by Alex Eriksson, Founder of Anabolic Health
It’s the most dreaded time for any hardcore bodybuilder; the period following completion of a cycle of your favourite anabolic steroids (AAS). In fact, too many athletes lose all their gains of strength and muscle, ending up back at square one or worse. All because of an inability to stay on it indefinitely.
If you stop to think about it, those effects are completely normal. Why? Because following a period of a supra-physiological level of androgens in the blood, the body tries desperately to normalise things.
If aromatising hormones are lingering in your blood (testosterone), the conversion to oestrogen is exponentially increased, not to mention the action of a little-known protein named myostatin, which seeks to maintain the status quo.
Luckily, as you may be well aware of as an experienced lifter, during the weeks following the end of an AAS cycle, it is good practice to take a course of post cycle therapy (PCT) meds. Pharmaceuticals whose primary goal is to prevent the loss of muscle and strength gained while on cycle, and to facilitate the return of normal testicular function.
If you’ve successfully endured the rigors of PCT without side effects, count yourself as one of the lucky ones. However, many people are not as fortunate and experience extremely unpleasant side effects, so much so that many times they are forced to discontinue sufficient PCT. So what can be done to allow adequate recovery of natural testicular function as well as providing maintenance of gains made on an AAS cycle without risk of debilitating side effects?
The answer may lie in running an all natural PCT. Natural PCT includes herbal supplements that have proven or real potential to address an aspect of ideal recovery during the post-cycle phase. If this is your first time embarking on PCT, you are well poised to make use of these natural alternatives and save yourself the heartache of adverse effects.
Consider incorporating these into your PCT and as on cycle support:
1. Fadogia Agrestis
As part of the ideal PCT cocktail, synthetic HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is administered to stimulate the Leydig cells to begin producing its natural testosterone again.
This is good, since following cessation of your AAS cycle your natural production struggles to get back on track as fast as you would like it to. This is part of the reason why losses following stoppage of a steroid are so common. However, HCG administration comes with a few problems of its own, such as:
- Inconvenient dosage forms – must be administered intramuscularly or via subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.
- HCG Is difficult to obtain and expensive.
- HCG could precipitate gynecomastia in sensitive individuals, since in addition to increasing testosterone production, oestrogen conversion is increased as well.
Fadogia Agrestis may be a superior option for you since it is available in the convenient oral form, is readily available and best of all can help you preserve your gains.
Fadogia can override HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular-axis) shutdown that happens while on cycle, as demonstrated by full heavy testicular size. Used during the last few weeks of your cycle as well as PCT, or even throughout the whole cycle is widely accepted, as opposed to only consuming during PCT. Teste shrinkage and atrophy from the use of AAS can take time to recover full function. Large testes are indicative of normal synthesis of androgens and spermatogenesis.
Fadogia is also popular for its aphrodisiac and pro-erectile properties and is included in sexual enhancement products.
2. Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia)
An extremely popular testosterone boosting supplement that is included in many male enhancement products that increase erection potency, libido and sperm count. Of particular interest to bodybuilders is this herb’s ability to boosts testosterone production via increasing the number of Leydig cells found in the testes, not merely forcing output of more testosterone. The result is a more “normal” production of testosterone, in the sense that it is not beyond capacity of the given number of cells.
Tongkat is also useful for its ability to lower the hormone binding protein, named sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG makes free testosterone inactive and unable to deliver its desired action. As if that’s not enough, Tongkat Ali also acts as an aromatase inhibitor, preventing a colossal load of oestrogen that results from the end of a steroid cycle.
Tongkat Ali can be utilized while on cycle, towards the end to accelerate normal recovery of the testes, as well as during PCT itself to expedite recovery.
3. Arimistane (Anti-Aromatase Supplement)
Arimistane (androsta-3 5-diene-7 17-dione), despite its steroid sounding name, is not something that will affect natural testosterone synthesis. In fact, it is produced by our bodies as a byproduct of DHEA metabolism and is present in urine. Arimistane has been found to be the most potent non-prescription aromatase inhibitor available, useful for controlling oestrogen symptoms while on cycle or preventing mass conversion of testosterone to estrogen during the PCT phase.
4. Ellagic Acid With Eucheuma Cottioni (Natural SERMS)
SERMs (selective oestrogen receptor modulators) are a mainstay during PCT, owing to their ability to block oestrogen where it’s not needed, and allowing it where it is. For example, two critical places SERMs act are to block the effect of oestrogen from interacting with its receptor in breast tissue, along with preventing estrogen from negatively influencing HPTA recovery. The two most frequently used prescription SERMs, Nolvadex and Clomid, though exceptionally useful, are loaded with possible adverse effects.
Enter the combination of Ellagic acid and E.Cottioni, two scientifically studied natural supplements that are making waves in the field of PCT. Ellagic acid is a polyphenolic compound found in various berries, while E.Cottioni is extracted from red edible seaweed grown primarily in the Philippines Region. E.Cottioni is as strong as prescription Nolvadex and may be stronger as well. Ellagic acid exhibits real SERM effect at different oestrogen receptor subtypes but is favorable as part of PCT. Both of these are readily available on the supplement market both as stand-alone products as well as in combination.
5. Epicatechin (Myostatin Inhibitor)
Epicatechin is a compound found in dark chocolate and raw cacao powder, which has garnered a lot of interest in recent years for its ability to unleash muscle growth. Myostatin is a protein found in muscle tissues that dictate the extent to which muscles can grow, effectively causing the muscle gained while on cycle to be difficult to keep. Epicatechin can suppress myostatin levels by on average 16% while boosting follistatin (myostatin’s opposite) by up to 49%.
Though eating a piece of chocolate every now and then will not deliver any noticeable results, daily supplementation with an epicatechin product may show a marked difference over time.