SARM stands for selective androgen receptor modulator. They are hormone like molecules that act like androgens or “anabolic steroids” in certain tissues without having the androgenic side effects of testosterone. The bad side effects of testosterone are hair loss and prostate enlargement, which a SARM does not promote. SARMs are in development from many sources and the popular prohormone 19Nor-Androstenediol was just reported to have SARM-like effects in men. Some SARMS are in development already including ARYL-PROPIONAMIDE and something code-named JNJ-28330835. The problem with these is that they don’t provide fully equal muscle stimulation to testosterone and its metabolites so they lack the potency to be used as proper muscle building agents in younger men. SARMs are improving in potency and some day we may see a commercially available SARM but, for now, they are not available to the public as androgen replacement therapy or androgen augmentation therapy. SARM technology provides the most benefit to older men that want the muscle building properties and bone density increase that one receives from testosterone, but don’t want the side effects like prostate enlargement that can effect men over 50.
pSARMs are phyto-SARMS or plant based SARMs. pSARMs can come in a variety of plant based sources and constituents that act as phyto-androgens in certain tissues. Phyto-androgens are available in many different forms but they usually share a similar structure and function. Often, they are closely related to phyto-estrogens and often mis-categorized because both androgens and estrogens are anabolic in bone, yet previously only estrogens were thought to be anabolic in bone. Phyto-androgens are great because they give similar muscle building effects like testosterone yet seem to lack the prostate and hair loss stimulation effects of testosterone and pro-hormones. Included, is a list of some of the more popular phyto-androgens on the market and a list of some items that are being called SARM’s yet lack the science to be called a SARM.
What are Herbal Testosterone Boosters?
There are many herbal products that can boost testicular androgen production. These have been marked by many years of re-introduction of the same tired old ingredients with a few superstars appearing from time to time. Tribulus has a mix bag of reviews and it is really not a known quantity. However, at high doses and standardized, it does seem to have some effect.
Do SARMS and pSARMs Build Muscle?
SARMs by their nature are meant to be anabolic in muscle tissue. So, yes, in theory they should be potent or reasonably potent builders of muscle. pSARMs can indeed build muscle but that depends mainly on the potency and dose of the pSARM. If too little of the pSARM is used, the subject will get a negative result. With some of the more potent pSARMs taken at high doses they can mimic some of the effects of anabolic steroids. The trick is finding the right dose that stimulates muscle without having negative side effects in other tissues.
Icariin – the main phyto-androgen from Epimedium, or better known as Horny Goat Weed (HGW), has a study that shows it has phyto-androgen type effects. Although this paper isn’t very conclusive and is quite weak on science, it is something of a start and HGW may have some anabolic effects. Unfortunately, real world results have not shown HGW to live up to the hype. However, it isn’t a bad ingredient for other reasons (e.g., boosting NO and increasing sex drive). Some people speculate that HGW and its constituents have estrogenic effects, which wouldn’t be a good thing, but Icariin doesn’t seem to have that effect. So, look for HGW with a 70% or greater amount of Icariin. The verdict on this one is certainly not clear and it is too early to tell if this will make a solid pSARM. Icariin is something that might work, but the jury is still out on its usefulness.
Osthole (Osthol) – An extract of Cnidium, Osthole is shown in a few studies to have positive effects on NO and, in one study, to have phyto-androgen or pSARM activity. Also, this ingredient has been tested in many supplements and has a lot of anecdotal feedback on being effective. Look for at least an 80% extract to be potent enough to have a pSARM effect. Osthole seems to impart its effect by mimicking the effects of testosterone in specific tissues. This is probably one of the best phyto-SARMs on the market and real world results prove this to be a very capable pSARM that can have a positive effect on strength and endurance.
Hibiscus – This flower extract seems like an unlikely candidate for phyto-androgenic effects but it has been shown in many studies to have direct anabolic effects in muscle tissue. Hibiscus has been shown to be a potent stimulator of muscle growth and a sexual stimulant. Standardized Hibiscus extract is one of the most exciting finds to hit the market recently. The two major Hibiscus species that have anabolic properties are Hibiscus Rosa sinensis and Hibiscus Macranthus, both of which have been shown to have positive benefits. Stick to the water-based extracts since the ethanolic extraction method seems to pick up some negative ingredients that can cause issues.
White Ginger – Although this ingredient is tough to find, it does seem to have pSARM activity based on a few studies. White Ginger is not the same as the ginger we use for spices however. Straight ginger seems to have testosterone boosting effects while white ginger has direct androgenic effects, making it a potent pSARM. A supplement company that can find this extract stands to have a very popular and potent product.
Diandrone or Dianadrone – This is not a pSARM; it is simply the hormone DHEA. DHEA is not selective and is, indeed, an androgenic prohormone on its own. There is reason to use this in supplements, but it is not a pSARM at all, or a even a SARM for that matter. DHEA is a well-known hormone having slight androgenic activity on its own and can convert into testosterone. By itself, DHEA has been shown to not have any muscle building effect, most likely because of it being rapidly cleared from the body. However, this should not be classified as a pSARM.
Eucommia Ulmoides – This herbal ingredient seems to have a pSARM effect but is pretty hard to find in the standardization needed to elicit an anabolic effect. It has been shown that the constituents of Eucommia can have a direct androgenic effect on muscle and others (caprylates) can increase androgen sensitivity. It is certainly a very good candidate for a pSARM once a company figures out how to best standardize for its proper constituents. The raw bark would, theoretically, take grams to have a positive effect, making this impossible to use as a supplement.
pSARM – Phytotestosterone