19-Nor-DHEA / 19 Nor Andro: More Questions than Answers

19-Nor-DHEA

TL;DR

19-Nor-DHEA / 19 Nor Andro, also known as NorAndrost-4-ene-3b-ol, 17-one, is a preprohormone that converts to nandrolone (commonly known as the anabolic androgenic steroid deca durabolin – minus the decanoate ester being attached), a popular anabolic steroid.

Here’s the simple truth: we spent a lot of time and effort researching this compound, as well as its metabolites and byproducts, and it simply doesn’t seem worth the time, money, or risk of potential side effects without doing more research.

Decabolin

While we’re still not sure what this ingredient is capable of, we’re absolutely positive that Hi-Tech’s Decabolin is the only product we recommend with 19-Nor-DHEA.

The best use-case may come from older men (aged 50+) who are on the path towards TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) but are not yet ready to go there yet.

There might also be some efficacy for those who are recovering from certain types of injuries or who are concerned about male pattern baldness (MPB) and/or androgenic alopecia. But the truth is, however, that we feel much more comfortable recommending most beginners to start with a lower dose of 1-Andro (1-DHEA) than using 19-Nor-DHEA.

Old-timers who loved deca in the past or the curious may be interested in going over the research below. But until there’s more specific research (and blood tests) on the compound itself, we simply can’t recommend this compound to anyone who’s not extremely experienced and/or experimental, and also has the funds to try a compound that might not deliver results worth the expense.

If you still want try it after reading this entire guide, its references, and discussing it with your endocrinologist, our recommendation would be Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals Decabolin. But we would much rather have you research the products on our 1-Andro article instead and start with the lower-dosed Hi-Tech 1-AD.

This article was written and researched by Pogue, and edited by Mike at PricePlow.

As always when discussing these new preprohormones, we must start by discussing the hormone that 19-nor-DHEA ultimately converts to, which is nandrolone (19-nortestosterone).

Lack of 19-Nor-DHEA Research = Working Backwards and Theoretically

Since there’s not much research on 19-Nor-DHEA itself, we have to work “backwards” and talk about everything that it converts to, and the research on those compounds. This is a less-than-ideal situation, and we hope that there will be more research on 19-Nor-DHEA in the future, but for now, we have to jump to certain conclusions and also have several open questions.

Nandrolone is also commonly known as “Deca”. It gets this moniker from its pharmaceutical name, Deca Durabolin (nandrolone decanoate). So let’s get into its history and research first:

Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)

“Deca” is one of the granddaddies of the bodybuilding scene. Back in the 60s and 70s, a cycle of Deca with Dianabol (methandrostenolone) was known to be one of the most popular stacks for gaining enormous amounts of mass. Yet, as time progress, and knowledge of anabolic steroid pharmacology increased, nandrolone fell out of favor for other steroids with different characteristics and less negative side effects (more on this below). The fact that a drug test for nandrolone can show up in the body up to 18 months since its last dosage also hurt Deca’s reputation.

The illicit and licit use of nandrolone never completely disappeared from the scene and is still routinely discussed on popular forums and even still prescribed to patients with wasting diseases like HIV/AIDS with positive results. Over the years, it has been researched as a possible form of male birth control, and an alternative to testosterone for older men experiencing ‘andropause’.

Comparing Nandrolone to Testosterone

Below are the slight chemical differences between testosterone and nandrolone, a 19-norandrostene structure. Testosterone-based compounds are also known as androstenes because of their one double bond carbon structure.[1]

Testosterone

Testosterone (4-androstene-3-one,17beta-ol)

Nandrolone

Nandrolone (19-Nor-4-androstene-3-one,17b-ol)

See what’s missing on the nandrolone molecule? It’s a Carbon atom (C) where there’s an H3C in Testosterone, but just H in Nandrolone. Read what’s going on here in more detail in the sidebar below.

It’s “natural” in some senses of the word

Some people are under the impression that “Deca” is an entirely synthetic drug created in a laboratory, however, this is not the case. Nandrolone is naturally produced in the body, by both men and women – however in extremely small amounts. Specifically how much and what can cause it to be produced is a bit of a mystery, as described in this anti-doping document produced by FIFA:

Nandrolone produced within the body

Just before the 1998 World Cup in France, some positive doping cases raised the question whether the human body could produce traces of nandrolone metabolites without any intake of forbidden substances. In women, nandrolone has been found in the ovarian follicular fluid and in the urine during the 6th and 14th weeks of pregnancy. Regarding men, no clear answer can be given so far. Analyses performed by all of the WADA-accredited laboratories suggest that the concentration of a possible production by the body, if any, should lie below the cut-off value of 2 ng/mL in normally concentrated urine.[2]

Nandrolone intake and physical effort

Another question is a possible increase in excretion during or after strenuous physical exercise. One mechanism could be its release from fat tissues during effort:

The laboratories of Lausanne and Montreal, financed by F-MARC, investigated 621 male subjects. The 137 amateur football players did not show any 19-norsteroid production at rest. After exercise, only nine showed traces of 19-NA (19-norandrosterone) and 19-NE (19-noretiocholanolone). In the same study, 358 elite football players were tested after competition.[2] The majority had an undetectable, or a value of less than 2.0 ng/mL for metabolites of nandrolone in the urine.

Nandrolone

QV Nandrolone Deca was a form of nandrolone used by athletes. Roger Clemens was one famous player accused of using. Image courtesy Wikimedia

In another study with 34 amateur sportsmen, the measurements of 19-NA and 19-NE in the urine were quite variable and did not appear to be significantly influenced by exercise. Thus, physical effort can have different, but certainly no systematic effects on the excretion of nandrolone metabolites depending on an individual’s metabolism. These results indicate that no extrapolation is possible concerning pre- and post-effort 19-NA and 19-NE urinary levels.

Anyway, if you’re a drug-tested athlete, all of these compounds, 19-Nor-DHEA included, are extremely likely to be a banned substance, so always check with your governing body and coach before using any supplement.

Androstenediol Vs. 19-norandrostenediol (C19 vs. 19Nor)

As mentioned above, we’re comparing the presence and absence of the 19th carbon atom in the structure of anabolic substances. In “Nor”, as the name would indicate, it is absent.

When preprohormones and prohormones convert to their parent hormones, the presence or absence of that 19th carbon atom doesn’t change throughout its conversion process. This makes the conversion of 19-Norandrostenediol to 19-Nortestosterone — 19-nor won’t convert right to testosterone. So it’s a “parallel” prohormone path that is similar but different than the reactions we get from the prohormones that do have the 19C atom attached.

Taken from an article archived from Bodybuilding.com by “Big Cat” (Peter Van Mol), you can read some details of what he thought:

19Nortestosterone is more commonly known as nandrolone, the active substance in popular steroids such as Deca-Durabolin. So what’s the skinny? Well, nandrolone is only a fifth as androgenic as testosterone, but elicits similar anabolic reactions. That makes this a good choice for people at risk for hair loss and prostate enlargement and for women seeking the benefits of prohormones.

Because the conversion enzymes in the body are limited, only so much of the target hormone can be made. The benefit that strikes us as the most useful is that “Nors” last longer — they have a longer half life (up to 6 hours as opposed to 2 for andros) which means you only have to take one or two doses per day as opposed to three or four for andros.

Estrogenic questions

The downsides to Nor-prohormones are that they do not address the estrogen issue. The loss of androgenic effects also seems to cause a loss of libido, which is not a major concern, just some “lustlessness”, but is obviously not advisable if you have a wife or girlfriend. Nors also seem to lack the psycho-motoric effect that stimulates more energy and power in the gym. We wouldn’t worry about that, since we’ve never experienced them to any real effect on other andros either.

Water storage

Another trait that nandrolone precursors have is the large storage of water. Even though the estrogenic effect is slightly milder than that of testosterone, people using these precursors store considerably more water-weight.

A study from 1980 seems to suggest that they may have an effect on amplifying aldosterone, another hormone produced from angiotensin II. We’ll save you of the exact physiology of aldosterone, but will share with you that it increases sodium reabsorption, and in turn that means storing considerably more water.

Whether this is good or bad is up to you. Extra water weight means more nutrients for bulking, more mass but less definition and muscle hardness. More of a “swole” effect, if you will.

What this does seem to suggest is that combining Nors with an aromatase blocker would decrease many estrogen related side-effects, but still give you some water-weight to allow for bulking up. This is an anabolic trait worth considering.[1]

— Peter Van Mol (Big Cat), Bodybuilding.com Archives[1]

The simple truth is that when it comes to 19-Nor-DHEA, we’re going to need to some some blood tests before we can determine just how estrogenic it may be.

Deca: A result of the ongoing war on drugs

In 1990, the United States banned the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) and placed them under Schedule III of their illegal classification system, labeling them as “substances in this schedule have a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.”[3,4]

This placed them under the same classification as drugs such as ketamine, GHB, hydrocodone, and LSD. The social and moral panic of the ‘dangers’ of AAS was in full swing during that time, and needless to say, this legislation took them out of the hands of bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts who were just looking to enhance their physical appearance and increase strength.

Drug Enforcement Administration

The simple truth is that we’re here reading and writing about a DHEA metabolite as a side effect of the ongoing war on drugs. Was deca really that much of a danger to well-informed users? Is this nation, let alone this industry, any better off today?

Of course, the industry didn’t just fold up and go home. In the late 90s and early to mid 2000s, there were some legal precursors to nandrolone available on the market, such as the prohormones 19-Norandrostenedione and 19-Norandrostenediol.

This once again put these potent compounds back in the hands of individuals looking to build their physique with the added benefit of increased anabolic hormones. However, the “19nor” prohormones they were generally overshadowed by their more popular counterparts of 4AD (4 androstenediol) and 1AD (1-androstenediol and 1-testosterone – which we get when taking the now-legal 1-Andro preprohormones).

The 19nors were known to be more expensive, and had less of a profile for explosive mass gains that other prohormones did. However, they were considered to be a bit safer in terms of lessened side effects than their chemical cousins.

But, once again, the US government took it upon themselves to declare these substances illegal as well, and like all the other prohormones, they were banned for sale in 2005.[6]

Safety is the main reason we were originally drawn to 19-Nor-DHEA – there is a possibility of an improved safety profile compared to other preprohormones. But as we’ll see, there’ are still so many questions that need answers:

Introducing 19-Nor-DHEA

Today, we have a new compound out on the market that is a preprohormone to nandrolone known as NorAndrost-4-ene-3b-ol, 17-one, or 19-Nor-DHEA, as we’ll be referring to it throughout the rest of this article. Similar to its other DHEA-related brethren, such as 4-DHEA (4-Andro) and 1-DHEA (1-Andro), it converts via a two step enzyme pathway to its main metabolite, nandrolone.

So, is this compound worth the time and money to try it out? Hopefully this article will help you make that decision, but the short version is that we now think 1-Andro (1-DHEA) is a better alternative since there is so much complexity happening here, and we don’t have enough data to make a serious conclusion.

19-Nor-DHEA is likely going to be best-suited for the most experimental of users, or consumers who really enjoyed deca in the past, or have some specific reason to want to try this compound — such as concern for androgenic side effects, like male pattern baldness — and are willing to take on some experimental and financial risk.

We’ll start by further discussing the research on its parent compound, nandrolone, along with its pros and cons.

Nandrolone: 19-Nor Andro’s Ultimate Target

Nandrolone is found in the human body in minute quantities. It’s a minor chemical modification of other four-carbon sex hormones, but that modification alters it in significant ways that cause it to react quite differently than other anabolic steroids.

For example, testosterone makes its conversions via two enzyme pathways that can make it undesirable for some people. Through the aromatase enzyme, testosterone can convert to estrogen, which can lead to bloating, fat gain, and gynecomastia.

Testosterone to Estradiol Conversion

Testosterone to Estradiol Conversion. Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Then, via the 5 alpha reductase (5AR) enzyme, testosterone can convert to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a highly androgenic compound responsible for hair loss, acne, and prostate enlargement. That’s not to say that DHT and estrogen don’t have positive effects — in fact, they both contribute in a largely positive way to the benefits of AAS usage — but for people who are looking to avoid many of the negative consequences and side effects of anabolic steroid usage, avoiding DHT and estrogen can be a very big advantage.

Nandrolone avoids DHT more so than taking Testosterone does

Nandrolone converts via the 5AR enzyme to a weaker compound, dihydronandrolone (DHN) which is far less androgenic and causes much less problems for the user when it comes to hair loss, acne, etc. This makes it ideal for individuals who are looking to keep their hair line in tact, not have to worry about problems with oily skin and acne, as well as concerns about prostate health.

However, nandrolone can and does convert to estrogen, possibly through two different enzyme pathways. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. Although estrogen is treated as the arch enemy of the bodybuilder, estrogen imparts positive effects in the form of increased growth hormone and IGF-1 release,[6] as well as improved glycogen storage and glucose uptake into the muscles – allowing for more stamina in the gym and better recovery.[7]

Since some individuals can be sensitive to estrogen, keeping an ancillary drug like Nolvadex on hand during a nandrolone cycle would be prudent in case negative estrogenic side effects are noted, such as puffy and enlarging nipples (the starting signs of gynecomastia).

Possible ways it could convert to estrogen

Nandrolone appears to convert to estrogen via two different pathways. First of all, nandrolone seems to convert through the same pathway that testosterone and other AAS convert to via the aromatase enzyme, but also seems to convert in the liver via cytochrome P450, a common pathway where drugs are metabolized into other drugs. This pathway of metabolism goes beyond the scope of this article, but the Wikipedia article on cytochrome P450 secondary functions[8] covers it in depth for those interested to learn more about it.[9]

Cytochrome P450

Cytochrome P450 can potentially leave us with some testosterone, estrogen, and even DHT, since we can have some progesterone, discussed below. However, at that point, how much is there really? Only blood tests will help us out. Image courtesy Wikimedia.

A substance such as Nolvadex (tamoxifen) should be sufficient to keep the estrogenic side effects to a minimum, since Nolvadex is an estrogen receptor antagonist in areas (such as breast tissue) where it would cause most negative effects. So, regardless of how nandrolone is converting to estrogen, any negative side effects should be covered by the use of Nolvadex for those who are concerned with or sensitive to estrogenic side effects — combating any excess bloating or gynecomastia that the user might experience from nandrolone.

However, some have argued that Nolvadex has the capability to increase the availability of progesterone (see the Progesterone Connection section of this article below for more information about this). But, suffice to say, without the presence of estrogen – which Nolvadex will antagonise via the receptor site, progesterone should be of no cause for concern for anyone using nandrolone.[10]

Point being? You’re going to need a real-deal prescription-strength PCT if using anything that converts to nandrolone — and that includes 19-Nor-DHEA.

Anecdotal benefit of nandrolone: joint pain reduction

One other benefit that “Deca” was renowned for back in the day was it’s ability to ease joint pain in it’s users. Estrogen might be responsible for one of the other well known positive effects of nandrolone, which could be responsible for the anecdotal reports of “joint lubrication” and pain reduction in joints during lifting.

Nandrolone, for one reason or another, has been well known to alleviate these pains, giving it the double advantage of having steroidal properties to add lean muscle mass, enhance fat loss and strength… but also the added benefit from being able to perform lifts that would otherwise cause joint pain.[11]

Since estrogen is known to cause remineralization of bones in postmenopausal women, this is theorized to be one pathway that causes nandrolone to alleviate joint pain in it’s users. Estrogen also increases the manufacturer of collagen, which can help benefit treatment of osteoarthritis and provide a degree of pain relief in it’s sufferers, as well as improving joint function – collagen may also responsible for rebuilding damaged joints.[12]

Aldosterone

Interesting: Could aldosterone’s water retention be helping with joints when increasing nandrolone levels? Image courtesy Wikimedia

Another theory for the joint pain reduction lies in the fact that nandrolone is an aldosterone agonist. Aldosterone causes fluid retention by sodium channels in the kidneys and in addition to possibly keeping fluid in and around the joints (to act as lubrication), it will also cause added water weight and bulk during a nandrolone cycle. Note that this is a good reason to watch your salt intake and keep your potassium intake high throughout.[13]

Yet another theory is that since nandrolone is a progestin and stimulates the progesterone receptor (more on this below), it increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines that can lead to pain reduction, similar in the way that NSAIDs and acetaminophen works.[39]

Whatever the cause, nandrolone would be a welcome addition to a cycle of an athlete coming back from a layoff of an injury for its pain reducing benefits alone, specifically for pain in the joints and tendons.

Nandrolone for Mass

Because nandrolone has properties that make it convert to estrogen as well as cause bloating via aldosterone, this makes it a compound that would be best suited for bulking. It’s also been noted that nandrolone is 2.4 times as anabolic as testosterone, making it well suited for gaining lean muscle mass.[14,15]

In terms of its androgenic to anabolic ratio, nandrolone comes in as 37 for androgenic while being 125 for anabolic. This would be compared to testosterone with a perfect 100:100 ratio. While this data from the famous tome by Julius Vida, Androgens and anabolic agents,[16,17] it’s more an indicator of how the hormones perform on the levator ani muscle versus the prostate.

So what exactly is the levator ani and how does it relate to the use of AAS? If you’d like to learn more about this topic and how it’s used to evaluate anabolics, see our article on the anabolic to androgenic ratio.

Nonetheless, it can be informative to flesh out how androgenic and anabolic compounds turn out to be, and this case, as we expect, nandrolone appears to be ~2.4x more anabolic than androgenic.[15,17]

Another study shows that it’s useful to find compounds that are less androgenic and more anabolic when looking for gains with fewer side effects:

19-nortestosterone (NT) was 5 times less androgenic than T [testosterone] but twice as anabolic as T. […] NT, which has higher affinity for androgen receptors than T, also exhibits a greater myotropic potency. However, dihydro-NT [dihydronandrolone aka DHN], the 5~-reduced metabolite of NT, has lower affinity for AR [androgen receptor] than NT, T and DHT [dihydrotestosterone].

The authors of the study rated testosterone with a relative anabolic activity (meaning potency on muscle divided by potency on prostate) as a score of 1 while giving nandrolone a 12, indicative of nandrolone’s more potent anabolic role in muscle tissue. They also noted it was more “myotropic”, meaning that it has a special affinity for muscle tissue.[17]

The Progesterone Connection

Nandrolone, being related to progestin, can activate the progesterone receptor. As with estrogen, this can result in sometimes positive and negative consequences, depending on the user and their sensitivity towards the hormone in question. However, progesterone is very different and not to be confused with prolactin, another hormone with other effects in the body.

Yet it is of note that nandrolone (19-nortestosterone) has some activity as a progestin in the body.

Steroid expert William Llewellyn had this to say on the subject:

“It is of note that nandrolone has some activity as a progestin in the body. Although progesterone is a c-19 steroid, removal of this group in 19-norprogesterone creates a hormone with greater binding affinity for its corresponding receptor. Sharing this trait, many 19-nor anabolic steroids are shown to have some affinity for the progesterone receptor as well. The side effects associated with progesterone are similar to those of estrogen, including negative feedback inhibition of testosterone production and enhanced rate of fat storage. Progestins also augment the stimulatory effect of estrogens on mammary tissue growth. There appears to be a strong synergy between these two hormones here, such that gynecomastia might even occur with the help of progestins, without excessive estrogen levels. The use of an anti-estrogen, which inhibits the estrogenic component of this disorder, is often sufficient to mitigate gynecomastia caused by nandrolone.” — William Llewellyn[11]

Once again, a serious prescription-strength PCT is paramount after using such compounds.

In animal studies looking at 19nor steroids and its derivatives – some of which form as metabolites from the 19-nor-DHEA compound we’re ultimately investigating here – we see that at least some of these 19nor derivatives act as antagonists or mixed agonists/antagonists on the progesterone receptor. This means that some of the 19nor compounds act to block progesterone, while others bind to the receptor and enable it.[18]

There is an argument to be made that activation of the progesterone receptor shouldn’t be that much cause for concern when using nandrolone, as nandrolone converts to estrogen at a much lower rate than other hormones (such as testosterone, for example). Progesterone is known to aggravate gynecomastia in the presence of high levels of estrogen, but when nandrolone is being used alone, this should not be much cause for concern.

What’s this progesterone connection got to do with 19-Nor-DHEA?

However, when we are looking at the main topic of this article, 19-Nor-DHEA, it should be noted that this is an entirely experimental compound with any number of metabolites, most likely at least one that actively converts to estrogen (that being 19-Norandrostenedione).

Unfortunately, due to the lack of available studies on 19-Nor-DHEA, we are only able to guess as to whether this could result in negative progesteronic of estrogenic side effects. We simply don’t know the rate of conversion to estrogen results from 19-nor-DHEA converting to 19-Norandrostenedione by way of the 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme.

The best course of action if you decide to use this compound is to get tested before, during, and after your cycle, and to keep a pharmaceutical anti-estrogen such as Nolvadex on hand throughout the course of the cycle, as well as for your PCT.

Some have also argued that Nolvadex may increase progesteronic effects, but the only studies on this come from women with advanced breast cancer and none in men with gynecomastia.[19]

So, if one were overly concerned, the addition of letrozole to cycle should halt the progestogenic effects resulting from nandrolone. If a user starts to develop gynecomastia during the cycle, the most prudent advice would be to stop the cycle immediately and start using 40mg of Nolvadex a day until the gynecomastia subsides.

Side effects of Nandrolone

There are several well known downsides to nandrolone, the most common of which is known colloquially as “deca dick”. This is an effect where the user has trouble performing in bed or is lacking general overall libido. The most likely cause of this is the conversion of nandrolone to a weaker androgen DHN (dihydronandrolone) via the 5AR receptor site.

As with other steroids, this side effect will subside once the cycle is over and can possibly be remedied by adding 4DHEA (4-Andro) to a cycle. However, due to the fact that both 19-Nor-DHEA and 4DHEA compete for conversion to their parent hormones via the same enzymes, both of these can become saturated and result in less of the hormones you want overall. A solution in this case, may be to simply take some 4DHEA at a smaller dose on the days that you need to increase your libido, as it should be relatively fast acting in this regards.

Another idea is to try some over the counter herbal remedies for libido, such as horny goat weed, maca, and D-aspartic acid (or pharmaceutical solutions such as Viagra), but that’s up to the individual user’s (and their doctor’s) discretion as to what they feel is necessary.

Testosterone shutdown

Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Testis Axis Of Androgen Regulation

The Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Testis Axis Of Androgen Regulation.

Another negative side effect of nandrolone is the fact that it shuts down the production of testosterone via the HPTA (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Testes-Axis) very quickly, basically causing natural testosterone production to stop right then and there (which may be another possible contributor to “deca dick”).

A study looking at the injectable versions of nandrolone with a short and long ester noted that testosterone production was shut down almost immediately within the first week of usage and did not return until well after 2 weeks (13 days) after cession of the compound. This is understandable from the point of view that injectable steroids are meant to last much longer and release much slower in the body, however, an assumption could be made that with regular dosing of an esterified oral version of 19-Nor-DHEA that testosterone production could be shut down just as severely and for just as long a length of time.

An esterified steroid is highly lipophilic, meaning it will be more fat soluble, and nandrolone has been known to stay dormant in adipose tissue for long periods of time. It has the potential to stay active in the body for weeks and even months past the last dosage.[20]

Although this is something you wouldn’t expect with the oral version, once you complete a cycle of 19-Nor-DHEA, a blood test is the only way you’re going to be able to determine whether or not your natural testosterone levels have recovered after cessation and a proper PCT regiment.

How this all relates to 19-Nor-DHEA

Now we’re finally getting to the topic at hand, but it was critical to lay the groundwork.

19-Nor-DHEA, aka NorAndrost-4-ene-3b-ol, 17-one makes a two step conversion to 19-Norandrostenedione (nor-dione) via the 3-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme, and then to 19-Nor-4-androsten-3,17-diol aka 19-norandrostenediol (Nor-Diol) through the 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme… to finally form nandrolone.

In between those two enzyme conversions, we expect to be left with the multiple byproducts and metabolites including 19-Norandrostenedione (19-Nor-Dione) and 19-Nor-4-androsten-3,17-diol (19-Nor-Diol).

19-Norandrostenediol

19-Nor-4-androsten-3,17-diol aka 19-norandrostenediol or bolandiol

Both of these convert to nandrolone at varying rates. The dione version of 19nor (19-nor-dione) was known to have a conversion rate around 5% to nandrolone, while the diol version (19-nor-diol) was much higher at around 16%.[1]

Research on 19-Nor-Diol

19-Nor-Diol was studied for a time as its very own anabolic steroid and showed some results, but had nowhere near the benefits other steroids have, not to mention having some downsides of its own. 19-Nor-Diol appeared to attach to the androgen receptor (AR) at a very low percentage (about 2-6%). It would make sense that 19-Nor-Diol would bind to the AR since it shares a four-carbon atom structure similar to that of other anabolic androgenic steroids.

Is this enough? We’re not completely sure yet. 4-androstenediol also appears to attach to the androgen receptor at a very low rate, yet 4-andro yields successful results.

Unfortunately, a lack of studies makes it hard to determine whether or not this is a beneficial attribute of these prohormones and whether such a low activation rate to the AR would impart any additional lean muscle mass gains, fat loss or even negative or positive side effects. Less is indeed sometimes more.[21]

19nor Conversions

Some of the conversions amongst the 19nors

This lack of research puts the majority of the rest of this article into guesswork territory. We simply can’t be sure of all of the metabolites and byproducts that will get generated when taking 19-Nor-DHEA right now.

We can look at the single study we have available for 1-DHEA and its effects on health and muscle building as a framework for how 19-nor-DHEA may act in the human body,[22] and then the German study analyzing the metabolites of 1DHEA to guess at what metabolites 19-nor-DHEA will produce when it interacts with those same enzyme pathways.[23]

But in the end it’s just pure speculation on this author’s part as to how this compound functions in the body.

However, based on studies of similar compounds, we can make some educated guesses that could help the potential user decide how to proceed.

The research on our target pre-nandrolone prohormones

For example, there are several studies looking at the 19-Norandrostenedione and 19-Nor-4-androsten-3,17-diol prohormones that the preprohormone 19-Nor-DHEA converts to. Unfortunately, both display very disappointing results.

In an 8 week study with 16 health weight trained men a dosage of 100mg 19-Nor-Dione and 56mg of 19-Nor-Diol (156mg total) showed absolutely no benefit to strength, 1RPM, lean mass, fat loss, mood, power or fatigue. The authors coming to the conclusion:[24]

In conclusion, low-dose supplementation with N-dione and N-diol does not appear to alter body composition, exercise performance, or mood states.[24]

In the only other on either of these compounds had similarly lackluster results (which happened to be by the same author). In another 8 week study with 10 resistance trained men, a significantly higher dose of 224mg of 19-Nor-Dione and 120mg of 19-Nor-Diol again showed no improvement in any measureable factors, including body composition and strength.

With regard to all measures in both groups, there were no significant changes between before and after the study.Therefore, in this small sample of resistance-trained men, 344 mg/d of norsteroid supplementation had no effect on strength or body composition.[25]

In another study performed over 10 days with Nor-Dione and Nor-Diol, no negative effects were found on its users. Whether or not this is relevant to users who are wanting to use 19-nor-DHEA for longer periods and at higher doses has yet to be seen. 10 days is an extremely short time to use any kind of androgen, and so the fact that there were no side effects after such a short period doesn’t help us much with our analysis.

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the metabolism of 2 over-the-counter steroids (Nortesten, which contains 36 mg of 19-nor-4-androstene-3,17-dione and 36 mg of 19-nor-4-androstene-3,17-diol) in healthy, resistance trained men. Subjects were administered either low (72 mg) or high doses (144 mg) of Nortesten twice daily for 10 days. “At least in the short term, there does not appear to be any harm caused by the oral ingestion of norandrostenedione and norandrostenediol.”[26]

So, is there a reasonable explanation for why the results were so poor in the two studies looking at their effects? Both the dosages were lower than to be expected by most experienced prohormone users, not to mention the sample sizes were small. Nonetheless, controlled studies with 19nor prohormones showing absolutely no benefits does not bode well for users interested in using 19-nor-DHEA products, considering that they both convert into the same compounds, are much lower dosed than even the ones used in the study and cost significantly more overall.

A glimmer of hope

However, there are some potential positives for those with the time, money and interest to experiment with 19-nor-DHEA and see if it’s worth their while. A study looking at the byproducts of two different formulas of Nor-Diol compounds found that oral ingestion of a 100mg of a capsule containing 19-Nor-Diol caused elevated blood levels of nandrolone on par of those that you would expect from an intramuscular injection of nandrolone decanoate – around ~4ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) of blood.[28]

The dose of 19-Nor-Diol remained elevated in the body until around the 4 to 6 hour mark in the test subjects, but then dropped and rose again at around 8 hours. This appears to happen in the majority of the test subjects, which is a bit of a confusing result. Nandrolone itself spiked until around the 4 hour mark, where it remained consistent throughout the rest of the day and only started to drop until after 8 hours. This means it would need to be taken several times throughout the day to maintain consistent and elevated blood levels to get good results. Steady blood levels of steroids are noted to show the best results with consistency, and not peaks and valleys of differing blood levels.

The single i.m.[intramuscular] application of 100 mg of NL [nandrolone] decanoate to healthy male volunteers resulted in mean peak plasma concentrations of 4.3 ng/ml NL (2.9 – 6.9 ng/ml) (Bagchus et al., 2005), and weekly injections of 200 mg of NL-3-(p-hexoxyphenyl)- propionate for 10 weeks yielded NL plasma levels up to 5.5 ng/ml (Belkien et al., 1985).

The administration of 100-mg capsules of 19-norandrostenediol yielded maximum plasma total concentrations (i.e., conjugated plus unconjugated compounds) of 1.1 ng/ml (0.7) for 19-norandrostenediol, 4.0 ng/ml (2.6) for nandrolone, 154.8 ng/ml (130.8) for 19-norandrosterone [DHN], and 37.7 ng/ml (6.9) for 19-noretiocholanolone.[28]

But does this mean that just because nandrolone levels are on par with a nandrolone injection from taking it orally via capsules will result in similar gains? This is one of those questions that simply can’t be answered from this study.

19nor Dol Nandrolone Lifetime

Nor-Diol has a LONG lifetime. Figure A is showing the levels of 19-norandrostenediol (Nor-Diol) l in the blood after one dosage of 100mg of Nor-Diol. Figure B is showing the levels of nandrolone that the 100mg of Nor-Diol has converted to in the blood.

Figure A is showing the levels of 19-norandrostenediol (Nor-Diol) l in the blood after one dosage of 100mg of Nor-Diol. Figure B is showing the levels of nandrolone that the 100mg of Nor-Diol has converted to in the blood. As you can see, Nor-Diol levels beings to drop after the 6 hour period, while nandrolone stays relatively stable until the 8 hour mark. Remember, 19-Nor-Diol = Nor-Diol in the research.[28]

So, in theory, with a high enough dose spaced out evenly throughout the day with a delivery system that allowed for 19-Nor-DHEA to bypass the GI tract, make it to the liver, and convert to its target hormones, it might just be worth it’s while.

The tricky part is determining whether or not 19-nor-DHEA converts sufficiently to nandrolone through its meandering route via multiple enzymes. BUT, that’s a lot of different factors that have to come together and work together flawlessly to get results enough to achieve what you’re looking for, and we just don’t have the data on 19-nor-DHEA to say whether or not this is feasible.

Oral consumption may lead to higher nandrolone levels than we thought, and some of the metabolites and byproducts may be finding their way to nandrolone through other mechanisms not yet explored. This may be helped even more by Hi-Tech Pharma’s Cyclosome Delivery system, discussed in the next section.

So now you can see why there are so many questions that need answers. In the overall conclusion of this article, we dive deeper into that discussion.

Best 19-Nor-DHEA Supplements

Decabolin

Hi-Tech controls the patent over 19-Nor-DHEA, so it’s possible that this is the only supplement with the ingredient you’ll see for a while.

When researching 19-nor-DHEA, there really is only one product on the market: Decabolin by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. Thankfully, it’s a brand we completely trust, and it’s also the brand responsible for the Cyclosome delivery system that will improve absorption, discussed a bit later.

Decabolin contains 75mg ester-bound 19-nor-DHEA (labeled as 19-NorAndrost-4-ene-3bol, 17-one), so we estimate that it has around 50mg actual 19-nor-DHEA inside each tablet (without knowing the molecular weight, we cannot determine exactly). Decanoate is a large ester that will slow absorption.

The label states to take two tablets per day – one in the morning and one in the evening – and we suggest doing so with food.

A bit about Cyclosome

With Cyclosome, the 19-nor-DHEA molecules are encapsulated using two delivery-improvement methods: a cyclodextrin (a large sugar molecule), and also a lipid. This makes difficult-to-absorb DHEA molecules go from being quite hydrophobic (water fearing) to far more hydrophilic (water-loving), improving intake through the small intestine. This is important, since DHEA only has a 3-6% bioavailability,[40] and that leaves a lot to be excreted – yielding more work (and potentially more side effects) on the kidneys.

Decabolin Ingredients

The Decabolin Ingredients. On the labels, note the “other” section: Phosphatidylcholine 75% and Hydroxypropyl Beta Cyclodextrin (HPβCD) comprise the Cyclosome Delivery System

You can see this represented on the ingredient label as Phosphatidylcholine 75% (the liposome lipid) and Hydroxypropyl Beta Cyclodextrin (HPβCD) (the cyclodextrin).

You can read more on our in-depth Cyclosome article.

Why is there only one 19-Nor-DHEA supplement anymore?

Compared to 1-Andro, 4-Andro, and Epi-Andro, 19-Nor-DHEA is admittedly a less-popular product that fewer users are looking for. It’s a niche, as we’ve discovered here in this article.

But there’s also another reason for its exclusivity: it is patented by the founder of LG Sciences, Eric Marchewitz. The patent is titled Use of 19 nor DHEA derivatives for enhancing physical performance and was granted in mid-2014.[41]

In August of 2015, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals acquired LG Sciences, and while Marchewitz still owns his patents, Hi-Tech Pharma maintains the production rights to those patents.

So needless to say, if any other company wants to create a 19-nor-DHEA supplement, they’re going to have to work with Hi-Tech in order to do so. We’re okay with that, since Hi-Tech has passed numerous FDA audits, and while they’re aggressive with their ingredients, their products include exactly what they say they’re using on their labels.

Potentially negative side effects and how to combat them

As with all anabolic hormones, there will be the typical side effects potential of acne, hair loss, prostate enlargement, cardiovascular problems (such as high blood pressure), increased liver and kidney values, and testicular atrophy, amongst other things.

1-Andro Side Effects

This data is from the 1-Andro study, so it’s completely different, but 1-Andro did cause healthy lipid levels to deteriorate. The good news is that levels returned after cessation, but we still strongly suggest an on-cycle support supplement as well as a prescription-grade PCT.

Using 19-nor-DHEA, a user can expect to have increased LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreased HDL (good) cholesterol during the duration of the cycle. Elevated liver enzymes appear to be a cause for concern as well, even though this compound is not methylated, when we review the data from the 1-DHEA study. The same is true with being very taxing on the kidneys.

Obviously, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions will want to avoid any and all prohormones and anabolic steroids, especially those with cardiovascular problems, prostate enlargement, and liver or kidney issues.

One particularly alarming study on nandrolone indicated that it was 11 times more damaging to blood vessels than testosterone! All AAS cause blood vessels to narrow to some degree, as well as raise blood pressure as well as have negative effects on cholesterol.[29]

However, the study was particular to note that 19-norandrostenediol was much more mild and of less risk than it’s parent compound nandrolone, so it should be much less of a concern for our readers. It’s presumed the study was focused on heavy AAS users injecting large doses of nandrolone, however, it’s something to keep in mind if you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems.

Smart: Blood pressure measurements

Blood Pressure Monitor

Good idea: Using a blood pressure monitor to see how any prohormone affects you

It would be wise to buy a blood pressure monitor and test your blood pressure daily. The author uses an Omron 10 Series Blood Pressure monitor to keep track of his blood pressure. The 10 series was also the highest rated blood pressure monitor by Consumer Reports, so it’s definitely something to consider to use during a cycle and keep track of your health in general.

To some extent, these problems can be reduced by using a smaller dose, using a short cycle timeframe, and including extra supplements such as “On Cycle Therapy” that contain compounds like NAC to help detoxify the liver, trans-resveratrol for the heart, and others.

One product we’ll mention several times below in the PCT section is Ar1macare Pro by Olympus Labs. One other particular product that might be of interest to users with cardiovascular concern is Heart Science by Source Naturals, which contains a number of well studied natural ingredients for heart health, such as garlic, CoQ10, magnesium and potassium, arginine, and hawthorn berry.

Nandrolone and Sperm

Nandrolone and many of its derivatives have been tested as male contraceptives in the past and present.[30,31]

Deca Dick

19-NOR IS NOT BIRTH CONTROL! Remember, it only takes one of these guys to get you good

However, whether any of these will ever come to market or be successful for this purpose is not known. Since nandrolone has progesteronic activity, it’s known to reduce sperm count in men during the duration of use. In studies using nandrolone and nandrolone derivatives, 3 weeks of a medium-dose injectable caused users to have oligozoospermia – a measure of sperm output equivalent to being infertile or close to it, and after 30 weeks, some test subjects became completely unable to produce sperm.[32]

Please note that this was not a permanent result in this test, so it shouldn’t be a concern if you’re planning to have a family in the future. However for men attempting to start a family, they would would want to avoid this compound for 6-12 months prior to fertilization of their partner.

This is not male birth control!!!

Keep in mind that this is not a men’s comparable version to female birth control,[33] so don’t go taking nandrolone or 19-nor-DHEA thinking you can avoid using conventional birth control methods and not get your significant other pregnant. Bad, bad idea.

Post Cycle Therapy

We hope that at this point in the document, you realize how important a prescription-strength PCT is here. Every step of the way, the data points to needing PCT.

So, as with all anabolic androgenic compounds, a post cycle therapy with a prescription anti-estrogen is warranted with 19-Nor-DHEA. This is especially true considering the data showing that 19nor compounds shut down natural testosterone production very quickly and can suppress it for quite a long period of time.

A standard course of Nolvadex at 40mg for 2 weeks followed by another 2 weeks at 20mg is the standard PCT for compounds such as this. Only a blood test will determine whether or your natural testosterone levels have come back to regular levels after a cycle, so blood tests are mandatory when using AAS, even prohormones.

You can read more in our in-depth Post Cycle Therapy guide if you’re unfamiliar with this – it’s critical to understand!

Consider hCG

Because 19nor compounds shut down natural testosterone production to such an extreme degree, usage of hCG may be warranted with this compound. We’re talking about the prescription stuff, not the bunk supplements sold online. However, presumably, with a prohormone, the conversion rate would be low enough not to cause this to happen.

But, again, only blood tests will tell you for sure. This is yet another open question.

We want your blood… tests

PricePlow may be willing to pay for blood tests for a trusted reviewer/logger if you can get the product, so long as we can publish the tests. See our blog post about PricePlow’s Blood Testing Program.

Who Should Use This? Age and Gender Recommendations

At PricePlow we recommend only users above the age of 23 use anabolic compounds due to the fact that estrogenic compounds can close growth plates in the hips and spine,[34,35,36,37] resulting in the user not being able to grow any taller than they naturally would. 19-nor-DHEA falls into the category of being estrogenic and progesteronic, unfortunately, so this would be another compound to avoid for younger lifters.

But who in general?

But more importantly, age notwithstanding, we have to ask who would want to use this compound at all in the first place? 19-nor-DHEA converts to its parent compound, nandrolone, at a low rate. Back when 19-norandrostenediol was available, the community was recommending 500-800mg daily orally just to see minor results, and it was recommended mostly for users who were prone to the negative side effects of other hormones.[38]

Decabolin Increase Mass

As thought, Decabolin is marketed towards those going for the mass / swole look

Can Women Use 19-Nor-DHEA?

As for usage in women, we never recommend anabolic androgenic steroids to women, however, as this is slightly androgenic, it might be suitable. It also might be suitable for someone coming back from an injury. But again, that is a big maybe, so speak to your endocrinologist first.

The anti-aging crowd

On paper, a stack of 19-nor-DHEA and 4-DHEA may be ideal for over 50+ anti-aging crowd, looking for an over the counter stack of nandrolone and testosterone precursors, and in that regard, it might be worth giving a try. But, for younger men looking to use this as bodybuilding compound, it appears less than ideal.

Our guess is that most readers who really want to try this are older and enjoyed deca in the past, and perhaps want to see if products like Decabolin can alleviate any joint pain. Younger users (23 and older) should be interested in other compounds, such as 1-Andro. However, those who are concerned about androgenic side effects such as hair loss, acne, or prostate issues might still find 19-nor-DHEA (or even 1,4DHEA) of interest to them — if they can afford the dosage needed along with the PCT and blood testing.

In the end it’s worth asking if 19-nor-DHEA worth your time and money to experiment with for achievable and maintainable gains? If you have the cash and are concerned about the androgenic side effects of the other prohormones on the market, then maybe you’d like to give it a shot. However, in this author’s humble opinion, your money would be better spent on a much more well researched compound with higher positive feedback like 1-DHEA (aka in Hi-Tech Pharma’s 1AD or 1-Testosterone) than on 19-Nor-DHEA. You’re going to need PCT with either one regardless.

In summary, there are serious questions about the 19-nor-DHEA supplements currently being sold on the market that will turn potential users away from this compound. We hate to bring bad news, but honesty is the best policy – and for too many important questions, the honest answer is that we just don’t know.

19-Nor-DHEA Dosage

Hi-Tech Pharma’s Decabolin contains 75mg ester-bound 19-Nor-DHEA, which we estimate will yield roughly 50mg total 19-Nor-DHEA (we cannot confirm this since we don’t know its molecular weight!)

Since there’s no research on the compound itself, that leads us to our other concerns:

  1. Is it too little of a dose?

    Decabolin Ingredients

    The Decabolin Ingredients. We’re guessing this will get you roughly 100mg of 19-nor-DHEA or so, once you calculate out the ester

    First, these 19-nor-DHEA compounds are dosed incredibly low with regards to the historical uses of their target prohormone compounds discussed above. The majority of them are sold in proprietary blends and so the user has no idea how much they are actually getting. Hi-Tech’s Decabolin is labeled as dosage of 75mg per serving, but has a substantial amount of that going to the ester.

    Quite frankly, we have absolutely no idea what dosage is necessary to achieve a dosage that would provide good gains to a person. Which leads us to the next point…

  2. Cost associated with dosages

    You need to be willing to spend the money on its retail price of $60 a bottle of 60 servings. If you took 4 servings a day to get 300mg (with ester) you would have to spend a whopping $120 for a one month cycle.

    Furthermore, because it’s esterified with the incredibly large decanoate ester, the user would only be getting an actual amount of ~200mg per day with 4 servings!

    And the question is still — is that even enough to get the gains you’re looking for?

How much for joint pain? Same answer….

We’ve spent a lot of time in this article extolling the virtues of nandrolone and its benefits on joint pain, but does 19-nor-DHEA impart those same benefits? We have absolutely no idea.

It appears that supplementing with 19-norandrostenediol can bring nandrolone levels in line with standard dosing of injectable nandrolone decanoate, but 19-nor-DHEA doesn’t convert directly to 19-norandrostenediol. It has to go through a variety of pathways to just to get to that compound.

So, in all good consciousness, we cannot yet recommend this compound to anyone unless they just have money to play with and want to experiment with it, and know that these deca-like effects are worth the trouble.

The manufacturers of this compound need to show more data and results with these doses if they want consumers to buy and use these products on a whim. The catch 22 is that we’re not sure if this supplement will be popular enough to justify the massive amounts of money it takes to perform a well-designed study (it’s a six-figure expenditure).

So in the meantime, we’re open to running logs on Decabolin and paying for before/after blood tests to judge any effects.

Stacking?

Hi-Tech NitroPro

NitroPro is Hi-Tech’s Protein Powder, led by whey isolates

As far as stacking goes, 4-Andro might be a suitable stack, especially to combat any loss of libido, but again — with enzyme saturation, there is no telling whether or not you’re getting any benefit from stacking these DHEA based compounds that convert via two enzymes.

And of course, we still advise the stacking of on cycle therapy supplements like Ar1macare Pro and Source Naturals Heart Science. You of course shouldn’t ignore your standard muscle building supplements like betaine, creatine, and high protein intake… (which should be assisted but not dominated by good protein powder) yet any next generation natural muscle-builders may be best suited for PCT time when you want to keep strength up.

The conclusion: To be continued, we hope

What it all boils down to is that we have absolutely zero data on this compound in the form of scientific studies and have nothing to base whether or not this compound is good, bad, or indifferent — and only guesswork to go on. We approached this article from the standpoint that it could be good for beginners, but every path we went down raised more questions than answers. We wish we could have provided you with more of them, but that is the current nature of this ingredient.

In this article we’ve tried to use studies looking at 19-nor-DHEA’s predecessor of 19-norandrostenediol and 19-Nor-dione to evaluate this compound, and the results were far from positive. Those were the closest data sources available to us.

However, 19-norandrostenediol does appear to attach to the androgen receptor slightly, and it does seem to increase the amount of nandrolone in the blood. Both of these are positives and could bode well for 19-Nor-DHEA. But only time, studies, and user feedback from this compound will be able to tell us whether or not it’s worth anyone’s time to bother with 19-nor-DHEA, and that means you’re spending $60 on a gamble until then.

In the meantime, this author would recommend instead using Hi-Tech’s 1AD or LG Sciences’ 1-Andro for beginning users (both 1-DHEA sold in different delivery forms), as 1-DHEA has an actual study backing up that it does in fact work, and another showing it does convert to its parent compound. More experienced and aggressive users can opt to go for the higher-dosed Hi-Tech 1-Testosterone prohormone. Right now, we feel that any of these products will impart a much better bang for your buck, less guesswork, and less wasted time and money trying to figure out if it works.

We also call upon the manufacturers of 19-nor-DHEA to release anything they can to help improve education and experience with this compound. This is a potentially very good hormone, but has 3 major impediments to being worthwhile to the average user.

  1. The doses seem low for experienced veterans

    PricePlow Prohormone Blood Testing Program

    Do it right or don’t do it at all! If there was ever a time for our paid blood tests, this is it

    Hi-Tech Decabolin is only available at 75mg per serving, and that’s in ester form. Perhaps this is a good thing though, as beginners may see some effects from it without many sides – time will tell.

    Meanwhile, other manufacturers have historically been obfuscating the amount of 19-nor-DHEA in their products by hiding behind proprietary blends, making it impossible for the user to know how much they’re actually taking or what ingredient is having what effects.

  2. Delivery Systems: Disregard the products without them

    While we’re sold on Hi-Tech’s Cyclosome having some effects, 19-nor-DHEA may benefit from additional ingredients to prevent its breakdown in the liver, such as 6′,7′-Dihydroxybergamottin and others. This is what’s working for 1-Andro, after all.

    Cyclosome

    Cyclosome is a new supplement ingredient delivery technology made by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals that combines the forces of two other delivery systems. This should make for prohormones that require smaller doses. If you’re going to take this generation of preprohormones, use the ones with this technology.

    The good news is that Decabolin also has an ester, which seems like it will increase the bioavailability and smooth out the hormonal peaks and valleys… at the cost of less active ingredient.

    Other 19-Nor-DHEA supplements (which are quickly fading from the market) were far, far worse — the ingredient is possibly pixie dusted and stuffed with label dressing with other herbs meant to boost testosterone, which are not only typically underdosed, all to drive up the price of the supplement when 19-nor-DHEA is the only active the user is looking for in the product.

    We won’t even discuss those other products, and even if they’re on firesale, they’re not worth it. At this point, it’s Decabolin or nothing, as far as we’re concerned.

  3. The price is quite high for something we just can’t be sure of.

    When it comes down to it, 19-nor-DHEA is a novelty compound that might have potential advantages for some users, but at the prices manufacturers are selling it at, we don’t know if this is an adequate dose that will get the full range of benefits from it.

If this is article has been confusing and leaving the reader unsure of what to think of 19-nor-DHEA, the authors feel exactly the same way.

We at PricePlow would like to see some users test this compound and submit to our blood testing program to determine what this compound is converting to in the body and if it has potential for bodybuilders and strength athletes. It’s ~$500 we’d be willing to spend.

We would also be glad to work with the manufacturers on having users run logs of 19-nor-DHEA and submit to blood testing before and after (and maybe even a BodPod as well) to see how it really works. Until then, we just cannot recommend 19-nor-DHEA unless you really know that this is the ingredient meant for you.

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  • Slawo

    Great article. So informative. I recommend it to all interested in this compound :)