Steroids are organic compounds. Ecdysteroids are a type of steroid. The word ‘steroid’ refers to the structure of the compound more than anything else. Four ‘rings’ made of connected carbon atoms.
They are probably most famous for their association with illegal anabolic steroids, but there are steroids in your body and all across the plant and animal kingdom that are naturally synthesized, and serve different functions.
Cholesterol is one, and so are the sex hormones, estradiol and testosterone. Ecdysteroids like turkesterone and 20-hydroxyecdysterone are examples that occur in plants and insects. There are several natural testosterone boosters available as described in this article.
You’re probably here for bodybuilding knowledge, and that’s where we’ll focus this article, but it’s important to remember that all steroids are just a base of four carbon rings. It’s the little tweaks and add-ons that make them unique, anabolic, androgenic, safe, risky, and everything in between.
Testosterone and Anabolic Androgenic Steroids
Testosterone is our natural anabolic androgenic steroid hormone. Its not even the most powerful, where muscle building is concerned. When testosterone is converted to DHT (dihydrotestosterone) via the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, there you have an even more androgenic anabolic steroid.
Of course, testosterone’s chemical structure was used as the basis for all synthetic anabolic steroids we have today. Sustanon, Dianabol (Dbol), Anadrol, Deca, Tren, Fina…they are all man-made descendants of the original.
‘Androgenic’, and ‘androgen’ just refer to the male sex steroid hormones, and the synthetic steroids mentioned above. The androgenic receptors (AR) are the cellular binding points of these steroid hormones.
Women have them too, they have about 10% of the testosterone of men.
What makes this special is that any steroid that binds to the AR will have androgenic effects. Part of that is muscle and bone growth, and another part is sexual health and function. Some steroids bind tightly to the AR, and thus exert stronger androgenic effects. Some, on the other hand, have very weak androgenic effects.
Interestingly, anabolic steroids can still exert muscle growth effects (hence, ‘anabolic’) without having an androgenic effect.
Why are we talking about androgens and testosterone? – Because the main point of this article is to introduce other steroids from the plant and insect world which are now being sold as bodybuilding products.
Ecdysteroids and Non-Androgenic Anabolic Effect – Protein Synthesis
‘Ecdy’ comes from the insect process of moulting – ecdysis. This is the action of shedding their exoskeleton in stages in order to grow.
Yeah, we know, pretty gross.
Some plants have ecdysteroids too, which is where any extract found in supplements will have come from.
Here’s the weird part: humans have receptors for ecdysteroids. And they actually do something.
The first time ecdysteroids were studied for potential supplementation in humans, the interest lay almost exclusively in the fact that they looked like androgenic hormones. interest led to excitement about the potential for a natural world steroid hormone that could bind to the AR. As you can imagine, pharmaceutical companies were licking their lips.
The only thing is – ecdysteroids have no androgenic effects. Upon discovering this, many researchers moved on to the next potential gold mine.
However, they had missed something.
Ecdysteroids, while not exhibiting androgenic activity, DO trigger an increase in protein synthesis rates.
Of course you know that protein synthesis is how muscle tissue is made, so surely increasing the rate is a good thing. It is, but the fact that it does it via a non-androgenic pathway is very interesting indeed.
Why Is Non-Androgenic Protein Synthesis so Important?
Glad you asked. This takes us back to androgenic anabolic steroids and what effect they have on the body, both positive and negative.
Androgenic hormones are those which define the male characteristics of a person. Testosterone is our main one, and although it is inherently masculine, women have some too, just as men have estrogen. Both hormones, in different ratios, have a large part to do with a person’s development as a male or female.
Taking this into account, testosterone is involved in many aspects of health, including:
- Muscle and Bone Growth and Strength
- Sexual Health and Libido
- Cognitive and Mental Health
- Fat Metabolism
- Skin, Hair and Nail Health
There are also negative side effects of testosterone, DHT and estradiol when their balance is upset. The most problematic effects come when synthetic anabolic steroids are used.
Androgenic anabolic steroids do more than upset the balance. They can literally shut down a person’s testosterone production. Their presence in much greater quantities than is natural can also cause estrogenic effects due to high aromatase activity.
What’s more, the oral steroids like Dianabol, Anadrol and Winstrol are toxic to the liver because they are chemically altered to survive liver breakdown on the first pass.
So, here are some of the possible side effects of androgenic anabolic steroids:
- Testosterone Suppression
- Testicular atrophy (shrunken testicles)
- Gynecomastia (man-boobs)
- Cardiac Hypertrophy (growth of heart wall tissue and shrinkage of chambers)
- Negative Cholesterol ratio (higher LDL)
- Increased rate of Male Pattern Baldness
- Water Retention
Testosterone suppression on its own has multiple negative health effects, and can even lead to a permanent state of low testosterone syndrome, unless steps are taken to counteract it.
Almost all bodybuilders who use steroids will also have to take other medication during and after the steroid cycle to prevent severe side effects.
Now we can go back to the subject of non-androgenic protein synthesis triggered by an ecdysteroid like 20-hydroxyecdysone or turkesterone.
They don’t have those negative side effects because they don’t act like androgenic hormones. Instead they trigger protein synthesis by another pathway.
20-hydroxyecdysone (also spelled 20-hydroxyecdysterone) Turkesterone stimulate increased protein synthesis, which can lead to faster muscle growth.
And that is mostly what a bodybuilder is interested in anyway: muscle and strength.
ref: Gorelick-Feldman J1, Cohick W, Raskin I. – Ecdysteroids elicit a rapid Ca2+ flux leading to Akt activation and increased protein synthesis in skeletal muscle cells – 2010
Conclusion and Recommendations
Simply put, ecdysteroids, including 20-Hydroxyecdysterone, are legal and safe steroids. This one activates increased rates of muscle protein synthesis. There are other legal steroids too (click here to read about them).
Perhaps you are looking for a bodybuilding supplement that can complement your pre-workout drink and protein shakes. Perhaps you are looking for the extra edge on the competition without resorting to banned or illegal steroids.
Whatever your reason, there is legitimate research and proven results using Ecdysteroids that you can now base your decision on.
Of course, the next question is: where can you get a good product that is not a rip-off or a fake.
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