One of the most popular “supplements” for bodybuilding is something called “SARMs”. SARMs stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. SARMs are actually a group of drugs that are not anabolic steroids but act on the same receptors as them in muscle. Thus, they hold the promise of building muscle without the side-effects of steroids.
SARMs, like Ostarine, LGD-4033, and Andarine, are drugs in the FDA approval pipelines of various companies. None of the SARMs have cleared clinical trials, otherwise I may have prescribed them for osteopenia or sarcopenia by now. However, rogue supplement companies have decided to try and dupe the FDA and FTC by marketing these drugs as supplements. These companies argue that they aren’t on the prohormone banned list so they must be okay to sell. Shaking my head…
Unfortunately, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the laws set forth by the FDA defining nutritional supplements. FDA dietary supplement definition carries two primary constraints. The first focuses on the ingredients or what the product is made from. They must be herbal derived or present in food as we know it. The second focuses on how the product is used. Even if herbal derived, an ingredient can’t already be used as a drug, injectable, inhaled, or otherwise. The dietary supplement definition is limited to ingredients that are not active pharmaceutical ingredients.
The FDA says: “A dietary supplement is a product intended for ingestion that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet. A “dietary ingredient” may be one, or any combination, of the following substances: a vitamin. a mineral. an herb or other botanical.”
Much to the SARMs seller’s dismay, none of the SARMs created in the lab fit into this definition of a supplement. In other words, if these ingredients are placed into a supplement this is the same as illegally misbranding a drug as a supplement. This would be the same as a supplement company adding clenbuterol to their fat burner or ibuprofen in their joint supplement.
All that being said, companies continue to play the cat and mouse game with the FDA putting these SARMs out there in plain sight. Sadly enough for the consumer, even those who say they are selling SARMs really aren’t. This was the topic of a recent investigation published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers ordered 44 different compounds from the Internet, each purporting to contain a SARM. They then analyzed the supplements for their contents using mass spectrometry. Only 23 of the 44 compounds actually had any SARMs at all. Further, only 18 of those 23 had the amount of the compound that appeared on the label and four of the 44 compounds had absolutely no active ingredient. Many of the supplements were adulterated with other chemicals, like selective estrogen receptor blocker tamoxifen or the growth-hormone secretagogue ibutamoren.
These SARMs and other drugs found in these supplements are not harmless. Even the SARMs in development have been found to have toxicity, steroid-like side effects, and truly unknown short and long term risks. Don’t be duped by these criminals into buying into the placebo effect with side effects.