January 28, 2021

Dan Duchaine: Interview by Millard Baker for Mesomorphosis

I interviewed Dan Duchaine in December 1997 for the website, Mesomorphosis. The entire text of the “Dan Duchaine: The Steroid Guru Interview” is republished below:

MESO-Rx: What is your current “receptor theory”? And what implications does this have for cycling and tapering?

Dan:As much as I find Bill Roberts entertaining and, in my newsletter, I talk about how much research – mostly in vitro studies – shows an up-regulation of steroid receptors when there are high dosages of steroids around, I don’t think it captures the whole picture because you can put a whole lot of steroids in a person and without training they can have very little muscle growth. You’ll see a lot of muscle growth when there is training involved. As much as Bill is talking about up-regulation of steroid receptors, he has really neglected the whole up-regulation with training. So, I really don’t have an answer for that. Also, we really never answered the question as to why the first time steroid user does so spectacularly well on very low dosages and that’s never to be repeated. I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see… I’ve been pretty much off steroids for many, many years because of my testing arrangements with the government. And in a few more months I will have the opportunity to use steroids again. It will be interesting if I get the kind of growth I got from the first time I used Dianabol in my twenties. Of course, I’m an older guy, so probably not.

MESO-Rx: What is the “Deca dilemma”?

Dan:If Bill Roberts and others are to be believed, Deca Durabolin actually has a higher attraction to steroid receptors. I mean if you have equal amount of Deca Durabolin and testosterone, it would be easier for Deca Durabolin to latch onto the receptor. Now what actually happens we found from anecdotal and rat studies that even though there is more available to the receptors it is half as anabolic. So, that is the dilemma: Why is it only half as anabolic when there is probably more of it at the receptors? It must be that it is doing something to the receptors that testosterone is but Deca isn’t or testosterone might be doing something outside the receptor. I don’t know. I think there is some kind of anabolic reaction outside the receptor. What it is we don’t know. I mean there is a whole bunch of new things. It might be that it influences the myostatin protein that was recently introduced, or maybe testosterone does a better job of up-regulating the receptor or something like that; it might be something completely inside where you might have more of a response of fibroblast growth factor in response to muscle cell membrane-wounding from training. It could be any of those. But because steroid subjects are not really marketable as of late, in my magazine writing I have not really pursued that avenue too much but I will get around to reading the research if there is an answer to be found. The odd thing is that as much as we look to the research, a scientist has never really made one big bodybuilder; I mean there is no doctor or scientist that has said this is how to grow a human being big, bigger than all these bodybuilders who don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve never done that, so I’m not sure we can look to answer this?

MESO-Rx: What advice would you give to people looking to take advantage of the greater anabolic activity of testosterone while avoiding side effects? Would you recommend the use of any accessory drugs?

Dan: What happens is people read all these things about steroids and they are usually written by people who have never used steroids before, and they’re usually anti-steroid, and they just assume… I always say never assume you have the problem until you have the problem. As much as I’ve encountered high amounts of testosterone causing hair loss, and acne, and mood changes… However, the average, pedestrian steroid user, who is not going to be using it months and months at a time and they are only thinking about a cycle of steroids perhaps 6-8 weeks 1 or 2 times a year and not necessarily year after year after year, maybe none of these side effects will ever happen. Obviously, if for some reason, parents – the father and grandfather – show marked hair loss at a very young age or if the individual really had some kind of gyno problem or acne in high school, that might be an indicator of potential problems. Then again, it could be that a cycle of 500-600mg of testosterone for 6-8 weeks would hardly do anything bad.

The thing is you see a lot of pro bodybuilders use a lot of testosterone and it is rare that you see them losing their hair. I mean some do but just as many don’t as do. Many of the top bodybuilders rarely show any acne. So go figure.

Some people never lose their hair, but if you are concerned about it , for example, at my age, with my tenuous hair state, I really wouldn’t use a lot of testosterone, I would rather use Deca Durabolin. The problem is that the accessory drugs, whether it be Cytadren or Arimidex for the estrogen or Proscar, well, I could probably find them but not everyone in the country could find these accessory drugs and it’s just an added expense. Currently, on the black market, Deca Durabolin is fairly well priced. However, it’s not like Deca is so expensive, you could use testosterone and the accessory drugs and come out ahead. No.

MESO-Rx: Is progesterone used in the competitive bodybuilders’ drug arsenal? If so, under what conditions would it be beneficial?

Dan: Years ago when they had Trophobolene, that was testosterone with progesterone… I’m not quite sure that they used it to make the testosterone more anabolic. Progesterone does have the ability to stimulate your appetite and can deposit triglycerides in the muscle and increase the amount of intramuscular fat. Both of which, I think, would be beneficial for bodybuilders provided you are not getting that pot belly look. I’ve known a few people using that combination and they’ve never had a potbelly, so I don’t know.

As to whether it would be beneficial for these testosterone precursors…I mean it is true that women do a better job of converting androstenedione into testosterone because they have more of that converting enzyme. And the reason is progesterone – because it down-regulates estrogen by up-regulating that enzyme. Yes, probably if you could find a very short acting oral progesterone that would affect these liver enzymes and rapidly dissipate. But it is by its nature, through a variety of mechanisms, catabolic long term in the human body. So you would want to find… you wouldn’t want to use an injectable form of progesterone, but perhaps the creams might be worthwhile.

MESO-Rx: You have done a lot of work with DNP. What is DNP? How does it work?

Dan: Forty percent of your energy expenditure in your body…40% of the calories that you consume everyday is burned up as non-essential heat. Sixty percent of the energy is needed for metabolic processes, and to keep the cells alive and the processes involved. Forty percent is futile heat energy: there is no work being done, there is no ATP being used or produced for work. In humans, that is controlled by uncoupling proteins in light fat and skeletal muscle. UCPs, 2’s and 3’s, mediated by mostly beta-4 receptors in skeletal muscles and light fat. Dinitrophenol is an industrial chemical that has direct action on the heat production action in the mitochondria without any kind of receptor… it bypasses any kind of receptor or uncoupling protein. It pretty much throws protons off fatty acids and it turns into heat rather than ATP. It was a very popular weight loss drug in the 40s in this country but in that very unregulated time there were a lot of mis-prescribing and misuse of it and a high incidence of cataracts in women. And so it was banned from interstate transport although a doctor in almost every state could still prescribe it as long as they made the DNP within the state.

MESO-Rx: What causes the cataracts? What other problems occur?

Dan: Depletion of antioxidants in the eyeball specifically glutathione and Vitamin C. I always suspected it was the Vitamin C because the early research pointed out there was a depletion of Vitamin C in the cells, especially in the eyeball. Just recently, a couple of weeks ago, most newspapers reported a study that suggested supplemental Vitamin C could help avoid most cataracts.

Not everybody stays on it forever because you feel so miserable on it. I think most of the people having trouble with DNP don’t understand it. There was a misunderstanding of how DNP worked as opposed to other thermogenic agents in that we couldn’t really rely on measured body temperature to adjust the dosage. The human body can withstand a moderate fever, the body temperature can go well over a hundred degrees and you are kind of uncomfortable but you live, but it is not insufferable high. Because DNP allows the dilation of skin cells so that a lot of the heat is being radiated off, your body temperature is very, very high even though the mouth thermometer is really not showing a tremendous rise in body temperature. A 30 percent rise above normal, and your body temperature is only about 99.2 degrees. The hazard is that just because you have been able to tolerate ephedrine or yohimbe or clenbuterol in the past, temperatures of like a hundred or so, you should not try to get you body temperature that high on DNP because once it is that high you are well over double the metabolic rate and many of your cells are depleted of the energy source and things can get dangerous at that point.

MESO-Rx: You have recommended the use of insulin to enhance the efficacy of DNP use in bodybuilders…

Dan: It is not so much my idea but a research scientist out of the 30s that recommended it. Protein synthesis stops on DNP. Luckily for most sedentary people the research has not really shown a loss of muscle mass although it would stop testosterone production out of the gonads and might interfere with the transference of testosterone in the cells. However, they did show a study where by supplementing the DNP with growth hormone and insulin, they re-established protein synthesis. However, I must tell you about half of the heat producing ability of DNP comes from glucose being burned as heat and the other is fatty acids; so, if you put more glucose in your cells with insulin, you will become more uncomfortable because there will be more heat put off. We’ve done it both ways… we’ve done DNP with no insulin and those with it, and they were better off with it. We didn’t need much, maybe once a day with short-acting stuff.

MESO-Rx: Any other compounds that work through a protein uncoupling mechanism?

Dan: Some fatty acids, some of the polyunsaturated fatty acids would do it. Flax oil would do it, to a point, that’s why you don’t really get too fat with flax oil. Progesterone has an uncoupling effect but you have to be careful because at the same time it makes you fat. It kind of balances things out. Although your body temperature goes up, there is more fatty acids being placed in the fat cells and the muscle cells. There were a few studies where they purified some specific insect thoraxes, and they found an uncoupling effect there, although I don’t think you’ll see that come to the market soon. Although it would probably be legal to do that. Thermogenic bug guts!

MESO-Rx: What about any naturally occurring herbal compounds? I seem to recall you mentioning one in your ‘Ask the Guru’ column.

Dan: I don’t know what it is yet. It’s a Latin herbal compound. I pursued it for a few days and couldn’t get an answer so I moved on to something else. I don’t know what it is yet but I imagine there is something there. Some kind of defense mechanism to keep animals away from it. One of those things in nature…some plants are attractive to be eaten to spread the seeds through transport with animals, and other things are just the opposite – to keep them away from plants. I’ll keep it in mind and try to find an answer.

MESO-Rx: You have a lot of experience working with female bodybuilders. Do you feel anabolic steroids are necessary to develop a championship physique today in female bodybuilding and fitness competition?

Dan: Once they have their foundation… Well, it depends, most of the female bodybuilders that win are 150lbs and under so they’re not terribly big. And quite frankly, people will tell you once you have a foundation, and that’s not a lot of muscle, you shouldn’t need a whole bunch of muscle to keep it up, you don’t even have to train that hard to keep it up. I mean muscle mass does go away with dieting, so if these females tend to get very heavy in the off season and diet for long spans of time to get in shape, yeah, they’re going to sacrifice muscle to lose all that fat. Unless they get so damn fat in the off season, they shouldn’t have to use much of anything to maintain muscle mass. Some female bodybuilders objectively should be female bodybuilders because they pretty much look that way before they train. I remember the first few contests, even national ones, that Carla Dunlap entered and won, all she did was swim; she rarely worked out in the gym. She had the basic muscle structure and muscle bellies and all she had to do was add some muscularity to it. Then there are other women who shouldn’t be female bodybuilders because they have to try so hard at everything just to get the muscle on. Those kind of people need the drugs and more than probably should be used in female bodybuilders and they probably shouldn’t be in the sport. But whom am I to say that? They need to get out of it. From a business standpoint there’s not much money in the sport. I guess you have to be mentally maladjusted to pursue it. It becomes too hard after being stubborn about.

MESO-Rx: Do you think DNP, ipriflavone, and insulin are possible alternatives to steroids?

Dan: A few women have used DNP. I’m afraid to say that a lot of women did suffer on DNP because they were using too much more than necessary. I say that because they get in shape in such a fast time, they’re ready 3 or 4 weeks before the contest and they really suffer to get there because their body temperature is so elevated. Now looking back, we could have used ½ maybe 1/3 the dosage and took our time so that we peaked right on time rather than way ahead of time.

Ipriflavone from Italy, the other from Hungary…As much as I begged people to get it in the country, it has never shown up. I’ve never seen one box of that stuff being used. I don’t know why. Usually, I have a pretty good track record of recommending something and suddenly it shows up here, but that never made it over here.

MESO-Rx: What are your recommendations for reducing lower body fat distribution?

Dan: You can use a number of things. Yeah, there is definitely a yohimbe injection they use as some kind of attempt to lose fat in the thighs ….of course, it is water-based so it will probably dissipate out of fat but it is probably more potent than a topical cream, but that will work too. ACE inhibitors along with the yohimbe…the thing is that whenever you have a foreign product in your body, an antagonist, whether it be an estrogen antagonist or an alpha-2 antagonist, the body likes to not accept that, and the body usually tries to up-regulate those receptors in response. So you have to fight that up-regulation; the only two ways I know of down-regulating alpha-2 receptors are to use an ACE inhibitor or you can also use a whole bunch of clenbuterol because when you down-regulate a beta-2 receptor, the alpha receptors down-regulate also.

MESO-Rx: What is the future of natural testosterone boosters, such as androstenedione and androstenediol?

Dan: I’m sure that after a while the FDA will try to find a way to get it off the market. Just last week the IOC placed androstenedione on the banned list. I think it is really the future. I think it is the only thing the will really advance natural bodybuilding because otherwise the only people who will do well in natural bodybuilding are black guys who have naturally great genetics. The thing is that steroids, all things being equal, if you have the same amount of money, gives you a pretty much level playing field, because anyone can get the steroid and work on it. When you get to natural bodybuilding, your advantage is kind of set with your parents. Granted, there are a whole lot of tricks to get your testosterone elevated but even so you’ll have to use every one of them.

MESO-Rx: How can these be utilized to their fullest potential? Can these supplements be improved on?

Dan: Intensify the enzyme, somehow, that would be one thing. Bypass the oral route, make an injection of it or a nasal spray of it.

MESO-Rx: Is there a way to increase the enzymes involved in their conversion to testosterone?

Dan: I’m looking into that right now. There are herbal compounds that increase the conversion. But the tricky thing is if you use too much of Forskolin, the herbal compound, you will actually have the opposite effect because Forskolin although it increases cyclic AMP, too much will inhibit the glucose transport system necessary to get androstenedione into testosterone and then you’ll have less than before. Progesterone, short term and maybe a couple of other things. We don’t really know them yet but we will.

MESO-Rx: Do you think the FDA is going to regulate any of these testosterone precursors any time soon?

Dan: Well somebody has already. Schwartz Labs mentioned that their norandrostenedione is being held in customs. The thing is the nor- version is probably grandfathered in because all you have to do is pull some of these orchic extracts, you know like bull and horse testicles, off the shelves, which have been around for decades, and you would have an analysis of the androgens and you would find norandrostenedione in there, which there are actually. And they would be allowed from the grandfather clause. For example, melatonin, which is a hormone and technically shouldn’t be on the market, was grandfathered in because it was a powerful hormone, a drug, that was on the shelves before the dietary supplement act but they are not going to pull it now. And we could use that same argument…it’s just a matter of using a FDA private attorney but none of the big companies are really selling that product so no one is going to do it.

MESO-Rx: There is considerable debate as to whether androstenedione and related compounds are really ‘natural’. What is your feeling on this issue?

Dan: Yes, but the thing is that’s a moral judgment. You have to decide what is going to be allowed as natural because many natural supplements right now are drugs. Yohimbe, ephedrine are not necessary for life. They’re not nutrients. They’re not even micronutrients. They’re drugs! Let’s say for example, yohimbe under 5mg is legal over 5mg it’s prescription. So is it allowed or not? Let’s say for example, the FDA somehow got their way and made ephedrine a controlled substance, a prescription drug. Suddenly that would be on the banned list. For example, ephedrine is on the [IOC] banned list, yohimbe is on the banned list. Why would they allow it in natural bodybuilding contests? I mean if you really want to go after everything, use the whole banned list. But if that happens, you’ll have some piss poor looking bodybuilders, fat and small, unless you have a few, 2 or 3 guys in the country that look good without anything. So, my feeling is… plus the fact that many things that are allowed in this country, for example, creatine is allowed in this country and it’s not on the banned list and it’s considered part of the natural bodybuilder’s armada, but that’s an unfair advantage because in Canada, creatine is a prescription drug and they don’t allow it in the country. That’s not really fair. So, actually if you have a Canadian natural bodybuilder using creatine, he would be breaking federal laws in Canada using creatine. You just have to figure out what’s legal. I think you should do the broadest possible interpreting and that would be what’s legal in America because if we just allowed what’s legal in Germany, there would be hardly anything we could use.

MESO-Rx: Synthol. Bodybuilders have been injecting oil-based steroids into their bodies for years. Why are the fatty acids in Synthol encapsulated but not other types of fatty acids? What makes Synthol special?

Dan: The interesting thing is that MCTs have been around a long time. Why is it nobody figured out how to do that years ago? It’s so simple inject Parillo’s CapTri, stick it in your arm, and your arm is bigger. Who would have thought? It’s so bizarre, you know, plenty of us inject oily steroids into muscles and they don’t swell up forever. I don’t know what it is – I guess I haven’t asked the right person as to why it is staying around. It’s kind of interesting – most of the Synthol being sold in this country are counterfeits made in this country. And even the counterfeits work exactly the same.

MESO-Rx: Any negative long-term consequences?

Dan: We’ll find out – who knows? Luckily it only seems to last about 6 months. I guess there’s enough people out there that have been using it because it’s been around on the continent for a long time now. No one’s complained about it or had problems. So far, so good.

MESO-Rx: A lot of bodybuilders have been using Reforvit but many are still dubious of the claim that it is more effective orally than intramuscularly. How can a different route of administration make such a difference in its efficacy?

Dan: It was pretty much anecdotal at first. Back in the early 80s, we had the first versions of injectable Dianabol. In the veterinarian market of Mexico, we found these little yellow boxes of injectable Dianabol. We went to the market with International Pharmaceuticals; it was the first big product for that company to make it in America. We just assumed since it was injected it would bypass the liver and be much more potent but people were disappointed that a cc a day wasn’t any better and perhaps worse than 5 tablets a day. Anecdotally, everyone has always wanted to stack an oral with an injectable. We always knew they had more growth on it. So, if you want to accept that anecdotal story as true, now you have to figure out why that might be. The only thing we can think of is that a lot of oral steroids passing through the liver the first time through might be causing some kind of IGF-1 or growth hormone or fibroblast growth factor being released out of the liver into the blood stream. That’s the only the thing I can think of.

MESO-Rx: Are any medical researchers (or renegade researchers) working on administering testosterone via a cyclodextrin-based nasal spray?

Dan: We know how to do it. Researchers have done it already. I read that in some research that Michael Dulnig, that AIDS activist that died a few years ago, showed me. Cyclodextrin, the one that we need for steroid use, costs about $400 per kilo, and you need about 10x the amount of cyclodextrin as the steroid. So, if you want to do a kilo of androstenedione or androstenediol you need 10 kilos of cyclodextrin. That’s an expense, so you’re talking about $4500. I had to do a couple of other supplement projects suddenly so my money went there. Otherwise I probably would have had it done by now.

MESO-Rx: What advantages would this have over weekly injections of a testosterone ester?

Dan:A lot of the strength gains from androstene is from the receptors in the nervous system and the nasal spray will really hit those nerves in the whole brain area pronto! The other thing is most receptors in the body under the influence of steady state amounts of hormones usually down-regulate at some point. The beta-3 and beta-4 receptors probably up-regulate under additional steady state of hormones. But many others, like insulin receptors, and perhaps at some point, steroid receptors down-regulate. Testosterone in the body and growth hormone… all the endocrine hormones, are pulsed into the bloodstream. In studies of growth hormone, they have shown that with 6-8 pulses IV a day, so that you have sudden surges, sudden peaks, you have the greatest growth response. So perhaps, doing this with nasal spray steroids might be a great way of extending the anabolic effect of the steroid.  I have a feeling that will turn out to be true.

MESO-Rx: Are “growth hormone releasing peptides” the next big thing in sports nutrition?

Dan: Well, the only one I know of is going to be a prescription drug. They found that the very short peptide, di- and tri-, I think the growth hormone releasing peptides of about 6-8 amino acids long, not all of it makes it through digestion, but a high percentage does so that you could do it orally. As to whether you would see a natural supplement, I don’t think so. It would be a drug and it would be regulated.

MESO-Rx: What supplement projects are you currently working on?

Dan: There’s an Indian herbal supplement calledForskolinthat increases cyclic AMP in many organs that might be beneficial for athletic performance. Of course, not everything is good about it; there’s bad things. Right now I am just working out the kind of dosages needed to get the best response. So, I guess, that is what I am working on this year.

MESO-Rx: What recent research do you find particularly interesting?

Dan: There’s a whole bunch of new research. Just this month they’re predicting a beta-4 receptor which has never been thought of before. It certainly explains why these synthetic beta-3 agonists are not working on humans for fat loss. So, maybe we don’t have beta-3 receptors but there’s a chance we have beta-4 receptors.

MESO-Rx: Before we wind up this interview, can you give us your brief comments on several popular drugs in the bodybuilding milieu?


Dan: I think maybe only Michael Mooney used it. It’s six bucks a pill. I don’t know anyone…it doesn’t seem to be very readily available yet or in Mexico because I haven’t seen it.

MESO-Rx: Piracetam?

Dan: Now Charles Poliquin works with a lot of speed athletes where their performance depends a lot on reaction time. Now he believes that past a certain age, and he thinks that’s 26 years old, reaction time declines. He believes some of these smart drugs help at improving reaction time. Of course in bodybuilding and powerlifting, this is not really necessary. I’ve never really looked at any other smart drugs to see if there is some really odd one that may raise testosterone or growth hormone or lower estrogen.


Dan:Cytadren, of all the anti-estrogens, is the one that people should be using because it really stops a lot of the conversion to estrogen at low dosages. In recent research where they were doing a conversion of androstenedione to testosterone, the addition of Cytadren completely block the conversion to estrone. As long as you can get it, it’s reasonably priced, but it’s hard to come by. You know, if it’s not in Mexico, you don’t see it on the black market here very often.


Dan: There is a lot of IGF-1 anabolic action specifically in the muscle cells in response to exercise. I wouldn’t be surprised if people wised up and put injections of IGF-1 directly in the body part they are training. They would have more growth out of it rather than trying to do it systemically.

MESO-Rx: Growth hormone?

Dan: Buy it cheap. It’s no bargain at 20 bucks an I.U. It’s a great buy at 10 bucks an I.U. or less.

MESO-Rx: Clenbuterol?

Dan: There is a new one out of Mexico that is kind of cheap…cheaper than the rest. You know, that’s another one we never figured out, why is it the first time we ever used it, it worked fabulously, but it never works that good again, even if you go off it for years and then come back to it, it doesn’t work as well. I’ve never figured that out.

MESO-Rx: Thank you for the valuable information you shared with us today. But we know it is just the tip of iceberg of your knowledge. What is the status of your very informative Dirty Dieting Newsletter?

Dan: I am continuing it next year but shifting it over to another company, Essentials, Inc. I’m renaming the title and lowering the price; I will have fewer writers and less columns, and concentrate on one topic per issue, and go more in depth. Dirty Dieting will probably be renamed, ‘Living Lean and Large‘. The 1998 subscription will be $49.95 ($39.95 with photocopy of student ID). Mesomorphosis readers can order it by calling Essentials, Inc. at 500-367-4531.

Originally published at MESO-Rx


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