Legal Steroids

(By Max Rosten)

We´ve been told many times that it´s possible to produce a legal alternative to anabolic steroids. There were several attempts to market marginally effective prohormones as „legal steroids“ and there are some companies still selling useless chemicals branded as such.

Now it seems we finally got somewhere the recent successful clinical trials with xenoandrogens brought these substances to attention of both athletes and anti-doping agencies.

What is it?

Xenoandrogens are basically all non-hormonal substances influencing the hormonal axis of humans or animals. They are not new – we´ve known many such chemicals with mostly negative impact on fish (when spilled in the ocean) for decades.

The „new“ xenoandrogens seem to be harmless and produced from common substances by slight modifications on the molecular level. The first trials have been conducted with modified tocopherol although some more molecules followed.

How does it work?

From the scientific papers available it seems that modified tocopherols act in several different ways to influence the anabolic action. Elevated levels of growth factors have been reported in all participants of the clinical trials (this is the most common way to measure the anabolic effect of a substance).

Anti-catabolic action of xenoandrogens is apparently caused by its displacement of glucocorticoids from their receptors. It means that xenoandrogen molecules readily bind with the glucocorticoid receptors without actually activating them.

The third way of action is activation of AR receptors. It must be noted, however, that there are significant differences between the many modifications tested with some of them being only very mildly androgenic.

Are xenoandrogens really that similar to anabolic steroids?

Well, this is the 64,000 dollar question, isn´t it? The answer is that in the way xenoandrogens act in human body, considering especially the elevated growth-factor levels, they indeed are similar to AAS.

As for the „feeling“ one has when using these substances, we would have to ask athletes who actually use them.

It should be mentioned that modified tocopherols have been successfully used in the treatment of testosterone-deficiency in men (V. Bauer & al. 2010). It is therefore reasonable to think that many more clinical trials will follow soon.