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Where do anabolic anabolic steroids come from?

The body produces testosterone naturally, but natural testosterone cannot be used as a medicine. In the normal body, testosterone is released continuously into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. In males, it is also released by the testes. It reaches different parts of the body, has its effects, and then body enzymes quickly break it down.

When males reach the end of puberty, the amount of testosterone rises suddenly and stays at a high level for four to six months before returning to normal. During this time, the growth plates in the long bones of the arms and legs close, the voice deepens, facial hair begins to grow and the male sex organs grow in size. It is this surge in testosterone that completes the sexual maturation of males.

Some males do not experience this burst of testosterone. When the role of testosterone was discovered, medical researchers tried to treat delayed puberty by giving them testosterone. They discovered that a single dose of testosterone, even a very large one, is so rapidly broken down by body enzymes that it cannot imitate the natural hormone surge. To use natural testosterone for this purpose, a boy would have to have an intravenous infusion bag constantly putting testosterone into his veins day and night for at least four months!

The researchers needed to find a way to prevent the body from breaking down the testosterone so quickly. Through trial and error, chemists discovered how to alter the testosterone molecule so it would last longer.(1,2)

There are many kinds of anabolic steroids available to treat several disease states. In the past, anabolic steroids were taken from animal tissues for use in early experiments.(1) Today, anabolic steroids are chemically manufactured rather than being purified from natural sources.


1. Kleiner SM. Performance-enhancing aids in sport - health consequences and nutritional alternatives. J Amer Coll Nutr 1991 Apr;10(2):163-76.

2. Smith DA, Perry PJ. The efficacy of ergogenic agents in athletic competition. part 1: androgenic-anabolic steroids. Annals Pharmacother 1992 Apr;26:520-8.

3. Kopera H. The history of anabolic steroids and a review of clinical experience with anabolic steroids. Acta Endocrin 1985;271:11-8.

4. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93.

5. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews 1988;9(2):181-99.

6. Kashkin KB, Kleber HD. Hooked on hormones - an anabolic steroid addiction hypothesis. J Am Med Assoc 1989 Dec 8;262(22):3166-70.

by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph. (c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies. All Rights Reserved.

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Disclaimer: The information presented is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding any suggestions and recommendations made.