What are SARMs: A Brief Overview



What are SARMs?

Brief History of SARMs

Even though SARMs have started making waves in the news and bodybuilding/weightlifting communities only recently, their development dates to the 1940s [1]. Scientists were looking for ways to harness the anabolic, or tissue building, properties of AAS without incurring their undesirable androgenic effects, which are responsible for the development of male secondary sex characteristics, as seen with other androgens such as DHT. These undesirable side-effects include development of breast tissue, hair loss/balding, prostate growth, testicular atrophy, acne, and unwanted enlargement of the heart and other organs.

The modern-day era of SARMs began when the scientists at Ligand Pharmaceuticals and the University of Tennessee developed a series of compounds with anabolic activity on the skeletal muscle with some degree of tissue selectivity [2]. Since then, many pharmaceutical companies have developed their own synthetic non-steroidal SARMs and have begun researching their potential clinical applications.


Advantages of SARMs over Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids

Selective Action

As beneficial as AAS are for medical purposes, their application is severely restricted by the adverse side-effects of steroids, most of which stem from their non-selective nature. While AAS are very effective in promoting muscle growth, as professional bodybuilders clearly illustrate, they also promote the growth of all muscles in the body, including unwanted growth in the heart and other organs.

Prolonged use of AAS often leads to the enlargement and thickening of the left atrial ventricle, which significantly reduces the volume of blood the heart can eject with each contraction and relaxation, often leading to heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. On the other hand, SARMs selectively target only muscle and bone tissues in the body and almost entirely avoid others. For example, Ostarine, also known as Enobosarm, MK-2866, or GTx-024 (where to buy Ostarine), is a SARM that selectively affects muscle and bone tissue. It is currently being tested for the treatment of osteoporosis and a wasting syndrome in cancer patients known as cancer cachexia.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multi-center study to evaluate the effect of the compound by administering 3 mg or 1 mg to 159 male and female test subjects for 16 weeks, they discovered that Ostarine improved the subjects’ LBM (lean body mass), muscle performance, and quality of life [3].


AAS have a number of sex-specific side effects. In men, the side effects include the development of breast tissue (called gynecomastia, or “gyno”), reduced sexual function, testicular atrophy, and even infertility. In women, the side effects include increases in body hair, deepening of the voice, decreases in menstrual cycles, and enlarged clitoris.

The male-specific side-effects of AAS are caused by the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for aromatization (conversion) of androgens into estrogens. Because an increase of the amount of testosterone in the body leads to an increase of estrogen, many professional bodybuilders use a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors to reduce the undesired estrogen conversion when using external, or exogenous, testosterone.

The adverse side-effects of aromatase inhibitors include an increased risk for developing osteoporosis and various joint disorders, as well as infertility, kidney failure, hair loss, and liver dysfunction.

SARMs have a much more favorable ratio of anabolic to androgenic effects, and because they target androgen receptors differently than steroids, SARMs do not aromatize into estrogen, thus avoiding “gyno” and other undesirable side-effects, and are able to be administered without aromatase inhibitors.

Conventional steroids have an anabolic-to-androgenic ratio of around 3:1 (with Testosterone as a baseline at 1:1), but SARMs have a much more favorable ratio. RAD-140 (Testolone), for example, has been shown to have a ratio as high as 90:1 [4].

SARMs, unlike aromatase inhibitors and oral steroids, are also orally active without causing liver damage, making them safe to administer orally in liquid, tablet, or capsule form.


Disadvantages of SARMs


SARMs are currently being researched for their effects in curing, mitigating, or treating a number of medical conditions. Despite their lack of FDA approval, they have also been embraced by the bodybuilding and weightlifting community for their strong muscle-building properties, tissue selectivity, high ratios of anabolic to androgenic effects, and relative safety, comparing SARMs to traditional steroids.