Steroids are substances of animal or, less commonly, plant origin with high biological activity. Steroids are formed in nature from isoprenoid precursors. A feature of the structure of steroids is the presence of a condensed tetracyclic gonan system (the old name is sterane). The gonan ring of steroids can be saturated or partially unsaturated, contain alkyl groups and certain functional groups: hydroxyl, carbonyl or carboxyl.
Steroid hormones are involved in the regulation of metabolism and certain physiological functions of the body. A number of synthetic hormones, for example, prednisolone, are superior to natural analogues in their effect on the body. The group of steroids includes the steroid alcohol cholesterol contained in the human body, as well as bile acids, compounds having a carboxyl group in the side chain, for example, cholic acid.
Steroids also include cardiac glycosides – substances of plant origin (digitalis, strophanthus, thrush) that regulate cardiac activity. In glycosides, the steroid moiety is connected by a glycosidic bond to the oligosaccharide.
Anabolic steroids are already present in your body
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid that your body produces naturally. Regardless of your biological sex. Although the ovaries produce much less of this substance than the testicles, this low level of testosterone contributes to muscle development. Steroids are a large class of chemicals that have a specific structure: a series of four rings. There are literally hundreds of them, and they all perform a wide variety of biological tasks. “Anabolic” means “building”, so anabolic steroids are a type of steroid that promotes protein building. There are many other types of steroids that are not related to muscle growth. Progesterone, for example, is also a steroid, but it regulates the female reproductive system and is not involved in protein production.
Anabolic steroids were once a popular treatment for many conditions, such as osteoporosis, but due to side effects they have simply fallen out of favor with better drugs.
What steroids do athletes use?
Most anabolics that athletes take overlook testosterone. It is much better to produce synthetic steroids that do not have a direct effect on the endocrine system.
A cocktail of three steroids was prepared for the Russian Olympic team: Oxandrolone, Trenbolone and Methenelone. The latter two are considered illegal black market drugs in many countries, both are related to testosterone and are considered powerful tools for muscle growth. Oxandrolone is not as strong and is still available as a prescription drug. Its effects are more specific to muscle building and less specific to secondary sex characteristics, so it is prescribed to patients who need rapid muscle building or healing. Among athletes, this choice is also popular.