Natural steroids are compounds that mimic steroids that the human body produces naturally, such as the hormones testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol. Read on to learn what natural steroids are and some common examples. This article also discusses the safety issues, benefits, and potential risks of these substances.
What are natural steroids?
The body naturally produces steroids, such as the hormone testosterone, to build muscle tissue, among other important bodily processes. Natural steroids generally refer to compounds found in plants, herbs, and other natural sources that mimic human hormones or steroids. Proponents of natural steroids claim that they act in the body like anabolic steroids. These are compounds that build and repair muscle by increasing testosterone production. Natural steroids can also be called legal steroids and companies often sell them as a mixture of ingredients. The compounds for which preliminary evidence has been provided are as follows.
Creatine is an amino acid found in food that has steroid-like effects. Several studies have shown that using creatine for 5-7 days can significantly increase:
work involving several sets of muscular contractions at maximum effort
sprint and soccer performance
Withania somnifera, or ashwagandha, is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for rejuvenation, revitalization and longevity. A 2018 study gave healthy men a dose of 500 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha daily for 12 weeks, while participants performed progressive overload resistance training 4 days a week. People who took ashwagandha experienced greater improvements in lower and upper body strength, as well as favorable body mass distribution compared to people in the placebo group.
Compounds found in Tribulus terrestris, called steroidal saponins, may weakly mimic the effects of testosterone and related hormones. It could improve muscle function and testosterone levels. However, a 2020 study concluded that scientists need to do more research to understand if Tribulus terrestris is safe and has a therapeutic effect.
Limited research suggests that D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) may play a role in the production and release of testosterone. However, most of the studies showing that DAA increases testosterone levels have been conducted on animals. More human studies are needed to support their findings.
Healthy circulating levels of vitamin D are essential for bone health. Recent research suggests it may play a role in muscle health and there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and loss of muscle strength and mass. However, researchers need to investigate this potential link further. A 2017 study found that adult women with moderate body composition and lower body fat levels tended to have higher levels of circulating active vitamin D. The researchers conclude that vitamin D may contribute to muscle health indirectly by acting on fatty tissue. Scientists need to do more studies to determine if this link applies to larger populations.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral known to help control muscle growth and repair. So far, researchers have mostly focused on how zinc affects muscle regulation. This substance may be linked to age-related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia. A 2018 review found that only one observational study suggested a correlation between zinc intake and exercise performance in older adults. With this in mind, experts need to conduct more studies before they can determine the role of zinc in physical performance.
Magnesium plays an important role in different enzymatic reactions that impact muscle performance during exercise. Researchers believe this mineral may also help maintain muscle integrity during intense activity. A 2019 study found that taking 400 mg of magnesium daily for 3 weeks helped reduce muscle damage in 18 male professional cyclists.
Dehydroepiandrosterone is a precursor molecule that the body converts into the hormones testosterone and estradiol. These increase protein production and consumption, which promotes muscle growth and strength.
Some studies have found that ginseng may help prevent certain conditions, such as diabetes or aging, that trigger muscle loss. A 2017 study found that treating muscle cells with black ginseng extract promoted muscle-specific gene expression and cell differentiation. It helped muscle cells grow bigger, wider and thicker, and improved cell activity.
Researchers need to know more about this plant. A study in male mice showed that fenugreek extract increased endurance and fatty acid utilization during exercise. Research also suggests that fenugreek may have fat-reducing properties. Compounds in fenugreek extract can increase testosterone levels by preventing the body from converting it into other sex hormones.
Companies that sell natural steroids often claim that they help:
increase exercise efficiency
increase tolerance to increased intensity training
achieve a sporting or performance goal more quickly
Natural steroids may have fewer side effects than traditional anabolic steroids. However, more studies are needed to understand potential health issues and drug interactions.
Consuming or injecting over-the-counter or home products containing steroids or steroid-related substances poses a risk.
Health risks can be serious and include
increased risk of cardiovascular events, including stroke or heart attack
baldness or hair loss
increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels
paranoia or manic behavior
hallucinations and delusions
Men who take natural steroids designed to mimic anabolic steroids may also experience these side effects:
increased risk of prostate cancer
shrinkage of the testicles
decreased sperm count and male infertility
Women who take natural steroids designed to mimic anabolic steroids may also experience the following side effects:
excessive growth of facial and body hair
loss of breast tissue
swelling of the clitoris
Many bodybuilding supplements also contain vitamins and minerals, some of which can be toxic at high levels. Teenagers who overuse anabolic steroids or similar compounds before puberty-related growth spurts may experience premature bone aging and limited growth.
If a person is taking steroids that were not prescribed to them by a doctor, they should consult a healthcare professional about safely stopping these supplements.
People who abruptly stop taking steroids, instead of tapering off gradually, may experience the following symptoms:
depression and apathy
muscle and joint pain
Various products claim to contain so-called natural steroids, or natural compounds, which act like human steroids such as testosterone.
If a person is taking dietary supplements, they should see a doctor if any of the following symptoms occur:
abdominal or chest pain
shortness of breath
brown or discolored urine
jaundice, i.e. yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.
If people are interested in natural steroids, the safest thing is to consult a doctor before taking dietary supplements.