Deca Winstrol And Your Joints
Fiction from Fact
I’ve been somewhat plagued by certain questions ever since I started reading
about steroids a decade ago. Certain ideas just never sat well with me…and
unfortunately, when I asked more questions, I only received similar answers.
When I was introduced to the world of internet steroid boards about half a
decade ago, I posed these same questions to the “powers that be” on
the boards I was a member of. I received many of the same answers, but my
private messages and e-mails to moderators and staff members on various boards
asking for references or some kind of logic were all left unanswered. On
occasion I was offered the profound advice that it’s “well known
that…etc…” and told to stop asking. Well known to whom? It’s certainly not
well known to me.
One of the
most annoying and often repeated “well known fact” is that Nandrolone
Decanoate (Deca) improves and soothes your joints by storing water in them.
And, conversely, Winstrol has a “reverse osmotic” effect on your
joints, which makes them ache when you use it, because it draws water out of
your body, joints included. Reverse Osmotic? Wow…if we use really big words,
maybe we’ll sound smart and people will stop asking questions. I believe this
to be the dictum most anabolic steroid boards are founded on, and probably the
way the staff on those boards begin their evening prayers…
Well, this mode of thinking isn’t good enough for me, and if you’re reading
MESO-Rx or Avant’s website or Mind and Muscle magazine, it’s not good enough
for you either. Hold on, because we’re about to engineer a paradigm shift!
My first clue to solving this mystery was that Winstrol was DHT derived, as is
Masteron, and I have a friend who gets bad joint problems when using both of
them. A little bit of research revealed many people shared his affliction. And
it was very obvious that many people who’ve used Deca have found it to
alleviate chronic joint problems and pains. I know that Deca is a 19-nor
derived steroid, and I also know that it’s a progestin, and hence can stimulate
the progesterone receptor (15) about 20% as well as progesterone. I also know
that it aromatizes (converts to estrogen) at a much lesser rate than
testosterone (16). Could the answer somehow lie in estrogen? Well, Deca doesn’t
really aromatize much at all, so maybe there is a synergy between Deca’s PgR
stimulating ability and its low(ish) estrogenic effects?
We certainly know that Estrogen depletion by menopause can decrease bone
mineral density and the replacement of estrogen quickly restores the bone loss
( In addition, we know that estrogen is aided in this by progesterone but that
estrogen is more important (19). Collagen is also subject to improvement by
addition of estrogen and progesterone (20). But is that all? Why do your joints
“feel” better on deca?
And where would this leave us, in terms of Winstrol and Masteron causing pain
in joints? I have always thought there was something more to this. And I think
the answer lies in DHT.
You see, DHT administration has been found to decrease estrogen levels through
a variety of mechanisms on peripheral tissue (1). DHT directly inhibits
estrogenic activity on tissues, either by acting as a competitive antagonist to
the estrogen receptor or by decreasing estrogen receptor binding. Either way,
it has two clear mechanisms of possible action in peripheral tissue.
DHT and its metabolites have further been shown to inhibit aromatization
itself, and this is a possible mechanism whereby it can reduce circulating
levels of estrogen in your body. Indeed, DHT, androsterone, and
5alpha-androstandione are all potent inhibitors of the formation of estrone
from androstenedione. Finally, DHT acts on the HPTA to decrease the secretion
of gonadotropins (it inhibits it). In fact, it’s so potent at reducing estrogen
that transdermal DHT gel applied to the affected area has been used to treat
gynocomastia (5)(6). Estrogen is the primary culprit in gyno (Cool, although we
know that progesterone can be synergistic with estrogen in this (and other)
DHT also has a negative effect on Progesterone biosynthesis in cells (7), and
even has the ability to inhibit progesterone elevation caused by estrogen (10).
Therefore DHT would be (and is) very effective in reducing gyno because it
reduces both estrogen as well as progesterone. This property holds with
DHT-derived steroids, for the most part as well, since Masteron has been found
in some cases to have positive effects in reducing breast tissue tumors(9),
which is essentially what gyno is (albeit benign).
You still with me? Good, because I want you to hold that first idea (DHT
reduces estrogen and progesterone), and put it in the back of your mind while
you read this next part, which is about your immune system.
T helper 1 (TH1) cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as promoting
cell-mediated immune responses, whereas TH2 cells trigger antibody production
(2). Sex hormones (such as progesterone) that promote the development of a TH2
response also happen to antagonize the emergence of TH1 cells. Hence, when
progesterone levels are (or the PgR, progesterone receptor) stimulated, you’ll
have more anti-inflammatory cytokines floating around and less pro-inflammatory
cytokines. Aspirin, Tylenol, and all of the over the counter
anti-inflammatories are also useful as painkillers. Anti-inflammatory effects
are often highly correlated with pain killing activity. What happens when women
with arthritis get pregnant? They typically see a reduction in joint pain.
This, I contend, is due to the progesterone and estrogen increases seen during
pregnancy, and the anti-inflammatory effects they generate.
Progesterone, like testosterone, both stimulates humoral immunity (the TH2) and
suppresses cellular immunity (TH1 response). Ergo, progesterone has
anti-inflammatory action. Deca is a progestin, meaning it stimulates the
progesterone receptor. And that’s why it alleviates joint pains. Remember that
old idea that deca promotes “water-retention” in the joints, and
that’s why it helps your joints feel better? Bullshit. You just read the real
reason deca helps joints. Deca actually works on two fronts as an
androgen—which have well-documented effects on corticosteroids—and as a
progestin to reduce inflammation.
Let’s move on….
Estrogen exerts what is known as a biphasic (two phase) effect. At low amounts,
it is pro-inflammatory, because it stimulates the TH1 arm of the immune system
(cellular immunity) and inflammation. In high(er) amounts, it is actually an
anti-inflammatory (2). So when one takes very strong anti-estrogens (or
aromatase inhibitors), one both loses water (because estrogen causes water
retention) as well as experiences sore joints due to the pro-inflammatory
effects generated from low estrogen levels.
Letrozole, which reduces blood plasma levels of estrogen due to aromatase
inhibition, is the best example of this. It is infamous for causing aching
joints. Letrozole decreases both aromatase activity as well as (obviously)
plasma levels of estrogen, and in addition reduces progesterone levels (3).
This is why when people use Letrozole, they claim it takes “water out of
their joints” and makes them ache. Again, this is total bullshit.
Lowering estrogen will reduce water retention, but of equal importance it will
also limit your body’s ability to produce estrogen-mediated anti-inflammatory
reactions to weight training. You lose water and your joints hurt, which is why
the myth exists that lost water in the joints is the source of discomfort. It
is true that you one loses subcutaneous water when estrogen levels are low, but
it’s simply not true that losing this water will make your joints hurt. It is
the loss of estrogen and progesterone’s anti-inflammatory effects that is
behind the aching joints. We can also make the claim that Testosterone can have
some anti-inflammatory effects both through it’s aromatization to estrogen is
as well as its effects on corticosteroids. This too, is well documented.
Now, let’s see if we can recall that first bit I asked you to remember….the
bit where I told you that DHT reduces estrogen and progesterone. By now we have
established that reductions in both of those hormones (Estrogen and
Progesterone) are caused by DHT and DHT-derivatives, which carry many of the
same properties and produce similar metabolites.
And this reduction in Estrogen/Progesterone, caused by DHT, reduces your body’s
production of anti-inflammatory and painkilling cytokines. And this is what
causes Winstrol, Masteron, etc to cause joint pain. And as noted at the
beginning of this article, when one undergoes reductions in estrogen and
progesterone, bone mineral density and collagen will suffer deleterious
So there we have it, finally: a plausible explanation for the contrasting
effects Deca and Winstrol have on joints.