Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about a new fat burner called HPDx. Dan Duchaine used to write about it. It’s an herbal fat burner, and someone told me it works like DNP. Do you know anything about it?
A: I have to hand it to Dan; he was always one step ahead of the FDA. What a guy, and what a mind. What a great loss to the bodybuilding world. Given Dan’s untimely passing, I’m not sure if HPDx will continue to be sold. Dan may have stepped over the line with it in terms of safety. The FDA probably will shut down its production because the main ingredient for HPDx is usnic acid, an herbal compound currently being used as an antifungal and antibiotic agent. Interestingly, one of the uses of usnic acid is for the treatment of genital warts. Hmm’lose weight while clearing up a nasty STD.
Of course, you want to know how this stuff is of use to bodybuilders. Well, studies have shown that usnic acid does indeed work like DNP in that it uncouples oxidative phosphorylation. DNP is a very potent thermogenic, but it’s very dangerous too. The optimal dose for burning maximum amounts of bodyfat and the amount that can be lethal are very close. Like DNP, usnic acid elevates body temperature.
Dan Duchaine first became interested in DNP while he was in a federal prison in Louisiana for 30 months on some trumped-up charge concerning the manufacturing and selling of clenbuterol. Dan met a doctor there who had been in prison for 10 years for Medicare fraud. He became quite friendly with the man, who told him that he had weight-loss clinics all over the United States. The doctor said that he used DNP in his weight-loss clinics, and that he [the doctor] was one of the world’s leading authorities on DNP.
Dan found that back in the 1930s DNP was one of the most popular fat-loss drugs in the country. It had very unusual properties in that it has the unique ability to block the conversion of fat into usable energy in the form of ATP. When ATP is blocked, heat is created, and body temperature rises, resulting in a very powerful thermogenic effect. What is interesting is that DNP raises body temperature in a whole different way from thyroid, caffeine, ephedrine and even clenbuterol. There are no shutdown receptors for DNP, so there can be potential deadly problems. When you use DNP, your body temperature can easily reach 105 degrees. At that point most people would suffer brain damage.
The FDA, created back in the 1930s, recognized the potential dangers of DNP and took it off the market because too many people were using too much and some were getting very ill. It sort of remained dormant for the next 60 years until Dan ran into that DNP expert.
Dan’s conversations with the doctor made him one of the very few laymen in the country to know about DNP and the dosages needed for optimal fat burning, but that, in fact, was not Dan’s first exposure to DNP. Back in the mid-’80s a group of people out of Santa Clara, California, sold an exotic group of drugs called DDR. They were supposed to be a secret but highly effective mix of anabolic steroids from East Germany. You may remember some of the so-called DDR drugs: Bolasterone, Quinolone, Dihydrolone, Nor-Diethylin, Nor-Diethylin IV and Hexalon. They sold for exorbitant prices’$300 for 30 cc of Bolasterone and $450 for 30 cc of Quinolone’and they were pushed very hard in Muscle Digest, allegedly a front for the illegal drug operation. In reality, the drugs were made in Santa Clara and contained combinations of standard drugs.
Hexalon was not a steroid but a very toxic and potent fat burner. It contained about 20 cents’ worth of DNP dissolved in some propyl-glycol and was being sold for $400 for a 30-cc bottle.
In an article in Peak magazine a couple of years ago Dan admitted that he bought half a kilogram, or more than a pound, of DNP from Sigma Chemicals at a cost of only $20. He said that amount is more than enough for a human being for two years. As everyone knows, Dan always treated himself as a human guinea pig when it came to experimenting with drugs and dosages.
Dan began to experiment to find the optimal way of using DNP to get the greatest thermogenic effect possible. First he tried using some DNP with clenbuterol, then DNP alone. He found his body temperature remained the same whether he took the clenbuterol or not, so he concluded that DNP works great by itself. He also tried stacking DNP with ephedrine and got the same results.
DNP is a very cheap drug to buy. It costs only pennies, but it is sold only through chemical houses and not to individual buyers. Dan created a dummy pharmaceutical company for about $200, which allowed him to buy all the DNP he wanted very inexpensively. Before his death Dan was working on a ‘recipe’ booklet that would have given bodybuilders step-by-step directions for making and using DNP. It’s basically made out of four chemicals: benzene, chlorine and a couple of acids you use to clean your swimming pool. He said it was simple to make and less expensive to make than to buy on the black market.
Even Dan acknowledged that there was one major problem with DNP: If you take too large a dose, your body temperature will shoot up so high so quickly, you can fry your brain and cause brain damage, and an overdose will kill you. As mentioned above, there are no shutdown receptors for DNP and no upper limit on body temperature. DNP depletes the cells of all ATP, and if you use too much and deplete all the ATP in a cell, it will die because there’s no energy to keep it alive.
So why would anyone want to use a drug that can cause brain damage, kill off cells and even prove fatal just to lose a few pounds of fat? I guess because some people are willing to try anything, especially if they’ve used thyroid, clenbuterol, ephedrine and caffeine and not gotten the results they wanted.
Dan Duchaine was sure that if used in a precise and controlled manner, DNP could be the greatest fat-burning drug ever. Even obese people with insulin insensitivity, poor genetics and slow thyroids and metabolisms could lose fat with it. It’s not a drug to toy with, however. You must take precise amounts and monitor how your body reacts to that precise amount (taking your temperature with a thermometer and keeping a diary to record your reactions while on the drug).
Dan felt that safe dosages of DNP were between three and five milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, or 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams per pound. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, the dose is 300 to 500 milligrams. The conservative dosage (and the one I recommend for people first trying DNP) would be 300 milligrams. The maximum amount would be 500 milligrams. Using 500 milligrams of DNP every day would raise your metabolism by 50 percent, Duchaine said.
Expect to experience a great increase in body temperature and to be sweating as if you were in a sauna. Dan said that when you take clenbuterol or ephedrine with caffeine, for every one degree you raise your body temperature from its normal 98.6, you burn only 5 percent of maintenance calories (the amount of calories that keeps your body at its current bodyweight). With DNP you should expect to see a 50 percent increase in calories burned. That means if 3,000 calories per day is your maintenance level, you would have to eat 4,500 calories just to maintain your bodyweight! Imagine how much bodyfat you would lose if you accelerated your training intensity and volume, kicked in daily aerobics and increased protein levels while decreasing carbs and saturated fats. You’d lose bodyfat like crazy.
In the Peak article Dan mentioned a woman he worked with who weighed 195 pounds at 23 percent bodyfat. Her goal was to lose 45 pounds of bodyfat in 12 weeks and get down to 6 percent bodyfat. After five weeks on DNP she had lost’with mimimal dieting, Dan said’25 pounds of fat, and she only took it at night.
That’s one positive thing about DNP. Products such as clenbuterol, ephedrine and caffeine all act as stimulants and can cause nervousness and insomnia. DNP is not a stimulant. On the contrary, it makes you feel lethargic, so the best time to take it is before bed.
Another little interesting tidbit about DNP is that it is one of the components of TNT, the explosive, and is highly flammable. When DNP is shipped, water is added to the powder, which turns it into a puttylike substance. Dan said that when he got it home, he added cornstarch to absorb the liquid. He filled 50 O-size gelatin capsules with 400 milligrams of compound material. That gave him 50 400-milligram capsules of DNP.
As you know, your body always likes to stay in homeostasis, or what it considers normal. When you take ephedrine, caffeine, clenbuterol or thyroid and your temperature goes up, your body fights to bring it back down by preventing the conversion of inactive T4 thyroid hormone to active T3. As your body temperature rises, your body inhibits certain enzymes so you no longer have as much active thyroid.
That can happen even with DNP. A Dr. Nicholas Mahitski uses a patented formula incorporating Cytomel (T3) with DNP. After you use DNP for two weeks, your body temperature goes back to normal, but if you measure T3 levels in the blood, they will be below normal as a result of your body’s trying to balance out your temperature.
Duchaine noted that it’s very common for people on diets to reach a plateau after three to five weeks. Even if their calories are still low and even if they are doing the same amount of exercise, bodyweight stabilizes. If they take their body temperature upon rising in the morning, they find that it is actually a little lower than normal. That’s the body’s way of preserving nitrogen, so thermogenesis stops. Traditionally, when people reached that plateau, they had two alternatives: drop their calories even lower (which risks slowing their metabolic rate even more) or increase their aerobics. Both methods make you lose hard-earned muscle mass. A third alternative is to take more Cytomel in order to get your body temperature back up.
Adding yohimbine is also helpful in preventing beta-agonist shutdown, especially for those using clenbuterol and the ECA stack (ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin). Dan recommended that bodybuilders using DNP add 125 micrograms of Cytomel a day. That keeps the DNP active and maintains a body temperature above 100 degrees. He felt that the DNP-and-Cytomel combination was especially useful for bodybuilders using insulin.
Although insulin can have a greater affinity for muscle cells than fat cells, or vice versa, in truth it drives carbs into both muscle and fat cells. So the question for the insulin user is how to use insulin and take in all the extra carbohydrates without getting fat. Duchaine’s answer was to use Cytomel and DNP at the same time. For a big bodybuilder that’s 125 micrograms of Cytomel and 500 milligrams of DNP daily.
‘The beauty of DNP is this: You take it when you go to bed, and while you’re sleeping, all the fat you accumulated throughout the day will be burned off,’ Duchaine said.
DNP is legal and easy to obtain. Insulin is legal without prescription. Just walk into any pharmacy, tell the pharmacist you’re a diabetic, and he or she will sell you Humulin R without question. Cytomel is generally easily available on the black market, as is clenbuterol. There are plenty of supplements based on the ECA stack, and you can buy yohimbine at any health food store.
Now back to usnic acid. Currently, there are no studies on usnic acid, as far as I know, that compare optimal thermogenic dosages and fatal dosages. We actually have more scientific knowledge on DNP than usnic acid, which is maybe a little scary. If they both work by the same mechanisms, then perhaps dosages are similar (I say perhaps, but who knows?). The Web site selling it, Physicians Products, has a ghost M.D. pushing the stuff; however, he’s never available for consultations, and for all I know, he doesn’t even exist. No legitimate M.D. would approve this stuff over a Web site. One of the warnings on the label says, ‘Misuse may cause death.’ Nice stuff, eh?
In studies done with mice, the researchers noted carcinogenic activity before any thermogenesis occurred. The scary thing is we just don’t know enough about HPDx and usnic acid. ‘They’ recommend five milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, but who are ‘they’? The bottom line is that the stuff is potentially deadly, and I would hesitate to use it before I found out more about optimal and fatal doses.
Dan had some problems with his Triax, as the FDA took that product off the market. The FDA will probably do the same for HPDx, at least until we know more about it and it is determined safe for human consumption.
Unfortunately, I cannot just call Dan up and ask him about this product. He may have taken the secrets of usnic acid and HPDx with him to the grave. It’s too bad because it might have been some kind of breakthrough product. Now we may never know.
Editor’s note: The statements, opinions and ideas in this column are Greg Zulak’s and not necessarily those of IRONMAN magazine. IM