Anabolics 101 – Anadrol (Oxymetholone)
Oxymetholone is a potent oral anabolic steroid derived from dihydrotestosterone. More specifically, it is a close cousin of methyldihydrotestosterone (mestanolone), differing only by the addition of a 2-hydroxymethylene group. This creates a steroid with considerably different activity than mestanolone, however, such that it is very difficult to draw comparisons between the two. For starters, oxymetholone is a very potent anabolic hormone. Dihydrotestosterone and mestanolone are both very weak in this regard, owing to the fact that these molecules are not very stable in the high enzyme (3-alpha hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase) environment of muscle tissue. Oxymetholone remains highly active here instead, as is reported in standard animal assay tests demonstrating a significantly higher anabolic activity than testosterone or methyltestosterone. Such assays suggest the androgenicity of oxymetholone is also very low (1/4th to 1/7th its anabolic activity), although real-world results in humans suggest it is decidedly higher than that.
Oxymetholone is considered by many to be the most powerful steroid commercially available. A steroid novice experimenting with this agent is likely to gain 20 to 30 pounds of massive bulk, and it can often be accomplished within six weeks of use. This steroid produces a lot of water retention, so a good portion of this gain is going to be water weight. This is often of little consequence to the user, who may be feeling very big and strong while taking oxymetholone. Although the smooth look that results from water retention is often not attractive, it can aid quite a bit to the level of size and strength gained. The muscle is fuller, will contract better and is provided a level of protection in the form of extra water held into and around connective tissues. This will allow for more elasticity, and will hopefully decrease the chance for injury when lifting heavy. It should be noted, however, that a very rapid gain in mass might also place too much stress on your connective tissues. The tearing of pectoral and biceps tissue is commonly associated with heavy lifting while massing up on steroids, and oxymetholone is a common offender. There can be such a thing as gaining too fast.
Composition and dosage may vary by country and manufacturer. Most brands contain 50 milligrams of oxymetholone per tablet.
When used for physique- or performance-enhancing purposes, an effective oral daily dosage usually falls in the range of 50-150 milligrams (for men). This is taken in cycles lasting no more than six to eight weeks to minimize hepatotoxicity. This level is sufficient for dramatic increases in muscle mass and strength. Higher doses are rarely administered due to the strong estrogenic nature of the drug, as well as the high potential for liver toxicity. Oxymetholone is generally not recommended for women for physique- or performance-enhancing purposes because of its tendency to produce virilizing side effects.
Estrogenic: Oxymetholone is a highly estrogenic steroid. Gynecomastia is often a concern during treatment, and may present itself quite early into a cycle (particularly when higher doses are used). At the same time, water retention can become a problem, causing a notable loss of muscle definition as both subcutaneous water retention and fat levels build. To avoid strong estrogenic side effects, it may be necessary to use an anti-estrogen such as Nolvadex® or Clomid®. Note: oxymetholone does not directly convert to estrogen in the body. Anti-aromatase compounds will not appreciably reduce the estrogenic activity of this steroid.
Androgenic: Androgenic side effects are possible with this substance, including bouts of oily skin, acne and body/facial hair growth. Higher doses are more likely to cause such side effects. Anabolic/androgenic steroids may also aggravate male-pattern hair loss. Women are additionally warned of the potential virilizing effects of anabolic/androgenic steroids. These may include a deepening of the voice, menstrual irregularities, changes in skin texture, facial hair growth and clitoral enlargement. While Anadrol is classified as an anabolic steroid, it does retain a notable androgenic component.
Liver Toxicity: Oxymetholone is a c17-alpha alkylated compound. This alteration protects the drug from deactivation by the liver, allowing a very high percentage of the drug entry into the bloodstream following oral administration. C17-alpha alkylated steroids can be hepatotoxic. Prolonged or high exposure may result in liver damage. In rare instances, life-threatening dysfunction may develop. Oxymetholone is regarded as one of the more liver-toxic of the orals, given its high per-milligram tablet and typical dosage. It is therefore advisable to visit a physician periodically during each cycle to monitor liver function and overall health. Intake of c17-alpha alkylated steroids is also commonly limited to six to eight weeks, in an effort to avoid escalating liver strain. The use of a liver detoxification supplement is also advised while taking any hepatotoxic anabolic/androgenic steroids.
Cardiovascular: Anabolic/androgenic steroids can have deleterious effects on serum cholesterol, increasing the risk of arteriosclerosis. They may also adversely affect blood pressure and triglycerides, reduce endothelial relaxation and support left ventricular hypertrophy— all potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction. People with high cholesterol or a familial history of heart disease should be especially careful when considering AAS abuse. Note that oxymetholone has a particularly strong negative effect on the hepatic management of cholesterol, due to its structural resistance to liver breakdown and route of administration, and is considered a higher risk steroid.
Testosterone Suppression: All anabolic/androgenic steroids, when taken in doses sufficient to promote muscle gain, are expected to suppress endogenous testosterone production. Without the intervention of testosterone-stimulating substances, testosterone levels should return to normal within four months of drug secession. Note that prolonged hypogonadism (low testosterone) can develop secondary to steroid abuse, necessitating medical intervention.
The above side effects are not inclusive.
Oxymetholone is available in a limited number of human drug markets. Most preparations are of underground origin.
Ringold HJ, et al. J Am Chem Soc 1959;81:427-32.
Alexanian R, Nadell J, et al. Blood 1972; 40:353-6.
Desaulles PA. Helv Med Acta 1960:479-503.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Bio 42 (1992):229-42.
Lennon HD, et al. Steroids 7 (1966): 157-70.
About the Author:
William Llewellyn is the author of the anabolic steroid reference guide, ANABOLICS 10th Edition . William adapted this steroid profile from his work at anabolic.org. He is also credited with helping to develop ROIDTEST™ , an at-home steroid testing kit used to identify real and fake steroid products.