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The Safety and Efficacy of Creatine, Ephedra, and Anabolic-Steroid Precursors

This paper was used in a 200 level Health and Human Science course. The paper received an A.

Review of:
“The Safety and Efficacy of Creatine, Ephedra, and Anabolic-Steroid Precursors”

The title of the reviewed article is “The Safety and Efficacy of Creatine, Ephedra, and Anabolic-Steroid Precursors” by Michael E. Powers, PhD, ATC, CSCS of Shenandoah University. This article is targeted to any athlete who is considering the use of a performance enhancing supplement. The article
informs the reader of the three questions that one should always ask before taking a supplement:

Is it legal?

Is it safe?

Does it work?

The article proceeds to answer these questions for each supplement in the study.

To begin the article Dr. Powers sets some guide lines for a good scientific study. He makes a strong point of why the term “natural” supplement should not imply in all cases. The studies conducted by manufactures often only involve young, healthy, athletic, individuals. This is not a good representation of the population that has the potential to consume these supplements and thus should be considered before taking.

The theory behind creatine is similar to carbohydrate loading. Increased muscle creatine and phosphocreatine would enhance the capacity of the phosphagen energy system. This would then result in a greater resistance to fatigue, and improve performance. The author states that the efficacy of creatine as a performance enhancer remains inconclusive. However, in certain groups of people recovery times have been shown to decrease. The general conclusion from studies listed is that creatine has no negative short term or long term side effects.

Ephedra is classifieds as a sympathomimetic alkaloid because it directly stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Ingestion has failed to improve muscle strength, endurance, and power on its own. However studies that combine the ephedra with the caffeine have shown to significantly increase endurance in studies when placebos were used as the control. However, the side effects associated with ephedra can be quite serious. These side effects ranged from headaches, restlessness, tremors and palpitations to severe hypertension, seizures, and even stroke.

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), A’dione (androstenedione), and A’diol (androstenediol) are androgenic hormones. Although they have very little androgenic activity on their own, they act as precursors to testosterone. High dosages of these supplements did show to increase the levels of testosterone levels and thus improving performance. However the side effects to these supplements are quite serious. Including liver dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and suppressed testosterone production.

The author makes a strong scientific argument to research the supplement you are thinking of consuming. The long term effects can be quite serious and the desired effects can often be marketing hype. Dr. Powers sites 73 different scientifically focused studies with every claim made and thus showing his scientific intent.

Being that I tried a variety of supplements I think this article will further assist me in not being lost in the hype of a supplement’s marketing campaign. Also, in many cases the long term effects of supplements appear to have the exact opposite effect of good health. This will greatly effect my choices for the future. I had planned on supplementing my workout routine with creatine to assist in recovery and based on this article I see no reason to remove it from that plan. I have used creatine in the past and know that my body responds well. Overall I am happy to have reviewed this article and feel as though I have more insight on how different supplements work with or against the body.