Is Dermacrine (topical DHEA) the best option for your prohormone cycle “test base”? Check out the existing science on topical DHEA in men, and what other (and perhaps better) test base options that are currently available for prohormone users.
There are many reasons to use a “testosterone base” or test base when running prohormone cycles. Many highly androgenic prohormones and designer steroids cause a varity of side effects including lethargy (general fatigue and tiredness), low libido, and poor energy levels. A test base is one very simply way to potentially limit or reverse these side effects. The term test base comes from the idea that most anabolic cycles should include testosterone, as a base to the cycle. Testosterone has a positive effect on libido, mood, energy, etc. In the prohormone world injectable testosterone is not legally purchasable over the counter, so guys have found other options. Four options I will discuss today are likely the most common and effective options available today. But our focus will be on Dermacrine, or what is it’s primary component – DHEA.
DHEA has a poor oral bioavailability, and has long been considered useless as an oral. We do know that it does increase circulating levels of DHEA sulfate, what the importance of this is, is still up for debate. For this reason many believe that transdermal DHEA (like Dermacrine) can avoid first pass liver metabolism, and effectively increase DHEA levels enough so that in turn testosterone levels increase. Remember, the idea behind a test base, is that it can mimic testosterone, or even increase testosterone production within the body (endogenously).
Before I explain why I do not think transdermal DHEA effectively increases endogenous testosterone, I should first mention that some causes of low libido on cycle can actually be a result of suppressed DHEA, and estradiol levels (Read – 2.5 mg’s of Letro Per Day). DHEA can of course increase DHEA and DHEA Sulfate levels, and to some degree increase estradiol in men. There are also some people who experience cognitive and a feeling of well being from DHEA supplementation. For these reasons, transdermal DHEA can technically qualify as a test base, but from a pure testosterone standpoint, it seems to leave a little more to be desired.
All of this brings me to 1 of 2 existing studies which attempted to measure testosterone in healthy men after giving them transdermal DHEA. Note, in the other older study serum testosterone also remained unchanged (see here). Do remember, that 2 studies may simply not paint the entire picture, but we have to work with what is currently available. Here’s a look at the details and findings from Sulcova’s 2000 paper.
Sulcová J, et. al 2000 – Effects of transdermal application of DHEA on the levels of steroids, gonadotropins and lipids in men.
- 10 males ages ranging from 29 to 69 years old
- 5 grams of gel (or 50 mg’s of DHEA) was applied to the abdomen before bed each night for 5 consecutive days
- The after values in the table below were taken 10 hours after the last dose
As you can see this is not impressive when your goal is pure testosterone enahancement. Now there are some serious caveats to this, which include a tiny sample size, a lag time between last dose and hormone testing, and the fact that most topical DHEA products contain other ingredients (Dermacrine contains resveratrol, and others).
The best Test Base Depends on your Goal
Here’s a fairly simple explanation when the top four “test base” compounds/products might best suit your goals.
- Dermacrine or Topical DHEA – This is best used if you simply want to use a topical product (some people like rubbing themselves), or if you have previous experience with DHEA and experience the cognitive benefit, and feeling of well-being it provides some users. Overall it is the least effective “test base”.
- 4-AD (4-DHEA) – 4-AD is a two step prohormone that converts to actual testosterone. The problem with 4-AD is that at some point it causes a negative feedback loop (the body recognizes increased levels of testosterone) and begins aromatizing to estrogen at a greater degree. That means there is a proverbial ceiling on how much you can increase testosterone. In my years of use, and extensive experience with 4-AD, I believe you can replace endogenous testosterone to about 25-50% of your normal levels. That means you won’t get a “testosterone high” but it can certainly help maintain your libido, energy, and decrease or limit lethargy.
- Stano (epiandrosterone and/or androsterone) – This a prohormone to dyhydrotestosterone (DHT). Another major metabolite of its use is an aromatase inhibitor. Unlike 4-AD, stano will be very dry, and it will lower estrogens to a mild degree. This is greater for avoiding gyno. It also provides users fairly reasonable levels of energy, and some report fat loss benefits (probably just lowered water retention). Again stano, like 4-AD, is not going to result in supraphysiological levels of testosterone, so it will not result in greater on cycle gains, but it will help mitigate some of the previously mentioned side effects.Note – An extremely good stack (for a test base) is a combination of both 4-AD and Stano. It attacks the steroidogenic pathway on both sides of the pendulum.
- Trestolone (or MENT) – Trestolone, unlike all the previous mentioned testosterone bases is actually powerful enough to illicit gains on top of whatever you are already stacking it with. It generally causes large increases in libido, and energy levels. It comes at a cost of greatly reducing sperm count (as it was originally created as a male contraceptive), but this seems to return to normal levels after discontinuing its use. Until recently oral MENT was the only thing available. It was okay, however its use was somewhat limited by its extremely short half-life (under 3 hours). Now there are transdermal trestolone options available, which will provide a sustained delivery of trestolone over the course of the day, making this the most powerful “test base” available to prohormone users today.
Hopefully the above helps you narrow down your decision, and remember that a “test base” isn’t absolultely needed. In fact, for many guys in contest prep, they avoid such compounds.