Anavolics The Science Behind Cell Volumization

by Daniel Gwartney, M.D.

A navolics is a term I coined that's de-/w rived from two words, anabolic and / g volume. Perhaps it makes some sense ^^^m that as a tissue, specifically muscle, M grows (anabolic), it will take up more space (volume). As a review of the published studies indicates, however, that may be putting the cart before the horse. It appears that an increase in volume occurs first, and the anabolic process follows.

Very few supplements are anabolic. Frankly, the only ones that have shown any mass-building properties are creatine, certain amino acids (in various concentrations), high-protein formulas and insulin-based high-glycemic formulas. Some products used in animal feed are promoted as anabolic but aren't effective as performance supplements. The fact is, nothing currently available is as effective as anabolic steroids. Creatine is close for the first-time user, being comparable in effect to a light cycle of an oral steroid like Anavar. That's not surprising, as many of the oral steroids cause an increase in hepatic, or liver, production of creatine.

Most of the other supplements that have an effect are used to increase energy production or availability or act as stimulants. A select few have been shown to modify the catabolic response, decreasing muscle breakdown during exercise or fasting.

The bottom line is that most lifters and many athletes want to find a natural, nonbanned supplement that has an anabolic effect. Despite what many of the recreational, fad-oriented fitness gurus say, we all want more muscle. At every bodybuilding show I attend or judge, I hear statements like, "Next year I'm going to come in 10 pounds heavier," or, "If I could just pack on some more size." Even the three-times-a-week, color-coordinated, minivan-driving lifter is looking for an extra inch or two of arm mass—just some indication that all the work isn't being wasted. Gyms lose roughly half of their clients every year. Many quit because they see no progress; others because they're lazy. If people see progress, they get excited and stay involved.

That's the real purpose of all the dietary supplements—to support effort and allow people to see

That's the real purpose of all the dietary supplements—to support effort and allow people to see results. I don't think any of us expect a miracle. The new product AnaVol-R™ is designed to support effort and facilitate growth. Its formula is based on data and conclusions from scientific studies, hypotheses drawn from other sources and some ideas that come from experience and observation.

Is there any evidence that the idea of increasing cell volume to create an anabolic response is based in reality? The answer is yes. Cell volume increase occurs prior to the biochemical events related to protein or glycogen synthesis.

results. I don't think any of us expect a miracle.

The new product AnaVol-R™ is designed to support effort and facilitate growth. Its formula is based on data and conclusions from scientific studies, hypotheses drawn from other sources and some ideas that come from experience and observation. As consumers respond and give us feedback on this compound, each generation may be modified to include the best and newest information.

Is there any evidence that the idea of increasing cell volume to create an anabolic response is based in reality? The answer is an emphatic yes. Cell volume increase is a common, meaning shared, event seen in cells that are exposed to hormones or nutrients that cause an anabolic response. In fact, the cell volume increase occurs prior to the biochemical events related to protein or glycogen synthesis. A German researcher by the name of Haussinger has published a large number of studies investigating the role cell volume changes play in cellular metabolism. I'm not implying that he supports, endorses or is even aware of this product. I mention him only so readers who wish to do their own review will have a starting point.

If volume changes are actually responsible for the metabolism of a cell, why haven't others written about it in the many fine (and less-than-fine) strength magazines? Frankly, the material isn't easy to find. The easy stuff is already exploited to nearly unrecognizable states. Ephedrine, creatine, protein and caffeine have all been included in many products because the information base is easily accessed and widely distributed; however, there's a huge amount of scientific material that is not available on databases like Medline. Much of it is what's called basic research, meaning that it's been performed in a test tube, cell plate or tissue culture or on animal models. Basic science represents the frontier of science, as it challenges researchers to prove or disprove something that's as yet unknown. Once it's proven, then it can be applied, meaning that it's put to use. Studies in applied science validate questions that have been raised and investigated in basic science.

Cell volume increases signal anabolic functions. That was demonstrated when researchers exposed cells to anabolic hormones and measured the cellular response. In an identical set of cells they induced an increase in volume by changing the osmolarity, or salt content, of the solution surrounding the cell. The cells that were exposed to anabolic hormones swelled, much like a sponge when exposed to water. Surprisingly, the researchers noted the same cellular response in the second set of cells, even though no anabolic hormone was used. Later studies showed that shrinking the cells caused an opposite effect—the same effect that occured when cells were exposed to catabolic hormones! So let's make this first and critical point clear:

Cell volume increase (swelling) creates an anabolic response.

Cell volume decrease (shrinking) creates a catabolic response.

Imagine living in a small one-bedroom apartment. You fill it up with furniture, stopping when the rooms are full. Life is wonderful, and soon you're able to afford a two-bedroom house with a basement. What do you need or want as soon as you move? More stuff to fill the rooms. Soon you have an office set (instead of a card table), a washer and dryer, a coffee table and a serious entertainment center. Your space (volume) gets bigger, so you get more stuff. Later, life bites and you return to the one-bedroom apartment. Many of the things disappear—either to Dad's basement or to the repo man. Your space (volume) gets smaller,

Space Mans Diet

A German researcher by the name of Haussinger has published a large number of studies investigating the role cell volume changes play in cellular metabolism.

There are a number of different cellular solutes that can enter a cell and cause it to swell. They typically pull water into the cell, causing a volume increase.

and you lose stuff. Think of your muscle cells as the living space and your possessions as muscle cell protein and cell contents. Bigger place, more stuff; bigger cell, anabolic growth.

The application to bodybuilding is obvious. Let's swell those muscle cells until they explode. Can they explode? That might be cool to watch, but it sounds painful and may affect your bench press. Actually, the cells can't explode and in fact can only have a moderate degree of swelling. There are regulatory mechanisms in place to prevent the occurrence of unlimited swelling. When a cell dies, however, the mechanisms are gone, and it may shrivel into a dead shell.

So, as exciting as unlimited growth would be, the best we can get is slow progressive growth after repeated exposure to agents that cause cellular swelling. That brings us to supplements.

There are a number of cellular solutes that can enter a cell and make it swell. They typically pull water into the cell, causing a volume increase. What's more, some of the agents will have hormonal responses in addition to the cell volume effect.

The following are the ingredients in AnaVol-R™. I have included a few references just to prove that it's all not just flying out of my lower sphincter, as has been known to happen in this industry.

  • Creatine monohydrate, five grams. When creatine was first introduced into the market, one of the main effects touted was cell volumiz-ing. That point was quickly dropped because nobody knew how to make it a selling point, and the supposed effects of creatine were so easily felt that it didn't matter whether there was any real science behind it. Recently, a study by Ziegenfuss, Lowery and Lemon was published online in the Journal ofExercise Physiology^ October 1998) that showed a 3 percent increase in water inside the cell after a three-day loading routine. That's consistent with the results most of us see with creatine loading: a gain of about 2 to 3 percent of bodyweight during loading (four to six pounds for a 200-pound person). Remember, the purpose of AnaVol-R is not only to provide a performance-enhancement effect but also to induce an increase in cell volume. What about creatine solubility? AnaVol-R is titrated, or balanced, at a pH of approximately 4.5. That's the pH at which creatine is soluble, just as occurs in the effervescent formulas. Five grams of creatine, delivered at a pH of 4.5, should be absorbed well and tolerated well.
  • D-ribose, two grams. D-ribose (the R in AnaVol-R) is a newcomer to sports nutrition. That's not because we didn't know about it but because it couldn't be manufactured cost-effectively until recently. Numerous studies are looking at the use of D-ribose for low-cellular-energy states in disease and ischemic conditions. They've all shown a positive effect of D-ribose supplementation on adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and total adenine nucleotides (TAN). The benefit of adding D-ribose to AnaVol-R is twofold. First, by maintaining cellular ATP, it ensures that cellular energetics are favorable toward the anabolic processes. Second, if the high turnover in ATP required by exercising muscle affects cellular

ATP, it may also affect other nucleotides. What does that mean exactly? We've all heard of DNA and RNA. The acronyms stand for deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid. If you look carefully, you'll see the prefix ribo-. Ribo- as in ribose, or D-ribose. DNA and RNA are the genetic molecules that determine the structure and function of all human cells. If we are robbing the cell energy nucleotide pool, we may be affecting the nuclear, or genetic, nucleotide pool, which is not a good thing. D-ribose, at the very least, will support the formation of new ATP and repair or salvage existing ATP (Brault, J.J., and Terjung, R.L., 1999). Possibly, it may aid in promoting the cell's ability to respond to stimuli such as training or volume changes (Bernofsky, 1980; Coffey, et al., 1965; Hellsten-Westing, et al., 1993). What's more, D-ribose also aids in the insulin response of AnaVol-R (Goodman, C., and Goetz, F.C., 1970; Malaisse, W., and Malaisse-Lagae, F., 1969).

•Pinitol, 50 milligrams. Here's something completely new. Pinitol is a methylated sugar (3-O-methyl-1,2,4 cis-3,5,6 trans hexahydroxycy-clohexanol) that has two effects of significant value: increased glucose uptake by the muscle cell and increased glycogen synthesis. Pinitol is an isomer, or type, of inositol. It's extracted from soy and sugar pine heartwood. It was first discovered to have hypoglycemic effects—that is, it lowers blood sugar—in 1987 (Narayanan, C., 1987) and later found to enhance insulin function as well.

Pinitol was first discovered in the methanol fraction of Bougainvillea spectabilis, a botanical used in traditional healing for many purposes, including diabetic-associated conditions. It was later found to be a com ponent of pH 2.0 D-chiro-inositol glycan insulin putative mediator (Fonteles, M.C., et al., 1996). Infusion of pinitol leads to an insulinlike action without causing hypoglycemia. Therapeutically, that's very important, as it demonstrates some means of regulatory control to prevent the negative consequences of hypoglycemia. To the athlete it means not getting sluggish, drained and losing it. It's not yet clear how that happens, but it may be due to selective action at the muscle to increase glycogen synthesis.

Ongoing research at St. Johns University has demonstrated both glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in muscle tissue culture, and further research that should clarify pinitol's role in cell volume and cell metabolism is under way. It's definitely one product we'll be hearing more about in the future.

Of all the proposed so-called insulin mimickers and insulin co-fac-tors, pinitol is the one with the most promise. Insulin hits a receptor and then is done. It's a big protein, so you can't see it passing through the cell membrane. Rather, it acts through secondary messengers, or insulin mediators. One of the first mediators is a pseudo-disaccharide of pinitol and galactosamine chelated to manganese, which may activate rate-lim-iting enzymes for both oxidative (used for energy) and nonoxidative (stored as glycogen) glucose metabolism. Research has shown that levels of the mediator are reduced by 50 percent in the muscles and urine

If we're robbing the cell energy nucleotide pool, we may be affecting the nuclear, or genetic, nucleotide pool—which is not a good thing. D-ribose at the very least, will support the formation of new ATP and repair or salvage existing ATP used during exercise.

Pinitol is a methylated sugar that has two effects of significant value: increased glucose uptake by the muscle cell and increased glycogen synthesis. Of all the proposed so-called insulin mimickers and insulin co-factors, it's the one with the most promise.

of type II diabetics (Asplin, L., et al., 1993). There are some other exciting properties of pinitol, but I'm not at liberty to disclose them at this time. Trust me. There will be knockoff products using pinitol in no time. Just remember where you heard it first, folks.

•Maltose-and-dextrose blend, 24 grams. Dextrose is a sugar found in nearly every powder, bar and candy, and like other sugars it has four calories per gram. It's used in creatine delivery to prompt an insulin spike. Using a lot of it will give a greater insulin spike, but it will also give you a big tummy. If you want to look eight months pregnant, go for the high-dextrose-content formulas. What's more, if you take a large amount of sugar at once, the sugar will go to your liver for storage rather than the muscle (Charrington, A., Vanderbilt University Medical Center). It has to do with the amount of sugar in the portal blood, the blood that delivers nutrients from the intestines to the liver, compared to what's in the peripheral bloodstream, the circulating blood supply to the body. Too much sugar, and it doesn't do the job. I wouldn't recommend driving heavy equipment after you take a high-dextrose-formula supplement either.

Maltose is a type of sugar, a disaccharide, that has a higher glycemic index than dextrose and is well tolerated. It's not so potent a signal for insulin release that it will trigger hypoglycemia, but it will aid in promoting the insulin signal without adding a large number of carbs. Consequently, the sugar blend is designed to promote an adequate insulin response to enhance the cell volume effect of the nutrients without making you fat. A maltose-and-dextrose blend of 24 grams, added to the two grams of D-ribose, provides 26 grams of sugar, stimulating insulin release.

•Chromium GTF, 100 micrograms. Chromium doesn't do much and is really too weak to be considered as a single-ingredient product. Whenever insulin function is a factor in product action, however, there's a place for chromium. Chromium picolinate has received all of the attention in the supplement market, and it's given in doses as high as 500 micrograms (that's micrograms, not milligrams). High doses may have potential for adverse long-term effects. Picolinate may be fine, or it may be linked to negative cellular events. I'm not certain that it's entirely safe and don't feel it's worth the risk.

Chromium GTF acts as a co-factor to insulin. That means the insulin is actually doing the work, but the chromium GTF performs a function or functions that allow insulin to do its job better. It's like having a great chef in a restaurant. He'll prepare a fantastic meal, but if there aren't enough waiters, the food will arrive cold and won't please you as it should. The chef (insulin) is doing the work, but he needs a coworker (chromium GTF) to enable him to do his best.

•Proprietary blend of amino acids, dipeptides and tripeptides. Muscle cells, like all cells, have class-specific amino acid carriers. By class, I mean that certain types of amino acids use one carrier, while other types use another. That's true for the intestinal membrane as well.

It's based on such factors as size, charge and side chains. Amino acids are limited by the number of transporters present on the intestinal membrane as to how much may be absorbed; however, one method of getting around that limitation is to provide not only free-form amino acids but dipeptides and tripeptides as well.

Dipeptides and tripeptides are carried across the intestinal membrane by separate carriers, which allows a greater concentration of amino acids to reach the bloodstream. It doesn't take a great concentration of certain amino acids to cause a muscle cell to swell—and swelling equals anabolic growth.

There's a small number of amino acid transporter classes on the muscle cell. There's also a small number of amino acids that have been shown to have a cell-volume-increasing effect on muscle cells. So, by using the specific amino acids to react with the specific transporters, you should be able to get a volumizing effect. You won't be changing wardrobes overnight, but remember that you're after the long-term effect of increased cell volume. The good news is that the volumizing effect of the amino acids is enhanced in the presence of insulin. Now you can see why the pinitol, sugars and chromium GTF play such vital roles in the formula.

In a nutshell, then, AnaVol-R is a formula designed to promote cell volume increases to support an anabolic phase of metabolism. It has the potential to trigger growth. It's not a 300-calorie creatine-and-carb blend that will plump you up like a Thanksgiving turkey, and it's not a hormone. It's based on the way the body reacts to the signals that lead you to grow. It's designed to allow—even force—your body to grow.

AnaVol-R is designed to draw fluid into the muscle in order to generate an anabolic response. The following recommendations involve a little intelligence and some common sense. I haven't determined whether or not loading would be beneficial.

  • Take one serving of AnaVol-R in one liter of water immediately upon awakening. That's a lot of water, but after sleeping for eight hours, your body needs it anyhow.
  • Wait at least 45 minutes before eating, which will allow the AnaVol-R to be absorbed without the interference of a meal.
  • Eat at least 40 grams of protein with your first meal to provide amino acids for the volume-mediated anabolic response.
  • Continue to drink sufficient fluids throughout the day to avoid dehy-dration, which may lead to fluid and volume loss from the cells. Studies have shown that hyperhydration increases the loss of total bodyfat stores.
  • Eat every three hours, if possible, monitoring calories to meet your physique and performance goals, and include at least 25 grams of protein with each meal.
  • If you want, have another serving of AnaVol-R before going to sleep; however, keep in mind that you'll be getting up to urinate if you

There is a small number of amino acids that have been shown to have a eelI-volume-increasing effect on muscle cells. So, by using the specific amino acids to react with the specific transporters, you should be able to get a volumizing effect.

In a nutshell, then, AnaVol-R™ is a formula designed to promote cell-volume increases to support an anabolic phase of metabolism. Its potential is for growth, plain and simple.

AnaVol-R is a first-generation product that will evolve into a giant maker. In fact, I believe the current formula is already a giant maker. There's only one way to find out: Try it.

Editor's note: AnaVol-R™was developed by Ergogenix, LLC, apri -vate research and development company working in the specialty nutri -tion industry.

Development Sluggish

GH: Blast Yours to New Levels by Jerry Brainum

In this new age of natural bodybuilding many bodybuilders are putting their faith in growth hormone for druglike size-and-strength increases. This powerful hormone has proved itself as an anabolic agent by triggering enhanced muscle protein synthesis or reduced muscle protein catabolism. In other words, it can give your sluggish hypertrophy a high-voltage charge.

Athletes from all sports have been putting it to the test for years. For example, recently, several members of the Chinese swim team were caught with growth hormone in their possession while on their way to an international meet in Australia. GH is popular with athletes because, though it's officially banned by most international athletic governing bodies, it's presently undetectable by drug tests.

Rumors are rampant that GH is also a popular bodybuilding drug. Most top-level bodybuilders who've used it say that when taken alone, it helps preserve muscle during stringent dieting and speeds up fat loss. When combined with other anabolic substances, such as anabolic steroids (particularly testosterone injections) and insulin, GH has synergistic anabolic effects. Some bodybuilding observers even speculate that this combination of drugs explains the current spate of bodybuilding behemoths, with a few competitors walking on stage weighing 250 or more minus even a scintilla of apparent bodyfat.

While it seems as if the use of drugs such as GH is rampant in bodybuilding, the truth is that availability is often limited by cost. It's expensive to take the correct amount of GH, and if you take it for too long, the chances of side effects increase. Possible side effects include gynecomastia (male breasts); carpel tunnel syndrome (a painful nerve impingement of the hand that often requires surgery); and a facial disfigurement called prognathism, which is characterized by a protruding jaw and forehead that create an apelike appearance.

Recognition of these problems has led many athletes to investigate safer, more natural means of promoting GH release. Several amino acids are known to elicit a GH response, the most prominent being arginine and ornithine. One problem with that strategy is that the most reliable release of GH with amino acids occurs when the aminos are given intravenously, often in 30-gram or higher dosages.

An often-quoted 1981 Italian study of 15 healthy young men showed that providing them with only 1,200 milligrams each of arginine and another amino acid, lysine, led to GH blood levels eight times higher than baseline. Large doses of oral amino acids, however, may cause gastrointestinal distress because of a pronounced osmotic effect. In effect, they draw water into the intestine, leading to symptoms that can include gas, bloating and diarrhea. Even if you escape that uncomfortable fate, the aminos may be degraded by liver enzymes before reaching the blood.

Using various amino acids for eliciting GH release also depends on several other extenuating factors. For example, GH is released more reliably under conditions of low blood glucose and a low content of circulating free fatty acids in the blood. That means such aminos work best if taken on an empty stomach, which explains the frequent suggestion to take GH-promoting aminos before bedtime—assuming you haven't eaten anything for at least three to four hours. Taking them at bedtime is a way to augment the natural peak release of GH, which occurs during the initial 90 minutes of sleep.

Taking other amino acids in conjunction with GH releasers, such as a whole-protein supplement like whey, will completely negate any GH activity of the GH-releasing aminos due to competitive interference with brain uptake by other circulating amino acids.

Still another limiting factor that determines the efficacy of GH-releasing amino acids is acetylcholine production in the brain. Acetylcholine is a brain neurotransmitter synthesized from acetyl coenzyme-A and the nutrient choline. The significance of acetylcholine with regard to amino acid GH releasers is that the release of GH through rhese peptides are available orally, unlike GH or IGF-1, which must be administered by injection. The general term for them is growth hormone secretagogues, since they work by augmenting both the amount and release of existing GH in the brain's ituitary gland.

amino acids is fostered by acetylcholine activity in the brain's pituitary gland. Thus, if your acetylcholine production isn't up to par, you'll get no benefits from any quantity of GH-releasing supplements.

The philosophy behind Symbiotropin is to take commonly available natural GH releasers to a higher, more effective level that compensates for the many problems associated with using oral amino acids for that purpose. Symbiotropin is based on the discovery in 1981 of peptides that are similar in structure to naturally occurring pain substances such as enkaphalin in the human brain. Enkaphalin acts like a natural form of morphine in lessening pain perception, and for some unknown reason it also boosts GH release.

The usual release of GH in the brain depends on the interplay between a substance that promotes GH release (growth-hormone-releasing hormone, or GHRH) and one that inhibits it (somatostatin). The interesting thing about GH-releasing peptides is that they act independently of both of the usual GH-limiting substances. The peptides themselves are just a chain of six or so amino acids in a specific sequence.

Several of those GH-releasing peptides have been, and still are, under continuous study. They're of extreme interest to researchers because they appear to increase the active anabolic factor of GH, insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1). As such they have potential benefit in treating many catabolic diseases, such as those associated with HIV, cancer and aging. The advantage of these peptides is that they're available orally, unlike GH or IGF-1, which must be administered by injection. The general term for them is growth hormone secretagogues, since they work by augmenting both the amount and release of existing GH in the brain's pituitary gland.

The potency of a few of the synthetic secretagogues is impressive. For instance, in one study a GH peptide called MK-677 was given to 15 elderly women and 17 elderly men. Taking the drug orally for four weeks enhanced pulsatile GH release and restored IGF-1 levels to those found in young adults.

So what happens if you give an oral GH peptide to a younger person? In a 1996 study of young men, MK-677 given orally for one week resulted in an enhanced GH pulse activity without an elevation of GH secretion. IGF-1 levels also increased, as did the stages of deep sleep. That's significant and exciting for bodybuilders because most of the body recovery attributed to sleep takes place during those deep-sleep stages.

Based on the findings of studies involving drug versions of oral GH secretagogues, a pharmacologist decided to develop a natural form, which he called Symbiotropin. In the bodybuilding world it's known as GH Stak. The primary ingredient in Symbiotropin is pituitary peptides, similar in structure to the drug versions; however, the supplement contains other ingredients as well, including what the developer calls chaperon molecules, which enhance its effectiveness and delivery.

Symbiotropin also contains several known GH-releasing amino

Arginine Side Effects

acids, such as arginine, glutamine, GAB A, glycine, lysine and tyrosine. It's a very powerful combination. The developer says that because of the superior delivery system incorporated into Symbiotropin—i.e., the chaperon molecules—the amino acids contained in the product are far more efficient in promoting GH release than if you took the same aminos independently.

The brain chemical L-dopa is also a known GH releaser. L-dopa is made in the body from the amino acid L-tyrosine and is used medically to treat Parkinson's disease. Symbiotropin contains a legume called the Lacuna bean that's found in the rain forest and is naturally high in L-dopa. While the developer of Symbiotropin indicates that the bean is one of the primary ingredients, the amount of the L-dopa that gets past the protective blood-brain barrier is open to question. I imagine the so-called chaperon molecules are involved in that activity.

As with GH-releasing aminos, Symbiotropin is best taken on an empty stomach, either right before bed at night or in the morning as soon as you get up. The latter technique may be best, since studies done with the drug versions of GH peptides show that you get a more reliable interesting thing about GH-releasing peptides is that they act independently of both of the usual GH-

Symbiotropin, or GH Stak, has demonstrated its ability to significantly boost anabolism and recovery, which makes it a boon to many drug-free bodybuilders looking for that all-natural increase in mass and strength.

stomach. To facilitate uptake, Symbiotropin is provided in an effervescent tablet that you dissolve in water because, as the developer notes, studies show a 15 percent increase in GH release from oral glutamine when the amino is provided in an effervescent form.

You're also advised to exercise within an hour of taking Symbiotropin, again on an empty stomach. That gives you a synergistic effect between the known GH-releasing effects of exercise and the GH enhancement induced by Symbiotropin. Training with a high level of intensity, focusing on working larger muscle areas, also adds to the effect.

The suggested dosage schedule for Symbiotropin is to take it for five consecutive days, followed by a two-day break and then repeat the cycle. While Symbiotropin is generally suggested for people over 40 who show a decline in IGF-1 levels (80 percent of people over 40), in an unpublished study of Symbiotropin that included both elderly people and three young, healthy bodybuilders, one bodybuilder had an 8.5 percent increase in measured IGF-1 levels after just one day of using the supplement. Another bodybuilder in the study had a 12.5 percent rise in IGF-1 after a day, while the third showed a 36.6 percent increase after six days of taking Symbiotropin.

That contrasts with the results for the older people in the study, who started with low levels of IGF-1. Their levels increased anywhere from 7 to 229 percent after they used Symbiotropin for varying time periods. Obviously, the lower your baseline IGF-1 level, the higher it will be after you take something known to increase it. IGF-1 levels are measured based on the ephemeral blood levels of GH. While GH is broken down in the liver about an hour after being released into the blood, IGF-1 levels—which are directly stimulated by GH—last for up to 18 hours.

Also noteworthy is the fact that one clinic in California that dispenses GH as a means of youth restoration offers Symbiotropin as an alternative for needle-shy patients. According to the professionals at that clinic, the results seen with Symbiotropin show that it's about 65 percent as effective as actual growth hormone injections. In fact, many doctors are using Symbiotropin exclusively.

From all indications the next level of muscle-building supplementation has arrived. Symbiotropin has demonstrated its ability to significantly boost anabolism and recovery, which makes it a boon to many drug-free bodybuilders looking for that all-natural increase in mass and strength.

Natural GH Surge

Interview by Jerry Brainum

Growth hormone has long intrigued bodybuilders and other athletes. The perception is that it will promote muscular size while fostering a loss ofbodyfat—a holy grail combination for physical enhancement and athletic perfor -mance. Other desirable aspects of growth hormone include its much publicized anti-aging benefits and various possible health-enhancing properties asso -dated with maintaining optimal levels of it.

The two most common approaches to modulating growth hormone in the body have involved either pharmaceutical or natural methods. The pharma -ceutical approach consists of synthetic growth hor -mone injections and the still experimental oral secretogogue drugs. Injections do work but are ex -pensive for long-term usage. They may also have side effects, depending on the dosages and the length of time the drug is used.

The natural approaches, while safer and cheap -er, have not generally proved as effective. Natural methods of increasing the body's GH output in -elude taking various amino acids, such as argi -nine, ornithine and glutamine, as well as various amino acid by-products, such as GABA and its analog, GHB.

Why don't the safer, natural versions of GH stim -ulators work? A primary problem is getting the re -quired nutrients to the active areas of GH secretion; i.e., the brain. The body has a number of built-in barriers to prevent the entry of substances into the brain. For example, large doses of amino acids—such as those required to effectively elicit a GH response—are often degraded by liver en -zymes.

That such natural substances can stimulate an effective GH response is proven when the same substances are allowed to bypass barriers, as in in -travenous administration. Providing 30 grams of the amino acid arginine intravenously is so effec -tive at inducing GH secretion from the pituitary gland that it was formerly used as a provocative test for pituitary GH release.

Drug companies have developed drugs called

GH secretogogues based on the discovery that small amino acid linkages called peptides can elic -it a significant GH release. Most of the drugs are still considered experimental, but the exciting as -pect is that they 're effective orally.

A natural product called GH Stak is also a po -tent GH secretogogue, according to its developers. Since growth hormone itself is degraded within an hour after reaching the blood, the level of a prima -ry GH product, insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1)—which circulates in the body far longer thanks to protective binding proteins—is considered an accurate measure of GH output. From a body -building perspective, that's important because IGF-1 is also considered the active anabolic com -ponent of growth hormone. Preliminary studies show that GH Stak increases IGF-1 in various populations.

To find out more about the possible benefits of using GH Stak, I interviewed Lawrence E. Dor -man, M.D., who has practiced osteopathic medicine for more than 30 years in Independence, Missouri. Dorman specializes in nutritional and preventive medicine and has worked with several professional athletic teams. He has also re -searched the supplement and administered it to his patients and has a thorough knowledge of its po -tential benefits.

Q: A recent widely publicized study implicated high levels of IGF-1 as a promoter of prostate cancer. Does IGF-1 promote cancer?

LD: That study was extremely flawed. If high levels of IGF-1 actually promoted cancer, then people would have to stop exercising immediately because exercise is a potent IGF-1 stimulus. Other physicians and I have examined this purported IGF-l/cancer connection, and we've all agreed that the study was likely funded by pharmaceutical companies that had their own agendas.

In reality, the opposite is true. Since most types of cancer result from a failure of the immune system to curtail incipient tumors, IGF-1, as a potent immunostimulant, would serve to have a preventive effect against cancer.

By stimulating the immune system, higher IGF-1 levels protect the body against the onslaughts of various stresses and associated diseases.

0: How would maintaining higher IGF-1 levels help to prevent dis -eases?

LD: Maintaining an optimal IGF-1 level throughout life would help prevent virtually any type of disease. A primary reason that older people show higher rates of various degenerative diseases is that the body gradually loses the ability to ward off such diseases. This loss is related to a lifetime of poor health habits, such as lack of exercise, obesity, lack of sufficient nutrients and chronic exposure to environmental toxins, as well as unbridled stress.

By stimulating the immune system, higher IGF-1 levels protect the body against the onslaughts of various stresses and associated diseases. When you examine chronically ill people, you always find below-normal IGF-1 levels. A study published in a major journal found that patients who had suffered heart attacks showed the highest death rates if they also had low IGF-1 levels.

O: Assuming that GH Stak is effective in increasing IGF-1 levels, do you expect a market flooded with imitation products?

LD: [GH Stak] isn't easily duplicated for at least two reasons. The first is that duplication of the product requires an extensive knowledge of anterior-pituitary peptides. Only a few chemists in the world know how to produce those special peptides.

The second reason involves the delivery of the special peptides to target areas. Anyone attempting to duplicate [GH Stak] would have to devise a way to successfully transport them across such hostile environments as the acidic gastric mucosa and get them into the blood without being destroyed. This process requires special "chaperon" molecules, for which the chemistry is extremely obscure.

I expect that many companies will claim to have an equally effective knockoff version of [GH Stak], but they won't work as well. We've already tested a few products, and they didn't live up to hype.

O: Obese people are often insulin-resistant and also show blunted growth-hormone-re -leasing patterns. Would using GH Stak have any benefits for such people?

LD: If you administer GH injections, the drug will initially produce insulin resistance and subsequent glucose intolerance. However, the opposite is true with a growth hormone secretagogue such as [GH Stak], We've found the product is so effective at increasing insulin sensitivity that elevated blood glucose levels rapidly decline. When we give it to insulin-dependent diabetics, we always warn them to closely monitor their blood glucose levels. We've taken a few diabetics off insulin therapy

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when they began using [GH Stak] because of improved glucose control.

O: Since a high blood glucose level is known to blunt GH release, would a lower-carbohy -drate intake while using GH Stak offer any ad -vantages?

LD: You do want to limit carbohydrate intake a few hours before using [GH Stak] to elicit a maximal effect from it. You should also not consume any protein foods for at least three to four hours before using [GH Stak], Amino acids will compete with some of the components found in the supplement for uptake into the body.

O: What's the best way to use GH Stak?

LD: I'd recommend waiting at least an hour to eat anything after using it. It's not advisable to combine [GH Stak] with food or supplements that would decrease the effectiveness of the product. That includes any type of protein or creatine supplement.

O: Do you suggest consuming more protein while using GH Stak?

LD: Most active people already consume high-protein diets, and using [GH Stak] with such diets produces a synergistic effect. On the other hand, I think that even active people shouldn't ingest too much protein and they should consider mixing protein sources. That would involve consuming both animal and plant-derived proteins.

O: Is there any type of dietary fat that people should emphasize while using GH Stak?

LD: Monounsaturated fat, such as that contained in olive and canola oils, is a good type of fat to eat. It's less subject to oxidation and helps to maintain higher levels of protective high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol in the body.

O: Should the focus be on lower-glycemic-index carbohydrates, which promote less insulin release?

LD: The type of carbohydrate is more of an issue with people who are just beginning to exercise. Regular exercise promotes more efficient usage of ingested carbohydrates, such as a greater glycogen storage capacity. Thus, most people have an enhanced carbohydrate uptake after exercise.

O: What about using supplements that increase insulin effective -ness, such as chromium or vanadyl sulfate. Would they enhance GH Stak's effects?

LD: Those supplements are fine; however, vanadyl is toxic to the kidneys after long-term use. I'd suggest using a safer vanadyl complex

Most active people already consume high-protein diets, and using [GH Stak] with sue diets produces a synergistic effect.

Androgen precursors are converted by liver enzymes into testosterone, while [GH Stak] promotes peripheral IGF-1 synthesis and release, as in muscle. One touted androgen precursor, however, does increase IGF-1, and that's DHEA.

instead. Several of them are available.

Q: What's the purpose of the special legume contained in GH Stak?

LD: The legume used is a product of the rain forest. It contains an amino acid by-product called L-dopa that's a recognized GH releaser in the brain. Normally, the L-dopa would be destroyed in the gut before it got to the brain, but the chaperon molecules in GH Stak can successfully shield it from being prematurely degraded.

Q: Why is the effervescence factor contained in GH Stak so impor -tant to the product's effectiveness?

LD: The effervescence promotes rapid assimilation of the factors contained in [GH Stak], Those active factors, such as the anterior pituitary peptides, are fragile, and the longer they're exposed to hostile environments such as stomach acidity, the greater the risk of degradation. The effervesence helps to neutralize some of the potentially hostile exposures.

Q: Are there interactions between GH Stak and any of the popular testosterone precursors now on the market?

LD: Androgen precursors, such as androstenedione, take totally different biochemical pathways than does [GH Stak], Androgen precursors are converted by liver enzymes into testosterone, while [GH Stak] promotes peripheral IGF-1 synthesis and release, as in muscle. One touted androgen precursor, however, does increase IGF-1, and that's DHEA.

Q: What results can a bodybuilder expect after beginning to use GHStak?

LD: An initial effect would be increased exercise tolerance. That would translate into more intense workouts and better post-training recuperation. A person using it might be able to train faster, with less rest between sets, but that depends on prior physical condition.

Q: Since GH Stak increases exercise recovery, would a person tak -ing it be able to train more frequently or for longer sessions?

LD: While the product does promote greater recovery capacity, it doesn't give you a license to purposely overtrain, either. You still have to use common sense. [GH Stak] will, however, partially compensate for the blunted GH release that occurs with overtraining through an upgraded peripheral IGF-1 synthesis. The localized IGF-1 will serve to maximize muscle repair processes after training.

Q: Since younger people usually have higher IGF-1 levels than older people, what's the advantage for them of using a product such as GHStak?

LD: Even younger people will show improvements in muscle strength and endurance. Since IGF-1 also strengthens connective tissue, such as that found in joints and ligaments, using the product will offer a degree of protection from injury.

Q: You mentioned earlier that DHEA can also raise IGF-1 levels. Does that mean GH Stak and DHEA are a synergistic combination?

How Much Igf Take

LD: Older people using both show higher IGF-1 levels; however, I believe DHEA use should be reserved for people over age 40. Younger people have higher DHEA levels, making use of this hormone superfluous. I suggest that anyone contemplating using DHEA should have his or her DHEA level measured by lab analysis. That will provide information concerning the proper dose of DHEA to use.

O: Can using GH Stak lead to a side effect pro -file similar to that of injected GH?

LD: Carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist impingement, is often a common side effect of GH-injection therapy. With [GH Stak] we've seen this side effect only when people take too great a dose and then only in women. As to the reason the effect occurs only in women, we haven't yet determined it. But the effect is extremely rare and only happens if the product is misused.

O: Should someone considering GH Stak un -dergo any prior medical tests?

LD: I'd suggest getting a lab measurement of endogenous IGF-1 levels before using the product so you can see your baseline value of GH response.

O: Would increasing the recommended dose of GH Stak produce greater effects?

LD: [GH Stak] is a growth hormone modulator. It doesn't give you the constant stimulation associated with GH injections. However, the constant bombardment of GH cell receptor sites that occurs with injections makes the drugs less effective over time. [GH Stak] is more of a gentle stimulus to GH release, but any product that works can be abused. O: Is that the reason you suggest cycling and not taking GH Stak every day?

LD: Taking breaks from using the product every few days maintains its effectiveness while also preventing any side effects from occurring. The brief rest periods also maintain receptor efficiency, thus preventing the receptor downgrade that commonly occurs with growth hormone injections.

O: Are there any known contraindications to GH Stak use? LD: The only problem we've noticed thus far has to do with the citrus naturally contained in [GH Stak], People allergic to citrus should not use the product. We do, however, have a citrus-free version coming out soon.

O: Would GH Stak affect the activity of other hormones, such as

The constant bombardment of GH cell receptor sites that occurs with injections makes the drugs less effective over time. [GH Stak] is more of a gentle stimulus to GH release, but any product that works can be abused.

The greatest physiological GH release occurs during the initial stages of deep sleep, and [GH Stak] will aid the deep-sleep stage as well as provide a synergistic boost to the naturally occurring GH peak at that time.

thyroid output?

LD: We have some evidence that it enhances thyroid output.

0: Synthetic GH secretogogues often also increase Cortisol and pro -lactin levels. Would GH Stak share that effect?

LD: An increased Cortisol level would be of concern to athletes because of the established catabolic effects associated with that adrenal hormone. We haven't seen any increases in Cortisol levels with [GH Stak] in any age group.

O: Why do you recommend against people using artificial sweeten -ers when they take GH Stak?

LD: The supplement contains special pharmaceutical sugars that are part of its proprietary chaperon delivery system. Artificial sweeteners interfere with the function of those special sugars, and that could potentially decrease the product's effectiveness.

O: Given a choice, is it better to take GH Stak first thing in the morning before eating or at night before bed?

LD: For most people the better choice is at night. The reasoning here is that in most cases meal consumption has occurred several hours earlier, thus allowing the active elements in [GH Stak] to have a clear pathway to target tissues. In addition, the greatest physiological GH release occurs during the initial stages of deep sleep, and [GH Stak] will aid the deep-sleep stage as well as provide a synergistic boost to the naturally occurring GH peak at that time.

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    How much igf1 to take?
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