Post Cycle Therapy - Why you need to do it
Back in the old days (50's-70's) when steroids were first popularized in the bodybuilding culture, no one ran PCT. It wasn?t until Dan Duchaine wrote his famous book "The Underground Steroid Handbook" that PCT became widely known. Guys were running 21 week cycles with no PCT and yet gynecomastia was still a fairly rare occurrence. Guys were even able to keep some of their mass gains without doing a PCT. Duchaine advocated the use of Nolvadex as the preferred compound for recovery of HPTA after steroid usage. He also advocated the use of Clomid as it has mimetic properties of LH so the use of both together would block estrogen receptors in the breast and help to raise testosterone levels at the same time. At the time, Duchaine recommended getting the stuff in Mexican pharmacies as no prescription was needed to purchase the drugs. Now these drugs have fallen in to a grey area of the law and are available as research chemicals from several online retailers.
Today there is a growing concern among users of research chemicals as to the purity, the legality and privacy issues. Recently "Operation Raw Deal" closed several research chemical retail sites and has people somewhat on edge about purchasing these chemicals. So what can we use to recover HPTA function as quickly as possible and that has no legal, purity or privacy issues?
Luckily, there is growing evidence that a natural SERM has been found in a compound found in wine grapes. The compound? Trans-Resveratrol. The research body is still growing on this wonderful compound but early indications and independent lab tests show that it acts as an antagonist to estrogen when estrogen is present. Moreover, it is selective to breast tissue estrogen receptors. So what does this mean? A SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) blocks estrogen from binding to estrogen receptors in breast tissue, which prevents the formation of ?***** tits? after a cycle of steroids. These small boobs are the most feared side effect of steroid users. The major cause of these "***** tits" is the sudden rise of testosterone and thus estrogen during the restoration of HPTA and the estrogen exerting an effect on Estrogen Receptors in breast tissue.
Recovering HPTA Function - Testosterone
Recovering HPTA involves getting our hormones back to a normal level or homeostasis. So what does that entail? I have read several articles that said that boosting LH is going to boost test production. While this may be somewhat true there are plenty of study?s that suggest that males suffering hypogonadism have plenty of LH circulating the body but that the testes do not respond to this message to produce testosterone. So getting our test production back online involves using many different pathways to tell the testes to get busy producing testosterone again.
HPTA recovery involves boosting testosterone production. So how exactly does that work? Are there natural compounds that will boost testosterone? Icarrin which is a compound extracted from Horny Goat Weed is just such a compound. In one study it was determined that Icarriin had testosterone mimetic properties and could be used to treat hypoandrogenism or a lack of androgens in the body. Icariin also is a PDE-5 inhibitor as is the active in Viagra. So Icariin can also help you get your libido back online after a steroid cycle. Libido seems to be directly related to the amounts of androgens circulating in the body which is a direct function of HPTA. So far we have covered two compounds that can help to recover HPTA function. Are there more?
Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) is an increasingly promising compound on the market and has very interesting properties. I3C can be found in leafy green, cruciferous vegetables such as green cabbage and broccoli. So what is the buzz around I3C? I3C has been purported to have cancer fighting abilities. Interestingly enough its properties include controlling and metabolizing estrogen. Wow! I3C also blocks estrogen receptors in breast tissue so it adds to the SERM properties of Trans-Resveratrol. Recently study's have shown that Trans-Resveratrol may have some agonistic properties on e-2 estrogen receptors. In this PCT protocol we include I3C as a secondary ER modulator to make sure that we cover all the bases.
Lastly, we want to include something to inhibit the rise of SHBG or Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. What does SHBG do? SHBG binds to sex hormones (estrogen and Testosterone) and basically renders them inactive in the body. We have all heard about testosterone boosters that free bound testosterone. Bound testosterone means that SHBG has bound to it and rendered it inactive as it is not able to bind to androgen receptors to have the effects we are looking for to help us keep the gains we have worked so hard for. Divanil is one such compound that has a higher affinity for SHBG than testosterone and consequently estrogen as well.
So now we have recovered testosterone and are on our way to homeostasis. We are now three weeks into our PCT and have blocked estrogen from attaching to estrogen receptors in the breast tissue but as testosterone production has skyrocketed, so has estrogen production, especially since we are inhibiting SHBG?s effects. So what should we do to inhibit estrogen?s effects?
This is where an Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) comes into play. Great! Let?s just eradicate estrogen since it is so evil! Well, this isn?t a good idea on several levels. Estrogen is important for muscle generation as well as immune system health and bone health. This is why a lot of people get sick in PCT. Since testosterone and estrogen have likely been suppressed our immune systems are not as strong and have trouble fighting off infection.
There are several AI's on the market and here we will cover one popular choice in 6-oxo. 6-oxo is a very effective compound which is not a complete inhibitor therefore, it let's some estrogen exist while eradicating a majority of it. The idea with AI's is to control estrogen and let it come back to a normal level at a slowed rate. The dosing scheme we will employ starts high in the beginning, and tapers the dose down. This dosing scheme will also help to minimize the possibility of any estrogen rebound as we let the estrogen levels return to a normal state at a controlled rate. AI's should be run towards the end of PCT (weeks 3-4 through weeks 6-7).
Prolactin is another hormone we must be concerned with. It is released from the
Pituitary when dopamine is suppressed. Prolactin gyno has symptoms such as puffy nipples, lumps under the nipples and a clear leakage of fluid from the nipples when squeezed.
There are several ways to combat these sides. Cabergoline, high dosages of B-6 and L-Dopa have been reported to help with prolactin gyno. Cabergoline has a reputation as being highly toxic. B-6 can be toxic at high dosages for extended periods and L-dopa can have unwanted sides as well. All of these compounds are meant to be taken for short periods only to quell the sides of prolactin. If you feel ill or experience numbing in the extremities stop dosages immediately.
Tying it all Together
Now we are going to tie all this information together into a protocol to follow for PCT. We have laid out all the problems to solve so let?s cover them now as a refresher.
Inhibit the effects of SHBG
Aromatase Inhibition/Estrogen control
What products can we take that will accomplish all of our goals?
Trans Resveratrol ? Estrogen control
I3C ? Estrogen control
Icariin ? Testosterone Booster
Divanil ? SHBG binder
6-oxo (Trione) ? Estrogen control/LH booster/Testosterone booster
ZMA ? Purported to boost HGH secretion
Now we will go over the dosing protocol and the products we will use to formulate our PCT.
Trans-Resveratrol/Icariin - Post Cycle Support from Anabolic Innovations has seen some very good results for PCT from cycles as mild as H-Drol to cycles as harsh as Bold/P-Plex/Trena. The estrogen receptor modulating properties of Trans-Res are well documented in independent studies. While this compound is promising we still need to include other estrogen antagonistic compounds to be sure all the bases are covered.
I3C - Indole-3-Carbinol has been shown to be an excellent estrogen metabolizer as well as having antagonistic properties on estrogen receptors in breast tissue. It is a great add to our protocol and helps rid the body of estrogens as well as protecting against gyno.
ZMA - Zinc, Magnesium Aspertate. Although studies are mixed on this compound it is a good add as it is purported to boost GH production. GH production is highest while we sleep and the addition of valerian root to most ZMA products helps with a deeper sleep and more REM which is when GH is released. The body is also depleted of magnesium and zinc as we exert high levels of exercise induced stress so the addition of ZMA helps to keep those levels in check.
One element we haven't talked about is cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that when released makes the body hold onto adipose fat tissue. As the body starts to recover it?s test production the release of cortisol goes up. To combat this rise we add in a cortisol blocker such as 7-OH a metabolite of DHEA. I like Lean Xtreme for this job as it also contains fat metabolizing compounds such as Forskolin and Green Tea Extract. I include this for three weeks to combat any rise in cortisol and to help with leaning out during PCT without cutting caloric intake.
As we continue on our path to recovery it becomes important to control the rise of estrogen as well as the rise of SHBG. We also want to continue to increase the production of testosterone. Two compounds I like to use for this are 6-oxo and Activate Xtreme.
6-oxo - Controls estrogen by eliminating the aromatase enzyme which is responsible for conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Because 6-oxo is not a complete aromatase inhibitor it allows some conversion of estrogen which is preferable in PCT. By inhibiting the production of estrogen it throws the T/E ratio out of whack and prompts the pituitary to release more LH thus boosting the production of testosterone.
Activate Xtreme - This divanil/icariin based testosterone booster helps by utilizing two pathways. Divanil is an SHBG binder with a higher affinity for SHBG than testosterone or estrogen. Since we are inhibiting estrogen conversion it's boost of estrogen isn't a big deal. Icariin as we have covered is a testosterone mimetic which boosts the production of testosterone in the body.