What is androstenedione?

    Androstenedione is a natural chemical found in the body that produces testosterone. This chemical can also be found naturally in some meat and even some plants.  Androstenedione, also called Andro, can boost testosterone levels when taken orally sometimes making the person stronger.

Molecular structure for Androstenedione (4-Androstene 3,17-dione)

How is androstenedione converted to testosterone?

    Androstenedione is produced from DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) in the body.  It is said to be a direct testosterone precursor in the metabolic pathway from cholesterol through pregnenolone to DHEA to androstenedione to testosterone. Androstenedione is converted to testosterone by addition of two hydrogens by the enzyme 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.

Does androstenedione increase serum testosterone levels?

    Douglas King, an Iowa State University exercise biochemist who led the research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tracked 20 men, ages 19 to 29, during a weightlifting program. Some took andro during the eight-week study, others took a dummy pill. The results suggested andro has no effect on testosterone levels in the blood, and King said no difference in strength could be found between the two groups of men. But the men who took the supplement - 300 milligrams daily -showed significant declines in levels of the "good" cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease. Andro also raised their levels of the female hormone estrogen. The only problem with King's research is that the men were given androstenedione in 100mg increments 3 times a day. Androstenedione is sold at 250 milligrams up to 500 milligrams. More extensive research must be considered using higher dosages of androstenedione.

What are the side effects of androstenedione?

    The side effects of androstenedione are prevalent, because androstenedione affects the hormone levels in users.  It might convert to the female hormone, estrogen in males and females. Too much androstenedione can shut down the production of testosterone in the body. In adolescents it is known to stunt growth by maximizing testosterone levels. Side effects include hair loss, acne, emotional problems, liver toxicity, increased sexual drive, and decreased levels of high density lipoprotein.

Does the government regulate this product?

    The Federal Trade Commission requires that all androstenedione manufacturers must provide a strong warning on the product label. The warning explains that androstenedione "contains steroid hormones that may cause breast enlargement, testicle shrinkage and infertility in males and increased facial and body hair, voice deepening and clitoral enlargement in females. Higher doses may increase this risk."

How is androstenedione tested?

    The only way to test for androstenedione is to test the level of testosterone. Androstenedione is a favored supplement, because it is hard to test for. Testosterone levels peak for about 1 to 3 hours after consumption, with a maximum peak for a few minutes. If testosterone levels are six times above the normal level at the time of testing, steroid or androstenedione use is assumed.

Why are there other supplements sold to decrease the side effects of androstenedione?

    Chrysin is an aromatase inhibitor that is often added to androstenedione products. In the diagram above, androstenedione can be converted to testosterone or estrone. Chrysin inhibits the aromatase enzyme in converting androstenedione to estrone.  Saw Palmetto(5-alpha reductase) is also sold with androstenedione. DHT (dihydroxytestosterone) is a product of testosterone that is a cause for baldness. Saw Palmetto blocks DHT.

Should androstenedione be banned from sports?

    In 1998, androstenedione was banned by the international Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Football League, and many other high-school and semi-professional sports organizations. The product should be banned for all athletic activities. It is unsafe and unhealthy to use a hormonal supplement that can enhance or interfere with the body's androgenic concentrations. It should be banned from all athletic competitions.

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