Whether you’re considering using oral steroids for a cycle, or are already using them in your current fitness routine, you need to know how to protect your liver in order to avoid irreversible damage. The following can help shed light on whether or not you should be concerned about your liver health and the steps you can take to ensure you keep your liver functioning at optimal levels.
Not all Steroids are Created Equally
First, it is important that you understand that not all oral steroids cause liver damage. For instance, several readily available steroids such as pregnenolone, androstenediol and DHEA are not toxic to the liver. Only steroids that have had a modification to their structure called ‘methylation in the 17th position’ cause toxicity and damage.
This structure modification is prevalent in ’17-aa’ steroids such as M-Drol, Superdrol and Beastdrol, and causes them to bypass the liver and avoid excretion. This gives them a higher potency than other types of steroids and causes adverse effects to the digestive system- , mainly the liver.
How the Liver Functions
Understanding how the liver functions helps to stress the importance of protecting it. The liver works as the main filter of the body, removing dangerous toxins from the blood. It also works as a storage unit for pertinent vitamins and minerals, and keeps proteins, sugars, and cholesterol in balance.
The liver is also responsible for producing a substance called bile, which aids in food digestion. Because steroids are difficult for the body to break down, it can cause a notable decrease in the liver’s ability to break down and flush out waste products. This leads to a damaging, and sometimes lethal, buildup of toxins in the body.
What do Steroids do to the Liver?
Steroid use can lead to a reduction of bile secretion, which is a condition known as cholestasis. This is a type of drug-induced hepatitis and is commonly seen in bodybuilders who utilize steroids in a training regimes.
Although a physician can easily treat this disorder, it can lead to liver failure if left untreated. There is no known medication to reverse cholestasis, therefore abstaining from steroid use and following a liver detoxification program is the only way to revert the liver back to its normal healthy state.
The main symptoms of cholestasis are:
- pain in the upper right quadrant of abdomen,
- pale stools
- dark urine
How to Protect the Liver while taking Steroids?
Several natural supplements are available that will help support liver function and detoxify it in the process. There are also certain foods that can be added into your daily diet to support and protect it. Drinking plenty of water also helps to keep your liver functioning optimal levels, and works to flush out damaging toxins.
One of the most effective liver protection supplements available is milk thistle. This herbal supplement works to detoxify the liver and protect its vital functions.
Milk thistle has been used for over 2000 years in the treatment and prevention of liver disorders. It gets its name from a milky type of fluid that is secreted when the plant’s leaves are crushed. However, it is the seeds that are responsible for its liver protecting qualities.
The active constituent in this plant’s seeds is a bioflavonoid complex called silymarin. Silymarin has been proven extremely therapeutic in the treatment and support of damaged livers in many double-blind studies. Not only is it proven effective in removing harmful toxins from the liver’s tissues, it also helps to regenerate damaged cells caused by steroid usage.
The recommended dosage of milk thistle for those utilizing steroids is 250 to 500 milligrams per day.
Another widely used liver protection supplement is chicory root. Chicory root has been used as a cleansing herb for centuries. It works in much the same way as milk thistle, in that it has detoxification properties. Using a good quality chicory supplement in addition to milk thistle can offer double protection against liver damage while using steroids.
Watch what you Eat while taking Steroids
Aside from supplements, strategic diet planning can provide protection against steroid use. Because your liver is responsible for filtering everything you consume, it can be protected or damaged by the foods you choose.
Because steroids already place a burden on your liver, eating foods that are organically grown and free of preservatives can save your liver from being burdened with even more toxins. Organic foods must be free of pesticides and growth hormones which can react negatively with many types of steroids and overload the liver. By consuming all organic foods, your liver is free to focus on flushing out other forms of toxins.
Limit any foods that contain trans fats or hydrogenated oils. Trans-fats are especially hard to liver and can hinder its function. The over consumption of trans fats, which are found in many processed foods, is known to lead to fatty liver disease. Because steroid use can cause the liver to inefficiently break down fats, consuming foods high in trans fats creates an extreme fat overload on the liver.
Increasing the number of sulfur rich foods in your diet cannot only help your liver to detoxify itself of environmental toxins, it can also help promote overall liver function. All vegetables that belong to the cruciferous family, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, along with onions and garlic, helps to detoxify and reduce burdens placed on the liver by steroid use.
Reduce exposure to Chemicals
Because the liver helps process and eliminate chemicals, eliminating as many sources of chemicals and contaminants as possible is important for liver protection. It is highly advisable to use a water filtration system in your home and use all- natural cleaning products. This helps to reduce the burden on the liver and protect it from toxin overload.
Signs of Liver Damage
The most common warning signs of serious liver damage are:
- decreased appetite
- nausea accompanied by fever
- jaundice (yellowing eyes and skin)
- dark urine and bloody stools
If any of these symptoms are experienced while utilizing steroids a physician should be notified immediately in order to prevent irreversible damage.