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How Are Steroids Made? (From A Doctor)

Alex DePinto
Published by Alex DePinto
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 19, 2022

During a recent discussion with a client of mine who is a medical doctor, our conversation went onto the topic of steroid misuse in sports and how he’s encountered several athletes with serious side effects from these drugs.

What was more interesting to me, though, was his knowledge of how these drugs were invented and how they are made today.

It requires some highly specialized pharmaceutical equipment, and he pointed out that buying black market drugs often means that the steroids come from unlicensed and dubious labs.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved.

Quick Summary

  • Anabolic steroid drugs are made in labs by creating a synthetic version of testosterone that has a very similar molecular structure.
  • Steroids have been around for many decades, and the way they are synthesized has changed a lot to make them safer.
  • When people buy steroids on the black market, they can never be certain where they came from and whether they are even remotely safe to take.

Are They Synthetically Or Naturally Made?

Close up image of a white and green pill

Steroids used for medical purposes are synthetic. While the body produces steroids naturally through different glands, it was the medical breakthrough in creating synthetic steroids that resulted in vast medical treatment options [1].

More on this shortly. By creating substances that are almost identical to natural testosterone and corticosteroids, they can trick the body into responding in the same way that a natural boost would achieve.

It’s also important to highlight that there are natural legal steroids that are based on herbs, minerals, and amino acids.

But these don’t deliver a direct boost in hormones.

Let’s take a closer look.

Difference Between Natural And Synthetic Drugs

The main difference between natural and synthetic steroids is that the synthetic ones deliver an active compound that is almost identical to a hormone like testosterone or cortisol [2].

Natural or legal, steroids contain ingredients that cause the body to trigger an increase in certain hormone production like testosterone [3].

The result is that they don’t cause a sudden spike in hormone levels but rather gradually increase the amount released over several months.

That might not be a suitable option for dealing with certain health conditions, but it should be the preferred approach for athletes rather than resorting to illegal drugs.

“Natural steroids typically refer to compounds found in plants, herbs, and other natural sources that mimic human hormones or steroids.” - Dena Westphalen, Pharm.D., MedicalNewsToday.com.

Quick History Of Steroids

Top view of syringe and white pills

From a medical perspective, steroid drugs came into existence in Germany in 1931 when Adolph Butenandt was able to extract testosterone from urine.

He later received the Nobel Prize for this achievement [4].

The fact that scientists understood that there was a substance associated with muscle performance and growth led to further research into developing ways to synthetically produce testosterone.

It was just four years later, in 1935, that Leopold Ruzicka from Switzerland achieved this and then shared the Nobel prize with Butenandt in 1939 [5].

This set the stage for the development and testing of human drugs, and it was the American Olympic doctor John Ziegler who first created Dianobol in 1958 [6].

This was a breakthrough achievement for medicine as there was now a drug to help with treating patients with low testosterone.

From the 70s on, more and more similar drugs came onto the market, and to this day, anabolic steroids play a central role in treating many diseases or helping patients regain strength after other treatments and surgeries.

Unfortunately, that also led to athletes resorting to the use of medical steroids. And even though they are legally only available on prescription, many people resort to black market sources.

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FAQs

What Are Common Types of Steroids?

Prednisolone, Anadrol, Dianabol, and Winstrol are the most commonly prescribed steroids. They have similar effects, but some of them have both anabolic and androgenic effects that require careful monitoring by doctors to ensure side effects are kept to a minimum.

Are There Natural Steroids in Food?

Yes, there are natural steroids in food and herbs like ashwagandha and fenugreek. These don’t directly introduce testosterone but rather influence how much the body naturally produces.

Don’t Take Risks With Medical Drugs

Too many athletes resort to taking steroids that they get from black market sources. This can mean that they were stolen or created in unlicensed labs where you simply can’t say for sure that they are safe.

The much safer and better option for speeding up your muscle development and building physical strength is to use natural legal steroids. These combine herbs, minerals, and amino acids to get your body to naturally produce more testosterone.

It’s not going to deliver the results as fast as anabolic steroids. But after a few months, you’ll notice a significant difference without all the nasty side effects.


References: 

  1. https://www.webmd.com/men/anabolic-steroids
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/anabolicsteroids.html
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33150931
  4. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1939/butenandt/biographical/
  5. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leopold-Ruzicka
  6. https://physicalculturestudy.com/2018/08/02/a-brief-history-of-steroids/

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