Written by justis berg
18 May 2010

The Clear Chemist

By Patrick Arnold

A Steroid for Flu Prevention

OK, so it's time for another installment of The Clear Chemist. This month, I will discuss a couple of topics that you might find interesting, in both a theoretical and practical sense. Y'know, it gets tough to keep coming up with new things to talk about month after month, so I would like to ask you guys for some help, if you are so inclined. If you can think of anything you would like me to write about— preferably something unique and within my area of competence (don't ask me how to pick up chicks, for example)— please go to www.musculardevelopment.com and send me a message. My name on there is simply Patrick Arnold. I would really appreciate it.

A Steroid for Flu Prevention

I am writing this article, the tally for H1N1 (swine flu) cases in the United States since April are as follows:

• 22 million cases

• 98,000 hospitalized

• 3,900 dead

I have known a couple of people who have come down with the virus. One person was sick for about 48 hours and then was fine, while the other person got so sick he had to be hospitalized for five days and was actually unconscious part of the time. This is all pretty disconcerting to me, and I am determined not to become a victim myself. Even the common cold is a bitch for me, as it disrupts my routine and throws me off for quite a while.

So I am doing what I can to boost my immune system and to minimize potential contact with viruses. This includes washing my hands often and using that antibacterial gel stuff. Getting plenty of rest also is very important. Supplementation with vitamin C and vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is another part of my routine. But the biggest weapon in my arsenal of immune-boosting is the administration of a natural steroid hormone called androst-5-ene-3b,7b,17b-triol (beta-AET).

Beta-AET is a metabolite of the abundant adrenal hormone DHEA. DHEA has several active metabolites such as 5-adiol, 7-keto-DHEA, 16a-hydroxy-DHEA and beta-AET. All the DHEA metabolites have varying degrees of specialized biological activity. When I speak of specialized biological activity in respect to DHEA metabolites, I am not talking about sex hormone activity (androgenic, estrogenic, progestational, etc.) What I am talking about is the effect on metabolism and the immune system.

The effects of DHEA on metabolism are well documented. By upregulating certain liver enzymes, they cause the body to burn off calories in a futile energy cycle that generates heat (thermogenesis). Additionally, they have positive effects on thyroid hormone metabolism, which further enhances thermogenic calorie consumption. But in my opinion, the most valuable characteristic of these metabolites is their ability to upregulate the immune system, thereby markedly increasing resistance to viral and bacterial infections.

The research on DHEA metabolites and immune competency was done primarily by Dr. Roger Loria, a professor in the immunology department of Virginia Commonwealth University. His research has shown that these metabolites, when administered to animals, greatly increased their resistance to a wide variety of pathogenic substances. Furthermore, these metabolites were able to quickly regenerate the immune system after exposure to radiation (which pretty much destroys immune cells, particularly lymphocytes). This ability to restore immune function after radiation treatment is, in my opinion, truly remarkable, and puts these compounds in a class above and beyond any supplement or drug that I know of.

Loria found that one DHEA metabolite in particular, beta-AET, was the most potent for immunostimulation. This metabolite was found to influence the production of certain cytokines, which served to increase the production of specific immune cells as well as protect tissues from damage from existing pathogens. Beta-AET also was shown to completely counteract the negative influence of cortisol on the immune system.

Loria had patents on beta-AET and some other DHEA metabolites, but those patents recently expired. Since it is a natural DHEA metabolite, I have to think that it's just a matter of time before somebody markets the stuff as a flu preventative supplement. I have personally perfected the manufacture of the 3-acetate version of beta-AET, which is the much-preferred version due to its superior solubility properties (straight beta-AET is very poorly soluble in most things, which means it doesn't absorb well). I use it in a topical spray that I apply every morning after I shower. I haven't gotten sick while taking it, so maybe it really is doing its thing. It pretty much has no side effects and is nothing but healthy to use— so I suppose I will keep on using it.

Alcohol, Testosterone, and NADH

Did you know that a couple of drinks can temporarily raise your testosterone level? It's true, and it has been documented in both men and women. Now, I am not talking about long-term alcohol abuse— that will destroy your testosterone levels by several different pathways. But small-to-moderate alcohol consumption can give you a short-term boost in testosterone.

How does this happen? Does your body start making more testosterone when ethanol levels in the blood start to rise? No, not really. What is happening is the metabolism of testosterone in your liver undergoes a change. This change is a consequence of the liver suddenly having the burden of metabolizing the alcohol in your system— a process that uses up a substance called NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and creates a substance called NADH.

Testosterone's number-one route of deactivation is conversion to androstenedione. This is not a one-way street, though, as androstenedione can also be converted back to testosterone. The ratio of androstenedione to testosterone depends on the concentration of a family of enzymes called 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (17b-HSD). These enzymes, in turn, are influenced by the availability of certain key co-factors, two of which are NAD and NADH. NAD drives what are known as 'oxidation reactions,' such as conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde and testosterone to androstenedione. NADH, on the other hand, drives reduction reactions— such as the conversion of tyrosine to dopamine and androstenedione back to testosterone.

So basically, if the proportion of NAD to NADH is driven in favor of NADH, there will be an adjustment of the testosterone/androstenedione ratio in favor of testosterone. And this is exactly what is happening when you ingest alcohol, since the metabolism of alcohol uses up NAD and creates NADH. Of course, there really is no performance-enhancement potential in ingesting alcohol— ultimately, the toxic effects of the alcohol will override any small, positive effects upon hormone metabolism. And attempting to adjust natural testosterone levels in your body by manipulating NAD/NADH will not work in the long-term anyway, because eventually things will equilibrate back to normal. However, there are some specific circumstances where temporary elevation of NADH over NAD can have some practical value. And there are also ways to raise NADH other than by getting drunk.

I wish I had figured this out back in the heyday of prohormones. Back then, people always asked me if there were ways to increase the conversion of dione prohormones (androstenedione, 1,4-androstadienedione, estra-4,9-diene-3,17-dione) to their respective target hormones. I always replied that I didn't know— and that if I did I, would let them know. Well, it turns out that someone in the ensuing years actually developed a stable version of NADH (the actual coenzyme itself), and it has been shown that ingestion of it can increase levels of NADH in the body. So it is entirely possible that ingesting NADH shortly before ingesting a dione prohormone may result in a higher percentage of the hormone being converted to its target, active hormone in the liver.

If anyone wants to try this out, the NADH product goes under the name ENADA.I really don't know what amount will cause what amount of influence upon dione prohormone metabolism, but I do know that theoretically, there should be a substantial effect at some dosage.