Dianabol is one of the most recognized trade/brand names for the testosterone-based drug, methandrostenolone, which is also known by the name methandienone in a few countries. Methandrostenolone contains testosterone modified to reduce the masculinizing or androgenic properties of the natural hormone, while retaining its anabolic properties to build body tissues. Possessing lower levels of androgenicity relative to testosterone, the drug is labeled and classified as ‘anabolic’, even though it has a potent androgenic side to it. Dianabol was designed to be administered orally, but can be found in many veterinary solutions in injection form. Dianabol is the most widely used oral anabolic steroid for building physique and enhancing performance in sports.
Dianabol has the molecular formula of C20H28O2, and its chemical name is 17a-methyl-17b-hydroxy-1, 4-androstadien-3-one . The drug has a detection time ranging from 5-6 weeks, and a half-life between 4.5 and 6 hours long. Effective and simple to use because of the oral nature of its administration, Dianabol’s popularity can be attributed to its strong anabolic credentials which are ably backed up by moderate androgenicity.
The first description of Methandrostenolone dates back to the year 1955 . Ciba Pharmaceuticals employed the services of Dr. J. Ziegler, a renowned physician who even provided his services to several Olympic teams from the US to develop methandrostenolone into an easy-to-use drug. Dr. Ziegler’s first exposure to steroids was at the World Games in 1956, where he saw how Russian athletes were abusing testosterone to enhance their performance. He observed that the hormone’s excessive use was causing serious side-effects on the sportsmen. Elimination of these detrimental effects by preparing a modified testosterone drug was the aim of Dr. Ziegler’s research at Ciba.
Ciba tested a drug that it had synthesized earlier. The drug had lower levels of androgenicity than testosterone, but retained the hormone’s tissue-forming function. This was achieved by changing testosterone’s chemical structure to appropriately altering its metabolism within the body. With Dr. Ziegler’s help Ciba Pharmaceuticals developed Dianabol, the most popular anabolic steroid that can be orally administered.
The drug’s success had far-reaching consequences, especially in the sporting arena. Soon after being introduced in the US drug market, athletes were making great progress in their careers due to Dianabol’s performance-enhancing properties. However, before long it began to become clear that Dianabol had sparked off steroid abuse among athletes. While Dr. Ziegler had recommended usage between 5 mg and 15 mg, based on the athlete’s needs and source of the anabolic steroid, his instructions were being ignored. Athletes were developing their own dosage strategies and the drug’s reputation had become extremely questionable.
In 1965, the FDA asked Ciba to clarify the medical uses of Dianabol. The company’s reply outlined the drug’s use in treating patients with weak bones and helping those suffering from general weakness. The FDA in 1970 accepted Dianabol’s efficacy as a medicinal drug by conceding that it was ‘probably effective’ in the treatment of pituitary-deficient dwarfism and post-menopausal osteoporosis. The drug’s recommendations reflected these changes during the 70’s, as Ciba was permitted to continue selling the steroid. The company, however, lost its patent protection on Dianabol, throwing open the market of anabolic steroids to other companies. Pharmaceutical giants like Rugby, Bolar, Barr and Parr developed generic versions of the steroid to cut into Ciba’s market.
Despite its earlier approval, the FDA continued to seek more data from Ciba, and by the beginning of the 80’s had changed its stance and withdrawn its position of ‘probably effective’ concerning Dianabol’s medical effectiveness. Consequently, Ciba was forced to withdraw Dianabol in 1983 . Following a FDA directive, all the generic forms of the drug, methandrostenolone were taken off the market in the US in 1985. Many other Western countries followed suit, and went on to officially eliminate the use of Dianabol. Today, methandrostenolone’s production continues, albeit only in countries with negligent prescription-drug regulations. But the anabolic steroid is easily available on the underground market of most countries, including the US.
Structural Differences between Dianabol and Testosterone Contribute to its Efficacy
Methandrostenolone is nothing but a testosterone variant or modified testosterone. The following are the structural differences between methandrostenolone and testosterone:
- Methandrostenolone has an additional methyl group present at carbon17-alpha. The extra methyl group serves to protect testosterone when the drug is orally administered.
- Methandrostenolone differs from testosterone through the presence of a carbon double bond between C1 and C2. The double bond is responsible for reducing the drug’s relative androgenicity.
The combined effect of these structural differences is to produce a steroid that has considerably weaker affinity for androgen receptors than testosterone, though displaying a longer half-life. A reduction in affinity for plasma-binding proteins is yet another modification introduced by the structural changes. These features and a few others make methandrostenolone one of the most potent anabolic steroids despite its rather weak affinity for receptor-binding proteins.
Chemical Properties of Dianabol
As mentioned earlier, Dianabol has a methyl (CH3) group attached to its 17th carbon. The alkylation allows oral administration of the drug while still producing visible effects in users. Without this alteration it would not be possible for Dianabol to survive metabolism in the liver and still promote measurable physical effects. Dianabol’s half-life is longer than testosterone’s, a direct result of the drug’s alkylation and additional double bond between 1st and 2nd carbons.
The temporary deactivation of steroids by the action of binding globulins/proteins is also taken care of by Dianabol’s structural modifications – this property goes a long way in making Dianabol an extremely powerful anabolic steroid.
Interestingly enough, it has been observed that the steroid’s interaction with androgen receptors is significantly lower than testosterone’s. But this does not prevent Dianabol from being one of the most effective anabolic steroids available. It has led to speculations about Dianabol’s activity being derived from non-receptor mediated activity.
Side-effects of Dianabol
Side-effects of methandrostenolone can be classified into the following categories:
- Estrogenic – Because Dianabol can easily be converted to estradiol by aromatase, methandrostenolone is moderately estrogenic . The steroid’s conversion to estrogen creates gyno and water-retention problems . Gynecomastia can be a possible source of problem during treatment, especially if higher doses of the steroid are used. Water retention can result in noticeable loss of definition in muscles, as both fat and subcutaneous water levels build. Many times anti-estrogen like Proviron or Nolvadex is used to check the estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex can also be used for this purpose. However, it should be borne in mind that inhibitors can themselves lead to several side-effects.
- Androgenic – There are several androgenic side-effects of Dianabol. Oily skin, excessive facial/body hair growth and acne many result from the steroid’s use. Male-patterned baldness can also become more accelerated during treatment with Dianabol. In women, there has been observed side-effects emerging from the drug’s possible virilizing effects, including menstrual irregularities, a deeper voice, facial/body hair growth, clitoral enlargement and skin-texture changes.
- Hepatotoxicity – The presence of the methyl group at the 17th carbon protects Dianabol from deactivation in the liver. A sizable amount of the drug can thus enter the bloodstream after it has been orally administered. It’s possible for C17-alpha alkylated steroids to be hepatotoxic – harmful for the liver. In rare cases the liver damage may be life-threatening. Periodic monitoring of liver function by a physician is absolutely vital for individuals using Dianabol.
- Cardiovascular – Dianabol can lead to serious side-effects on blood cholesterol. The drug can reduce levels of HDL-C (High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol), while increasing the levels of LDL-C (Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol). The balance between the two types of cholesterol becomes skewed towards the bad cholesterol, LDL leading to increased risks of arteriosclerosis. Methandrostenolone can have strong effects on the liver’s management of blood cholesterol because of its resistance to breakdown in the liver. The steroid can also adversely impact blood pressure and promote hypertrophy, which increases the risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular diseases.
- Testosterone Suppression – High doses of Dianabol and prolonged exposure can lead to suppressed testosterone production inside the body. Methandrostenolone is known to strongly affect the pituitary-hypothalamic-testicular axis, and in some instances can lead to hypogonadism.
First-time anabolic/androgenic steroid users are highly likely to turn to Dianabol for their first steroid experience . The steroid can be orally administered, which makes it more convenient to use than injection-based steroids, and explains Dianabol’s popularity among users.
Novice users are usually advised to follow a 4-6 weeks long cycle of Dianabol with 30-50 mg of the steroid as daily dose. 30-40 mg of the world’s most popular oral anabolic steroid is considered to be effective for individuals who are new to steroids, and can result in marked gain in muscular mass and physical strength. Staying within this dose limit will also restrict any possible side-effects.
Experienced users can opt for slightly higher levels of dosage. However, like other steroids, Dianabol’s effects too plateau off beyond a certain dosage, and majority of experienced users keep themselves well below the dose range of 70-80 mg per day. However, they can augment Dianabol’s anabolic properties with a stack of other steroids used for mass building. Deca-Durabolin and Testosterone Enanthate are two steroids that can complement Dianabol . Consuming a diet rich in calories and essential nutrients is also important during Dianabol treatment. This anabolic/androgenic steroid has been the favorite of bodybuilders for several decades now and when used within recommended limits, and with a well-balanced diet can result in remarkable muscle growth.
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