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I’ve been somewhat plagued by certain questions ever since I started
reading about steroids a decade ago. Certain ideas just never sat well with me…and
unfortunately, when I asked more questions, I only received similar
answers. When I was introduced to the world of internet steroid boards
about half a decade ago, I posed these same questions to the "powers
that be" on the boards I was a member of. I received many of the same
answers, but my private messages and e-mails to moderators and staff
members on various boards asking for references or some kind of logic
were all left unanswered. On occasion I was offered the profound advice
that it’s "well known that…etc…" and told to stop asking. Well known to
whom? It’s certainly not well known to me.
One of the most annoying and often repeated "well known fact" is that
Nandrolone Decanoate (Deca) improves and soothes your joints by storing
water in them. And, conversely, Winstrol has a "reverse osmotic" effect
on your joints, which makes them ache when you use it, because it draws
water out of your body, joints included. Reverse Osmotic? Wow…if we use
really big words, maybe we’ll sound smart and people will stop asking
questions. I believe this to be the dictum most anabolic steroid boards
are founded on, and probably the way the staff on those boards begin
their evening prayers…
Well, this mode of thinking isn’t good enough for me, and if you’re
reading MESO-Rx or Avant’s website or Mind and Muscle magazine, it’s
not good enough for you either. Hold on, because we’re about to
engineer a paradigm shift!
My first clue to solving this mystery was that Winstrol was DHT
derived, as is Masteron, and I have a friend who gets bad joint
problems when using both of them. A little bit of research revealed
many people shared his affliction. And it was very obvious that many
people who’ve used Deca have found it to alleviate chronic joint
problems and pains. I know that Deca is a 19-nor derived steroid, and I
also know that it’s a progestin, and hence can stimulate the
progesterone receptor (15) about 20% as well as progesterone. I also
know that it aromatizes (converts to estrogen) at a much lesser rate
than testosterone (16). Could the answer somehow lie in estrogen? Well,
Deca doesn’t really aromatize much at all, so maybe there is a synergy
between Deca’s PgR stimulating ability and its low(ish) estrogenic
We certainly know that Estrogen depletion by menopause can decrease
bone mineral density and the replacement of estrogen quickly restores
the bone loss (18). In addition, we know that estrogen is aided in this
by progesterone but that estrogen is more important (19). Collagen is
also subject to improvement by addition of estrogen and progesterone
(20). But is that all? Why do your joints "feel" better on deca?
And where would this leave us, in terms of Winstrol and Masteron
causing pain in joints? I have always thought there was something more
to this. And I think the answer lies in DHT.
You see, DHT administration has been found to decrease estrogen levels
through a variety of mechanisms on peripheral tissue (1). DHT directly
inhibits estrogenic activity on tissues, either by acting as a
competitive antagonist to the estrogen receptor or by decreasing
estrogen receptor binding. Either way, it has two clear mechanisms of
possible action in peripheral tissue.
DHT and its metabolites have further been shown to inhibit
aromatization itself, and this is a possible mechanism whereby it can
reduce circulating levels of estrogen in your body. Indeed, DHT,
androsterone, and 5alpha-androstandione are all potent inhibitors of
the formation of estrone from androstenedione. Finally, DHT acts on the
HPTA to decrease the secretion of gonadotropins (it inhibits it). In
fact, it's so potent at reducing estrogen that transdermal DHT gel
applied to the affected area has been used to treat gynocomastia
(5)(6). Estrogen is the primary culprit in gyno (8), although we know
that progesterone can be synergistic with estrogen in this (and other)
DHT also has a negative effect on Progesterone biosynthesis in cells
(7), and even has the ability to inhibit progesterone elevation caused
by estrogen (10). Therefore DHT would be (and is) very effective in
reducing gyno because it reduces both estrogen as well as progesterone.
This property holds with DHT-derived steroids, for the most part as
well, since Masteron has been found in some cases to have positive
effects in reducing breast tissue tumors(9), which is essentially what
gyno is (albeit benign).
You still with me? Good, because I want you to hold that first idea
(DHT reduces estrogen and progesterone), and put it in the back of your
mind while you read this next part, which is about your immune system.
T helper 1 (TH1) cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as
promoting cell-mediated immune responses, whereas TH2 cells trigger
antibody production (2). Sex hormones (such as progesterone) that
promote the development of a TH2 response also happen to antagonize the
emergence of TH1 cells. Hence, when progesterone levels are (or the
PgR, progesterone receptor) stimulated, you'll have more
anti-inflammatory cytokines floating around and less pro-inflammatory
cytokines. Aspirin, Tylenol, and all of the over the counter
anti-inflammatories are also useful as painkillers. Anti-inflammatory
effects are often highly correlated with pain killing activity. What
happens when women with arthritis get pregnant? They typically see a
reduction in joint pain. This, I contend, is due to the progesterone
and estrogen increases seen during pregnancy, and the anti-inflammatory
effects they generate.
Progesterone, like testosterone, both stimulates humoral immunity (the
TH2) and suppresses cellular immunity (TH1 response). Ergo,
progesterone has anti-inflammatory action. Deca is a progestin, meaning
it stimulates the progesterone receptor. And that’s why it alleviates
joint pains. Remember that old idea that deca promotes
"water-retention" in the joints, and that’s why it helps your joints
feel better? Bullshit. You just read the real reason deca helps joints.
Deca actually works on two fronts as an androgen—which have
well-documented effects on corticosteroids—and as a progestin to reduce
Let’s move on....
Estrogen exerts what is known as a biphasic (two phase) effect. At low
amounts, it is pro-inflammatory, because it stimulates the TH1 arm of
the immune system (cellular immunity) and inflammation. In high(er)
amounts, it is actually an anti-inflammatory (2). So when one takes
very strong anti-estrogens (or aromatase inhibitors), one both loses
water (because estrogen causes water retention) as well as experiences
sore joints due to the pro-inflammatory effects generated from low
Letrozole, which reduces blood plasma levels of estrogen due to
aromatase inhibition, is the best example of this. It is infamous for
causing aching joints. Letrozole decreases both aromatase activity as
well as (obviously) plasma levels of estrogen, and in addition reduces
progesterone levels (3). This is why when people use Letrozole, they
claim it takes "water out of their joints" and makes them ache. Again,
this is total bullshit.
Lowering estrogen will reduce water retention, but of equal importance
it will also limit your body's ability to produce estrogen-mediated
anti-inflammatory reactions to weight training. You lose water and your
joints hurt, which is why the myth exists that lost water in the joints
is the source of discomfort. It is true that you one loses subcutaneous
water when estrogen levels are low, but it's simply not true that
losing this water will make your joints hurt. It is the loss of
estrogen and progesterone’s anti-inflammatory effects that is behind
the aching joints. We can also make the claim that Testosterone can
have some anti-inflammatory effects both through it's aromatization to
estrogen is as well as its effects on corticosteroids. This too, is
Now, let’s see if we can recall that first bit I asked you to
remember....the bit where I told you that DHT reduces estrogen and
progesterone. By now we have established that reductions in both of
those hormones (Estrogen and Progesterone) are caused by DHT and
DHT-derivatives, which carry many of the same properties and produce
And this reduction in Estrogen/Progesterone, caused by DHT, reduces
your body's production of anti-inflammatory and painkilling cytokines.
And this is what causes Winstrol, Masteron, etc to cause joint pain.
And as noted at the beginning of this article, when one undergoes
reductions in estrogen and progesterone, bone mineral density and
collagen will suffer deleterious effects.
So there we have it, finally: a plausible explanation for the
contrasting effects Deca and Winstrol have on joints.
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