boosting, “just like, but legal” steroid, and that’s probably why it will be exempt from the future (if any) pro-hormone or pro-steroid ban.
As long as supplement companies are marketing these substances to be equal to or better than a banned substance and I don’t care if it’s water, it’s just a matter of time until that substance or the marketing lingo is regulated or banned and we all suffer!
Now, I am saying, go ahead and feel free to use pro-steroids if you feel an effect, but as a consumer please also be careful to discern between a good pro-hormone and a pro-steroid or it may just push you into trouble!