How Steroids Work in the Body

picture of how steroids work

Steroids, like all drugs, act by manipulating the levels of chemicals the body already produces

Take a good look at any bodybuilder who uses steroids and there is one certain conclusion that can be drawn about these drugs  they work. But knowing that steroids will pump you up isn’t enough to insure that using them will sculpt you into the physical specimen you see in men’s fitness magazines. Knowing the biological and pharmacological functions of how these drugs pump you up is an important step to safe and effective steroid use.

Steroids, like all drugs, act by manipulating the levels of chemicals the body already produces. It the case of steroids, the chemical is the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is found in both men and women but it is far more prevalent in men. It is the hormone that gives men facial hair, deeper voices and, of coarse, larger muscles.

When a user ingests steroids there are several processes that the body goes through. The first process, called absorption, deals with how the drug is administered. Steroids are either taken orally, in pill form, or intramuscularly by hypodermic needle. Oral steroids are ingested like food, through the stomach and small intestine. Acids in the stomach break down the pills and separate the testosterone from the carrier substances in the pill. The drugs are then carried through the small intestine and the liver before entering the blood stream. Injecting steroids bypasses the digestive tract and puts the drug directly into the bloodstream.

During the distribution process is when steroids begin their work. Distribution is just the drug moving through the body by way of the blood stream. Testosterone, like all hormones, acts as a chemical messenger to the body. As steroids move through the body, they send their message by attaching themselves to specialized protein receptors in cells that trigger the growth of new proteins. These proteins build muscle mass and strength throughout the body. This process occurs naturally in the body without the use of steroids, but the drugs increase the amount of testosterone in the body and the frequency in which they bind to the proteins in the cells. It is this increase in biological activity, called Ribonucleic Acid Activity, or RNA activity, that gives steroid users their exaggerated muscle mass.

Even as the testosterone is being picked up by the receptors to begin the process of creating new proteins, the body starts another process to get rid of the unwanted toxins associated with steroids. Metabolism occurs in the liver where these toxins are broken down and made ready to be excreted from the body. The higher the dose of steroids ingested, the higher the amount of toxins the body must metabolize. Detoxifying the body is hard on the liver and is one of the most harmful side effects of steroid use.

After the liver has metabolized the steroids, the body gets rid of the toxins and waste through excretion. Drug toxins can leave the body through urine, sweat glands and even breath from the lungs. In the case of steroids, the body uses a combination of the three, which is why acne on the skin and bad breath are often associated with use of anabolic steroids.

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