This article was originally intended to be a history of the anabolic steroid dianabol and it's usage in bodybuilding, but there is little real evidence of how it was used in previous decades. However, in the course of research, I have come to the conclusion that current use of dianabol as a supplement is not as efficient as it could be. Most of the modern thoughts on dianabol use reflect around myths and irrelevant scientific studies; this article attempts to explain new ways of thinking on dianabol usage using scientific evidence and people's experiences.
Dianabol (or dbol as it's commonly called) is one of the most commonly used oral steroids. Its chemical name is methanedienone or methandrostenolone and there are many different pharmaceutical and generic varieties including Anabol and Naposim. In this article we look at lower dose usage of dianabol as a supplement, as opposed to using pro-hormones or pro-steroids.
Liver Toxicity of Dianabol
The 17 alpha-alkylated properties of methanedienone do make it liver toxic, but this, I believe, is overstated as most of the evidence of its toxicity comes from studies on individuals and not from studies on large groups of dianabol-using bodybuilders. One study on rats (1) showed that regardless of dose or time of administration, dianabol produces changes in enzymatic activity, which leads to hypertrophy of hepatocytes; which basically shows that dianabol is toxic to the liver. But in another study (2) Nerobol (Russian Dianabol) was found to favour a rapid normalisation of functional and metabolic disorders of the liver, which contradicts the earlier evidence. This shows that the whole idea of dianabol being dangerous is in no way as bad as some would make out.
Benefits of Dianabol Use
Dianabol has been shown to increase anaerobic glycolysis (3), which increases lactic acid build up in the body. This is beneficial because lactic acid is used by the muscles to form glycogen, which in turn provides energy in anaerobic metabolism. Lactic acid is also a key chemical in the disposal of dietary carbohydrates, which means you are less likely to get fat while using dianabol.
A study on osteoporosis (4) showed that at a dosage of just 2.5mg per day for 9 months dianabol was more effective than calcium supplementation in reducing osteoporotic activity, it was also shown to increase muscle mass more effectively. Another study on osteoporosis (5) which lasted 24 months, showed just how dianabol works on osteoporosis; dianabol increased total body calcium, and also total body potassium. This may not mean much to you as a bodybuilder, but the actions of calcium are very important to bodybuilders, as it transports large numbers of amino acids and also creatine and these two things are vital in muscle growth. Potassium is also very important, as it assists in muscle contractions, transmitting nerve signals, and insulin release; so it is also a very anabolic substance.
One very interesting study (6), although not significant in bodybuilding terms, showed that dianabol increases the sensitivity of laryngeal tumour cells to radiotherapy, and concluded 'recommending this hormone to be used during radiotherapy of patients with the laryngeal cancer'.
How to Cycle Dianabol
To create a cycle for dianabol that is based around using it more as a supplement than a steroid, we first need to look at the current trend for cycling dianabol and analyse what is wrong with it. An average cycle of Dianabol is usually structured as 25-40mg split throughout each day for 4-6 weeks, either alone or stacked with other steroids.
Firstly a dose of 25mg or more commonly causes water retention. It is well known that dianabol does aromatise quite easily, and most of the water retention is usually attributed to a build up of excess estrogen. However, it is my belief that initially water retention is caused by the body holding on to water due to the effects of dianabol on the body's mineral balance, in particular the potassium/sodium balance. This coupled with the fact that dianabol cause estrogenic side effects, leads to a lot of water build-up, and as there is little we can do about the change in the bodies mineral balance, the only other thing we can do is try to reduce aromatisation, usually with Nolvadex (tamoxifen) or other anti-estrogens. This is not the only method though, by reducing the dose, less of the drug will aromatise, which leads to less estrogen and more importantly less water retention. Reducing the drug during a cycle would lead to estrogen levels dropping slowly, so we should start the cycle with a lower dose of 10-20mg each day.
Splitting the dosage when you are using a low dose is virtually pointless, as you will get a much smaller peak of the drug. So in this case it is best to take it in a single dose in the morning (preferably with grapefruit juice). Although this will not prevent suppression of natural testosterone, it may lessen it to a certain degree, as your body will still have lengthy periods later in the day when there is little testosterone circulating, and so it may still produce some.
Now if we look at cycle duration, 4-6 weeks seems too short to have any real effect at a low dose, but how can we use dianabol for longer without placing more risk on our liver? The solution is actually quite simple; by taking weekends off from the drug we will give our livers a break from processing the drug. Due to the short half-life any active substances will be out of our system within 24 hours of your last dose, now this may seem like it will cost you gains, but in actual fact it will cost you little or no losses in the long run as even though there is no active drug in the body the effects are still present i.e. extra intramuscular water, and a more anabolic mineral balance. These effects usually taper off over several days. This method will not however, help your natural testosterone to return from its inhibited state, as this process can take considerably longer. If we take weekends off and use a lower dose, we should in theory be able to use dianabol for 10 weeks with no problems. A simple bit of mathematics can show this point best:
- 6 weeks @25mg each day = 1050mg of Dianabol in total
- 10 weeks with weekends off @15mg each day = 750mg of Dianabol in total
So as you can see, by using this system your liver will actually process less dianabol than in a conventional cycle, add this to the fact that you can make gains for 10 weeks instead of 6, and with fewer side effects, and you get a very solid cycle.
This Cycle Theory can be applied in many different situations, for instance a beginner could use the dianabol on it's own for 10 weeks and gain very well. A more experienced steroid user could use this alongside an injectable cycle for very good gains too, getting the benefit of the initial quick gains of the Dianabol, with the slower but stronger gains of an injectable.
This cycle may seem to go against many of the current trends of dianabol use, but I believe that by using dianabol as a supplement to good training and nutrition you can make very good gains.