Anabolic Steroids: From the beginning
There are several anabolic steroid derivatives that are available to us today. A wide range of benefits can be enjoyed with the help of these compounds. Muscle mass gain or bone development are not the only benefits that anabolic steroids help us achieve. They are commonly used by medical practitioners to promote critical Steroid Pills beneficial changes when they deal with patients that are suffering from debilitating deficiencies and / or injuries. Physicians may prescribe anabolic steroids to treat anemia, osteoporosis or to control breast cancer in women. Furthermore, these compounds are recommended for patients that are suffering from severe weight loss as a result of a serious illness.
Anabolic steroids are popular among athletes for several reasons. They enhance cellular tissue development, promote speed and endurance and they also speed up recovery. Because of these traits athletes are allowed to train harder and longer.
Research into anabolic steroid and the resultant discoveries transformed the way we live today, there is no doubt about it. But misleading information and a lack of proper understanding about these highly valuable compounds led people to the general opinion, that anabolic steroids are harmful and dangerous.
To appreciate the benefits of anabolic steroids, it is important to know why research went in this direction and the true potential of these compounds was discovered by scientists. We will take a look at their endeavours to learn more about the role of hormones and their efforts to create substitutes for them.
The What, Where and How of Androgens
Many people assume that steroids and testosterone are the same thing. Looking at the history of steroids, however, it becomes evident that researchers and scientists went through a lot to understand the key role of testosterone and other androgenic hormones. In the beginning, scientists who were working in the field of steroid research, were floundering in the dark when it comes to the role that is played by various androgenic hormones in the human body. The role of testosterone was not clearly known at that time.
For the understanding of how the anabolic steroid research story unfolded, it is necessary to learn more about androgens.
The Production of Androgens in the Human Body
Androgens are sex steroid hormones. A steroid is basically a four-ringed carbon atom core molecule, and when enzymes act on the cholesterol core, body produces pregnenolone, testosterone and other androgens. Androgens are created in the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands, but the last produce only a small amount of the total testosterone in our bodies.
Testosterone is the hormone that is most anabolic steroid, so let’s take a more detailed look at how it is produced. 95% of testosterone is created in the reproductive organs in this way:
- Hypothalamus (in the brain) detects the need for additional testosterone.
- Gonadotropin releasing hormone is secreted.
- Gonadotropin releasing hormone reaches pituitary gland.
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are produced.
- FSH and LH reach testicles.
- FSH initiates sperm production, LH stimulates the Leydig cells and encourages testosterone production using cholesterol as the building block.
Primary androgens that are produced in this way are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. In small amounts weaker androgens Androstenedione, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and 11-ketotestosterone are also produced in the human body.
The Function of Androgens
Androgens work by docking with cell receptors. The receptors are located in the liquid cytoplasm of the cells or on the cell’s membrane. The binding with the receptor results in different outcomes, based on where the cell receptor is placed.
After Testosterone is made, the hormone is sent into the blood stream. It attaches itself to albumin and SHBG. A small percentage remains free and it keeps circulating in the blood stream. This free testosterone is the purest form of the hormone. It then enters different cells and stimulates receptors that therefore produce the benefits like enhanced virility or muscle growth. When enough Testosterone is detected in the bloodstream by hypothalamus, signals are sent to the pituitary gland again, this time to cease producing this hormone.
The impact of androgen production is witnessed on the male sexual development as well as on female sexual behaviour. In adults, hormones influence muscle mass and bone development significantly. The lack of androgen production has various consequences. The most relevant are reduced bone mass, increased body fat, lethargy / fatigue, reduced muscle mass and depleted strength.
The Beginnings of Anabolic Steroid Research
Scientists created a synthetic form of the male hormone testosterone for the very first time in the 1930’s. Their goal was to treat men that were unable to produce adequate amounts of this hormone to support their normal body functions such as proper growth, sexual functioning and age proportionate development. However, research into the development of artificial forms of androgens was done in the 1800’s already. It laid the basis for later studies and research in this field as well as for developments of endocrinology. By the end of the century experimental androgen injections were successfully developed.
The synthesis of the testosterone structure brought the attention of the medical community to this field of research. At that time, the researchers and scientists were focusing their energies on the use of testosterone in a therapeutic manner. Testosterone and its synthetic versions were made popular as the ‘elixir of youth’ by many researchers the world over.
Synthetic testosterone was used during the World War II, where it was given to soldiers who suffered from malnourishment. It helped them gain body weight and perform better in the battlefield. Even at this early age the use of synthetic formulations to enhance body weight, performance and strength was not a new concept.
At this point another interesting fact was discovered by scientists. By tweaking their molecular structures, the estrogenic, androgenic and anabolic activity of these hormones could be modified. This discovery lead the researchers in a new direction. They wanted to develop a synthetic hormone that would carry all the beneficial effects of hormone ingestion and would minimize all side effects. They wanted to develop a ‘pure’ anabolic steroid that would promote immense strength and have negligible estrogenic and androgenic properties. The ingestion of this kind of steroid would help the person gain the desirable outcomes of uplifted energy and stamina and lean muscle gain. By the 1950’s, scientists had developed more than 1000 synthetic (artificial) hormones. Unfortunately, none of them were actually ‘pure’ steroids which could offer only anabolic benefits and not bring androgenic or estrogenic side effects alongside.
However, it would not be fair to think that humans have used performance enhancers only in the Modern Age. There is evidence that they were used to enhance the performance in various ancient events. During first Olympic games, athletes ingested animal testicles for some time before they had to participate in an event. Even during the ancient times (776 to 393 BC) external performance enhancers were not only known but actually used. Actually, the word ‘dope’ may be traced back to the viscous opium juice, the Dutch called ‘doop’. It was ingested by the ancient Greek athletes to improve their showing at Olympics.