Archive for May 2015

What is Clenbuterol?

What is Clenbuterol?

Clenbuterol is a steroid like substance, but not a steroid. It falls into a group of drugs known as beta-2-agonists. Clenbuterol shares similarities with stimulant drugs (i.e. increase heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, etc.) such as adrenalin (ephedrine) and amphetamines.

Clenbuterol was initially developed as a bronchodilator for the treatment and alleviation of symptoms of equine asthma. It main therapeutic use in many countries is still limited to horses, with the catch that any horse that has received clenbuterol, cannot later be slaughtered for food.

Clenbuterol for Weight Loss

A ‘side-effect’ of clenbuterol is its catabolic (fat loss) and anabolic (growth of skeletal muscle) properties. It is not understood, why clenbuterol causes fat loss and muscle growth. However, body builders and athletes cottoned on to this effect quickly and use it alone or in conjunction with other substances to help define their muscles and lose weight. Clenbuterol is particularly popular with female athletes, as it does not produce the androgenic side effects of anabolic steroids (physical, behavioral and functional side effects – e.g. virilization, developments a male body type, deepened voice, hairiness, acne to name just a few of the physical effects, some of which are irreversible).
There is no human research available to confirm clenbuterol’s effectiveness or safety and thus the study of clenbuterol has been limited to animal research. Several animal studies have indeed found clenbuterol to induce fat loss and increase skeletal muscle.

Clenbuterol Side-effects

The list of potential side effects caused by clenbuterol is long and perilous and is the reason behind the limited knowledge of clenbuterols weight loss properties in humans. Anyone who is considering using clenbuterol as a speedy route to slimming down, must consider the list of clenbuterol side-effects very carefully and decide whether the benefit of weight loss outweighs the risks associated with taking clenbuterol.

Is Clenbuterol Legal?

In many countries such as the USA, Australia and most of Europe, Clenbuterol is only legal for use in horses, in the treatment of asthma. However, in the UK and Canada possession and purchase for private use is not illegal, although it is an offense in the UK to supply or have intent to supply clenbuterol. It is important to bear in mind that if someone was found to be in possession of a large quantity of clenbuterol they may be deemed to be intending to supply – and may be prosecuted.

In addition to the legal clenbuterol preparations for medicinal use, there is a black-market in clenbuterol. There is a risk of buying counterfeit clenbuterol, which may have little, if any, active ingredients and, even worse, may be contaminated. Often, clenbuterol is illegally imported from other countries such as Mexico and Canada into the U.S.

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Types of Diuretics, What are diuretics?

Types of Diuretics, What are diuretics?

What are diuretics?

Diuretics, sometimes known as ‘water pills’, are drugs which draw excess fluid from the tissues of the body and convert it into urine. They are used for the swelling and bloating of premenstrual syndrome, for treating high blood pressure and, in older people, for heart failure caused by weakening of the heart’s pumping mechanism. They are also prescribed for nephrotic syndrome, liver damage, glaucoma and M??’s disease.
The drugs work by disrupting the normal action of the kidneys. The kidneys usually remove water, minerals and waste products from the bloodstream. Most of the water and minerals are returned to the bloodstream after the waste products have been expelled in the urine. Diuretics reduce the amounts of sodium and water reabsorbed into the bloodstream, which increases the amount of urine, draws excess fluid from tissues and reduces the water content of the blood. As the diuretics act to expel urine from the body, the tissues become less water-logged and the action of the heart improves because it has to pump a smaller volume of blood around the body. This, in turn, acts to reduce blood pressure. Different diuretic drugs work in slightly different ways, but all make you go to the bathroom more often. If you suffer swelling before your period, for example, you will feel less bloated.

Sufferers from heart failure will feel less breathless as the diuretic removes fluid that has gathered in the lungs and places less strain on the heart.

Mild diuretics and herbal tablets that have a diuretic action are available over-the-counter for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome and minor cases of fluid retention. In more serious conditions they should be prescribed by a doctor. There are various types, all of which have a slightly different action.


These are the type prescribed most often and they work by blocking the reabsorption of sodium, potassium and water. Taking them, however, can lead to a shortage of potassium in the body and for this reason they may be given with a potassium supplement or in conjunction with another type of diuretic known as a potassium-sparing diuretic.


These are powerful diuretics which also block the reabsorption of sodium, potassium and water. They have an extremely rapid action and for this reason they are sometimes used in emergencies, for example to relieve fluid on the lungs. They are especially useful to people with impaired kidney function who do not react well to thiazide diuretics. Like thiazides they can cause a shortage of potassium, which can be counteracted by taking either a potassium supplement or a potassium-sparing diuretic.


As the name suggests, these diuretics block the reabsorpton of sodium and water without affecting the body’s potassium balance. They are mild diuretics and may be prescribed together with a thiazide or loop diuretic to prevent the body losing excess potassium.


These are not prescribed very often. They work by blocking the reabsorption of sodium and water and are used to maintain the flow of urine through the kidneys after surgery or injury and to lower pressure within fluid-filled cavities


This is a mild diuretic that is mainly used to treat congestive heart failure, fluid retention, pre-eclamptic toxaemia (PET) during pregnancy, premenstrual tension and epilepsy. It’s also used to treat some types of glaucoma when locally acting drugs have failed to treat the problem successfully.


These work by blocking the effect of carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that affects the level of bicarbonate ions in the blood. However, they are only effective for a short period of time.


Thiazide diuretics

Commonly used brand names in the United States:

Aquatensen (methyclothiazide), Diucardin (hydroflumethiazide), Diulo (metolazone), Diuril (chlorothiazide), Enduron (methyclothiazide), Esidrix (hydrochlorothiazide), Hydro-chlor (hydrochlorothiazide), Hydro-D (hydrochlorothiazide), HydroDIURIL (hydrochlorothiazide), Hydromox (quinethazone), Hygroton (chlorthalidone), Metahydrin (trichlormethiazide), Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide), Mykrox (metolazone), Naqua (trichlormethiazide), Naturetin (bendroflumethiazide), Oretic (hydrochlorothiazide), Renese (polythiazide), Saluron (hydroflumethiazide), Thalitone (chlorthalidone), Trichlorex (trichlormethiazide), Zaroxolyn (metolazone)

Commonly used brand names in Canada:

Apo-Chlorthalidone (chlorthalidone), Apo-Hydro (hydrochlorothiazide), Diuchlor H (hydrochlorothiazide), Duretic (methyclothiazide), HydroDIURIL (hydrochlorothiazide), Hygroton (chlorthalidone), Naturetin (bendroflumethiazide), Neo-Codema (hydrochlorothiazide), Novo-Hydrazide (hydrochlorothiazide), Novo-Thalidone (chlorthalidone), Uridon (chlorthalidone), Urozide (hydrochlorothiazide), Zaroxolyn (metolazone)

Thiazide diuretics are used to treat high blood pressure by reducing the amount of sodium and water in the body. Thiazides are the only type of diuretic that dilate (widen) the blood vessels, which also helps to lower blood pressure.

Potassium-sparing diuretics

Commonly used brand names in the United States:

Aldactone (spironolactone), Dyrenium (triamterene), Midamor (amiloride)

Commonly used brand names in Canada:

Aldactone (spironolactone), Dyrenium (triamterene), Midamor (amiloride), Novospiroton (spironolactone)

Potassium-sparing diuretics are used to reduce the amount of water in the body. Unlike the other diuretic medicines, these medicines do not cause your body to lose potassium.

Loop-acting diuretics

Commonly used brand names in the United States:

Bumex (bumetanide), Demadex (torsemide), Edecrin (ethacrynic acid), Lasix (furosemide), Myrosemide (furosemide)

Commonly used brand names in Canada:

Apo-Furosemide (furosemide), Edecrin (ethacrynic acid), Furoside (furosemide), Lasix (furosemide), Lasix Special (furosemide), Novosemide (furosemide), Uritol (furosemide)

Loop-acting diuretics cause the kidneys to increase the flow of urine. This helps reduce the amount of water in your body and lower your blood pressure.
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Cell Volume and Muscle Growth

Cell Volume and Muscle Growth

When most gym rats talk about getting bigger they are obviously referring to muscle growth or hypertrophy. Often, however they don’t really have a clue as to what’s happening within their muscles in order to make them bigger and stronger. For all they know little muscle fairies sneak into their rooms at night and when they wake up in the morning, voila, they’re bigger. Without fail, though, this never seems to stop the most ignorant of them from throwing around their lack of information with poorer form than the 20 lb dumbbells they use for “cheat” curls. And although I’m not the most brilliant guy in the world, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable at the iron game. For some reason, though, I seem to be a target for these gym “experts” as they are continually instructing me as to how to train and diet!:

What exactly is muscle growth? Hypertrophy vs Hyperplasia

To begin, I’d like to cover the two main ways for an individual to increase overall muscle size. The first, muscle fiber hypertrophy, refers to the increase in the diameter of the individual muscle cells. The larger the cells, the larger the overall muscle, it’s that simple. Muscle fiber hypertrophy = Big muscle fibers.

The second, muscle fiber hyperplasia, refers to the splitting of muscle fibers in the interest of creating new fibers. Obviously this would be of interest to anyone pursuing size or strength due to the fact that and if an individual has more fibers, their overall size potential is greater. Therefore when looking at hyperplasia, Muscle fiber hyperplasia + Muscle fiber hypertrophy = Many big muscle fibers.

At this point, I know that you’re all supercharged to learn how to both make more fibers and to make them bigger, but I’m going to have to put the breaks on and be the bearer of bad news. The problem with hyperplasia is that no one really knows exactly how to promote it. Once we are born, some experts believe, muscle fiber number remains fixed for our lifetime. Therefore under normal circumstances muscle fiber hyperplasia seems nearly impossible.

interestingly, though, experts have begun to speculate that under abnormal circumstances hyperplasia can contribute to overall muscle growth. For starters, recreational or even moderately intense weight training will probably NOT do it. Unfortunately there has not even been any evidence that very intense weight training will promote hyperplasia. One proposed link to hyperplasia, though is anabolic steroid use. A recent article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise found evidence for muscle fiber hyperplasia in anabolic steroid using powerlifters(1). This however, is pretty much the first evidence of a mechanism for hyperplasia in humans. The bottom line is that unless we are ready to boatload anabolic steroids into our systems, neither you nor I are going to be enjoying the benefits of muscle fiber hyperplasia any time soon. So what about hypertrophy? Well that, my friends, is a reality.

Two types of hypertrophy?

Let’s address the 2 main forms that muscle fiber hypertrophy can take. Muscle fiber hypertrophy can be accomplished by either increasing the volume contained within the muscle cell or by increasing the actual amount of muscle contractile protein making up the muscle cells. To give a simple analogy to help differentiate between the two types of hypertrophy, one can think of the muscle cell as a water-filled balloon. To make the balloon bigger (hypertrophy), one can either add more water to the balloon, thereby stretching it to its maximum capacity (increase cell volume) or one could theoretically add more balloon material to make the overall size of the balloon larger (increase in contractile protein). Although the mechanisms that cause increased cell volume and increased contractile protein content may be different, both are affected by weight training and there seems to be a link between the two that bodybuilders may be able to exploit in order to cause lasting muscle growth

First and foremost, when we talk about hypertrophy, we are most often referring to the second type mentioned above – an increase in contractile protein (adding more material to the balloon). This type of hypertrophy is the most lasting since it constitutes a remodeling of the muscle fibers, making them permanently bigger than before (assuming you continue to train, of course). Muscle increases of this type are not only asthetically pleasing, but also contribute significantly to strength. The more fibers available to contract, the more weight can be lifted!

But what about the other type of hypertrophy? Well let’s put it this way; how many of you wish that your muscles looked as good outside of the gym as they do in the gym after a great skin-stretching “pump”? I know that when I was younger, I wouldn’t even take one step out onto to the beach without doing some pushups first in order to “get a little blood into the muscle”. This phenomenon, the infamous “pump”, is a short-lived example of increased cell volume. Fluid moves into the cell thereby causing it to stretch, take up more space, and make you look pretty darn good. Unfortunately, such increases in cell volume disappear almost as quickly as they came. The good news is that there are other ways to increase cell volume for longer periods of time.

The increases in cell volume and their contribution to muscle growth that I wish to address are brought about by naturally by increases in cellular water; increases in the cellular storage of substrates such as carbohydrates, lipids, or amino acids; and increases in the cellular movement of ions like sodium and potassium. Research has shown that supplements like creatine, glutamine, and ribose can also lead to increases in cell volume by both increasing their own content within the cell but also by attracting water into the cell, causing cell swelling.

What’s the big deal with increased cell volume or cell swelling?

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know that I’m big on citing research, for without quality research, our attempts at finding out the truth about how our universe operates are merely stabs in the dark. (Kind of like Biff’s attempt at rational thought.) This research focus applied to the cell volume question has produced quite a bit of very interesting research that has and is bound to continue to dramatically impact the fitness and sports nutrition industry. Initially cell volume studies focused on the cells of the liver since the liver is the most important organ for whole body metabolic regulation.

What these studies found was that independent of hormone influence or substrate influence, decreased cell volume (cell shrinking) lead to cellular catabolism or protein breakdown, while increased cell volume (cell swelling) led to anabolism or protein synthesis. In this regard, the original authors of such papers concluded that cell swelling or shrinking acted as a “second messenger to tell the cell what to do about protein synthesis. Basically, the hormones tell the cell to swell or shrink and it is this swelling or shrinking, not the hormone’s action, that leads to changes in protein metabolism.

These findings were particularly exciting for muscle physiologists because this link could be explored in many clinical populations such as burn victims who are extremely catabolic and the elderly who tend to lose large amounts of muscle mass. Although the muscle research has mostly focused on catabolism rather than anabolism, a few important “take home” findings are evident. First is that decreased body water and intracellular nutrients can lead to cell shrinking and as we now know, increased muscle protein breakdown (7). Therefore by maintaining normal hydration and maximal substrate storage with ample fluid consumption and nutrient intake, an individual can easily prevent a great deal of protein breakdown. Also, although experimentally unproven, increased cell volume above normal hydration may lead to increases in muscle protein content. This is where supplements, especially those consumed immediately after bouts of intense exercise, come into play.

By John M Berardi

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