SARM’s – Are They Safe?

April 1, 2024

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) have essentially become synonymous with shady black-market supplements that come with a looming danger of side effects and contamination. While this reputation is fundamentally misplaced, it is likely appropriate. SARMs have been recklessly misused by bodybuilders, everyday lifters, and other athletes since they became available. 

SARMs is really a catch-all term for many different compounds that selectively act upon androgen receptors. They are incredibly diverse and designed to target individual tissues. So by their very nature, SARMs can have extremely varied and unique effects (and side effects) throughout the body. 

Despite the recreational and irresponsible misapplication of SARMs, this class of compounds provides similar benefits to anabolic steroids (without the rampant side effects). SARMs may alsohold promise to improve the quality of life experienced by people suffering from many debilitating degenerative diseases. 

However, although SARMs certainly look promising, there is a current lack of research investigating their efficacy and safety in humans. 

What are SARMs Supplements?

SARMs are a class of therapeutic compounds with similar properties as anabolic agents, but with reduced androgenic (masculinizing) properties. They were primarily developed to treat conditions like hypogonadism, cancer, sarcopenia, and other muscle-wasting diseases. 

Some SARMs (but not all) can be an incredibly effective tool for restoring function and improving the quality of life for individuals suffering from these issues. Their “selective” title illustrates their ability to target extremely specific androgen receptors in particular tissues – hopefully turning those switches on, while leaving others turned off. By turning on androgen receptors in specific tissues, SARMs can exert similar effects to testosterone and other anabolic agents in that particular tissue, but (hopefully) not others. 

Instead of turning every single androgen receptor in the body to the “on” position like steroids would, only the targeted ones are flipped. With this precision, individuals utilizing SARMs can avoid the potential side effects of prolonged steroid use. These side effects can include developing acne, liver damage, gynecomastia, shrunken testes, hair growth, and abnormal menstrual cycles. This misconception of SARMs as an allegedly safer alternative to the illegal use of steroids has led to their misuse and has allowed for a large black market to develop.

What SARMs Are Commonly Used For

When used by medical professionals, SARMS can help treat sarcopenia due to old age, bone loss from osteoporosis, and other muscle wasting diseases. For treating these conditions, SARMs may prove to be an excellent tool – especially if you’re worried about the potential side effects of anabolic compounds.   

However, due to their functions within the body being quite similar to anabolic steroids, SARMs have become incredibly popular among athletes and the bodybuilding community. These SARMs are purchased off the internet.  

SARMs are prohibited by most athletic associations. Still, no one is testing recreational lifters, bodybuilders, or others purchasing SARMs online to help gain a couple pounds of muscle. These individuals are willing to take the risk of buying an unknown product from an unknown company over the internet, and this demographic is exactly where the danger of using SARMs has been most obvious. 

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Are SARMS Safe?

As of now, there simply isn’t enough long-term data to determine whether or not SARMs are a safe and viable option for most people. That is based on clinical data utilizing actual SARMs, not questionable products off of the internet. 

SARMs are often marketed as a safe alternative to illegal steroids. This may be largely true for actual SARMs that are free of contaminants, free of other compounds, and come in effective dosages. However, these aren’t the SARMs people are receiving from sources off of the internet.  

In 2018, the FDA released a public advisory letter cautioning that SARMs were unapproved and linked to “serious safety concerns.” While the FDA, or any other single authority, should not have the final word on your personal health, the research clearly supports the need for profound caution when dealing with SARMs. 

Most of the SARMs people are buying off the internet are not what they claim. A fascinating study published in the respected publication JAMA, investigated the quality of 44 separate SARMs purchased off of the internet. Of the products tested, researchers found: 

  • Only 52% actually contained SARMs 
  • 39% contained another unapproved drug 
  • 25% contained non-listed ingredients 
  • 9% contained no active substance whatsoever 
  • Roughly 60% had contents that did not match the amount on the label. 

So not only are individuals taking a profound health risk by trying SARMs, there likely isn’t even an effective dose.  

Are Any SARMs FDA Approved?

Are Any SARMs FDA Approved? 

SARMs are not currently approved by the FDA. Some  SARMs like Enobosarm/Ostarine, LGD-4033, and BMS-564,929 have passed Phase II clinical trials and have proven track records to back up their safety and efficacy – when used appropriately.  

Another SARM working its way through the rigorous testing required for approval is S-23, a male contraceptive. These, and many other SARMs, are proving to be both incredibly effective and safe. Issues often only arise when individuals take extraordinary doses for prolonged periods.  

SARMs Side Effects 

SARMs are an incredibly diverse group and have extremely varied effects on the body. However, research shows some SARMs are potentially dangerous and can cause serious or life-threatening health issues.  

Potential side effects of SARMs include: 

  • Risk of heart attack or stroke 
  • Psychosis/hallucinations     
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Sexual dysfunction  
  • Liver injury and acute liver failure  
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage 
  • Testicular shrinkage 

Bottom Line On SARMs 

There is a seeminglyhigh level of risk involved with using SARMs purchased off of the internet. However, to call SARMs entirely useless would be disingenuous. 

We have to be careful not to condemn a class of compounds that may benefit for many people, even though the current (grey) market for SARMs is rife with controversy. There are absolutely some SARMs that have incredible potential for helping debilitating conditions.For now, however, it is best to take a stance of a late-adopter. We suggest waiting until more clinical data and practical application helps to identify both the benefits and the potential detriments of using SARMs.  

A better alternative to SARMs would be peptides such as Sermorelin

SARM’s – Are They Safe?
Author: Joshua Lewis
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