The topic of legal steroids is perhaps one of the more popular topics of recent years, and has grown in popularity among the last 20 years or so. When discussing legal steroids, this primarily refers to what steroids (if any), steroidal compounds, or steroid-like supplements and steroid alternatives might exist for legal sale and legal use within countries whereby anabolic steroids themselves are deemed illegal to buy, sell, or even use. The fact is that the majority of nations in the world hold either no laws or very lax laws where anabolic steroids are concerned. The notion that anabolic steroids are illegal for buying, selling, and even personal possession and use (the all-encompassing term for such legislation is regarded as anabolic steroid prohibition) is almost exclusively an American concept. Even the vast majority of nations that have prohibited the trafficking (buying or selling) of anabolic steroids have not imposed laws on the actual personal possession or use of anabolic steroids. Canada and the United Kindom (England) are two such examples of nations that have permitted the legal personal use and possession of anabolic steroids. The complete prohibition of anabolic steroids in all aspects is, for all intents and purposes, an American sentiment.
It is quite easily and explicitly obvious to the reader, as well as the majority of individuals who might not even be remotely involved in the anabolic steroid culture, to realize why individuals might seek what are otherwise known as legal steroids, or legal steroid alternatives. Even within nations in which personal possession and use of anabolic steroids are legal (such as, once again, Canada and the UK), many individuals might elect to seek such legal steroid or legal steroid alternative type products. There are many reasons for a decision of this type, and could include the fear or avoidance of any legal matters associated with anabolic steroid use, they could include the issue of health risks associated with anabolic steroid use that the individual might not want to dabble in, or perhaps other more personal reasons for the individual. Regardless of the sole reasons, there seems to be an increasing demand and popularity for legal steroids and legal steroid alternatives in recent years. It is quite obvious that following the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 in the United States – when anabolic steroids were finally scheduled substances in 1991 – it served as a changing factor for the demand for anything that might resemble legal steroids. Not only did the legislation of anabolic steroids only increase the demand for actual anabolic steroids themselves, but it now opened up a big lucrative empty spot on the legal supplement market for the sale and demand for legal steroids and/or legal steroid alternatives.
Indeed there have even been many instances in the past whereby actual anabolic steroids were legally sold on supplement store shelves through careful manipulation of the chemistry of the substance in order to circumvent the previously established anabolic steroid laws of many years prior. These are what would be known as designer steroids. Many cases involved no tampering with the chemical structure of an anabolic steroid at all, and instead involved the discovery and release of previously unknown anabolic steroids onto the market would have been an easy enough method to circumvent the legislation. Other methods whereby legal steroids had reached the store shelves of the open market included the discovery or development of precursor hormones, known as prohormones, which hold no hormonal activity on their own except when introduced into the body. The specific mechanism by which these operate will be explained in further detail later in this article, but these are another such method in the past whereby substances with the strength and effects of actual anabolic steroids were legally sold. Finally, there also exist legal steroid alternatives which come in many different forms with a proprietary blend of a myriad of different legal ingredients, and the end product is often marketed with a similar name to an actual anabolic steroid.
The Concern for Legality and the Law
Perhaps the number one prime and most popular reason for seeking out legal steroids or legal steroid alternatives is the wish to avoid altercations with the law, and avoid the potential penalties of anabolic steroid use in countries in which it is clearly illegal to do so. Although evidence has shown time and time again that prohibition of a substance does not curb the demand for the illicit substance (and in fact increases the demand and trade for it), there are always a large amount of individuals that will elect to follow the guidelines of the law no matter how corrupt, unjustified, or morally incorrect a particular law might be. Such is the case with individuals who wish to avoid the use of real anabolic steroids, which in some countries such as the United States, has deemed even the personal possession and use of anabolic steroids illegal with the imposition of very harsh penalties.
For example, in the United States, anabolic steroids are classified as a Schedule III drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), originally legislated by the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 and in 1991 scheduled under the CSA as a Schedule III drug whereby possession and use of anabolic steroids are be considered a criminal offense. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 defines anabolic steroids as “as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than Estrogens, Progestins, and Corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth”. Trafficking, importation, and the purchase of any anabolic steroid are treated as criminal acts. Possession of anabolic steroids carry penalties of at least 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine for an individual’s first offense under federal law. Trafficking under federal law carries a five year prison sentence and a $250,000 minimum fine if it is a first-offense. Second offenses double the aforementioned penalties. Aside from federal law, individual states have also imposed additional varying state laws in regards to the illegal use and/or trafficking of anabolic steroids.
Any individual can easily see that these penalties are extremely harsh, perhaps even described as draconian when compared with the laws in the majority of other countries in the world where anabolic steroids are concerned. Therefore it would be quite understandable to consider any possible legal alternatives to anabolic steroid use.
The Concern of Health and Safety of Legal Steroids
It has been previously mentioned that one such major reason as to why many individuals will elect to avoid real anabolic steroids and instead seek out legal steroids or legal steroid alternatives is due to the personal concern for their health and safety. Although this reason is far less prominent or popular than the reason of avoiding altercations with the law and legality, it is still a very valid reason among many for electing to find an alternative route. Anabolic steroids, when utilized properly and responsibly present very little health risks, but nevertheless there are still various risks that any individual making the conscious decision to use anabolic steroids must inherently accept. The majority of inconvenient side effects associated with anabolic steroid use are those of mostly short-term inconveniences. These include the possible risk of increased acne, possible heightened blood pressure, temporary negative changes in cholesterol levels, and the suppression of natural endogenous Testosterone production among a few others. These side effects can for the most part be eliminated through education of proper use and the use of ancillary compounds in order to mitigate these effects.
There are also possible long-term issues that can possibly result from anabolic steroid use, with one of the more prominent ones being the possible permanent condition of hypogonadism (insufficient androgen production) resultant from anabolic steroid use. Although such a result becomes very minimal when all of the appropriate precautions are taken, the risks are always present. However, it is very understandable that many individuals would decide against engaging in such an endeavor either because all of the preliminary considerations as to how to use anabolic steroids and the different methods of mitigating side effects with ancillary drugs might seem too confusing or too much for the individual to handle, or perhaps the individual just does not wish to partake in any potential risks no matter how distant those risks might be. Anabolic steroids are not for everyone. Driving cars is not for everyone, as individuals might elect to avoid all of the inherent risks associated with driving motor vehicles – the concepts are essentially the same and can be applied to any activity, drug, substance, or food. Every single thing an individual decides to engage in will always carry with it a risk:benefit ratio.
The use of legal steroids or legal steroid alternatives might possibly carry a lower risk:benefit ratio than the use of real anabolic steroids would. But it must be clearly understood that just because a substance is legally and openly sold on supplement store shelves, does not mean by any account that it is safe to use as evidenced by history. This will be explained shortly in this article, whereby many supplements released onto supplement store shelves and sold openly and legally have presented the same hazards, or worse, than anabolic steroids themselves. Each item should always be examined and researched carefully and closely by the individual in question who is deciding to purchase and consume whichever product in question. Often times ‘legal steroids’ refer to prohormones or designer steroids, all of which exhibit the same effects as actual anabolic steroids but might also often present even worse risks and side effects. Legal steroid alternatives are, for the most part, supplements that contain blends of various herbs, vitamins, and other common nutritional products that are branded as anabolic steroid alternatives.
Designer Steroids and Prohormones
The first items to be examined will be the two most prominent and well-known items, which have in the past been considered as legal steroids, but eventually were added to the controlled substances list under the updated anabolic steroid control act of 2004. Although the prohormones and designer steroids of the time were added to the controlled substances list, the nature by which prohormones and designer steroids are created still presents a small gap in terms of slipping through the legislation and legality surrounding the prohibition of anabolic steroids. However, because of the amendments to the anabolic steroid control act in 2004, it has become increasingly difficult to circumvent this legislation as it once was in the past prior to the amendments.
The manner by which these compounds circumvent the laws and legislation of anabolic steroids is due in part to the actual legislations themselves and the gaps therein, and due in part to the chemical structure of the substances, how they were derived, and their biological operation within the human body.
The first category of compounds to be examined will be prohormones. Prohormones, as previously mentioned, hold no hormonal activity on their own except when introduced into the body. These are known officially as anabolic steroid precursors which exhibit no biological activity themselves. Once ingested or administered via any other method into the human body, they enter the liver through the first pass (any food or substance ingested through the mouth that enters the GI tract must always make a first pass through the liver). Once in the liver, the cells and enzymes within the liver will through a complex series of biochemical reactions and intermediate steps convert the prohormones into fully active anabolic steroid hormones that will now be available within the bloodstream to circulate the human body and exhibit its effects. It is through this particular process that allows prohormones to effectively skirt around the anabolic steroid legislations, because in reality, prohormones are not active anabolic steroids themselves until consumed.
The very first prohormones to become introduced to the supplement market were Androstenedione and 1-androstenediol (1-AD), which also happen to be more or less the most popular prohormones. 1-androstenediol in particular was the prohormone that was claimed to have been spotted in the locker of famous baseball player Mark McGwire, which is the moment many allude to that sparked the sudden media interest and attacks on prohormones, eventually leading up to the anabolic steroid control act of 2004. 1- androstenediol in particular will convert into the anabolic steroid 1-testosterone in the liver when ingested. Specifically, 1-testosterone is actually a different name for the anabolic steroid Dihydroboldenone, which is a metabolite of the popular anabolic steroid Boldenone (Equipoise). Androstenedione, which is actually an isomer of 4-androstenedione, converts into the anabolic steroid Testosterone by the liver after ingestion.
Aside from these two prohormones, there existed many others that were all eventually legislated and added to the list controlled substances. This is an all-inclusive list of the prohormones that were eventually banned and criminalized at the time:
– Androstanediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane and 3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane)
– Androstanedione (5α-androstan-3,17-dione)
– 1-Androstenediol (3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androst-1-ene)
– 4-Androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-androst-4-ene)
– 5-Androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-androst-5-ene)
– 1-Androstenedione (5α-androst-1-en-3,17-dione)
– 4-Androstenedione (androst-4-en-3,17-dione)
– 5-Androstenedione (androst-5-en-3,17-dione)
– Norandrostenediol (19-nor-4-androstenediol or 3β,17β-dihydroxyestr-4-ene)
– 19-Nor-4-androstenediol (3α,17β-dihydroxyestr-4-ene)
– 19-Nor-5-androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxyestr-5-ene and 3α,17β-dihydroxyestr-5-ene)
– Norandrostenedione (19-nor-4-androstenedione or estr-4-en-3,17-dione)
– 19-Nor-5-androstenedione (estr-5-en-3,17-dione)
– Any salt, ester, or ether of a drug or substance listed above
In 2004, the 10th congress added all of the above prohromones to the list of controlled substances under the anabolic steroid control act of 2004 and even changed the definition of what constitutes an anabolic steroid to the following: “The term ‘anabolic steroid’ means any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, corticosteroids and dehydroepiandrosterone).”
As one can see, the alteration of the definition now generates an even more difficult environment for any legal steroid or steroidal compounds to be able to circumvent the legislation and be sold openly and legally.
Designer steroids are simply actual anabolic steroid analogues and derivatives that are either newly created, and therefore not listed on any banned substances lists, or they are anabolic steroids that were at one point synthesized and created many years ago by pharmaceutical corporations that never ended up leaving the research and development phase. Instead, these anabolic steroids were filed away in a library of records never to be seen again until the re-introduction of them onto the supplement market 30, 40, even 50 years later after their inception. Eventually, many designer steroids landed the same fate that prohormones eventually did, subsequently added to the list of controlled substances and resulting in the amendments to the definition of what constitutes an anabolic steroid analogue/derivative.
It is important for the reader to understand that prohormones and designer steroids are for the most part worse in terms of their detrimental effects on the body than actual anabolic steroids are, even though they might be legal (or at one point in the past were legal). This is because, first of all in the case of prohormones, there is no possible manner by which one can predict what the prohormone ingested will convert into within the body by the liver. An ingested prohormone can and will often convert into other undesirable hormones other than the target prohormone, leaving very little percentage of the converted metabolite as the end hormone manufactured by the liver. For example, 4-androstenedione converts into Testosterone, but research has demonstrated that only approximately 5% of it is converted into Testosterone, with the rest of the amount holding a very high conversion rate into Estrogens.
In the case of designer steroids, many of these anabolic steroid analogues that were developed during the 1950s and 1960s by pharmaceutical companies that never progressed beyond the R&D phase did not progress beyond this phase for a reason. There are many different reasons for this, but some of the most prominent reasons for such a halt in development and marketing was due to either the fact that the hormone was very ineffective to the point where it was useless, or more commonly, the hormone exhibited extremely powerful anabolic effects at the expense of very deleterious effects on the human body when administered. For example, Methyltrienolone and Dimethyltrienolone are both methylated variants of Tren (made to be orally active), which are designer steroids that never originally left R&D of the pharmaceutical companies that created them over 40 years ago because they exhibited extremely high levels of hepatotoxicity despite the fact that these designer steroids are thousands upon thousands of times the strength of Testosterone.
Legal Steroid Alternatives
Perhaps one of the more popular choices among the legal steroid categories, legal steroid alternatives are over the counter supplements that may or may not contain hormonal ingredients that are deemed to be almost effective as anabolic steroids, or at least attempt to be. The fact is that the supplement industry is a highly unregulated industry, and while there might exist a plethora of products on the supplement store shelves that do not provide the benefits and strength gains that they allude or advertise to, there are in fact various supplements that indeed provide an edge in performance and physique enhancement a little bit closer to that of actual anabolic steroids than most other supplements.
The majority of these supplements consist of blends of various ingredients, most of them naturally occurring, that when combined, will complement one another and work synergistically within the body to enhance muscle growth and/or fat loss. The interesting irony here in calling these supplements ‘natural’ in the sense that anabolic steroids are commonly claimed as ‘not natural’ is that this is simply an urban legend – a gross misconception. ‘Anabolic steroids’ is a term that refers to a category of organic compounds that are indeed very natural – just as natural as vitamins, minerals, and other compounds our bodies already manufacture and use. Anabolic steroids are hormones that the human body already manufactures, and the supplementation of anabolic steroids is merely the act of supplementing or adding more hormones into the body that the body already manufactures so as to maximize the levels of these natural hormones.
Legal steroids alternatives attempt to maximize the levels of these natural hormones, such as Testosterone, Nandrolone, or Dihydrotestosterone without the direct addition or supplementation of an exogenous source of them – they serve to simply attempt to maximize the amounts that the human body can produce on its own, in an attempt to achieve the same end result as full exogenous anabolic steroid use: the maximization of levels of hormones in the body that are essential to the mediation of muscle growth, endurance, and body composition. There exist far too many of these different products of proprietary blends to list here, but many of them are purported to be very effective, though of course nothing will be as effective as the amount of hormonal maximization that pure exogenous administration of hormones will provide. For those who wish to opt for the safer route without having to resort to the often complex mechanisms of how to properly and safely utilize exogenous anabolic steroids, these legal steroid alternatives would be a perfectly suitable replacement or alternative.
The majority of these products will normally contain a precise blend of herbs that are known to maximize the body’s output of Testosterone, alongside various amino acids and other nutrients, and might even include various legal hormones such as DHEA (Dehydropiandrosterone – a legal steroid hormone that also acts as a precursor) and even legal aromatase inhibitors in order to maximize the effects of low Estrogen on the body, which will result in an increased output of Testosterone from the testes via the negative feedback loop.
Buying Anabolic Steroids Legally
Finally, for those curious about such a subject as to whether or not it is possible to buy actual anabolic steroids legally in countries such as the United States where it has been deemed illegal to possess or use – the answer is yes, under certain conditions. It is very evident that it must first of all be done under a doctor’s prescription. The benefit of buying anabolic steroids legally is that the individual is guaranteed to receive pharmaceutical grade product directly from the pharmacy, as opposed to underground lab product of questionable quality purchased through the black market. Although pharmaceutical grade products can also be purchased from the black market, the risk of fake counterfeit products is extremely high.
Unfortunately, there are only specific conditions under which an individual will be able to obtain prescriptions from either a doctor or an HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and wellness clinic. Although some of these conditions and requirements are slightly open to interpretation, they include:
– Full blood testing to determine any androgen-deficiency conditions that might warrant the use of exogenous anabolic steroids (i.e. hypogonadism or andropause)
– Symptoms reported to be indicative of andropause
– A medical requirement for the use of anabolic steroids under any other types of medical indications (diseases such as AIDS or any other muscle wasting diseases, anemia, burn and wound healing, etc.)
– Other off-label but flexible medical conditions that would require the use of anabolic steroids for healing and repair, such as tendon or joint injuries
Following the obtaining of a prescription from either a doctor or an HRT and wellness clinic, one must understand that there exists only several approved and legal anabolic steroids for medical treatment. The majority of anabolic steroids in use illicitly for the purpose of performance and physique enhancement are in fact not utilized in medicine (or seldom utilized) for various reasons. In any case, the most common anabolic steroids legally prescribed within medicine are the following:
There are several other anabolic steroids that are also utilized within medicine for prescription use, but they are less likely to be prescribed due to the fact that they are indicated for more specific treatments. When one elects to obtain anabolic steroids legally through prescription, there are many different forms of administration available for ease of administration to individuals who might find that utilizing a needle and syringe is inconvenient. But the most common forms of consumption/administration are:
Injection: This is the most traditional and most effective method of administration, and although it might be inconvenient or intimidating to most individuals, it is easily overcome to the point where many will wonder “what the big deal was” after having injected themselves (or have had the doctor do it) a handful of times. Injection is the most bioavailable method that ensures the majority of the compound is administered properly and efficiently, and without harm to any of the body’s subsystems.
Transdermal creams, gels, and patches: Gaining popularity in recent years, these are creams, gels, and patches that contain a certain amount of the anabolic steroid which is absorbed topically through the skin where applied. The compound then enters the body dermally (through the skin) and enters the bloodstream through this pathway. This is a more convenient method of application, but does present some issues, such as the need to allow the gel/cream to dry and absorb before washing the area or coming into physical contact with anyone else, lest the cream/gel is transferred from person to person. The other issue is one of absorbtion, which is of course not as efficient as injections.
Oral: Oral anabolic steroids are perhaps the most convenient but present the largest issue, as the majority of oral anabolic steroids must undergo a chemical modification in order to allow them to be abosorbed and made bioavailable through ingestion. This is known as methylation of the 17th carbon on the steroid structure, also known as 17-alpha alkylation. Without this modification, extremely miniscule amounts of anabolic steroids are absorbed due to the fact that the liver will readily metabolize and break down the hormone, leaving almost no active hormone to enter the bloodstream. The modification at the 17th carbon allows the hormone to become resistant to metabolism in the liver, but unfortunately because of this, presents a measure of liver toxicity. Although this does not present any large issues, it does place strict limitations on how long an oral anabolic steroid can be utilized before having to cease administration to give the liver time off the drug, and it does alter the body’s cholesterol levels negatively to a far greater degree than any other method of administration.