Selective androgen receptor modulators, known as SARMS are drugs currently in development for conditions such as muscle wasting, muscular dystrophy and other skeletal muscular conditions. Technically, any steroid that is more anabolic than androgenic could be considered to be a SARM since it is “selective” for anabolic effects. These new drugs, for the most part are different because they are nonsteroidal, meaning that they do not have the stereotypical 4 ring structure of other steroid hormones.
These drugs are being developed to provide anabolic effects with little to no androgenic effects. This will reduce side effects and allow them to be used in a broader population including women and children. Additionally, since these drugs are nonsteroidal, they cannot be metabolized to estrogens and are unlikely to exert estrogenic effects. Reducing estrogenicity with reduce the shutdown of natural testosterone production that occurs with aromatizing anabolic steroids. However, since shutdown is mediated through androgenic as well as estrogenic pathways, there is still the possibility for reductions in natural testosterone production. The lack of estrogen will also reduce the possibility of other side effects such as gynecomastia, the growth of breast tissue in men. This side effect may not be completely eliminated though with the use of SARMS since a reduction in total body androgenicity can also result in disruption of the androgen/estrogen balance and a resulting growth in breast tissue.
There are quite a few of these drugs in development with Ostarine probably being the closest to market. Several SARMS have actually found their way onto the black market, being sold as “research chemicals”. Ostarine is actually currently being sold illicitly in some over the counter bodybuilding supplements such as OSTAPURE or Osta SARM. There is no guarantee that these products contain what is advertised, but if they do, the dose provided is 10 to 20 times what is safely being tested in the clinic.
Though these drugs are being designed to have fewer side effects than traditional anabolic steroids we must remember that they are still new drugs. As such, they do not have a long track record of safe use. It often takes many years after a drug is on the market for its side effect profile to be completely defined. Ostarine has already been shown in the medical literature to reduce natural testosterone levels while increasing liver enzymes – and this was at a 3 mg per day dose.
Though SARMS are currently the hot new thing, there is no compelling reason from an efficacy or safety standpoint to consider breaking the law to use them. There are many legal prohormones or legal steroids still available on the market whose effect and side effect profile are well-known and managed.