What is Andarine?
Andarine, or S4 to use its shorthand name, is part of a fairly new family of medicines called SARMs. They were developed in the 1990s by James Dalton and Andarine was the first creation. As with most groups of drugs, whether legal or illegal, it is much easier to use the acronym than the full name. It is a bit like using your nickname rather than your full name; everyone knows who you are but it saves a lot of time.
To understand what Andarine is, you do need to know a bit about what SARM actually stands for. For starters it is not an anabolic steroid, as most compounds used to help with ‘cutting’ leaner muscle are. SARM means ‘selective androgen receptor modulator’. That is a bit of a mouthful. Let’s break it down.
Like many drugs that have ended up in use by the general public, Andarine was first developed to help alleviate the symptoms of some long-term health conditions. SARMs are designed to quickly build muscle and bone density in patients without the hormonal interfering that using a steroid would result in. This means that in clinical trials Andarine was used in mainly elderly patients who had osteoporosis and muscle-wasting disorders. The results did show dramatic improvements in a relatively short time in terms of both strength and endurance. It was not long before this was picked up by the bodybuilding and athletic circles as a potential supplement!
The attraction to using Andarine mainly lies with the milder nature of the drug compared to steroids. Andarine will still give you noticeably more chiselled muscles in only a few weeks on quite a low dose, along with a drop in body fat that most athletes and non-athletes alike would find most welcome. The muscle you would build is higher density and means you’re your stamina also increases, allowing longer gym sessions which further boost results.
As it is ‘specific’ then it means much less damage to the liver and prostate, almost no ‘masculising of features’ at all (very good news for women who want to build muscle without growing a beard), plus the way it binds does not lead to oestrogen release so it does not lead to man-boobs or water retention either. Everyone wins. With a short half-life of around 3-6 hours the amount in the bloodstream lowers quickly, so if you get unwanted side effects they will not stick around for weeks.
A bonus beneficial ‘side effect’ is also that SARMs, like steroids, lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is the ‘stress hormone’ that you probably have too much of due to the crazy world we live in. Cortisol also breaks down muscle after strenuous exercise; precisely the opposite of what you want! By blocking cortisol the path to muscle growth is smoothed even further.
Andarine works by mimicking testosterone. The problem with this is that the body thinks it has loads of testosterone and so doesn’t think it needs to make more. If you use Andarine you will end up with lower levels of testosterone and that still leads to low sex drive, impotence, anxiety and low mood, however selectively the drug may act. Andarine is still better than anabolic steroids as the side effect is less severe, but it is still there. You have been warned.
The most common side effects reported are, surprisingly, issues with vision. This is because one of the substances that your body breaks Andarine down into has an annoying tendency to stick to the receptors in your eyes. It means that poor night vision, eye pain and a yellow tint that may make you think you are in an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ are all very real possibilities.
Finally, it is a really bad idea to consume any alcohol whilst taking Andarine. Your liver will already be working pretty hard to deal with the fall out from the drug without making it deal with breaking down alcohol too. If you mix the two then expect to suffer some liver damage.
If you want to take Andarine then the anecdotal evidence is to keep the dose low to avoid the worst of the side effects. It is oral and not injected, so if you aim for a daily dose of 25mg with five days on followed by 2 days off for an 8 week cycle you can still have noticeable muscle gain. It would be wise to consider following a cycle with ‘post cycle therapy’, or PCT, which are hormonal regulating drugs.
The reason that the dosage is a suggestion, however, is also the reason that you will struggle to find genuine reviews (although you can find plenty of positive reviews on the sites that are selling SARMs… you decide whether these are unbiased!). Andarine, along with all the other SARMs, were added to the banned substances list in 2008 for all competitive sports and have also not been cleared as legal food supplements. That means that if you decide to buy some it will be clearly marked as ‘not for human consumption’. This hasn’t stopped plenty of companies selling it and some even adding it to their supplements without advertising the fact it is in there.
Andarine is comfortably a safer option than anabolic steroids are with similar outcomes. There is unfortunately no getting away from the fact that it is still illegal to sell it if you know someone plans to put it in their mouth. It is not fully tested, has some unpleasant short-term side effects and unknown long-term ones. This said, a recent study found that there were higher levels of SARMs than cocaine present in London sewers (a great way to find out what people are actually taking). So, regardless of the legal status of Andarine, plenty of people are taking their chances in the quest for the elusive ‘perfect body’. It’s up to you what you want to do with yours and what price you are willing to pay for the results you dream of.