Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) were originally discovered in the 1990s. The purpose of SARMs is to mimic some of the effects of androgenic drugs (like steroids) in a more controlled way.
SARMs took the research community by storm due to their promise to prevent health conditions like osteoporosis and muscle loss without. However, there are still a lot of questions to ask about SARMs before using them.
What are the side effects of SARMs? How much research is yet to be done? What are the potential benefits of using SARMs and how can you decide if they’re right for you?
Read on to learn more in our complete SARMs guide.
What are SARMs?
SARMs encompass a class of androgen receptor ligands. There are several different kinds of SARMs, including ostarine, andarine, and ligandrol.
SARMs bind to your natural androgen receptors and impact the DNA directly, producing the effect of potential muscle growth. Unlike steroids, they aren’t guaranteed to make other changes to the DNA that will produce undesirable effects.
SARMs researchers and advocates hope that these products will fulfill a variety of uses. Potential SARMs uses include (but are not limited to):
- increasing muscle mass
- preventing osteoporosis
- treating anemia
- healing wounds
SARMs are undoubtedly most popular with people who are looking to increase muscle mass. It’s important to note that while many studies have yielded promising results for the potential uses of SARMs, we do not have enough information to reach a clear and unwavering conclusion.
Are SARMs Legal?
SARMs have not received FDA approval, which means that they are not regulated in the United States. It is not currently legal to buy or sell SARMs that are marketed for human consumption. However, it is legal to buy and sell SARMs that are marketed as “research chemicals,” as there are no laws prohibiting the study of SARMs.
In other words, it is not illegal to buy SARMs in the United States. However, there are a few things to consider before doing so.
Are SARMs Safe to Use?
Consumers should be aware of what it means when a product does not have FDA regulation. Lacking FDA approval doesn’t mean that a product is inherently unsafe. After all, there are many “holistic health” products on the market, like dietary supplements, that do not have FDA approval.
That said, it’s worth noting that without FDA regulation, you should take extra precautions when purchasing a product. Some companies may mislabel their products or sell products that aren’t safe to use. Always do your research before purchasing these products.
Can Athletes Use SARMs?
It’s well known that athletes can’t use steroids, which are considered a performance enhancing drug. Do SARMs fall under the same category?
The simple answer is yes. SARMs are on the prohibited list created by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which means that no athletes, from recreational to professional, can use SARMs if they are or will be participating in a sport. If you’re hoping to bulk up for the season, you’ll have to find another way.
Do SARMs Show Up in Drug Tests?
If you take SARMs, will they show up on a drug test and cause you to fail that drug test? It depends on the drug test in question.
Most drug tests used by employers or law enforcement officers are looking for illegal or semi-legal drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, and heroine. It is very unlikely that the random drug test you have to take for work will register SARMs in your system.
If, on the other hand, you’re taking a drug test to continue to play a sport, it is likely that the drug test you take will register SARMs. That is because, as we said earlier, athletes are prohibited from taking SARMs, which are considered a performance enhancing drug.
Side Effects of SARMs
As we’ve discussed, SARMs excite researchers because they don’t seem to produce as many side effects as steroids. However, that doesn’t mean that SARMs have no side effects.
More studies are needed to determine the exact list of side effects and their likelihood of becoming an issue for anyone taking SARMs. Let’s take a look at some of the potential side effects that have been reported by some researchers so far.
In theory, SARMs should not cause hair loss because they do not directly increase the levels of estrogen or DHT, which damage hair follicles and contribute to hair loss. However, it seems that many who have used SARMs have experienced gynecomastia and male pattern baldness.
This seems to be caused by the way that SARMs inhibit the natural binding that should occur between testosterone and androgen receptors. More specifically, SARMs have a higher capacity to bind to androgen receptors, and may overpower the testosterone your body produces.
Suppression of Testosterone
SARMs can suppress testosterone levels, leading users to need PCT (post-cycle therapy) to recover testosterone levels. The type of SARM taken seems to determine the extent of the testosterone depletion.
Ligandrol, the strongest SARM available today, seems to have the largest negative impact on testosterone levels. Ostarine, the least potent SARM available today, seems to have the smallest negative impact on testosterone levels.
Elevated Blood Pressure
It appears that SARMs, particularly oral SARMs (in pill or capsule form), may cause a significant drop in HDLs, the type of cholesterol you want to have. When HDLs drop, blood pressure tends to spike. In other words, using SARMs could cause hypertension and lead to other cardiac problems.
Managing your heart health may help. Fish oil capsules and regular cardio activity could counteract the impact SARMs have on blood pressure.
Additional Side Effects
Other side effects have been reported during studies and anecdotally. These additional side effects include (but are not limited to):
- mood swings
- reduced testicular size
- liver toxicity
- possible carcinogenic effects
Keep in mind that some of the evidence for the above potential side effects came from studies on rats. For example, SARMs had carcinogenic effects on rats when taken in large doses over several years. Humans who were administered SARMs in smaller doses for less time did not seem to suffer from carcinogenic effects.
If you want to know more about the potential side effects and how likely you are to experience them, you may need to stay on the line. We will need more comprehensive studies to understand what SARMs do and don’t do.
What are the potential benefits of using SARMs? Just like with the side effects we’re aware of today, we have to talk about these benefits with a word of caution. While these benefits seem promising, we will need more research to know for sure what SARMs can do.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits of SARMs.
Unsurprisingly, the most-touted benefit of using SARMs is the potential to increase muscle mass. in fact, one of the only things we can say for certain is that SARMs have the ability to increase muscle size and strength.
However, they won’t have the same shocking effects as steroids. If you’re looking for significant gains, you will still need to do quite a bit of work at the gym.
When you stimulate androgen receptors, you send your body into a fat burning state. That means that in addition to adding muscle mass, you may also notice more tone as your body loses fat.
With that in mind, if you want to increase muscle without losing any overall body mass, SARMs may not be right for you. Anyone who struggles to keep weight on should consider an alternative.
Walk into any room and mention steroids and almost everyone will have the same reaction: disdain. In large part because of steroid use in athletics, old-school steroids have a seriously bad reputation, even from people who don’t know much about how they work or what they do.
SARMs have not received the same attention or negative press. There have been no major SARMs-related scandals. Many people consider this lack of (or at least lessened) stigma a benefit.
Suitable for Women
Steroids tend to have a noticeable side effect on women that many hope to avoid. That side effect is virilization, or the development of male characteristics (i.e. an increase in body hair or a lower voice).
So far, it does not seem that SARMs has this same effect. However, that doesn’t mean that women should rush out to get SARMs. The studies are still underway on this one, and it’s possible that large doses or long-term use could eventually produce virilization.
No Injections Necessary
Many steroids are injected intramuscularly, which can pose its own serious concerns. For example, users may rely on pre-used needles that are contaminated with bloodborne viruses. They may also adminster the needle incorrectly, which could cause serious damage, including paralysis.
While you can find injectable SARMs, most SARMs are designed for oral use. This eliminates the need to ever use a needle without medical supervision.
How to Use SARMs
Before you consider adding something like SARMs to your health regimen, we urge you to talk to your doctor. Just like any other drug or supplement, SARMs may pose increased risks for people with pre-existing conditions and could interfere with medications you’re already taking.
Now, let’s talk about the different ways that you can adminster SARMs. Keep in mind that this is not medical advice, nor can we provide information about the proper dosage for your body and your needs.
You are most likely to find SARMs in liquid form. Using either a measured dropper or a measuring spoon, you must then portion out the proper dosage before placing it in your mouth.
Many people struggle with the strong smell and taste associated with SARMs. You can plug your nose and keep a glass of water handy or add SARMs to your food or drink, although the latter will affect bio-availability. The best method is to adminster SARMs near the back of the throat, avoiding as much of the tongue as possible.
Using the same liquid form of SARMs, you can also adminster your dosage sublingually, which means below the tongue. Some people prefer sublingual administration because it leads to a faster entry into the blood stream. It is possible that sublingual administration produces better, faster effects.
The biggest drawback? You’re going to taste SARMs if you use this method the taste will linger longer than if you swallow the liquid immediately.
Some believe that intramuscular SARMs have a higher bio-availability than oral or sublingual SARMs. Plus, injectable SARMs may not have the same negative impact on cardiovascular health.
However, injectable SARMs are not common. Plus, as we discussed earlier, there are certain risks that come with injections, particularly if you are inexperienced with medical needles and intramuscular injections.
Stay in the Know About Your Health
SARMs have taken the medical community by storm in the past three decades. They may present many of the same benefits of steroids without the same degree or severity of side effects. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no side effects of SARMs or that researchers have conducted enough studies to come to any reliable conclusions.
There are a lot of companies out there who care more about profit than your health, even if all of their marketing tells you otherwise. We’re here to protect you from predatory businesses and health scams. Take a look around to stay in the know and protect your health.