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Anabolic Steroid Synthesis

One question that a lot of people ask but few seem to know the answer is “where do steroids come from?”. Of course, some of them can be extracted from human or animal tissues such as ovaries, testes or adrenals or even from bodily fluids such as urine or plasma. Some can even be found in plants. Most steroids are manufactured because extracting them from plants or animals would not be cost effective. The manufacturing of steroids is achieved through organic chemical synthesis. There are many methods that can be used but none of them are suited to kitchen chemistry. These syntheses can be dangerous, explosive and/or deadly – so don’t get any stupid ideas – this information is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This series of articles will explore the synthesis of many common and a few uncommon steroids from some readily available steroid precursors. The important thing to remember about organic chemistry is that it can be rare for only one product to be produced. Often there are several byproducts of a reaction that will contaminate the desired end product.

These byproducts would need to be removed, especially if they were hazardous. It is also important to remember that it is critical to maintain the correct reaction conditions to produce the desired product in the maximum yield. Some of these reaction conditions have been deliberately omitted to help prevent the reproduction of these reactions by those who are not trained organic chemists. Finally, these reactions are not necessarily those that would be optimal for producing the end product shown but rather to demonstrate the ability to produce AAS from more common ingredients.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), represented as (A) above, is a common dietary supplement that is legally sold in just about every nutritional supplement store. It is fairly cheap at about $250 or sometimes less per kilo. Reaction of DHEA with an excess of methyl magnesium bromide results in 17-alpha methylandrost-5-enediol (B), also known as methandriol. Oppenaur oxidation in the presence of aluminium tert butylate and excess acetone results in the formation of methyltestosterone (C). In the next installment you will see how to make one of the rarest AAS from a readily available starting material.

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