While most of us are familiar with the term steroids, the same is not true of saponins.
Most of us equate steroids with massive musculature in men (and sometimes women) gained with the use of injectable anabolic steroids.
But what are saponins? More importantly, what’s the link between steroids in saponins and how they affect the body?
Understanding steroidal saponins is not only beneficial for health and wellness, but for anyone considering use of steroids for other than intended purposes. Buy Testo-Max online here.
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They are found in plants; a chemical compound or secondary metabolite that helps proteins penetrate cellular membranes.
Protein is the foundation of cell growth and replication.
They are also defined as amphipathic glycosides that behave as hemolytic agents.
Hemolytic agents can be toxic to blood components and affect blood clotting mechanisms.
Those found in a variety of plants have been used for thousands of years in traditional folklore medicine to treat poisoning (by mushrooms), as well as their effect as antipyretic (fever reducing) and diaphoretic (sweating) agents.
Today, they have gained the interest of medical researchers for their potential to block the absorption of cholesterol and to decrease the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
They’re also being studied for their potential to improve function of the gastrointestinal tract and perhaps even in their ability to interfere with cancerous tumor growths.
Despite this interest, the clinical trials and studies are still limited in nature and scope.
They are available in over-the-counter nutritional or dietary supplements found in common herbal products like fenugreek, foxglove, and nightshade.
They’re also found in Yucca liquid extracts and Blue Agave. So what exactly do they have to do with steroids?
Use of steroidal saponins has become increasingly popular for bodybuilders and athletes.
Why? Because they are considered a foundation or building block of steroids that increase the body’s potential to synthesize its own steroids.
In other words they help the body (through greater cellular access by proteins) to manufacture steroids that enhance muscle growth (bulking).
They’re also perceived to raise testosterone levels – a hormone associated with muscle and strength.
One of the major sources of steroidal saponins today is through dietary supplements like Bulgarian Tribulus terrestris, a common, weed-like plant that now grows in dry regions around the world.
More commonly known as Puncture Vine or Devil’s Weed, this herb/plant is not only known to have the capability of boosting testosterone levels in the body through pituitary gland support, but is also extremely rich in saponins.
A number of nutritional supplements like Tribulus terrestris contain anywhere from 45% and 95% steroidal saponins, including one of the most important, protodioscin.
Fenugreek has also been under study in regard to its steroidal benefits.
The protodioscin saponin is considered legal, unlike many anabolic steroids, and can be taken orally with few side effects.
Protodioscin is believed to increase androgen receptor concentrations in cellular structures, encouraging those structures to become more sensitive to androgens like DHT and testosterone.
Protodioscin has been noted to be effective in initiating the release of nitric oxide in penile as well as other corpus cavernosum (erectile) tissues that contribute to erections.
It’s also been studied in its ability to increase levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) in some animal studies (“The hormonal effects of Tribulus terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction – and evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat.”).
Conclusive and in-depth studies regarding the same potential in humans is currently lacking.
In essence, they are perceived to be able to enhance testosterone levels, and testosterone is often equated with muscular growth and development.
They are found in a number of testosterone replacement therapy products including the gel Testofen®, a testosterone product marketed for its ability to increase testosterone levels that in turn increase libido, sexual function, and other benefits.
Just this one product contains not only steroidal, but also furostanol saponins and fenusides; precursors in the synthesis or production of sex hormones. This product is commonly prescribed in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
While research is definitely on the side of saponins, it should be noted that taking steroidal saponins for increased strength, testosterone levels, or in the synthesis of sex hormones are still under study. While they may work for some, they don’t work for everyone.
A number of factors also come into play in the effectiveness of any drug or over-the-counter dietary supplement such as age, medical condition, lifestyle, diet, and attitude.
Individuals diagnosed with a medical condition and taking prescription or over-the-counter medication to treat that condition should avoid use of steroidal saponins or any anabolic steroid product without consulting with a physician.
While they are getting a good deal of attention these days, more study and research with large, controlled study groups and consistent results are still required, not only in determination of efficacy, but in dosage recommendations.