DHB, also known as Dihydroboldenone or 1-Testosterone, has gotten a lot of hype in the past few years in the bodybuilding community.
Guys are always looking for the new exotic steroid to try.
It's almost like a form of shiny object syndrome.
Juice heads are looking for the next best thing, and as soon as a hormone they haven't tried starts getting some traction in the community, they jump on the bandwagon assuming that this new hormone must hold the key to unlocking their true bodybuilding potential.
The fact of the matter is that 1-Testosterone has been around for quite some time, however, it just was never seen as efficacious enough to pursue in a therapeutic context.
What Is DHB?
DHB is a synthetic androstane steroid and a derivative of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
It is more commonly known as the 5-alpha reduced metabolite of Boldenone (Equipoise).
Just like how Testosterone interacts with 5-alpha reductase to produce dihydrotestosterone (DHT), Boldenone 5-alpha reduces into DHB (Dihydroboldenone).
Among many using this hormone in a performance enhancing context, it is reported to be formidable to Trenbolone in regards to muscle building potential, but with a more favorable side-effect profile.
Advocates of Dihydroboldenone claim that it is twice as strong as Testosterone.
This claim is typically based on the premise that DHB features an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 200/100.
Thus, it is implied to be twice as tissue selective as Testosterone, milligram for milligram.
Unlike its parent hormone, DHB features no estrogenic effects, which is seen as a desirable trait among those seeking efficacious steroids to use in conjunction with Testosterone.
Boldenone (Equipoise) Vs DHB (Dihydroboldenone)
Boldenone (Equipoise) is a derivative of Testosterone that was created by adding a double-bond between carbon atoms one and two.
This bond dramatically slows aromatization and makes the steroid a poor substrate for 5-alpha reductase.
While Boldenone is a substrate for 5-alpha reductase and can be converted into DHB, the amount converted by even a high dose of Boldenone is not substantial.
Although Boldenone inherently has strong anabolic effects and moderate androgenic effects, DHB is perceived by many in the bodybuilding community as the superior hormone in a muscle building context.
Mega-dosing EQ in order to try and achieve moderate serum concentrations of DHB is a strategy that has been deployed by many bodybuilders in the past.
Due to the parent hormone Equipoise being such a poor substrate for 5-alpha reductase, an increasing number of bodybuilders have started to simply opt to use straight DHB instead.
Studies Conducted On 1-Testosterone (DHB)
Very little clinical data exists evaluating the efficacy or safety profile of DHB.
There is only one study that we can reference that actually shows how DHB stacks up to Testosterone in a controlled clinical setting.
17β-Hydroxy-5alpha-androst-1-en-3-one (1-testosterone) is a potent androgen with anabolic properties
This study was conducted on 1-Testosterone (DHB) after it was scheduled in the US.
The goal of the study was to establish that DHB is not a “prohormone” as was incorrectly stated by many supplement companies prior to its scheduling.
By evaluating the effect DHB has on androgen sensitive tissues in the body via the androgen receptor, the study established that DHB is in fact an anabolic androgenic steroid.
While the premise of the study was meant to simply explore the AR dependent transactivation mediated with DHB, the measured effect DHB had on various tissues in the body relative to Testosterone shed light on how tissue selective and efficacious this hormone really is.
Anabolic Activity Of DHB Vs Testosterone
After being orchiectomised (surgical removal of testicles), castrated rats were left for 7 days to allow sufficient hormonal decline.
This process allows the scientists to administer exogenous androgens and then weigh different organs in the body and measure how much of an impact a specific drug has on muscle tissue, androgen sensitive tissues like the prostate, as well as vital organs.
The rats were then subcutaneously administered everyday with either an inert vehicle, 1 mg/kg/bw/day of Testosterone Propionate (TP), or 1 mg/kg/bw/day of DHB (1-Testo).
Milligram for milligram, DHB was shown to induce less muscle growth than Testosterone, while stimulating the prostate and seminal vesicle just as much.
This means that in order to replicate the same level of muscle growth, DHB would need to be dosed higher than Testosterone.
Where this supposed 200/100 anabolic/androgenic ratio came from I'm not sure, but the only clinical data I could find evaluating the tissue selectivity of DHB certainly does not reflect that.
It is less tissue selective than Testosterone, and less anabolic overall.
Potential Liver Toxicity
Typically, hepatotoxicity occurs with the use of orally active 17α-alkylated anabolic androgen steroids.
Flagship signs of liver toxicity include elevated liver enzymes, and in some cases even liver enlargement.
Expectedly, the Testosterone Propionate treated group did not show any signs of liver toxicity.
However, the DHB treated group experienced a significant increase in liver weight.
While this is not definitive proof that DHB is liver toxic, I do not feel the risk to reward is there with this compound when there are several other steroids with clinical testing on humans backing their superior efficacy and safety profiles.
No human trials to reference, red flag #1.
Less anabolic and tissue selective than Testosterone, red flag #2.
Potentially liver toxic even in an injectable format, red flag #3.
Lack Of Aromatization
While the bodybuilding community typically sees hormones that do not aromatize into Estrogen as ideal candidates to throw into their cycles because they are “dry” and don't “bloat”, I am more interested in potential hormone replacement therapy alternatives that could offer improved efficacy and safety profiles relative to Testosterone.
The entire point of synthesizing new steroids to begin with is to find anabolic hormones that are more tissue selective and anabolic than Testosterone.
While DHB is not a substrate for aromatase, this is not particularly advantageous for its therapeutic promise in a clinical setting, as it would then require exogenous Estradiol administration alongside it to even be viable in an HRT context, or a Testosterone base, but then that sort of defeats the idea of potential DHB monotherapy in the first place.
No Established Efficacy Or Safety Profile
At the end of the day, there is no data on the effect DHB has on the human body other than anecdotal logs on forums, and the data we can extrapolate from the preclinical rodent model is not promising.
While I'm not against experimentation, if I were to incorporate what is more or less just an experimental androgen, I would at least choose something that appears to have therapeutic promise based on its preclinical profile.
When it comes to what to use with Testosterone in a bodybuilding context to build muscle, there are far more promising alternatives than DHB.
Personally, if I was still trying to build up my physique (and I didn't care about my hair), I would opt for other DHT derivatives before I would even consider DHB.
Primobolan for example is a very underrated steroid, and is the first injectable DHT derivative I would be looking at for gaining size.
Nandrolone is another hormone I would look at.
When it comes to growth promoting agents, these drugs all more or less do the same thing, some are just more tolerable than others because they have superior levels of tissue selectivity and a general lack of negative side effects relative to the other less efficacious alternatives.
Why would I use DHB when I can use something like Nandrolone or Primobolan that has copious amounts of human data backing their efficacy and tolerability at dosages greatly exceeding what would be considered physiological replacement androgen levels?