Winstrol is a steroid hormone used to treat a number of conditions, and despite being banned by sport, many athletes use it to enhance performance. Even when used medically, certain conditions prohibit its use, and patients have experienced many adverse side effects.
What Is Winstrol?
Winstrol is the brand name for stanozolol, a steroid hormone derived from testosterone and manufactured by Winthrop Veterinary, Upjohn and Zambon. In humans, it increases strength and stimulates the production of red blood cells. According to Bodybuilding.com, it is the third most popular steroid among athletes, and a number of high-profile athletes have tested positive for the drug (including Major League Baseball’s Rafael Palmeiro, sprinter Ben Johnson and mixed-martial arts fighters Chris Leben and Phil Baroni).
Because Winstrol increases red blood cell production, doctors have used it to treat certain types of anemia (a condition that results when the body does not produce enough red blood cells). Doctors have also used Winstrol in treating hereditary angioedema, a condition that causes recurring episodes of swelling in the face, lips, and the interior of the mouth and throat. This condition can last for several hours, and can also affect the hands (causing an itchy sensation), the feet, genitals and bowel wall.
Winstrol shows a strong bonding affinity for the androgen receptor in muscle tissue, and its use can greatly increase an athlete’s strength and explosiveness. This effect has made Winstrol a popular choice among sprinters, fighters, weightlifters and baseball players looking to hit the ball farther.
Because of Winstrol’s similarity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), it also boosts muscle hardness and allows bodybuilders to lose weight during a “cutting phase” while retaining their muscle mass.
Winstrol’s ability to stimulate red blood cell production has encouraged endurance athletes to take the drug. The extra red blood cells that Winstrol produces increases the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity and the increased blood volume facilitates more effective removal of toxins such as lactic acid from the muscles (letting athletes run or cycle greater distances at higher intensities).
Winstrol is not approved by the FDA for use in sports, and in the United States, it is illegal to possess Winstrol without a prescription. Additionally, the use of Winstrol has been banned by most amateur and professional sporting organizations.
People afflicted with prostate cancer, breast cancer or hypercalcemia (a high level of calcium in the blood) should not take Winstrol.
Additionally, consult a physician before using Winstrol if you have experienced coronary disease, diseases of the blood vessels, high blood serum cholesterol, diabetes, liver or kidney problems, or blood-clotting abnormalities.
Because Winstrol can affect the actions of insulin and blood thinners, patients taking these drugs should consult a doctor before use.
Winstrol is a "pregnancy category X" drug, which means that it has been shown to cause birth defects, and women who are pregnant or could become pregnant during use should not take Winstrol. Scientists do not know if breast milk transmits Winstrol, and women who are nursing should consult their doctor.
Physiological Side Effects
Winstrol is slightly hepatotoxic (corrodes the liver), and can cause abdominal pain, dark-colored urine, light-colored feces, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice. Its use has resulted in fatalities.
Allergic reactions to Winstrol include swelling of the arms, legs, lips, tongue or face; labored breathing; and hives. Some users have also experienced insomnia, muscle cramps, headaches, elevated blood pressure and elevated LDL cholesterol.
Because Winstrol binds to the androgen receptors in the body, it can also enhance or develop masculine characteristics. These can range from acne, enlarged prostate, increased facial and body hair, and an acceleration of male pattern baldness. Women are more prone to experience these masculinizing effects and can also suffer changes in menstrual cycle, enlarged clitoris and altered libido.