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Anavar® is the trade name for the anabolic steroid oxandrolone, which was sold by Searle Laboratories. It was first patented in 1964 to stimulate muscle regrowth in people diagnosed with disorders that caused involuntary weight loss, such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and Grave's disease. After it was discovered that it increased muscle regrowth, it was used extensively by bodybuilders off-label. Anavar® was discontinued in 1989 because of its abuse by bodybuilders, but the rights to redistribute oxandrolone were obtained by Bio-Technology General Corporation in 1995.
This steroid is derived from dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgenic hormone naturally produced by the prostate gland, testicles and adrenal glands. Unlike other anabolic steroids, it does not convert into DHT in the body, causing it to have a shorter half-life compared to other steroids. Common anabolic steroids convert into DHT, increasing the level of muscle-enhancing steroids inside the body. Oxandrolone is already in DHT form, acting a synthetic source of DHT inside the body, mitigating the need to have it converted.
Anavar® steroid does not covert into DHT, so it does not cause some of the more common side effects associated with steroids, such as male breast tissue enlargement and liver damage. It can cause testicular atrophy within months of use, however, especially at high dosages. Women have reported temporary clitoral enlargement.
This steroid is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcoholic hepatitis, AIDS, Turner syndrome and anemia. It has been clinically shown to increase muscle regrowth, preventing wasting of the muscle tissues. It also has been shown to increase the muscle mass and body composition in people suffering from serious, surface-area burns. Generally speaking, it is commonly used to prevent muscle wasting as a result of uncontrollable weight loss.
There have been few studies conducted on its use as a bodybuilding steroid, but early clinical trials show that it can help bodybuilders retain muscle gains for up to six months after use. Some studies report that people maintained their muscle gains by more than 80 percent after discontinuing use. It is also favored by bodybuilders because it contains far fewer side effects compared to other anabolic steroids, such as Anadrol® and Dianabol®.
Anavar® still poses serious health risks. For example, it carries a risk of dependency. The FDA has classified Anavar® as a Schedule III drug because bodybuildlers previously abused it off-label. Although it cannot be purchased legally by bodybuilders, pharmacies located outside the U.S., particularly in Mexico, sell it without requiring a prescription.