I’m too pissed off to even bother with a creative intro! I don’t know where the hell to start because my ego has been sorely bruised. Why? I’ll tell you why.
Patrick Arnold is the chemist who created the entire andro revolution, from the very beginning in the mid-1990s to the exploding market it is today. You know what andro is’that stuff Mark McGuire took. The stuff that nearly every supplement line has a version of.
Usually when I interview subjects, I try to control the conversation because, well, I have self-esteem issues. You know the old story about the kid who was picked on in school and then took it out on others when he grew up? That’s me.
Patrick, or P.A., as his friends call him, has made a name for himself in the supplement industry. He’s garnered a little celebrity over the past few years and rightfully so. I, on the other hand, don’t get a lot of work as a writer, mainly because I’ve pissed off publishers and my material is just too over the top. ‘Fat, annoying punk ass’ should be my byline, according to most of the magazine publishers in the bodybuilding industry.
So, when I do get the chance to interview a celebrity in our business, all of my pent-up aggression, all of my frustration over never getting laid comes out, and I get into a bad-ass mood. I don’t mean to be cruel or anything, but I definitely want to control the pace and, if I can, corner the subject with some embarrassing questions that will bring out the truth about my subject. (In case you didn’t know, 98 percent of folks in this business want to talk about everything but the truth!)
When I interviewed P.A., however, everything went completely wrong’for me, that is. Pat took control, and, frankly, he let me have it. At first I thought he had no social skills, but then it hit me. His attitude reminded me of myself.
I’ve always prided myself on being a forthright and honest sort. What you see is what you get, and I’ll tell you what I think’with passion. What happened during our conversation, however, is that P.A. laid out the passionate truth for me. He told me exactly what he felt. At first I took it as an insult, but again I was reminded that I do the same thing to people.
P.A. told me that I don’t know how to interview well, that my questions were completely redundant and that I needed to prepare myself better. He didn’t like my overhyping his supplements, either. Excuse me?!
TS: Let’s start off with some basic information. Where were you born?
TS: How old are you, and when were you born?
PA: I’m 34, and I was born on July 10, 1966.
TS: What did your parents do for a living?
PA: My mother was the principal of an elementary school, and my father was a college professor in engineering and other fields.
TS: Did your parents’ professions influence you to get into the world of chemistry?
PA: They were education-oriented, so they sort of hounded me to stay in school. I wasn’t particularly fond of school. I was always an independent kind of thinker. I was pretty bright, and if I was into a subject, I really understood what it was, but I did not excel in subjects that bored me, to say the least. I did teach myself a lot of things that interested me, however. I wandered in and out of school for a few years. Eventually, I hooked into chemistry and did well with it.
TS: Did you have a good relationship with your parents?
PA: Yeah, I still get along with my parents. It’s a good relationship.
TS: Do you have any siblings?
PA: I have two older brothers who are both investors in my company.
TS: Do you have any regrets about the educational and career paths you’ve chosen?
PA: No, I think it all worked out very well. If I didn’t do chemistry, I don’t know if I would be as content as I am today. It allowed me to do the job that I’m doing now, and I find it very rewarding. If I could do one thing over, I might take more biology and science courses. I also might have taken more business stuff.
TS: Tell me a little bit about your athletic background and what led you into bodybuilding.
PA: I was a wrestler in high school, but even before that I had some weights in my cellar. I’ve lifted weights since I was 15 years old.
TS: Whose physiques did you aspire to at that time?
PA: I used to think Casey Viator was awesome. I liked his big, powerful look. I wasn’t so much into the Frank Zane look as a kid.
TS: What are your other hobbies? Outside of bodybuilding and supplements, what do you like to do for fun?
PA: What do I do for fun? [Laughs] I pretty much like to work and go to the gym. When I lived in Connecticut, it was on the water, so I did a lot of sailing. I’m in the Midwest now, and I don’t get a chance to do that. I miss it. Since I’ve been out here, there hasn’t been a whole lot of leisure time for me. I keep pretty busy. But when I can, I go hiking. Spending time in the outdoors can be very therapeutic. I also spend a lot of time in the library reading technical stuff and researching.
TS: Do you still find time to work out and eat right?
PA: Oh, absolutely. A major part of my lifestyle is working out and eating. I put them at a very high priority, and I always make time for bodybuilding.
TS: What do you see Patrick Arnold doing in 10 years?
PA: I would hope that I’m involved in supplements and whatnot, but not in the business aspect of it. I hope I’m able to become independent enough to perhaps be a consultant and not have to deal with the sleaze in the industry. I’d like to be able to just devote myself to the science of it.
TS: Have you become a little bit jaded about the inner workings of the business?
PA: What I’m jaded about isn’t necessarily the way the business works. That’s kind of interesting. It’s just the rampant deception of the public in advertising that often goes way too far. [The ads] misrepresent scientific fact or even completely fabricate things to pull the wool over our eyes. A lot of people like to twist and manipulate the science to fulfill their marketing needs rather than tailor their marketing to fit the scientific facts. It’s really not a place for me, as I think scientifically and practically. As a matter of fact, I often avoid telling people just what I do for a living because of the reputation the industry has.
TS: What are the positives about the industry besides the chance to make millions of dollars?
PA: Positives about it? In some rare instances some products come out of the sports nutrition industry that end up having value for people of all types’and not just bodybuilders or athletes. For instance, creatine got its start in sports nutrition, but now it’s being shown to have benefits for a wide variety of medical ailments’the crossover effect.
TS: What three words best describe Patrick Arnold?
PA: Honest, persistent and a no-bullshitting straight shooter. Two other things might be unassuming and nonmaterialistic.
TS: How about your family life? How do you balance your work and your long, tedious days in the office with your family life?
PA: It’s hard. Right now I don’t have any kids. I have a girlfriend I live with, and, luckily, she’s very into the bodybuilding lifestyle, so there’s a lot of compatibility there. As for my family, I speak to my brothers quite a bit due to the business. I probably don’t correspond with my parents as much as I should. Typical ungrateful son, I guess.
TS: Pro-hormones are definitely the hottest topic in bodybuilding now. You’ve put a lot of emphasis on 4-androstenediol’a.k.a., androdiol, or 4AD’and there’s a tremendous amount of brouhaha about it: how it could be dangerous, aromatize into estrogen when consumed in certain amounts, increase the risk of prostate hypertrophy and gynecomastia in extreme cases. What are your thoughts on that?
PA: If you are speaking about androdiol specifically’
TS: [Interrupts] I think it all stems from androstenedione, the very first pro-hormone to be released.
PA: Definitely. It’s been shown pretty convincingly that with androstenedione, at doses in the vicinity of at least 300 milligrams, there’s a disproportionate rise in estrogen levels toward testosterone levels. That makes it troublesome for a lot of people. Interestingly enough, though, I’ve seen blood tests where at higher dosages of androstenedione there’s normalization of the testosterone-to-estrogen ratio. All of these are at dosages that normally I don’t recommend. So there’s an interesting phenomenon going on there with the two and the enzymes responsible for each pathway. But, yes, androstenedione’s estrogen problem is a concern. I don’t consider it to be a major health concern, however. People who are making conclusions that it will increase your risk of pancreatic or prostate cancer are making connections that are anything but conclusive, and certainly that’s not enough for someone to ban anything the way some want to. That’s why it’s still on the market.
I will tell you an interesting thing about androstenedione that I just discovered. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act I was able to obtain all the adverse event reports that were filed with the Food and Drug Administration about androstenedione from 1997 to the present. To my surprise there were only four, and in my opinion only one of those seemed to be a result of androstenedione’a gynecomastia complaint. Contrast that with the number of complaints made to the FDA about ephedra-based products during that same time’more than 240.
Androdiol, fortunately, does not have the same estrogen problem that androstenedione does. In fact, it seems to preferentially convert to testosterone over estrogen, which is evidenced by an increased testosterone-to-estrogen ratio. That hasn’t been confirmed, but I’ve seen that in several blood assays for Cyclo-Diol and transdermal androdiol. The mode of administration may have something to do with the phenomenon too.
TS: How should androdiol be used? The most recent developments your company has made with it have been the cyclodextrin product, Cyclo-Diol, and now a sublingual product and a topical spray, correct?
PA: There are several forms, and they’re all basically just different ways of administering the same thing. First, there’s the sublingual, which absorbs through the tissues of the mouth and bypasses the liver. Then there’s a buccal formula that is inserted between the lip and the gum. That dissolves somewhat slower, with no taste problems like you have with the sublinguals. The dosage form is known to give a prolonged increase along with a sustained release for approximately five to eight hours.
TS: What would be the best way to take that product safely?
PA: Well, we’
TS: [Interrupts] Or dangerously?
PA: The best way to take it would be intranasally; however, legislation has it so that you can’t market an intranasal form of pro-hormone, but that hasn’t stopped people from administering the stuff that way. Certainly, an individual can purchase Cyclo-Diol powder, and there are procedures to make it into that form. That would be a personal matter, though, and it’s not suggested it be taken that way for reasons related to FDA regulations. Athletes have reportedly gotten great success using that method. The nasal passages are an excellent medium for absorbing substances, better than sublingual. It’s an area of the body that’s very close to the base of the brain, and people seem to get an acute psychological effect from that, sort of a mild stimulatory effect. The East Germans knew that and performed research on brain waves that supposedly confirmed the effect.
TS: In case people don’t want to go that route, what dosages should they use to keep it within the safe boundaries and not downgrade their own testosterone production and so forth?
PA: For oral pro-hormones I recommend 600 milligrams a day, probably 300 milligrams twice a day taken with meals. The elevations with the higher dosages seem to last a lot longer than the smaller ones. You can take it twice a day at 300 milligrams and get the levels elevated throughout much of the day.
TS: What do you think about bodybuilders taking gram amounts per day orally? Do you consider that a little risky? I know they’re making great gains on those doses, but what could happen?
PA: If they’re doing that much, I’d hope they don’t do it for more than six to eight weeks. Studies haven’t looked at the effects of the compounds at that level. We don’t really know. We do know that they’re safe at the lower levels’600 milligrams per day or lower. If people take more than that, we don’t know if they’re taxing the liver a little more than they should.
I’ve heard of no adverse events at even the highest conceivable dosages, but that doesn’t mean something undesirable that isn’t readily apparent isn’t going on in the body.
TS: When doing androdiol within the safe range of a maximum of 600 milligrams per day, how long should one stay on before cycling off? PA: I’d say probably four to eight weeks on and then stay off for a similar period.
TS: That leads us to the latest development: Ergopharm’s Androspray. There’s quite a bit of controversy about that product. Can you tell us a little bit about it, how it should be used and what the benefits are, as opposed to myriad other pro-hormone products out there?
PA: Gimme a break. There’s no controversy. Androspray is basically a pro-hormone, androdiol, dissolved in a solvent, ethyl alcohol, with a penetration enhancer, IPM, added to increase the speed that it passes through the skin. What you get with androdiol applied to the skin is a substantial sustained release effect, and that’s because the compound takes some time to diffuse through the upper layers of the skin to the general circulation.
First, compounds have to pass through the hard layer, called the stratum corneum, which is the principal barrier to absorption. After that they have to diffuse slowly down through the epidermis and the dermis, and once the pro-hormone gets down there, there’s a blood supply that will pick it up and distribute it throughout the body.
What you’d see if you tested someone’s blood hormone levels is a slow elevation that would peak at around two to four days if that person administered the product regularly. If he kept using it, he’d sustain that level until he stopped. After that it would take a few days for hormones to drop back down to baseline.
TS: That’s pretty kick ass to keep sustained blood levels for better gains. I know that was a major problem with the oral pro-hormones. Even so, how should Androspray be cycled?
PA: [Sarcastically] Yeah. Really ‘kick ass.’ You should write cheesy ad copy for my competitors. Anyway, whenever people ask me about cycling, I usually have to ask them what their goals and concerns are. For people who are going into a contest, they’re obviously first and foremost going to want to have as much muscle as they can for that contest. They may be willing to go on a longer cycle and then, when the contest is over, take a good time off. Athletes with a set goal like that may sacrifice a little HPTA inhibition for maximum gains by contest time. After the contest they’ll be free to take the time off for recovery of their endocrinological equilibrium.
Those who are concerned with continuous use and want to retain the integrity of their own endocrine system should probably go on the cycle for three to four weeks and then take three to four weeks off.
TS: Sounds like strong stuff! Only three to four weeks on?
PA: [Even more sarcastically] I think I’ll vomit now.
TS: Okay, man, I’m hyping it a little. I know you’re against that, but I’m just trying to help. What kind of gains have you seen with the product as opposed to the buccal and oral forms?
PA: I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback about the buccal form. Most people I know take the buccal and stack it along with the spray, so that kind of skews the data. I do know that the results with the spray are pretty consistent and good. Some people have gotten pretty substantial results’10 pounds or so in a couple of weeks’
TS: [Interrupts] Whoa! Ten pounds in two weeks?!
PA: Yes, but you have to realize that it varies. Some people got less than that. People who previously used anabolic steroids usually don’t see the gains that natural folks do. But it’s just not necessarily that much of a shock to me because what’s also occurred is similar gains for people taking the high dose’multiple grams of pro-hormones a day. I consider the spray to be a much safer way to obtain that response than the multiple-gram oral dosages, however.
TS: What are the drawbacks of the spray? You’re spraying an actual mist of the stuff on your skin, so would there be any irritation?
PA: I think our formula actually is quite good. One of the reasons is that it has IPM in it. IPM has a softer feel than the competitor’s formula, which actually comes on pretty hard and tacky and can leave white residues. I tried the two side by side, and many other people tried it side by side and said the same thing. The only drawback would be you’d have to be careful who you rub up against, such as a child.
TS: Oh, yeah! I’ve heard about that instance where some guy was using testosterone cream and one of his kids developed advanced male effects. Personally, I wouldn’t mind growing a large unit.
PA: Exactly, and the same thing holds true for Androspray. Furthermore, there may be a slight incidence of dry skin with spray pro-hormones, although my formula has the IPM formula, so that seems to be less of a problem.
TS: So even people with sensitive skin could use the product?
PA: It contains a special form of alcohol, and people with sensitive skin know that sometimes they have to avoid all alcohol-containing cosmetic products, so they should take that into consideration.
TS: Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of day-to-day administering the supplement? What type of feedback have you gotten?
PA: I consider the product to be quite easy to administer. You don’t have to do a tremendous number of sprays with our bottle, and it really doesn’t feel like much of anything on the skin. It’s excellent because it bypasses the liver, and then any potential stress to the liver is minimized, something I consider very important for people of all ages.
TS: What are the risks? Androdiol has a certain amount of risk, just as most supplements do. Is the risk pretty much across the board no matter how it’s administered?
PA: That’s correct. I mean, androgen compounds in general, as a pharmacological class, whether it be drugs or pro-hormones that convert to active androgens, all share the same benefits and the same risks. The Physician’s Desk Reference will give you a rundown of what they are.
TS: The PDR? Last time I looked at that thing, which was a while ago, it flat out said that taking androgens is a deadly practice and that they’re ineffective to boot! From what you’ve seen, though, aren’t some of those claims a little bit overblown?
PA: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if you read up on any drug, they list potential side effects, and they go on forever. The incidence of these side effects is sometimes extremely low, while others are actually considered potential effects that have never really been seen in people!
But, by law, they have to list those. People should understand what the risks are, but they should certainly understand what the degree of risk is when they decide to use those products. It’s remarkable to me that I haven’t received or heard of any complaints that would warrant the uproar the products have been tagged with. The way the media portray it, you’d think people are coming out with horrid health problems and fully lactating breasts or shriveled testicles. At this point all I really hear are mostly positives.
TS: How many sprays should a person do per session or per day?
PA: That’s all on the label. People can take it once or twice a day, which usually comes to about 400 milligrams a day, the average dose. Hey, look, I like talking about my products, but you’re starting to beat a dead horse with these endless Androspray questions.
TS: [Sighs] I’ll ignore that comment. There’s been a lot of talk about how people should change their diet when taking spray 4AD. Should they increase their calories to get a maximum effect, or is that necessary if they’re already eating above maintenance in the off-season?
PA: No, if people are already eating above maintenance, they certainly don’t have to change their diet to get an effect from the product. I’d say that if you’re on a below-maintenance diet, you’re not going to see lean mass increases to any great degree because it’s hard for Androspray to utilize the metabolic environment that the proper diet would give.
I always believe that athletes should be eating a good diet that gives ample protein and calories according to their goals, regardless of whether they’re using one of these products. That’s something they should have wrapped up before they even decide to try one of these products. Someone who’s already eating decently doesn’t need to make any special diet changes.
Next month Arnold discusses pro-hormones as fat-loss accelerators, injectable pro-hormones, bodybuilding training and philosophy and a new pro-hormone combination that appears to be five to eight times as anabolic as testosterone with very little evidence of side effects.
Editor’s note: For more on Androspray and the other products mentioned in this interview, see page 63. You can contact Pat Arnold by visiting his Web sites at www.LPJresearch.com and www.ergopharm.com. To have your own personal, one-on-one phone consultation with him, please visit www.Qfac.com.
For renegade information on how to make your own home-brew nasal cyclo 4AD, visit www.SumoPublishing.com. IM